Curated Style in a Brooklyn Brownstone

Curated Style in a Brooklyn Brownstone | Design*Sponge

Curated Style in a Brooklyn Brownstone

I think one of the biggest highs for me as a prop and interior stylist is coming across an object that is wonderfully fitting for my set. In these moments I think, “something else would have been fine or good enough, but this glorious object is perfect.” Those finds are rare, but when they happen, it feels like magic or fate was somehow involved. Alyssa and Paul also have a knack for looking for things that will just do, and have instead ended up with the pieces and home of their dreams.

Alyssa, floral designer/owner at Bracken and freelance prop stylist, and Paul Hoppe, Art Director at Local Projects, moved from Los Angeles to Brooklyn a year and a half ago. They wanted to find a brownstone and were lucky enough to find one on a tree-lined street in a great location. “The apartment had just been remodeled when we moved in, so it was great to find something that felt new and clean in a building full of the character of old homes that we love,” Alyssa says. “We didn’t bring much with us when we moved here from Los Angeles. Just a few boxes of clothes and some of the special knick-knacks from places we traveled. All of the furniture and decor pieces we collected here.”

The Hoppes’ great discoveries didn’t stop with their apartment: “One of our best finds was our matching dressers from a salvage store in Brooklyn. We were only looking for one dresser when we came across these two. We liked the design and they were priced at $40 so we decided to take one home. Just before we bought it we noticed the Herman Miller seal on the inside of the top drawer. When we got home we Googled it and found they were designed by George Nelson and retail at $1,700 apiece. We immediately went back and bought the other one and made it work in our living room.”

This home is balanced with neutrals and color, things old and new, purchased and made. The Hoppes have made it into a space that reflects both of them in a beautiful combination. “We always want our home to feel like it’s a part of both of us,” says Alyssa. “We tend to like a lot of the same things but my aesthetic can be a little more rustic and raw while Paul’s is clean-lined and more modern.” Of course, the home of an art director and stylist is this incredibly well done while looking effortless at the same time. The items they have found to bring into their home are as incredible as the space itself. —Lauren

Photography by Kathleen Bly

 

 

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Life & Business: How to Let a Trip Shape You (Rather than Shaping a Trip)

Life & Business: How to Let a Trip Shape You (Rather than Shaping a Trip)

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While many of us find ourselves on a pre-planned vacation, with comfort top-of-mind, Adrian Traquair seeks the unknown, the uncomfortable, and the complete immersion into a new culture. A few years ago, Adrian, armed with his friend Dustin and two self-operated cameras, set out on a mission to row down the Ganges River in an inflatable raft, over 1,500 kilometers from New Delhi to Dhaka. It was all captured on camera and made into a documentary (one of my favorites), Around The Next Bend. And if that wasn’t enough, they’re at it again, planning a 6,000-mile, 3-wheeled auto rickshaw expedition through South America, hoping to capture it all on camera to create another 12-episode series. More than anything else, Adrian, a 30-year-old filmmaker who works in the art department for film and television, is a passionate and experienced traveler on a mission. Over the years, he’s learned some lessons about making (and breaking) travel plans, and his trips have shaped him in ways he could never otherwise have achieved. Today, we’re thrilled to have Adrian share his insight into travel in an effort to encourage you to consider how to let a trip shape you, rather than shape a trip. — Sabrina

If you’d like to know more about Rickshaw South and Adrian’s next adventure, you can show your support on their (hilariously entertaining) Kickstarter page.

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Beacon, New York City Guide

Beacon, New York City Guide

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Just 60 miles north of NYC along the Hudson River, you’ll find Beacon, a charming-and-hip small town with a population of under 20,000. Home to the renowned contemporary art museum Dia: Beacon, which opened in 2003, it has attracted crowds of artists, writers, filmmakers, designers, young couples looking to start families and veteran entrepreneurs. Beacon, an industrial and historic town once known for manufacturing textiles, hats and boxes, has a vibrantly growing locavore community, and myriad new businesses continue to open shop in the historic buildings on Main Street. And through the influx of galleries, craft beer breweries, organic food shops and more, the town has harmoniously kept its industrial character while also preserving the natural beauty of the Hudson Valley. As today’s city guide writer, Euni Figi, explains, “Beacon has it all!”

Euni (who commutes into Manhattan daily where she works as a designer at Caro Home) and her husband have called Beacon home since 2008. They can’t get enough of the relaxed lifestyle and super-friendly community, and today, Euni is thrilled to share a few of her recommendations of things to do, see, and eat. — Sabrina

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A Moody Mid-Century Modernist Maisonette

A Moody Mid-Century Modernist Maisonette

A Moody Mid-Century Modernist Maisonette

As the title suggests, this home is full of “mmmm” moments. Its calming atmosphere and eclectic decor reflect the depth of its owners: Vija Rhodes, a maker of handwoven textiles who grew up in the south of France, her husband Greg Rhodes, who works for Reebok, and their beautiful Hungarian Vizsla, Bernie, who ended up being their golden ticket to getting the home! Vija and Greg were renting in Victoria Park, East London, UK at the time, and on their many walks with Bernie as a puppy, they ran into the estate agents who were based around the corner. They came to know them well (over many puppy cuddles), so when this home became available, they were the first and only people contacted.

Designed by Crown Estate architect John Spence & Partners in the early 60s, the home had more window than wall in nearly every room, original parquet floors and a massive garden. But “it needed a lot of work,” Vija says, “which is exactly what we wanted.” They hired a builder named Richard, a Yorkshireman in his late 60s, to live with them through the weeks that it took to complete the home. “Living in a dusty building site in the dead of winter (and with someone outside of your little family unit) was really hard at times,” Vija says. “At points we were washing up outside in the pouring rain and flushing the toilet with a bucket!” Walls were moved, the bathroom and kitchen they designed began taking shape, the purple ceilings and walls were painted over, the old faded burgundy carpets were pulled up, and the floors were all hand sanded. Bernie had a blast living and playing in the construction site, and in the end, it was completely worth it. –Sabrina

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A Less-is-More Home and Studio in the Pacific Northwest

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A Less-is-More Home and Studio in the Pacific Northwest

I am such a sucker for photography — or art of any kind, really — that uses significant amounts of negative space in the composition. It’s eye-catching and makes the focus of the piece that much more stunning when this technique is done right. While I love rooms with layers, textures and life, there’s something that draws me into minimal rooms and homes where empty space meets beautiful objects and furniture and really shows them off.

Mallory and Luke Leasure are professional photographers who work from their Portland, OR home. Creating a home with studio essentials for these two was challenging with 625 square feet of living space. They pared down their belongings to those that fit physically and aesthetically in the couple’s home to make the most out of the apartment. “We loved the challenge of making a studio apartment a functional living space and home office. As photographers, we spend most of our days working from home, so lots of natural light is key for us, especially in the Pacific Northwest,” Mallory says. “Our dream was to have a fully functional living and working space complete with a daylight photo studio. The space is smaller, so we had to be strategic about the kind of items and stylizing that we could incorporate into the overall aesthetic.” The custom desk in the bedroom and the white backdrop rigged over the doors in the living room have helped Mallory and Luke get the function they need from the space.

Their home mixes modern and vintage furniture with natural details. The Leasures value the pieces they have, but don’t want to overwhelm their small space with things they don’t need. “Less is more. We love the idea of living minimally. We both don’t like clutter or too many colors,” Mallory says. “I think our biggest goal is making the studio feel bigger than it is. Having a small space means small and functional items. There isn’t any unnecessary seating or bulky items, that way no one feels crowded in an already tight space.” Mallory and Luke’s small, beautiful apartment has a large amount of negative space without feeling sparse or cold. It is a home that works for the couple efficiently and reflects them artistically at the same time. —Lauren

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A Young Family’s Happy, Golden-State Home

A Young Family's Merry, Golden-State Home, Design*Sponge

A Young Family’s Happy, Golden-State Home

Being the son of Smith & Hawken co-founder Paul Hawken, Aidan is no stranger to impeccable design. His keen eye led him to this sunny, 1940s Los Angeles home where he and wife Andrea are raising their smiley son Gabriel. It was clear from the beginning that this couple was a match made in design heaven. Andrea’s love for mid-century pieces, Aidan’s crush on modernism and their shared desire to create a home that’s open, bright and uncomplicated has resulted in today’s pretty Golden State peek.

When they first moved into this two-bedroom space, a good purge was in order. Good thing neither of them are known for hanging onto anything for too long. “We had lots of things – enough furniture for our previous home which had three bedrooms, two bathrooms and an office. We were moving into a much smaller place, with smaller rooms and much less storage,” Andrea says. Letting go of so much has helped the couple truly appreciate the items that remain and has made their home feel “so much more open and comfortable.”

As renters, non-invasive tweaks were the only options when personalizing their home. In order to fill the space with as much natural light as possible, the two painted all the walls a brilliant white. New, dimming light fixtures and fresh hardware were also some of the first changes the couple made when they moved in. “We’ve been renters for a long time, and as a result, we don’t shy away from improving on a space even though we don’t own it,” the couple says.

Not only is the home’s interior gorgeous, it is located in a national, historic landmark so the views are spectacular. LA’s Village Green neighborhood is “nestled within acres of hundred-year-old trees and grass fields as fas as the eye can see,” so Gabriel can run and play without the worry of speeding traffic. If that wasn’t enough, the home even sits on the migratory path of many butterflies and birds, so once springtime hits, all types of little critters call The Green home. Living in such a place where hummingbirds, hawks and wildflowers are right outside the door is exactly the type of childhood Andrea and Aidan always wanted for Gabriel. “I am most thankful for the chance to raise our son in a place that he can run outside and play and climb trees,” the proud parents gush. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Monica Wang

 

 

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Our Favorite Kids’ Rooms

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Our Favorite Kids’ Rooms

It was actually one of our lovely readers who inspired us to round up some of our favorite kids’ rooms. Stellar idea, Eliina! Thanks for the tip. I myself have always had a soft spot for our “Best Of” retrospectives. They provide me and the team with such an insightful snapshot of how decorating in the real world has evolved. While no two rooms are exactly the same, bold walls, the colors pink and green and nautical touches kept popping up as I combed through our extensive library. Heck, I’d be happy to call any of these bedrooms “home,” and I am a 27-year-old man (but clearly a kid at heart). From toddlers to teenagers, these are some seriously stylish guys and gals whose bedrooms are sure to inspire any room in your home. Each pick is even accompanied by insightful stories about how each space came to life. While these rooms are all interesting and fun for various reasons, one thing is consistent throughout – they were all labors of love. Enjoy! —Garrett

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#DSRainbow

#DSRainbow

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I cannot believe that June is already here. I’m in complete denial and find myself clutching onto spring with all of its cool temperatures and beautiful flowers like I can’t let go. But I know that the long days of summer are ahead and with all of their downs (air conditioning bills and mosquitoes) there will be some wonderful ups, like hiking to waterfalls, dips in the pool, backyard badminton and getting flip flop tans that make me feel like I’m a kid again. This month not only marks the first day of summer (June 21st), it also holds my 34th birthday on the 9th (woohoo!) and the start of Pride month. Whether you’re a member of the LGBT community or an ally (thank you!), this month will be about celebrating love, equality and happiness for everyone. Part of that celebration almost always includes a rainbow or two, so I decided to make this month’s hashtag challenge: #DSRAINBOW.

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We’re taking inspiration from the iconic rainbow flag to celebrate gorgeous photos of all themes that show a color change from red to orange to yellow to green to blue to violet (or any part of the spectrum)! I’ve shared some of my favorite examples above and below, but if you spot something beautiful with a rainbow-inspired feel, share it at #DSRAINBOW and we’ll share our favorites here on DS and on Instagram. xo, grace

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[Images above, top to bottom: DandyFineParty, WrightKitchen, EBMNewhaven, TonyAvista]

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Beau Ciolino’s Matcha Truffles

Beau Ciolino’s Matcha Truffles

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Beau Ciolino, a New Orleans-based writer and author of Probably Baking blog, is another one of my favorite Instagram finds this year. His enthusiasm for baking is present in every image and in his writing, making his blog and Instagram feeds both fun places to wander around. Beau created this recipe for Matcha Dark Chocolate Truffles for us this week. Though the shops here in Italy remove chocolate from their shelves around late May, when it starts to get hot (and chocolates don’t typically return to stores until autumn), I think there’s always room for a truffle or two in the summer! For two more tea-inspired variations on this truffle, visit Beau’s blog here.—Kristina

Why Beau loves this recipe: I’ve always loved making truffles. They are so easy and versatile, and will totally impress your dinner guests. I fell in love with matcha a few months ago and use it constantly in baking and desserts. Its zing of green tea flavor pairs perfectly with the very intense dark chocolate in this recipe. These little guys are a great addition to a fruit and cheese board, just add a glass or three of champagne and you’ve got yourself a lovely after-dinner delight. If you don’t like extremely dark chocolate, you can always use a lower cocoa percentage, such as 50%, to make it more to your taste.   

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A Landlord’s Mission-Style, Midwestern Duplex

A Landlord's Mission-Style, Midwestern Duplex, Design*Sponge

A Landlord’s Mission-Style, Midwestern Duplex

Throughout the years, we have taken you inside countless renters’ spaces from around the world. This Midwestern peek is extra special, however, as we are mixing things up and stepping inside a landlord’s 110-year-old home. Emilie and Curt have called this two-bedroom apartment in Minneapolis, MN “home base” for a little over a year now. The 2,400-square-foot space is divided equally between two units — one for the rentees and one for the renters. “We both really wanted to own a duplex. We thought it would be a good experience to be landlords,” the two explain. They fell in love with the home the second they stepped foot inside. The neighborhood’s monthly wine-and-cheese nights, block parties and friendly faces further proved that this was the spot for them.

Emilie and Curt immediately went to work updating the home’s dark-and-dreary color palette once they moved in. All the walls were painted a stormy grey before becoming the brilliant shade of white you see now. Numerous plants and the couple’s modern, yet minimal, accessories look even more divine in the light that bounces off of the walls in almost every room. You’d be hard-pressed to find a spot in this house that isn’t sun-drenched. This natural light surely helps create the “warm and inviting,” atmosphere that the couple strives for. Being over a century old means that the home doesn’t have a dishwasher or air conditioning, but that doesn’t seem to bother the couple one bit. Opening the windows to a breeze and doing dishes together are actually two of Emilie and Curt’s favorite things about living here. My favorite things about this home are endless. A porch I would never want to leave, original woodwork, and built-in cabinetry are what immediately caught my eye, and I am positive you’ll find more than one thing in this home that makes you smile as well. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Emilie Szabo

 

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Home Ec: 8 Ways to Make Your Own Pet Toys and Beds

DIY Cat Toys at Design*Sponge

Home Ec: 8 Ways to Make Your Own Pet Toys and Beds

The other week I decided to sit down and do a little financial reckoning to get myself in order for the rest of the year and see if I can afford to spend a little more on plants for our garden. Sitting down with your bills can always be a little overwhelming, and I was blown away (although not entirely shocked) to see how much I spend on dog toys, beds, grooming products and the occasional cat tower. Our pets are like our children and I apparently spare nothing when it comes to something I think they’ll like. Thankfully, DIY is part of my job and I decided to figure out the areas I spend most on (outside of food), which are: toys, beds and pet furniture.

From Turk’s scratchers and towers to the girls’ ever-growing pile of toys, it’s time for me to stop spending and start making something instead. Julia has been excellent at turning old wood scraps (combined with pieces of old carpet padding) into scratchers for Turk, so I took that as inspiration today to show just how cute — and functional — DIY pet projects can be. Pets are very much a part of our families and our lives and putting a little extra time into their happiness (outside of daily walks, play time and regular vet visits) is always worthwhile — and it can even save you a buck or two. Hopefully you’ll find something in this list to inspire a creative home project that celebrates your family’s fuzziest members. xo, grace

*If you want to wear your love of your cats on your hands, check out last week’s DIY cat nail art how-to!

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This post and the Home Ec section are brought to you by Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day. Visit the Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Home-Grown Inspiration section featuring 20 DIYs, including seven from Design*Sponge!

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Before & After: Mirrored Closet Door Makeover

Before & After Closet Door Makeover on Design*Sponge

Before & After: Mirrored Closet Door Makeover

Old sliding closet doors can often be a design nightmare. In mid-century homes, they’re made of 70s-style laminate or faux-wood and in later homes, shiny mirrored doors (with fake chrome trim) are common. I’ve been known to rip them out myself and replace them with hanging curtains, or paint the doors to try to camouflage them, but they never look quite right to me. But when I saw this makeover from Roxanne at The Honeycomb Home, I realized I was going about it all wrong. Instead of camouflaging them, I should have been finding a stylish way to accentuate them.

Roxanne’s daughter’s room had sliding mirrored doors that they both disliked. The doors stood out from the darker walls like a sore thumb and, while they were practical for saving space and bouncing light back into the room, they didn’t fit the overall look look they both wanted. So instead of tearing them out, Roxanne took inspiration from a photo she saw online and decided to design her own overlay to dress up the doors and turn them from a distraction into a key element of the room’s design. I absolutely adore the final look and it’s such an inspiration to anyone who is dealing with sliding doors that need a little love. Click through to read about Roxanne’s process! xo, grace

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By The Hudson River, Making a House into a Home

A Home By the Hudson River, on Design*Sponge

By The Hudson River, Making a House into a Home

I believe in the importance of making a house a home, whether you live in it for 12 months or 12 years. After all, your home is your safe place, and it should make you feel comfortable and at peace, no matter where you came from or where you’re going.

Project Manager Melissa Hope is a self-professed farm-kid from Virginia who never planned (or aspired) to live in a big city — so when she first moved to New York, her priority was to find a hassle-free space that offered flexibility, convenience, proximity to the Hudson River, an in-unit washer-dryer and ample space for Mollie, her Golden-Doodle, to romp around. It was her first big move, and this home fit the criteria of striking a balance between city and country living, but she never imagined staying here for long.

Initially, Melissa found the cookie-cutter space lacked character, which left her feeling frustrated and uninspired. Further, as a renter, the inherent limitations to what she could do were stifling, but as time went on, she came to appreciate the resourcefulness and creativity it mustered up in her to make it work. Nearly five years later, she’s managed to work around these limitations and is still happy to call this darling space her home — for now. Having grown up in an old home in the country where everything possessed character, to Melissa, balancing the clean, simple lines that she loves with the relaxed and approachable character that she’s always known and needed is what creating a home is all about. While she’s well aware that it isn’t her forever home, and the furniture inside of it isn’t her forever furniture, she (and Mollie) are happy and at peace here for the time being. —Sabrina

 

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An LA Loft with Gutsy Glitter and Sparkle

An LA Loft with Gutsy Glitter and Sparkle, Design*Sponge

An LA Loft with Gutsy Glitter and Sparkle

The most memorable homes I have come across are those whose owners weren’t afraid to go against the grain by upsetting the status quo, marching to the beat of their own drum and unapologetically following their heart. When you take a leap of faith and go with your gut, the results can be extremely personal. Amina and Salvatore Mucciolo of Studio Mucci embodied this gusto when they began decorating their loft a little over a year ago.

Located in the heart of the resurgent, downtown-LA area, their work/living space is a technicolor dreamworld that combines both of their unique point of views on styling. Amina’s “love [for] all things whimsical, pastel and sparkly,” complements Salvatore’s “playful minimalism” throughout the home. After extensive research on the neighborhood, a few snapshots of the floor plan and some crossing of fingers, the two decided to take the risk and move their company to the west coast without having stepped foot inside the space. “Ultimately the spacious, open floor plan, high ceilings, beautiful view and amazing natural light [are] what sold us on the loft,” the couple says. When they first moved in, the main focus was setting up the space as their shop’s headquarters. “Knowing our loft would be a work/live space, all of the design choices and purchases that we made were really about functionality and organization,” Amina says. “If it rolled, stacked or was easily collapsed, we bought it – in a pastel hue, of course.” Working out all of the kinks that come with living and working in the same place proved to be the most challenging part of the apartment, “but it’s also one of the things that makes [their home] so unique.”

Offering an oasis from the sometimes harsh and exhausting city, the couple “really wanted [their] space to be light, fluffy and full of color…,” in order to both inspire and help them unwind after a long day. “We like to call our home ‘Cloud Land’ because from our bed, looking out the window all you can see are clouds or sky…” I hope you enjoy being whisked away to Cloud Land as much as I did. —Garrett

Photography by Lauren Comes

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Philly’s ROOST Apartment Hotel

Philly's ROOST Apartment Hotel Design*Sponge

Philly’s ROOST Apartment Hotel

Frequently traveling for work has seen me check into some less-than-memorable hotels. These trips have taught me that nothing is more refreshing and stabilizing than being able to come back from a long day to a place that feels homey and comfortable. A little bit of eye candy definitely doesn’t hurt either. From the looks of it, the team behind Philadelphia’s ROOST Apartment Hotel have a true understanding of how impactful beautiful design can be on our mood when we are on the move. I spoke with co-founder Randall T. Cook to get an exclusive look into how he and Morris Adjmi flipped a 1920s historic building into 27 unique rooms, made for the crowd that’s looking for something hip, fresh and different. Enjoy!—Garrett

Photography by Matthew Williams

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