Estate Sale No. 2: Natural & Cozy with EBTH

Estate Sale No. 2: Natural & Cozy with EBTH

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Fall is upon us, this we know. I’m personally battling giant leaves in my new home’s gutters and realizing that I do actually need to rid my yard of the piles of brown and gold. It’s nice to take ownership of my chores and watch nature in transition outdoors, and I find myself craving those same natural elements and colors when I come in from my chilly November homeowner job. Because I was a renter until recently, I always filled my rentals with more color than was perhaps necessary in an attempt to me-ify them to the max. Now that I’ve settled into a home of my own on two acres in the woods, I need less color, more cozy warmth and pieces with history that inspire me to build my own story here.

In this week’s edition of Estate Sale, I’ve picked out some amazing pieces on EBTH that feel warm and storied and have a narrative of their own. If you’re not familiar with EBTH, aka Everything But The House, definitely check out our first Estate Sale post here! –Caitlin

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Image above (clockwise): Hahoe Mask Display / Current Bid $8 | Fish Cutting Board / Current Bid $130 | Bent Wood Arm Chair / Current Bid $18 | Horse Head Bookends / Current Bid $26 | Mexican Serapes / Current Bid $7 | Mexican Pottery / Current Bid $ 1 

Click through to see more of my picks and hopefully be inspired to weave your own warm stories for the chilly months ahead. You’ll also have a chance to win a $500 gift card to spend on EBTH. Details after the jump!

*This post is brought to you in collaboration with Everything But The House, our favorite online auction house and a company that we believe in.  All content, ideas, and words are my own. 

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10 Cute Laundry Hampers for Fall Cleaning

This canvas organizer is a nice way to keep laundry organized when you have a small space. $120 here.

10 Cute Laundry Hampers for Fall Cleaning

Sometimes we joke at home that one of us likes to do the laundry and hates to fold, while the other likes to fold but doesn’t like getting the wash started. Together we manage to get things done enough to have clean clothes for each week, but laundry is never one of my favorite topics. But after a good summer cleaning of our house, I like to clean up my wardrobe as well and take better care of the things I have — which usually starts with laundry.

Right now we use a pretty industrial hamper, which I love, but I like having a smaller hamper in the bathroom for post-shower gym clothes. So today I did a little online shopping for cute hampers and came up with 10 that will help you keep your (and your little ones’) clothes organized while still looking nice in the closet or your room. xo, grace

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18 DIY Projects That Celebrate Lettering and Type

DIY Lettering Roundup on Design*Sponge

18 DIY Projects That Celebrate Lettering and Type

I fell in love with letters during my freshman year of college in a calligraphy class that changed the course of my career from wannabe painter to graphic designer. Since then, I have learned the value of drawing out a letterform — to appreciate the benefits of subtlety as well as extravagance by studying letterers and type designers, and understanding that not all type is created equal. The fonts we use on our machines require hours of drawing and digital refinement, while lettering is more of an illustration of letters. Both are an imitation of the gesture of handwriting. Making letters involves repetition and not being afraid to iterate until the perfect mark is found.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a professional designer to appreciate letterforms. Sometimes, the simplicity of a handwritten note can warm a heart. Handwriting can reveal a lot about the personality of the creator. Is it loose or structured? Do the playful curves of the letters connect with one another? How do the letters remind you of the maker? It is a cathartic experience to sit down with a blank sheet of paper and a pencil to dictate thoughts and feelings and in return, read from someone else’s hand.

If you are interested in learning a little more on the difference between lettering, calligraphy, and type design or specifics on refining your own letter-making skills, I would recommend checking out Jessica Hische’s book, In Progress where she shares her process as a lettering artist. It is a fun and honest tell-all showing her sketches, methodology and overflowing with valuable advice.

There are many unique approaches to adding a personal touch to handmade gifts or cards to give to those we love. Here are a few of my favorite DIY projects from the archives that apply lettering in a creative way. Bethany 

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10 Things People Don’t Talk About in Business (But Should)

10 Things People Don’t Talk About in Business (But Should)

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As I head into my 12th year of blogging and business here at Design*Sponge, I find myself craving more “real talk” in business. I want to hear from people about when things didn’t go as planned, or when they found themselves up against an unexpected challenge. I want to know about the nitty-gritty and the times they fell down and what they learned from it all. I learn best from my own failures and have always shared them here in hopes that others can learn from them (or avoid them altogether). But being vulnerable isn’t easy, and it’s not something that comes naturally to most of us, especially when the current online trend is to present a nearly perfect facade of branding and business. But we all know that at the end of the day, we’re all real people and we all make mistakes and there are topics that even the boldest of business gurus don’t want to tackle publicly.

So today I want to talk about what some of those are for me — the things I’m uncomfortable talking about and the topics no one wants to touch with a 10-foot pole. Things like firing people, working with friends, dealing with money and how to know when to walk away. Those aren’t things that have a one-size-fits-all answer, but they’re topics that get easier (and feel more universal) when we share them openly. I’m going to go into more detail about all of these in future posts, but today I’m sharing 10 of the biggest issues I’ve faced in business that I wish people talked about more. Have a story to share? An issue you want to see discussed here? Let me know in the comment section below and I’ll tackle it here. xo, grace

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The Beauty of Self-Care Lesson 7: How To Adjust Your Strengths as Needed

The Beauty of Self-Care Lesson 7: How To Adjust Your Strengths as Needed

1As we found out in Lesson 6 of this self-care series, we all have our primary strengths and it feels so good to work from them. Rather than jumping on the hamster wheel and spending a lifetime trying to improve our weaknesses, working from our strengths benefits everyone. Sometimes, though, our strengths can work against each other. For example, I shared my top five strengths from the Gallup Organization’s Strengthsfinder assessment. In order from number one through number five, they are: Restorative (Problem Solver), Intellection, Strategic, Empathy and Activator. I completely agree with the assessment, and it pointed out to me why I sometimes get majorly stuck in situations where four of my strengths are going full-speed, but I don’t seem to be moving forward with my brilliant solutions. News flash: My Empathy is holding me back. Leaving the present moment, I’m in the near-future, feeling the outcome of the situation through other people’s hearts.

I can not tell you how much this has affected my professional life. There haven’t been catastrophic results because of this conflict, thank goodness, but there have been bumps in the road. In fact, the one time I was fired as an adult was directly related to this conflict. Thankfully, even when it happened, I had the strength to realize the job was simply not a good fit in terms of the personalities I had to work with on a daily basis. I felt strongly about my work ethic and my specific courses of action that led to my dismissal. Sadly, it was my dream job that had effortlessly fallen into my lap — I was managing a great fashion brand’s design room, naming colors and acting as a liaison between the creative team and the manufacturing team. In retrospect, it didn’t require any of my strategic or restorative skills as much as I tried to push them onto both teams. While I still feel the department would benefit from my skills, I couldn’t see the big picture — that my skills disrupted an already working system. My empathy for the limitations of the manufacturing team trumped my duty to the design team and I insisted on compromises from both sides to reach mutually acceptable solutions.

Because of my short-sightedness, I was taking on responsibilities that the manufacturing and creative team should have solved on their own. I should have simply reported the facts to both teams and been a conduit in this particular situation. Had I know my strengths intimately at the time, I would have turned down my Empathy and Intellection strengths because there was no positive result of me feeling a natural conflict between two teams, and my overthinking the situation was not helping at all. I would have boosted my Strategic and Restorative strengths a bit so I could have treated the two teams as puzzle pieces and figured out how I could subtly get them to work better together, instead of being a bulldozer. As for my Activator, it would have remained in the middle and been used as a natural result of reframing my Strategic and Restorative strengths.

Since then, I’ve read a ton of brain books and developed a remarkably effective tool that provides my brain with a tactile experience that tricks it into thinking I’m actually controlling it — which, in fact, I am! Click through for another 10-minute exercise that will allow you to do the same thing. Bonus: You’ll get to see my “unit” I use every single day. It will probably make you giggle, which is always a good thing. –Caitlin

*If you haven’t taken a strengths assessment that we recommended in last week’s exercise, DO THIS exercise anyway. It will get you on the right path and will let you take control of anything you want to adjust in your life, including things we’ve discussed in this series like Patience and Practice.

Please join us and our collaborator, Aveda, each Tuesday at 1 pm for some self-exploration + exercises to build good habits and instill positive self-care into your everyday routine. We couldn’t be more thrilled to work on this content side-by-side with a company that shares our values and has such a thoughtful approach to self-care and beauty.

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A Bright And Happy Chicago Bungalow

Colorful Sunroom/Living Room Combo In Chicago On Design* Sponge

A Bright And Happy Chicago Bungalow

There’s nothing like a new home (and a job you hate) to make you reevaluate your career. For Layne Jones Postilion, she had grown up watching both her mother and grandmother reupholster, paint, and refresh pieces and spaces to give them new life. So, it only made sense that as she fantasized about all of the possibilities of what her home could become — and taught herself to wallpaper, refinish furniture, and scour the Internet for free furniture pieces — her new career began take on a life of its own.

Soon neighbors began asking her for design help, and The Jones Fix was born. You can now find Layne styling and picking out incredible pieces not only for her own Chicago, IL home with her husband Mark, but for her shop and interiors clients.

Layne knows what most of us strive to remember: good style does not have to be expensive. In that spirit, Layne has kept her pricing on par with that of a handyperson so that her design services can be accessible to those who might have before seen it as only a luxury. This was something she learned to embrace before she began her business, too. Since Layne and Mark love to travel, had just bought a house (which they needed to fill), yet have an eye for quality pieces, it meant they needed to get creative.

Layne has come to feel like this house (the 60th that they looked at!), with its 10-foot-tall ceilings, huge windows with original stained glass, and hardwood floors, has defined her in the best way possible. She wholeheartedly believes in taking your time, trying different styles (like the grey wall color she loved, but didn’t work at all in her own space), and that the lessons she’s learned designing her own home have wholly benefited her clients. While she doesn’t feel like their house is completely “done,” she also admits that this is the happiest she’s ever been with it — and can’t wait to someday transform her backyard into a Moroccan escape, among other projects she’s happy to let evolve.

It’s obvious that Layne and Mark have filled their home with books on their favorite topics — music, decor, and travel — of which they have brought home many a treasure to feature and reinterpret in their space (like the chairs she covered with saris brought back from their honeymoon, or the Nepalese curtains her mother-in-law sewed in their living room). While Layne’s creativity and resourcefulness are impressive, what’s most incredible about the couple’s home is that it gave Layne her dream job. Layne admits she never would have pursued her new path had it not been for this house and the process of styling and designing their home. Rebekah

Photography by Jessica Giesey

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A Family Home in Oakland, CA Full of Color & Joyful Noise

A Family Home in Oakland, CA Full of Color & Joyful Noise, Design*Sponge

A Family Home in Oakland, CA Full of Color & Joyful Noise

Lisa Ostapinski, a painter, and musician Arnie Plowe stand at the foot of a treehouse and squint up at their five-year-old son, Aidan, his outline nearly in shadow as the sun blazes behind him. Not only is the little one basking in summer’s glow, but in the glow of his latest find as well: a big juicy caterpillar. No matter the season, such a scene isn’t uncommon in the backyard of Lisa and Arnie’s 1880s-era Oakland, CA home. The trio loves to explore it as they’re toasted by the California rays of sun. Step inside the house, though, and a different type of exploration is at-the-ready, one full of painting and guitars — of color and joyful noise.

The treehouse was just one of the many additions Lisa and Arnie had to make in order to craft the space they’d always hoped for. For the past 12 years, the couple has gone about replacing the entire kitchen, slowly collecting vintage doors and knobs to adorn each of the room’s entries, and getting the nearly 140-year-old house into working order. “The most challenging part is that it’s never done. We always have more to do and nothing is ever finished,” the couple tells us. While that may be true, it sure does look nice to us. And it’s all thanks to the colorful and fun decorations that enliven each of the home’s nooks and crannies.

With so much creativity under one roof, it’s not surprising that most of the space is covered in all manner of artwork. Oil paintings, acrylic works and Lisa’s signature beeswax-and-gold-foil pieces are just a few of the many eye-catching accessories that spice up the family’s walls. As Lisa and Aidan paint, they’re accompanied by the crooning bellow of music coming from Arnie and his guitar. At times like these, the family is truly at its best — three people enjoying one another and the life they’ve built together in a house “full of love, creativity and music.” Click through to take a peek and enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Lisa Ostapinski

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10 Dark, Moody & Gorgeous Spaces

10 Dark, Moody & Gorgeous Spaces | Design*Sponge

10 Dark, Moody & Gorgeous Spaces

The shorter days, longer nights and chill in the air make this time of year feel a little more magical. Time seems to slow down a bit, and nights spent in are guarded in our schedules. Rooms that evoke a bit of mystery and moodiness are somehow comforting during the season’s change.

While we get ready for our hibernation of sorts this fall, richer, darker and deeper tones seem more suited in our spaces than brights and whites. We’ve seen some perfectly moody spaces in Sneak Peeks past. Dark walls, odd decor and elegant design mix to create 10 beautiful spaces that embrace the spookiness of the season. (Happy Halloween!) –Lauren

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Studio Tour: Jeremy Ayers Pottery

Studio Tour: Jeremy Ayers Pottery, Design*Sponge

Studio Tour: Jeremy Ayers Pottery

Throughout the past 150 years, the Ayers Family’s barn in Waterbury, VT has been home to a plethora of small businesses: a carriage repair company, a storage facility for the family general store and most recently, the studio and shop of potter Jeremy Ayers – great great grandson of the original owner. Luckily, when Jeremy and his wife took over the land six years ago, this storied family history hadn’t been totally forgotten. Frankly speaking, however, it was hidden behind layers of age and wear. It took two years to bring the property back to life, but through hard work, dedication and a strategic use of materials sourced right there from the land, the barn is now fully functioning again and the Ayers legacy safely lives on.

Most of the wood used to revamp the space into a studio and two accompanying guest apartments came from the 1870s-era barn itself. “We used thousands of board feet of reclaimed barn board that we saved in the demolition process, power washed, sorted by tone and then used for wainscoting, ceiling, trim and window casings,” Jeremy explains. There isn’t one spot in the new space that doesn’t feature the property’s original wood finishings, each room proving to be so pretty that Jeremy only needed a few decorations here and there to top them off. Click thorough to see exactly how he has mixed these new elements with nods to the past (including a fun and fabulous piece of great great grandad’s graffiti). Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Dylan Griffin & Jessica Anderson

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In Utah, A Family Home Inspired By Guatemalan Heritage

A home tour with Ali Hynek from Nena & Co. on Design*Sponge.

In Utah, A Family Home Inspired By Guatemalan Heritage

After falling in love while traveling in Europe, it’s no surprise that Ali and Jeremy Hynek’s home is filled with treasures from around the world. Jeremy works as the director of North America for a software company called Isograph, and Ali is the founder and creative director of Nena & Co. Together the couple enjoys their home in Highland, UT – a town right outside of Salt Lake City – with their three beautiful triplet babies!

The Hyneks made the move from Southern California to Utah two years ago. Knowing that they’d be spending much more time at home with a family, the couple wanted a space with a lot of natural light, the living area on a single floor, land, and an open feeling to it. Besides a much needed kitchen remodel, the home they found had everything the couple was looking for.

Fortunately, the couple was able to do a large part of their home’s remodeling before having triplets – two identical girls and a fraternal boy. Their home came well built and carefully maintained by the original homeowners, but was a little too “pretty in pink” for the family. “The walls were pink, carpet was pink, cabinets were pink and tile. Wherever you could put a color, you better believe it was pink,” Ali recalls.

Both Ali’s work life and home decor is largely inspired by her heritage. Nena & Co., Ali’s company, is a project born out of love for her Guatemalan heritage and works to employ textile artisans to make beautiful products while celebrating and preserving Guatemala’s craftsmanship. “My Central American heritage and love for travel has a very strong influence on the way I decorate my home,” Ali explains. “I needed my home to feel peaceful and relaxing but I also love texture, patterns and color.”

In the end, it’s easy to recognize that Ali and Jeremy’s home is a reflection of the most important things to the couple: a love for family and heritage. –Tawnee

Photography by Becky Kimball 

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Adopting New Holiday Traditions + Best of the Web

Adopting New Holiday Traditions + Best of the Web

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It’s finally starting to feel like fall. After an unseasonably warm September and first part of October, I am starting to believe that the holidays will be here in a matter of weeks.

I’ve only been married for a few months, but family traditions have already come up a few times. We’re trying to decide what is meaningful to us together and make plans that reflect those values. Of course, we will keep in mind what our families are doing and when — but we want our own routines and systems to try out now to create memories and experiences that we can grow into over time as a couple.

Whether it’s a glass of wine and music on the night before Thanksgiving while we’re prepping food together, or an annual drive through the holiday light displays with hot cocoa in our thermoses, I’m excited to start our own way of doing things during the most magical time of year. –Lauren

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In the Kitchen With: Butter & Scotch’s Dark & Stormy Caramel Corn

In the Kitchen With: Butter & Scotch’s Dark & Stormy Caramel Corn

Dark and Stormy Caramel Corn from cookbook Butter and Scotch | DesignSponge

Halloween is fast upon us, and that usually means — among other things — an evening to indulge in a few not-so-healthy sweets that remind you of your childhood. Why not try an adult treat this year for your Halloween celebration? This Dark & Stormy Caramel Corn was developed by Keavy Landreth and Allison Kave, the mastermind bakers behind Butter & Scotch, the new “bar and bakery of your dreams,” and comes from their new cookbook Butter & Scotch.  It’s inspired by one of my favorite cocktails, the Dark & Stormy, and will definitely be my go-to snack for movie night from now on! —Kristina

Why Keavy and Allison love this recipe: We love this recipe for so many reasons. It’s one of the first creations that we developed together when we started Butter & Scotch, it’s salty and snacky and utterly addictive, and somehow it kinda tastes like Froot Loops??? The combination of fresh ginger, lime, and dark rum has a proven track record in cocktails, and this popcorn proves it works perfectly in the snack realm as well!

Butter and Scotch cookbook cover by Keavy Landrey and Allison Kave | DesignSponge

Photography by Molly Landreth and Jenny Riffle; from Butter & Scotch, ABRAMS, 2016

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11 Welcoming Ways to Up Your Home’s Curb Appeal

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11 Welcoming Ways to Up Your Home’s Curb Appeal

Just as what you wear can project how you see yourself and present yourself to the world, your home’s exterior can do the same. It doesn’t have to be something anxiety-inducing, however. The beauty of curb appeal is that it can be as simple as replacing your house numbers or adding some planters, to as advanced as building a new facade on your house or redesigning the landscaping. Extending the personality of your home to the outside is kind of like the quote by Roald Dahl, “If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” The same goes for adding those personal touches that makes your home yours.

Whatever your home’s era, architectural style, or size, there are a myriad of ways to make it feel special. We’re excited to share with you 11 different ways to make your home feel welcoming, be a reflection of you, and highlight your home’s unique style. —Rebekah

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Penelope Dullaghan Pattern Download Day 5

Penelope Dullaghan Pattern Download Day 5

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I love this pattern for its nostalgic pairing of red and turquoise, which will always be one of my favorite color combinations. Add in some toadstools and gingko leaves and I’m floating in my Grandmother’s backyard in 1978, listening to The Merv Griffin Show on her black and white kitchen TV through the screen door. Penelope has a knack for eliciting collective childhood memories and bringing you right back to wonderful moments with family and childhood friends. I hope you’ve enjoyed this week of beautiful wallpapers and that they’re bringing something special to your day. Thanks so much to Penelope Dullaghan for sharing her talent with us and for bringing beauty into our world. –Caitlin

Download Penelope’s pattern above here (vertical) and here (horizontal).

You can see Penelope’s Day 1 – 4 patterns here, herehere and here. *Please note these patterns are for personal use only.

9 Decorative Matchbooks for Fall

These incredible Florentine pattern matchboxes ($18) have copper on the outside! They're definitely pretty enough to repurpose for jewelry holders after you're done with the matches.

9 Decorative Matchbooks for Fall

As cooler temperatures creep in, I like to add candles to small spaces around our house where a little glow can make things feel warmer. When it comes to candles I like anything simple and not too strong, but when it comes to matches, I like a bold or unexpected design. Whether it’s a super long match with a patterned box or something mini and a little funky on the outside, matches are always a fun way to sneak something a little different into a room. I spent some time shopping online, and today I’m sharing 9 of my favorites — from hand-stitched celebrations of awesome women to shiny geometric patterns and sophisticated Florentine motifs. xo, grace

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