Megan Williamson + Best of the Web

Megan Williamson + Best of the Web

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It’s incredible how much environment can shape and inform the work we do. Since moving to a small town upstate, I’ve found myself less interested in the highly linear and graphic artwork that I typically prefer and more interested in watercolor, pastels and gouache in a way I never was before. I feel like my mind is adapting to a bit more open space and no matter what the reason is, I’m happy to be exploring work that feels fresh and new to me.

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Megan Williamson is a Chicago-based painter whose work reminds me of my favorite Fauvist painters combined with a nod to contemporary pattern and textile design. I love the way she uses bold brushstrokes, big swaths of saturated color and works in bits of pattern here and there. (Her work has even been turned into wallpaper!) I thought it would be a beautiful way to end the week, surrounded by so much color and life. Click here to check out more of Megan’s work (you can buy her originals online). Until Monday, have a safe and happy weekend! xo, grace

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Valery Rizzo’s Caprese Recipe

Valery Rizzo’s Caprese Recipe

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On this column we strive to always share recipes that are simple and seasonal. Based on the Instagram pictures I’ve been seeing of the icy Hudson River, and emails from home, however, I thought I would give our friends suffering from the cold weather something to look forward to when the sun finally comes. Photographer Valery Rizzo is sharing with us this week her very simple recipe for a caprese salad. The beauty of the salad lies in its simplicity. Seek the freshest ingredients to maximize the flavors of the salad, which marry perfectly. If you’re in the southern hemisphere, you can try it out now with your finest local ingredients. -Kristina

About Valery: Valery Rizzo is a Brooklyn-based portrait, food and lifestyle photographer with a passion for telling stories. Her work appears in print, web and exhibition across the globe, as well as in the Brooklyn Navy Yard Archives. Clients include Bon Appétit, Edible Brooklyn, Kinfolk, Organic Gardening, Télérama, Interior Design, New York Magazine and many more. In addition to her commercial work, Valery is also working on a number of personal contemporary photography projects, one of which is a series for a book focused on the rapidly changing borough of Brooklyn, where she was born. She lives in Park Slope and can often be found photographing urban farming, chefs, restaurants, and makers. Find her on Instagram, Twitter, her website and her blog, Eating Brooklyn.

See how to make Valery’s salad after the jump!

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Home Ec: How to Clean Upholstered Furniture

COTTON & LINEN: Let's start with materials before diving into pets. Cotton and linen are some of the most common upholstery fabrics and can be the toughest to protect (from animals, especially). If you have slipcovers, you can machine wash them on a gentle setting. Be sure to follow the tag instructions. Linen/cotton blends can often be machine washed, but pure linen slipcovers should be dry cleaned. I clean ours twice a year. In between I spot clean with a dry cloth first, followed by a damp towel. Regular dust-busting  (every other week or so) can help prevent food or dirt particles from being embedded into the fabric. (Photo from Sisse's home)

Home Ec: How to Clean Upholstered Furniture

One of my major design struggles is balancing my love of upholstered anything with my love of animals. Whether it’s Turk scratching up the side of our sofa or Hope tracking in dirt or carrying her food onto the chair, we’re always dealing with some sort of upholstery clean-up. Even if your home doesn’t include pets or children, regular use of any upholstered furniture will require cleaning and touch-ups at some point. I try to prevent anything major with semi-regular cleaning, but for today’s Home Ec post I wanted to share a guide to cleaning upholstered furniture and protecting it from pets. xo, grace

*Click here for even more in-depth pet-proofing ideas!

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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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Artwork by Helene Comeositos

Artwork by Helene Comeositos

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On last week’s episode of Broad City (which, by the way, if you are not watching, stop what you are doing immediately and do so), we found our protagonists Abbi and Ilana falling into a trap that befalls many in today’s day and age — the inexplicable dissolution of time that happens when one falls down the black hole of The Internet. One second, you’re checking your Facebook, and the next, 10 hours have gone by, you’ve consumed every Top-10 list that Buzzfeed has to offer, and you’ve forgotten how to walk and speak in complete sentences. Looking back, today’s all-you-can-eat Internet culture makes once cutting-edge films like The Net and You’ve Got Mail seem downright quaint.

 

That massive preliminary digression aside, though, the Internet — while admittedly a massive time-suck — can lead to some pretty awesome things. For instance, on one such trip down the good ol’ Internet black hole, I stumbled serendipitously upon the artwork of Helene Comeositos, AKA Monochrome. Based in Helsinki, Helene works as an illustrator and updates her Instagram with daily black and white sketches in her signature irreverent, creep-tastic style. Simultaneously unsettling, witty, and funny, these drawings have become one of my favorite things about my Instagram feed — and certainly make all the photos of coffee that fall in-between more tolerable. So, yes — I might need to taper back my rampant Internet consumption a bit. But for all the headache that the addictive cacophony of Pin-twit-agram-book causes, little treats like this definitely make it worthwhile. Continue after the jump for more bits of Helene’s work. —Max VIEW MORE

Flower Mandalas by Poppies & Posies

Flower Mandalas by Poppies & Posies

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Few things are as inspiring to me as fresh flowers. Whether you group them in a simple vase or create something spectacular, it’s hard to beat their raw beauty. Sierra and her team at Poppies & Posies created these colorful floral mandalas last week and were kind enough to share them with us today. If you need an idea for a special event, wedding or just an unexpected dinner party display, a smaller version of this would be beautiful in the center of a circular table. xo, grace

Mandala in progress

A Home in the City with Coastal Touches

The Kitchen: Morning light draws the couple here for their routine coffee catchups. Vintage chairs and IKEA finds sit atop a rug from Plastica.

A Home in the City with Coastal Touches

Brooklyn will always be our first love here at Design*Sponge. It’s one of the most creative boroughs in New York and it was home to many members of our team for a very long time. So we’re never surprised, but always happy, to find more beautiful homes right under our noses. Tack and Ward designer Stefanie and Art Director Andy have been living in and decorating their railroad-style for the last year and a half. Personalizing their space was of the upmost importance, so family heirlooms and mementos from world travels fill their four-room apartment. Getting used to the winters was a challenge for these southern transplants, but the blank canvas that the space offered was just the right distraction from the winter blues. Having grown up near the North Carolina coast, Andy’s love of all things nautical can easily be seen in small touches throughout the space. Whether it’s a photograph or his surfboard, it’s clear that his love of the sea had major implications for the couple’s home. Stefanie runs her company from the apartment so it had to be both cozy and functional — somewhere she wouldn’t mind spending an entire day working away. It took the couple six months to get the entire space up to their standards and we love the final result- especially in a rental. They’ve mastered the art of using area rugs to add color and warmth and adding temporary shelving to hide less-than-perfect parts of an older rental. Click through to see more ways Stefanie and Andy turned their Greenpoint rental into a warm and nautically-inspired home. Enjoy! —Garrett

All photos by Andy Wardrep

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Before & After: Dala’s Kitchen Makeover

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Before & After: Dala’s Kitchen Makeover

One of the toughest decisions to make when moving into a new space is what to keep and what to change. Damaged and broken-down elements are easy choices, but what about when something is functional, but just not your style? This was the case with Dala Al-Fuwaires of Thyme & Tamarind and her husband AJ’s kitchen. After buying their very first home in Phoenix, AZ, Dala and AJ started to work on their new space. While they both loved their home’s lakefront property, the kitchen just didn’t work for them. But they felt like they should live with the space for a while to see if it grew on them. It turns out they could live with it — for seven years. But last year, the time came to finally tackle turning this dark brown oak and laminate kitchen into the kitchen of their dreams. While Dala’s plans set a schedule of finishing the project in two weeks, it ended up taking two months (which I still think is pretty good for a full makeover!) and the final result is stunning. Those black and gold lights over the counters really seal the deal for me and I can’t wait to share the rest of the makeover. Click through for the before and after photos! xo, grace

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Before & After: Sabrina’s Front Foyer

Sabrina's foyer, After! The final result is a cool modern space that is both functional and stylish. The oversized mirror really adds light to the foyer and makes it feel even bigger than it is.

Before & After: Sabrina’s Front Foyer

When I ripped out all of the old tile in our downstairs bathroom, I felt like a superhero. It was one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done. It was one heck of a stress reliever and the end result was instantly cleaner and fresher than before. Sabrina of Pink Little Notebook knows how I feel because she recently made over her front foyer and replaced some outdated tiles with a bold, geometric style. Sabrina’s goal was to create something functional but modern and stylish. An entryway is the first thing people see in your home and I think Sabrina nailed that mix between design-forward and functional. Click through to read more about her process and the final look. xo, grace

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Rebecca Clarke

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Rebecca Clarke

Over the past 10 years there are definite areas and niches of design that I feel over-saturated with and need to avoid for a while. There was a moment when pillows with digitally printed patterns were at every booth at ICFF and while I appreciate the idea of a trend, a part of me grew tired of it and needed to keep walking. There are, however, a few areas of art and design I will never tire of: ceramics and illustration. I could wander through potters’ studios every day and the same goes for illustrators. I love discovering all the intricate details of their work and what makes their style their own, especially when it makes me think about color and line-quality in a new way.

The artwork of Rebecca Clarke falls into that category for me. Her wonderfully watery illustrations remind me of Los Angeles and swimming pools and all things sunny and calm. Though she’s based in New York, that colorful West Coast feel is what I’m most drawn to her in work — although her drawings of decidedly-NYC dog parks tug at my heart strings, too. It’s about 6 degrees upstate today so I’m going to keep looking at Rebecca’s work this morning in hopes that it can transport me somewhere a little toastier. Click here to check out more of Rebecca’s work online. xo, grace

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DIY Corner Organizer

DIY Corner Organizer

DIY Corner Organiser | Design Sponge

As our homes get smaller we have to be smarter and more creative about storage solutions. Making the most of space can not only give the illusion of a larger room, but it can also help to keep important items organized and even brighten up a dark corner. Living in a rented apartment, it’s even more important to implement these items with as little impact on the decor as possible. There’s a corner of my kitchen that’s been looking empty. I wanted to create a simple piece of furniture that would not only be pleasing on the eye, but also useful for keeping my accessories neatly organized and at easy reach. I’m using these towel holders because they have peel-off adhesive panels on the back that are strong enough to hold up some weight but are removable at the same time. The perfect solution for us renters! —Fran

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Shop Tour: The Primary Essentials

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Shop Tour: The Primary Essentials

Over the past few years, we have witnessed what might be called the rise of a new aesthetic. With whisperings found at design shows, craft fairs, and artists’ studios, this new style melds contemporary notions of small-batch craft production, the aesthetic of Postmodernism, and the impulses of minimalism. One might call it the more cerebral cousin of the 21st century’s craft revival; an offshoot that seeks to elevate the status of traditional and domestic handicraft to that of high art.

Every new design movement needs its taste-makers, its curators, its organizers; people who define the aesthetic by taking seemingly disparate threads and weaving them into a cohesive whole. Lauren Snyder, the proprietor of Brooklyn’s The Primary Essentials, is one such person. Opened in the fall of 2013 with the goal of providing “new outlets for unique beauty,” Lauren’s shop has in many ways become emblematic of this new trend.

Although the term “curation” has become anathema to many at this point, there doesn’t really seem any other way to describe what Lauren does. At Primary Essentials, she has brought together some of today’s most exciting new talents (Caroline Z. Hurley, Hopewell, Chiaozza, Recreation Center — the list goes on) and presented them in a fashion that is just as interesting as the objects themselves. From the shop’s dotted exterior signage to the long central table that houses all manner of craft objects, to the rear windows that contain an indoor garden of houseplants, Lauren has managed to cultivate an aesthetic that champions materiality, form, and warmth while keeping everything pared down to, yes, The Primary Essentials. A beautiful exploration of rich materials (palissandro blue marble, butternut hardwood, decorative encaustic tile) and considered restraint (surfaces are kept markedly clean and all excess is tucked behind wall-to-wall, custom-built cabinetry), the shop presents itself almost like a gallery. With room to breathe, objects are allowed come to the fore, their sculptural and artistic considerations heightened. For both its serenity and on-point interpretation of contemporary craft, The Primary Essentials is most definitely worth the trip to Downtown Brooklyn. —Max

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Our 5 Favorite DIY Materials + Matching Projects

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Our 5 Favorite DIY Materials + Matching Projects

I’ve always found that the biggest stumbling block to becoming comfortable with DIY projects is getting your hands on materials that are affordable, comfortable and easy to transform into something special. Rather than fancy tools or hi-tech gadgets, I’ve always preferred to work with simpler materials like paper, cardboard, string and wood. They’re the sort of building blocks that aren’t intimidating and are easy to find. So to kickstart some winter crafting and maybe a new year where DIY is a bigger part of our lives, I wanted to share my five favorite materials to work with, and easy (but fun!) projects you can do with them. So whether you want to craft a giant paper flower or a new ottoman at home, I hope these ideas will get your craft train on track! xo, grace

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Marble Concrete Wallpaper

Marble Concrete Wallpaper

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Ever since we got a chance to use wallpaper in our house, I’ve had wallpaper on my mind. While my style tends to lean toward black and white patterns, I love this new “marble concrete” wallpaper from Dutch studio Lilesadi. Done in collaboration with Swedish wallpaper company Photowall, this new paper adds texture and depth to walls by also adding a bright bit of color. I love the way it feels like extending beautiful countertops to the wall in the best way possible. It’s as if your dream kitchen counters joined up with a great geometric pattern to create a mash-up wallpaper. The paper officially launches today, so if you want to check out the pattern in more detail or grab a roll for your house, click here to check it out. xo, grace

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Pay It Forward: 3 Ways to Empower the Next Generation of Professional Women

Pay It Forward: 3 Ways to Empower the Next Generation of Professional Women

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There’s no (or rarely) such thing as becoming an overnight success (and in my opinion, I think the term diminishes the hard work it likely took to get there). From the outside, it may sometimes seems like some people just make it one day or get lucky, but it’s more likely that the person spent a lot of time, energy and heart getting to a place where that’s even possible. And it’s even more likely that they got there with some help and advice along the way from friends, family, peers and mentors.

And that’s exactly what Christie Garton of UChic is chatting with us about today. What started as Christie’s blog — and resource hub with books and content to help support young women at this critical life stage  has turned into a company that now offers scholarships and grants to help girls access the experiences that shape dreams, careers and lives, and products for sale that help fund the dream of young women. Christie knows the power behind a little push (whether financially, emotionally or physically) from other people. So whether you’re on your way to becoming a success, whatever that may mean to you, or you’ve already made it, it’s important to remember and thank everyone along the way who had a part in it, big or small — and yes, that means thanking yourself, too. Pay it forward, pals! —Sabrina

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Life & Business: Jaime Derringer of Design Milk

Life & Business: Jaime Derringer of Design Milk

Life & Business: Jaime Derringer of Design Milk

Design Milk was one of the first blogs I subscribed to and bookmarked, before I even really knew what a blog was. That was years and years ago, and it’s still one of my go-to resources today for all things design, from art and architecture to furniture, fashion and technology. So, needless to say, I had a bit of a moment when emailing back and forth with Jaime Derringer, the Founder and Executive Editor of Design Milk and Dog Milk (*insert party hat emoji here*). Despite her busy schedule — she’s in the middle of launching Adorn Milk, an online shop dedicated to modern wearables — Jaime was kind enough to share a bit behind her life and business, from happy mistakes and saying no, to knowing what to pay attention to and the importance of people who know more than you. Thanks, Jaime! —x, Sabrina

Portrait photography by Noa Azoulay

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