Why Mirrors Will Always Be Impactful in Design, Part 1

Now that is a mirror. In this Chicago, IL Victorian cottage, an ornate baroque mirror takes on a new look with a coat of white paint. The white slightly downplays the commanding presence of the detailed design, helping the mirror to define and ground the space without overdoing it.

Why Mirrors Will Always Be Impactful in Design, Part 1

There are very few all-encompassing design solves I can think of that can be applied to any style, any home, and any space. And the one element I keep coming back to is the tried-and-true mirror.

Whether artful or strategic, mirrors work wonders to draw attention to a space with their reflective faces, and they move mountains to make any room feel more open and dimensional than it really is. Running the gamut of every style, color, shape and size under the sun, these design tools can suit (or intentionally contradict) any aesthetic. And, dare I suggest, they’re considerably more timeless and versatile than a piece of art, as a mirror’s face is essentially a blank canvas.

What can I say — here at Design*Sponge, we just can’t get enough of mirrors. So much so, in fact, I’ve broken this post into a two-parter. There are simply too many stunning mirror moments not to share. —Kelli

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Making Your Passions Profitable with Renae Bluitt

Making Your Passions Profitable with Renae Bluitt

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Many of the world’s most well-known entrepreneurs have found success by taking their passion and strategically turning it into a full-time job. The long hours, financial burden and stress that can come with making this switch have the potential to overwhelm anyone. Knowing it’s not all in vain — but in service of something they love, however — makes it all worthwhile for these risk-takers. I so admire individuals with this mindset who have chased their dreams, successfully or not. It takes guts and gall.

One creative gal who is not unfamiliar with turning passion into profit is the Founder of Crush Media, Renae Bluitt. From day one, her love for public relations has never waned, but her passion for some of the brands she was assigned at her old gig sure did. Determined to only work on projects that inspired her, she left behind her job. Renae then set forth to carve out a piece of the PR pie for herself, opening her own firm focused on representing companies in a field she’s passionate about: beauty. By making her own rules and choosing her own clients, she’s been able to combine her passions for PR and beauty and be her own boss. It was a gutsy move, but she couldn’t be happier she took the risk.

Wondering what her recipe for success is? Follow the jump to find out, and to snag some tips on making your own passion profitable. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography courtesy of Renae Bluitt

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DIY Faux-Molding Ribbon + Best of the Web

DIY Faux-Molding Ribbon + Best of the Web

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This week felt like a bit of a blur. The tragedy in Orlando, and seeing so many incredible lives cut short, knocked me to my feet in a way that I can’t fully express. I spent the beginning of this week in a dark, heavy place and I can only imagine how unspeakably heartbroken the family and friends of the victims feel right now. Each and every one of us at Design*Sponge has been focusing on sending all of our energy and love their way, but the weight of the situation and the reality of attacks on LGBTQ people in America have made it hard to think about anything else. I spoke about this in more detail on our social media channels, but I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge that great loss here and that, while we know design and beauty are often wonderful distractions from difficult moments in life, they do not fill the void left by this horrific crime.

It’s taken me until today to finally feel ready to look back into design and I’ve been slowing finding small moments of lightness in the words, images and ideas of our colleagues online. While our dedication to being a part of supporting the victims (here are ways to help if you can) is still our top priority, today I wanted to end with a bit of visual levity for anyone who needs it right now.

Megan Pflug is always coming up with wonderful DIY ideas and her post at One Kings Lane this week about creating faux-molding with ribbons really caught my eye. It was the first thing that made me smile this week and I hope it, and the links below, can provide a moment of hope and happiness during this difficult time. xo, grace

 

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  • This week’s links are all about Instagram and feeds that are most definitely worth following. For starters, this amazing account that tracks gorgeously designed gates in San Francisco.
  • This Instagram feed indulges in my favorite form of inspiration: PINK!
  • Like to travel? This feed tracks beautiful and incredible places to visit across the world.
  • I love flowers. I also love chicory flavor. So when I discovered this floral feed that combines both, I was sold.
  • These cheerful splatter/polka dot ceramics from Felt + Fat are so great.
  • One more great ceramics # to follow: #potsinaction — an amazing collection of handmade pots/ceramics in use in real-life situations.

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Christine Chitnis’ Roasted Peach Pops

Christine Chitnis’ Roasted Peach Pops

Roasted Peaches and Cream Pops

Making popsicles at home is a great way to keep control of the grocery budget as well as what’s in your food. Cookbook author Christine Chitnis had this in mind when she created her recipe for Roasted Peaches and Cream Pops in her most recent cookbook, Icy, Creamy, Healthy, Sweet. The recipe, which comes together quickly, combines the caramelized sweetness of roasted peaches with yogurt, honey, and vanilla to bring the best of summer in a tasty and beautiful package with limited added sugar. If you happen to be in San Francisco on June 22, you can stop by Omnivore Books and meet Christine, or at the Book Larder in Seattle, on June 23, and see what other luscious summer treats are in her book! —Kristina

Why Christine loves this recipe: All year long, I wait impatiently for stone fruit season in New England. Fortunately, Providence is surrounded by orchards and farms that bring their very best to market each week. There’s nothing better than farm fresh peaches on a sunny, summer day! For this recipe, I wanted to put a healthier, lighter spin on the traditional combination of peaches and cream. Roasting peaches brings out their natural sweetness, and lends an almost caramelized flavor to them. Combined with good quality whole milk yogurt, sweetened slightly with honey, these pops are light, refreshing and completely satisfying for my summer sweet tooth.

Icy Creamy Healthy Sweet Cover

Photography by Christine Chitnis, Portrait by Sunglow Photography

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15 Pretty Picturesque Front Porches

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15 Pretty Picturesque Front Porches

It has always been my quaint, pastoral fantasy to spend summers in a historic Southern farmhouse, keeping cool while swinging on a wide wraparound porch’s swing with some sweet tea in hand. I’d picnic in the tall green grass, scheming up ways to fill the formal rooms with gilded granny antiques, sleek mid-century furniture, and exotic modern art.

Cut to my Brooklyn summer, where there’s no swing, no porch, and no relief from the oppressive heat. We’ve published some of the most inspiring outdoor spaces throughout the years to help city-dwellers utilize their exterior assets, or to envision their own ideal country settings. Here are 15 pretty picturesque front porches to help stir the imagination along with that icy beverage. A girl (or boy!) can dream. Here’s to welcoming summer! —Annie

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Before & After: Southwood Home Renovation by LLI Design in London

Before & After: Southwood Home Renovation by LLI Design in London, on Design*Sponge

Before & After: Southwood Home Renovation by LLI Design in London

As Design Director of LLI Design, Linda Levene often completes projects drawing from her background in fashion and textiles. Her love of form, texture, and color is especially evident in a recent total overhaul of a four-story 1970s townhouse in Highgate — a charming, leafy neighborhood in London. The revamped home, dubbed “Southwood,” now features an open-plan master suite with freestanding bath as well as a statement glass-and-steel staircase between the lower levels. When its new family first saw the space in its untouched 1970s state, they knew it had tons of potential to reference its retro beginnings in a modern way. For example, the brightly lit full-width rooms felt large to the contemporary dweller, but hallways throughout the residence were cramped and dark.

The design firm reconfigured the floor plan and “transformed a tall, vertical townhouse into a home with a feeling of expansiveness and laterality, creating an uplifting and comfortable home for the owners.” In the casual living area, a palette of dark khaki, burnt orange, yellow and dark woods paired with industrial metals and mid-century furniture hints at the structure’s original history. More formal zones offer a relaxed feeling of calm with plush neutral upholstery, soft yellow and pale blue accents, and pops of graphic black. The construction and technical home automation were completed by another branch of the company — Pegasus Property & Pegasus Automation. In total, the project was recently awarded the annual Best Interior Design Private Residence in London title by the United Kingdom Property Awards for its warmth, elegance, and tasteful redesign. —Annie

Photography by Alex Maguire 

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12 Inspiring Accent Walls Created With Only Decor

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12 Inspiring Accent Walls Created With Only Decor

By now, we’re probably all too familiar with accent walls when it comes to paint. Whether you rent or own, it’s an easy, low-investment way to make a statement, but not many of us think of applying that same principle — that is, the creation of a deliberate focal point in a room on only one wall — by using only decor. The more playful cousin of gallery walls, these 12 decoration-based accent/feature walls and vignettes will force you to think outside of the (paint) box and leave you with plenty of ideas for that one wall in your own home you’ve been eyeing forever. –Sabrina

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Celebrating Ramadan with Manal Aman & Sweet Paul Magazine

These DIY Ramadan lanterns reflect the tradition in some Muslim cultures to climb to high elevations with lanterns to spot the crescent moon, which indicates the beginning of Ramadan or Eid. The full article is available in the Summer 2016 edition of Sweet Paul Magazine. Crafts + Recipes by Manal Aman | Styling by Paul Lowe | Photography by Alexandra Grablewski

Celebrating Ramadan with Manal Aman & Sweet Paul Magazine

Manal Aman is a crafty Canadian who has brought some DIY magic to the Muslim holiday of Ramadan in the summer issue of Sweet Paul Magazine. During Ramadan, lights turn on in homes and mosques in the middle of night to tell the story of people spending time in prayer or getting ready to take their pre-fasting meal. Manal shares some Ramadan-themed DIYs using colors and symbols designed to evoke the notions of night and light that appear often in Islamic religious traditions.

Check out the slideshow above for a sneak peek at some of these original DIYs and some tempting photos of Manal’s favorite recipes. We can’t wait to try the Plum Rosewater Sherbet!

You can get the recipes and full DIY instructions in the summer issue of Sweet Paul Magazine, available in digital or print editions. Thanks to Manal and Sweet Paul for this sneak peek! —Caitlin

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DIY Embroidered Art

DIY Embroidered Art

DIY Embroidered Art on Design*Sponge

I love that embroidery has been making such a big comeback lately! There are so many amazing embroidered pieces popping up that I can’t help but be inspired by them. (If you haven’t already seen Grace’s roundup of 18 Embroidery Instagram Feeds to Follow, go now!) Recently I stumbled upon this image of Ellie Mac’s embroidery, and I knew I wanted to try my hand at some really textural embroidery.

DIY Embroidered Art on Design*Sponge

Using cording under the embroidery stitches (“satin stitch couching”) is the key to getting such a 3D look. The abstract shapes were so fun to come up with, and I had to throw in some fun colors a la Elizabeth Pawle. I will warn you that this project is not a quick one! I’d estimate it took me about 8 hours to do this piece, and it’s only about the size of a sandwich. Once you get going, though, the stitch is super simple to do while binge-watching your favorite show. Kathleen

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In the Kitchen With: Our Favorite Sandwiches

In the Kitchen With: Our Favorite Sandwiches

Kate Doran's Homemade White Bread Loaf

In mid-May, the Wall Street Journal published an article on the growing number of bakeries and restaurants that are grinding their own flours or using local mills to do so. The nutrients preserved in this type of flour led the author to hypothesize that, “it might just be OK to eat bread again” (some of us never stopped!). In celebration of this new lease on life, we thought a roundup of some of the fine sandwiches we’ve had on the column was in order. Please note, feel free to use any bread you like to make these sandwiches, or you can eat the fillings without the bread! —Kristina

Image above: What better way to start a post about sandwiches than to provide a recipe for a basic  White Bread Loaf? Karen Doran, author of The Little Loaf blog, shared her recipe for the quintessential loaf of bread last year. If you’ve never experienced a fresh homemade loaf of bread, still warm enough to melt your butter, now’s your chance!

Kate Doran's Basic White Loaf

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15 Talented Black Chefs & Foodies To Follow

15 Talented Black Chefs & Foodies To Follow

These foodies and chefs have three things in common: they’re amazingly talented, they have a unique approach to food, and they have gorgeous melanin. From Nicole Taylor’s inventive Cherokee Rose Poundcake, to Murielle Banackissa’s flavorful Beet and Berry Ginger Smoothie Bowl, each food connoisseur shares a piece of themselves through their recipes. Whether they were lawyers or worked on Wall Street in their former lives, somehow food has brought them together.

Although the culinary world may not display the diversity that exists within it, we’re shining a light on these gifted cooks who hold the power to create lasting memories by transforming simple ingredients. When we reflect on some of our fondest memories, great food is often the bridge that connects us. These 15 Talented Black Chefs and Foodies have masterfully infused their experiences into recipes we all can enjoy! —Emerald

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The Perks of Being Clueless, Curious & Creative with Amanda Miller Littlejohn

The Perks of Being Clueless, Curious & Creative with Amanda Miller Littlejohn

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A lot of people who are exceptionally talented at a niche skill often don’t see it that way themselves. To them, their ability is simply second nature, and the thought to package that into a career doesn’t cross their mind. For years, Amanda Miller Littlejohn had provided free advice to friends, family and colleagues alike, and it wasn’t until she was laid off from her job as a reporter and forced to find a way to support her family that she considered employing her true talents in a professional way.

She launched a career as a communications consultant and copywriter, but it wasn’t until she met her match — a professional business coach — that she was able to see her abilities in a new light and realize that she had even more skills to offer than she initially realized: coaching, PR and branding. It took years of tweaking, and many tiny realizations and fumbles along the way, but Amanda can’t imagine doing it any other way. Today she’s joining us to share many nuggets of wisdom, including why being clueless is a good thing, what to do when you’re creatively depleted, and how success goes hand in hand with sacrifice. –Sabrina

Photography by Natarsha Wright Photography 

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5 Life Lessons I Learned from Your Candid Photos #DSCandid

1. Pure joy will always be a more powerful tool of engagement than perfection. Likes schmikes -- the comments and connections that came with these photos were some of the most amazing I've seen in years. I loved watching people bond over their "real" life moments and connect over shared struggles, moments and messes. Photo by  @hensfeathers_vintage (Baby gates are a huge part of our house, too. But for dogs.)

5 Life Lessons I Learned from Your Candid Photos #DSCandid

Social media continues to fascinate me like the herd of cows that lives just up the road. Why do they do what they do? What makes them happy? When will they shift next and what will inspire that random move to the other side of the field? I’m always wondering about them when we drive past and I’m always wondering what makes social media change, grow and take a sharp turn (just when we’ve all started to understand it). For that reason, our community hashtag challenges are one of my favorite pastimes now, and I love watching them take on a life of their own and trying to figure out why certain concepts do — or don’t — click with everyone. This month’s challenge was #DSCandid and was intended as a celebration of everyday life (sans filters and styling) and resulted in some of the greatest conversations I’ve had online to date.

What it also resulted in were some major life lessons and a great big reminder that social media is one of the most interesting educational tools we have to learn more about each other and what makes us tick, what makes us engage, and what makes us shy away from sharing. Today I’m sharing the 5 life lessons I learned that made me feel closer to our community as a whole. xo, grace

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13 Effortlessly Cool California Homes

I'd be remiss if I didn't include Chelsea and Forrest's celebration of California in their own backyard: a display of their love for the state in flag form, anchored by a DIY cinderblock succulent installation.

13 Effortlessly Cool California Homes

It’s been eight years since I made my way out to California, and the wide spectrum of design, architecture and style found in this state still continues to surprise me. Stereotypical notions of California and its inhabitants’ laid-back attitude aside, my favorite homes we’ve featured from the West Coast all seem to evoke an effortless spirit. These are places where their owners bravely combine various styles all in one space, from bohemian and vintage-quirky, to sleek contemporary and mid-century modern, to rustic and refined — there’s no melange of these aesthetics that doesn’t just work.

Looking through our D*S archives, you’ll find that many of these California homes share common themes of layering lots of textures, blending styles, and celebrating the outdoors with an arms-open-wide embrace. Today, I’ve rounded up 13 of our favorite California spaces to show you why, after all these years, I’m more inspired than ever. —Kelli

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A Minneapolis Apartment Filled With Simple Pleasures & Blended Styles

Two Worlds Contrast and Collide in This Humble Minneapolis Apartment Filled With Simple Pleasures

A Minneapolis Apartment Filled With Simple Pleasures & Blended Styles

Having grown up in Seoul, South Korea, when artist Sé Young and her now-husband, Christopher Kipp — who grew up on a 400-acre dairy farm in Wisconsin — married three years ago, two worlds collided. For the happy couple, home represents their eclectic personalities and, as Sé puts it best, “is a reflection of our marriage and the integration of our lives.”

Built in the 1920s, their 800-square-foot apartment in Minneapolis, MN is, in a few words, airy, experimental, and filled with only a handful of simple pleasures. Having moved in less than a year ago, the process of decorating and furniture shopping was (and continues to be) one wrought with making changes, rearranging furniture regularly, making returns to the store, and selling some items on Craigslist that just didn’t work. “I would say the whole process took 4-5 months,” Sé says. “As an artist, it was an incredibly stretching experience to work with such a broad medium outside of the canvas I’m used to.” But beyond surface-level design decisions, making their house a home was also a learning experience for their relationship. Where Christopher tends towards practicality, Sé leans more towards aesthetic expression; where Christopher flourishes in a consistent, Sé craves changing it up; where Christopher finds calm cooking in the kitchen, Sé gravitates to canvas and paints.

As Sé explains, “We see the world so differently, and I think making a home together has been a reflection of us integrating our diverse perspectives and preferences,” and as such, within their home you’ll discover aspects of their love of history, such as a bookshelf that Christopher’s grandpa built, as well as plenty of contrast, an element that they also see reflected in each other. And through this ongoing process of merging their lives and curating a home together, they were inspired to start whenwewed.co (coming soon) to share more about how they’ve cultivated their marriage, growing from two individuals into one family under one roof.

A space that inspires the couple daily — and one that makes room for both of their personalities — their humble abode is a sanctuary and a beautiful reflection of their relationship. As Sé describes best, the process was “one of the greatest adventures of my life,” and has resulted in a space that’s “simple, humble, and fits us well.” What more can you truly ask for? –Sabrina

Photography by Laura Rae

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