In Madrid, Respecting the Old and Embracing the New

DesignSponge Sneak Peek

In Madrid, Respecting the Old and Embracing the New

For the past two years, jewelry designer Olivia Terrell and her husband Andrew have lived in this apartment in the Malasaña neighborhood of Madrid, Spain. They have moved a lot during their five years of marriage, but they’ve lived in this space the longest. Olivia says it has always been a challenge to make each new place feel like home, but that was especially true when they moved into this apartment.

The space was new to them, but very old. Built in 1873, it was oddly shaped and had no straight lines or right angles to speak of. Hardly a blank canvas, it came partly furnished with a variety of white IKEA furniture. Olivia, who leans more toward neutral earth tones and antiques, decided to embrace a modern, albeit quirky, white-washed look. She and Andrew sourced a variety of found objects and furniture to infuse the space with their personal aesthetic. They love objects with history and revel in the occasional dumpster find, declaring, “People throw away some amazing things!” This eclectic approach to decorating works for them, especially since Olivia feels unattached to any particular style at this point in her life. This open-minded point-of-view informs her work as well. As her life changes, so does her jewelry design. While the general aesthetic remains, she has evolved from organic shapes and textures to something more architectural and geometric, which she attributes to her surroundings. These days, Olivia and Andrew truly feel at home. Whether they are watching sunsets on the balcony or hosting American Thanksgiving for their Spanish friends, they love incorporating familiar traditions into their new life in Madrid. —Shannon

Photography by César Perez 

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DIY Bamboo Branch Starburst Mirror

DIY Bamboo Branch Starburst Mirror

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I love it when I see bloggers embrace, champion and even create trends happening in interior design. Over the past few years, the ideas on DIY blogs have been heading towards using interesting and accessible materials to create home accessories. This is a shift that seems to be moving from using bold copper and smooth concrete to repurposing salvaged, textural substances such as clay and wood.

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Starburst mirrors are nothing new, but this is my twist on a classic for 2015. In homes of all shapes and sizes an outdoor influence has crept its way inside. This can be anything from gathered driftwood on a shelf to tea lights made from drilled branches. To create an interesting room, texture is key, as is a minimal aesthetic using decorative focal points. The materials shouldn’t be over-treated or polished, rather left natural with a raw finish. Bamboo is the perfect wood for this project. Straight and smooth, but with an earthy surface tone and easy to work with. Alternatively, you can make this mirror project even more natural by collecting twigs and branches for the mirror frame instead. —Fran

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Free Pattern Downloads from Hannah Lee: Day 3!

Free Pattern Downloads from Hannah Lee: Day 3!

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Maybe it’s all the different plants and flowers blooming right now, but after a winter of minimalism and neutral hues, I feel ready for color and pattern in a BIG way. So today’s pattern download from designer and illustrator Hannah Lee is right up my alley. I keep imagining this pattern as a cute pair of summer shorts and wishing it was warm enough to store away my winter pants. Almost. Until then, I’m going to dress up my phone background with this peachy-pink design and hope for days over 70 degrees outside. Thanks so much to Hannah for today’s pattern! xo, grace

CLICK HERE to download today’s pattern!

Life & Business: The Thrill of the Hunt with Jillian Bremer

Life & Business: The Thrill of the Hunt with Jillian Bremer

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The first 3-5 formative years of any new business are the most critical and can dictate whether you’ll fly or whether you’ll flop. But they aren’t just a giant litmus test to see if your business (and you!) can survive, they’re also a giant opportunity with no ceiling on your potential. You’re not quite committed to certain ways of doing things, you’re flexible because you’re small, and while you can’t really plan (because planning is just guessing in disguise), you can gauge things and adjust as you go, which is a beautiful thing.

In 2011, Jillian Bremer started a style blog. At the time, she worked as a buyer for a new apparel company, but it wasn’t long before that itching feeling to start her own business took over. Fast-forward just four years and Jillian now runs her own business with her father at the helm of sourcing and buying. Inspired by the vintage jewelry pieces her dad would find for her at local flea markets, Sweet & Spark aims to bring the undiscovered gems of the vintage jewelry world to people across the globe. As an entrepreneur and new business-owner, Jillian knows the importance of those first few years of business all too well. Today she’s offering her advice for anyone getting through those first scary years in any business, from how you should approach them to what you should take from them. –Sabrina

Photography by Christine Sargologos and Ashley Batz (last photo)

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Life & Business: Cy Lauz of Chrysalis Lingerie

Life & Business: Cy Lauz of Chrysalis Lingerie

Life & Business: Cy Lauz of Chrysalis Lingerie
Before making her way into the world of fashion design, Cy Lauz worked in interior design, event and set design and prop styling. After moving to New York City, Cy was working as a fashion stylist when she discovered a gap in the market and a need within her own community- and decided to create a solution that was both practical and lovely, balancing form and function.

Using her keen eye for architectural shapes, Cy created her own undergarment line, Chrysalis Lingerie, designed specifically for transgender women. Cy understood the need for a new garment line that would fit and function the way she, and other transgender women, needed, while making them feel confident and beautiful at the same time. Her line is now a huge success and we admire not only her incredible business mind, but her dedication to raising awareness and support for the trans community. Today Cy’s chatting with us about the highs and lows of business, doing what you’re good at — and hiring smart people to do what you’re not good at — and the importance of viewing ourselves as our most valuable resource. –Sabrina

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Providence, RI City Guide Update

Providence, RI City Guide Update

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It’s not every day that a city guide pulls me in enough to make me want to move there, but Christine Chitnis‘s guide to Providence, RI is definitely one of them. Christine originally grew up in Torch Lake in Northern Michigan, but has called Providence home for over seven years. This charming, unpretentious city is finally having its well-deserved moment in the limelight due to its affordability, beautiful architecture, awesome food and easy-to-love culture. And though Christine is thrilled it’s finally being recognized, she’s left wondering: “what took you so long?!”

In the past few years, dozens of publications (Architectural Digest, Wall Street Journal, Travel + Leisure and New York Times, to name a few) have been showering praise upon this city, and countless other newspapers and magazines keep writing about it, which Christine knows a thing or two about. Having written three books, including Little Bites (Roost, 2015) which will hit bookshelves in July 2015, she’s now helping people get published through her online workshop, Pitch Perfect. More than five years ago, Christine wrote the original Providence guide for us, and today she’s back with her updated and exhaustive guide, which is overwhelmingly awesome! –Sabrina

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Pattern Downloads from Hannah Lee: Day 2!

Pattern Downloads from Hannah Lee: Day 2!

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All week we’re joined by designer and illustrator Hannah Lee, who created custom pattern downloads for all of us! You can use them to decorate your computer or phone background, or to spruce up any tech background you want to add a little more color and pattern to. Yesterday Hannah shared her first pattern and today she’s back with a second, a green/black/gold print with hands. CLICK HERE to download Hannah’s second pattern! xo, grace

Inside a Century-Old, Contemporary Colonial

Inside a Century-Old, Contemporary Colonial, Design*Sponge

Inside a Century-Old, Contemporary Colonial

Four years ago, Kelley of Hunt & Gather and her husband, Troy, were both done with grad school and ready to settle down. Grand Rapids, MI was the clear choice, as it would not only provide the inspiration Kelley needed to run her shop, but it would also allow Troy to make his mark at a local nonprofit group. “I wanted a home that had at least one special characteristic, and in this house we found a lot of gems,” Kelley says. The 1915 colonial located in the historic Heritage Hill district of the city had great bones. The stained-glass windows, tall ceilings, wood floors and a fantastic yard were what immediately bewitched the couple. It did take some work, though, to bring out the old looker’s full potential.

The process started with identifying the key areas that the two wanted to update the most. “We started with the main floor — kitchen, dining and sun room — as they were where we entertained most, plus it made the most visual impact.” While the overhaul was fairly drama-free, it proved to be a test of the couple’s perseverance. Over 100 hours went into sanding and refinishing the kitchen cabinets and built-ins alone. Tack on a custom daybed for the sunroom, new carpet and fireplace, and you’ve got a family with a newfound appreciation for the DIY process. All of this hard work was undertaken to achieve one simple goal: To create a space that the couple, their dog, and guests felt was beautiful, yet comfortable. “We have had numerous house guests stay with us for varying lengths — from one month to one year — in the two guest bedrooms. We love having a place where people can come short- to longterm and feel welcome… a place to really express who [we are] creatively and to share meals and experiences with friends and family.”

The construction phase was just the beginning. Then came styling and choosing paint colors. Frequently one of the most irksome of design decisions, picking a home’s hue can quickly eat up some serious time and leave you with a bothersome case of design overthink. Not for these two. Having an extensive collection of quirky accessories inspired Kelley and Troy to paint the entire home white. Leaning on their treasures’ details — and adding a personal touch through styling — provided a major boost of personality to the fresh, white base. “We have a lot of art/special pieces that we like to pop and speak for themselves,” Kelley says. A shift in the couple’s taste from “industrial and vintage to a more refined, polished look,” has created a space that’s welcoming and casual, yet refined and easy on the eyes. Look out for their gorgeous lucite bookshelf and a mixture of cultural styles, both of which make this peek one of my all-time favorites. —Garrett

Photography by Jill DeVries

 

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Step Into an Illustrator’s Sunny, Spanish Flat

Step Into an Illustrator's Sunny, Spanish Flat, Design*Sponge

Step Into an Illustrator’s Sunny, Spanish Flat

I have been daydreaming about Spain a lot lately. With a co-worker who travels there regularly to visit family and a best friend anxious to run with the bulls, I seem to be a magnet for España-talk lately. Hopefully it’s a sign, and an impending escapade overseas is on my horizon. When the country first started springing into my daily conversations, I feverishly sat and researched the markets, festivals and food that I’d hopefully get to enjoy very soon. It didn’t take long for me to leave the logistical, travel research behind for a wormhole of Spanish design. I have always been drawn to the Mediterranean’s unwavering use of color, distinct architecture and flare for the bold. It was in one of those very wormholes that I came across Blanca and Jos’ glowing home in Madrid.

Blanca, an illustrator, and Jos, a personal cook, have called this beautiful flat “home” for a little over a year. Having been built in the 1950s, however, it was not exactly dreamy from day one. Some serious sweat has been put into making it an open, airy and comfortable space. “When I first found the flat it was almost in a ruinous state,” Blanca explains. “Everything had to be (re)done from scratch.” The home’s asymmetrical shape, rounded corners and crooked walls were no small obstacle to overcome, but the two were determined to make it work as its location was ideal. “I came across the neighborhood out of chance about 10 years ago and from the very first moment, I knew I wouldn’t want to move out,” Blanca says. “So [this] new house is less than five minutes walking from the old.”

Six months of hard work with the close tutelage of an architect and the results are exactly what the homeowners were hoping for. They’ve created a place where they can comfortably entertain and get work done, all while basking in Madrid’s brilliant sunlight. With personally curated touches and a clever use of open concept, there’s so much to love about this couple’s spankin’-new pad. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Thipi CC and Blanca Gómez

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An Art Director At Home in Park Slope

Ashima's bedroom, with its homemade headboard from a rescued chalkboard. The pendant light and bed frame are West Elm. Finally, the only successful non-succulent houseplant that has survived in Ashima's care for more than three years pokes out by the window.

An Art Director At Home in Park Slope

Whenever art director Ashima Jain isn’t glued to her computer or critiquing the typography in Dr. Zizmor ads on the subway (a frequent sight for any New York subway rider), she can be found playing soccer in the park or riding her favorite folding bike about town. Ashima has lived in this colossal (by Brooklyn standards) 1,200-square-foot 1931 Park Slope row house apartment for nine years now, and Frankie, her 14-year-old pit whippet mix, helps hold down the fort. A happy and frequent host, Ashima makes use of her space for entertaining as much as possible — a favorite being annual birthday parties that accommodate over 100 guests. Despite being in the midst of a career shift, Ashima feels, “grateful that my home has been a sanctuary.”

Years ago, good friends on the building’s garden level tipped Ashima off to the vacant top floor unit she now inhabits. Ashima plowed through 17 apartment showings in 10 days, and even though this one needed lots of work after sitting vacant for eight months, she could feel the potential upon seeing its morning light and interior skylights, transoms and glass pocket doors.

“It has been a long process. It took about two years to furnish the apartment in a livable way,” she shares. Armed with only her computer, a bicycle and a couch, Ashima slept on an air mattress for her first four months until she found a suitable bed. Crafty neighbor Lauren Shields rescued a chalkboard from P.S. 39, and another friend (who happens to be a bridge engineer) helped Ashima fashion it into a headboard. “It feels like a great design project,” Ashima says, “and I promise to keep seeking beauty and inspiration from near and far.” -Annie

Photography by Poul Ober

 

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Free Pattern Downloads by Hannah Lee

Free Pattern Downloads by Hannah Lee

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Two weeks ago we were honored to have pattern designer Alea Toussaint join us for a full week of free pattern downloads for your phone and computer. And this week, designer/illustrator Hannah Lee is treating us to downloads again!

Based in Baltimore, Hannah started making daily pattern designs for a 365-day project, Pattern Per Diem, almost two years ago. She is an avid printmaker and is currently working on a line of textiles for upcoming pattern designs. This week she has designed seven custom patterns for DS readers that you can easily download (for free!) to use for your phone, tablet and computer screens! You can download today’s pattern below and see more of Hannah’s work online right here. xo, grace

DOWNLOAD TODAY’S FREE PATTERN FROM HANNAH LEE RIGHT HERE! (*Patterns are for personal use only*)

NEW: Design*Sponge + ILIA Lipstick + Best of the Web

NEW: Design*Sponge + ILIA Lipstick + Best of the Web

Today I’m beyond overjoyed to announce a special collaboration with my all-time favorite beauty company, ILIA. It’s no secret that I’m not a big makeup wearer — it’s something I talk about pretty regularly, so when I commit to wearing any sort of skin or face product, I don’t take it lightly. For the past four years, the only thing I’ve ever worn when I feel like dressing up a bit is ILIA’s “Arabian Knights” lip conditioner. I love it so much I’ve bought it as a gift for every woman in my life and it’s the only lipstick I put in our gift guides over and over every year.

So when Design*Sponge had it’s 10th birthday last summer, I sat down to dream big about all the projects I’ve ever wanted to do. At the top of that list was to collaborate with ILIA on a special limited-edition lipstick. And today, our lipstick, “Pink Moon” is live! The color was inspired by fresh raspberries and the way they stain your lips in the summer, so Sasha and I worked together to create the perfect shade that would flatter a wide range of skin tones and be light enough to feel like a balm, but rich enough to bring color and warmth to your face. I got my first sample last month, and this week I mailed out my 10 samples to friends and family to see how it looked on them. Today I’m so excited to share a fun little video I made with their photos. My friends, family and favorite designers are the most beautiful people I know, so I couldn’t think of better people to debut “Pink Moon” on. Thank you so much to my mom Elaine, my mother-in-law, Rochelle, Llubav Duerr, Joy Cho, Sara, Rose and Henry Jensen, Karen Young, Jonna Twigg, Sawyer DeVuyst and Julia Rothman for being the most beautiful test models ever. If you’re interested in picking up a lipstick from our limited edition collaboration, you can order online right here! xo, grace

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In the Kitchen With: Jean and Jessie’s Icebox Cake

In the Kitchen With: Jean and Jessie’s Icebox Cake

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I am always excited to read recipes for icebox cakes. I don’t know why, but they transport me back to my childhood. However, I think the only icebox cake we ever had in our house was a type of banana pudding, if that even counts! This week we have one of the most delicious-looking icebox cakes I’ve seen, called the Old School, by Jean Sagendorph and Jessie Sheehan. It’s a cake made up of whipped cream and chocolate wafers, topped with chocolate shavings, and it comes from their book Icebox Cakes: Recipes for the Coolest Cakes in Town. The recipe takes careful reading before you embark on making the cake (which is actually quite simple), and it will take some time to pull together, but the outcome is worth it. Kristina

Why Jean and Jessie love this recipe: What’s not to love about the Old School? The combo of thin, crispy, uber-chocolatey wafer cookies and billowy, vanilla-flavored whipped cream kind of can’t be beat. Once the cake has spent some time in the refrigerator, it’s like a moist chocolate layer cake with fluffy vanilla frosting. And the Old School truly is the quintessential icebox cake, the one that inspired us to write our book, Icebox Cakes, and the one we kind of think of as the gold standard.

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Photography by Tara Donne

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Behind the Bar: Yvette and Vianney’s Ponche a la Romana

Behind the Bar: Yvette and Vianney’s Ponche a la Romana

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Sometimes, I get to the end of a hard day and I just want something simple, cold and refreshing to sip, like this week’s Ponche a la Romana, by bloggers Yvette Marquez and Vianney Rodriquez. Their cocktails — featuring fresh-squeezed juices and homemade mixers — have been so popular that they decided to devote a whole book to them! Latin Twist: Traditional & Modern Cocktails is the first book to celebrate the signature cocktails of Latin America and Spain in one volume. They all look so incredibly good! With the temperatures rising in Rome as we move closer to summer, this cocktail is definitely one I will enjoy drinking this weekend! Kristina

Why Yvette and Vianney love this cocktailFor us, champagne and sherbet scream spring! We love the simple combination of sherbet and bubbles and the addition of pineapple is so refreshing. This festive, fizzy punch, brimming with fresh pineapple, is usually served in a punch bowl. We love an excuse to entertain and this recipe makes a great punch bowl — and you’ll have something ready to pour as soon as guests arrive. Plus, they can help themselves to refills, leaving you free to enjoy your fiesta.

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Photography by Jeanine Thurston

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Home Ec: 12 DIY Ideas for Earth Day

DIY Kitchen Garden: Turn any old box or drawer into an indoor herb garden. You can grow your own herbs and save a trip to the store - and save an old piece of furniture or storage from being tossed!

Home Ec: 12 DIY Ideas for Earth Day

Next Wednesday is Earth Day, so for this week’s Home Ec, I thought I’d focus on some ideas you can try around the house to conserve water, energy and materials. “Green” lists these days are often about buying more/new/better products, but for me, the best thing you can do for the planet is use more of the things you already have around you and find smarter ways to make them last longer or do double duty around the house. So these projects will be focused on reducing consumption, reusing what you already have, and recycling or upcycling things that may have otherwise been thrown away. I hope these help inspire some Earth Day projects around the house — and if you prefer to get outside and do something, the official Earth Day site has a great list of events happening all across the world if you want to get involved. xo, grace

*If you want some fun ideas of what to do for Earth Day in your own backyard, check out these great ideas for exploring what’s near you.

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This post and the Home Ec section are brought to you by Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day. Visit the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Home-Grown Inspiration section featuring 20 DIYs, including seven from Design*Sponge!

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