Biz Ladies Profile: Paperless Post

Biz Ladies Profile: Paperless Post

Biz Ladies: Paperless Post

Paperless Post brings together the charm of a traditional stationery card with the innovation of technology and customization. Since their launch in 2009, founders (and siblings) James and Alexa Hirschfeld have collaborated with dozens of talented fashion and lifestyle designers such as Kate Spade New York, J.Crew, Marimekko and the late Oscar de la Renta to produce online and paper stationery for any occasion with personalization and communication at the helm.

As a customer and recipient of their cards, they’ve made me chuckle and smile with their both timeless and on-trend design. Today James and Alexa are sharing a bit about the importance of confidence and insight to know what people want, success and sacrifice, and their personal journeys as individuals, siblings and co-founders. - Sabrina

Read the full interview after the jump!

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24 Hours in Amsterdam with Tim Boelaars

24 Hours in Amsterdam with Tim Boelaars

Amsterdam City Guide

Amsterdam is known for its beautiful canals, historic architecture and laid-back culture. It’s sometimes even referred to as the Venice of Western Europe. While there is no doubt that Amsterdam is a beautiful city on the outside, designer/illustrator Tim Boelaars believes that it’s the people and lifestyle the city encourages that make it beautiful, saying “I’ve visited a good bunch of other cities in Europe and the United Sates, but I’m still very happy living in Amsterdam.” Tim was born in Haarlem, the capital of North Holland, and has lived in Amsterdam for the past six years. He runs a creative studio in Amsterdam-West where he offers icon, identity, logo, and packaging design, as well as illustration and art direction. He also runs a men’s lifestyle shop with friends and works as a curator and photographer. Today he’s sharing his ideal 24 hours in Amsterdam with us. -Sabrina

Read the full guide after the jump…

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7 Lessons (Already) Learned from an Old Home

7 Lessons (Already) Learned from an Old Home

What I'v
For the past two weeks of our winter break I’ve been in upstate New York with Julia and our pets starting to work on our new, but very very old, home. It has been every bit of the dream I imagined, but also every bit of the stress we expected, too. Unlike the past 11 years of renting in NYC, I’m now responsible for finding (and paying) for someone to fix every problem that pops up. And we’ve had a lot pop up over the past two weeks. Thankfully, Julia and I are both fast learners and like to push to get things done quickly. Not for the sake of a blog post (we’re not ready for an online update yet), but for the sake of our own sanity and being able to have a few spaces that are comfortable, clean and ready to be lived in. Some of our decisions have turned out so well (we had a fence built for Hope!) and others (like trying to paint our downstairs beams on our own in one day) have been trying to say the least. So I thought I’d take a moment and run down some of the things I’ve learned that apply not just to owners of old homes, but to anyone renting or living in a space where things feel not entirely finished (are they ever really?).

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At Home In A Light, Bright Sunnyvale Eichler

"This is one of my favorite corners of our house and usually where I spend my weekend mornings reading and drinking coffee," Traci says. "The Eames molded plywood lounge chair was on my wish list for years and my husband surprised me with it for our 10th anniversary. The matching coffee table he gave me for the following birthday." Shelves from IKEA. Stendig Calendar.

At Home In A Light, Bright Sunnyvale Eichler

Although glorious mid-century modern homes seem to run rampant on America’s west coast, finding the perfect one can still be something of a challenge for those with something specific in mind. For graphic designer Traci Yau and her family, something specific translated to something by Joseph Eichler, the 20th-century California real estate magnate who is often credited for introducing Modernist design to the masses. Taking cues from legends like Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright, Eichler’s homes typically featured open floor plans, large windows and skylights, intended to bring the beauty of California’s nature inside. After an exhaustive search that began five years ago, Traci and her husband, Herman, finally found what they were looking for in 2012—an Eichler original with an open atrium and a floor plan designed by architect Robert Anshen.

“Our goal was to create a clean, modern space that respected the history of the architecture, yet didn’t confine us to being strict preservationists,” Traci says of their Sunnyvale, CA home. “We intentionally picked decor and finishes that would enhance the best things about having an Eichler: floor-to-ceiling windows and massive amounts of natural light.” A clutter-free decorating scheme was enacted (“the windows are almost a work of art themselves,” Traci notes) and white walls, cabinetry, and flooring were chosen in order to enhance light. This simple, subdued scheme allows the furniture and artwork within the home—much of it from other mid-century designers—to shine. It’s just the sort of timeless space that is malleable and adaptable enough to fit the ever-changing needs and tastes of a growing family. —Max

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An Eclectic Rental In A Second Empire Home

"I traveled from Massachusetts to New Jersey just to get this particular greige Eames Rocker," Carmel says. The pillow's fabric is Rogers & Goffigon. The coffee table is an antique trunk that Carmel purchased at the Harvard Flea Market when she was nineteen.

An Eclectic Rental In A Second Empire Home

Ask any old home devotee—if you’re in the market for something prewar, you better brace yourself for a long, drawn-out search. The older a home is, it seems, the more opportunity it has had to undergo any number of horrific changes. Original fixtures might be ripped out for charmless “modern” ones, hardwood floors might be covered in mysteriously stained wall-to-wall carpeting, large rooms might be subdivided and misshapen into Frankenstein-like additions. If you’re planning on renting, the litany of potential renovation crimes only grows larger. When interior designer Carmel Chisholm began her own search for a prewar apartment over 10 years ago, she found the pickings discouragingly slim. “When I was apartment-hunting,” she recalls, “I had a list of must-haves (old house, decent trim, hardwood floors) and dealbreakers (wall-to-wall carpeting, low ceilings, lack of sunlight). Finding all of these at a price that was affordable to my 20-something self was hard.” Rather serendipitously, Carmel’s realtor called with an unlisted rental that fit the bill. Although the realtor described the home as “totally decrepit” and Carmel remembers it looking “hella haunted,” the home’s old world charm, 6-foot windows, and marble fireplace were enough to woo her.

Located in the quiet town of Arlington, MA, the house’s locale has a rich history dating back to the Revolutionary War. During her first month in the new apartment, Carmel recalls waking up to the sound of muskets firing on Patriot’s Day, a magical moment that cemented her love for the place. Over the years, Carmel has weathered a number of disasters that plague old home dwellers: invasive animals, bad leaks, a mysterious plume of black smoke emanating from her fireplace during a particularly bad rainstorm. Still, despite the apartment’s shortcomings (or, if one feels generous, “character”), Carmel has turned the space into a home, one that has seen her through her twenties and into her thirties. “I remember one of my exes’ moms who owned an old house telling me that ‘no matter what people do to it over the years, no matter how awful of shape it is in, if you put in the work, you can always get an old house back,'” Carmel notes. “That has stuck with me. I am open to living in newer homes, and of course I am a fan of modernist architecture and such, but old houses just have this appeal that I cannot describe. They are stunners. And they are worth the work.” —Max

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10 Fresh, Healthy Recipes for The New Year

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10 Fresh, Healthy Recipes for The New Year

However arbitrary it might be, the new year presents a wonderful opportunity to wipe the slate clean—literally and figuratively—and start anew. Of the many things that I have determined to do in 2015, eating healthier sits firmly at the top of the list. While New Year’s Eve found me and a few close friends ending the year with a final, decadent hoorah (over a large dinner and one too many drinks), New Year’s Day found me dashing to the grocery store to stock up on copious amounts of health foods. At the checkout counter, I watched—a bit too smugly, I’m sure—as a store’s worth of fruits, vegetables, and probiotic sundries were bagged for me to take home. #NewYearNewYou, as the age-old hashtag adage goes. I’m not sure how long this health kick will last, but the onset of this new year certainly has me feeling ready and energized for the challenge! If you, too, are finding yourself embracing a healthier you, these 10 recipes, packed with healthy veggies and power foods, will get you started! Bon appetite! —Max

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Best of 2014: Our Favorite Posts of The Year

bestof2014

Best of 2014: Our Favorite Posts of The Year

2014 was a big year for us here at Design*Sponge. We unveiled our snazzy new site design, sealed the deal on a new book, welcomed a bunch of rad new team members, Grace bought a house upstate, and we turned ten years old! (That’s right — if we were a human, we would be entering fifth grade now. Oh, how time flies!) Between all of that craziness, we ran some of our all-time favorite home tours, got to know some totally cool new designers, and made, like, a billion recipes and DIY projects. What can we say — we like to party hard. In short, it’s been a pretty fabulous year and we couldn’t think of anywhere we’d have rather spent it than with you, dear reader. So let’s go into 2015 on a high note, by taking a stroll through some of the team’s favorite posts of 2014! What are your favorites?

See you in the New Year! xoxo — The Design*Sponge Team

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Resolve to Do-It-Yourself: 16 Awesome projects to get you started

knittingbasics

Resolve to Do-It-Yourself: 16 Awesome projects to get you started

Making things by hand is one of life’s greatest pleasures, but real talk: Sometimes it seems like more trouble than it’s worth. By the time you swing by the craft store, buy and set up your supplies, figure out the directions, and actually get down to making whatever it is you have in mind, you could have just bought it (and probably had time for a couple episodes of Scandal). You probably don’t need me to sing the praises of the handmade — cost-effectiveness, superior quality, and straight-up satisfaction are just a few reasons why it is oftentimes the best option. As with most things in life, though, it’s all about being motivated. But is there really any time better than the New Year to give yourself a heaping portion of motivation? If making more by hand tops your resolution list this year, we’ve got you covered! Easy, cheap, and downright fabulous, these projects are just the ticket to get you inspired and motivated to make! Happy craftin’! —Max

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12 Tidy Homes For New Year’s Clean-spiration

The bathroom in the home of Office's Jill Robertson features a repurposed library ladder and built-in shelves, perfect for stowing away objects in style!

12 Tidy Homes For New Year’s Clean-spiration

Call me a total freak of nature, but I can think of few things more satisfying than the clean sweep that comes with the end of the holiday season. Yes, it’s sad to see the Christmas tree go, but look at how spacious the living room looks now that it’s gone! For me, the sloughing away of holiday detritus (the dismantling of garland, the packing-up of ornaments, the eating of the last cookie) elicits a deep, carnal pleasure, not unlike the feeling one gets when popping bubble wrap or peeling dried Elmer’s glue from one’s hands. It’s like taking your entire life to a weekend-long spa retreat.

Okay — I may be alone in my frantic post-holiday-cleanup-mania, but there is no denying that there is something wonderful about getting back to basics after a season of surplus. To celebrate this out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new time of year, we’ve rounded up a few homes that exemplify clean living. From enviably organized apartments to ingeniously minimal houses, these picks will give you the jolt of inspiration you need to get organized in the New Year! —Max

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Happy Holidays from Design*Sponge

Happy Holidays from Design*Sponge

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2014 has been a roller coaster of a year, but one that has taught me so many lessons and has helped me refocus and redefine what is most important to me in life and work. There were moments when I had to just hold on and trust that we’d make it to a smooth patch and moments when we rushed forward with such excitement, energy and passion that I felt thankful for still being on such a fun and wild ride. I started the year feeling worried about the future of blogs and how best to run our team, but I’m ending 2014 feeling stronger, more energized and with the most understanding and clarity I’ve ever had about why we’re here, what we do and what we believe in at Design*Sponge.

The world around us is changing more quickly than ever. The Internet changes, readers change and the way (and even where) we write is constantly evolving. But the one thing that doesn’t change is the importance of home. Having a place where you feel warm, safe, comfortable and restored is both one of the greatest luxuries and necessities in life. Our mission here at DS is to help people find the tools, inspiration and confidence they need to build a home that speaks to who they are, but we wanted to end this year by remembering that not everyone has the luxury of having a home. In the United States alone, over 600,000 people are currently without homes and this holiday our team is making a donation to several charities that work to help people have a more permanent roof over their heads. If you’re able to donate your time or money to a group that helps people get into a safe home, we hope you’ll please consider joining us in our effort to help.

Our team is taking a break for the holiday and will return on Monday, January 5th with content that we feel is some of the best, most exciting and meaningful we’ve worked on to date. All this year (and especially since we launched our re-design), we’ve been listening to your thoughts, comments and suggestions about what you’d like to see more — and less — of here at Design*Sponge. We’ve taken those notes to heart and combined them with what means the most to us to come up with some great new columns for 2015 that focus on building a beautiful home by doing more with the things you already have around you.

We’re expanding our DIY and Before & After sections and launching new columns that focus on affordable ways to embrace design at home without spending or buying too much, and by keeping quality (not quantity) at heart. We will, of course, always continue to share our favorite inspiring and innovative ideas, with a focus on products and designs that are worth investing both your time and money in. These additions and changes won’t feel like a night-and-day change, but we hope they’ll be a subtle shift that embraces our community’s shared desire to spend less time shopping and trend-obsessing and more time truly being inspired and finding ways to create beauty at home using our own two hands. We also want to spend more time supporting artists, shops and companies we trust and believe in. We can’t wait to start 2015, but until then, from all of us at DS, we wish the very best for all of you for both a happy holiday season and a wonderful, wonderful New Year. xo, grace

What I’ve Learned from 100 Radio Shows

What I’ve Learned from 100 Radio Shows

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Today marks the 100th episode of my radio show, After the Jump, and the final episode of our 2014 season. The past two years of hosting this show have provided me some of the greatest learning lessons, inspiration and advice for both my life and work in a way that I could have never expected.

My first love will always be the Internet, but these afternoons spent in this tiny, shipping-container radio station have been some of the most important and enlightening of my life so far. So for the last show of the season, I decided to look back at all 100 shows and share the 10 BIGGEST LESSONS I’VE LEARNED. These lessons have nothing to do with hosting a show, but instead have everything to do with learning to be a better business owner, a more compassionate person and a better listener, and endless ways to learn how to connect better with the people around me — and all of us. Thank you to everyone who has joined me on-air over these past 100 episodes, to my favorite band, Screaming Females, for letting me use their song as the show’s theme song and thank you to all of you who have listened. Hosting this show has been one of the greatest joys of my life so far. xo, grace

To Listen: Click here to listen online or click here to Listen on iTunes.

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Buvette Cookbook Giveaway + Mousse au Chocolat Recipe

Buvette Cookbook Giveaway + Mousse au Chocolat Recipe

Chocolate Mousse from The Buvette Cookbook
As we get ready to pack up and head out for the holidays, I wanted to share something special related to one of the happiest days of my life. Last November, Julia and I got married in a friend’s backyard. Afterward, our families walked together to enjoy what was one of the most delicious – and meaningful – meals at the back table of Buvette in the West Village. Buvette – and chef Jody Williams – is one of the most beloved restaurants in New York City. A favorite of writers, artists, foodies and even Martha herself, Buvette is open practically around the clock, serving delicious food made from one of the tiniest kitchens I’ve ever seen. Every spare inch of Buvette’s 1,000 square feet is used wisely. Tiny plates are stacked high on marble shelves, waitlists are written directly on the door frame and espresso machines behind the bar steam up eggs for breakfast orders. Any space not used for displays of decadent food is decorated with cherished vintage pieces that Jody collects during her travels and from antique fairs. In short, it’s one of my favorite places in the world.

Julia+Grace_lvolo_0714
We chose to have our wedding dinner at the back table of Buvette for all of the reasons above, but mainly because Jody is someone who means a lot to Julia – and now to me, too. Julia worked on the Buvette cookbook and the recipes from this very special cookbook are near and dear to my heart. But none quite as dear as the recipe for Jody’s Mousse au Chocolat. If you think you’ve had chocolate mousse before, get ready to rediscover just how rich, decadent and transformative it can be. This is, without a doubt, the best chocolate mousse I’ve ever eaten. We love it so much it was served up as our dessert course for our wedding dinner. The greatest compliment it could ever receive was when Julia’s grandmother, who is vigilant about healthy eating, requested that the mousse be placed directly in front of her.

I’m so happy to share the recipe here today and to give away a copy of Jody’s wonderful book, Buvette: The Pleasure of Good Food. All you have to do to be eligible to win a copy is leave a comment below answering the following question: What is your most powerful food memory? One of mine will always be this chocolate mousse and I’m so excited to hear all of yours. After the holiday we’ll choose one lucky winner to receive a copy. xo, grace

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David Stark Design Creates A Christmas Story Inspired Fête

David Stark Design Creates A Christmas Story Inspired Fête

A Christmas Story-Inpired Fete by David Stark Design at Design*Sponge
Classic holiday movies can be the perfect source of inspiration for your holiday bash! While playing around in the David Stark Design studios, we decided to forgo the poinsettias and evergreens and have some fun with our holiday table. Meet the wineglass leg lamp, inspired by everyone’s favorite holiday movie, A Christmas Story!

christmas-story-lamp
A wine glass with its single stem lends itself perfectly to the iconic leg lamp and translates to a super easy DIY. We made a few and lined them up down the table with a LED votive inside. The reference would not be complete without the packing crate that inspired the line, “Fra-gee-lay, It must be Italian,” from the Old Man. We made packing crate place cards and added our pals’ names. This year, consider hosting a get-together during the 48 hours when it will be shown (yes, 48 hours – Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) on Turner Classic Movies. We double-dog dare ya! -David Stark

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Biz Ladies Profile: Sabrina Smelko

Biz Ladies Profile: Sabrina Smelko

Biz Ladies Profile: Sabrina Smelko
I’m beyond excited to share the lovely Sabrina Smelko’s interview today for a number of reasons – 1: She’s an insanely talented illustrator, designer and writer who decided early on in her career to branch out into the freelance world and tackle establishing a multidisciplinary studio of her own. Sabrina’s career path has given her firsthand experiences in the ups and downs of business-owning and has taught her how to manage the ever-so-complicated and multifaceted business model, which many of us can relate to. And 2: She will be the new editor behind the Biz Ladies and City Guides series here on Design*Sponge!

As I venture on from DS to focus my efforts on expanding my own personal biz ventures, I pass along to Sabrina these two columns that I have so cherished being a part of for the past five years, and I look forward to seeing this column grow and evolve into something even more beautiful, educational and inspiring for the DS community.

Thank you all so, so, so much for letting me be a part of your business and travel adventures for so many years. It’s been such an honor. – Stephanie

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In Long Island City, A Creative Vision

DesignSponge Sneak Peek

In Long Island City, A Creative Vision

Working predominantly with homeowners and renters on Sneak Peeks, I sometimes forget that decorating a home is just as much a creative expression of the person living in the space as it is for the person designing it, which in some cases is the interior designer. Of course the designer is trying to capture and express what is important for her client, but there’s always some element of personal influence from the designer, and their vision is certainly imbedded throughout the home. That is the case today as we peek into a project by Jenny Norris, an interior designer who is on a constant quest to merge her three passions: photography, interior design and travel.

This Long Island City home was just a blank slate when she started out. She says that, first and foremost, it was important to soften the space with color and texture. She did this by introducing pieces such as a reclaimed wooden stool and dining table, grey grasscloth wallpaper and exotic textiles sourced from flea markets. These pieces are inspired by Jenny’s travels to places such as Mongolia, Kenya and Morocco, among many others. Being that travel is Jenny’s first passion, it was important that she incorporate that into her interiors. Layered onto these textured accents is an intriguing collection of photography. Several rooms are adorned with photos of far-flung locales, including one with a personal story. While working on this project, Jenny became very friendly with her clients. She relayed that the clients, a couple on their honeymoon on the Amalfi Coast in Italy, befriended Jenny’s favorite waiter from a restaurant she had visited on a trip to the very same place. Since the destination was so magical to all of them, they decided to incorporate that into the home, by hanging one of Jenny’s photographs of a secret beach in Positano, Italy in the bathroom. The result is an elegant home evoking the passions of both client and designer. -Shannon

Photography by Jenny Norris

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