Reveling in the Dreamy Blues & Greens of Swimming Pools

I've never visited the famed Ace Hotel in Palm Springs, but this pool, with its palm trees and mountainous backdrop, is pretty magical.

Reveling in the Dreamy Blues & Greens of Swimming Pools

Believe it or not, it’s nearly mid-August and I have not set foot in recreational water of any kind. I live 5 minutes from a clean, safe river and I have a kid. It’s almost embarrassing. Honestly though, I’m a pool person, preferably a pool with no one else enjoying said pool. Even when I have the opportunity to lounge poolside, that’s pretty much where I stay. I’ll dip my toes in, but unless it’s the temperature of a warm bath, I rarely go full-body swimming. Here’s why: I get hypnotized by the pool’s dizzying array of reflections, light and colors. Pools have always had a certain dangerous allure for me ever since I repeatedly failed to get past the Minnow stage at my YWCA as a child. Truth be told, I couldn’t do the Survival Float. Boy, if they could see me now — I’m a survivor!

I have no idea if I’ll make it to the pool this summer, but I’ve found myself enjoying all types of pool imagery and the range of colors that remind me of the many swimming pools I’ve been lucky enough to sit beside. I’m seeing a lot of deep true-blues and indigos emerging for fall, and well, the mint craze is still raging on as we all know. I, however, think there is not a blue or green as captivating this time of year as the shades that make up the iconic pool landscape, filled with the texture of concrete and the promise of a round of Marco Polo. I’ve made some admittedly very me image collages (they’re not your usual product round-up) to satisfy my need to grab a piece of the pool experience and bring it into in my home and wardrobe. Click through and take a dip with me. –Caitlin

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11 Art Prints for Summer

Jennifer Ament's work has been at the top of my list for a very long time. And the simplicity of this "Watching Eye" piece feels modern and classic at the same time -- exactly the feeling I love in artwork. This piece is available at Serena & Lily for $325.

11 Art Prints for Summer

Something about the end of summer always makes me want to clean up, reorganize and redecorate rooms for a fresher feel. My rule is to never add, and only to subtract, but these days I’m finding that harder with the wealth of amazing artwork that exists online. I ended up making some of my own the other day with Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls team, but I’ve still got a ton of original artwork online pinned that I’d love to find a place for in our home. So today I’m sharing my 11 favorite prints online in hopes that someone else might have the perfect space for one of these beautiful pieces. xo, grace

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Go for the Gold + Weekly Wrap Up

Go for the Gold + Weekly Wrap Up

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I’ve played some sort of competitive hockey (field or street) for the better part of my 35 years, so the idea of rallying around a team is something that feels like second nature to me. I didn’t grow up in an area with a major league sports team, so instead I turned to things like the Olympics for team spirit and that exquisite mix of suspense and joy that comes from watching something live and rooting for your team. This year I’ve watched the summer Olympics with a special interest, because there were so many milestones being reached, left and right. And today, I wanted to take some time out to celebrate the incredible women of the U.S. Olympics Gymnastics Team on their gold and to Simone Manuel of the U.S. Olympics Swim Team for becoming the first African American woman to win a gold medal in an individual event. During a time when our country is facing some really difficult times and tough decisions, I have found so much happiness and hope in watching these amazing women achieve the highest level of success in their field. And on that note, I hope you all have a wonderful weekend and I’ll see you on Monday! xo, grace [Photo above from The Chicago Tribune. Photo below from Boston.com]

2016 Rio Olympics - Artistic Gymnastics - Final - Women's Team Victory Ceremony - Rio Olympic Arena - Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - 09/08/2016. Simone Biles (USA) of USA (L), Gabrielle Douglas (USA) of USA (Gabby Douglas) (top L), Laurie Hernandez (USA) of USA (C), Madison Kocian (USA) of USA (top R), Alexandra Raisman (USA) of USA (Aly Raisman) (R) pose with their gold medals on the podium after winning the women's team final. REUTERS/Mike Blake TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS.

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In the Kitchen With: Robin Ha’s Brown Sugar Pancakes

In the Kitchen With: Robin Ha’s Brown Sugar Pancakes

Cook Korean! by Robin Ha

I first found out about Cook Korean! by Robin Ha from the New York Times Book Review in early June. I was intrigued by the idea of a cookbook with a heroine (named Dengki) in a comic book format. When I opened it, I was bowled over! For a change, I actually loved the pantry and refrigerator pages of a cookbook! I loved the cultural insights and food tips. I genuinely felt transported to Robin’s childhood and to her journey of learning how to cook. Though very tempted by the kimchi, vegetable side dishes, grilling, rice and noodles chapters, I chose to feature the Brown Sugar Pancakes from the Street Food chapter. They are filled with brown sugar and nuts and are flattened and fried in oil on a griddle. It won’t be the only recipe I try from the book, though! If you want to try out Robin’s suggestion below for a savory filling, you can combine Jordan and Rejina’s recipe for beef and veg with japchae in our archives with the dough from this recipe.  —Kristina

Why Robin loves this recipe: Hotteok is basically like a Korean pupusa. When I was a school girl in Korea, the ajumma (a middle-aged lady) who made the best hotteok in my town had her cart set up in front of my elementary school and kids lined up around the block every afternoon to get their hotteok after school. As the hotteok gets fried on the griddle, the dough gets crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside and the traditional brown sugar filling melts and becomes syrupy. There’s no joy like biting into a piping hot hotteok right off the griddle. The light crunch of the pancake followed by the hot sweet filling oozing out is just irresistible. And maybe this is why hotteok has been one of the most popular street foods in Korea for decades. You can also put other sweet and savory fillings inside. The trendy filling in Korea now is a savory filling of japchae (sweet potato noodles) and meat.


Illustrations by Robin Ha, portrait by Dave Kelly

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D*S Team Tours: Lauren & Austin’s Outdoor Wedding

We rented a few peacock chairs early on for the wedding, but a few months before we found one on Craigslist for $15 and one on the side of the road the week of the wedding. So we ended up with four peacock chairs at the reception. Two for the head table, and two by the dance floor.

D*S Team Tours: Lauren & Austin’s Outdoor Wedding

Austin and I got engaged mid-December 2015. After the holidays were behind us, we sat down to talk about what we wanted our wedding to be like. Right away we knew three things: We wanted it to be beautiful, we wanted it to be personal, and we wanted it to be outside. We drove through a prairie reserve, but the space would only handle about 20 guests. We searched online, but nothing seemed special enough that was close by Des Moines, IA. On the way home from a venue one day, Austin took a detour and drove us behind the property of a family friend’s home where he used to go hunting with his brothers and cousins when he was a boy. It was breathtaking, even in January in Iowa. Austin called Walt Johnson, the property owner, and we met with him and his wife and we all agreed that this would be a perfect location for a wedding in July.

As an interiors enthusiast and designer, I was having a hard time, internally, wrapping my mind around designing in an open pasture. A wedding tent wasn’t really an option because the main point of the location was the beautiful view, and we didn’t want to hinder it. I wasn’t finding anything when I’d look up “wedding pergolas for rent” so the next step was to try and design one. Getting Austin to trust that this wouldn’t be a disaster took a little convincing, but once we enlisted our friend Henry Elgersma and the design/build firm he works for, Austin was on board. We realized that we were going to save about $700 by building a reception structure instead of renting a tent. From there, almost everything we could build or DIY instead of renting, we did. Our wedding would feature pieces from around our homes, things we’d build with our families, and florals to cover anything and everything.

Our colors and details came easily. Austin’s favorite color is dark green and my favorite color is a peachy blush. We went with it. Our friend Meg Gleason of Moglea received our Save the Date and reached out about doing our invitations with one of Austin’s photographs wrapped around the hand-painted, gold-foiled invite. Personal, check. Beautiful, check. I purchased some gold vases and some blush planters for the flowers, built credenzas for the food tables, painted origami-like pendant shades, and pulled accessories from around my house for finishing touches. The structure was built and painted much faster than expected, making the final days before our wedding less stressful and more intentional with those closest to us. The wedding day itself was magical and we couldn’t stop crying by how much love we felt for each other, the people who helped make our wedding design a reality, and the friends and family that came to support us. Flip through the gallery above to see some of our favorite personal and design touches that made all of the work so worth it. –Lauren

Photography by Logan Clement

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How to Create a Comfortable Nursery For Both Baby and Parents

"I did not want to spend a lot of money on a nursery since I hoped our girls would share a room at some point, but I also wanted to make it a beautiful space to welcome my little girl," homeowner Heather Jorde says. "I worked with what I had, and only bought a few things." Heather achieved a high-end look on a budget with this large-scale DIY wall stencil.

How to Create a Comfortable Nursery For Both Baby and Parents

As I spent most of the days, nights, or wee hours of the morning rocking and feeding my newborn in her nursery, I was endlessly thankful for the room my husband and I created for her. Sure, the colors, shapes, and other features became known to my daughter later in infancy, but in those exhausted moments I was comforted and grateful for what the space gave me.

No matter what a nursery looks like — a corner of a shared bedroom, an alcove in an open-concept loft, a pack n’ play in a studio apartment — the most important feature is the love that’s put into it. To give you inspiration for your little one’s space, whatever the arrangement may be, we’ve rounded up 14 nurseries from our archives and some of our favorite decorative elements after the jump. —Kelli

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A Vancouver Home Shows That Good Things Come In Small Packages

Home Tour of Karla Dreyer on Design*Sponge

A Vancouver Home Shows That Good Things Come In Small Packages

Getting married, having babies, and growing careers can often lead people out of city life, in search of bigger spaces, larger yards and the community vibe of the suburbs. For my husband Herb and I, we felt that pull six years ago. So we sold our house in Vancouver, British Columbia and headed to — what we hoped were — greener pastures in the burbs about an hour drive from the city.

Not so much. We quickly realized we missed city-living. So, we put the house up for sale, which took almost a year to find a buyer. To top things off, we were also in the midst of a very heated Vancouver real estate market with bidding wars and multiple offers. Not giving up, the house finally sold and we found a new home in the trendy Main Street area of Vancouver. But getting back to city life didn’t come without its fair share of sacrifices: like trading our three-story 4,100-square-foot home for a small bungalow with around 900 square feet of living space on the main floor for us and two daughters, Isabella and Presley. After a major session of clearing out our stuff, garage sales, and continuous editing, we created a personal and welcoming home for our family of four.

“We both grew up in large homes and found we would escape to the basement to hide from our families while growing up,” says my husband Herb, Director at Covenant House. “What I love is that there is no escaping for our kids. We are together as a family, like it or not.”

Our long-term plan is to build a second level, but we didn’t want to wait on crafting a space we love. With a mix of items ranging from stores like IKEA and West Elm, to vintage finds and hand-me-downs from grandmothers, we now know we can function with beauty at any size. This house is a lesson in letting our personality show through our home while thinking outside of the box in functionality and small-space solutions. —Karla

Photography by Janis Nicolay

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Fine Art Focus: Wendy Maruyama

Fine Art Focus: Wendy Maruyama

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One of my favorite parts of writing In the Company of Women was getting to research and discover so many incredible women that I hadn’t yet heard of. So one of my first questions to women I knew I wanted to feature was: Who are the women that inspire you most? Artist Tanya Aguiñiga (who is also in the book!) suggested I look into one of her teachers/mentors, Wendy Maruyama. And the second I did, I was hooked.

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Wendy is an incredibly talented fine artist based in San Diego, CA. Her installation work focuses on promoting advocacy and awareness for various social and cultural issues. I love the way she works with texture and mixed materials in her work — it adds such a sense of depth, meaning and history to each piece. Read on below to learn more about Wendy and her work. xo, grace

Artist: Wendy Maruyama
About: Wendy is an artist, craftsperson and educator based in San Diego, California.
More: You can read, see and hear more about Wendy and her work here, here, here and here.

Images via Craft Council, Art Nerd, Wilcox Design, Little Rock.

4wm Installation of the artwork of Wendy Murayama at San Diego State University, February 2012. Photo by Kevin J. Miyazaki maruyama

A Back-To-School Tradition + Kid-Friendly DIY

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A Back-To-School Tradition + Kid-Friendly DIY

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My daughter, Viola, and I have had a love affair with polka dots since she was three and picked out her first self-styled bathing suit, complete with a few layers of ruffled red and white polka dots. Now that she’s 10, she’s been incorporating more black and greys into her personal color story, but the red and white polka dot is still a staple for her. As we get ready for back-to-school this year, we whipped out the materials for our annual B-T-S tradition. The Back Story: When I was young, my Mom always gave me a tiny houseplant when I headed back to school with a note about how she loved to watched me grow. The flip side of the note spelled out the basic care the plant required and I took very good care of it throughout the year. When summer rolled around, the tiny plant had grown into a lush, green kingdom with long vines hanging down from the macramé plant hanger next to my bed.

I love to share that special ritual with my daughter, so every year we work together to decoupage a small terra cotta pot with fabric and then fill it with a tiny Philodendron. Within a few weeks, we can see how the plant has already taken root in its container and dropped what will eventually become a long vine. Needless to say, our home is now filled with lots of hanging houseplants — each one marking a year in the life of Viola.

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Whether you’re headed back to school yourself or turning over a new leaf after a summer of revelry, this simple DIY is a nice meditative activity to do by yourself or with a child. You’re able to get your hands sticky smoothing out the fabric over your pot, and dirty as you pot your plant. Even if you’re not crafty or a gardener, working your hands outside of a device or keyboard feels remarkably calming. And smoothing out wrinkles is an apt metaphor for the beginning of any new chapter in life. I hope if you have a child in your life, or are focusing on some new adventures you’d like to create for yourself, you’ll click through for the instructions and then head to store and grab the few things you need for this simple project. Here’s to growth throughout the year! —Caitlin

*This post is brought to you in collaboration with Waverly Inspirations. This project, ideas, and words are my own and I was thrilled to be able to share our family tradition with our readers. Thanks for supporting our sponsors that help us create & publish original content three times per day. The Waverly Inspirations collection is available at Walmart.

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Studio Tour: Light Lab

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Studio Tour: Light Lab

As creative types, when our ideas and dreams run wild and outgrow the space of our imagination, it’s not unusual to find ourselves craving an inspirational playground of sorts where they can flourish. So it was a natural step when stylist/author Anne Sage and husband-and-wife photography duo Caroline and Jayden Lee sought to create such a think tank of their own.

The once rundown warehouse space in Los Angeles’ Atwater Village — combined with a choppy layout — took roughly six months for Caroline, Jayden and Anne to overhaul on their own. The trio of friends turned to interior design powerhouse Sarah Sherman Samuel to blend their individual styles and bring to life their vision for their newly realized creative studio, Light Lab.

“It started as a space for the three of us to simply come together and create stuff as writers, photographers and intentional voices in our community,” they share. “However, we soon realized the potential of a space that offered a positive and liberating environment for other creatives, too!”

Whether it be playful photo shoots, exciting events or inspiring workshop happenings, at Light Lab, it truly feels like no daringly innovative idea is off the table. “Our ultimate joy is facilitating likeminded creatives to come together and have an unforgettable experience, producing wild and new ideas in the process.”

I spoke with Caroline, Jayden and Anne to get the full scoop on all they hope to accomplish with this new venture. See my Q&A with them after the jump, and click through to tour this jaw-droppingly gorgeous space — two words: pink bathroom. —Kelli

Photography by Jeff Mindell | Space design by Sarah Sherman Samuel | Additional styling by Anne Sage

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Summer Centerpiece by Swallows & Damsons

Summer Centerpiece by Swallows & Damsons

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“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer”
-F. Scott Fitzgerald. The Great Gatsby.

Growth. It all happens so quickly and my summer is soon spent buried under hot, sweaty piles of it. An abundance of wedding work, shop duties and events stirred up in one wild and extravagant cocktail, mixed with corporate preparations for Christmas, all of which distract from reality. The other growth, my children, garden, business, all quietly blooming whilst I’m frantically de-thorning roses and worrying about tones of ribbon.

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There are days when I struggle to think about flowers, to see their significance. Whilst the world is seemingly being turned upside down by division, injustice and ignorance, displayed on every screen, it feels somewhat shallow and a little naïve to be concerned with how pretty a peony may be, or demanding a certain shade of taupe from a rose. Yet when you step outside it all, when you stand in a garden, when you’re explaining the miracle of growth to a child, you can’t help realise that actually re-connecting to the rhythms of the natural world around us does have huge value and importance.

So one glorious English summer day I picked up my flowers, left the four walls of the flower shop, tried not to panic that Albert’s nursery was closed for the day (because of teacher training which I’d known about for weeks, I just hadn’t written down) and I went outside. –Anna

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Boldly Tackling the Unknown with Gbenga Akinnagbe

Boldly Tackling the Unknown with Gbenga Akinnagbe

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Before I began contributing to Design*Sponge, I was looking for a change. Working as an art director for five years had gotten a bit stale, and I wanted to explore my passion for interiors. The problem? I had zero experience. I didn’t go to school for interior design and had few contacts in the field. Nevertheless, when I saw that Design*Sponge was hiring I threw caution to the wind. *Eureka!* I stayed up into the wee hours of the night finessing my application to be a home tour contributor, and luckily the rest is history. Looking back, it was the inspiring creatives that came before me that pushed me to pave this new road for myself. I’m not sure I would have had the confidence to take the risk if it weren’t for others having shown me that it can be done.

One such inspiring creative is actor turned furniture designer Gbenga Akinnagbe, who took a leap of faith recently by starting vintage furniture brand ENITAN. Before its launch, he had about as much formal training on interiors and decor as I did. In fact, it was his lack of knowledge that set him on the path to launch the line. As the story goes, while renovating his Brooklyn apartment he chatted up designer friends in search of help decorating the space. While researching different looks, Gbenga stumbled upon a wild-and-colorful chair. Its eye-catching pattern and shape were so unique, the fire that sparked ENITAN was lit. Since then he’s traipsed around Brooklyn, collecting soon-to-be-tossed chairs and pairing them with colorful fabrics from Africa. It seems fitting that the pieces are decked out in such bold designs. Their patterns serve to honor not only Gbenga’s African heritage, but the boldness it took to bring a brand to life from scratch. After the jump, you’ll hear more about how Gbenga took a leap of faith and bravely tackled the unknown. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Chinasa Cooper for AphroChic

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We Want Your Job: Jessica Pezalla

We Want Your Job: Jessica Pezalla

We Want Your Job: Jessica Pezalla, on Design*Sponge

Sometimes the best jobs are the ones we invent for ourselves. In 2012 designer Jessica Pezalla stumbled upon “a niche market for handcrafted, one-of-a-kind objects, event decor, retail displays, and art installations,” and brought her talent as an artist to the founding of Bramble Workshop in Portland, OR. While she always sensed she’d be employed in creative pursuits, she “followed an unconventional path and invented a career to match” her artistic skills. Now, as the creative director of her own studio, Jessica has figured out how to channel her flow of ideas into an established process. “I begin by collecting inspiration images, narrow those down with the client, create sketches and prototypes, source materials, and then begin the project with client approval,” she shares. With window displays for Hermès, Ella Moss, Anthropologie, and many others under her belt, Jessica brings some of her personal organic aesthetic to polished presentations in a way that satisfies her own need to create. —Annie

Portraits by Jamie Street

We Want Your Job: Jessica Pezalla, on Design*Sponge

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Living It Up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan

Living It Up on the Lower East Side, on Design*Sponge

Living It Up on the Lower East Side of Manhattan

We are so excited to share the second of Dana Arbib‘s favorite homes to visit, considering her own place somehow manages a crisp and earthy aesthetic all at once. Her work for A Peace Treaty has Dana crossing paths with all kinds of clever creative types, including Christan Summers and Ivan Martinez, who just so happen to live in An Airy Modern Greenhouse in Brooklyn. Across the East River on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, Susan Joy — a fashion stylist, creative consultant, and guiding light to developing designers — lives in a 1,300-square-foot penthouse duplex rental apartment with a private roof deck, a terrace, and two private balconies. “When A Peace Treaty was accepted into the CFDA Fashion Incubator,” Dana explains, “I asked the powers that be to have Susan Joy on-boarded as our official mentor. The thing about Susan is that she looks like a sweet Australian fairy, but actually tells it like it is and shoots from the hip like no one I have ever met before. Susan’s apartment is truly a reflection of herself: It’s as artsy and eclectic as her personality. She is not afraid of color, and embraces the unexpected.”

Case in point — when Abby the housecat was left behind after a neighbor moved out of the building, Susan welcomed her with open arms. “Two years on,” Susan shares, “She’s the house guest that never left, happily ensconced in her LES oasis.” Abby isn’t the only one. “I love the neighborhood,” Susan admits. “It’s changed so much since I moved in 11 years ago, but it’s still a wonderful mix of old and new. It’s the old immigrant Jewish LES, Chinatown, burgeoning art district, bustling restaurant scene, young and old all mixed up and changing and evolving constantly.”

The many roommates who have shared the space with Susan have also left their mark on the apartment. For example, Nader Rajab, a digital product strategist, currently mixes his contemporary street art with Susan’s vintage furniture. The pair also have a spare room to rent out to visitors. “The spaciousness comes not so much from the square footage,” Susan adds, “But from the open sky all around — and the ability to open doors and windows. Having a cross breeze in summer is something for which I’m eternally grateful.” Without a proper dining room, Susan often finds herself eating outdoors whenever the weather allows. The entrance to the unit is also located through the terrace, “so you have to go outside from the elevator hallway and then inside again. It’s very special having that connection to the exterior. It’s a fantastic perspective-changer to walk outside and reconnect with the city from a new point of view before entering the apartment. It’s quite magical,” she says.

The perfectly imperfect arrangement provides a welcoming, not stuffy, vibe. With many prized opulent and gilded elements, Susan still hopes that her home feels more like “decaying grandeur” than anything too precious. —Annie

Photography by Genevieve Garruppo

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A Custom, Cozy, and Lively Space in Long Beach, CA

More on the painted shapes that fill the space from Eric,”this idea came about because we realized the kind of art we wanted on the walls was only there to provide a bit of color – so we decided to bypass finding the right art and just painted shapes directly onto the wall.”

A Custom, Cozy, and Lively Space in Long Beach, CA

There’s a very soft spot in my heart for this tree-lined street in Long Beach, CA. It’s blocks away from where I grew up, so it feels familiar and homey. Many of the houses have bikes and toys sprinkled about in the front lawns. There’s a sense of community. As a parent, this is the kind of street where I want my own child to grow up. While it’s easy to fall in love with the area, it’s even easier to fall in love with Eric and Heather Trine’s house.

In the two and a half years Eric, Heather and daughter Evie have lived here, they’ve managed to create a minimalist space that beautifully maintains a warm and inviting vibe. Their home is designed with gathering, family and play in mind, while still serving as a place to showcase collected pieces that stand out. A product and furniture designer, Eric has filled the space with his own work that fits his family and home to a tee. The clean lines of the 1947 building are complemented by Eric’s custom work. Each piece has been thoughtfully made, and produced with function and form in mind.

The couple joins forces as a team to make the space work cohesively. “Eric likes really stark, minimal spaces, but Heather really likes texture, warmth, coziness,” they note. “Heather tries to bring warmth to Eric’s innate starkness, and he, in turn, is really good at bringing about new and fresh ideas to a space that would otherwise be a bit dull. Eric gathers the elements and Heather has an eye for composition.” Their teamwork has really paid off to make this bright and cozy house a stylish, fun, and happy home. Enjoy a peek at their great space, and keep an eye out for the couple’s “favorite things.” —Kalie

Photography by Eric Trine

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