DIY Rope Coil Doormat

DIY Rope Coil Doormat

DIY Rope Coil Mat
There are a lot of different positive and negative aspects to renting. On one hand, you have the opportunity to concentrate on collecting (and creating) furniture you love, but on the other hand, it’s difficult to make the bigger changes that bring all your carefully chosen pieces together. As much as I love my apartment, if I had my way with it, I’d make some big renovations. The first thing on the list would be the floors. I’ve always wanted beautifully light, nordic flooring covered in colorful or textured rugs, creating peaks of interest. Unfortunately, instead of that I’m left with a beige carpet running throughout which just has no personality at all. I’m not letting this stop me from decorating my floors, though, starting with this coiled rope doormat. —Fran

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In Red Hook, a Functional Apartment Complete With a Little Elbow Grease

A Functional Apartment in Red Hook, Design*Sponge

In Red Hook, a Functional Apartment Complete With a Little Elbow Grease

Philadelphia-native and graphic designer Sean Tice came to Brooklyn in 2007 to work as a Web Producer for CBS Interactive, where he met Kristy Hadeka, a then fashion student at Parsons The New School Design. Kristy grew up in Vermont just a mile from her family’s slate quarry, one that has been in operation since 1897. In the spring of 2009, the couple paid a visit to the quarry upstate and left with a handful of slate pieces for their home — to use as trivets for tea kettles and hot dishes and as coasters for beers. They eventually began gifting pieces to friends and the response was so overwhelmingly positive that the two struck out to produce a line of slate products. Complete with a company mascot, their English Labrador Retriever, Garp, Brooklyn Slate Company was born.

At the time of the company’s inception, Sean and Kristy were living in South Slope, but feeling a gravitational pull to Red Hook, especially given that it was walking distance to their workshop. “I was immediately enamored with the neighborhood,” Sean says, “I really enjoy the proximity to the water and this feeling that you’re ‘cut off’ from the rest of the city while still being very close.” After apartment-hunting for a while, they stumbled across this one-bedroom gem that also offered a full basement and backyard — perfect for Garp! They were immediately sold on the apartment’s old hardwood floors, tin ceilings, oversized windows, and opportunity for customization. But it was a challenge looking past the walls, which were all painted brown or yellow; one in particular was even covered in a huge decal of an apple tree! “It took us about three days to clean the walls and paint [them white]…” they laugh, “and I learned that one brown coat takes at least three white coats to completely hide it.”

While the property has a huge basement, the apartment itself has no closets. But ever the creative opportunists, Sean and Kristy saw this as a chance to customize the home to make it perfect for them. They rolled up their sleeves, and within a few days, they had built-in shelving everywhere — both in the kitchen in lieu of cabinets, and in the dining room area— and had custom-made a lot of their own furniture, from their floating media consoles to their birch ply dining table. Like the apartment’s dwellers enjoy finding new uses for existing items, Sean and Kristy’s home oozes with form, function and fun. –Sabrina

Photography by Brooklyn Slate Company and Valery Rizzo

 

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13 Amazing Female Podcasters to Follow

Two Brown Girls, hosted by Fariha Roisin and Zeba Blay. Fariha and Zeba are writers and critics who dedicate each show to a mix of topics, ranging from culture politics to pop culture and style. I really enjoy when they delve into the topics that some people avoid (feminism, race, politics) and find their loose, conversational style a nice contrast to the sometimes slightly over-structured podcasts that seem to be all the rage.

13 Amazing Female Podcasters to Follow

Last week I had 17 hours of traveling on my hands to and from DC and Philly, so I decided to catch up on my listening (and Chinese app playtime) and download some new podcast episodes to listen to on the ride. I found myself wanting to hear something different and unlike the shows that seem to get all the press these days, so I searched for shows hosted by women and women of color. I spent the trip not only discovering new and important stories and points of view, but feeling like I made a handful of new online friends to follow and learn from on a regular basis. Some of these are shows I’ve listened to for years (like JV Club and Hot Grease), and others are new favorites (like Pushing Hoops with Sticks), but each one is guaranteed to get you thinking and talking about the broader topics in not just the creative community, but life in general. So if you’d like to hear what these talented women are talking about (and what the amazing women they interview have to say, too), click through to read more about their shows and find where to listen online. xo, grace

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#DSBlues Hashtag Challenge

#DSBlues Hashtag Challenge

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This morning we’re launching a special edition hashtag challenge with Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day, inspired by their scent: Bluebell. Whether it’s the cool blue of the ocean, a handmade tie-dye print, or lovely irises from your garden, snap a picture of the beautiful blues you see in your life every day, hashtag it #DSBlues and we’ll share our favorites here at DS, on the Mrs. Meyers Clean Day Instagram feed (during our takeover next week!) and our feed as well. I can’t wait to see what everyone shares. I’m hoping to discover some gorgeous new wildflowers or other blues from nature, so feel free to snap away! xo, grace

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Images above from top to bottom: Alasully, Kelly & Troy’s Home Tour, Suite One Studio, Happy Cactus Designs.

Smart Submissions: When To Send, Lend and Say No

Smart Submissions: When To Send, Lend and Say No

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The very first job I had in the design world was writing press releases for a small public relations firm in Brooklyn. It was the job that taught me how to interact with press, how best to present a new product or company and — more importantly — how NOT to do all those things. I think about that job a lot these days when I both receive and send requests related to press. To cut straight to the chase: I’m consistently shocked and saddened to see how much time and money independent designers and companies put into sending or giving away free product, thinking that it’s required for great coverage. So I want to break down that idea and talk about when it’s the right time to send a free sample, lend a product or turn down a request that isn’t worth it. For me, sending too many free samples or products is the fastest way to run out of working capital, rather than create more of it. So I’m going to talk about how to identify the difference between when to give/lend/pass and what to send instead. xo, grace

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Life & Business: Jamie Leigh Moore

Life & Business: Jamie Leigh Moore

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Architect, surgeon, artist; these were my career prospects as I knew it as a 15-year-old in high school. I remember feeling confused and stunted while staring at a list of possible careers on a computer screen, results based off of a few multiple choice questions and answers. None of them felt fully right for me, but then again, I didn’t know what any of them really meant.

Discovering what it is that you’re meant to do, let alone what you want to do, is terribly hard. And often, even going to college can only confuse you more as you realize the infinite possibilities. This was the story for me until I discovered my passion for illustration and design at nearly 20 years old — and I think it’s the story of most business owners — just as it was for production designer and prop stylist, Jamie Leigh Moore.

Inspired by powerful women in the creative industry paving their own way, Jamie move to Brooklyn, NY, and started hustling her work and name around. She worked various contracts in the field, such as her position as a crew-member on the show GIRLS, and after lots of hard work, dedication, and sleepless nights, Jamie made a name for herself and went it alone. She’s now a successful freelance business owner with a portfolio of projects for clients including Tribeca Film Festival, Nick Jr., TLC and San Pellegrino. Today, Jamie’s chatting with us about understanding what makes you marketable, how calm is key, and the “series of palpably awkward missteps and false starts” that led to the start of her business. –Sabrina

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Do You Run An Online Business? You Should Know About These New VAT Laws

Do You Run An Online Business? You Should Know About These New VAT Laws

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If you’re an online seller, you’ve probably already heard some noise around the new EU Vat laws that came into force in January, but, if you’re anything like me (and the majority of North American vendors), you might be left wondering what it has to do with you.

When interior design coach Issy Zinaburg first got in touch with me to share her advice on the these new laws, I felt confused and awfully silly: As an online shopper and seller myself, I didn’t know much about the new laws and what implications they had on me and my favorite online shops, but Issy is all about helping women gain confidence in design and business. So when she heard rumblings about the law in late 2014, she joined forces with eight other business owners and together they founded the EU VAT Action team, campaigning for a unilateral suspension of these laws for micro-businesses. Today, Issy is taking us through the basics of this complex law, what is and isn’t, and breaks down why it’s relevant to you, whether you’re an online business owner or not. –Sabrina

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24 Hours in Edinburgh with Eloise Leeson

24 Hours in Edinburgh with Eloise Leeson

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Eloise Leeson is a CrossFit-oholic, food enthusiast, skilled barista, blogger, bad joke connoisseur and lover of all things shiny. She was born on the south coast of England, but moved to Edinburgh when she was just five, growing up in and around the borders of Scotland. On top of the wonderfully rich culture, when I asked her what her favorite thing about Edinburgh was, she answered, “the light on the golden buildings and the feeling of possibility early in the morning!” Eloise wrote the original Edinburgh City Guide over four years ago, and she’s back today to eagerly share an update on this great city! –Sabrina

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A Stylist’s 1830s East Coast Farmhouse

A Stylist's 1830s East Coast Farmhouse | Design*Sponge

A Stylist’s 1830s East Coast Farmhouse

I love taking a look inside old homes. There’s a level of charm and quirky character that newer builds rarely have. Things like parlor doors, original hardwood floors and built-in details get me every time. It’s not to say, though, that older homes don’t come with their own set of issues — they absolutely do. Necessary updates, original structures that are smaller than current standards, and creaks and squeaks are all part of owning a century-old (and then some) home — but for the right people, it’s a dream. This 1830s farmhouse in Natick, MA was exactly what the Alfanos were looking for.

Emily Starr Alfano is an event/wedding designer and stylist and Bill Alfano is the marketing and outreach director. Emily, Bill, and their dog Bruno found this gem in July 2014 in the sweet town of Natick. They toured the home the same day it went up for sale and put in an offer the next day. This house was move-in ready with a beautifully redone kitchen, which made finding such a great, historic home even more exciting. “Since I spend so much time here, and use various rooms for work and staging pictures, it was important the house either had certain existing elements or could be transformed,” Emily says. “We just straight up lucked out with this house. I don’t think either of us ever dreamed we could have a house with such character but many modern updates…especially in our first house!”

Their good luck hasn’t come without work and adjusting to the home. “Despite many updates and upgrades over the years, at the end of the day the house is almost 200 years old — there are obvious challenges! Among them are super small doorframes which make moving couches, tables and other large items fairly difficult. We’re pretty sure our staircase is the original and it’s essentially a straight line up. We’ve got wonky walls and ceilings that aren’t straight!” says Emily. “We found this perfect-for-us piece of real estate. I think more than anything we wanted to create a space that reflects us a family and honors the original design…quirks and all.” I love the way they have embraced their house, with the wonderful things and the challenging things, and have made it uniquely their home. —Lauren

Photography by Joyelle West

 

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A Timber Pole Home Among the Eucalyptus Trees for a Growing Family

A Home Among the Trees, Design*Sponge

A Timber Pole Home Among the Eucalyptus Trees for a Growing Family

This time last year, I went on a eucalyptus kick. I hung some in my shower, I pinned DIY eucalyptus decor and flower crowns on Pinterest, and I hunted every flower shop close-by for more. There’s just something about eucalyptus. So I’m a tad envious of Sara Hingle‘s home, surrounded by beautiful eucalyptus trees in the heart of Burleigh Heads, Queensland, Australia.

Nestled in the lush bushland, you’ll find an old timber pole house, home to Sara, the founder and Creative Director of These Walls Paper + Textiles (a wallpaper company we featured last month), her partner Mick, a project manager, their sons Joshua (5) and Thom (2), and occasionally Ruffie the dog and Maggie the cat. And beautiful as it can be living there, their split-level 1970s home comes with its own share of problems: keeping on top of the landscaping is a challenge, and during the tropical storms that frequent the area, the nickname “the Titanic” gets thrown around for their leaky home. But all of their home’s cons don’t come close to outweighing the pros: the location (which boasts close proximity to the ocean while remaining in the bush), the charm and character, the space, and feeling it brings.

When telling the story of how they met their home, Sara laughs: The night following their son Josh’s first birthday, Sara’s mother jokingly commented that they needed a bigger place for their growing family. Up until then, they were busting at the seams of their small duplex, and with a newly-mobile son, Sara and Mick ended up spending the night staring at the glowing screen of a computer, buried deep in a session of “internet real-estate window-shop[ping].” The following day, while on a country drive among the trees and beside the ocean, they stumbled across the home of their dreams and hours later they were signing the paperwork.

With an acre of yard for young Joshua to run around in, the home was the perfect size and accommodated the addition of Thom shortly after. But Sara and Mick quickly learned the expenses that came with being a young family. This meant that huge additions and renovations were off the table, especially after the costly and tiring job of removing a pool. Once they were settled in, they threw a few coats of Dulux China White on each wall, and with the addition of new furniture, carpeting and lighting, the house started to feel like home. It wasn’t long before Sara worked her magic with wallpaper and textiles, which added plenty of warmth and personality to the space. –Sabrina

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Seeing the Potential in a San Francisco Rental

Design*Sponge Sneak Peek

Seeing the Potential in a San Francisco Rental

When renting in a big city, it’s almost always a given that an apartment won’t automatically meet all the criteria of one’s idea of a “perfect” home. That’s okay, you just have to decide what is most important. Is it the neighborhood, the price of rent, the size? Sometimes an opportunity comes along that requires a game-time decision, and you are challenged to see through the things you don’t like in order to make a home you love.

This is exactly what happened with Shara Lotfi and Chris Koesler. They were living happily in the quiet Inner Richmond neighborhood of San Francisco when this apartment, located in the Mission, became available. It was a much bigger space, and presented a chance to move back to a neighborhood they loved. But it wasn’t a home run. As Shara says, “I can’t believe it now, but we were actually reluctant to move at first! When we first saw the apartment it was not in the best shape. There was wall-to-wall mint green carpet and all the windows were covered with dark, heavy drapes. There was peeling wallpaper in the bedroom, and everything was just generally looking a bit old and shabby.”

The couple decided to seize the opportunity and set upon making some big changes right away. The first and perhaps most dramatic change was tearing up all the carpets that were covering the hardwood floors. “I think if we had known exactly how much work that would be, we might have talked ourselves into living with the carpet, but luckily I was pretty adamant about tackling that project,” Shara says. They did it all themselves (including removing the pesky carpet nails!), and then hired someone to polish the floors. The other major improvement — that is, in my opinion, one of best, cheapest, (and easily reversible) ways to transform a space — was to paint every wall in the house, as well as the kitchen cabinets. Following those two major overhauls, they continue to make changes here and there, including making the home baby-friendly since their daughter, Ayla, was born in 2013.

In all, they have created a place well-suited for their family of three with enough space to work from home. Shara is the designer behind Lotfi, a textile and accessory design company, and Chris is a freelance illustrator and part-time professor at California College of the Arts. Moving beyond the interior space, they are now shifting their focus to the backyard, as Ayla loves being out back. Shara says she is not much of a gardener, but she sees the potential for a beautiful garden, and as any renter knows, that is half the battle. —Shannon

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The 2015 Obama China Reveal (DS Goes to Washington)

First Lady Michelle Obama drops by to present the official China to the press in the Red Room of the White House, April 23, 2015. (Official White House Photo by Amanda Lucidon)

The 2015 Obama China Reveal (DS Goes to Washington)

Last Tuesday, I was going through my emails when I noticed one that stood out. The subject line was “Invitation to the White House.” I clicked on it, expecting it to be fake, but to my complete and utter shock (and joy), it was a real invitation. So two days later, I left our house around 6 am to hop on a bus and then train to Washington, D.C.

Growing up in Virginia, I’ve spent many a summer and school field trip walking around outside the White House, but to be invited inside — and to meet Michelle Obama — was nothing short of one of the greatest honors of my personal and professional life.

Along with five other bloggers, photographers and writers from the home/lifestyle community, I spent Thursday afternoon getting a tour of the White House kitchen, garden and family dining room, finishing up with an amazing hour in the official china room, where we met with White House Curator Bill Allman (more on this incredible man later) and Michelle Obama to get the very first preview of the official Obama State China Service. We got to preview this new collection before the main press, which was a huge honor, but just being there in such a beautiful place surrounded by such inspiring people will be something I will never, ever forget. xo, grace

Read on to see the Obama State China Service and peek inside the White House interior and gardens…

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Weekend Pattern Downloads from Hannah Lee!

Weekend Pattern Downloads from Hannah Lee!

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This weekend Hannah Lee spoiled us with two extra pattern downloads for Saturday and Sunday. I’m heading down to Philly this weekend, so I’m sharing them both today! Best wishes for a great weekend everyone- and thank you so much again to Hannah for sharing all of these patterns with us this week. If you missed any, you can download them here and you can check out more of Hannah’s work on Instagram right here. xo, grace

CLICK HERE to download the teal pattern!

CLICK HERE to download the yellow pattern!

Naps, Bubble Baths, The Company of Loved Ones + Best of The Web

Naps, Bubble Baths, The Company of Loved Ones + Best of The Web

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This week I’ve really been thinking about the importance of work-life balance. Between raising a 4-month-old puppy who has the energy of four dogs (something I’m sure is mutually felt by Grace as well, with the addition of her adorable Winky!), commuting 3+ hours each day over the last few weeks for work, and watching my house/yard to-do list grow with each passing weekend I spend working or attending events instead, I’m craving some serious downtime. On one hand, I’m thrilled to be so busy, given that it’s not a guarantee when you’re self-employed, but I’m also exhausted and starting to notice the effects of living to work rather than working to live. So I’ve started making it a priority to set aside time to just be (no phone, no TV, no work). Life really is too short to not be chasing after and doing what you want — even if that’s taking a short bath or snuggling with your pet. So TGIF and cheers to taking the weekend off (okay, maybe the yard work will have to be done and the vacuum will have to make an appearance!), enjoying the beauty of the afternoon spring sun, taking advantage of naps and being in the company of loved ones. –Sabrina

Below is a summary of this week’s highlights from DS and around the web:

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  • Eliot Rausch, one of my favorite filmmakers, just released this moving short titled El Pescador, which follows a conversation between an American investment banker and a Mexican fisherman about work and life. He also grabbed footage of the real fisherman singing. (via Vimeo)
  • The opening weekend of the documentary Dior and I cannot come soon enough, which explores Creative Director Raf Simons’ labor of love through the creation of his first collection, to be done in just eight weeks. (via Dior and I)
  • When I have a lot of work to accomplish, I grind it out with the help of podcasts (this week’s favorite came from Death, Sex + Money where W. Kamau Bell chats about rebuilding his career) and music (here are a few playlists).
  • These darling wooden cities would make the perfect desk or office accessory! (via McKean Studio)
  • It’s Friday, and it’s 5 pm somewhere! With spring in the air, summer around the corner, and the work week behind us, sit back and enjoy this Mango Ginger Fizz cocktail. (via Designlovefest)

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In the Kitchen With: Janet Fletcher’s Lamb Meatballs

In the Kitchen With: Janet Fletcher’s Lamb Meatballs

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I go through cookbook phases periodically. At times, I really want varied recipes from someone whose writing and food tastes are interesting to me. Other times, I really seek out books based on a single theme.  This week’s recipe for Lamb Meatballs in Warm Yogurt Sauce with Sizzling Red-Pepper Butter comes from the latter category. It appears in the most recent book by author Janet Fletcher, Yogurt: Sweet and Savory Recipes for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner. I chose this recipe because it is simple, yet a bit more complex in flavors than what we usually run on the column. It is truly versatile and can be eaten alone, or served over grains (as pictured) or egg noodles, as Janet recommends. The recipe also makes me daydream about taking a trip to the Eastern Mediterranean to eat more really great food!  Kristina

Why Janet loves this recipe: A gem of a recipe from the Eastern Mediterranean kitchen, these succulent meatballs bathe in a sauce that will have you scraping the bowl. I have seen similar recipes for whole lamb shanks or chunks of shoulder, but meatballs cook more quickly. They are browned first, and then simmered in broth, but the magic happens just before serving, when yogurt and a beaten egg are whisked in to thicken the juices. Sizzling red-pepper butter provides a final flourish. Serve with bulgur or rice pilaf, or with egg noodles.

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Photographs (c) 2015 by Eva Kolenko

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