How To Effectively Tackle Your To-Do List + a DIY To Help Make It Less Painful

ToDo

How To Effectively Tackle Your To-Do List + a DIY To Help Make It Less Painful

Workflow. Project management. Time management. These are all terms that generally inspire eye rolls and guttural sounds from most folks in the workplace. But we all want to try to improve them however we can. However, when you’re trying to improve your productivity and check things off your long to-do list, it is SO easy to get overwhelmed by the number of tools, apps, books and philosophies around the subject of getting things done. I think it’s safe to say that finding a method that works for you is a huge project in and of itself.

But this quick DIY video from our archives, created by the talented Kathleen Ballos, will, in fact, get you thinking in the right way about stuff done. It’s clever idea will help you get busy and enjoy it. But before we dive in to DIY, I’ve got some tips and ideas for training your brain to master some great work habits after the jump… –Caitlin

 

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Glance Inside Jessica Biel & Co.’s Kid-Friendly Restaurant Au Fudge

Glance Inside Jessica Biel & Co.'s Kid-Friendly Restaurant Au Fudge, Design*Sponge

Glance Inside Jessica Biel & Co.’s Kid-Friendly Restaurant Au Fudge

Jessica Biel, Estee Stanley, Kimberly Muller, Joey Gonzalez, Jonathan Rollo and Monica Saunders-Weinberg are reframing the “rules” of dining out with their new LA eatery, Au Fudge — and it’s all thanks to their unique focus on family. Since the early days of planning, it’s been the driving force behind every one of the group’s business decisions. The name was even appropriately born out of a very real familial moment. Co-mastermind Estee Stanley tells us that when she became a mother, she and her husband began saying “oh fudge” to help them refrain from using unsavory language around the house. “That’s how the name came to be, but with a Français twist: Au Fudge,” she says.

With the name in place, the group began working alongside St. Frank and other makers to create the whimsical and cozy space Jessica Biel and her companions envisioned. In one of the space’s more lively spots, an arcade flashes and blinks. It beckons children and the inner-kid in all visitors to play some games while the dinner table is set. With the high score beat, guests are then ushered into the dining hall where vintage finishes, soft lighting, communal farm tables and the smell of a well-cooked meal evoke the warmth of home.

Of course, kids are always welcome inside the dining room, but parents will find it challenging to drag their little ones away from Au Fudge’s adorably-decorated Creative Space. Led by Au Fudge’s Au Pairs, this area of the restaurant offers all of the books, games and artistic and musical activities that a kid could hope for. Set at the back of the room and atop the space’s secret, golden staircase is perhaps my favorite aspect of Au Fudge: the textile-rich treehouse. Comfy St. Frank pillows, a neon-tassled chandelier and windows that let in brilliant sunlight make it the must-see feature of the restaurant. And that’s saying something, as the entire space is designed to a T. Click through to soak it all in. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Justin Coit & Leila Brewster

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Desktop Wallpapers by Barbra Ignatiev: Day 2

Desktop Wallpapers by Barbra Ignatiev: Day 2

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I was so excited for today’s watercolor wallpaper by Barbra Ignatiev because it combines two of my favorite things: pink and cats. Well, big cats. Today’s “Speedy Cheetah” pattern is available in two sizes (for your phone and your desktop) and is a great way to dress up your tech for summer. Just click the link below to download. You can check out more of her work online here and on Instagram, too. xo, grace

CLICK HERE to download today’s design

How Being Kind To Yourself Can Increase Your Success with Laura Novak Myer

How Being Kind To Yourself Can Increase Your Success with Laura Novak Myer

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Entrepreneurship feels so rewarding when things are going well — orders are coming in, customers love your work, and you’re reminded of why you started doing this in the first place. “It’s pure joy to watch all of your hard work turn into reality!” Laura Novak Myer says. However, in running and growing her business, Little Nest Portraits, from a single boutique photography studio into a national franchise, she was surprised to find that she learned more “from the days I wanted to ‘just stay in bed’ than the days where everything ran like clockwork.”

At times, her decision to grow seemed to be the worst decision of her life, testing all of her courage and confidence. But it was in these moments — dealing with a space, managing employees, etc. — when she really learned that the key to navigating the waters and thriving in the midst of chaos is something simple, yet often neglected: kindness. She applied this kindness to herself, her team, her vendors, her customers, and even the situations that caused the most stress.

Today, Laura Novak Myer is joining us to chat about how being kind to yourself can increase your success with her time-tested tips and tricks. –Sabrina

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Trend Watch: Flamingos are Flocking

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Trend Watch: Flamingos are Flocking

For a while, owls were the bird of choice for many decorators. You couldn’t escape them. They popped up on candles, textiles and even soap. I get why; they’re cute, connote wisdom and have adorable eyes, but they’ve had their moment to shine. Now that summer’s in season, it’s time for another feathered friend to take over: pretty-and-pink flamingos. They own these hotter months, and over the years their image has become synonymous with parties, flourishing lawns and frolicking outdoors.

Here at Design*Sponge, we love the bird’s unique color and goofy shape. We’ve become so enamored with the flamingo as of late, we’ve rounded up some simple ways you can bring this warm-weather trend home. From simple matchbooks to bold wallpaper, each offers its own way of incorporating a pop of pink and is sure to add a dash of summer to your space. Some are bold while others are more subtle, but no matter which look you choose, one thing is for sure — these long-legged beauties will keep you smiling all season. Enjoy! —Garrett

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10 Tips to Get Your Products Featured in Magazines’ Holiday Gift Guides

10 Tips to Get Your Products Featured in Magazines’ Holiday Gift Guides

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Andreea Ayers of Launch Grow Joy has previously dazzled us with her advice on Five Steps to Get Affiliates for Your Product Launch, and the savvy teacher of online entrepreneurs is back to share a wealth of tips on why you should start acting now to get your own products featured in end-of-year holiday gift guides. After all, her professional mission is “to make PR less intimidating!”

Andreea succeeds once again by sharing the steps to follow for planning press outreach, locating editors’ contact info, as well as “when to reach out and what to say, and how to translate those press mentions into more sales.” She distills some of the more opaque concepts (like SEO and positioning) down into easily-understood information you can use to propel your own business forward in 2016. —Annie

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Portland, OR City Guide

Portland, OR City Guide

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Known for its young and progressive culture, hot food scene, and made even more famous by the show Portlandia, Portland, OR has quickly become an “it” city for many — and for good reason. From its eco-friendly attitude, to its abundance of parks, microbreweries, and coffeehouses, it’s a city bustling with people who will “eat, drink and be merry for anything,” Valorie (today’s city guide writer and PDX-local) explains.

“There are a plethora of Portland city guides out there,” she begins, “and these recommendations are an insider’s guide to modern design and small businesses in the Bridge City!” Along the way, Valorie suggests keeping your itinerary flexible, stowing some extra cash in your pocket for surprise buys from local makers and vendors, and maintaining an “always-more-room kind of stomach, because you will find one-of-a-kind artisan treasures and farm-to-table treats ‘round every block!” –Sabrina Photography by Sarah Holt

*For more perspectives on Portland, check out additional guides from locals here and here.

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Desktop Wallpapers by Barbra Ignatiev

Desktop Wallpapers by Barbra Ignatiev

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Today I’m excited to share some desktop and phone wallpapers created by Oakland, CA-based watercolor pattern designer, Barbra Ignatiev. I love the bright vivid colors in Barbra’s work and am so happy to share her first design with everyone here today! You can check out more of her work online here and on Instagram, too. xo, grace

CLICK HERE to download today’s design and HERE to download all 4 days of designs!

An Illinois Home Proves Keeping Your Eye on the Prize Pays Off

An Illinois Home Proves Keeping Your Eye on the Prize Pays Off, Design*Sponge

An Illinois Home Proves Keeping Your Eye on the Prize Pays Off

I love how smooth and painless home renovations are. They always go off without a hitch. In fact, it’s surprising more people don’t take them on, right? Wrong! Who am I kidding? Renovations are tough! They test you, push you to your limits, and make you question so many things about your vision.

Such was the case with interior designer and fiber artist Astral Riles’ mid-century home outside Chicago, IL. After having viewed over 40 properties, she stumbled upon this hidden gem and her interest was captured. The two-bedroom home boasted just the right amount of space and a floor-to-ceiling fireplace — not bad. The ranch-style abode did need one tiny thing, though: a total overhaul. Where some may have seen an insurmountable challenge, optimist Astral saw opportunity. Here was the decor enthusiast’s chance to get her hands dirty and make a house into a dream home. Going into the project she knew it wouldn’t be easy, but no one could’ve predicted the tough road ahead. Just like that, the five-week renovation turned into a six-month battle of missed deadlines and spotty work. The situation got so bad, Astral eventually had to let the contractor go, leaving her to find a new partner that could bring her vision to life.

Not one to let negativity dampen her dream, Astral forged ahead with a new right-hand man and a newfound determination to correct the bad construction and strip down the space. Thanks to that go-getter attitude, the mid-century ranch is a total looker nowadays, with each and every one of its “functional and comfortable” accessories adding to its colorful and inviting swagger. As you’ll see, vintage accessories mingle with newer furniture as glitzy wall mounts and layered textiles create an inviting vibe perfect for cozying up to the fire on a cold night. All in all, Astral has used every room in the space to bring to life one of her favorite looks, and I truly admire her perseverance. Click through to take a peek around the rest of the home. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by MGB Photo

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Why Mirrors Will Always Be Impactful in Design, Part 1

Now that is a mirror. In this Chicago, IL Victorian cottage, an ornate baroque mirror takes on a new look with a coat of white paint. The white slightly downplays the commanding presence of the detailed design, helping the mirror to define and ground the space without overdoing it.

Why Mirrors Will Always Be Impactful in Design, Part 1

There are very few all-encompassing design solves I can think of that can be applied to any style, any home, and any space. And the one element I keep coming back to is the tried-and-true mirror.

Whether artful or strategic, mirrors work wonders to draw attention to a space with their reflective faces, and they move mountains to make any room feel more open and dimensional than it really is. Running the gamut of every style, color, shape and size under the sun, these design tools can suit (or intentionally contradict) any aesthetic. And, dare I suggest, they’re considerably more timeless and versatile than a piece of art, as a mirror’s face is essentially a blank canvas.

What can I say — here at Design*Sponge, we just can’t get enough of mirrors. So much so, in fact, I’ve broken this post into a two-parter. There are simply too many stunning mirror moments not to share. —Kelli

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Making Your Passions Profitable with Renae Bluitt

Making Your Passions Profitable with Renae Bluitt

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Many of the world’s most well-known entrepreneurs have found success by taking their passion and strategically turning it into a full-time job. The long hours, financial burden and stress that can come with making this switch have the potential to overwhelm anyone. Knowing it’s not all in vain — but in service of something they love, however — makes it all worthwhile for these risk-takers. I so admire individuals with this mindset who have chased their dreams, successfully or not. It takes guts and gall.

One creative gal who is not unfamiliar with turning passion into profit is the Founder of Crush Media, Renae Bluitt. From day one, her love for public relations has never waned, but her passion for some of the brands she was assigned at her old gig sure did. Determined to only work on projects that inspired her, she left behind her job. Renae then set forth to carve out a piece of the PR pie for herself, opening her own firm focused on representing companies in a field she’s passionate about: beauty. By making her own rules and choosing her own clients, she’s been able to combine her passions for PR and beauty and be her own boss. It was a gutsy move, but she couldn’t be happier she took the risk.

Wondering what her recipe for success is? Follow the jump to find out, and to snag some tips on making your own passion profitable. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography courtesy of Renae Bluitt

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DIY Faux-Molding Ribbon + Best of the Web

DIY Faux-Molding Ribbon + Best of the Web

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This week felt like a bit of a blur. The tragedy in Orlando, and seeing so many incredible lives cut short, knocked me to my feet in a way that I can’t fully express. I spent the beginning of this week in a dark, heavy place and I can only imagine how unspeakably heartbroken the family and friends of the victims feel right now. Each and every one of us at Design*Sponge has been focusing on sending all of our energy and love their way, but the weight of the situation and the reality of attacks on LGBTQ people in America have made it hard to think about anything else. I spoke about this in more detail on our social media channels, but I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that great loss here and that, while we know design and beauty are often wonderful distractions from difficult moments in life, they do not fill the void left by this horrific crime.

It’s taken me until today to finally feel ready to look back into design and I’ve been slowing finding small moments of lightness in the words, images and ideas of our colleagues online. While our dedication to being a part of supporting the victims (here are ways to help if you can) is still our top priority, today I wanted to end with a bit of visual levity for anyone who needs it right now.

Megan Pflug is always coming up with wonderful DIY ideas and her post at One Kings Lane this week about creating faux-molding with ribbons really caught my eye. It was the first thing that made me smile this week and I hope it, and the links below, can provide a moment of hope and happiness during this difficult time. xo, grace

 

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  • This week’s links are all about Instagram and feeds that are most definitely worth following. For starters, this amazing account that tracks gorgeously designed gates in San Francisco.
  • This Instagram feed indulges in my favorite form of inspiration: PINK!
  • Like to travel? This feed tracks beautiful and incredible places to visit across the world.
  • I love flowers. I also love chicory flavor. So when I discovered this floral feed that combines both, I was sold.
  • These cheerful splatter/polka dot ceramics from Felt + Fat are so great.
  • One more great ceramics # to follow: #potsinaction — an amazing collection of handmade pots/ceramics in use in real-life situations.

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Christine Chitnis’ Roasted Peach Pops

Christine Chitnis’ Roasted Peach Pops

Roasted Peaches and Cream Pops

Making popsicles at home is a great way to keep control of the grocery budget as well as what’s in your food. Cookbook author Christine Chitnis had this in mind when she created her recipe for Roasted Peaches and Cream Pops in her most recent cookbook, Icy, Creamy, Healthy, Sweet. The recipe, which comes together quickly, combines the caramelized sweetness of roasted peaches with yogurt, honey, and vanilla to bring the best of summer in a tasty and beautiful package with limited added sugar. If you happen to be in San Francisco on June 22, you can stop by Omnivore Books and meet Christine, or at the Book Larder in Seattle, on June 23, and see what other luscious summer treats are in her book! —Kristina

Why Christine loves this recipe: All year long, I wait impatiently for stone fruit season in New England. Fortunately, Providence is surrounded by orchards and farms that bring their very best to market each week. There’s nothing better than farm fresh peaches on a sunny, summer day! For this recipe, I wanted to put a healthier, lighter spin on the traditional combination of peaches and cream. Roasting peaches brings out their natural sweetness, and lends an almost caramelized flavor to them. Combined with good quality whole milk yogurt, sweetened slightly with honey, these pops are light, refreshing and completely satisfying for my summer sweet tooth.

Icy Creamy Healthy Sweet Cover

Photography by Christine Chitnis, Portrait by Sunglow Photography

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15 Pretty Picturesque Front Porches

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15 Pretty Picturesque Front Porches

It has always been my quaint, pastoral fantasy to spend summers in a historic Southern farmhouse, keeping cool while swinging on a wide wraparound porch’s swing with some sweet tea in hand. I’d picnic in the tall green grass, scheming up ways to fill the formal rooms with gilded granny antiques, sleek mid-century furniture, and exotic modern art.

Cut to my Brooklyn summer, where there’s no swing, no porch, and no relief from the oppressive heat. We’ve published some of the most inspiring outdoor spaces throughout the years to help city-dwellers utilize their exterior assets, or to envision their own ideal country settings. Here are 15 pretty picturesque front porches to help stir the imagination along with that icy beverage. A girl (or boy!) can dream. Here’s to welcoming summer! —Annie

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Before & After: Southwood Home Renovation by LLI Design in London

Before & After: Southwood Home Renovation by LLI Design in London, on Design*Sponge

Before & After: Southwood Home Renovation by LLI Design in London

As Design Director of LLI Design, Linda Levene often completes projects drawing from her background in fashion and textiles. Her love of form, texture, and color is especially evident in a recent total overhaul of a four-story 1970s townhouse in Highgate — a charming, leafy neighborhood in London. The revamped home, dubbed “Southwood,” now features an open-plan master suite with freestanding bath as well as a statement glass-and-steel staircase between the lower levels. When its new family first saw the space in its untouched 1970s state, they knew it had tons of potential to reference its retro beginnings in a modern way. For example, the brightly lit full-width rooms felt large to the contemporary dweller, but hallways throughout the residence were cramped and dark.

The design firm reconfigured the floor plan and “transformed a tall, vertical townhouse into a home with a feeling of expansiveness and laterality, creating an uplifting and comfortable home for the owners.” In the casual living area, a palette of dark khaki, burnt orange, yellow and dark woods paired with industrial metals and mid-century furniture hints at the structure’s original history. More formal zones offer a relaxed feeling of calm with plush neutral upholstery, soft yellow and pale blue accents, and pops of graphic black. The construction and technical home automation were completed by another branch of the company — Pegasus Property & Pegasus Automation. In total, the project was recently awarded the annual Best Interior Design Private Residence in London title by the United Kingdom Property Awards for its warmth, elegance, and tasteful redesign. —Annie

Photography by Alex Maguire 

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