15 Kilim Pillows I Wouldn’t Kick Out of Bed

My go-to spot for finding great (and highly unique) pillows made from kilim rugs is Leif. Stacy carries a great selection that is made by Christian Rathbone in Brooklyn. Christian travels abroad and works with makers in Turkey to select designs that are then turned into pillows stateside (check out his home tour here!). This pillow has a great mix of bright colors and pattern. 16x6 (insert included) $88 at Leif.

15 Kilim Pillows I Wouldn’t Kick Out of Bed

After this week’s essay on white rooms and the ever-present kilim rug accent, I got quite a few emails and comments on our social channels asking where to find great kilim pieces. Most people were curious about pillows and other accessories made from old kilim segments, and since I have quite a few around my own house, I thought I’d share some of my favorite sources for snapping up great handmade kilim pieces. These shops take great segments, remnants and swatches from vintage kilims and reimagine them as beautiful pillows. While “all-things-kilim” is a major trend right now, I firmly believe pieces like this that highlight traditional and artisan-level crafting skills will always be in style. So don’t be afraid to invest in a pillow, rug or accent piece that will work just as well in a modern space as it will a more traditional one. xo, grace

*Every store I’ve linked to in this post has multiple kilim pillows for sale, just in case the specific one I mention here sells out!

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Comfort Zone: Debbie Bean

Comfort Zone: Debbie Bean

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Debbie Bean is a talented stained glass artist who lives and works out of her colorful craftsman home nestled at the base of the Angeles National Mountains. With a sweeping view of the hillside while doing business on her laptop — and her two cats and one pooch sunbathing beside her — daily life is often romantic, but still comes with its fair share of headaches and heartache.

From the comfort of her beloved living room in her Tujunga, CA home, Debbie is joining us today to tell us more about herself and her business — namely, not giving a crap about what other people think, her greatest fears, and what she learned from her life-changing solo trip to Thailand and years studying with a Tibetan Lama. –Sabrina

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A Lovingly Restored 1920s Colonial Family Home in Kansas City, MO

This cozy nook in the Watters Family's kitchen is one of Amanda's favorite spots. "As a family, we have most of our meals here," she explains, "it’s the spot everyone gravitates towards no matter the time of day. It gets the most beautiful light and looks into our garden, and gives this space so much warmth." The table is from IKEA and the bistro chairs were purchased from Craigslist. The painting is an antique.

A Lovingly Restored 1920s Colonial Family Home in Kansas City, MO

After growing up in the Midwest and falling in love, high school sweethearts Amanda and Andrew Watters got married and moved to a condo in Kansas City, MO to start a family. But after welcoming their first two children, Stella and Theodore, it didn’t take long before they grew out of their space — a reality that was only amplified when Amanda decided to take a step back from teaching to become a stay-at-home mom. And so the house-hunt began, a journey which ended in lots of disappointment until the family was hit with a stroke of luck. After losing out on countless homes, they stumbled across this three-story, 2,400-square-foot 1920s colonial before it went on the market. “It ticked all the boxes on our wish list so we put an offer on it that night and didn’t look back,” Amanda says. Since then, a lot has changed for the Watters family. They welcomed another child, baby Alfie, and Amanda started chronicling the journey of motherhood, slow living, and the process of restoring their home renovations on the blog Homesong.

As a full-time mother, the goal when it came to decorating their space was function without sacrificing form. “It was very important to us to make each room family-friendly and comfortable for each one of us,” she begins, “I wouldn’t say we sacrificed beauty for functionality, but rather made it our mission to blend the two.” After a lot of moving, re-jigging and tweaks over time, they’ve fostered a calming, simple and welcoming space that oozes with comfort — thanks to Amanda’s mindfulness. “We have found that a little intention and care go a long way,” she says. “We feel like this home is a true reflection of our family… Our life is a simple one, and we love keeping this slow, mindful pace.”

Although the home comes with many original and unique perks — their antique porcelain sink and tub, the crystal chandelier, the heavy doors and pulley windows — restoring it has proven to be a much harder job than they initially anticipated. “Since this house is so old, everything we do must be customized,” Amanda explains. “Shutters, window boxes, doors — all of it is a long process to design and order!” After two years, there’s still lots to do to get the house to where the family wants it to be, which currently means giving their entire outdoor space a much needed facelift. But every task they accomplish adds up to make this house the ultimate family home. “Our little ones enjoy adventuring around the yard, making crafts, helping mama in the kitchen, digging in the garden and playing with their toys,” Amanda shares. “We are thankful for the space this home gives our family each day to do the things we love. It is a calming haven that is full of the most beautiful, airy light, and it is a place that we not only love coming home to, but a place we feel safest.” –Sabrina

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An Ode to the Glue Gun: 18 Projects that Use Our Favorite Craft Tool

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An Ode to the Glue Gun: 18 Projects that Use Our Favorite Craft Tool

The humble glue gun seems to be a divisive tool in the crafting community. Some see it as a symbol of projects that lack a certain level of sophistication, but others (like me and Paul Lowe — who has one tattooed on his arm!) see it as a way to open up a world of possibilities in just a few quick clicks of a tool. Glue guns aren’t just for summer camp popsicle stick projects — they’re also a useful and valuable tool for getting just about any project done, from collaging and woodworking to endless decorative details. So today, I decided to round up my 18 favorite projects that show off the versatility of the everyday glue gun and all you can do with it. Squeeze away! xo, grace

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DIY Floating Window Shelves

DIY Floating Window Shelves

DIY Floating Window Shelves by Jessica Marquez for Design Sponge

Black thumb be damned, I love filling my home with plants. Prickly cactus, chubby-leaved succulents and sprawling ivy are my favorite types of greenery. Mainly because they are the easiest to care for, and I don’t have the best track record. In spite of my plant-murdering ways, I clearly see the benefits of houseplants. They are beautiful, they clean the air, and they can even improve your mood.

It seems like every other day I’m vacuuming soil and nursing a broken plant back into a tipped pot. Thanks, cats! I created these built-in clear shelves to get my plants off my windowsill and, bonus, I was able to add a lot more color and greenery into my life. These minimal shelves provide lots of direct light, so they’re great for cacti, succulents and herbs. And while they don’t block too much light, they provide a bit of privacy, too.

DIY Floating Window Shelves by Jessica Marquez for Design Sponge

These shelves work great for smaller windows. This one is about 24 inches wide. I chose to use acrylic for my shelves because it’s lightweight, safer than glass (since these are not screwed in), and easy to remove to clean. You could easily substitute wood for the brackets — painted to match your window — and glass for the shelves. The acrylic does bow a bit with the weight of the plants. If you’d like to display heavier objects or if you have wider windows I’d suggest using tempered glass, which you can easily get cut to size with finished edges at a professional glass shop. —Jessica Marquez

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A Textile Designer’s Eclectic Work-Live Apartment in Queens, NY

A Textile Designer's Eclectic Work-Live Apartment in Queens, NYC

A Textile Designer’s Eclectic Work-Live Apartment in Queens, NY

Hunting for just the right space to call home takes a dash of research, a heaping helping of patience, and a keen sense of knowing when to take a leap of faith. For textile designer and Virginia-native Christian Rathbone, the search resulted in the snap decision to say “yes” to this early 1900s NYC apartment. “I saw my apartment’s posting on Craigslist when I was actively searching a little over three years ago,” Christian says of his home hunt. “I happened to be working out of town at the time, but just had a feeling this was the one.” Being a former housepainter, he knew good bones when he saw them — and it didn’t hurt that he loved the wall color — so he sweet-talked the landlord into holding off on renting the apartment for two days until his return to NYC. Christian then arranged the earliest appointment possible, raced back, and after a firm handshake, held the keys to this 550-square-foot space.

Nestled in a historic working class Queens neighborhood, a stone’s throw from Bushwick, Brooklyn, it took Christian two years to settle in, arrange his things just so, and make the space feel like his — a process dictated by function. “For me, a lot of it is how I flow in my daily routine from one room to the next,” he explains, “How can I place furniture and other objects around me to maximize my energy and accomplish tasks that repeat every day.” Due to the layout of the apartment, which is practically split in half by a hallway, Christian embraces this and dedicated half of his place to working, and the other half to living and resting. “I’ve worked from home for close to 15 years over my career, but this is probably the arrangement that’s made the most sense so far,” he shares. “I like that I can ‘walk away’ from the work side of the house and relax into my home space.”

A natural problem-solver hailing from a long line of engineers, Christian comes about his meticulous and thoughtful nature quite honestly, which lends itself well to his work. “I like to problem-solve (even if there is no problem, haha) and think I would describe my daily work existence this way,” he says. “I have found this beneficial as a business owner, but also in my approach to textiles.” Whether he’s working out a creative problem in his head, rearranging his workspace as inventory goes up and down, or designing a new piece, Christian’s home becomes a well-oiled machine, as he explains: “Each [day], my space is more closely aligned with my daily life.”

Although he’s still a country boy at heart, living in New York has forced Christian to get to know his true self better, and offers “a greater appreciation for the character and culture from which [I] came,” a truth that brings comfort. And although he knows he won’t be in this space forever, he’ll remember it fondly and relishes each day he gets to wake up seeing its textured ceiling, feeling the glossy hardwood floors underfoot, and watching the city go by from its tall windows. –Sabrina

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10 Tips for Meditating at Home

10 Tips for Meditating at Home

10 Tips for Meditating at Home, Design*Sponge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We’ve all been there. You snag a sliver of free time, and two seconds later you’re sucked into your smartphone. Adele covers, throwback fashion shows, listicles: you name it and it’s there in your hand to keep you from taking a quiet moment to be mindful and present. Enter, Meditation Teacher and Transformational Coach Sebene Selassie. Born in Ethiopia and raised in Washington, D.C., she has traveled all over the world helping countless people carve out a bit of time for meditation in today’s go-go-go world. From setting up a regular spot to practice, to actually exploiting the power of your smartphone for good, she has many tools for anyone looking to get into the practice.

As is the case with any new routine, though, it’s important to start small. So today, she’s giving us 10 easy-to-follow tips that will do wonders for mental health. And the lucky bonus is that they’re all done right at home. Click through to hear a bit more from Sebene and to get started. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography courtesy of Sebene Selassie

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Putting Yourself First and Going For What You Want With Kristen Elise Brown

Putting Yourself First and Going For What You Want With Kristen Elise Brown

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In many areas of life, we’re taught to ask permission, wait our turn, and follow the rules. But as many successful business owners will tell you, it’s sometimes only when you trust your instincts, question the status quo, and go for what you want that you’ll find your real footing.

For Kristen Elise Brown, the founder of Gold Label Cosmetics, she had to miss out on one too many opportunities before she learned that the most important person to please in life and in business is yourself. After working as an employee and freelancer on various sets as a makeup artist, Kristen realized that the only way her ideas would be fully heard was if she was the boss she reported to. So in 2012, she launched GLC, offering both classic and trendy color cosmetics and makeup — including gluten- and paraben-free formulas.

Today, the strong-willed and wise-beyond-her-years Kristen is joining us to share more insight into her path to entrepreneurship, the problem with asking for permission, and how not finishing can be a thing of beauty. –Sabrina

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Serendipity and Embracing Imperfection With Maureen Saturne

Serendipity and Embracing Imperfection With Maureen Saturne

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Often in the handmade and creative space, businesses happen serendipitously — or at least that’s the case for Maureen Saturne of INDIVIJU. What started as a weekend passion a few years ago has morphed into a career that continues to surprise her.

Launched in 2013 out of Brooklyn, NY, INDIVIJU is a unisex jewelry brand that embraces the natural imperfections of various materials to create statement pieces for every occasion. With a background in technical design, metalsmithing and fashion, Maureen’s passion for jewelry has always been there, but learning the business side of things has come with its fair share of stumbles. Today, Maureen is sharing her perspective on what it’s like to be just a few years into her business, the lessons she’s learned thus far, and her goals for the future. –Sabrina

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The White Wall Controversy: How the All-White Aesthetic Has Affected Design

The White Wall Controversy: How the All-White Aesthetic Has Affected Design

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Over the past 11.5 years of blogging about interiors, I’ve seen a few core controversies pop up over and over again. But few have been as incendiary — and representative of larger issues in design — as the lightning-rod issue of all-white walls and homes.

Whether you call it modern minimalism, a reaction to the pattern-heavy aughts, the Marie Kondo effect, the Kinfolk-ization of design or just a love of classic neutrals, it’s impossible to escape how popular all-white homes and walls seem to be right now. The reasons are rich and varied (we’ll get into those below), but the depth of the trend’s effect is astounding. At least 90% of the homes we see every month (we reach out to and get submissions from hundreds of people around the globe on a regular basis) have “that” look: white walls, a mix of vintage Kilim rugs, lots of house plants and a carefully curated selection of found/salvaged objects. Whether you love it or hate it, this aesthetic has defined the zeitgeist of the past 5-6 years of the online design world.

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Much has been said (both gleefully and angrily) about this look. Typically, I let those extreme reactions go in one ear and out the other because if I’ve learned anything, it’s that the Internet is great at producing intense reactions to nonessential things. But lately, I’ve seen a swell of well-thought-out and reasoned responses requesting a move away from this aesthetic and a desire for something different. So today I wanted to talk about this look, what I think it means (and why it gets fairly and unfairly blamed for some problems), and how we can both embrace and understand this style while also making plenty of room in our hearts — and our publications — for color, pattern, stylistic difference and abundance in addition to minimalism.

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Images above, top to bottom: One Eleven East Tour, Dawn and Ian’s CA Home, Audrey Bodisco’s SF Home

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Halifax, Nova Scotia City Guide

Halifax, Nova Scotia City Guide

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Katie Tower grew up in a suburb just outside of Halifax, Nova Scotia’s downtown core. “The community I lived in is part of the amalgamated Halifax Regional Municipality (similar to the GTA),” Katie explains, “which was recently renamed to just Halifax.” A freelance art director and designer, Katie has called the North End of the city home for just over two years.

“Halifax has really awesome community vibes,” she says, “It’s a city that feels like a small town and, if you’ve lived here long enough, it’s pretty much impossible to walk down the street and not see a familiar face.” With a strong music and creative scene and lots of small businesses popping up all of the time, it’s an extremely walkable coastal city with a bustling downtown waterfront — especially in the warmer months. And if you ever grow tired of the city life, just a short drive away you’ll stumble across a ton of amazing beaches, lakes, and other rural wonders. Today, Katie is virtually touring us through this great and diverse Canadian city. Enjoy! –Sabrina

Photography by Katie Tower

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Paint it Black: 15 Bold and Beautiful Dark Walls

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Paint it Black: 15 Bold and Beautiful Dark Walls

For a considerable amount of time, whites and neutrals dominated the interior space — and, admittedly,  still continue to, whether you’re a lover of the trend or not. But one thing’s for certain: As much as I love a clean, minimal space, there’s no reason why that aesthetic can’t be accomplished using white’s counterpart: black (or close to). I personally love the hue (or lack thereof) and how, when done right, it instantly grounds a room, makes it feel deliberately finished, adds character, and becomes a fantastic backdrop for your art, furniture and life.

If you’ve thought about painting it black and previously shied away from the idea, think again! These 15 dynamic and bold rooms showcase black (or nearly black) in all of it’s beautiful nuances and demonstrate just how different you can make a dark room look and feel — from a classic bathroom to a playful bedroom. –Sabrina

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12 Storage Ideas for Under Stairs

It has always been my dream to have hidden storage like this. It feels like a secret doorway, but it's actually just a neat and tidy way to organize everything from hats, coats and gloves to pantry goods. This sort of design requires some custom carpentry, but it's a feature that makes a home feel special and well thought-out. Design and photo by Miles Enterprises.

12 Storage Ideas for Under Stairs

This weekend we visited the new (but very old) home of friends of ours who previously lived in Brooklyn. They took the leap and bought a beautiful home from the 1850s and are now in the process of planning their full list of “to-dos” at home, from big to small.

One of my favorite features of their home is a grand staircase right past the front door that has some awkward storage space underneath. Most people would probably stick a coat rack there and call it a day (and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that), but this little space felt rife with potential for something really special. I immediately started sketching custom-built cabinetry and hidden storage in my head, so I ran home and started this roundup for them to get the ideas flowing. They certainly aren’t the only ones who could benefit from a little creative under-stair storage (it’s a great place to hide cat litter boxes!), so I threw in one of my favorite hidden cat spots, too! xo, grace

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Statement Pieces Breathe New Life Into a New Jersey Victorian

Statement Pieces Breathe New Life Into a New Jersey Victorian, Design*Sponge

Statement Pieces Breathe New Life Into a New Jersey Victorian

That one piece. We all have it. The day you found it, you were probably skipping through a shop, and in a flash everything went dark and there it stood. A lamp. A sofa. A mirror. Whatever it was, I’m sure it came home with you, and an entire room was built around it. For me, it was a blue velvet sofa. A couple years ago it was on super clearance, and I didn’t even measure it before giddily snatching it up. Luckily the sofa fit, and since then, it has informed every design decision I’ve made for my home. Put simply, it’s the pièce de résistance of my place, and I’m not alone in my strategy. Joey and Mark of Ball & Claw Vintage have decorated each one of their New Jersey Victorian’s rooms around unique statement pieces.

When Joey’s job left Manhattan and relocated to Jersey City, neither he nor his partner, Mark, were convinced they should leave behind their Brooklyn home and start fresh. To help them decide, the couple took a drive out to visit the area and were quite surprised by what they found. The Park Slope-esque neighborhood was much more metropolitan and fun than they had imagined. On the quick jaunt, Mark and Joey chanced upon a local who recommended his real estate agent and *poof* insta-home! Featuring 5 bedrooms and 4 baths, parquet floors, stained-glass windows and many other gorgeous original details, the home the agent showed them was a stunner for sure.

A short time later, the couple’s Brooklyn home was on the market and the keys to the new Victorian were in their hands. From the get-go, the guys set out to modernize – but not compromise – the integrity of their gorgeous new space. It was built in the late 1880s, and as with any old home, it came with its quirks. New wiring, updated plumbing and general cleaning-up took place before the real fun began: decorating. On weekends, these two vintage-lovers drove all around the Northeast tracking down stellar finds. The home’s two stunning fireplaces, as well as eclectic rugs and doors, are just a few of the fun and unusual touches they picked up.

Each of these statement pieces have greatly inspired every inch of the space that surrounds them. As visitors walk from one room to the next, they see that each one is decorated in a different color and style but always with the eclectic touch the couple is known for. “We love when people say they feel like they are in a museum whenever they walk through. We especially love to use lots of color, large art pieces, plants, and textiles when decorating a room,” they share. They couldn’t imagine being able to create a home so personal and inspirational with new construction or inside a giant condo, and I couldn’t agree more. It’s the original quirks and unique finds that make this particular home sing. Click through to see more, and enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Jen Chanyi

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Monday Mood: Small, But Mighty

Monday Mood: Small, But Mighty

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Dream big, start small is my mantra today, and going into this week, I’m inspired to make small changes now that will have big impacts later. On a small scale, I’ve been putting a pinch of baking soda in my morning coffee lately to combat the acidity — and it’s done wonders for my sensitive tummy. On a medium-sized scale, I’m forever-tweaking my home with tiny transformations to make it function better. And on a large scale, I’m newly engaged (!!!) and trying to make small choices now that might save me stress in the long run.

Call it efficiency — call it delayed gratification — it’s all about making the most with what you’ve got, and discovering the small things you can do now that save you oodles of time and/or heartache later. Be kind to yourself and give it a try! Setting the tone this week are a handful of small bit mighty ideas on everything from combatting bedhead and organizing your bottomless pit of a handbag, to making the most of every nook in your home and little tweaks that will change how you live. —Sabrina
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