D*S Book Peek + Best Of

D*S Book Peek + Best Of

rodin
This week we’re booking what feels like a few hundred plane and train tickets to travel across the country for photoshoots for our upcoming book. I’m both excited and terrified (I’m not good with planes) but mostly excited for the chance to meet some of my biggest idols. Our big travel starts next week and I can’t wait to hit the road and see how this dream of a project turns out. Until then, I’m sharing some of our favorite links from around the web this week, and a few sneak peeks behind the scenes of workspaces of some of the people we’ve photographed for the book so far. The photo above is from Linda Rodin‘s home (photographed by Sasha Israel) and the photo below is from Carla Fernandez‘s photoshoot in Mexico City with Ana Hop. xo, grace

carla

bestofweb710

bestofds710

Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics

Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics, on Design*Sponge

Studio Tour: Helen Levi Ceramics

The studio of Brooklyn-based ceramicist Helen Levi is perched above, of all things, a mouse trap factory. When a certain machine in the Sunset Park warehouse is switched on downstairs, a consistent melodic thumping sound can be heard throughout the building. Visitors joke about her neighbors playing house music, “when, really, it’s the glue traps,” she quips. With the help of designers Chen and Kai (and her dog Billy), Levi set up this 250-square-foot workspace a year and a half ago in a carved-out corner of the markers’ larger studio. Levi worked in a communal space before arriving at this location, and she desperately needed to spread out. She aimed to create as much storage as possible without feeling cluttered, and she lines the vertical height of the room with tall shelving units to get the most out of each wall. The huge industrial windows maintain a bright, open quality even as the metal racks reach capacity.

Despite its small square-footage relative to the amount of production it puts out, Levi is happy with her studio as it is today, though she anticipates a time when continuing to grow her business will require more. Until that day comes, Levi loves having a workroom that belongs only to her, where she can leave a mess if she doesn’t feel like cleaning up (which she admits is often). She also appreciates the ample sunlight, even if a mostly-glass facade offers minimal insulation from extreme hot or cold temperatures. Not even the mouse trap soundtrack below can harsh this vibe. —Annie

Photography by Helen Levi, except where noted

 

VIEW MORE

A Stylist’s Island Nest in the Stockholm Archipelago

strenghielm_designsponge_house.2-1000x671

A Stylist’s Island Nest in the Stockholm Archipelago

On a lush island hill in the archipelago outside Stockholm, the soul of an old building shines through its crisp Scandinavian update. Mari Strenghielm, an interior stylist, layers vintage decor atop clean, modern finishes at her restored 1884 Swedish sanctuary. Along with her husband Christian, a digital strategist, the pair have renovated this 2,000-square-foot home entirely on their own. The work is still not complete after a decade spent here thus far. The ever-changing interiors are an occupational hazard and a labor of love. Although the family lives in the archipelago on a small island called Dalarö with 1,900 other inhabitants, it only takes them about 40 minutes to drive into the city center.

Besides close proximity to Stockholm, the location offers nearby ocean and forest landscapes. Valle the Rhodesian Ridgeback gets to run in the woods everyday, and Frithof and Carmensita, the cats, live both indoors and out. The children, son Dante and daughter Juno, enjoy a five-minute bike ride to school. Even the interiors revel in nature with their exclusively neutral tones. Mari has attempted to bring brighter hues into the space, but they don’t suit her mood. She looks to tranquil colors to balance out her hectic life. With two kids living here, the parents can’t afford to stress about their beloved vintage items. “If something breaks,” she says, “well, then at least we used it first!” To her, the most important consideration in interior design is personality, and even when she styles a shoot, she conjures the human presence in her pictures.

Though Mari has ongoing plans for the house, she strives to enjoy the present conditions and not always think of next steps. A deep appreciation of the home’s proximity to nature, the sound of the ocean, and the fresh air are most helpful in this pursuit above all else. Since most of the houses on the island were built in the late 1800s, taking a stroll to daydream about life there in another era is a favorite pasttime. “My home was built with solid wood over 130 years ago, and it will probably stand here for another 130 years,” she shares. “I like that thought.” —Annie

Photography by Mari Strenghielm

VIEW MORE

Before & After: Calumet Artist Residency

Before & After: Calumet Artist Residency, on Design*Sponge

Before & After: Calumet Artist Residency

Four years ago, Kate Land and her partner Corey bought two abandoned houses in the heart of the Indiana Dunes. The Miller Beach neighborhood of Gary, a city known as the birthplace of the Jackson 5 and home to heavy industry, is also conveniently located near the sandy shores of Lake Michigan. Kate and Corey decided to keep one building for themselves and turn the other into the Calumet Artist Residency with the belief that creative visitors could help address some of the region’s main issues. Once a crystal-clear glacial body of water, the Calumet River is now a series of partitioned, smaller waterways that are immensely polluted due to modern manufacturing processes. The couple have been asking guests to consider the “significant local natural beauty while acknowledging the troubling relationship between industry and nature” in their work. Kate, who grew up in a different part of the state, discovered an area much more verdant, compelling, and complex than suggested by its preceding reputation. So far, the cooperative has had several artists, musicians, filmmakers, and writers stay each summer. The pair eventually plan to acquire additional houses nearby to expand the movement.

The property itself has 85 steps that lead up to the two houses, which are situated next to a land trust. Despite the secluded setting, the South Shore train station is one mile away, and takes passengers to Chicago in under an hour. The mid-century buildings, constructed in 1950 and 1965, were in terrible shape when Kate and Corey found them. Built at the top of a hill, they feel like treehouses with forest canopy eye-level to the first floor. The most wonderful thing about hosting an artist residency, besides offering a lush oasis within an industrial zone, is that the rooms are filled with art inspired by that very place. —Annie

Photography by Kate Land of Calumet Residency

 

 

VIEW MORE

D*S Team Tours: Lauren’s Prewar Apartment in Des Moines, IA

D*S Team Tours: Lauren's Prewar Apartment in Des Moines, IA | Design*Sponge

D*S Team Tours: Lauren’s Prewar Apartment in Des Moines, IA

A little while ago, Grace asked the whole Design*Sponge team if we’d be up for doing home tours of our own places. I was so excited and then immediately was overwhelmed with a list of things I needed to do to get ready. Some of the things on the list were essentials – clean, finish started projects, and figure out what angles to shoot. Some were not essentials, like buying and rewiring a new dining room light fixture and hopefully finding the perfect coffee table that I’ve been in search of for years now. I didn’t finish everything on my list before shooting, but I did get a better understanding of the process that I’m asking of our featured homeowners and why they respond, “I’m so nervous and excited,” right before their home tour goes live. I feel you. Getting to show my home here on D*S is an honor. Even though it’s not ready and I could list a dozen new things I still want to do to it. That’s the great thing about Design*Sponge – we showcase real homes.

I moved into my 1915 brick apartment building two years ago. It’s located in a historic neighborhood in Downtown Des Moines called Sherman Hill and it is a beautiful area. I am so thankful for the thick wood trim and amazing natural light in my home. I’m a furniture and paint junkie, so I got to work right away, trying to make my home feel simple and beautiful while being on a very real budget. I rearrange and restyle more than I really want to say, but it is one of the most calming, endorphin-inducing things to me. I love seeing spaces change and improve and I love that I can make that a reality with my home whenever I need to feel inspired.

My home is filled with Craigslist redesigns, hand-built pieces and a few items I saved up for. I like styled objects but I don’t like clutter and I love an empty wall as much as I love a gallery. It’s not done, but I like that I get to continue to reimagine what my home could be some day. And I’m thankful for the home it is right now. —Lauren

Photography by Austin Day

 

VIEW MORE

10 Handmade Mugs for Summer

I have been internet-stalking these mugs from Helen Levi for months now. Helen produces a small collection of them every now and then and posts them on Instagram, and each time I'm too slow to get to them. I love the clay color swirled with a white glaze - they're like tiny works of art. $55 at Helen Levi.

10 Handmade Mugs for Summer

Over the past few weeks, Kelli and I have been working around the clock on the second Design*Sponge book (you can check out the first here). Every waking moment has been devoted to squeezing as many photoshoots as possible into July and August (our book is due in September!) and we have been fueling ourselves on sheer excitement — and lots of coffee. Earlier this week Kelli flew out from California to stay with us in upstate New York and plan the final shoots in person, so we didn’t make any mistakes. Because when you’re planning photoshoots from Melbourne to Nigeria to Los Angeles, there are a lot of moving pieces to coordinate.

Our lives consist mainly of Excel sheets, Google calendar docs, call sheets and copious amounts of caffeine right now, so I thought I’d give a little nod to our biggest book fuel right now — coffee — in the form of a mug roundup. Our mug collection has grown 3-fold this summer as I give into my caffeine love, so this is a good idea of what it looks like to live and work at the DS “office” upstate now. xo, grace

*Thank you for your patience and understanding with our slightly abbreviated posting schedule this summer. I didn’t want to rush or publish half-thought posts while I was working on the final book crunch, so we’ll be running 3 posts a day until September instead of four. But at the end of August we’ll be in the home stretch and things will go back to normal after the Labor Day holiday.

VIEW MORE

A Home For Family and Friends In The Northern Beaches of Sydney

A Home For Family and Friends In The Northern Beaches of Sydney

A Home For Family and Friends In The Northern Beaches of Sydney

Inside Caleb and Tess Guinery‘s home, there’s no shortage of love, adventure, creativity and chaos. Caleb, a stunt-man for film and television, and Tess, a graphic designer and visual communicator, just welcomed the first addition to their family — their daughter, Peaches Wilde. A few years prior, they made the move from the coastal town of Mollymook, Sydney to a small apartment by the sea, nestled in the northern beaches of Dee Why. It wasn’t long before they fell in love with the relaxed beach lifestyle with restaurants, shops and cafes just a stone’s throw away, so once they discovered that they were expecting a child, they were determined to find a way to stay in the location they had fallen in love with. They managed to make their tiny studio apartment work for a while, but once Peaches came along, they quickly realized they needed a bigger space, but as luck would have it, an apartment became available just down the street! The home was cluttered and dark when they first toured it, but Tess saw potential in the space’s high ceilings, large windows and square footage — but perhaps the biggest perk was discovering that close friends lived right next door.

Since they moved just a year ago, their late 60’s apartment has become so much more than the space they live; it’s where Peaches took her first steps, among many, and has been host to countless dinner parties with friends and family. “Caleb cooks and I set the ambience and light candles,” Tess explains, “but we enjoy quieter nights too… at least once a week we play Skip-Bo and enjoy a glass of wine whilst listening to Caleb’s extensively and carefully curated Spotify playlist.” Caleb and Tess’ passion for their friendships is something they hold dear, and though the home is still a work in progress, perhaps Tess says it best: “Our life isn’t perfect but we love what we have been blessed with and we love our home.” –Sabrina

Photography by Alex Caryle

VIEW MORE

Eleanor Ambos Interiors

Eleanor Ambos Interiors

Every now and then I’m reminded of just how powerful video can be in the world of interiors. Sometimes stills and words can’t do justice to the moving, breathing story of someone’s incredible life. I felt this so strongly when watching this video about the life and work of Eleanor Ambos on Aeon Video earlier this week.

Originally from Germany, Eleanor Ambos moved to New York from Germany when she was only 20 years old. Now 86, she’s growing her interior design business and managing an impressive collection of buildings she owns, despite losing her eyesight to macular degeneration.

elhome
room
I first watched her video through a link on my friend Becca Kallem‘s Facebook page, and have been digging for more information on Eleanor ever since. Her life and work is the subject of a documentary made by Nomadique but there’s also an excellent extended video about her work and her amazing buildings (you have to see the furniture she restores!) here at Aeon Video. That video isn’t embeddable so please click here to watch it.

youngel
The team at Nomadique sums it best on their Vimeo page where they say, “…with no immediate family besides a dog who rarely leaves her side, the fiercely independent Ambos still approaches her life with humor, but also with the nagging knowledge that her body is a structure she’ll never completely restore.” Her story is slightly bittersweet, but still inspires me endlessly to pursue the things I love and to make the most of any situation we come across. If you’ve got a few minutes to watch this video today, please do. Whether you’re excited by the furniture she’s restoring (the 4-poster bed is incredible), her maze of a furniture warehouse building in NYC or just want to know more about her as a person, it’s a video you won’t soon forget. xo, grace

DIY Punched Copper Votives

DIY Punched Copper Votives

DIY Punched Copper Votives 12
I always took Alfresco dining just to mean simply eating outside, but in fact directly translated Alfresco means in the open air. I really liked this thought and it made me think of something different to being seated next to a car park or on a roof-top bar in a busy city. It made me think of getting out of the crowds and finding somewhere natural and open and fresh! I could imagine picnics on the beach or finding secret places in the forest, but living in a big city right in the centre of the country means more often than not this is a pipe dream. Luckily we have friends and family with beautiful gardens so we can settle for a healthy compromise. There’s something a little magical about sitting around a table with your loved ones as the sun begins to set and dusk arrives. All you need are some tapas style dishes, great wine and twinkling lights to feel like you’re recreating a scene from a magazine.

DIY Punched Copper Votives 10
These candle votives are the perfect centrepiece to add atmosphere and warmth as the sun disappears and it cools. Even if you’re not dining Alfresco you can enjoy the ambience anywhere in the twinkling candle light. -Fran

VIEW MORE

Life & Business: Successfully Scaling Your Business with Phin & Phebes

Life & Business: Successfully Scaling Your Business with Phin & Phebes

phin-phebes-Article

Dreaming big when it comes to your business is exciting and contagious, but having your visions come to fruition is a different animal altogether and mis-managed growth is often the down-fall of many fledgling companies. Despite your best intentions and eager wishes, creating a business that can grow requires careful attention and a specific approach from the get-go, which is something Jess Eddy and Crista Freeman of famed ice cream company Phin & Phebes know all too well. Phin & Phebes didn’t become a national brand and change the way people think about ice cream overnight —  their success took a lot of careful planning and attention. Today, Jess and Crista are generously sharing seven mega-important things to consider in order to successfully scale your business, from discovering your BHAG (AKA your big hairy audacious goal), to testing and discovery, to implementation and managing your day-to-day. –Sabrina

VIEW MORE

Life & Business: Melissa Sonico

Life & Business: Melissa Sonico

melissa-Life&Biz

Since graduating in 2012 with a BA and MFA in Fiction from Cal State San Bernardino, Melissa Sonico has been carving her own career path as a freelance writer, lifestyle and fashion blogger, Instagram personality, and, most recently, has launched a line of handmade mixed-material necklaces, made to order. Ever the creative dabbler, her interests are varied and her future, wrought with possibilities (and the much-anticipated welcome of her husband and her’s first baby boy due this fall)! She’s a great example of a modern-day solopreneur and jack of many trades, and we’re thrilled to have her with is today to share some insight into business and the modern community of independent makers. –Sabrina

VIEW MORE

24 Hours in Miami, FL

24 Hours in Miami, FL

24 Hours in Miami, FL

Next weekend, I’m flying from Toronto to Miami to host Making It: a round table for women in creative industries at The Wolfsonian in the Art Deco District of Miami Beach, and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve never been to that part of Florida and, though I’m only in town for a day, today’s 24-hour guide from Abby Kellett could not have come at a more perfect time.

Abby is a freelance interior stylist and shop owner of Gretel Home, an online design store. She and her husband have two daughters, Beatrice (7) and Josephine (2), and have enjoyed watching Miami change over the years, making it “the perfect place to live and not just vacation,” Abby says. Similar to our Orlando guide last month, Florida has seen a lot of change over the last decade; there’s tons of new museums and music venues, and truly inspirational fairs that take over the city such as Design Miami/, Art Basel and Maison & Objet Americas. Though Abby’s schedule may be hectic, if she had a day all to herself in Miami, today’s guide would be how she’d spend it. –Sabrina VIEW MORE

An Eclectic Home in Bristol

A Lovely, Eclectic Home in Bristol | Design*Sponge

An Eclectic Home in Bristol

Sometimes I see these rules floating around the internet about what works and what doesn’t when it comes to decorating. There are rules on everything from frame size, to how may objects should be grouped together, to buying the correct-sized rug. Generally, they are helpful guidelines, but sometimes I feel stuck or even wrong if the rules don’t seem to work for my spaces. Creating a space that is unique, beautiful and personal takes some rule breaking. Lou and Dan have made their home whimsical, cheery and lovely – and without sticking to a formula.

Lou Archell, lifestyle writer and blogger, and Dan Taylor, painter, decorator and craftsman, moved into their 1890s Victorian home 10 years ago. Since then, they’ve had two children, Charlie (9) and Rufus (7), and have renovated every room in the house. Finding the home was simplified by knowing what area in which they wanted to live. “Our neighborhood, to me, is one [of] the best places to live in Bristol. It is full of independent shops and cafes and has a great community buzz to it. After renting in this area for many years prior to buying this house, we knew this neighborhood was for us,” Lou says. “We chose this house as it lives on a small, quiet street. It was in a poor condition and needed modernization to make it a liveable family home. The price, of course, reflected this and we bought a bargain.” Lou and Dan didn’t just restore this house – in the end, the transformation reflects their family and their creative vision in every room.

The bright accents, vintage pieces and playful arrangement of artwork and decor makes every corner, shelf and wall come alive. “Ten years on, we have completely gutted and renovated every room in the house. I wouldn’t say our home is finished, as there are always projects on the go,” Lou says. “I love decorating, changing rooms around and rethinking spaces. Decorating our home had to reflect our personalities. Dan and I love handcrafted items, furniture, ceramics and also natural elements. Our space has evolved over time.” This eclectic, welcoming home isn’t by-the-book and it is a lovely example of the power of intuition. —Lauren

Photography by Laura Pashby

 

VIEW MORE

An Australian Home Gets a Pre-Fab Addition

An Australian Home Gets a Pre-Fab Addition, Design*Sponge

An Australian Home Gets a Pre-Fab Addition

Stylist Anna Critchley and her husband Michael firmly believe that a happy home makes a happy family. Because of this, they traded in their new construction for a place where their daughters Eadie and Lilah could flourish. “[Our old house] was nice, but it didn’t inspire us in any way. We found that we weren’t excited to go home. We wanted a home that we couldn’t wait to get back to and spend time in,” the family says. While in between places, the family temporarily stayed in Anna’s parents’ rental. It didn’t take long for the couple to realize that the property’s pastoral view of Hinton, Australia and “quiet lifestyle were perfect for [their] young family.” Before they knew it, the four were putting down permanent roots in the three-bedroom spot.

The 1970s-era house was “nothing exciting or glamorous,” to begin with, but with guts and a little patience Anna and Michael decided to “create a house that [they] loved as much as the block and location.” Their biggest undertaking was the pre-fabricated addition they attached to the front of their home. The Critchleys chose to contrast the existing traditional facade with über-modern new construction that would help it stand out amongst the other houses on the block. After about seven weeks of development under the guidance of architect Jodie Dixon and Timberline builders, the new structure finally left the factory in three pieces and was craned into place. “A central, light-filled hallway,” was added to seamlessly connect the pre-fabricated portion to the existing structure. As you’ll see when you click through the full tour, this new wing of the home holds the entry, kitchen, dining room and open living area.

This all seems quite enough for one pair to undertake, but the family didn’t stop there. New flooring throughout the entire home, paint jobs around every corner, and a new deck and garage round out the renovation. All in all, it took 18 months to bring their vision to life, but from the looks of it the challenge was absolutely worth it. You can feel this family’s joy as you comb through the colorful photos. I hope you enjoy taking a peek inside as much as I did! —Garrett

Photography by Nail & Twine Photography

 

VIEW MORE

A Uniquely Renovated Brooklyn Brownstone

A Uniquely Renovated 1886 Brownstone Nestled in Clinton Hill, Brooklyn

A Uniquely Renovated Brooklyn Brownstone

After living in the upper west side of New York for a decade, Melissa Lee, and her husband Keye developed a yearning for a larger space with a more relaxed vibe that would allow them to grow as a family and offer a space for Melissa to run her event, interior design and styling firm, Bespoke Only. They went about the house-hunting process very casually and didn’t take the hunt too seriously, but when the couple stumbled upon this gorgeous Brownstone in the creative and vibrant neighborhood of Clinton Hill that offered a truly blank canvas, they were quick to call it home for themselves and their three cats, Pishkin, Vader and Monkey.

It wasn’t love at first sight, but the space offered plenty of functional space and oozed with potential. It needed a lot of work and, just when they were becoming overwhelmed with it all, Melissa and Keye were lucky to find Sarah Jacoby from Simpson Jacoby Architecture to help them turn it into the home of their dreams. “There were phone calls from the crew every other day about some unforeseen issues inside of this over 100-year-old house,” Melissa says. “Roof leaks, unexpected load-bearing walls, electrical that was not up to code, the kind of renovation horror stories that we all have seen on TV — you name it and we had it.” Though the six-month-long process was stressful and had them crashing on family members’ couches most nights, the process wasn’t without some unforeseen perks as well — they learned patience and the value of living more simply. The constant moving forced them to shed a lot of their belongings, and they came to realize that a lot of their possessions weren’t necessities. “There are many things that we can actually live without and life still goes on,” Melissa explains, “It’s become a lighter way of life.” Of course, in the end, the result was also worth the wait and one they are forever grateful and thrilled with: a truly unique home, renovated and finished to their taste and lifestyle. –Sabrina

Photography by Ty Cole Photography
VIEW MORE