Before & After: A Garage Becomes a Beautiful Studio Space

Before & After: Garage Becomes a Beautiful Studio Space, Design*Sponge

Before & After: A Garage Becomes a Beautiful Studio Space

I love when purely functional spaces become incredibly inspiring ones. It takes vision and a lot of hard work to see a full transformation. When we last popped into Dear Hancock’s creative space four years ago, it was their living room. Gwen and Earnest recently moved to Idyllwild, CA and decided to turn their new garage into an illustration and inventory space for their sweet stationery company. Starting with a bare-bones garage, Dear Hancock rewired the electrical, finished walls and installed custom carriage house doors. They left the cement floor and the exposed wooden beams, which I can’t stop staring at. The space is now bright, organized and styled with beautiful, minimal pieces. The duo can create, manage orders and store inventory without having to take over the living space. The renovation has allowed Gwen and Earnest to separate their work from their home in order and style. —Lauren

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Before & After: Sage’s Entryway Makeover

Before & After: Sage's Entryway Makeover, Design*Sponge

Before & After: Sage’s Entryway Makeover

Changes to a small space can be tedious, but also well worth it. When Sage Ruth moved into her new home in the greater Boston area last fall, she knew she wanted to brighten up the front hallway and that it would take a lot of steps. The walls were stark white and the banister, stairs, flooring, paneling and built-ins were all variations of light, yellow wood. Sage started by painting the walls, trim and doors. She removed the doors off of the pantry at the end of the hall to create open shelving. I love the great use of pattern on the stairs, where Sage applied fabric to the stair risers with decoupage to save money (and work) on wallpaper. The last projects involved replacing the light fixtures and styling the space. After all is said and done, Sage has completely changed the feeling of this area. I love how color, white and wood are used in this entryway — it’s so cheery and welcoming. —Lauren

Photography by Sage Ruth

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Dispatches from Japan: Day 4

Dispatches from Japan: Day 4

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After three days of Ayumi Horie‘s breathtaking photos from Japan, I’m convinced that I need to start a little savings fund to eventually travel there one day. Between the tiny deer and blooming cherry trees, it looks like heaven. Today Ayumi is sharing more photos from her trip, including these beautiful Meoto Iwa, or the “married couple” rocks (below) on the coast of Japan. xo, grace

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Image above and top: Painters painting the bright pink blooms of cherry blossom trees; trees lit by lanterns below in Ueno Park in Tokyo.

DIY Faux Bed Frame

DIY Faux Bed Frame

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When Julia and I moved into our new (but very old) home, we knew that a good deal of our decorating projects would be DIY-based. With a mortgage and plenty of repairs on our hands, buying a ton of brand new furniture just wasn’t going to happen. So over the past four months we’ve ripped out old tiles, created benches from old countertops, floating bedside tables from leftover scrap wood and headboards from inexpensive plywood. And, in a stroke of DIY genius, Julia came up with a cheap-and-easy DIY bed frame idea that not only looks great, but is infinitely customizable (and easy on your wallet). So today I’m sharing the how-to for anyone who wants to neaten up their low-lying mattress without spending a fortune. xo, grace

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A Cool, Calm and Coastal Historic Home

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A Cool, Calm and Coastal Historic Home

Hawaii native Andrew Mau accepts that this historic Warren, RI apartment is a temporary stop on a much longer journey. What brings him to town is a one-year stint with local maker O&G Studio, where Andrew is collaborating on a new collection that will soon debut at ICFF in New York. For eight months now, the prolific furniture and product designer, creative director, and consultant (among other things) has nested in a 650-square-foot rental that occupies half the second floor of the 1809 Federal-style Samuel Randall House. The place is so legit it even has a dedicated website.

Andrew and his girlfriend, the quilter Meg Callahan, had previously taken a yearlong roadtrip with stretches in Oklahoma, San Francisco, and Hawaii. Even with so much experience setting up temporary dwellings, the concept of a longer short-term stay still posed a challenge to the designer. He needed to avoid any redundant purchases, as he maintains a storage unit full of “good stuff” elsewhere, though Meg brought some of it to her new spot in Seattle. In a residence without an expiration date, Andrew tends to rearrange, collect, and sell items often as his personal tastes evolve, and he enjoys experimenting with arrangements of objects in space. However, in the Warren apartment, Andrew had to be more strategic, and relied on lots of thrifting, IKEA for bedding, and borrowed items from friends. His employers even hooked him up with some choice sample pieces.

Living in an older home of this caliber has its obvious charms, but also poses its own set of obstacles: Andrew had to work around the relatively fewer number of outlets, the slanted floors, and old plumbing in the building. However, as someone who makes things for a living might know best, “Generally speaking, things that don’t work can often be fixed.” Everything, that is, except the old toilet in a “Harry Potter” bathroom under the staircase. “It flushes what seems like 45 gallons of water with a success rate of 40%.” This is a small price to pay when a 360º lookout room sits atop the house, from where you have an uninterrupted view of the coves and bays nearby. Additionally, Andrew appreciates the mission of the Warren Preservation Society, which is the town’s nonprofit historic conservancy that acts as his landlord. “It’s a beautiful project, and I’m so lucky to have been able to support it. It’s a magical house,” he shares, similarities to fictional wizard’s residences notwithstanding. -Annie

Photography by Andrew Mau, except where noted.

 

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Studio Tour: Loyal Supply Co.

Studio Tour: Loyal Supply Co. on Design*Sponge

Studio Tour: Loyal Supply Co.

Growing up, I thought tool sheds and workshops were pretty magical spaces. There was something about all of those neatly organized tools on pegboards that felt like the key to infinite possibilities. Learning to use each and every one of them was (and still is) a goal of mine and when we moved upstate, Julia utilized existing pegboards in the garage to create the beginnings of our own little workshop wonderland. Kimberly LaFoy and Ryan Habbyshaw of Loyal Supply Co. share our affinity for pegboard workshops so much that they used that classic organizational tool as inspiration for their design store and studio in Somerville, MA.

Working together with Mark Lewis from Unlikely Creatures, Kim and Ryan set out to create a space that functioned like a classic machine shop, with their large printing press at the center of the room, surrounded by smaller tools and functional home and office goods. I love the combination of “for work” and “for play” goods that they carry, and it turns out the curation of the shop was inspired by the owners’ own personal goals: “We work hard, but we also value our time away from the office. So our collection reflects that notion, offering the required materials to literally go fly a kite. Our compilation of items is always evolving, changing with seasons, needs and community interests.”

In addition to Loyal Supply Co.’s retail space, they have a workshop downstairs that acts as the production space for the prototyping and producing of all of their in-house product designs. Upstairs is the company office where Kim and Ryan research and design their goods. Now that I’m away from the “big city,” I find myself really appreciating stores like this that combine form and function well. This fusion makes the drive to visit feel worthwhile and, if you’re not in the Boston area, definitely worth a visit to their new online shop. Today, Kim and Ryan are taking us on a virtual tour of their shop for anyone who can’t visit in person. I know I’m going to be looking at pegboards much differently after this tour — it makes me want to line all our walls with this so we can create impromptu shelving anywhere we want. Thanks so much to Loyal Supply Co. and Joyelle West for sharing this tour with us today! xo, grace

All photography by Joyelle West

 

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Dispatches from Japan: Day Three

Dispatches from Japan: Day Three

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All week, potter Ayumi Horie has been sharing photos from her trip to Japan during cherry blossom season. We’ve already gotten a glimpse at the beautiful trees, sleeping deer and origami cranes, and today Ayumi is showing us more of Hanami season, when the entire nation is glued to news about where and when plum, cherry, apricot and peach blossoms are budding and falling. In the picture below, the moon pokes through a vast canopy of pink and white flowers and above you can see a detail of one of the vivid hana-momo, or peppermint peach trees (in the Waseda neighborhood of Tokyo). Thanks, Ayumi! xo, grace

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Life & Business: Hammocks & High Tea

Life & Business: Hammocks & High Tea

Life & Business: Hammocks & High Tea

Karen Young started Hammocks & High Tea (arguably two of the best things in the world) to capture the vision that the two words muster: a warm, sleepy, summer breeze and the understated luxury of a comforting beverage had in a small, beachside town. Inspired by her upbringing in South America, Karen launched Hammocks & High Tea from her apartment and has since brought these high-quality, thoughtfully crafted heirlooms to New York and beyond — but it hasn’t all been so romantic. Today Karen’s chatting with us about how scaling is easier than starting, the most important two P-words, her Incremental Growth Schedule (which we should all follow!) and how when life shakes you up, sometimes the best thing to do is shake it up harder. –Sabrina

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Life & Business: Liza Michelle Jewelry

Life & Business: Liza Michelle Jewelry

Life & Business: Liza Michelle Jewelry

Sometimes, it’s in those dark moments when you feel like everything’s going wrong that you notice the beauty that surrounds you and you’re given the opportunity to make a change — whether you realize it at the time or not. It’s happened to the best of us, and it was in one of these defeated moments where jewelry maker Liza Michelle’s business bloomed from.

Her handcrafted jewelry line, Liza Michelle Jewelry, is all about taking notice to the things around you, literally and figuratively. Inspired by Mother Nature, Liza Michelle handpicks berries, twigs and pine cones from nature and casts them in metal to ensure a unique and organic piece each time, whether for a bracelet, necklace or ring. She uses 100% recycled metals and ethically sources her semi-precious and precious stones.

Today, Liza Michelle chats with us about her business and the perfect storm of ingredients for success: discipline, freedom and hard work. —Sabrina

 

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Sydney City Guide with Jaharn Giles

Sydney City Guide with Jaharn Giles

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Sydney-born Jaharn Giles spent most of her childhood and young adult years in Brisbane with her family. After university, she caught the travel bug and moved to London to work as a fashion publicist. It wasn’t until she returned to Sydney two years later that she reunited with the beautiful city she now calls home.

After eight years as a fashion publicist, Jaharn found herself slowly falling out of love with the fashion industry and more in love with travel. Encouraged by her family and friends, she started the travel blog Mister Weekender and, three months later, quit her job. Jaharn is now a professional blogger, published writer and photographer who travels the globe writing, taking photos and planning her next adventure. She has been featured in countless publications and worked with huge brands, but one thing is for sure: if you’re an adventurist and nature-lover and have a question about what to see and do in Sydney, just ask Jaharn! –Sabrina

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Dispatches from Japan: Day 2

Dispatches from Japan: Day 2

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All week artist Ayumi Horie is joining us for a special morning guest series from her vacation in Japan. Ayumi and her fiancée traveled to Japan for cherry blossom season and this week she’s sharing photos from her trip, including some special moments like these today. Above are bunches of senzaburu, one thousand origami cranes, hanging at Azumamaro Jinja. They’re thought to give makers eternal good luck or one wish.

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Above, Ayumi was able to walk right up to a herd of deer in Nara Park. They’re so used to humans (human presence = deer crackers and treats) that they are unfazed by visitors.

A Beautiful Country Home in Rural Germany

A Beautiful Country Home in Rural Germany on Design*Sponge

A Beautiful Country Home in Rural Germany

I find that most cliched phrases have a good reason for being so commonly used. And in the case of this German home tour, “When you know, you know,” is the motto of the story.

Writer Katrin Scharl and her husband Moritz, a software developer, spent the majority of their relationship living in Vienna and Berlin. Though they had never lived in the countryside, they were both intrigued by the slower pace of life, open space and fresh air. So on a whim, the couple visited a few homes in Brandenburg, a rural area near Berlin. Intent on finding a small fixer-upper, they saw a few houses they liked, but decided to take one last appointment to see a home that didn’t fit their original specs. Twice the size of the other homes they saw, this home had a grand brick facade, huge acreage and was recently renovated by the previous owners — not exactly the scrappy reno they had planned. But as soon as they saw it, Katrin and Moritz knew it was, “the one.” So they packed up their things and their pets (an Irish setter named Ludwig and four cats named Marlene, Lulu, Emma and Lutz) and moved to the countryside.

Though the renovations by the previous owner were done well, Katrin and Moritz wanted to do some more work to make the space their own. So for the past three years they’ve made budget-conscious changes to the house with an almost entirely DIY angle. From building their own deck and IKEA kitchen to transforming a previously unused garden (left fallow for 50+ years), Katrin and Moritz have put so much of their own hard work — and love — into this home and it’s easy to see how their hard work has paid off (those hand-painted kitchen floors are my favorite). I love how well Katrin has used paint and wallpaper to transform the rooms and I’m blown away by the walled flower garden, orchard and vegetable garden they’ve created in just three and a half years. Katrin says it’s their dream home and it’s clear to see why. Thanks so much to Katrin and Moritz for welcoming us into their home. xo, grace

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A Crown Heights Family Makes It Work, in Style

The living room lacked much original detail, but the wooden joists were so beautiful that Skye and Jeremy decided to leave them exposed. A 1970s sectional by Milo Baughman for Thayer Coggin bears its original upholstery. "They're relatively easy to find in New York because no one has space for them," quips Skye. A coordinating arc floor lamp of the same era comes from Paris. Beside it sits the brass side table her grandparents picked up during a 1950s visit to Morocco.

A Crown Heights Family Makes It Work, in Style

When Skye Parrott, a photographer and creative director, and Jeremy Malman, the founder of Worth Motorcycle Company (a nonprofit group that teaches at-risk kids to restore vintage motorcycles), purchased the 1901 Crown Heights, Brooklyn limestone townhouse they now call home, it was apparent that a total gut reno was unavoidable. “There is a six-inch differential between the two sides,” estimates Skye, “which you can still see.” Years of neglect had ravaged the original interiors, and all that could be salvaged of them were the brick walls and wooden floor joists. Still, what seemed like a reasonable estimate for a nine-month renovation soon snowballed into 18, and after a year of waiting patiently while hemorrhaging cash, the young family was forced to move into an active construction site with their small children. The unforeseen expenses of a longer, more extensive project ate up a large portion of the budget that had been set aside for finishes. “All the money got spent on the stuff inside the wall,” says Skye. Scope creep forced the couple to get creative, and they were able to source brand-name appliances from Craigslist on the cheap, as well as to reuse most of the furniture from their former residence. Two bathrooms, a deck off the kitchen, and interior moldings have yet to be completed. “The nice thing about that stuff, though, is that it all can wait,” Skye reasons, in stark contrast to the structural reinforcements that took precedence over the rest of her wishlist.

During the pre-renovation planning phase, Skye and Jeremy allocated the two upper floors to their own 1,900-square-foot family home, where kids Stig, an eight-year-old boy, Oona, a three-year-old girl, and Marlowe, their cat, also reside. The structure’s two lower floors are dedicated to a rental apartment of equal size. When Skye and Jeremy were first looking to buy a home on a budget, they were realistic about the purchasing process. “We had to be flexible on everything, including the neighborhood,” admits Skye. It took six long months of searching and lots of failed deals until they found their current spot. “I would say it’s less that we chose this house, and more that this is the one that finally worked out.” Because they had been close to nailing down other prospects in the past, the couple got a momentary reality check after their contract for the Crown Heights house was finally inked. “We had to remind ourselves that since we were doing a gut renovation, what it looked like then didn’t matter,” she says. Now, after about a year of living in the home, the family loves their new neighborhood, and feels lucky that’s where they landed. Skye says, “People on our block actually say hello to each other!”

Skye and Jeremy haven’t decorated their home by any conventional rules, per se. Beyond selecting bamboo flooring and Benjamin Moore Decorator’s White wall paint, the couple has, “just filled our house with stuff we like, no matter what style or period it comes from,” Skye says. “Then, we try to find a way to make it work together.” There is a decidedly 1970s streak running through the space — from the orange sectional to the macramé hammock and glazed pottery, the home’s decor has got a tinge of disco hippie happening. Rather than attempting to sum up the vibe in any one way, “I think we both just want it to feel comfortable and cozy, and like somewhere that people, including kids, can live.”

The renovation drama has made these two homeowners all the more grateful that they never have to move again. “We’re just thankful! We feel very lucky that we bought our house, because it means we can stay in New York and not be locked into paying insane rents. It is such a luxury to have the kind of space we have here.” – Annie

Photography by Skye Parrott

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An Old Hospital Becomes a Home

An Old Hospital Becomes a Home, on Design*Sponge

An Old Hospital Becomes a Home

My home city of Chicago is an architecture fan’s dream city. There are so many different styles of buildings all crammed together, that five years into living here I still find myself walking to work with my neck craned upward. I can’t even imagine all the striking stories these buildings could tell. I am sure my apartment building — a 100-year-old walkup — can tell its fair share of stories, but I haven’t discovered much beyond finding out it’s been home to three generations of my landlord’s family. So when I heard that New York-based prop-stylist Kira and her photographer partner Scott found out their rent-controlled Crown Heights, Brooklyn apartment was actually part of an old converted hospital, I was excited to hear more about their building’s history.

Both Kira and Scott hail from small, New England towns that are a far cry from the buzzing, 24-hour marathon that New York can be. The hustle and bustle of the city is something the couple truly loves, but when they were on the hunt for their home, they wanted to ensure that their new space provided a calming refuge from the city. The old hospital conversion that they stumbled upon was not only convenient to public transportation, but to famers’ markets, the Brooklyn Museum, the public library and much more. “There was a lot to do within walking distance and there are tons of great restaurants, bars and coffee shops,” Kira says. The one-bedroom’s abundance of light was a huge selling point for the couple, as well as its ability to be changed to suit their lives. “After a few years this apartment definitely feels like home, especially since we have customized it so much to meet our needs. We’ve done things gradually, but it’s a process that never really feels finished,” Kira says. “We could go on tweaking and improving forever.” Being renters, it was important that the couple’s tweaks be minimally invasive so the changes were, “mostly just painting and making the occasional hole in the wall for a shelf or painting.” When planning, Kira and Scott’s aim was, “to create a space that felt like us, our colors and mood, but we also paid a lot of attention to having multiple functioning spaces in one.” Click through to see what a wonderful job they’ve done creating a space that’s unique to them while cleverly tackling their home’s challenges. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Alice Gao

 

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Dispatches from Japan: Ayumi Horie Guest Series

Dispatches from Japan: Ayumi Horie Guest Series

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It has always been a dream of mine to visit Japan, especially during cherry blossom season. Since a big vacation isn’t in my budget plans for a while, I was excited to hear that one of my favorite atrists, Ayumi Horie, would be visiting Japan for sakura season. I’ve long admired Ayumi’s pottery, but I also love the gorgeous photographs she takes and shares on her Instagram feed. So when she offered to take photos during her trip and share them here with us, I jumped at the chance for a little virtual morning vacation. So all this week, Ayumi will be sharing photos from Japan and letting us peek inside some of the amazing moments she captured, from lush, blooming cherry trees to deer sleeping at night under a pink sky. Thanks to Ayumi for sharing her trip with us this week and a BIG congrats on her engagement during the trip! xo, grace

Image above: Classic cherry blossoms in Shunjuku-gyoen in Tokyo.

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Image above: Looking across the moat, cherry trees on the Imperial grounds bend down toward the water.