Techies + Best of The Web

Techies + Best of The Web

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Earlier this year, Helena Price set out to discover and shed light on those underrepresented individuals (people of color, women, people aged 50+, LGBT, disabled, working parents, etc.) working in the technology space. In an effort to celebrate the triumphs, illuminate the hardships, and showcase a more comprehensive picture of the industry, this week she launched Techies, a portrait project that shares the stories of these Silicon Valley tech employees. Seriously impressive!

Inspired by this project, today’s roundup features the best links from the web this week surrounding storytelling, technology and underrepresented individuals — along with this week’s awesome D*S posts. –Sabrina

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In the Kitchen With: The Salted Table’s Espresso Buttermilk Cake

In the Kitchen With: The Salted Table’s Espresso Buttermilk Cake

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Over the past few months, we have been wooed by the delicious images on Charles Hunter III’s Instagram feed under the name of The Salted Table. The Sunday breakfast pictures of biscuits, pancakes, sticky buns and more are my favorite. This week, Charles is sharing his recipe for a Triple Layer Espresso Buttermilk Cake with Bourbon Vanilla Buttercream. This cake is a show-stopper — try it the next time you’re baking a cake for a friend’s birthday! —Kristina

Why Charles loves this recipe: If a dessert involves coffee, it is usually a win for me. I love desserts with unlikely subtle flavor pairings that surprise you after the first bite, and I feel like this is one of those desserts. I also try to incorporate a little southern influence into my creations because I was born and raised in the south, and I love foods that feel like a warm hug from someone who loves you. This cake is perfect for autumn and winter, but I wouldn’t blame you for making it in the spring or summer… because, dessert.

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Photography by Charles Hunter III | Portrait by Michele Ann Photography

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Cobalt Blue Hues and Playful Style Rule This Canton, MA Apartment

Cobalt Blue Hues and Playful Style Rule This Canton, MA Apartment

Cobalt Blue Hues and Playful Style Rule This Canton, MA Apartment

Twenty miles south of Boston in the town of Canton, you’ll find two programers, Vinaya and her husband Arun. Originally from India, the couple wed five years ago, and since then, they’ve lived in five different homes — a new one each year. Although Vinaya says, “we will be celebrating our sixth anniversary later this year, and I joke we are due for a move soon,” their current apartment has definitely found its way into their hearts. “It’s so close to everything we want, and we have come to love the town we are in.” She adds, “As far as the actual apartment is concerned, we absolutely love the open floor plan and, at the end of the day, this really does feel like home.”

Modern, but comfortable, the couple initially chose the home for its convenient location, but over time, as they’ve styled the space, the interior has become an increasingly bigger plus. “Starting over, again, meant getting a lot of budget furniture,” Vinaya explains, but since moving in, they’ve been slowly swapping their big-box store items with more unique finds that speak to their personalities. Though Vinaya admits she’s no expert when it comes to decorating, the process of filling this apartment has been an exciting learning experience which she shares on her blog. “When I started decorating, I had no idea what my style was. I have gone through several design styles by now — which explains our farmhouse-style dining table and cottage-style bed! I slowly started with little projects at home, and soon fell in love with cozy but modern interiors.”

But for all of the feel-good achievements made in decorating, there are always a few hurdles. Because they’re just renting the space, Vinaya has had to hold back from making more permanent changes — and another sacrifice has come in the form of the train that runs to Boston behind the building. “The first few mornings after we moved in, we used to jump out of bed, startled by the unexplained sounds and vibrations,” Vinaya says. “Although we have gotten used to it, we always warn our overnight guests for what’s to come in the morning!”

Even though the couple’s home still brings a learning curve, having a space to share with friends — and one that allows Vinaya to experiment and have fun discovering her style — is priceless. –Sabrina

Photography by Vinaya George

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15 Pieces of Artwork at $25 and Under

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15 Pieces of Artwork at $25 and Under

With spring cleaning comes spring redecorating, and one way that I like to spruce things up is with new artwork. I love picking up small pieces at maker fairs and vintage shops, but every now and then it’s nice to just make a few clicks and find some great artwork online that won’t break the bank. So today I decided to round up some beautiful artwork that’s all $25 and under. From photos of rabbits and modern graphic prints to floral paintings and intricate illustrations, there’s something here for everyone. Happy art shopping! xo, grace

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A Cheery Home By the Beach in Oceanside, CA

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A Cheery Home By the Beach in Oceanside, CA

Signing off on a rental home sight-unseen is a gamble. Rarely is it going to have everything on the “must-have” list. Arielle Vey and her boyfriend Bennett were living in a 1950s Oceanside, CA apartment just steps from the beach when they received a notice that they had 30 days to find a new apartment — the owner was turning their home into vacation rentals. Shortly after that, though, Arielle and Bennett received some good news: they could rent a one-bedroom apartment right across the street from where they lived. The couple took the apartment without even seeing it. They’ve since lived in their 1970s second-story apartment for three-and-a-half years.

Bennett works as a videographer, and since Arielle is an artist and freelance lifestyle photographer, she works from home during the day. When the couple signed onto the apartment without looking at it first, they weren’t sure if it would have the things they were hoping for. “Something I initially look for is big windows, an open floor plan, and any kind of view,” Arielle shares. “The apartment we were offered happened to have all of those things and more. The process of turning my space into a home has mirrored how I’ve grown into myself and I feel like the older I get, the more satisfied I am with my home. I make additions or little changes here and there.”

Arielle decorates with bright colors, mid-century pieces, lush florals and modern artwork (much of which she painted herself). The pair’s style is perfect for a casual, beachside apartment from the 1970s. “I wanted to create a space that allowed me to not only relax when I needed to, but stay productive while working from home,” Arielle explains. “A space where at the start of my day, the bedroom is in order so I can get to work and at the end of the day, the living room is the sanctuary. This means cozy everything, easygoing pieces, and simple maintenance. My goal for the decor was a mix of vintage-inspired modern pieces with pops of unexpected colors.” Accepting an apartment offer over the phone might have been a risk, but it is definitely paying off for this couple. – Lauren

Photography by Arielle Vey

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In NYC, A 400-Square-Foot Sanctuary

400 Square Feet of Sanctuary in NYC, Design*Sponge

In NYC, A 400-Square-Foot Sanctuary

When I first moved to Chicago, I lived in a 300-square-foot studio… with a roommate. I could cook, do dishes and snuggle into bed all without moving an inch. What the apartment lacked in square footage, however, it made up for in granite countertops, new appliances and hardwood floors. The contrast of theses fancy touches with the apartment’s lack of practical space always cracked me up. So much so, I grew to love the silliness of it. So the second I saw freelance writer and restaurant consultant Tarajia Morrell’s studio in Gramercy, NYC, I grinned. As was the case with my small apartment, her space’s tiny footprint is outfitted with a grand touch: a fabulous fireplace.

She would never claim to have technically “designed” the apartment, but as Tarajia began laying out the space, highlighting that amazing hearth was definitely a priority. She’s cleverly positioned every piece of furniture and accessory in her home in a manner that draws visitors’ eyes to the grandiose detail. You’ll also notice how she’s layered gifts from friends and vintage finds on its surrounding walls. It seems a bit counterintuitive to put a lot of things in a little space, but it truly works in her home’s favor. It takes guests longer to digest so many decorations — perhaps tricking them into thinking the home is much larger than it actually is.

Similar to her guests, Tarajia barely notices how quaint her home is anymore. On the contrary, it fits her like a glove. There’s no place she’d rather be while writing for her blog The Lovage, recounting all of the fabulous restaurants she’s dined in, a log crackling in the hearth and her pup Lola snoozing in her lap. “There’s magic to cozying up by the fire on the most brutal of New York winter nights,” Tarajia shares. It may not be much, but clearly this little sanctuary shelters her from all of the hustle and bustle that NYC is known for, and that’s enough for her. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography courtesy of Nick Solares

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Comfort Zone: Katie Ferris

Comfort Zone: Katie Ferris

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Stepping into Katie Ferris‘ home studio in Brooklyn, NY gives only a taste of what goes on inside of her mind. An artist, jewelry designer, and maker of wearable sculptures made to protect and bring good energy to its wearers, Katie’s space is brimming with nostalgia and personal meaning. From her great-grandmother’s furniture and her uncle’s paintings, to each and every curbside treasure she’s collected, her studio is a constant source of inspiration and an ongoing reminder to stay true to herself.

While her work is meticulous, tedious, and sometimes debilitating, Katie derives strength and courage from her surroundings as much as she does from her spiritual connections — which is evident in every handcrafted piece she puts her heart into making. Today, Katie is joining us to share more about her inner workings, what makes her her, and the beautiful things that can happen if we all just embrace our individuality. –Sabrina

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Fine Art Focus: Yuko Yamamoto

Fine Art Focus: Yuko Yamamoto

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Artists who can turn everyday paper into beautiful works of art will always be my idols. Tiny scissors and X-acto knives are useless in my hands, but in their hands incredible things can happen. I’ve shared some of my favorite paper artists here before, but today I want to focus on one artist in particular who has mastered not just paper cutting, but watercolor and illustration as well: Yuko Yamamato.

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Yuko Yamamoto is a talented Japanese artist who draws inspiration from the natural world for her work. From delicate paper flowers to ethereal watercolor drawings, Yuko’s artwork has such a softness to it and mimics the way delicate branches and petals move. Read on to learn more about Yuko and her work below. xo, grace

Artist: Yuko Yamamoto
About: Yuko was born in Japan in 1977. She received her degree from Kyoto Seika University in textile design.
Work: Yuko works in a variety of media, from cut paper and water color to illustration and product design.
More: You can read more about Yuko and her work right here and here.

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Studio Tour: Elektra Steel

Studio Tour: Elektra Steel

Studio Tour: Elektra Steel

Every morning, Zai Divecha and her dog Simi head out to her humble but mighty 8′ x 12′ studio space in ShopFloor and get to work — which, for Zai, involves design and welding, and lots of napping for Simi. Nestled in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco, ShopFloor is a shared metal shop focusing on design and fabrication, housing its own shopJ Liston Design, and Zai’s own Elektra Steel.

Having learned to weld at just 14 years old as a student at Lick-Wilmerding High School, Zai creates striking and functional small-batch, hand-welded objects using a TIG approach — a type of arc welding known for its precision and control. Obsessed with geometric shapes and modern finishes, her signature work is often made of steel, but she occasionally incorporates marble and wood into the mix. “Though welding has been a passion of mine for nearly half my life, it’s only in the last year and a half that I’ve made it my full-time profession,” Zai says. After attending Yale for college and grad school where she received her master’s degree in public health, she worked at an enterprise software company for a number of years in the Bay Area. “Though I loved that job, I missed working with my hands,” she explains, “I wanted to see if I could create a career that would involve both my creative and analytical sides.” After educating herself on the business side of being a creative freelancer, Zai found that launching her own metalworking business was a no-brainer.

Although being a business owner is still scary from time to time, finding a space to call her own (without spending an arm and a leg) was surprisingly easy. ShopFloor, founded by David and Christina Whippen in 2011, houses many other makers in the custom-built, limited production design space; craft microbrewery Harmonic Brewing also operates out of the building. “I found everything I was looking for — and much more — in ShopFloor,” she shares.

Unlike the massive shared workspace, Zai’s own personal studio is less than 100 square feet, so fostering a calm and inspiring work zone was the goal when it came to decorating. “For me, that means lots of plants, clear surfaces, a few beloved objects, and cozy lighting,” she says. In the six short weeks since she took up residence, she’s managed to create a cozy atmosphere by mixing in just the right amount of home comforts — blending tools and equipment storage with things like a dining table and mid-century-style credenza.

A one-woman show, Zai admits that running Elektra Steel can sometimes feel lonely (especially as a self-confessed extrovert), but she’s eternally grateful for having arms-reach access to the other talented designers and fabricators at the shop. “They’re incredibly talented, and they’re all much more experienced than I am,” she shares. “I’m constantly asking them about their favorite patinas and oils, or about which steel suppliers and powder coaters are the best in the area… I’m so grateful to have found a shared space that came with a wonderful and supportive community.” –Sabrina

Photography by Ellen Wildhagen

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14 Dynamic Rooms with Exposed Beams

14 Dynamic Rooms with Exposed Beams | Design*Sponge

14 Dynamic Rooms with Exposed Beams

In college, my introductory interior design courses were based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. This concept was fascinating to me, and it has changed how I view almost every space I enter. The hierarchy spells out what humans generally need from the basics of food, water, shelter along with safety, love and beauty. When engineers, architects and interior designers work, designing a proper shelter that meets physiological needs is the most important requirement. Then, the structure’s design accounts for safety, how it works relationally, and the aesthetics that will inspire the people who will live there.

Post-and-beam engineering has been around since the days of the pyramids. As it sounds, this process uses upright posts with horizontal beams to support ceilings and walls. These beams can be wood, concrete, metal or composite. It’s a structural technique used often in modern (and ancient) architecture. Coincidentally, it also brings a beautiful, impactful aesthetic to a space when left exposed — or uncovered later.

Here at D*S, we love that exposed beams remind us that our homes are secure, strong and safe, while also adding to the overall aesthetic. These 14 spaces featured on Design*Sponge over the years show how the same building element can impact design in various styles, forms and rooms. –Lauren

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What’s In Your Toolbox: Erin Francois

What’s In Your Toolbox: Erin Francois

What's In Your Toolbox: Erin Francois, on Design*Sponge

Erin Francois originally launched her DIY and decorating blog François et Moi in order to give loved ones a peek into the Minneapolis, MN house she shares with husband Ken and their tuxedo kitten Gideon. Much to Erin’s surprise, the chronicling of a hands-on renovation to their 1934 duplex developed a dedicated online following reaching way beyond her closest kin. Bringing her interior design background to the table with Ken’s construction management experience, Erin covered the place in crisp finishes, evolving “the 90-year-old Tudor into the 21st century — all the while respecting the time period of the home.” Her decorations include plenty of hand-dyed batik indigo textiles “that add style, function and originality” to everyday life, as well as creative crafts, accessories, and furniture galore.

Though she couldn’t have envisioned creating a business when she first started blogging — having planned her site simply as an outlet for “making cool things and writing about them” — Erin encourages others to engage with their online communities in real life. “Don’t be afraid to reach out and connect with others in your industry,” she offers. “I started realizing how much knowledge, support, and plain ‘ol fun I was missing out on by keeping to myself.” —Annie

Photography by Erin Francois

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How To Stay Sane When You Work From Home

How To Stay Sane When You Work From Home

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Part of doing your own thing is figuring out where to work. This month, I’ve had to start sharing my workspace with my partner, and it’s forced me to really consider how I actually handle working from home. Whether you have a “home office” or a coffee table in the living room, the hardest part of the whole process is actually getting the work done, and without going crazy.

Case in point, since writing the last paragraph I’ve sent two emails, g-chatted a friend, and “hopped on a call.” So how do you achieve balance when you’re in the same space all day and night? I’m still not 100% sure, but I do have a few tips. –Adam J. Kurtz

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Redefining Entrepreneurship for You With Nicole Crowder

Redefining Entrepreneurship for You With Nicole Crowder

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Entrepreneurship is a hot trend these days, but how the world at-large perceives that role is not for everyone — and that’s a really, really good thing. As Nicole Crowder has learned, everyone’s pace and each person’s approach to self-employment is unique and should be respected.

After quitting her full-time job as a photo editor, Nicole pursued her passion for upholstery and designing one-of-a-kind, custom furniture only to discover that the structure of her full-time business was draining her rather than uplifting her. So she asked herself: “How do I want to redefine entrepreneurship for me?” In the end, she jumped back into her role as Senior Features Photo Editor for The Washington Post in DC, and scaled her upholstery business down to a pace and size that she felt more comfortable with. As a result of questioning the system and being open to change, she has created some of her best work for countless small businesses and boutique hotels.

Today, Nicole is sharing more about how she redefined self-employment, how balancing a full-time job with freelance work helps each role, and insight into the modern model of work and how she’s managed to battle those expectations — all with a smile. –Sabrina

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10 Inspiring New Orleans Spaces

Sara Ruffin Costello lives my southern fantasy, from top to bottom - complete with the dreamiest front porch ever. Her New Orleans home is basically what I would want if I ever won the lottery and could afford to fix up a stately old home. That's pretty unlikely, so I'll just live vicariously through her home tour at One Kings Lane.

10 Inspiring New Orleans Spaces

Tomorrow afternoon, Julia and I are driving down to New Jersey to catch a flight to New Orleans. After a really rough few months dealing with some major health changes in my life, we both decided we could use a few days away. I’m so excited to unplug a bit, go for long walks with my favorite person in the world, and take in endless amounts of visual inspiration in the form of incredible homes and nature. I haven’t visited New Orleans since college, so I can’t wait to walk around all of the amazing historic neighborhoods and bring back some new ideas for our home. So, to get in the spirit, I thought I’d share some of my favorite interiors from around The Crescent City. Enjoy! xo, grace

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