Before & After: A Fun Family Home for Mom and Son

Before & After: A Fun Family Home for Mom and Son, on Design*Sponge

Before & After: A Fun Family Home for Mom and Son

With his collection of toy trucks, five-year-old Coban Lebold loves to help his mom Jessica McDonald update their 1905 Cape Cod-style home in Morgantown, WV. “More than anything, I like to transform or improve the looks of something,” Jessica says. “Last spring we transplanted a rhododendron by moving it to the backyard in his Tonka, and this winter he even helped me rewire a lamp (by pulling the cord through the other side of the pole).” When she first found their house in an established section of town called First Ward (right down the street from what Coban calls “the pirate park”), Jessica knew it had a lot of potential, but nearly cried when she saw the dated paneling and ceiling tiles on the second floor. Refreshing the finishes with the help of her family — including her doting parents — allowed Jennifer to tackle dozens of projects. “I even did the insides of closets,” she shares. “You know it’s bad when that’s the project you’re excited to tackle.”

Creating a home from scratch can be intimidatingly expensive, but Jessica has moved through the process slowly and waited for the right pieces to surface before pulling out her checkbook. Her renovation and decoration dollars have been spent on practical things that she and Coban will use long-term, not just whatever they want at the moment. “I like a mix of old and new, with clean modern lines, and lots of color,” Jessica notes. “I want the house to be neat and look great, but I also want the space to be easy and livable. I’ve really tried to make it fun and comfortable.” To tackle the inevitable parenting problem of living with kids’ items strewn about, Jessica devised a smart solution — the closed-in sunroom functions as Coban’s playroom, giving him plenty of space in which to play with his toys while Jessica has her own fun staging the areas nearby. “Though I might be able to see the stuff, it’s not actually in the living room. That makes such a difference.” —Annie

Photography by Jessica McDonald

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Jeanine Donofrio’s Vegan Brussels Sprout Wraps

Jeanine Donofrio’s Vegan Brussels Sprout Wraps

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A few weeks ago, a book arrived in the mail that totally made my day: The Love and Lemons Cookbook: An Apple-to-Zucchini Celebration of Impromptu Cooking. Blogger, cook and author Jeanine Donofrio’s blog, Love and Lemons, is a wealth of delicious, veggie-forward recipes and her cookbook is truly a love song to clean, healthy eating. And since I was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, I’ve felt a real disconnect from the food community, as so much of it feels off-limits to me now. But when I opened Jeanine’s book, I felt like I could eat everything. There were so many bright colors, fresh veggies and options for people who are eating low-sugar and low-carb dishes like I am.

The book is broken up by vegetable (I love being able to flip to whatever section matches my current vegetable drawer contents) and each section has a great range of ideas, from breakfast, lunch and dinner to sides and treats. Today we’re sharing one of my favorite recipes — Brussels Sprout Wraps. If you’re like me and love a good wrap, this is a great (low-carb, gluten-free) alternative to traditional corn, wheat or flour tortillas. Bonus? This recipe is naturally vegan, too! Read on to check out Jeanine’s recipe below and click here to check out her book online! xo, grace

Why Jeanine loves this recipe: I love this recipe because it makes you think of the brussels sprout leaves in a totally new way, because for this recipe you don’t want to just get a box of sprouts, you want the whole stalk. The larger leaves at the top of the stalk are the ones that are SO perfect for lettuce wraps. The flavor is milder than other dark leafy greens (like collards), but they’re sturdier than lettuce greens so you don’t make a mess. I filled these with rice noodles, baked tofu, and crispy carrot ribbons. I also used almond butter instead of peanut butter for the nut sauce, which makes for a great substitution. Of course, if you can’t find a brussels sprout stalk, feel free to use Bibb lettuce or napa cabbage leaves. And if you don’t have almond butter, any nut butter will do. Enjoy!

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Photography by Jack Mathews

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Moonlighting: Starting and Managing a Creative Side Business

Moonlighting: Starting and Managing a Creative Side Business

Life&Biz
When taking the jump from employed with benefits to full-time freelancing, you always hear that there will be some long nights and work on the weekends. Creating a work/life balance is hard enough when your creative business is your 9-to-5, but it seems almost impossible when it has to be worked around your day job. Lisa Wong Jackson has a full plate — she has a full-time position as a senior graphic designer, she is married, she is the mother of two boys, and she is the founder of a successful stationery and design business out of Berkeley, CA called Good on Paper. Her schedule is booked.

Today Lisa shares her best advice for those wanting to keep their day jobs while moonlighting after-hours. From knowing when to say “no” to projects, to crunching the numbers, to finding time for family and rest, Lisa’s authentic and learn-as-you-go attitude is inspiring. Click through to read her story and glean from her experience as a successful moonlighter. –Lauren

Product photography by Lisa Wong Jackson
Portrait photography by Sarah Hebenstreit

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Comfort Zone: Katie Marble

Comfort Zone: Katie Marble

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I first discovered Katie Marble through the hashtag #thehappynow, which she manages alongside Elise Cahill (whom we featured earlier this year). Together, they are The Happy Hunters, a best-friend duo from California who are always hot on the trail of fun and sun.

But more than a photographer/editor/DIYer/stylist/writer, Katie is a wife and dog-mom to an Australian Shepherd named Karl. After a childhood spent moving (that’s 14 times), Katie now calls Corona, CA home, but her desire for adventure and new experiences still remains. Similar to how her childlike sense of wonder allows her to be fearful, so too does her home help her through some of life’s more challenging curveballs — from creative burnout to her late mother’s battle with cancer. From the comfort of her bright and cozy living room, today Katie’s sharing more about her home, how it got her through some tough times, and what to do when you don’t see eye-to-eye with someone. –Sabrina

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Behind The Scenes: Creating Napeansea, an Indian-Inspired Brand

Behind The Scenes of Napeansea on Design Sponge

Behind The Scenes: Creating Napeansea, an Indian-Inspired Brand

It is serendipitous and wholly enriching that late last year, as I began writing about contemporary Indian design for Design*Sponge, I was on the cusp of launching Napeansea — my own Indian-inspired home and lifestyle brand with my talented textile designer mother.

Napeansea is a small but growing collection of homeware and lifestyle accessories that pays homage to the multi-faceted city of Bombay, the gateway that fuses India and the West. Our brand aims to be a fresh and elegant interpretation of India’s rich craftwork, combining traditional techniques like bandhani, hand block-printing, and embroidery for a new audience.

The collection comprises of patterned homeware, poetic garments finished with creative details, and an ever-evolving curation of one-off curios sourced from around India.

This business venture of ours has been over a decade in the works. With a long career in the design industry, I have worked as a stylist on shoots surrounded by sublime products, a journalist reporting on every collection that appeared on the market, and consulted as a trend forecaster advising brands on their next move. My mother Reena, a talented textile designer trained in India, had spent many years at the helm of our family business as a supplier of leather and sheepskin to many UK fashion and home brands with a wealth of artisan connections in India.

So a year ago, we decided it was time to combine our skills.

People ask us what it’s like to work so closely with family, and we’ll admit that some days it’s tough! But the benefits outweigh any conflicts. My mother has the strength of being a business woman with creative sensibilities, and I have knowledge of the online arena and a foothold in the design industry. We debate a lot, but 9 out of 10 times we ultimately arrive at the same conclusion.

My side of the partnership encompasses branding, running our online store, social media and design input. Mumbai — our inspiration — is my mother’s city, and the designs come from her nostalgia of the vibrant past combined with our experiences together. Our story spans decades and lifetimes, because a family business isn’t just a sudden pop-up vision —  for us, it’s layers of rich history and a long held dream coming to fruition. So I’ll begin with my mother Reena in Bombay in the 70s… —Rohini

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In The Kitchen With: The Minimalist Baker’s Almond Joy Bites

In The Kitchen With: The Minimalist Baker’s Almond Joy Bites

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Husband and wife duo, Dana and John Shultz are the team behind the wildly successful blog, The Minimalist Baker. With the idea that cooking shouldn’t be complicated, they create recipes with 10 ingredients or less, that can be made in one pot, and take 30 minutes or less to prepare. Their mostly plant-based and gluten-free recipe collection is not only tasty, but actually good for you! I’m no stranger to their blog, and last year I made their Vegan Funfetti Cupcakes recipe. My husband and I kept saying that we couldn’t believe the cupcakes had no dairy ingredients but were still light, fluffy and full of flavor!

Today, Dana and John are sharing their Almond Joy Bites recipe. Get your chocolatey-coconut fix with these bite-sized treats that are made with whole and fresh ingredients like coconut, almonds, dark chocolate and a little maple syrup for sweetness and depth. The Minimalist Baker’s recipes are easy to create, utilize nutrient-dense foods and satisfy your sweet tooth at the same time. It’s a win-win! –Emerald

Photography by Dana Shultz

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A Beverly Hills Hairstylist’s Bohemian Home

A Beverly Hills Hairstylist's Bohemian Home, Design*Sponge

A Beverly Hills Hairstylist’s Bohemian Home

While standing in the courtyard of a triplex in Beverly Hills, CA, hairstylist Christina Meneses and her close friend gazed upon neglected gym equipment. Multiple giant plastic mats cooked in the sun, each one strewn about willy-nilly. A shadow of trepidation crossed her friend’s face. “You’re sure you want to do this, right?” he asked. Not missing a beat, Christina nodded, convinced she’d made the right choice when signing the lease. Her gall in that moment didn’t come as a surprise. Christina has always been a big-picture type of person, so seeing past the less-than-ideal courtyard to the fantastic apartment beyond came naturally.

Coved ceilings, giant windows and built-in cabinetry are just a few of the beautiful elements the Spanish-style, two-bedroom home boasts. Since moving in, Christina has used these architectural details as inspiration, covering sofas in Moroccan-inspired pillows and adorning walls with vintage finds. Throwback treasures are so popular with Christina, in fact, they’ve influenced the entire house’s color scheme. Keeping her furniture and walls in a neutral hue means many accessories can be easily swapped out when inspiration sparks.

With the inside on its way to becoming the relaxing space she’d always dreamed of, Christina refocused on that terrible courtyard. She knew the simple act of getting the gym equipment out of there would make a world of a difference, and boy, was she was right. All she had to do after that was layer in plants and some cozy throw pillows, and voila! Bohemian relaxation zone achieved. It’s here that she often unwinds with friends, a glass of wine in one hand while the other scratches her pup Diego’s ears. Gifts from friends — and pieces she’s snuck out of the neighbors’ trash cans — have, in my opinion, turned what was once the property’s eyesore into its most beautiful asset. And it’s all thanks to Christina and her keen eye for design. Click through to see the rest of her pretty work, and enjoy! —Garrett

Photography courtesy of Jacob Gaitan

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Fine Art Focus: Nadine Ijewere

Fine Art Focus: Nadine Ijewere

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I don’t know if I’ve ever fallen as hard — or as quickly — for an artist’s work as I did with photographer Nadine Ijewere. Nadine’s mother and father were Jamaican and Nigerian, but Nadine always struggled to feel as connected to her roots as she wanted, because she was raised in London. In an interview with I-D, she said she, “remembers being jealous of friends who were more connected to their traditions.” So Nadine studied at the London College of Fashion and focused on fashion photography, which led her to create incredibly lush and expertly styled shoots that explored different world cultures through identity and fashion.

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Her series “The Misrepresentation of Representation” explores “beauty” and the way it’s affected, and in some ways defined, by culture. She also set out to create a stunning series of portraits that use flowers to explore cultural diversity and “the relationship between identifying oneself and the meaning of beauty.” I could look at these photos and examine their intricate details for hours. There is so much said in each woman’s face and there’s such a rich history told in the set-styling as well. If you haven’t checked out Nadine’s work before, please stop everything and go check out her website and Instagram feed now. I promise you’ll be glad you did. xo, grace

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Artist: Nadine Ijewere
About: Nadine is a London-based fashion and portrait photographer. She graduated from London College of Fashion with a BA in Fashion Photography.
More: You can follow Nadine on Instagram, check out her website and read her interviews in I-D, Lazy Oaf and Indie Magazine.

All photography (c) Nadine Ijewere. Images via NadineIjewere.com

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10 Indian Ceramic Brands

10 Indian Ceramics on Design Sponge

10 Indian Ceramic Brands

During my holidays as a child, I would travel to a small village called Santiniketan on the outskirts of Calcutta, where my grandparents had an idyllic holiday home (bouganvillia, vegetable patches, paddy fields and meandering cows abounded). The town was established by iconic Bengali poet Rabindranath Tagore and built around his ideals of learning through nature. Santiniketan now thrives with a literary past, bohemian allure and lauded craft community.  

Each trip to Santiniketan, I eagerly looked forward to the Poush Mela, a huge fair which marked the harvest season by celebrating folk traditions, including the town’s many cottage industries specializing in folk craft. Businesses who could afford it would have covered stalls, but I was always drawn to the smallest rural crafters who exhibited their wares simply on the ground.

I recall a strong visual of the Mela from my childlike view — an expanse of blue sky, blanket after blanket of clay wares dotted with brick red terracotta figures, earthy glazed vessels, tiny tactile stoneware sculptures and the red earth underneath that they were made from. For me, there 
is something that is so inherently raw and linked to the land with Indian pottery, something in its weight, tactility and texture that compares to no other — perhaps we all feel that way when we possess something that is made from the same soil as us? Here I share 10 Indian Ceramic brands —Rohini

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10 Fun Kiddos to Follow on Instagram

10 Instagramming Kiddos You've Gotta Follow, Design*Sponge

10 Fun Kiddos to Follow on Instagram

My favorite thing about Instagram is how it brings people from different backgrounds together to celebrate storytelling. That’s what Instagram feeds really are, right? They’re sets of squares that capture the story of how you’re feeling and what you’re liking at any given moment. When taken one square at a time, they seem fleeting, but if you look back through your last year’s worth (or more) of posts, you’ll quickly realize your page tells a much larger narrative than you imagined.

My generation started telling our stories through Instagram in our mid 20s, but nowadays, children of all ages are beginning to use the platform. The 10 kiddos we’ve rounded up for you today are just a sampling of Instagram’s many inspiring and creative youngsters. Through their feeds — and with the help of their parents — each tells their own unique story, and each one had me grinning as I scrolled through their photos. Enjoy! —Garrett

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Creativity, Storytelling, and Rolling With The Punches with Bessie Akuba

Creativity, Storytelling, and Rolling With The Punches with Bessie Akuba

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Growing and changing is a part of life, but for Bessie Akuba Winn-Afeku, it quickly became evident that evolving was not only a natural progression in business, but a vital and helpful one. As a photographer, creative consultant, creative director and lifestyle blogger, every experience she’s had — from traveling to dealing with clients — has taught her things about both herself and business, and things she has learned in one area of business have informed others in ways she never expected.

Stepping outside of her comfort zone still scares her, but she always does so willingly knowing that a valuable lesson lies on the other side of fear, and today, she’s sharing more about her past, the stumbles she’s made along her path, where she gets her love for storytelling, and rolling with life’s punches. –Sabrina

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Feminism and Photography with Carly Romeo

Feminism and Photography with Carly Romeo

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Carly Romeo is one busy lady. She not only runs Two Spoons Photography, is the co-founder of Catalyst Wedding Company — which publishes the feminist wedding magazine Catalyst — and produces (un)convention, an event for wedding professionals, but she also works at a feminist speakers’ bureau and runs Feminist Camp.

Hailing from a rich feminist background — from her academics, to her activism, to her career-path which included working at Planned Parenthood and as Gloria Steinem’s personal assistant –, Carly is passionate about equality and celebrating the love and union of all couples, not matter their age, sex or gender. Today, she’s joining us to chat about how she discovered her niche, her dreams and beliefs, how she balances her myriad roles, and the simple but profound thing Gloria Steinem said to her that changed it all. –Sabrina

Portrait photo by Jen Siomacco, Office photography by Meredith Hill

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Peterborough, ON City Guide

Peterborough, ON City Guide

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A charming, hidden gem of a city located in southern Ontario in Canada, Peterborough is most noted for Trent University, the Quaker Oat Factory, the impressive lift locks and the General Electric Factory — but as today’s city guide writer, Melissa Wilson says, “this city has a lot more to offer than a Tim Hortons off the highway.”

Just two hours east of Toronto — at the tip of the Kawarthas — it’s chock-full of great amenities for the perfect weekend destination, but is also the proud home of many locals who enjoy its many walking and cycling trails, parks, ski clubs, cottage country, farmers’ markets, artisan shops and lakeside cafés. With snowier winters and cooler summers, it’s not for everyone, Melissa says, “I’ve seen neighbors cross-country ski to work,” but the laid-back attitude and charm of its people (and their love for wool socks) make up for it.

Melissa is proud to call Peterborough, Ontario home, saying, “Three years, two apartments, a yoga teaching certification and a pile of new friends later, I’ve narrowed down my top places to eat, shop, drink and go,” which is still a pretty generous, all-encompassing list. Enjoy! –Sabrina

Photography by Melissa Wilson

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Moody Blues: 11 Blues for the Home

Moody Blues: 11 Blues for the Home

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All week I’ve been drawn towards ocean-inspired colors. Maybe it’s the idea of summer creeping closer and trips to the beach, but all I want to do is move the winter whites out of the way and bring in some deep blues that remind me of the sound of waves. From prints and scarves to wall hangings and cutting boards, this quick roundup has a little something for everyone. My favorite is that beautiful print — it’s the perfect piece for friends, colleagues, loved ones and kids alike. xo, grace

Image above, clockwise from top left: Emily Isabella Wallpaper $140, Taos Scarf $120, Candle $48, Tealights $8+, Cheese Board $62, The Pot Book $49.95. 

PRINT
Image above: We Are So Good Together by Dylan Fareed, $60 at 20×200

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Image above, clockwise from top left: Rebecca Atwood Marbled Wallpaper $5 for sample swatch, Shibori Stripe by Milton and King $160, Azilal Rug $675

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Image above: Blue basket $48, Marbled Paper Napkins $8

BLUESCARF
Image above: Alma Scarf, $75 from Block Shop Textiles

Art Meets Recycling with Anna Church’s Sculptural Photographs

Art Meets Recycling with Anna Church’s Sculptural Photographs

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I first discovered New Zealand-born sculptographer Anna Church on Instagram where her attention-grabbing photographs caught my eye while browsing my explore feed. Totally unique, her arrangement approach to fine art not only creates beautiful pieces, but speaks to her passion for the environment by transforming garbage and forgotten items into art, giving a new meaning to the word recycling. Using whatever she can get her hands on — be it forgotten plasterwork moldings or a Victorian sconce — she elevates found pieces into something extraordinary.

And just as her work tells a story and invites you in to experience the meaning for yourself, today we’re inviting her aboard to chat more about her career path. Anna shares with us how she funded her dreams, the challenges of being a full-time mom and artist, and the wonderfully difficult game of defining what it is you do. –Sabrina

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