First-Time Renovators Create a Dream Brooklyn Townhome

Julia Sherman's home on Design*Sponge

First-Time Renovators Create a Dream Brooklyn Townhome

It’s not often that I see a home where I wouldn’t change a little something here and there. Not because anything is wrong with the space, but just because I daydream about living there myself and how I would put my personal touches on it. But then I saw photographer Julia Sherman’s home. I knew Julia had impeccable taste in salads and artwork – her project at PS1 and her blog, Salad for President, combines both – but I had no idea how much her incredible eye extended to home design.

Julia lives in this beautifully restored home, along with her husband Adam Katz and their dog, Lucy, in the Clinton Hill section of Brooklyn. Originally built in the 1890s, Julia and Adam’s home was in dire condition when they found it three years ago. Eager to put down roots somewhere quiet and near a park, the couple ignored friends’ warnings that a gut renovation job wasn’t something they should tackle. Instead they found a space that needed a total overhaul and had serious “haunted” vibes. After working through fallen ceilings, black mold and moldy carpet floors, the couple saw signs of light when crown molding, parquet floors and original Eastlake hardware were revealed. Despite not having any prior renovation experience, Julia and Adam were able to eventually finish their renovation using a mix of local salvage and building material resources. At the end of the day they have a totally custom home (they loved getting to choose every tile, light fixture and paint color) that still retains the original architectural beauty of the home. “The house is ours like no pre-fab home could have been,” Julia says. I couldn’t agree with her more. This is the sort of space that will only continue to grow and improve as the years go on. xo, grace

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A Creative Home in North London

Luke Edward Hall and Duncan Campbell's home on Design*Sponge

A Creative Home in North London

Any time I’m feeling like I could use an extra dose of inspiration, I head to Instagram. No matter what time of day it is, I know I’ll find myself awash with endless photos of beautiful and unique homes, artwork, flowers, textiles, patterns and design. It was during one of those inspiration searches that I came across the work, and account, of Luke Edward Hall. Based in North London, Luke is a talented designer of soft furnishings and fabrics, an interior decorator, a stylist and an illustrator. I immediately wanted to see if his love of color and pattern followed him home and I was thrilled to hear back from him and to discover the beautiful home he shares with his partner, Duncan Campbell, a creative director and co-founder of the consultancy Campbell-Rey. When you put two talented and creative people in one space, incredible things are bound to happen and I thoroughly enjoyed taking a virtual tour of their expertly decorated apartment. Duncan originally found the couple’s Camden Square apartment, which was built in the mid 1840s, seven years ago. Swayed by the park directly across the street and the huge garden out back, Duncan signed on and two years later, Luke moved in. Although they don’t have access to the garden out back, the apartment’s position on the first floor means that every window shows only the greenery of each outdoor location, making the home feel like a lush treehouse. Duncan and Luke carried that green theme inside the apartment, where all three rooms of their home embrace color and pattern in a major – but tasteful – way. What I love most about their space is that it leaves room to grow. Luke explained that he’s, “come to realize that decorating the apartment is not about reaching some sort of end goal, where we can lock up our paintbrushes and celebrate everything looking ‘just right.’ We’re young and we’re just getting started. I plan to spend the rest of my life collecting bits and pieces – rugs, pictures, vases, lamps, furniture. Besides, I work in interior design – collecting and curating things is essentially my job!” I love their open-minded attitude and the way that’s reflected in their playful combination of new and old objects, bold prints and bright color. Thanks so much to Luke and Duncan for opening up their home to us. xo, grace Photographs by Luke Edward Hall

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Happy Thanksgiving from Design*Sponge

Happy Thanksgiving from Design*Sponge

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I hope that by the time this post goes live, those of you who are heading out for Thanksgiving are close to home and have a safe journey on your way to be with friends, family and loved ones. Before we close our laptops and settle in for a few days of downtime, I wanted to take a moment to tell all of you just how thankful I am for your friendship, support and inspiration. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the other side of blogging – what it’s like to read, follow or have conversations on people’s sites. I’m not a frequent blog commenter, but I’m a frequent commenter on other people’s social media feeds and that interaction may seem small, but it means so much to me. I love hearing back from bloggers and other people online and I want you all to know how much all of us here appreciate not just your reading, likes and Pins, but how much we truly appreciate and care about your comments, both here and on our various social feeds. At least a few times a week we email around comments to each other that really moved us or that inspired us to do something differently. Design*Sponge is a living, breathing thing and the real-life beat of our community is the conversation we have with each and every one of you. So as we sit down to give thanks, I wanted to thank you for the time and thought you’ve put into comments here. We listen to and appreciate each one and they mean so much to us and what we do here. Thank you. We’ll see you again on Monday and until then, best wishes for a safe and happy holiday to all of you from all of us at DS. xo, grace

If you need any last-minute ideas for holiday cooking, entertaining or crafting, check out our Thanksgiving posts below!

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DIY Project: Paper Ranunculus

DIY Project: Paper Ranunculus

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Sometimes, I wish Instagram was a real person so I could shake its hand and give it a huge hug for the endless amounts of inspiration it provides. From discovering great new home tours, photographers and florists to talented DIYers, I am constantly screengrabbing things and sending them to myself to follow up on later. This week’s final DIY project before the holiday is one I’ve been excited to post for weeks. I follow a number of crafters online, but few inspire me as much as Susan Beech. Susan’s Instagram account, A Petal Unfolds, is full of beautiful paper flowers. Most of the time I can’t believe they’re not real, but especially in the case of her rich purple and red ranunculi. They looked so much like the real thing that I wrote to her to ask if we could do a how-to together. Thankfully she was game and today I’m thrilled to share her project, just in time for holiday centerpieces. xo, grace

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About Susan: Susan Beech is a paper flower maker living in Brighton, UK. She graduated in Fine Art Printmaking from the University of Brighton in 2002. She focused mainly on digital work and landscape photography, producing emotional pieces on her keen affiliation with nature. In 2013 Susan decided she wanted to go back to making things with her hands again. She took a class in making paper flowers and was instantly drawn to the beauty that could be created from paper. She opened her online shop A Petal Unfolds in April 2014 and is excited to develop her work further.

Click through for the full how-to after the jump!

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After the Jump: How to Make the Most of the Holidays for your Business

After the Jump: How to Make the Most of the Holidays for your Business

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The holidays are here and more often than not, they get the best of us. It’s not only stressful for shoppers and travelers, but for business owners, too. Independent artists, designers, photographers and makers of all sorts have an endless sea of craft fairs, holiday markets, sale and giveaway options that can lead to huge sales and a boost in brand exposure but can also lead to confusion and opportunities that don’t always fulfill their return on investment. So for this week’s radio show, I invited one of my favorite artists, potter Nic Newcomb, on-air to talk about the business side of the holiday. Together we ran through a wide range of topics (below) and will help you figure out how to navigate the sometimes tricky world of holiday sales from both the maker and press perspective. Thanks so much to Nic for joining me (you can check out his site and shop here. I swear by his camp mugs.) and I hope you’ll find this show helpful!

Here’s what we’ll be covering:
-Pricing and giveaways
-Simple things you can to do make the most of the holiday season, business-wise
-How to avoid pitfalls that can happen this time of year
-How to navigate, choose and be successful at holiday fairs and markets
-How to make the most of holiday sales and leads
-Our Top 10 Tips for Holiday Sales

*I’ve summarized a few of these after the jump if you need a quick kickstart!


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Thanksgiving DIY Project: Clay Napkin Rings from BTW Ceramics

Thanksgiving DIY Project: Clay Napkin Rings from BTW Ceramics

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Part of the fun of Thanksgiving for me is having everything be as homemade as possible. It adds to the coziness of friends and family coming together simply for the joy of each other’s company. I love the idea of all that tasty homemade food being surrounded by as many homemade decorations as possible. It makes the day that much more special and memorable. To add a little pizazz to this year’s Thanksgiving spread, I made striped napkin rings (from affordable polymer clay) that give each table setting an extra pop. Depending on how adventurous you’re feeling, the napkin rings can all be similar or each one can be entirely different for a funky mix and match! -Brooke Winfrey of BTW Ceramics

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Click through for the full how-to after the jump!

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In the Kitchen With: Chef and Steward’s Jamaican Jerk Turkey

In the Kitchen With: Chef and Steward’s Jamaican Jerk Turkey

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Not having whole turkeys readily available where I live has forced me to try alternate protagonists for my Thanksgiving meal over the years. This year, however, I’ve decided to try to find a turkey and to make it something I’ve never tried before. Kari Heron of the blogging team Chef and Steward gave me a great idea for Jamaican Jerk Turkey. A Jamaican expat living in United Arab Emirates – who better to get such a recipe from? If you like spicy, this is definitely a dish to try. Just think about the sandwiches you can have the next day (they are my favorite part of Thanksgiving)! -Kristina

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About Chef and Steward: Kari and Lij Heron are the husband and wife team behind the blog Chef and Steward, where Kari takes the photographs and Lij makes the food. Kari, a trained broadcast journalist, is also the columnist of “When Hunger Strikes” currently published in the weekend magazine of Khaleej Times. Lij is an award-winning head chef at the Waldorf Astoria at the Ras Al Khiamah, United Arab Emirates destination. Their work has been featured in Conde Nast’s “Gourmet Live,” BBC Good Food, Culinary Institute of America (CIA) “Mise en Place,” Gourmet, Black Enterprise, Ocean Style, The National, and Gulf News. You can find their Instagram here. If you would like to try more Jamaican food, Kari and Lij will be featuring Jamaican holiday sides on their blog through Christmas.

See how to make Jamaican Jerk Turkey after the jump!

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Thanksgiving DIY Project: Mirrored Place Setting

Thanksgiving DIY Project: Mirrored Place Setting

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I love setting the table, but it is extra wonderful during the holiday season. Whether you are going all out with family for Thanksgiving or just having a casual Friendsgiving in the next few months, add a little extra sparkle to your table with these fun, geometric mirror placemats. Mirrors sometimes get a bad rap on the table, but with a cool triangle pattern etched on top, you can take it from tacky to trendsetting. They are super simple to make and add that extra level of interest to the table. How impressed will your guests be when you tell them you made them? The best part about the etching is how durable it is, perfect for the wear and tear from dishes and spills – just wipe clean. Add a fun tablecloth and big pops of color and you have a great, non-traditional but gorgeous table to share with friends and family. -Jenny Batt of Hank & Hunt

Click through for the full how-to after the jump!

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Thanksgiving Recipe: Alex Guarnaschelli’s Green Bean Casserole

Thanksgiving Recipe: Alex Guarnaschelli’s Green Bean Casserole

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Marrying a professional food and cookbook writer has made food a much bigger part of my life, but it’s always played an important role. For as long as I can remember, I’ve watched Food Network with my mom, and it provided much needed comfort (in the form of Barefoot Contessa reruns) during my freshman year of college when home felt a little too far away. One of my favorite shows to watch when I need some inspiration is Chopped. I like to hit “pause” and ask Julia what dish she would cook with the mystery basket ingredients. I love the show so much we even interviewed Chopped’s culinary producer to find out more about how those weird and daunting basket combinations (Asian pears, croissants, haricot verts, and rattlesnake?) happen. So when I thought about sharing a few extra holiday recipes this year, I looked to one of my favorite Chopped judges, Alex Guarnaschelli.

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Green Bean Casserole is a classic holiday side dish, but the traditional method that involves a gloppy can of soup was never my cup of tea. This version keeps all the rich flavor (and crispy onions) that I grew up loving, but focuses on fresh ingredients and making the traditionally pre-packaged elements from scratch. I will always love my grandmother’s green bean casserole, but this one might have to go into my holiday rotation this year. Thanks so much to Alex for sharing this with us! xo, grace

Click through for the full recipe after the jump!

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Starting from Scratch in France

Starting from Scratch in France

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Clean slates. They’re daunting, challenging and invigorating, but most of all, they’re opportunities. Five years ago I sold everything I owned and moved to Chicago with only three suitcases. Those first few nights I slept on the floor with only a blanket from home and a pillow made of my folded t-shirts. You would think the silence would be deafening, but it was roaring with the ideas and potential of what my new home would be. Needless to say, starting from scratch is close to my heart. My clean slate was a Chicago grey stone, but Émilie, of MilieO, and Greg hit the jackpot with their 1948 red brick house – or amiènoise – outside of Paris. This post-World-War-II tri-level in the diverse Sainte-Anne neighborhood immediately spoke to the couple as they turned the key to the front door. The narrow façade disguised wide rooms and the perfect bones for making a home in the couple’s style. It was a fixer-upper, but just the right project they had been hoping to find. They have done a marvelous job of turning their first amiènoise together into a home and I couldn’t love the final results more! Garrett

All photos by Émilie Rousseaux

Image above: The couple’s Scandinavian-inspired bedroom was originally two rooms! Every new wall was painted white to serve as a base, then an accent color was chosen to warm each space in a different way. To convince Greg that a black accent wall was a good idea, Émilie created a photo-montage in Photoshop to sell the idea. Clever, clever. Bedding and table by Fly. Lighting by Tom Dixon.

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Image above: The first-floor landing and center of the home. Émilie loves the patina of the original wooden stairs. Her grandmother’s sewing box, which inspired her to start sewing, sits at the foot of the stairs, ready to go. The beautiful milk glass lamp is from IKEA.

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This Sneak Peek is brought to you by Smock – makers of sustainable paper goods and greetings printed on antique letter presses. Join Smock and celebrate the season at their Holiday Shop!

Click through for the full home tour after the jump!

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Living The “New Minimalism” Lifestyle in 340 Square Feet

Living The “New Minimalism” Lifestyle in 340 Square Feet

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I don’t consider myself a clutter-bug by any means, but there are most definitely times in my life when I wish I could have a professional come into my home, really tell it like it is, and force help me to get rid of all of the things I don’t need. Call it Living-In-The-Modern-World Syndrome. Luckily, there actually are professionals who take on such tasks, like Kyle Quilici, one-half of the team at the Bay Area’s New Minimalism. Established in 2013 to address the need for sustainable clean-sweeping, New Minimalism is a thoroughly fresh take on the idea of personal organizing. With an emphasis on recycling, reusing, and a reduced environmental footprint, the company has redefined what it means to live minimally.

Late last year, when Kyle was forced to vacate her affordable shared loft in San Francisco, she took it as an opportunity to find a place to herself—one where she could truly practice what she preaches. What she found was a small, thin-walled, 340-square-foot apartment near the city’s Japantown. No stranger to living with little, Kyle managed to transform the tiny space into a showroom of sorts for the “New” minimalist style—one that is full of life and color, but free of brain-draining clutter. Outfitted in vintage pieces and only objects that are truly needed and loved, the space is a testament to Kyle and New Minimalism’s mission. —Max

Photographs by Kelly Ishikawa.

Image above: Kyle’s bedroom. “Even though the studio is only 340 square feet,” she says, “I wanted to give the bed its due space. Putting the bed on this wall allows two people to comfortably get in and out, a design principle we always recommend at New Minimalism, especially for clients who are looking for love.” The headboard is constructed from a fruit-drying tray purchased at a flea market.

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Image above: The living room, as seen from the bedroom. “Placing the couch parallel to the fireplace makes the fireplace the focal point, an element I wanted to highlight, especially since I don’t have a television,” Kyle says. “I also live Internet-free, which was a New Minimalism experiment that ended up sticking. It makes me get out of the house to do focused Internet work and keeps me very present and centered when I’m home. I think that’s why my house is so clean and why I’ve read more books this year – no Internet!”

See more of this minimalist home after the jump!

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In Singapore, Rooms Defined By Color

In Singapore, Rooms Defined By Color

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Moving into a new space can be an exciting, yet daunting, endeavor. With a completely new space, the decorating possibilities are endless. One of the things that I’ve discovered helps ground my own decorating process is choosing a color palette (or three). Whether it be the paint on the walls, the color of my couch or structural wood details, these large hits of color guide everything that comes after, creating focus within a space. Priscilla Tan, a Singapore-based designer and dabbler of all things creative, decided to let color be the guide as she decorated her home. She and her husband Roland have a playful and experimental approach to decorating their home, filling it with everything from quirky action figures and fun IKEA pieces to elegant mid-century furniture. But by creating zones of color (gray, black, white and wood for the living room and dining room, and a library set in black, gold, red and wood), they have created continuity amongst their eclectic collection of art and decor. Within less than a year of living in this home, which they share with Roland’s mother and three pets, Priscilla has managed to express the family’s style in a way that suits both the space and her budget. Thanks, Priscilla, and special thanks to Tan Yang Er for the lovely photos! -Shannon Grant

Image above: “What I love about our dining room is how mismatched everything looks,” Priscilla says. “Everyone loves our swing bench as they are able to sit on it while having dinner, and after dinner, they can swing it the other way around to watch TV. The cement raw wall was deliberately done up after showing my contractor many samples of how I wanted it to turn out. It took quite a bit of nagging and we are so happy with the final color and texture. All of our guests love the raw touch to the wall.”

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Image above: “This metal bronze artwork is the favorite part of our home. It is the first thing people see when they step into our home and we love the fact that there is a hidden message behind it. The black matte wall is from Nippon Easy Wash With Teflon called Mysterious 8151.”

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See more of this Singapore home after the jump…

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Holiday Party Planning with Staples + DIY Wreath

Holiday Party Planning with Staples + DIY Wreath

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We all know that the holidays are a magical time, filled with love, laughter, warmth, and merrymaking. They can also, however, be an energy-sucking, nerve-racking, sanity-destroying time—especially if you haven’t prepared for the obligatory onslaught of entertaining, gift-giving, and socializing that the season has to offer. When it comes to making it through the holidays with grace and style, anything that makes the work a little easier can go a long way.

This is why, when the time came to prep for our annual holiday bash, we turned to our pals at the neighborhood Staples for a little leg-up on the game. First step? Getting those holiday greetings and party invites out in the mail! Using their online Copy & Print service, we were able to quickly whip together a snazzy set of cards and pick them up the same day. BOOM! 10 points for team Design*Sponge.

And you can’t forget decor—arguably the most important part of any party (okay, aside from food and beverages)! Using our chalkboard-themed cards and invites as inspiration, we crafted an easy-peasy wreath from black construction paper and chalk. Time to completion? Under an hour! BLAM! #KillinIt

Over the next few weeks, we’re going to be sharing little tidbits and tips from our upcoming holiday shindig. For now, enjoy the little DIY and video after the jump! —Max

Image above: Design*Sponge Merry & Bright holiday card and Chalkboard party invitation all designed at design.staples.com

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This post was created in collaboration with Staples Copy & Print Center where you can check holiday cards and invitations off your to-do list in one afternoon! See the holiday collection here and design your own special greeting! VIEW MORE

Virginia Sin Ceramics + Best of the Web

Virginia Sin Ceramics + Best of the Web

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Last weekend’s Renegade Craft Fair was like a wonderland of beautiful ceramics. If you collect and admire beautiful cups, mugs, planters and vases like I do, this year’s show was heaven. I picked up a few pieces for our home (more on those later) and was most excited to meet some artists and designers in person that I’d never met before. We had the pleasure of being the first blog to write about Virginia Sin‘s plates back in 2008 and I finally got to meet and shake Virginia’s hand in person this year. Her booth, shared with another talented designer, Brooke of BTW Ceramics, was a food stylist’s dream come to life. I wasn’t able to walk out without buying something and I’m pretty sure other people left the same way. In addition to Virginia’s gorgeous faux-paper plates, she launched a line of bowls inspired by coffee filters. I love how light and frilly they look, but how substantial they feel in person. These bowls are part of Virginia’s newly expanded tabletop collection that you can find, and shop, online. If you need a great handmade gift idea for someone in your life, these are a fantastic idea. xo, grace

Photographs by Emily Johnston

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