Before & After: Brienna’s Curb Appeal Makeover

Brienna's Curb Appeal Makeover on Design*Sponge

Before & After: Brienna’s Curb Appeal Makeover

My loyalty to design television waxes and wanes, but I always go back to shows that focus on curb appeal. So much of what sells (or rents) a home has to do with first impressions and few things can do that more quickly than a beautiful home exterior. Today’s before & after is the final step of one designer’s home buying process. Brienna Wagner bought this 1910 bungalow almost 7 years ago and this past summer, after finishing the interior, decided to tackle the street view. New brick, paint and siding gave this cheerful home the updating it needed and now it’s bound to make any person driving back stop and notice. Click through to see Brienna‘s process and hear more about her paint colors and finishing choices. xo, grace

*A quick note: you can now find Before & Afters under the DIY tab!

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DIY Acrylic Gift Tags

DIY Acrylic Gift Tags

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Each year, we have a small theme under the tree. Usually it’s a color scheme, a pattern mix, or a selection of embellishments we use to decorate and tag each gift. After working on a few acrylic projects these past few months, scaling them down to a tag-sized version was the perfect solution for holiday gifting! I love that these tags will go well with all different colors of paper to create some fun pops under your tree or on the table. Plus, the recipient can keep the tag and display as an ornament for years to come! -Lauren Saylor

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Ivan Cash on After the Jump

Ivan Cash on After the Jump

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Like most people, my guilty pleasures involve spending too much time in front of screens and clicking on links that promise to tell me what job I should really be doing and how to make my hair shinier. Most of the time, those lunch break links lead me to fluff, but on other days, they lead to something spectacular.

A few weeks ago I followed a link from Facebook over to an incredible video project that interviewed people in different cities about what the last photo on their phone was. From London to Alabama, the answers were both fascinating and thought-provoking. Those videos lead me to others by the same interactive artist and filmmaker, Ivan Cash, and I jumped at the chance to interview him on my radio show before the holiday break. I assumed that Ivan would have interesting things to say, but I left feeling so much more inspired and invigorated than I expected. His insight into the way loneliness affects storytelling and vision – and, in a way, leads to intimacy – really opened my eyes to how the same is true of blogging and publishing online. From his early days of making the front page of the Daily News to his impressive roster of films and commercial work, Ivan is most definitely a voice we will be hearing much more of for years to come. Thanks so much to Ivan for joining me for episode 97 and thanks to all of you for listening. xo, grace

To Listen: Click here to listen online or click here to Listen on iTunes.

*Photo Credit: Luis Peña/El Peña

Holiday Lights and Garland

Holidays Lights and Garlands on Design*Sponge

Holiday Lights and Garland

I don’t know if it’s because I grew up in the south or just a predisposed fondness for tiny clusters of things, but I love holiday garland. More than ornaments or stockings or any other detail, it captures the spirit of the holidays me. I try to find time to make my own (popcorn and cranberries for the tree, pinecones for a countertop of two) but when there’s no time for DIY, I like to hunt down beautiful strands of lights, bells, tassels and greenery to make our house feel a little more festive. This year I’m trying to keep things a little simpler, so I decided to round up garlands that have texture, light and a little bit of shine, but that don’t hit you over the head with red and green. I hope you’ll find some that work for your home and will help add a little sparkle and glow. xo, grace

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Shop Tour: Swallows & Damsons

One of Anna's incredible flower arrangements.

Shop Tour: Swallows & Damsons

These days it feels like all roads lead to Instagram. I take at least 10 screengrabs a day from other people’s feeds to contact them about home tours, DIY projects, interviews or just a general ‘Thanks for being so inspiring’ email. And today’s tour of a beautiful English flower shop has its beginning on Instagram, too.

Anna Potter is the founder and floral designer at Swallows & Damsons, an incredible flower shop and studio in Sheffield, England. Originally drawn to the area because of its mix of creativity and community, Anna decided to open her own shop six years ago after working with two of the city’s leading florists. Nestled between antique stores and historic homes (basically, my dream), Swallows & Damsons specializes in one-of-a-kind arrangements for private and public events. I first noticed Anna’s work when she shared a few photos in our #dscolor challenge and I’ve been following her ever since. When she briefly shared an interior shot of the space I jumped at the chance to see more and I’m thrilled to share her very special studio here today. xo, grace

Photographs by India Hobson

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Our Favorite Holiday Ornaments

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Our Favorite Holiday Ornaments

The holidays always sneak up on me and this year I feel more behind than ever. I usually have a decorated Christmas tree at home by now, but it’s going to have to wait for this weekend or next week. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t window shop for some holiday ornaments in the meantime. I typically DIY most of mine (good old cranberry and popcorn garlands) but I like to pick up an ornament or two every year that reminds me of special place, person or moment from that year. I’ve got my eye on the adorable raccoon you’ll see later on in this post, but for now I’m going to work on finding a 4 foot tree that won’t overwhelm our apartment but won’t bum be out by being too teeny. I hope you’ll find something in this roundup that will work for your tree, mantel or tabletop at home. I’ve included a mix of styles, materials and prices and, as always, have included as many handmade pieces from independent designers as possible. xo, grace

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DIY Copper Menorah

DIY Copper Menorah

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I love this time of year! Everyone is so festive – lots of parties are being planned, presents are being wrapped and celebrations abound. While in college, we would deck the halls of our sorority house with both Christmas and Hanukkah decorations, so began the first of many Decembers where both holidays would be celebrated in my home. To help you stylishly celebrate Hanukkah, you can create this copper menorah, which is so beautiful you may be tempted to leave it on your mantel all year long! -Sarah

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DIY Peppermint Candy Bowls from Candy Aisle Crafts

DIY Peppermint Candy Bowls from Candy Aisle Crafts

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As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten a bit better about not diving into candy in quite the same way I used to. (I think I lived off of various gummy candy varieties for all of 2011.) But when they find a way to blend into my world of crafts and DIY projects, I find them irresistible. So when Paul Lowe mentioned to me that there was a new DIY book out that uses the grocery store candy aisle as its main inspiration and material source, I immediately bought a copy.

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Former Martha Stewart editor Jodi Levine just published Candy Aisle Crafts, a quirky and adorably addictive collection of projects that turn everyday supermarket sweets into clever projects and recipes. Jodi worked for Martha for 19 years as a craft editor, director of our beloved (and sadly no longer in print) Martha Stewart Kids magazine and as a product designer for Martha’s craft collection. She is basically the queen of all things cute and craftsy and this book is a wonderful celebration of how uplifting a DIY project can be. From colorful lollipops and bowls made of peppermint candies to polar bear cakes, Jodi’s projects are literally and figuratively the sweetest things around. Today she’s sharing one of my favorite projects with us that turns everyday peppermint candies into tiny adorable bowls. These would be fun for a kids table at a holiday dinner or a sweet way to spruce up the coffee/tea station after dinner. Thanks so much to Jodi and be sure to check out her book right here. xo, grace

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Hanukkah Decorations

Hannukah Decorations for 2014 at Design*Sponge

Hanukkah Decorations

After Thanksgiving, I had the pleasure of celebrating an early Hanukkah with Julia’s family. We drove upstate to visit her parents, aunts & uncles and meet new cousins for the first time (baby Nate!). While Hanukkah isn’t entirely foreign to me, it’s always so meaningful to see how each individual family chooses to decorate and celebrate. Some families choose traditional decorations, a mix of handmade and store-bought, that are handed down through the generations and other prefer to seek out modern interpretations of traditional Hanukkah pieces like menorahs, dreidels, plates and other tableware. So to start the day I wanted to share some beautiful pieces to decorate if you’re celebrating Hanukkah this year. From stunning handmade beeswax candles to copper and walnut menorahs, there is so much to see and choose from- I hope you’ll be able to find something perfect for your home this year. xo, grace

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Gift Guide 2014: Our favorite cards, tags, and gift wrap

Design*Sponge Gift Guide 2014: Cards, Tags, and Gift Wrap

Gift Guide 2014: Our favorite cards, tags, and gift wrap

They say that it’s the little things that count the most. When it comes to the holiday season, the biggest gifts tend to get all the attention, but it can often be the tiniest of tidings that send the most amount of love. Whether it’s a beautifully selected greeting card with a personal message or a lovingly wrapped present, the little details that fill the holidays are sometimes the ones that we remember the most and hold the dearest. Now that December is finally here and the countdown to Christmas (and 2015!) has begun, we’ve selected a few cards, tags, and gift wraps from our favorite stationers that are sure to make a lasting impression. These paper lovelies might be small in scale (and in price!), but they’re sure to warm the heart. —Max

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Biz Ladies Profile: Shannon & Christy of Indie Craft Experience

Biz Ladies Profile: Shannon & Christy of Indie Craft Experience

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It should come as no surprise that when two “crafty” minds come together, they will naturally craft something up together. That was, in fact, the case with handmade mavens Shannon Mulkey and Christy Petterson and their joint effort in creating the Indie Craft Experience. As makers individually, they knew they wanted to create an event that would bring their community together and showcase the artisanship of handmade goods. Now with 10 years of experience, they are sharing what they have learned along the biz-owning way. -Stephanie

Photography by Bonnie Heath

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Biz Ladies: Privacy Policy, Terms of Service, and Disclaimers

Biz Ladies: Privacy Policy, Terms of Service, and Disclaimers

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The wild, wild web can be a very unpredictable place. Whether you’re surfing around or managing your own site, it’s important to keep your rights and privacy in check. Today, lawyer/photographer and previous Biz Ladies contributorKiffanie Stahle shares some simple tips and suggestions for drafting your own terms of services, privacy policies and disclaimers for your own sites. If you’ve always wondered about the proper method for safeguarding your site, this post is for you. -Stephanie

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St. Augustine, FL City Guide

St. Augustine, FL City Guide

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Andrew Deming and Rachel Gant are the designers behind Yield, a brand of minimalist, high quality homewares and accessories. Both originally Southern natives, the two met at California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco. After gaining experience at various agencies in SF (Andrew at ID firm fuseproject, Rachel at architecture firm CCS) the two joined together and formed Yield.

After years of living in and enjoying the Bay Area, they relocated their company to the small town of Saint Augustine in search of a simpler existence and the ability to grow design opportunities in the South. Today they are touring us around this Florida town, sharing some must-see stops, restaurants, shops, attractions and more! -Stephanie

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We Got a Make-Under: Exploring the New DS

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We Got a Make-Under: Exploring the New DS

It’s a new week, a new month and time for a new look here at Design*Sponge. A few months ago we started working on a redesign that had a few simple goals: to improve the load time of the site, to make reading and navigating the site easier and to come up with a design that let the content shine. Thanks to our designer and coder, Mick Harper, yesterday we launched our new streamlined look. Today I wanted to walk you through some of the biggest changes and show you some of the great new features (bigger font, Spanish translation, improved mobile use and a brand new 101 section) and how we hope they’ll be useful! xo, grace

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At Home with Maira Kalman

Maira Kalman's NYC home on Design*Sponge

At Home with Maira Kalman

Walking into the New York City home of author and illustrator Maira Kalman is like stepping into the pages of one of her beautiful books. Small, curated groups of eclectic objects with fascinating histories fill every corner, and there are enough books and artwork to fill a NYC gallery and library several times over. Hers is the type of home that cannot be replicated or produced overnight – this sort of magical, but very relatable, space takes both time and experience to build. When Max, Amy and I met with Maira, we were blown away by how many stories this one space held. From treasured collections (books, boxes, buttons and more) to unbelievable objects (like conductor Arturo Toscanini’s suit) and family paintings, Maira’s home is like a living, breathing museum curated by someone who finds beauty in the everyday as much as the world of fine art.

Maira has called this West Village apartment (which is actually two apartments combined) home for over 32 years. Originally built in the early 1920s, her home has gone through several transformations with the help of architect Ross Anderson. By keeping the space neat, organized and all white, Maira has created the perfect backdrop for displaying (and living with) a lifetime’s worth of meaningful art, furniture and objects. What struck me most about Maria’s home (aside from the fact that we were actually standing next to – and talking with – one of our community’s most inspiring artists) was the sense of appreciation for all objects. From laundry drop-off tickets and shopping bags to old shoes and paintings, Maira’s home is a welcoming space where all things loved – and lovingly made – can be on equal footing. To say that it was an honor to step into her home would be a great understatement – it is truly a day I know none of us will ever forget. I hope you will enjoy this tour as much as we did. Also, be sure to check out both of Maira’s fantastic new books, My Favorite Things and Ah-Ha to Zig-Zag: 31 Objects from Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum - both are celebrations of her favorite objects and focus on telling the stories behind incredible objects and artwork. xo, grace

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