Before & After: Christina’s Kitchen

The kitchen, before & after. Read on for the full project...

Before & After: Christina’s Kitchen

This morning’s first makeover was a triumph of DIY and today’s final makeover is also a testament to the power of slow-but-steady work, done by hand. Blogger and digital strategist Christina Brown bought her first home last year with her fiancé and they have been slowly rehabbing it entirely on their own over the past year. Last week marked a huge milestone for the couple, as they finally finished the first floor of their home! Their kitchen and downstairs living room are now complete and they finished a wide range of projects. From start to finish they: repainted the entire house, kitchen cabinets and hardware, laid down maple veneer flooring in the kitchen, retiled the kitchen backsplash, built a breakfast nook with storage (outside of the kitchen) and built a huge industrial shelving unit for open storage in the kitchen. Any one of these would make a great difference in a home, but all of them together make for a truly beautiful space and I’m so happy to share photos of their home on DS today. Click through to check out the before & afters! xo, grace

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DIY Wallpapered Switch Plates

DIY Wallpapered Switch Plates

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For much of modern history, wallpaper has been used to adorn the walls of beautiful homes, a playful and ornate alternative to bare plaster or paint. Indeed, so inextricable is our association with wallpaper to walls, that it is often easy to forget just how versatile this centuries-old decorative material is. If you’ve ever fallen in love with a wallpaper pattern, only to balk at the idea of going through with the laborious (and occasionally nerve-racking) task of installing it throughout an entire space, keep in mind that it can be used to upgrade practically any surface, from book covers and shabby dresser drawers to wooden boxes and magazine organizers. Of the myriad things that can be ornamented with wallpaper, one of the simplest is switch plate covers. With plastic switch plates coming in at barely over a dollar, this project is a fabulously cost-effective way to add charm and personality to a drab space or rental. Check out the full DIY after the jump! —Max

This post is brought to you in collaboration with Farrow & Ball. See the Farrow & Ball new wallpaper collection inspired by French fabric here. Thanks for supporting our sponsors who help us bring you original content and DIYs like this one!

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Before & After: Erin’s Bathroom

Erin and Kevin's makeover, before & after.

Before & After: Erin’s Bathroom

These days, if there’s one thing I feel in awe of, it’s people who choose to renovate their homes entirely on their own. Julia and I have tried to tackle a few projects at home that require a professional and usually end up calling someone to help us finish because we got in over our heads. But this makeover from Erin and Kevin in Alberta, Canada is entirely DIY. This talented couple took out two closets, added a window and pretty much rebuilt their bathroom from the ground up. I’m so impressed with their skilled work and love the finished result. It looks like their dogs approve, too. Thanks so much to Erin and Kevin for sharing this with us — read on for the full renovation process! xo, grace

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Rebecca Bartoshesky

Rebecca Bartoshesky

Rebecca Bartoshesky at Design*Sponge
When I think of Jello, I think of wobbly little letters that would sometimes be a part of my school lunches or after-school parties. I only liked one color/flavor growing up — red — and would beg my mom to make me the tiny, cut-out letter versions almost every day. She would typically make a big bowl of Jello, but I always wanted to cut it up into smaller pieces to make things, like the advertisements would always suggest. My mom of course preferred that food stay in the bowl, so I never got to experiment with building anything, but when I saw these photos (taken by photographer Pippa Drummond) styled by prop and interior stylist Rebecca Bartoshesky, it took me right back to those days at the kitchen counter.

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Julia turned me on to Rebecca’s work and in particular, this incredible series of photos that use colorful Jello as the star. Using different colors and clean-cut shapes, Rebecca turns humble, flavored gelatin into minimalist works of art that feel like what Mondrian would do if someone told him to play with his food. I was so smitten with these pieces I couldn’t resist sharing them here this morning. I love any time design and food can intersect creatively and these pieces are a wonderful example of how something so simple can turn into something so stunning with the right eye to guide them. Click here to check out more of Rebecca’s work online. xo, grace

DIY Woven Placemats

DIY Woven Placemats

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Simple weaving has undergone a huge resurgence over the past couple of years. You can buy affordable looms to weave on at home and create anything from wall hangings to hanging planters. I wanted to add a softer detail to my dining table that the warm, cozy texture of weaving emulated so well. Using thick, loosely spun yarns and a small loom, you can whip up a simple weave in no time at all, then brighten it up with some very simple and easy embroidery to make something really unique. —Fran

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Our DIY Stair Makeover: Paint + Runner

The before & after overview: these stairs were in major need of some love. Layers upon layers of dirt, scuffs and uneven spackle were covering what was apparently the home's original staircase. I knew a fresh coat of paint was the first thing we'd do.

Our DIY Stair Makeover: Paint + Runner

When we first moved into our new home upstate, I was so excited about having an upstairs. After years of having my bedroom about 2 feet away from the living room at all times, it felt like we’d finally have some distance between sleeping and entertaining areas- not to mention guest rooms to host our friends and family (which makes me happier than I can possibly explain). The only catch was the home’s very narrow staircase. Julia and I both have to be pretty careful going up and down the shallow stairs (which appear to be original to the home’s first 1850-era footprint), so when it came to Hope, we knew it would be a challenge. It’s not uncommon for dogs to not like stairs, but Hope has bad back legs, so these stairs were her enemy from the get-go. She slid going down them the first weekend and wouldn’t go near them after that incident. So I decided to take matters into my own hands and redo our stairs with a fresh coat of paint and a carpeted runner so they would be easier and safer to use for all guests- pets included. Taking my inspiration from one of my favorite DIY projects ever, this runner from Young House Love, Max and I tackled this entire project from start to finish in about 2.5 hours. The final result is a staircase that not only looks and feels cleaner and fresher, but that is safe (and easy!) for Hope to run up and down as often as she likes. Read on to find out how to create this look in your own home! xo, grace

Photographs by Maxwell Tielman

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What It’s Like to Quit A Day Job to Start Your Own Business

What It’s Like to Quit A Day Job to Start Your Own Business

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Hello, my name is Natalie Davis and I am a designer, leather worker, and owner of Canoe, a modern leather studio based in Austin, TX. As a designer, I’ve always focused on pattern design and tactile work, making with my hands to solve problems. The process of figuring it out drives me most days, and with leather work, it’s all about process. Everything I do in the Canoe studio takes many steps, from hand-tooling to hand-dyeing our leather, then finishing and construction. It is slow, laborious, and immensely satisfying to use time-honored tools and techniques.

What most people don’t know is that up until December, I was also a tenure-track assistant professor of graphic design. To keep my sanity, I separated my two lives so many folks didn’t realize I had a day job. Telling the whole story of what I did was too complicated, so I kept it simple with acquaintances and customers. It makes better marketing copy to say you are pursuing your dream wholeheartedly, right? The reality is that many successful makers also have a day job, are currently juggling part-time work, have support from a partner or family, or may be living off credit cards. That side work or support is rarely discussed publicly — it’s not glamorous to be in debt or have three jobs. It’s stressful and stretches us all too thin. Aside from gripes to our friends, that hard work and pressure is kept private, lest customers think we are ungrateful or not living examples of our brand.

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Studio Tour: Giselle Potter

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Studio Tour: Giselle Potter

Illustrator Giselle Potter’s life story reads a bit like a modern fairy tale. She comes from a long line of artists, spent her childhood touring the world with her parents’ puppet theater troupe, and has gone on to have her work published in numerous children’s books and prestigious publications like The New Yorker. It seems to only suit this fabulous narrative, then, that this talented artist would end up living with her family in a quaint farmhouse upstate, working from a light-filled shed on her property. Kept company during the day by her family’s dog, Olive, Giselle spends her work hours surrounded by beautiful things: old paintings, vintage toys, collected oddities, and books. Her work station, a wooden desk flanked by inspiring images, is covered in pencils, inks, brushes, and sketches, the spots of pigment staining the surface only adding to the scene’s charm. Through the lime-green french doors that lead into Giselle’s studio, one can see her gardens, her husband Kieran’s woodworking studio, and the old white house she shares with him. It is a view that feels both serene and inspiring, something that undoubtedly lends itself to Giselle’s lovely and imaginative work. —Max

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Life & Business: Wishbone Letterpress

Life & Business: Wishbone Letterpress

Life & Business: Wishbone Letterpress

It seems so many businesses are born out of that full-circle moment when you’re finally able to do that thing you’ve been meaning to do. For Danielle, getting let go from her day job as a graphic designer meant she was able to dive into her passion for letterpress, one that she had daydreamed about for years. After ample research, Danielle and her husband Joe, a sculpture artist, invested in some letterpress equipment, a humble studio space and opened Wishbone Letterpress, where they create their gorgeous (and unexpectedly snicker-worthy) paper stationery.

For us, too, their story is a full-circle moment: A few months ago, Danielle and Joe gave us a peek inside their studio and we were so drawn to their story and down-to-earth approach to business that we’re excited to have Danielle back today to chat more about their business, the importance of a contract, sacrifice vs. fulfillment, and what you need to ask yourself before starting your own business. –Sabrina

Photography by Peter Demuth (above), And North and Emma Tuccillo

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3 Simple Launching Systems You Can’t Afford Not to Have

3 Simple Launching Systems You Can’t Afford Not to Have

Life & Business: Farideh Caesar

Farideh Ceaser (who has the coolest name ever, which is pronounced “fair-a-day”) is a music-maven-turned launch strategist. After 15 years on the road touring as a musician, Farideh switched gears and now helps entrepreneurs launch their big ideas and online courses — even delivering wisdom in the form of a ukelele and a song. Farideh believes in a “no bull” approach to business and says no to blazers, monotone voices, icky-gross sales techniques and yes to authenticity, creative expression and personalized marketing that applies to your vision and needs. Today she’s offering her expertise to help movers and shakers, whether aspiring or experienced, with her recipe for a successful launch, whether it’s a product, e-course, book or website. –Sabrina

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DIY Conversation Heart Charms

DIY Conversation Heart Charms

Design*Sponge | DIY Conversation Heart Charms

Conversation hearts and Valentine’s Day are kind of the perfect couple. The tiny, heart-shaped candies are practically synonymous with the day itself, their Be Mines and Love Yous part of many people’s Valentine’s repertoires since birth. While the sweetness and ephemerality of these miniature love notes are certainly part of their charm, it would be great to preserve their sentiments forever. Beth Salvini, the artist behind Big Fun felt this way, so when we enlisted her to create a special Valentine’s project for us, she immediately turned to these tried-and-true February 14th staples for inspiration. Made from clay and easy enough to make at home, these adorable charms provide the same sweetness as their candy counterparts, but can last a lifetime. Continue after the jump for Beth’s full tutorial! —Max VIEW MORE

24 Hours in Toronto with Ryan Bolton

24 Hours in Toronto with Ryan Bolton

24 Hours in Toronto with Ryan Bolton

Photographer and writer Ryan Bolton and I have run in the same circles for a few years now, but somehow we’ve never crossed paths in person — probably because he’s always out and about running around Toronto; and me? Well, I’m a bit of a homebody. But somehow, some of his favorite spots in “the city” (as people call it who live in the towns neighboring Toronto) are some of my favorites as well. It’s safe to say that his taste is impeccable — or perhaps I’m being biased. But regardless, having lived in Toronto for just under a decade, Ryan’s 24-hour guide is spot-on and super relevant considering Toronto’s ever-changing landscape of shops, restaurants, bars and attractions. From Americanos to vintage shops to the best tattoo parlors and nachos fit for a king, if you’re ever spending some time in this great city, be sure to hit up these spots to soak in what Toronto is all about. (Go Canada!) —Sabrina

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Stine Leth + Ferm Living

Stine Leth + Ferm Living

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There are some types of art & design that I wish I could pull off in fashion form. Asymmetrical designs and color-blocking I can do, but I’ve never been able to pull off the patchwork look. Even though I can’t make a sweater in that style look right on me, I love embracing it in the form of artwork.

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Danish knit-artist Stine Leth works with colorful wool and yarn to create beautifully layered pieces. In addition to adding texture to any room, they also have a wonderful sense of depth and movement. Stine recently collaborated with Ferm Living on 30 custom wall pieces that are being sold online for a limited time. I love that these would feel equally at home in a child or adult’s room — they have such a playful feel. xo, grace

A Brisbane Home Filled with Light and Treasured Collections

Nicolette Johnson's Brisbane Home on Design*Sponge

A Brisbane Home Filled with Light and Treasured Collections

If there’s one thing that most city apartment-dwellers learn over the years, it’s that you have to give a little to get a little. Even the most beautiful of spaces come with quirks and challenges, but those are just part of the joy of living in an older building in a bustling city. Nicolette and Tom know a thing or two about living with a difficult but beautiful space, and they’ve managed to turn what could have been a difficult space to work with into a warm, welcoming home.

Photographer and documentary filmmaker Nicolette Johnson shares her Brisbane home with her fiance, Tom Dawson, who is studying IT networking. They came across this sunny apartment two years ago and loved the area (just a short walk from Tom’s school, as well as the Gallery of Modern Art, the Queensland Art Gallery, the science museum and the Queensland Performing Arts Centre). The home is filled with great art deco-era details and, because it’s a corner apartment, comes with stunning curved windows and walls. While all these details (crown molding, polished hardwood floors, original hardware) sold the apartment for Tom and Nicolette, they also had to work around some small and difficult layout challenges and a few rooms that are just big enough for a few pieces of furniture. But quirks aside, Nicolette and Tom love their space and feel like they’ve created a calm, private sanctuary away from busy city life. Between their shared love of travel collections and expert thrift-shop finds, they’ve managed to not just fill their home with beautiful things, but find a way to balance their desires for comfort and function with a creative and inspiring space. The space is still a work in progress, but Nicolette loves that. “Both of us are on a very tight budget and have been for the majority of our relationship, but we have managed to slowly pick up some great pieces here and there for a relatively insignificant amount of money. I think that’s how great collections are formed, slowly and deliberately.” I couldn’t agree more and am so thrilled to share a peek inside their sunny home today. xo, grace

Photographs by Nicolette Johnson

 

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A “Charmingly Off-Level” Oslo Apartment

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A “Charmingly Off-Level” Oslo Apartment

When one thinks of Modernism, one’s mind might conjure images of Le Corbusier chairs, Mies van der Rohe floor plans, Braun stereos, and wide ribbon windows. One typically wouldn’t think of 19th century Neoclassical apartments, their detailed moldings and accommodations perhaps a little too ornate to read as “modern.” The thing about these seemingly disparate styles, though, is that they are informed by remarkably similar impulses and objectives — simplicity, symmetry, harmony, functionality — and when paired together, often yield beautiful results. Just ask graphic designer Steffen Olsen.

Olsen and his partner, Erlend Tårnesvik Dreiås, share a taste for pared-down Modernist furnishings and fashions, their furniture a mixture of industrial materials, simple forms, and mid-century influences. When they first moved in together seven years ago, they rented a flat in a new-construction building. While the clean lines and nondescript styling of new buildings might seem perfectly suited to a couple with Modernist leanings, the two felt that something was sorely missing. “It lacked both soul and personality,” Steffen notes, “just blank walls and a generic layout.” After three years, the couple decided it was time to make the leap to a home of their own. They ended up purchasing a centrally-located apartment in an old, 1897 building — a space that their realtor had described as “charmingly off-level.”

Paired with Steffen and Erland’s contemporary style, the apartment’s details are able to shine. Beautiful moldings that, by another hand, might recede to the background, are allowed to come to the fore, a subtly cool monochrome palette accentuating their details. Simultaneously, individual pieces of design — a yellow floor lamp, a Componibili nightstand, an Eames hang-it-all — are able to act as beautiful punctuations, accents that complement and contrast against the overarching schema. It is a home that is at once elegant and whimsical, minimal and effortlessly warm. —Max

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