Black Lives Matter

Black Lives Matter

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I spend most of my days here talking about the concept of HOME and how to make it a more meaningful and welcoming one.

But I have never once had to worry about my loved ones getting back safely to that home for fear of police brutality. That is a privilege all people should know, but they do not.

I cannot sit idly by and watch black people be murdered and then receive absolutely no justice at the hands of a racist and unjust system.

This morning I saw Lisa Lucas say that she, “[Went] to sleep heartbroken over one murder, [woke] up heartbroken over another.” That feeling is overwhelming and I cannot talk about “lifestyle” here today when the first part of that word is being ripped away from black people on a daily basis for everyday acts like selling CDs in front of a store, having a missing license plate, wearing a hoodie or calling for help.

To all of my white friends: please speak up, stand up and show (through action AND words) your support for black people. Call your officials, call your police chief, speak to your neighbors, put out signs support that send a message, protest, be an ally, do EVERYTHING you can to make it clear that you will not passively stand by while black people are being murdered every day without consequence. My heart breaks for the families of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile it must be said again and again and again: Black Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter, Black Lives Matter.

Grace

DIY Pink Shibori Cushions

DIY Pink Shibori Cushions

DIY Pink Shibori Cushions on Design*Sponge

The shibori trend is still going strong — can you believe this DIY post in our archives about shibori designs is already two years old? Crazy! Despite the popularity of shibori, it always seemed like an intimidating project to attempt. I got it in my head that it would be so messy and difficult to get right, so I never even tried it until making these hot pink shibori cushions recently. Post shibori-dyeing, I can definitely say it isn’t anywhere close to being as difficult or messy as I had thought!

DIY Pink Shibori Cushions on Design*Sponge

Living in a small apartment can make it tricky to have enough seating when guests come over — we simply don’t have the space for a second sofa or big arm chair. Instead, I’ve decided to stock up on oversized cushions and pillows so that guests can be more comfortable gathering around our coffee table, even if they are sitting on the floor. Also, we have two pet rabbits who love to be petted, so having some extra cushions around helps us get comfy on the floor for their marathon petting sessions.

I’m really happy with how these hot pink shibori cushion covers turned out, and just in time for summer! And now that I’ve tried my hand at shibori, I can’t get enough. I’m already planning on doing more pillows in grey or black for the fall and winter. —Kathleen

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How To Picnic In Relaxed Style + Peach Hand Pie Recipe

How To Picnic In Relaxed Style + Peach Hand Pie Recipe

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After a great holiday weekend, I was reminded of just how fun picnics actually are. Lounging in the grass and gazing up at fireworks and the stars, I felt like a kid again, only with whole grain bread and fancy mustard. Creating a relaxing, no-stress picnic doesn’t require a ton of thought, but taking 10 minutes to come up with a game plan can mean the difference between a comfortable outing and a stressful one.

Here are four helpful tips for a stellar picnic, plus some sweet accessories if picnicking in style and enjoying the great outdoors will become a regular occurrence for you. Also, it’s peach season — don’t miss Cheryl & Griffith Day’s Peach Hand Pie recipe after the jump, too! —Caitlin

Image above by Tinywater. Styling and design by Bash, Please.

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Tip #1: Location, Location, Location

Picking a good spot is fairly easy, since the beauty of the picnic is that it can happen anywhere! Important things to consider beyond the beauty of the location are shade, restrooms, insects, the weather forecast and permission. Once those things are covered, a soft throw blanket and a few pillows set the scene for a great outdoor meal!

Accessories: 1. Pillow from Serena & Lily | 2. Blanket from Target

Image above: Kirsten Ellis of Beaux Arts Photographie 

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The Myth of Being Busy: Making Time Off a Priority by Sanja Gardašević

The Myth of Being Busy: Making Time Off a Priority by Sanja Gardašević

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In my own life, I’ve experienced the pressure to appear busy. And I’m not alone. Especially when I lived in the hustle-bustle of Toronto’s advertising industry, being the last one at the office was a badge to be worn. In the lineup at any given coffeeshop, it wasn’t unusual to overhear people compare their work hours. Even now — as a freelancer working from home — the guilt I feel when I take a day off is a feeling I think many of us in today’s Western society share.

Like our European counterparts who value siestas and even ban emailing after-hours, we need to start prioritizing leisure time and celebrating efficiency — not just for our own pleasure, but to increase our productivity and creativity. A champion for this initiative, Content and Campaign Manager for Domain.ME, Sanja Gardašević is joining us today to talk about the myth of being busy, why we should all make time off more of a priority, and how self-reflection and breaking a sweat affects our creativity. –Sabrina

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15 Fabulous Interior Designers to Follow on Instagram

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15 Fabulous Interior Designers to Follow on Instagram

Back in the days before the Internet and social media, we got glimpses of the most beautiful homes by tearing through styled spreads in glossy magazines, never knowing all the hard work that went into their production. In recent years, interior designers have begun using Instagram as a way to showcase not only their perfect finished products, but also the trials and tribulations of the design process, as well as the personal insights that define their unique sensibilities.

We’ve been following some designers for a long time now, and continue to be awed by their personal aesthetic evolution. Newer names on the list have discovered ingenious ways of promoting their brands with images of service to their followers. As always, we’ll continue to share our most favorite pretty pictures with you @designsponge. Here are 15 of our favorite designer feeds from which we pull inspiration on Instagram! — @anniewerbler

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Comfort Zone: Evan Cole

Comfort Zone: Evan Cole

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Growing up, graphic designer Evan Thomas Cole believed conformity and community were one and the same. He was shy, reserved, and much preferred to keep to himself indoors. As an adult, he’s learned to enjoy social situations and has grown to crave a sense of community — to the point where he pursued full-time work in an effort to surround himself with others, and relocated to Chicago to be closer to his boyfriend, Jonathan.

From the comfort of his living room (which really functions as the “everyroom” in the humble apartment), Evan is joining us today to chat about community, following his heart, self-acceptance, and crowded trains.

Photography by Marta Sasinowska

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A Bungalow Full of Thrifty Finds & Charming Surprises

A Bungalow Full of Thrifty Finds & Charming Surprises, Design*Sponge

A Bungalow Full of Thrifty Finds & Charming Surprises

In the past, figurative painter and interior designer Amy Lind has been the mastermind behind her and husband Josh’s homes. When they moved into this charming, 1930s-era bungalow, however, Josh asked to be in on the decorating. With that in mind, the couple set out with a clear plan of action, eager to work together on finding their combined aesthetic. Using Pinterest, Josh collected homes and decorations he liked, then passed them off to his wife to get her thoughts. By the end of the design planning process, the couple had defined their style as “rustic, modern and simple” and were ready to put it to work in their Savannah, GA Craftsman.

Amy is a proud penny-pincher, and she’s made a game out of finding stylish steals that fit their newly-defined style. She doesn’t discriminate on where the pieces come from either. Dressers from garage sales, thrift shop chairs or the occasional dumpster-dive gem are all welcome in her home, and these found objects greatly outnumber the newer pieces. Many of the decorations she’s snagged are centered around travel, something she and her husband hold near and dear to their hearts. They even have a scratch-off map hanging in the living room that helps them keep track of everywhere they’ve been. The theme continues into the at-home studio where a plaster piece picked up on a trip to Florence serves as a stylish reminder of Amy’s time abroad. Even toddler Forrest’s room is outfitted in the look. Globes, maps and outdoorsy accessories in primary colors paint a scene perfect for letting his imagination run free.

All of these vintage finds are set against a backdrop of charming original details that you’re hard-pressed to find in newer construction. Near the downstairs phone, a quaint seat folds out of the wall, offering a little respite while you chat. This treasure alone would be enough to sway me into buying the home, but that’s not all. Behind the upstairs bookcase sits a secret room. When Forrest turns four, his parents plan on letting him see the room for the first time. Talk about a big birthday reveal! They aren’t sure how they’ll decorate the space yet, but if the rest of their home is any indication, I’m sure it will be colorful, fun and barely cost them a dime. Click through to see all of the thrifty goodness for yourself. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Amy Lind

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12 Red, White & Blue Interiors For The Fourth

12 Red, White and Blue Interiors for the Fourth on Design*Sponge

12 Red, White & Blue Interiors For The Fourth

Besides being the symbolic color palette of America’s Independence Day, I think red white and blue are pretty dynamic color companions when it comes to design. While blue is one of my favorite colors to use in interiors, red may be the most energetic hue in the bunch, and is often used for that very reason. I love the way red can instantly bring life to shades of blue, or warm up a white room (like the first space in the slideshow). For these reasons, I’ll definitely be looking for red, white and blue in interiors even after celebrating America’s independence today.

There are so many ways to bring this palette into your home in subtle — or loud — ways. Whether you employ large swaths of red, white, or blue by way of paint or artwork or accessorize with small pops of these hues, consider these colors as accents for energized rooms and lively spaces. It’s a palette that can be used well beyond our nation’s flag! — Kevin

 

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Home Zine + Best of the Web

Home Zine + Best of the Web

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No matter how many amazing technological and social media breakthroughs we make, I will always love the idea of a magazine. Whether it’s printed on glossy pages or thick matte stock, there’s something about a collection of ideas and stories — unified around a single theme — that will always be my go-to choice for inspiration. My collection of print magazines spans from old House & Garden issues from the 30s and 40s to all of my favorite issues of Nest and beyond. But I’m always on the hunt for new publications to add to my watch list.

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One of my new favorites is Home Zine, out of Australia. Created by Carla McRae and Tallulah Fontaine, Home Zine is now on its third issue, which focuses on the idea of PEOPLE. The issue features artwork, photography, writing and ideas by artists like Megan James, Kaye Blegvad, Felix Wilson, Ghost Patrol, Leta Sobierajski, Wade Jeffree, Saki Souda and many more. I love the the contrast of thoughtful and serious photography alongside whimsical, candy-colored illustrations, so this issue was a major highlight of my week. If you’re looking for something fun to add to your magazine collection, click here to check out and order the latest issue of Home Zine online. Until Monday, have a wonderful weekend! xo, grace

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In the Kitchen With: Greg and Lucy Malouf’s Toasted Quinoa Salad

In the Kitchen With: Greg and Lucy Malouf’s Toasted Quinoa Salad

Toasted Quinoa salad photo by Alan Benson

This week’s recipe for Toasted Quinoa with Coriander, Lime and Crunchy Pumpkin comes from chef Greg Malouf and food writer Lucy Malouf, authors of the cookbook New Feast: Modern Middle Eastern Vegetarian, their seventh. I was very attracted to this recipe not only because summer is the best time to enjoy wonderful tomatoes, basil, and summer squash, but because it is super quick to pull together, travels well, and can be served at room temperature without losing any flavor. Like the farro salad we had on this column a few weeks ago, this can serve as inspiration for combining your own flavors and ingredients. Perfect for summer when your garden is giving you lots of choices! —Kristina

Why Lucy loves this recipe: There are so many reasons to love this summery salad, not least because it makes a delicious, gluten-free change from the ubiquitous tabbouleh! These days, most of us know that quinoa is a brilliant “superfood,” with high levels of protein, fiber, iron and other essential elements, but it’s also quick and easy to prepare and wonderfully versatile. I also love it for its pretty, pearly sheen. Here, it makes a terrific base to a salad, which is also chock-full of vital, palate-enlivening fresh herbs as well as spicy, citrus flavors from the lime-sumac dressing. Greg and I were so pleased to discover that fried shredded pumpkin (squash) works like fried onions to provide a sweet crunch to the salad and makes a lovely counterpoint to the tangy dressing. It’s best to use a firm squash, like a butternut.

New Feast by Greg and Lucy Malouf

Photography by Alan Benson

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15 Home Offices Sure to Inspire Creativity

15 Home Offices Sure to Inspire Creativity on Design*Sponge

15 Home Offices Sure to Inspire Creativity

When it comes to working at home, creating an environment that will ensure productivity is key, and the solution definitely varies based on your type of work and where you live. While some enjoy the luxury of a whole room for their home office, many of the workspaces in this slideshow have been mixed into a living space, kitchen, or bedroom. It’s amazing to see how even the smallest space (like the converted closet in the first photo) can become an easy and efficient workstation, while others have integrated systems of organization for props and supplies for design work. These offices differ in style, but there are several key features I noticed throughout these spaces. The first would be to keep a flexible surface (like a bulletin board) for organizing inspiration or key notes and documents that can be switched out periodically. The second would be to pick a color palette that either energizes you (include brighter colors) or keeps you focused (try a cooler, minimal design).

Whether you work at home or often find yourself finishing up work at home, there are many offices here that represent a range of homes and lifestyles. Consider your office as an extension of your state of mind and you are bound to create a space that inspires! — Kevin

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Facebook LIVE! Today at 1pm EST with Grace + Julia

Facebook LIVE! Today at 1pm EST with Grace + Julia

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Good morning! Today Julia and I will be doing a Facebook live video at 1pm EST! We’ll be broadcasting live from our house in upstate New York for 30 minutes from 1-1:30 pm.

Join us live and learn how to make Julia’s famous herby green sauce (perfect for topping your weekend lunch or dinner!) and get a tour of some of my favorite design items from the kitchen and dining room (as well as a quick tour of our little herb garden and Julia’s DIY planters). We’ll be taking questions and answers, too, so CLICK HERE to tune in live at 1pm EST today! xo, grace

Before & After: A Philadelphia Family Apartment in the Heart of the City

Before & After: A Philadelphia Family Apartment in the Heart of the City, on Design*Sponge

Before & After: A Philadelphia Family Apartment in the Heart of the City

The “envelope” of a renovation project is critical to its success. Mona of Mona Ross Berman Interiors in Philadelphia first sorts out the floor, walls, lighting, windows, hardware, doors, and other finishes in a home before focusing on bolder decorative touches. “Many people assume that furniture and accessories are what designers focus on to make a space work,” she explains, “But really, I always start with the envelope because if that’s not working, nothing will look right.” Her firm helped their clients — a family of six, including four daughters — transform their two-bedroom pied-a-terre at The Dorchester overlooking Rittenhouse Square. Built in 1980, the apartment needed a complete overhaul to give it the modern look the couple desired. Along with the help of contractor Kenny Grono of Buckminster Green, they gutted the kitchen, removed crown molding, repainted traditional oak parquet floors in sleek black, re-tiled bathrooms, and lightened up what was overall a dark, dreary space.

Though the project had a relatively short eight-month timeline, several months were spent upfront planning what was to come. “Taking time at the start of the process is critical,” Mona advises, “Because without good planning and a strong team in place, the project is likely to run over budget and over schedule — and drive everyone a bit mad.” Rethinking the floor plan proved necessary. The design team had to create sleeping quarters for three teens, a toddler, and their parents. They wanted to open up the kitchen and main living space to create a large great room. They also hoped to reallocate closet space for laundry and even a nursery, and to carve out a mudroom to help keep things tidy.

“We had to figure out how to bring more light into the apartment,” Mona adds. Heavy traditional draperies were covering up large mid-century modern-style windows. The team then added track lighting, flushmounts, and baseboard fixtures wherever possible, as electrical wiring for recessed lights was not an option in each location. The parquet floors also appeared dingy, but it was too expensive to replace them and not worthwhile to refinish them. Instead, they were painted black to provide a simple, neutral backdrop for contemporary furniture. Crown molding was also removed for a more modern and simplified feel. In terms of layout, the master suite was reconfigured to create more closet space and additional privacy. What was once a closet became a very small but working nursery for a toddler.

The team’s guiding aesthetic principle was to create a modern, almost hotel-like vibe so the family would feel like they were “getting away” when they stayed in their city apartment. Functionally, it needed to accommodate a large family that entertains often. “When we realized we could make that work,” Mona shares, “We were all thrilled.” —Annie

Photography by Courtney Apple

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12 High-Style Spaces in Virginia and West Virginia

This blush-hued guest room at the Quirk features art by Aimee Joyaux. Local, Quirk Gallery artists decorate all of the Richmond, VA hotel's guest rooms.

12 High-Style Spaces in Virginia and West Virginia

Growing up in the eastern panhandle of West Virginia, we were only an hour and some change from Washington D.C, across the local bridge from western Maryland, and 15 minutes from the Virginia state line where the Shenandoah and Potomac rivers meet. Being closer to D.C. and Virginia’s horse country, it was often difficult to explain to my NYC friends that I wasn’t a mountain mamma from the “almost heaven” (as in mountain-height) state of West Virginia, but rather an East Coast valley girl from the Shenandoah Valley.

I’m as fascinated by the coastal and colonial homes of Virginia as I am with the farmettes, cabins and former mills of West Virginia. Click through the slide show to see some great examples of homes in these neighboring states that represent some serious style. —Caitlin

*Sadly, many West Virginia counties, families and businesses have been affected by massive flooding last week, including the famed Greenbrier Hotel and Resort. Please consider helping their recovery efforts, if you can, by donating through the Greenbrier’s Neighbors program here.

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DIY Paper Mushroom Tutorial

DIY Paper Mushroom Tutorial

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

I was putting folded laundry away in my son’s drawers when I happened to notice a honeycomb ball on top of his dresser, with its bottom pointed toward me. Normally, honeycomb paper is cut and shaped to highlight the honeycomb pattern, but the bottom of the ball showed a ring of perfectly spaced paper rays. It struck me that it looked just like the gills of a huge mushroom, and I filed that thought away for future reference — maybe a holiday window display?

Then about a week later, I was at Impress Cards and Crafts, where I teach paper flower classes, and —gasp! — I found tiny honeycomb paper designed for use in handmade cards. I hadn’t even known that honeycomb paper came in anything other than the large size used to make party decorations.

I brought home a packet in “ivory” and kept it on my nightstand so I could spend some time every night just messing with it. As I shaped, stretched, and manipulated the honeycomb paper, I was struck by how organic it looked and felt. I made a three-dimensional shape and played with it, turning it inside out. Somehow the way it moved reminded me of some kind of sea creature — maybe a jellyfish or sea anemone?

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge

I became a little bit obsessed and started reading about honeycomb and other hexagonal structures in nature. I learned that this pattern appears on salt-worn rock formations, insect eyes, and inside bones. Just as with crepe paper, I was charmed by the notion of using a manufactured material to explore structures in nature, particularly when the material itself is inspired by natural forms. I needed a material that was bulky but also light and regular for my mushroom gills; nature uses this honeycomb structure for the same reasons.

I hope you’ll whip up your own colony of mushrooms. They mix beautifully with paper flowers (how cute would they be arranged with some paper hellebores and daffodils?!), and I think a little pot of them would make an enchanting gift. —Kate

Paper Mushroom Tutorial by Kate Alarcón for Design*Sponge
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