Before & After: An Unused Garage Becomes A Colorful Craft Studio

Before & After: An Unused Garage Becomes A Colorful Craft Studio

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Even for the most meticulous of homemakers, the garage—that nary visited, afterthought of a home appendage—can often function as a full-sized junk drawer. You know what I’m talking about. Although garages are technically meant to house cars (and perhaps the occasional lawn mower, rake, or bicycle), they usually run the risk of becoming contenders for episodes of Hoarders—their walls filled with everything from aging canned goods to rusty gym equipment that you have every intention of using…someday. This is why, whenever anybody has the brilliance and audacity to convert one of these overlooked spaces into a functional room, I feel like it needs applause.

When blogger and crafter extraordinaire Rachel Mae Smith moved to Portland from San Francisco, the apartment that she ended up renting came along with a dingy, broken-down garage. Without a car—or anything really—to fill the space, Rachel decided to put it to an even better use: as an office and studio where she could work on her crafts and woodworking without mucking up her home. Ever the DIY-minded gal, Rachel tackled the project with vigor and aplomb, only running into a few (okay, a lot) of spiders along the way. With colorful touches like a simple, homemade inspiration board and a bright yarn installation, the space is lightyears away from its dreary beginnings—the perfect home away from home…at home. Check out all of the photos, plus Rachel’s design notes, after the jump! —Max VIEW MORE

Vegan Pots de Creme from At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen

Vegan Pots de Creme from At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen

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I’m going to keep it real: I am not the world’s healthiest eater. I know I should be more concerned, but it’s just not high on my list of daily concerns. I’m can be pretty good about eating a lot of vegetables and healthy grains, but when it comes to desserts, I can never say no to butter, cream and chocolate. But thankfully, I share my life and kitchen with someone who has worked on super-healthy cookbooks, so I’ve started opening my mind to things like almond and rice milk and using all-natural sweeteners instead of refined sugar. So when a copy of Amy Chaplin’s beautiful new book, At Home in the Whole Food Kitchen arrived at my door, I was excited to see what was inside. To my delight, Amy came up with some healthy vegetarian dishes that both look and taste delicious.

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Today Amy is sharing her recipe for vegan (and gluten-free) Pots de Creme with us, one of my favorite cold weather desserts. But instead of being loaded down with cream, they’re made from a mixture of almonds, rice milk and coconut that creates a luxurious mousse without all the dairy. This was hands-down my favorite recipe from the cookbook (because I am a dessert-fanatic), but there are over 150 vegan and vegetarian recipes, as well as a very helpful primer of how to prep and stock a healthy pantry, inside. If you’re starting to look for holiday gifts for the foodies and healthy eaters in your family, this is a book that will definitely satisfy all of them. Thanks to Amy for sharing this recipe with us today! xo, grace

*Amy also shared some beautiful photos from her kitchen with us, too! Her dog looks so happy in that window seat!

Food photographs by Johnny Miller, Photos of Amy’s home kitchen by Stephen Johnson

Click through for the full recipe and photos of Amy’s kitchen after the jump!

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Holiday Eggnog from Quench by Ashley English

Holiday Eggnog from Quench by Ashley English

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As much as I admire the picture-perfect holiday parties I see in magazines and on Pinterest, I always crave and respond to things that feel a bit more homespun. In real life I prefer parties where guests and hosts share in the work (I love a potluck) and where projects and recipes allow for a little give and error. For that reason (and many others), I’ve always loved Ashley English’s blog, Small Measure. We were lucky enough to have her on our team for four years and I’ve been gathering up her books (seven and counting!) ever since.

Ashley’s latest book is a beautiful collection of drink recipes that you can make at home called Quench. Along with photos from Jen Altman, Ashley has created an incredible collection of sodas, lemonades, tisanes, shrubs, wines, infused liquors, party punches and more that are quick and easy to make. My personal favorites are Ashley’s recipes for holiday sips. They’re just the sort of warm pick-me-up we could all use when the temperatures start to drop. Today Ashley is sharing a holiday eggnog recipe with us that can be made with or without alcohol and either way is guaranteed to please. I might have to break this out for Thanksgiving this year, it looks like it’s going to be a chilly one. Click here to check out Ashley’s book and click through for the full recipe after the jump! xo, grace

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Click through for the full recipe after the jump!

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Before & After: Steamer Trunk Makeover

Before & After: Steamer Trunk Makeover

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Most of our before & after makeovers focus on homes and interiors, but today I’m sharing a project that’s small and travels well – a steamer trunk! Designer Cameron MacLean of Off Cut Studio specializes in woodworking and cabinets, but he got to try something totally different when an online shoe store reached out for help. The shoe start-up was looking for something that would help them create a tiny traveling store, so they purchased an old steamer trunk. They handed the trunk over to Cameron and asked for custom built interiors that would help them travel with and display shoes for sale. So Cameron got to work transforming the steamer into a swanky new mini-retail location complete with monogrammed leather and walnut shelves. I love the solid brass heel rails – those really add such a touch of sophistication and style. I hope you’ll enjoy this detour from our normal interior makeover and maybe be inspired to rethink the next trunk you come across at your local thrift store. xo, grace

Click through for the full makeover after the jump!

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DIY Project: Basket Weaving

DIY Project: Basket Weaving

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The one (and only) big problem I have with being a DIY blogger is the fast accumulation of, for want of a better word, stuff. In every single thing I own I see an endless potential for a project. Crafts materials quickly stack up. It’s the life of a hoarder with a cause which goes directly against my ideas of a beautiful, clutter-free home.

So, as I gather up more and more materials, I need to find more and more attractive ways of hiding them and this is where I come into my element. Making my own storage is always the best option for me. In my small home office, creating bespoke solutions maximizes the small space and gives me more room to work (or just fill with more stuff), so it’s usually my first port of call.

Square woven baskets are easy to make, durable and look fantastic, so I made this trio of baskets in various sizes for my latest attempt at controlling the clutter. -Fran

Click through for the full how-to after the jump!

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DIY Project: Easy Cork Trivets

DIY Project: Easy Cork Trivets

Design*Sponge DIY Project: Cork Trivets
With entertaining, we often spend a lot of time planning and making our environment perfect. We make sure that every detail is in the correct spot in the hopes that our guests will ooh and aahh at them. Sometimes, though, the simplest piece can make the biggest statement – and be simple to make. Trivets are often overlooked, but these workhorses of the dining table can be both practical and beautiful. This seriously quick and easy DIY will elevate your humble trivet and give it the attention it deserves – and hopefully get a thumb’s up from your guests. Below are the step-by-step directions to making a star cork trivet, but you can easily create several shapes using this process that will work with any space and style. -Lindy

Click through for the full how-to after the jump!

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We Want Your Job: Graphic Designer at Madewell

We Want Your Job: Graphic Designer at Madewell

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If you looked into my closet right now, you’d find that one out of every three pieces is from Madewell. I don’t own a lot of clothes, so when I do buy something, I like it to be comfortable and classic, but with a little bit of edge. For that reason, Madewell has been my go-to for a long time and seems to be one of the companies I’m asked about the most these days. Namely, I get emails from people asking how to get a job there and if I know anyone who can help them find one. I don’t have any inside connections, so I decided to reach out to someone who knows what it’s like to work there and what sort of jobs exist on their team. I find that when a lot of people imagine working for one of their favorite companies, they forget to figure out how their skills could be best applied there. So today I’m excited to be talking to Alex Yeske, an in-house graphic designer at Madewell. While she had dreams of becoming a “waitress in a restaurant where you can roller-skate” as a little girl, Alex grew up and studied communications design in college. She’d long admired and identified with Madewell, and through running her own blog, she made contacts that showed her the types of design (in addition to clothing design) that existed at a fashion company. Then she used her networking skills (more on that after the jump) to secure a position designing all sorts of projects for the company, from contributing to window designs and posters to city guides that accompany new shop openings. I love seeing the wide range of design options at any company and I’m so excited to share another perspective on working in the creative community today. Thanks so much to Alex (you can follow her here on Instagram) for sharing her story and advice with us! [Photographs by Angi Welsch] xo, grace

Every career looks great on the outside, but when you’re really in it you learn the behind-the-scenes hard work that comes along with them. You have to really love what you’re doing to get through the mundane parts.” -Alex Yeske

Click through for the full interview after the jump!

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Studio Tour: Blackcreek Mercantile

Studio Tour: Blackcreek Mercantile

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On a drizzly November morning last week, I found myself standing in the Kingston, NY studio of Joshua Vogel, learning way more about bees than I ever thought humanly possible. Joshua, a wildly talented woodworker—and apparently quite the loquacious fellow—has just finished telling me about propolis, the bee-produced material that is a key ingredient in his company Blackcreek Mercantile’s cutting board oil. Did you know that this wondrous, naturally anti-bacterial varnish is the only thing aside from honey and wax that honeybees produce? Did you know that, in the winter, bees will form a massive huddle and vibrate in unison to keep warm? I certainly didn’t. Although I’m meant to be snapping photographs of the space, I can’t help but feel momentarily transfixed. Joshua’s obvious passion for everything he does is quite clear—and it’s infectious.

It’s this passion that led Vogel to create his two businesses—Blackcreek Mercantile and his fine art branch, Joshua Vogel. It’s also what led him to pen a do-it-yourself handbook on the art and history of hand-carved spoons, due out next fall from Chronicle Books. At his Midtown Kingston studio, housed in a former pajama factory, this passion is a guiding and energizing force. With a rambunctious and gung-ho team that includes woodworker Dan Votke, apprentice Max Friedman, and Josh’s partner, Kelly Zaneto, the atmosphere here is one of warmth, vitality, and conviviality. When I arrive, music is playing, coffee is brewing, wood is being turned, and Josh and Kelly’s daughter, Violet, is playing merrily in the office with studio assistant Rachel Silverbloom. If it was cold and dreary outside, one would never know.

This is to say nothing of Joshua’s actual work which is, simply put, absolutely stunning. Wonderful examples of lovingly handcrafted woodwork, Josh’s sculptures and design objects are beautiful both to look at and to hold. From elegantly carved spoons to luxurious black cutting boards, the boundary between art and functionality is practically non-existent. These are the sort of objects that one will want to use and display.

With the holidays just around the corner, Josh’s studio is producing at full-force, so we are thrilled that we were able to sneak in for a behind-the-scenes peek. We hope you enjoy the visit as much as we did! —Max

P.S.—For more of Josh’s work, check out our Sneak Peek of Josh & Kelly’s upstate home!

Photographs by Maxwell Tielman

Image above: The Blackcreek Mercantile Team. From left to right: Violet Vogel, Kelly Zaneto, Rachel Silverbloom, Joshua Vogel, Max Friedman, and Dan Votke.

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D*S Pattern-Themed Gift Box at Quarterly

D*S Pattern-Themed Gift Box at Quarterly

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Last week I was so excited to finally launch our limited-edition gift box with Quarterly, a site that delivers guest-curated gift boxes to your door every three months. Quarterly invited us to curate a box for the holiday, so I chose PATTERN as our theme and each box will include well over $100 in beautiful, patterned goods for your home from independent companies. We’re not allowed to show you the full contents yet, but today I wanted to share a little spoiler, which is that each box will include a gorgeous hardwood cutting board with my favorite star pattern from AHeirloom. I bought my first AHeirloom board at the Renegade Craft Fair in 2013 and have gone on to buy one for almost every member of my family since. I never cease to get asked about who made it and where people can get one, so they were the first designers I thought of when I curated this gift box. If you like this product I promise you’ll enjoy the rest, which range from tabletop and kitchen goods to a special something that will warm up your living room, dining room or bathroom. Stay tuned for more spoilers this week!

There are only five days left to sign up for our gift box, so subscribe here if you’d like to get this limited edition gift box before the deadline THIS FRIDAY!

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How To Turn Any House Into a Home (5 Tips)

How To Turn Any House Into a Home (5 Tips)

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One of the things I think about the most these days is how a house becomes a home. A house can be any basic unit of dwelling, whether it’s a mobile home, an apartment, a super modern glass box or anything else in between. The form of the house never matters as much as what goes inside - because those are the people and special things that transform any space into a home. It’s easy to get caught up in the world of interior design and forget that making a home doesn’t require expensive furniture and bookshelves arranged by color. Around the world people decorate their homes in vastly different ways. For some homes, family-made textiles are the focal point, for others, artwork, and for some, a clean, simple space that allows for a young family to grow and be active is most important. But no matter what size, shape or style your home takes, there are a few universal ideas that seem to pop up in homes time and time again. Those common elements are the things that intrigue me the most about homes that feel welcoming and lived-in, and they’re the elements I want to talk about here today.

Over the past few months I’ve been working on our second book and I recently had a moment of clarity with our editor and book publisher, Lia Ronnen, about what the mission of our next book should be. Our original goal was to create a huge DIY encyclopedia, but it was lacking the sort of personal feel that matters most to me. It’s hard to feel attached to or inspired by an overwhelming list of anything, so we started talking more about how we could arrange projects and ideas in a way that felt more helpful, relatable and well, realistic. That change in focus got me thinking about the things I do in any space to make it feel more like home to me. And then I started to think about a few ideas that are present in homes across the world and what they have in common despite their wide range of differences.

So today I’m sharing 5 of the key steps I see people taking to turn their spaces into homes: structures that not only house and protect people from the elements, but that tell a story, express a person or family’s interests and make guests feel welcome inside. From simple ideas like decorating walls with art that means something to you to more involved DIY projects like customizing the small details on your furniture, these are some of the steps I believe in most for turning any house (of any size) into a warm, welcoming home. The final results may look different for everyone, but the underlying goals and desire to feel at home are universal. xo, grace

*Photograph above by Beth Kirby, from this home by Jersey Ice Cream. Wallpaper design by CFA Voysey at Trustworth Studios.

Click through for the full post after the jump!

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Biz Ladies Profile: Bridgid Coulter

Biz Ladies Profile: Bridgid Coulter

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With a family to support and an amazing job offer on the table, Bridgid Coulter decided to follow her gut instincts and jump into the world of self-employment before leaving design school. She launched her eponymous design firm with the goal of creating “warm, livable homes filled with beauty and personality” and has continued to do so through her design and textiles line. Today she is sharing her journey from student to biz owner, with all of the pitfalls and parties along the way. -Stephanie

Read the full interview after the jump…

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Vancouver City Guide {UPDATE}

Vancouver City Guide {UPDATE}

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Katrina Stock, an encaustic artist, potter and blogger, along with her coffee roaster husband, Andrew Stock, fell in love with Vancouver 10 years ago. For a couple that loves to discover quirky neighborhoods, have food adventures and go biking, this was the perfect city. Recently they packed their bags and headed to Winnipeg, a city in central Canada. As an ode to their great love, they have collected their favorite places to go in some of their most loved neighborhoods. They can’t wait for you to discover the beautiful and diverse city that is Vancouver. -Stephanie 

Read the full guide after the jump…

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Inspiring + Educational Clips at Milq

Inspiring + Educational Clips at Milq

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The world of podcasting has seen a huge surge in popularity lately, and while the reasons are still being debated, I’m just happy to know that the creative community is equally interested in audio and images. I’ve been hosting my radio show, After the Jump, for over two years now and as I round the home stretch toward my 100th episode, I’m excited to find new ways to organize and share the inspiring people and interviews I’ve had the honor of recording.

In the same way that Pinterest has provided people with an easy way to group themed images together, there is an exciting new site called Milq that aims to provide that same sort of themed grouping for audio and video clips. I’ve been devouring their sections dedicated to great impressions on tv and film and the queens of comedy, but I also love their feeds dedicated to art & design.

I decided to sort through the 94 shows I’ve done so far on After the Jump and organize them into “beads” (Milq’s version of “boards”) about Women in Art & Design and Work/Life Issues in the Creative Community.

I have 40+ audio interviews in my Women in Art & Design category so far, with talented women like Genevieve Gorder, Jen Bekman, Francis Palmer, Tina Shoulders and Maira Kalman. I love being able to look at all of these incredible people together in one place and hear all of their different stories. From issues of inclusiveness in design and struggles with being a working mom to learning a new language and opening a business in another country, their advice and personal stories are inspiring and definitely worth listening to. You can check out all of their clips right here.

For my business/life issue section on Milq, I chose my 15 favorite shows on tackling professional issues. Whether the topic is finding your voice online and embracing social media, raising the bar for your business, or better tools for productivity, these clips are great for commuting or keeping you busy in your office or studio. The topics are universal across all work communities and I hope these bits of advice will help all of you get through some of the biggest hurdles we all face as business owners or working creatives. xo, grace

D*S Giveaway: $150 Zazzle Gift Card

D*S Giveaway: $150 Zazzle Gift Card

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We had a grand ole time going customizing wild on Zazzle this week. You really could create the perfect gift for anyone. We are so excited about our mini pattern magnet collection. They’ll make the perfect gift for some of our closet friends who love Max’s art work!

The team at Zazzle surprised us and offered to lend a hand for a Giveaway for Design*Sponge readers. Thanks guys! We’re giving away a $150 gift card so you can go as wild as we did on Zazzle.com for the holidays! Just think – your own pet wrapping paper! It’s just too cute. What will you make?!?

To enter the Giveaway, answer our question on Rafflecopter below. Just follow the directions and you’re all set. We’ll notify the winner next Friday, November 21st. Good luck!head here follow the directions and you’re all set. We’ll notify the winner next Friday, November 21st. Good luck!

Sorry, U.S. resident only. Entries must be received by midnight Thursday, November 20th.   

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A One ‘Of A Kind’ Home in Brooklyn

A One ‘Of A Kind’ Home in Brooklyn

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It’s easy to become numb to how deeply personal it can be to share one’s home online. After publishing thousands of home tours on Design*Sponge, I often have to take a moment to pause when a particular home tour touches me in a way that makes me feel like I’ve gotten to know someone, or their work, better by being invited into their home through photographs. I felt that way today while looking through these photographs of Claire Mazur and Chris Roan’s home in the DUMBO neighborhood of Brooklyn. Claire is the co-founder of Of a Kind (along with Erica Cerulo) and she shares this bright and airy apartment with her husband Chris, who is the Director of Venture at Mother New York, an advertising firm. I’ve known Claire for years now and respect her work and her work ethic immensely. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know her via multiple radio interviews, but there’s something about peeking inside someone’s home that lets you know them in a totally different way.

I was blown away by how much family history lives in the furniture, artwork and details of Claire and Chris’s home. They live in the sort of space that I constantly strive to create – a home where every object tells a story and has a special meaning to the people living inside.

From artwork made by Claire’s late grandmother Shirley to Chris’s father’s Purple Heart, every shelf and tabletop is filled with something of great meaning to the couple. In addition to their older family pieces, Chris and Claire have also incorporated beautiful contemporary pieces by their friends and artists and designers they’ve met through their respective companies. For me, a house always feels like a home when people fill it with personal pieces that come with stories and history, so this is truly a beautiful home to me. Thank you so much to Claire and Chris for sharing their space with us. xo, grace

Photographs by Maxwell Tielman and Carly Piersol for Anne Street Studio

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Images above: Claire and Chris walked by their current apartment building after a disappointing open house appointment in the area. They walked up to see this space on a whim and knew immediately that this was the apartment for them. Originally built in 1893 as the Hanon & Son shoe factory, the building has stunning views, tall windows and so much light that the they immediately knew it would be home. Two and a half years later they have created a space that feels like home to them in a building full of rich design history. In their living room (above) Claire explained that their home’s coffee table was, “one of those magical eBay finds for a hundred bucks. It just goes so perfectly with the rest of our furniture that it was a total no-brainer.” The pink and white throw pillow is by Unison Home, a small line Claire discovered through DailyCandy (RIP) when she was in college. It was one of the first lines that turned her on to the thrill of discovering and supporting emerging artists.

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Image above: These watercolors were painted by Claire’s grandma Shirley. Claire explained, “She was a very inspirational woman full of so much energy and positivity and charm. She was also a really talented and prolific painter and her bright watercolors perfectly embody her personality. She died last year and her artwork has turned out to be a really amazing way to maintain her presence in our lives— we actually used them on our wedding invites and programs.”

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Image above: Claire’s parents collected matchbooks when she was growing up and when she moved out of their home she started doing the same thing without even realizing it. “My dad, a man of many many talents, made the wooden bowl they sit in,” explained Claire.

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Click through for the full home tour after the jump!

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