Keeping sewing supplies and small craft supplies organized can be an uphill battle. I’ll never forget the day I discovered my friend Llubav’s sequin and bead collection and marveled at all the tiny glass vials and containers that organized everything into such neat and tidy rows. I’ve never had that sort of organization hardwired into me, but I admire people who do, like today’s first before & after subject, Maddie Flanigan. Maddie is a passionate sewer and seamstress who recently bought her first home, a 550-square-foot condo. She wanted to find a way to squeeze in a sewing studio, but knew she would have to be clever with her planning and design. “When I first designed my sewing space, I hadn’t lived in my new place long enough to know exactly what I needed,” Maddie says. “Over time, I started to see its potential for becoming more functional for my sewing. So, over the past month, I made changes that will hopefully streamline my workflow. My goal was to reduce the time it takes me to set up and break down.” I love how much Maddie thought about her practical needs before designing this clever little space. Not only did it end up looking beautiful, but it allows her to have a dedicated space to pursue the things she loves outside of work and also produce more sewing projects and tutorials to share on her blog. Click through to read Maddie’s makeover story after the jump! xo, grace
It’s 2010, I just moved to Chicago, I have my first real paychecks coming in, and what do I do? I rush to buy myself some “big boy” art, of course. I hadn’t even bought a mattress yet, and the studio I shared with my writing partner was so small we could cook and do the dishes all while sitting in bed. Gosh darn it though, our four new walls would look fab. I literally braved a storm — a tornado, to be exact — to get one of the last copies of Ryan Berkley’s gorilla prints before the storm got too bad. Wrapped in layers of tissue paper to protect it from the gale-force winds, I ran home with a skip in my step. By now, Ryan and the charming animal portraits he creates for his studio, Berkley Illustration, have become bestsellers on Etsy and a go-to for quirky and fun home styling. At the time, however, his style was a totally new concept to me. Here was someone with a new vision and a stylish way of bringing that vision to life. Subtle colors and the wink of his furry subjects make me smile to this day.
Ryan and his wife, Lucy, run Berkley Illustration from their home office in Portland, OR. Their artwork first appeared at the 2006 Crafty Wonderland art and craft show and the rest is history. When talking about the beginnings of the company on his site, Ryan says, “We decided to do an ‘ancestor theme’ for our booth inspired by our love of animals and also ‘old-timey’ portraiture. The ancestor animals did so well at that first show that they’ve continued to evolve and multiply ever since.” The two really are a team in every sense of the word. Lucy runs the business side of the brand filling orders, communicating with customers and making sure everything is running smoothly, while Ryan sketches away, creating his menagerie. Now with over 100 animals to choose from and the likes of Urban Outfitters and Real Simple featuring their work, Berkley Illustration truly is a lesson in how two people can build a brand with a little passion and a unique idea. The couple was generous to let us peek inside their home studio and we couldn’t be more honored. Click through the slideshow to take a look. Enjoy! —Garrett
All photos by Ryan and Lucy Berkley
Last fall I had the pleasure of sitting down to talk with life coach, teacher, blogger and Youtube star, Marie Forleo. She invited me to chat as part of her regular video series where she interviews people from all aspects of the business and creative community. I knew that anyone who’s worked with Oprah, Tony Robbins and Richard Branson would be on their game, but I was blown away by how fun, thought-provoking and honest Marie’s questions and conversation were. This was, by far, the most fun I’ve ever had during an interview and it left me thinking and planning all sorts of new ideas. I don’t typically post interviews I do here, but I so enjoyed all the real-life issues we talked about and how open and transparent she was — and inspired me to be — about the challenges anyone faces when running a business, especially online. So if you’ve ever thought about starting your own blog, business or just want to learn more about what it’s like to work online in an ever-changing landscape of social media and publishing, I hope you’ll give our conversation a listen. Thanks again to Marie and her whole team for making me feel so comfortable and at home on their set — and for the kind compliments about my shiny shoes that day. xo, grace
I’ve lived in my apartment for about a year and a half, and in that span of time I’ve collected a number of plants. Some are still alive but many more have been unwittingly neglected beyond repair, which is why I’ve been eagerly reading Grace’s Home Ec posts on saving your plants to find an answer and I think I’ve got it: Over-watering.
In the time I’ve been here I’ve learned that during the summer our kitchen windowsill is the best place for most of our house plants. They drink in the sunshine and soak up vast amounts of water, but when the winter comes they need much less, but more often. I’ve always struggled with getting this balance right. Now that I’m schooled up on where my plants need to be and how to take care of them, I am ready to fill my space with greenery again. I’m so confident I can successfully take care of my collection, so I’ve been making these DIY Fabric Buckets in preparation for my thriving indoor jungle. —Fran
Scandinavian style, to me, has always meant strictly Scandinavian furniture design, white walls and minimal accessories — almost textbook. I’ve always found it to be beautiful and simple, but I had no idea how lovely it could be when mixed with layered, patterned and vintage pieces. When I stumbled upon Sofia’s home on Instagram, I learned again that style is what you make it and living outside of a design formula creates more meaning and even more beauty.
Shop owner, photographer and stylist Sofia Jansson and musician Kristo Jansson moved from a tiny apartment in the country to a large 1913 home in the city of Katrineholm, Sweden. “When we found out that I was pregnant with twins and we already had two kids under 3 years, we decided to move to the town both Kristo and I were born in,” Sofia says. “We had never thought to move back, so everything happened very fast and without planning. I hadn’t seen the house before buying it. Kristo was in Katrineholm and took some pictures but I was too pregnant. Even though we had four children under the age of four, we started at once with a big renovation of this house. This is nothing I’d really recommend, it was a real chaos for some years. We have renovated everything except the bathrooms.” While an unexpected move and a giant renovation are a lot to go through, the results are pretty, airy and bright with room for everyone.
Over the seven years they’ve lived there, Sofia and Kristo’s home has been styled with incredible objects and furniture. By mixing vintage pieces in a modern way, this Scandinavian home has its own personality that feels genuine and effortless. “Our home really reflects who lives there,” Sofia says. “We have collected things we love and I feel that our home is us.” —Lauren
From the runway to the hallway, indigo seems to have taken the world completely by storm this year. Although we had seen whisperings of this emerging trend over the past few years, everything these days seems to be dyed with this beautiful shade of blue. We have our fair share of design-world go-tos who are working with this timeless plant-based pigment, but one of our recent favorites is Melbourne-based designer Victoria Pemberton, the proprietor of the textile company Bind | Fold.
Pemberton originally turned to fabric dying as a hobby while caring for her newborn son, Miles. Over time, however, this hobby turned into a passion and then into a full-fledged business. Employing a wide variety of techniques from shibori to quilting, Pemberton’s process has as much to do with sustainability as it does with beautiful results. “As someone who works with chemicals on a near daily basis,” she notes on her website, “it’s important to me that I work in an environmentally sustainable way. With this in mind, I am currently focusing on using only natural, plant-based dyes in my work.” In addition to her exclusive use of natural dyes and fabrics, Pemberton has also made efforts to curb waste by incorporating fabric scraps into new designs. Victoria was kind enough to share some photographs of her studio and process with us recently — check them all out in the slideshow! —Max
Photos by Hilary Walker
Last year I had so much fun working on a curated box of independent home goods for the subscription gift service Quarterly. To start, I got to choose my favorite theme of all time: PATTERN. We worked together to find a great combination of designs that were well-made, had great style and would work for a wide range of people and needs. I was overwhelmed with how many of you signed up for the first box (thank you!) and today I wanted to share some “unboxing photos” to show you what to expect for the second! In addition to these photos, I’m so excited to share that the second D*S box is now open for subscriptions and the theme will be COLOR. We pushed the ship date back a bit to accommodate for a very special collaboration with one of my favorite ceramicists, so I’m incredibly happy about the way this final collection shaped up. Click through to check out a preview of one of the goods in this next box and click here to sign up to receive the 2nd D*S box from Quarterly soon, packed with colorful goods for your home from talented independent artists. xo, grace
In 2013, when I was in the process of moving to Minneapolis, I spent a lot of time researching the creative scene in the Twin Cities. Back then, I only knew of a handful of Minnesota design studios, one of them being MaeMae & Co. I had long admired MaeMae’s wedding stationery, with its artful illustrations and unique color combinations, and I knew that the founder and creative director, Megan Gonzalez, had also moved there from out of state. Soon after my move, I met Megan and she welcomed me (even after I spilled iced coffee all over her) into a thriving creative community that I am proud to be surrounded by today.
Megan describes herself as a city loving, pattern obsessed, hand-talking woman who collects paper ephemera and thinks inspiration collages count as decorating. For the past eight years, Megan has been serving brides and other creatives across the world, starting in her California college art studio. Not just another design talent, Megan is also a shrewd business woman who is not afraid to try new things, which ultimately contributes to the evolution of her brand. Over the years the business has grown, and while she still specializes in luxury wedding stationery and creative consulting, her company now offers styling services and creative instruction.
Mood boards are a MaeMae signature, as they are such an integral part of their creative process. As Megan says, “I believe in mixing and matching conflicting ideas and visuals to create a unique voice and vision for each project.” Like any graphic designer, concept and sketching play a huge role as well, and MaeMae uses mediums in and out of the computer. Finally, they bring the vision to life with with a mix of different printing techniques, from engraving and gold foil to letterpress and flat printing.
When it comes to styling, it’s key to have the right props and backdrops, and then pull from an ever-evolving “library of goodies,” as Megan calls it. Her formula for styling sounds a lot like a business philosophy: Equal parts planning, sourcing and the ability to be scrappy and just make things work. Check out all of the photos of MaeMae’s studio in the slideshow! -Shannon
After obtaining her BFA in Graphic Design from Universidad Iberoamericana in Mexico City, illustrator and graphic designer Cecilia Ruiz decided to challenge herself and furthered her expertise by receiving an MFA in Illustration at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. After falling in love with the city, she now calls New York home and welcomes the challenge and fire-in-the-belly it provides. She has worked for Life & Style Magazine, Accent Magazine and, just a week ago, announced the launch of her new book, The Book of Memory Gaps, a collection of darkly humorous mini-stories published by Blue Rider Press, a member of Penguin Random House. Today, Cecilia is sharing her ideas on self-promotion, discipline, the conundrum of creative kindness, and why feeling guilty for getting paid is wrong. —Sabrina
I first discovered Bôhten when I saw them on Dragon’s Den (the original Canadian version of Shark Tank). Although he didn’t get an investment, founder Nana Osei’s business pitch, brand story and model resonated with me and countless others and a year later, CBC caught up with Nana in a Dragon’s Den update.
Bôhten’s journey started in the mountainous region of Kwahu, Ghana. Inspired by his Ghanaian roots, his love of nature, but mostly by his late grandfather Andrew Hanson Osei — Ghana’s first land surveyor in the 60s — Nana launched his eco-luxury eyewear line made from reclaimed wood sourced in West Africa. Not only are his eyeglasses socially and environmentally conscious (being handcrafted in a zero-waste facility), but the design and function is top of mind. Today Nana is joining us to share his unique business story! –Sabrina
Photography by Fitzroy Facey Photography and J. Morren
Marbella is a culturally diverse city on the coast of the Andalucian region in Spain and, yes, is as romantically beautiful as you’d expect. Boasting on average over 320 days of sunshine a year, gorgeous beaches, more than 10 golf courses, cafes on almost every corner and a nightlife in the summer months to rival any major city, it’s no wonder Marbella attracts so many different kinds of people, including London-native Michelle Hastwell.
In between eating out, drinking tons of coffee, and raising her son (age 10) and daughter (age 7), Michelle runs a wedding and event decoration business, Gorgeous Event Decoration. As a business owner, she’s explored Marbella high and low, seeking out the best cafes, shops and attractions. Today, Michelle’s sharing her ideal 24 hours in Marbella, which she promises is “much more than champagne parties and celeb-spotting!” –Sabrina
So many stories of people and their homes involve some kind of happenstance, luck, the universe coming together — or whatever you’d like to call it. I believe that people and their spaces were often meant to be connected in some weird way. And it’s this hard-to-define phenomenon that brought Matthew Preston and his early 1930s beach cottage together.
Matthew is an urban planner turned business owner who imports specialty building products. When he first started Bridgeport Design Group, his planning and design firm, with his good friend and architect Nils Wiesenmüller, this beach home fell into their laps out of nowhere. “We were sitting in a diner one rainy November morning, when Nils stumbled upon a classified ad for a beach house for sale,” Matthew explains, “He called the number, and an hour later offered the owners their asking price!” And just like that, Matthew and Nils had a new project on their hands. The home wasn’t winterized and needed a lot of remodeling, but the space and the light were just magical and they fell in love immediately.
Matthew and Nils renovated the home on a shoestring budget, using salvaged materials wherever possible and only splurged on pigments from Kremer Pigments in New York. Above all, they wanted the place to still feel like a beach house when they were done with it. “So many of the cottages nearby have been ‘upgraded’ to death, with vinyl siding, wall-to-wall carpeting, central air conditioning, and big-screen TVs,” Matthew says, “[You] walk into some of them and you feel like you could be in a 1980s condo in Orlando, rather than on the beach in Connecticut.” So in staying true to the home’s history, they created a simple, peaceful place with a focus on the view, the light, the air, and the sound of the surf.
After Nils moved back to Germany, Matthew purchased the home from him to keep it “in the family” and now uses it as a much-needed retreat and rents it out on Airbnb, so you, too, can escape the frenetic world and reconnect with nature and friends. —Sabrina
I sometimes fantasize about moving to the country and living in an old farmhouse that allows for a slower, more intentional way of life. (I’d have dogs and barn cats and may even raise chickens in this dream of mine!) As it turns out, this dream was a mutual one that came true for Elizabeth Ulrich, her husband Will and their three dogs, Nigel, Mumford and Topher. As she explains, “We stumbled upon the listing for this farmhouse on Craigslist, and less than an hour later we were touring the space and agreeing to the lease!” The creaking floors, the beadboard walls, the tall windows and all of the original architectural details sold Elizabeth right away, and — before they knew it — they were moved into this 2,520-square-foot farmhouse, just an hour outside of Nashville in Bell Buckle, Tennessee.
Will is a teacher and runs a podcast network and Elizabeth is a stylist and interior designer who also owns a vintage prop house, Stockroom Vintage. They both work from home (when Elizabeth isn’t on set), so every room — from their bedroom, living room and even their kitchen — has to function as a clean, cozy, soothing workspace. But their home wasn’t always this picture-perfect. Every wall had to be repainted, the fireplace that was affixed with layers of crinkled tissue paper (eek!) had to be restored and the floors are still uneven, calling for wood shims under nearly every foot of furniture. It took a lot of work to fix up and it’s ever-evolving, but Elizabeth and Will like it that way. “We love adding pieces, changing up artwork and vignettes and keeping things fresh.” As part of this exercise in evolving design, Elizabeth plans to host styling workshop retreats at their home where fellow creatives will bunk up and come to relax, refresh and be inspired.
Though they’ve only lived in this rental home for just over seven months, it’s the perfect place for Elizabeth and Will, who love to cook, hang out in bed with their adorable dogs and go for lots of nature walks. And after such a long, cold winter, they’re looking forward to hosting many backyard summer get-togethers spent fireside (where’s my invite?!) –Sabrina
Photography by Alissa Saylor Photography
Last week’s post about the way we talk to each other online generated more deep and substantive conversation than I could have ever hoped for. Not only did I feel like I got to know so many of you better, I also got to hear more about what you’d like to see (and not see) from us here at DS. Those comments and heartfelt emails inspired us to do a few things. First, we’re launching two new columns here designed to further embrace — and give visibility to — the ups and downs of creating a home. One will focus on readers’ homes and how we can help each other through tough spots and another will focus on professional designers and how we can learn just as much from their mistakes and challenges as their triumphs. We’re working on interviews now, so stay tuned. And in the meantime, I heard your desire to see a more balanced representation of homes here on the site. We’re currently emailing hundreds of new people in a wide range of places and stages of life, but today I wanted to start with the most personal place of all (for me): our home upstate. I figured that if I want us all to be more comfortable with sharing the good and bad parts of our house online, I should start with my own.
Before I jump into our work so far, the biggest news around our house is this: Julia and I have decided to move upstate full-time! After almost four months of living here part-time we can’t believe how much happier we are. For me, I don’t think I realized how much living in the city affected me until we left. I breathe more easily. I snap less. I relax more. I take better care of myself and the people (and pets) I love. Living in New York City felt to me like being given the greatest gift with an expiration date. A part of me always knew I would move away at some point, when I was ready to let go of the fear of missing out, the pace, the competition and the “idea” of being at the center of everything. I still think New York is the most exciting and inspiring place to live, but my priorities changed and I know that everything I need is right here at home with me. So today I’m excited to welcome you into our home and share some of the things we’ve been working on so far. These photos aren’t professionally styled, altered or photographed. They’re what I snapped around the house this morning with my phone and represent how we live at home these days. xo, grace
*This post will share photos of downstairs and outside. Stay tuned for a peek upstairs later this week.
This weekend I fell into an Internet research hole trying to figure out just how difficult DIY “faux” wallpapering really is. Just about everyone and their sister has pinned this gorgeous image of The Painted House’s DIY rollers and I’ve long dreamed about using them for a room in our house. But then I read this post on Remodelista and decided perhaps it’s better for me to stick to pre-made paper I don’t have to worry about smudging quite as much.
Now that I’ve gotten to dip my toes in the wallpaper pool (via our downstairs bathroom makeover), I’ve started bookmarking papers I’d like to try at some point. Last week I discovered Kate Zaremba’s wallpapers via our #dswallpaper challenge and I immediately loved their Matisse-inspired shapes and colors. Her collection has a wide range of styles, from more contemporary geometrics and line drawings to Ikat fabric-inspired patterns. But for me, the Matisse-inspired pieces are what really set her work apart. I love seeing wallpaper that isn’t afraid to be bold, bright and in-your-face. I think that sort of pattern is just what a small space needs to bring it to life. You can also always buy a single roll and use it for smaller-scale projects around the house, like lining dresser drawers and the backs of cabinets or bookcases. Click here to check out Kate’s work online and to place an order and click through to see seven of Kate’s great wallpaper designs. xo, grace
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