A Colorful, Layered Home Focused on Fun and Family

As you enter the home and turn to your left, you'll find the family room with a fun mix of comfortable layers, textures and pops of color.

A Colorful, Layered Home Focused on Fun and Family

Aniko Levai and her husband only had two things on their “must-have” list when they were first house-hunting: location and privacy. With two young boys, aged four and six, being close to their school was important and easy enough to find, but a home on a private, spacious lot was more of a challenge — and meant sacrificing a turnkey space. When the family found this detached home offering over 2,000 square feet in the heart of Richmond, VA, it was an entirely different space than it is now.

Having grown up in Hungary, Aniko moved to America 14 years ago and started a family business with her husband. A photographer in her downtime, Aniko naturally documented the many changes they made to their home, and eventually launched the blog Place of My Taste to chronicle their adventures in everything home, family and DIY. As a young family of four that runs a business, life for the Levai family is busy and chaotic; so function and fun were top-of-mind when it came to design. “I like to bring in and mix different styles,” Aniko says, “Using pops of colors in each room.” Whether it’s the breakfast nook or a bedroom, no space is free from up-cycled furniture, DIY project pieces, art, or printed photographs of Aniko’s. Even outside in the backyard, handmade pallet furniture and accessories make up the fabric of their daily lives.

Color and layering textures is something Aniko never shies away from, and giving her children a fun space to feel free in is what home is all about. Despite their busy lives, and some of the more superficial annoyances of the home (such as two smaller living rooms rather than one large room), having a private space in which the whole family can feel comfortable is paramount. Nothing is too precious in Aniko’s home — except for those whom she shares it with. Sabrina

Photography by Aniko Levai Photography

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In Turkey, A Home Layered with Prints, Colors and Kilims

A Home in Turkey Layered with Prints, Colors and Kilims | Design*Sponge

In Turkey, A Home Layered with Prints, Colors and Kilims

Vintage Turkish rugs are in high demand in this long-lasting age of transitional-modern and bohemian design. The right pattern, color palette and texture in a kilim fabric can instantly bring a space to life. In Turkey, these textiles are not just a trend — they are a traditional, symbolic and integral facet of each space.

Nez and Yasin Kaya’s love of vintage rugs started on the day of their engagement when Yasin brought a kilim to Nez’s mother to ask for Nez’s hand in marriage. It grew when Yasin came home one day and announced in excitement that they would start selling rugs together; just as he had done as a boy with his father and grandfather. Now, Nez and Yasin Kaya are the founders of Kaya Kilims, an online store (and Instagram account) that sells gorgeous, handmade vintage textiles. Their successful business has allowed them to become homeowners of a flat large enough for their family and their growing collection of kilims.

When looking for a home, Nez and Yasin walked around each neighborhood in Kayseri, Turkey to determine where they’d like to live with their two daughters, Selin and Suel. When the couple stumbled upon this flat on accident, Nez and Yasin both felt a happiness and peace about the space. They spent time remodeling and designing the home before moving in. The flat’s high ceilings, large windows and hardwood floors make it a perfect backdrop for the remarkable colors, patterns and textures of their stunning kilim rugs and pillows. “Most items in our home are vintage and handmade that I collected from different parts of Turkey,” Nez says. “And of course, rugs are everywhere!”

Nez and Yasin’s home clearly reflects their passion. Their love for these handmade pieces is not about following trends, but living in a space that inspires them. “It is lovely that we all can follow famous designers and learn so many things from them,” Nez says. “But the most beautiful home is the one that also has your own unique ideas, special corners and — most important — things with a story. Point to anything in my home and I will tell [you] something about it. Rugs inspire me. Just look at any of them – so many symbols, so many colors – it is crazy but beautiful how they match one another!” –Lauren

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Family Bonding Atop a Brooklyn Brownstone

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Family Bonding Atop a Brooklyn Brownstone

Sarah Coffey first visited the Carroll Gardens neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY while covering a home makeover for Apartment Therapy. Vibrant, charming and filled with an abundance of brownstones, the area had Sarah immediately hooked. After the project wrapped, she would fantasize about moving there, not sure if it would ever actually happen — but it did. Her chance came when two close friends bought a three-story brownstone in the neighborhood and were on the hunt for a tenant. Needless to say, Sarah and her husband Steve jumped at the opportunity to leave their Upper West Side home and make the move.

With a resume that includes West Elm and Apartment Therapy, it’s no surprise that Sarah was able to quickly settle the family into the top floor of the walk-up. Her years working for the two brands taught her how to focus on curating a space that “feels good” and to avoid the fruitless act of chasing trends. Her knowledge of decluttering and home-cleansing also helped shape the house. “Traditional practices of moving [energy that’s] stuck, like [sage] smudging and using things like salt and sound to purify a space,” has proven to be invaluable when life gets hectic. Sarah developed such a passion for the practice that she recently opened up her own home-clearing business where she teaches “…mindful methods of clearing space, inside and out.”

These home-clearing methods in particular came in handy a year and a half ago when Sarah and Steve had their first child. Since baby Jack’s arrival, the Coffeys have gone about stylishly baby-proofing each room in their 115-year-old apartment, as well as cleansing the space so their little boy can flourish. As you click through the tour, pay close attention to the beautiful job the couple’s done switching up the rooms in the house. With a little elbow grease, they have strategically crafted a new bedroom out of a living space and seamlessly moved Jack into their old bedroom. All in all, the bright and cheery top-floor abode is primed for memory making, and the Coffey family couldn’t be more delighted. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Nick Steever

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Embracing An Indian Aesthetic

A potent shot of chai or tea, served in small iconic glasses - commonly sold in shacks on the streets of Calcutta and across India - served as inspiration for Calcutta-based designers Syu's and Jit Art Studio's range of illustrated, block printed products, "Cutting Chai."

Embracing An Indian Aesthetic

The Indian design scene is looking better than ever — in my opinion, this is because India is finally embracing its own unique position within the industry and creative worth.

There was a time when the Indian design industry — fashion and product — would try to mimic the West, shying away from an Indian aesthetic with the view that West was best. It has been a long time coming, but I am absolutely reveling in the trend of Indian designers celebrating the nuances of their homeland.

This playful feature looks at designers using India-centric narratives in contemporary design and the specific vernacular of their regions; for once, design made in India for Indians. Scarves printed with various amusing neighborhood characters on their morning walks in Calcutta, embroidered cushions detailing the chaotic tapestry of rush hour, and product details that update traditional Indian design like the ubiquitous woven “Muddah” stool. —Rohini

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18 Indie Embroidered Patch Companies

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18 Indie Embroidered Patch Companies

I thought it would be fun to end the week with a roundup of creatives you can follow and learn more about through the weekend. Over the past few weeks, we’ve shared lists of some of our favorite paper flower makersembroiderers, and museums online, and today I’m happy to add one more roundup to the list: creative and up-and-coming indie embroidered patch makers. From cats and mantras to abstract art and hands, these designers have turned the combination of everyday imagery and powerful words into must-have patches. Whether you attach them to your jacket, purse, backpack, or frame them on the wall, these artists are making us rethink the way we look at the humble patch. Instead of curating this roundup myself, I turned to one of my favorite artists — and patch makers — Tuesday Bassen. Take it away, Tuesday! xo, grace

A beautiful thing is happening in the fashion world: Patches are having a serious moment, and it is primarily driven by artist-operated small businesses. Embraced by the DIY scene and major outlets alike, these quick and cheap ways to personalize your clothing range from riffs on classic 1970s designs to pieces of original artwork. Featured here (just click through the slideshow above) are 18 of my favorite independent companies that are on the forefront of the patch trend. —Tuesday Bassen

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Sarah and Sheila’s Pickled Crostini Toppings

Sarah and Sheila’s Pickled Crostini Toppings

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Just like my own efforts at staying on a healthy eating regimen, we are taking a break from our wholesome habits to lapse into some great snack food. Sarah and Sheila from Gordy’s Pickle Jar have shared their three favorite toppings for crostini: Cherry Pepper Caponata, Pickled Egg Salad and Prosciutto, and Caramelized Pickled Jalapeño. I think these would make a unique entertaining spread full of flavors you don’t find every day. Though Sarah and Sheila are obviously partial to Gordy’s Pickles, we have provided substitutions so that you can make these recipes wherever you are. —Kristina

Why Sarah and Sheila love these recipes: We love putting stuff on toast!

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A Well-Loved 1950s Home in Nashville, TN

A 1950s Home Loved Well in Nashville | Design*Sponge

A Well-Loved 1950s Home in Nashville, TN

Shruthi and Peter Lapp knew this house was theirs from the moment they entered, and they’ve since refreshed and polished it bit by bit. After two years of living there, their home — a soon-to-be Airbnb listing — is allowing them to travel extensively, thanks to their future short-term renters. In their own words, Shruthi, a digital marketer, and Peter, an information security engineer, just want to be together. And whether “together” is in Nashville, TN or abroad, their home is allowing them to do just that.

The 1955 ranch was maintained incredibly well by the previous owners and the couple knew it was a perfect fit when they found the house. “We instantly felt a peace and calm come over us when we stepped into this home,” Shruthi says. “Both of us are natural-light-lovers, but in addition to that, we could actually feel how loved this house was! That’s really all we were looking for. A place to make our own and just be together.” The pair learned to paint walls, added their style to the space, and made the house feel quite homey.

Shruthi and Peter’s aesthetic is modern-meets-minimal, mixed with vintage touches. Their use of art and decorative pieces is executed both sparingly and beautifully. “We really wanted this home to reflect both us as individuals and who we are together. Our goal for this home was for it to be inviting, simple, airy with pops of color and global inspiration. We wanted each room to tell a little part of our story,” Shruthi says. “We’re both travel obsessed. New places and things inspire us more than anything else. We are currently getting ready to take the trip of a lifetime together for an entire year!” It’s remarkable how a home can allow Shruthi and Peter to grow closer together, whether physically there, or away. –Lauren

Photography by Amber Ulmer

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What’s In Your Toolbox: Naima Green

What’s In Your Toolbox: Naima Green

What's In Your Toolbox: Naima Green, on Design*Sponge

Staying true to the original intentions of a project or body of work does not always come easily. Naima Green, a Brooklyn-based artist, arts educator, and photographer, refuses to compromise her creative output “for likes or followers or fame.” Her Jewels from the Hinterland image series “investigates questions of place, belonging, and perceived cultural identity within the African Diaspora.” She has shot portraits of over 70 artists of color “feeling at ease in natural green spaces, regions where black and brown urbanites are not ‘supposed’ to be at home: our hinterlands.” This effort helps Naima process her own place in the world, and gives her purpose. Above all things and motivations, she urges each individual to “make art for yourself.”

Enjoying the more collaborative aspects of setting up home and studio, Naima shops with purpose, talking with artisans and sellers about their goods. Not surprisingly, she leans toward handmade or vintage items rather than mass-produced products. “I like objects and clothes with stories and histories,” she says. Her entryway full of antiques was styled with a little help from her (and our) friend Sadatu Dennis, making the decorating process a heightened experience. Her newest collaboration, photographing Annie Novak’s first book, The Rooftop Growing Guide, will reveal Naima’s latest efforts next month. —Annie

Photography by Naima Green

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Studio Tour: Worley’s Lighting

The Worley’s Lighting crew, from left to right: Shelli, Opie in all his 70-pound glory, and Seth.

Studio Tour: Worley’s Lighting

My sister, Elyssa, designs light fixtures for a living, so over the years I’ve come to appreciate how — whether ceiling-mounted or resting on a side table — the right lighting can truly transform a space. It’s one of the most functional design pieces one can own. Although I may be slightly biased, I always take notice of and pay extra attention to the lighting section in any given store (and to lighting designers I come across online), so discovering Worley’s Lighting on Instagram led to an immediate follow.

Started in 2012 by Shelli Worley and her husband Seth from their home studio/garage in Rockhill, SC, Worley’s Lighting offers modern designs using wood, brass and glass. With a focus on quality craftsmanship and a knack for figuring out how things work in both design and business, by 2013, the brand took off — leading the couple (and their 3-year-old pit-bull mix, Opie) to hunt for a larger studio space to accommodate their growth and needs. After a long, tedious search, they found “a small, far from perfect, blank canvas, warehouse/office space that was the right price and showed potential!” Shelli says.

Being woodworkers, one of the first things the couple did was design and build the space’s staple fixtures and furniture pieces with some help from friends. As Shelli recounts, “The first weekend we moved in, we invited some of our carpenter friends down to help execute our design plan and made sort of a party out of it: beer, pizza and sawdust!” Although their priority pieces were finished within days, organizing, decorating and arranging their space to accommodate their workflow took nearly a full year, thanks to their tight budget. It took a large dose of patience, but Shelli and Seth were able to pinch their pennies by scouring estate sales and secondhand stores to create an inviting, workable space.

The studio is made up of two main areas — a larger, open warehouse and smaller office space — and the couple admits that it still has its flaws. “The warehouse has no heating or cooling, no windows (except for a garage door at the front), and no architectural features to brag about whatsoever,” Shelli begins, “I would love to install some big, old, factory windows on the wall that the warehouse shares with the office to add some openness and interest to the space.” Shelli and Seth have been itching to replace the old, beige carpet, remove the nonworking heating/cooling unit, and scrape the popcorn ceiling in the office space since the day they moved in; but with budget top-of-mind, they’ve found ways to work around the space’s flaws. Using their strengths and the tools they have on-hand, they’ve livened it up by executing affordable DIY projects such as installing cedar shingle onto the back wall in the office space and painting the wall opposite it black, adding texture and depth to the otherwise cookie-cutter environment. “I’ve always believed that the places where you spend most of your time should be given a lot of thought and attention to keep them feeling positive and fresh!” Shelli says.

For the couple, doing what they love in a space they can call their own is already a gift, but doing it as a family, Opie included, is the icing on the cake. “Our unit backs up to woods,” Shelli shares, “It also has a vacant, fenced-in open field next door and lots of friendly neighbors, the most recent additions being a groomer and dog training facility, which always brings excitement to Opie’s day!” Not only does their studio foster creativity, but with each challenge they face, whether it pertains to business or their physical space, Shelli and Seth are always thankful for the opportunity to learn and grow.  –Sabrina

Photography by Lindsey Plevyak

 

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Reading Spaces: Author Irin Carmon

Reading Spaces: Author Irin Carmon

Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg poses for a photo in her chambers at the Supreme Court in Washington, Wednesday, July 24, 2013, before an interview with the Associated Press. Ginsburg said during the interview that it was easy to foresee that Southern states would push ahead with tougher voter identification laws and other measures once the Supreme Court freed them from strict federal oversight of their elections. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
From the opening pages of NOTORIOUS RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it’s clear that the co-authors, Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik, have done their research. The book stands out from the general run of autobiographies. It is fun, artfully crafted with annotated dissents, personal anecdotes, and endless tributes to the remarkable jurist. Seriously, what other Supreme Court judge has an internet collage of memes dedicated to her? The concept grew out of Knizhnik’s popular Tumblr, Notorious RBG, a playful ode to the legendary Brooklyn rapper, Notorious B.I.G.

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The unlikely comparison is accurate. Like the original B.I.G., Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is formidable; gloriously holding your attention with each word. The creative mash-up of pop culture and unconventional storytelling honor her legacy in each chapter. By the end, your admiration for Ginsburg will intensify. Because, not only do you realize she was the first female tenured professor at Columbia Law School, but now you can replicate her workout plan. Relive her white-water rafting trip in Colorado. Or attempt RBG’s favorite Marty Ginsburg (her loving husband) recipe: Pork loin braised in milk. Again, the authors were uncannily thorough. Overall, it’s a highly entertaining yet intimate look at the justice’s extraordinary life and work.

After finishing the book, I was curious about what the authors read themselves. Irin Carmon and I took a visit to the Greenlight Bookstore to discuss what’s in her “to-be-read” pile, political heroines, and the one book she would recommend to Justice Ginsburg. —Glory Edim

Meme above via notoriousrbg.tumblr.com. Additional photography by Opiyo Okeyo

*Reading Spaces is a new column where we peek into author bookshelves and personalities.

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10 Inspiring Museums on Instagram

Fashion & Textile Museum, London: A visual feast of contemporary and archived textiles, eye-popping prints and vintage illustration. This image is a detail of a 1930s Liberty print tea dress in silk georgette.

10 Inspiring Museums on Instagram

The idea of #lifeatthemuseum conjures up peaceful notions of shared learning, creative industry and companionable co-existence with objects of desire. Recently, I’ve been losing myself in the hypnotic, daily rhythms of niche museums around the world giving Instagram followers privileged access to that coveted, behind-the-scenes action.

Far from shattering illusions, these feeds confirm that creative institutions are the lifeblood of communities – serving up inspiration, educating young families, working tirelessly to catalogue and conserve, and generally making the world a better place! Scroll through any one of these wonderful feeds and I challenge you to disagree.  Rohini

 

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Fine Art Focus: Rebecca Szeto

Fine Art Focus: Rebecca Szeto

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In college, I studied to be an artist. I thought I’d be a printmaker one day, but instead I found my strengths were in writing about and supporting artists, rather than being one myself. So I have a strong sense of both nostalgia and longing for the materials of everyday artistic life. Fresh drawing paper, sheets of shiny copper for intaglio printing, and even the smell of turpentine can make me feel a pang for those last days in the studio.

But for me, nothing is as romantic as used paintbrushes. Loaded with layers of old paint and warped with use, there is something both beautiful and wonderfully utilitarian about these bristled tools. I didn’t think it was possible to make these materials any more graceful than they already are (even in their most worn stages), but artist Rebecca Szeto has found a way to do that with her incredible Paintbrush Portraits.

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Focusing on the idiosyncrasies of each brush, Rebecca uses the weathered forms to depict, “lost, obscure and powerful stories of women across history and geography.” Moving beyond playful portraiture, she also uses details and overlooked aspects of the brushes to explain historical aspects of these women’s lives and roles in their artistic communities. I hope I can see these remarkable pieces in person one day, but until then, I will spend my days refreshing and zooming in on their amazing details online.

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Rebecca’s work is, of course, not limited to this particular series — she also creates fabric sculptures, videos and performance pieces, carvings, paintings and site-specific installations using a range of materials. She also keeps an incredible blog (called “the lab”) about her thoughts on the art world and the way in which larger social and cultural issues intersect. xo, grace

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Artist: Rebecca Szeto
About: Rebecca lives and works in San Francisco, California. She received her B.A. from UC Berkeley in 1992 and has studied with artists like Rose Shakinovsky and Claire Gavronsky and alongside master wood carvers such as Paul Thavanha and Thomas Kubayi. She was awarded the Banff Merit Scholarship and the Pamela Joseph Merit Fellowship for Minority Artists.
Work: Rebecca’s work uses everyday materials (like paintbrushes, steel wool and even rust) to create stunning installations, drawings, paintings and small sculptures that often explore the juxtaposition of two very different ideas, objects or meanings.
More: You can find more about Rebecca online here, here, here and here.

All artwork (c) Rebecca Szeto. Images of artwork from rebeccaszeto.com

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Comfort Zone: Alison Little

Comfort Zone: Alison Little

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If I still believed everything I did when I was growing up, I’d be living in the countryside, completely alone, and working as the owner of a pet motel (oh, and my only friend would be an imaginary horse). One of the most beautiful things about life is that we change, often for the better. Although, admittedly, sometimes we alter our perception or view of things in a way that’s not bad, nor good. As the adage goes, life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.

For Alison Little, happiness is found in the company you keep and the time you spend with family — although she didn’t always see things exactly that way. Growing up, and even a handful of years ago, her focus was on a career as a nurse. She saw herself working outside of the home, but when Alison’s first son was born, her priorities completely shifted. Since then, the only time she’s spent at a hospital or doctor’s office has been when she gave birth to her now four children, or when they’ve been due for a check-up — and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Fulfillment, for her, comes from weekend-morning pancakes, making crafts, and sharing dinner and a laugh with her family and friends from the dining room in her North Carolina home. Despite having a living room filled with comfortable couches a few feet away, the dining table is the heart of her home — and although it may just seem like a piece of furniture to others, to Alison, it’s a symbol and reminder of love. Today, Alison is chatting with us about motherhood, growth, anxiety, and how her ideas have changed about what having an impact on the world means.  –Sabrina 

Photography by Joni Warren

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An Airy and Orderly Aesthetic in Nashville

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An Airy and Orderly Aesthetic in Nashville

In the business of building “interesting and beautiful aesthetics,” event stylist Jessica Sloane tells the compelling story of her own family through “personalized elements with an eye for the natural environment and overall clean aesthetic” in her new-construction Nashville, TN home. Along with husband Michael, son Sullivan, and their Puggle, Elliott, Jessica has enjoyed striking a balance between her need for orderly elegance and the practical requirements of a two-and-a-half year-old child. With a strong appreciation for organization, Jessica set out to declutter and find a place for each thing she brought in. Equally as important, she made sure each new decorative investment would be child-friendly — likely taking a beating from a curious kid. “I will admit,” Jessica says, “Having so much white in my house hasn’t proven to be toddler-friendly. I bought a large white rug for our downstairs living room and it’s a challenge to keep it clean!”

In addition to bright finishes, adding to the open, airy feeling are the dozens of large windows through which bright sunlight pours all day long. Each room in the house has its own almost floor-to-ceiling openings. Nashville — a city with a booming growth rate — is keeping up with its population by allowing two homes to be built on some lots zoned for a single structure. The Sloanes are in one such place that sits right next to its neighbor, but the layout maintains the residents’ privacy by keeping all windows to one side, and away from outside eyes.

“As a designer, I obsess over the details and really enjoy curating spaces,” Jessica shares. This home encourages her to tailor the environment as her family grows and changes, and even allows for hosting gatherings and photo shoots as her professional interests continue to evolve in parallel. —Annie

Photography by Shelby Hornbuckle

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15 Gorgeous Pianos that Suit Their Spaces

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15 Gorgeous Pianos that Suit Their Spaces

I come from a large, musical family. My parents played in a band together before I was born, and holidays with extended family were always more like jam-sessions than anything else. Growing up, the piano was always center stage in the living room and a crucial part of the aesthetic. The pianos featured on Design*Sponge over the years have shown us that whether painted, stained, formal or rustic, pianos make a grand statement. Some of these beauties stand on their own with minimal styling, while others have been layered with artwork, objects and plants. The scale of the instrument allows it to create focus and foundation for any room. Here are 15 pianos that set the tone for their spaces. –Lauren

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