My Personal Anthem: Why I Dream In Purple

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My Personal Anthem: Why I Dream In Purple

March 1987.  My first year in NYC at the School of Visual Arts. The big apple was rotting from the crack epidemic. I saw it first hand, felt it grab at my neck looking for gold chains and I smelled it at night on my corner. I was mugged five times at knifepoint. I worked as a coat check girl at the Marriot Marquis in Times Square, when it was an empty, dank place. I survived on tips and stealing toilet paper from my employer. It was all a sign of the times.

I had graduated from the emotional haze of Purple Rain, singing Let’s Go Crazy at my high school graduation, to the deep, dark tunnels of NYC, taking the A train at midnight train from Times Square to my 11’ by 17’ room at the Sloan House YMCA on 34th and 11th.

Prince taught me the good, the bad and the ugly. He taught me how to dress and how to snarl. He taught me you can look like a girl boy or a boy girl, or both and then fall in love riding off on a motorcycle without a care.

He made it ok for me to walk in through the out door and shop at second hand stores. He elevated me from the white kid in the projects wearing Goodwill threads, to a movie star, a confident young thing who could rock an Edwardian collar like no one’s business.

His androgyny slayed me. His talent made me stand still. His lyrics made me feel butterflies.

And his style – his style humbled me.

No matter where I was, or how dark it got, Prince Rogers Nelson always whispered this in my ear:

Honey I know, I know, I know times are changing

It’s time we all reach out for something new

That means you too

– Prince, Purple Rain

-Caitlin

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DIY Spring Party Floral Staircase

DIY Spring Party Floral Staircase

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“Spring is nature’s way of saying, ‘let’s party!’” – Robin Williams.

There’s something in the air, and it’s utterly exhilarating. Scents of blossoms, narcissi and hyacinth, leaving the house without a coat, footwear that doesn’t weigh you down, and promising new shoots popping up on the stark, black ground. Everything feels lighter.

For this how-to, I wanted to combine such a fresh time of year with something that we are increasingly creating as a focal point for celebrations and events — stair flowers. I am always drawn to a good staircase, I think it must hark back to my childhood: being the youngest of four, I frequently would find myself sitting on the stairs listening in to the older conversations or wildly flying down them with friends in sleeping bags. More recently, the stairs have become a place where I sit with my children to reflect, to calm the heck down. There’s a slightly magical notion, too, that they lead you somewhere. What better place to adorn with a wild and rambling arrangement than the center of the home?

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My friend Camilla’s hallway is bright and airy. The stairs are a little crooked. There are Danish numbers on a black-painted runner that count you up the stairs. It was everything I could dream of for this elaborate spring party centerpiece. —Anna Potter

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Photography by India Hobson
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Before & After: The Redleaf Manor Ballroom Conversion

Before & After: The Redleaf Manor Ballroom Conversion, on Design*Sponge

Before & After: The Redleaf Manor Ballroom Conversion

The Zevan family of Wynnewood, PA sure does love their books. Tracee and Steve, along with young sons Declan and Ronan, display all their favorite reads on the shelves of their restored ballroom living space within Redleaf Manor, located on the Pennsylvania Main Line. The historic 30,000-square-foot English Tudor Revival mansion was designed by architect Frank Furness and built in 1881. Redleaf Manor, named after the leaves of the ancient copper beech trees located on the property, was commissioned for Philadelphia millionaire William Henszey. In the modern era, the building has been converted into seven condominium units, of which the Zevan family occupies 1,080 square feet. Tracee, an interior architecture design assistant, envisioned expanding the existing floor-to-ceiling library look in the den and establishing an open, modern floorplan in the kitchen.

Once serving as the mansion’s ballroom when the manor was a single-family home, the space retains its 11-foot ceilings and leaded glass French doors and windows. The fireplace and crown moldings are original to the site as well. “It felt more like a Paris apartment than a condo in the suburbs,” recalls Tracee upon her first visit to the home. “It was love at first sight.” Other features needed renovation, like a poorly-patched ceiling layered in wallpaper, and a distinct lack of overhead lighting throughout. During three months of construction under the oversight of architect Mindy O’Connor, the Zevan family stayed elsewhere in the building to keep an eye on the project.

In the updated ballroom, the whole family can hang out, share a meal, play board games, and entertain friends. They forewent a dining room table in favor of extra couch seating — a series of IKEA chairs pushed together, often reconfigured based on need. They eventually plan to add pocket doors and many library ladders to accommodate the tall ceilings. “What we lack in surface space, we make up for in vertical space,” Tracee notes, “And I’d like to utilize that to its fullest advantage.” The all-white home provides a feeling of serenity, and the color scheme makes the rooms feel larger. Still practical for kids because “everything is slipcovered, so it’s a trip to the washing machine when covers get dirty,” Tracee shares. When the work is done, she loves to sit in front of the fireplace, looking outside at the pristine grounds, with a cup of tea and her pick of many, many good books. —Annie

Photography by Wendy Concannon

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Updated Style: Scandinavian Design

Updated Style: Scandinavian Design | Design*Sponge

Updated Style: Scandinavian Design

At Design*Sponge, our focus is to bring inspiring home ideas to everyone. Since the beginning, Grace has been showcasing homes belonging to real people in a range of styles, costs and practicality. The idea that million-dollar flats and rehabbed small houses are both lovely and noteworthy resonates with us and our readers. Scandinavian design started with the same values: Design should be democratic and available to everyone, and it should be as beautiful as possible. This Northern European modernist movement started taking shape in 1930 at the Stockholm Exhibition as a shift away from the realism and romanticism that had been in style. Scandinavian designers set out to combine their culture of craftsman tradition with a new style that would promote functionality and accessibility without removing grace and beauty. In the 1950s, Scandinavian design — close to what we know of it today — was launched.

Designers from Sweden, Norway and Denmark were impacted by the other modernism trends happening around the globe, but maintained a voice all their own. Scandinavian design, like the mid-century movement in the United States and Western Europe, can be thought of as a focus on minimalism to improve lives. It differed, however, from other mid-century modern styles of the time due to geological isolation from popular materials and a focus on bringing nature and organic lines into the products. Industrial designers from Northern Europe have created iconic products still sold today. Arne Jacobsen’s iconic bent wood 7 chair, Hans Wegner’s Wishbone Chair, and Marimekko’s graphic and nature-inspired prints are just a few of the items originating from Scandinavia that are still found in our homes.

Today, Scandinavian design is widespread. Rounded furniture edges, mid-20th-century modern art and natural shapes are sampled from stores across the world, not to mention the continued IKEA movement. Scandinavian design usually exhibits a neutral or soft color palette paired with natural wood tones and textures. In the United States, we have our “designed” products and then our day-to-day functional items that lack a sense of beauty. In Sweden, Denmark and Norway, even the most mundane objects are often designed to enrich lives with color and shape. On Design*Sponge, we see elements of Scandinavian design whenever an IKEA desk makes an appearance, but we also see stunning homes fully embracing the Scandinavian point of view. Homes with chunky sofas, Danish modern chairs, and minimalism with a cozy feel make us melt. Scandinavian design with contemporary styling feels effortless and refined at the same time.

Click through to see some of our favorite homes with an updated take on Scandinavian design, and inspirational products to bring a Scandinavian look into your home. –Lauren

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10 Floral & Plant Temporary Tattoos

Anna Bond's gold floral tattoo set remains my favorite design, when it comes to florals. It's sweet, subtle and so elegant. $6 for 2 here at Tattly.

10 Floral & Plant Temporary Tattoos

More than white walls, “Keep Calm” posters and bookshelves organized by color, I find that tattoos are one of the most divisive design elements in the creative community. Most bloggers and designers I know have them (or design them), but they seem to draw an awful lot of ire when shared online. I know that any time I’ve shared mine, or the process, people on social media “feel sorry” for me and like to inform me that when I’m 90, I’m going to really regret the decision. To which I always say: If I’m lucky enough to live to 90, I’ll have more to think about (and celebrate) than a few stretched-out tattoos.

But all those complaints and concerns haven’t stopped the temporary tattoo trend from all but exploding over the past few years. Companies like Tattly (founded by Tina Roth Eisenberg, who will be in my new book this fall!) have teamed up with some of the most talented indie designers around to create stunning works of art that let you dress up your arms, legs and everything else in between with tiny masterpieces that you can wash off in a few days. I’ll always prefer the real thing, but with summer around the corner and short sleeves about to emerge, I thought it would be fun to share some of the most beautiful floral and plant-based designs (some are scented!) you can find, buy and try. Whether you make the leap from temporary to permanent or not, these are a great way to have fun with vintage and original images outside of the frame. xo, grace

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DIY Paper Coral Charm Peony

DIY Paper Coral Charm Peony

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When West Elm Seattle asked me to design a paper flower workshop for February 13th — the day before Valentine’s Day — I immediately thought of Leslie Knope’s Galentine’s Day celebrations on Parks and Recreation. I loved the idea of creating a fun event to celebrate female friendship, and no flower seemed like a more fitting mascot for Galentine’s Day than the coral charm peony. It’s big, bold, bright, and stylish. It’s everything that sad grocery store roses are not.

I brought candy, gals brought pals, and we had a blast.

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In the interest of keeping the Galentine’s Day spirit alive year-round, I offer this tutorial. Order up some crepe paper from the wonderful Castle In the Air, invite some gals (and guys!) over, and whip up some peonies. (If you’d like to send one to a friend, but are more a paper flower admirer than a paper flower maker, I also have some finished flowers available in my shop.)

Finally, on the subject of wonderful gals: I’d like to give a shout-out to the very talented Natalie Lynne, who was the first flower maker I ever saw create a peony seed pod in this way. Check out her beautiful work on Instagram (@a_bloom_time)! —Kate Alarcón

Photos by Grace Kim

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Color Inspiration: Bold and Brilliant Emerald Green

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Color Inspiration: Bold and Brilliant Emerald Green

The right color palettes can influence style and form — they don’t have to be limited by a single design aesthetic that the color is trending in. A bold or subtle tone on the walls can impact a space, no matter how the rest of the room comes together. You truly can dissect color inspiration from anywhere and implement it into your home in a personal, stylish way.

Case study: Emerald green. We love it. There’s something welcoming, lively and sophisticated about this color. It’s both surprising and familiar when used as a foundational color in a space. These examples show green used beautifully in a range of styles and contexts — transitional, traditional and minimalist styles have all embraced this vibrant hue. Click through and start thinking how to bring it into your own home. –Lauren

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10 Tips for Licensing Your Art

10 Tips for Licensing Your Art

10 Tips for Licensing your Art, Design*Sponge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It seems as though now, more than ever, the craftsmanship and quality of work from today’s artists are being noticed by big brands. They’re not fools. These companies know that to get attention, what they’re selling needs to look great. And no matter the task, there’s an artist out there who can make their mug, bedding or lampshade sing.

I’ve never fully understood how this process looks from the artist’s perspective, though. That being said, I’m so happy we’ve partnered with celebrated watercolorist and illustrator Christine Llewellyn of Christine Joy Design. Today, she’s letting us in on just how artists and brands work together. Specifically, she’s giving us 10 tips for any artist looking to get their artwork into shops and into the hands of more consumers.

The name of the game is licensing, and it’s a game Christine is very familiar with. She even recently worked her way into a stellar partnership with West Elm and Minted, so Christine clearly knows her stuff. Click through to hear more from the talented artist and get ready to take some notes. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography courtesy of Christine Joy Design

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A Brooklyn Inspired Gallery Wall

A Brooklyn Inspired Gallery Wall

A "Brooklyn" Inspired Gallery Wall

Our Living In posts are what originally got me hooked on Design*Sponge. With that in mind, you can imagine my delight when we decided to do a little rejigger on the old column and expand it. Now, along with the traditional posts that help you bring home the decor, fashion and style of some of your favorite films, we’ll be periodically offering up ways to create gallery walls inspired by some of Hollywood’s most outstanding movies.

Our inaugural film is last year’s critically-acclaimed Brooklyn. Set in the 1950s, the movie follows young Eilis, played by Saoirse Ronan, as she anxiously leaves behind her life in Ireland to pursue a new one in Brooklyn, NY. The film may be set in the middle of the century, but worry not, we’ve put a modern spin on the film’s classic images by working within a pastel palette that’s perfectly matched for spring decorating. Imagery inspired by the Coney Island Ferris Wheel, Saoirse’s costumes and hometown, as well as New York – all of which were highly important to the film – are just a few of the elements that make our first gallery wall sing. Click through to shop the wall and bring it home for yourself. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Catherine Cachia

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10 Trends in Surface Design to Bring Home

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10 Trends in Surface Design to Bring Home

A space can be given interest through color, texture, furniture design, intriguing objects and art but one of the surest ways to convey a style or attitude in a room is through pattern. A single pattern or layers of them on cushions, curtains, walls and hand towels bring personality immediately into a space. New spins on timeless botanical, geometric, tribal patterns are almost always in style for homes while freehand illustration, people, pets and graffiti prints are contemporary takes on prints for soft goods and wall decor. Click through the slideshow to see 10 categories (and gorgeous examples) we’re seeing in surface design recently. –Lauren

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15 Creative Instagram Accounts: 2016

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15 Creative Instagram Accounts: 2016

Back in 2014, I dove into Instagram head first and felt instantly awash in creative ideas, people and feeds. That year I shared 10 of my favorite creative accounts and while I easily have thousands I could share, I thought it was high-time to update that list and share 15 more of my go-to favs. From illustrators and collage artists to expert cookie makers, envelope decorators and stylists, these feeds are full of color, texture, creativity and inspiration. If you’re in need of a little visual pick-me-up, these feeds are guaranteed to help. I’m always looking for great new people and feed to follow, celebrate and share so let me know your favs below, too! xo, grace

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How To Design a Home Office You’ll Want To Work In

How To Design a Home Office You’ll Want To Work In

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With more and more people turning to self-employment — and more workplaces offering the flexibility to work from home — having a dedicated home office space is rapidly becoming a must. While working from bed or your sofa sounds intriguing, in reality, it is most definitely not ideal. Working from home means more distractions, so it’s important to craft a tranquil space that lends itself to getting sh*t done while fostering productivity and creativity.

Today, designer Makini Regal Brereton (who knows firsthand what it takes to craft a stellar studio) is taking us through her tips for designing a home office space that inspires, motivates, and encourages you to be your best — and sure, yes, one you can wear your PJs in. –Sabrina

Photography by Amy Anaiz

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Paris, France City Guide

Paris, France City Guide

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Who doesn’t dream of leisurely exploring Paris, soaking in the sun and culture, and enjoying its beautiful architecture? For Jonathan Randall Grant, that describes a typical day in his life. As the founder of Culture Keeperan online publication that celebrates style, adventure and society, Jonathan is always on the hunt for talented individuals to share their stories — including photographers, designers, filmmakers, historians and anthropologists.

Whether he’s exploring a new museum, sharing a unique perspective of Paris from the eyes of a local, or featuring links to neat products, Jonathan is passionate about curating a quality life. Today, he’s taking us on a virtual tour of a day spent in Paris, broken up into his favorite spots, places where the cool kids go, and extras to try in every category — from brunch spots to where to grab a drink after a long day. –Sabrina

Photography by Nicodem Creative

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Global Fashion and Giving Up Control with Sophia Demirtas of Fanm Mòn Designs

Global Fashion and Giving Up Control with Sophia Demirtas of Fanm Mòn Designs

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With the recent rise in popularity of bohemian garb and more focus being given to traditionally-made clothing from cultures that span the globe, the fashion and handmade landscape has forever changed — a trend which, for Haitian designer Sophia Demirtas of Fanm Mòn Designs, is worth celebrating.

What started as a jewelry line on Etsy a few years ago has now bloomed into a successful brand offering everything from footwear and handbags, to dresses and jumpsuits. These pieces celebrate both Sophia’s Haitian roots and traditional clothing from cultures across the globe, most recently taking the form of Vyshyvankas from the Ukraine. Rather than catering to the masses, Fanm Mòn’s colorful handmade items pay homage and bring joy to its wearers — who are as unique as the pieces — and today, Sophia is sharing more about giving up control and doing more with less. –Sabrina

Portrait Photo by Kerem Demirtas

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Greenery Warms Up a Modern Home in Iowa

Greenery Warms Up a Modern Home in Iowa, Design*Sponge

Greenery Warms Up a Modern Home in Iowa

One day, a day like any other, prop stylist Joseph Wanek clocked in on-set. He moved about the studio, decorations in hand, prepping for an upcoming photoshoot alongside graphic designer Nick Sellers. It was the first time the pair had ever worked together, and from the moment they met, something was definitely there. The two kept it strictly professional for a bit until one evening, curiosities piqued, and Joseph and Nick went on a date. Fast forward three-and-a-half years, and they’re now living together in this pretty, plant-filled home in Des Moines, Iowa.

When they first got the keys, both guys were a bit curious as to how their personal styles would converge in the home. Joseph favors a more streamlined, industrial design, but Nick, a fan of all things mid-century modern, prefers being surrounded by items from his grandmother’s collection of vintage furniture. Working closely together, they’ve puzzle-pieced together the very best of their respective collections of flea-market finds and hand-me-down furniture. As you click through, you’ll notice that all of these belongings are surrounded by dozens of houseplants. They dot the space, creating a bright, greenhouse-effect — which the couple says is their favorite aspect of the home.

Joseph and Nick are loving how their home has come together, but if it weren’t for this duo’s keen eye for design, the space may have never reached its full potential. At first blush, the outdated kitchen alone was terrible enough to drive away any number of timid buyers. Its 1980s makeover had left it full of less-than-ideal furnishings: laminate countertops, vinyl flooring and outdated cabinetry, to name a few. For over a year, Nick and Joseph have toiled with its look, choosing to install concrete counters, a new backsplash and decking out the walls in a subtle, grey hue. With their first major project complete, the couple then went about painting and sprucing up the rest of the house. Without a doubt they’ve done a stellar job, and I’m so grateful they’re letting us take a peek at the results. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography courtesy of Lauren Konrad

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