Home Ec: An Interview with Mrs. Meyer Herself

Home Ec: An Interview with Mrs. Meyer Herself

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All last year we’ve been working with Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day on a series of DIY projects, events, videos and an entire column here, Home Ec, dedicated to helping you find ways to make the home you love (on a budget, using your own two hands and using natural/homemade materials whenever possible). Most people don’t know that Mrs. Meyer is actually a real person, Mrs. Thelma Meyer, who inspired the entire line. Her daughter was so proud of her mother’s home keeping efforts (which she did while raising 9 children), that she decided to create the line to celebrate Thelma’s love of gardening. So for today’s Home Ec I thought we’d switch it up a bit and talk to the woman herself about what it was like to keep a home and raise all of her children in a way that made her happy. xo, grace

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DIY Hanging Plant Lamp

DIY Hanging Plant Lamp

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Lighting fixtures almost never take center stage in home decor because we have so many other things to be focus on, like furniture, rugs and artwork. But as this DIY project will prove, a little creativity goes a long way toward making something formerly overlooked become the star of a room. This project is all about finding more ways to add plants to your home by combining the idea of a hanging planter with a beautiful pendant lamp! This would be a great way to add some accent lighting to a dark part of your room while giving a light-loving-plant some time in the spotlight, both literally and figuratively. So, let’s get started! Mette Jakobsen

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What To Do When The House of Your Dreams Doesn’t Become Yours

What To Do When The House of Your Dreams Doesn’t Become Yours

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A few weeks ago, we found our dream home. Tucked away on a quiet street in a quaint neighborhood, stood an unassuming double-brick Victorian, covered in ivy, and inside, finished to our taste with all of the bells and whistles. It was a just a stone’s throw away from friends, and a 5-minute walk to my partner, Shawn’s, new office. It was perfect. We put in a strong offer, we had no conditions, we put smiley faces on all of the cheques and forms, we got along great with the neighbor, who promised to put in a good word for us.

As we awaited the call from our Realtor, we distracted ourselves over a bowl of Pho at a local Vietnamese restaurant that we dragged ourselves to in an attempt to avoid sitting on the couch in silence. We ran through the options in our head and convinced ourselves the home must be ours, but in the end, the call started and ended with, “overbid by $80,000.” At first, we weren’t really upset. We thought, “Well, they can have it!” But over the following week, I began to go through the whole spectrum of emotions from apathy, to being sad about it, to confused, to where I find myself now: in a state of suspension. I had begun picturing myself there; waking up and having coffee on the back deck off the kitchen; working in the upstairs loft. It felt strange realizing that someone else would be living in the house that I had so many intimate pictures of on my iPhone.

At a certain point, I started over-exaggerating the home’s con-list and convincing myself that it wasn’t the one — and maybe it wasn’t. Maybe it would have been a mistake and come with myriad issues. Maybe it wasn’t the right time. And maybe, just maybe, the grass isn’t always greener. In this case, it certainly wasn’t — there was literally no grass to be had: the yard was all beautiful gardens, but it was small. See? Again, another comparison you run through in your brain when this happens. Another pro and con.

Since then, we’ve been to dozens of other homes and visited countless open houses, all ending in disappointment, but all punctuated by coming home to our current nest, which has birthed in me a kind of nostalgia. If nothing else, the experience has left me thankful for what I do have and with a newfound appreciation for certain aspects of the space that I had taken for granted. Though where we are isn’t the place I want to raise my family in the long run, I’m finding myself falling back in love with it for what it has been for us. As I type this, I’m sitting in my large, lush backyard listening to the birds as my puppy, Piper, rolls around, covering herself in pieces of fresh-cut grass as she gnaws on a stick in the shade under our large catalpa tree. And perhaps, that says it all. Sometimes there’s beauty to be found in surrendering. –Sabrina

The Design Files: TDF Films

The Design Files: TDF Films

Yesterday I took a day off to celebrate my 34th birthday mostly offline (thank you for all the kind birthday wishes!). I found myself drifting back now and then to work on an upcoming book project and to watch a few films online I’ve found I can’t get enough of, namely those from The Design Files’ TDF Films series.

Lucy Feagins has been running The Design Files since 2008 and despite having only met in person one time, I consider her one of my most trusted and respected friends and colleagues. She has grown her site not just with traffic and audience in mind, but with originality, creativity and thoughtfulness at the forefront. She’s constantly experimenting with new ways to deliver beauty content, and lately that has taken the form of 3-5 minute videos that take you deeper into the morning of a talented Australian maker or into the private home of some very special people.

I’ve been asking everyone I know sit down to watch these videos with me so I decided I should do the same with all of you, considering that we’re all people who love to see a little more closely into the lives and homes of talented artists and makers. If you’ve got time in your lunch break to watch these with headphones or in an empty office, please do. They’re beautiful little respites from the work day and I hope to see more gorgeous video content like this appear on blogs for years to come. It’s such a treat to see home tours go from static images into real moving spaces and to see what it’s like to run a business from the second you wake up in the morning. xo, grace

Life & Business: Toni Ko of NYX Cosmetics

Life & Business: Toni Ko of NYX Cosmetics

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When Toni Ko was just 13, her family emigrated to the US to open up a beauty supply shop. At the time, Toni didn’t speak a word of English, and though she was not allowed to wear a stitch of makeup as an adolescent, she was fascinated by it and worked alongside her mother to run the shop where she gained a lot of experience learning the ropes of the industry. Just over 10 years later at the age of 25, Toni’s childhood fascination with makeup blossomed into a business and NYX Cosmetics was born, offering just one humble product: eyeliner pencils. After years of frustration over the lack of quality in many drug-store makeup products, Toni’s goal with NYX was to create the most high-end product possible at a super-affordable price. Turns out, the rest of the country craved this niche as much as she did, and in its first year of business, NYX generated over 2 million dollars in sales.

Since then, Toni’s success hasn’t slowed down. NYX has seen the addition of more high-quality products from lipstick and blush to nail polish and accessories, and is now available in over 70 countries. After seeing her company grow up before her eyes and by her own hands, Toni sold NYX to L’Oreal just this past summer. Although it was a dream come true, her decision to sell — a choice many business owners face — was far harder than she ever imagined it would be. These days, when Toni isn’t spending her time supporting charities and empowering women to start their own businesses, she’s traveling the world (which she documents on Instagram), and brewing up her next big idea (which we’ll just have to wait to see). Today, she’s joining us to share some gleaned wisdom and insight into her business philosophy! –Sabrina

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Curated Style in a Brooklyn Brownstone

Curated Style in a Brooklyn Brownstone | Design*Sponge

Curated Style in a Brooklyn Brownstone

I think one of the biggest highs for me as a prop and interior stylist is coming across an object that is wonderfully fitting for my set. In these moments I think, “something else would have been fine or good enough, but this glorious object is perfect.” Those finds are rare, but when they happen, it feels like magic or fate was somehow involved. Alyssa and Paul also have a knack for looking for things that will just do, and have instead ended up with the pieces and home of their dreams.

Alyssa, floral designer/owner at Bracken and freelance prop stylist, and Paul Hoppe, Art Director at Local Projects, moved from Los Angeles to Brooklyn a year and a half ago. They wanted to find a brownstone and were lucky enough to find one on a tree-lined street in a great location. “The apartment had just been remodeled when we moved in, so it was great to find something that felt new and clean in a building full of the character of old homes that we love,” Alyssa says. “We didn’t bring much with us when we moved here from Los Angeles. Just a few boxes of clothes and some of the special knick-knacks from places we traveled. All of the furniture and decor pieces we collected here.”

The Hoppes’ great discoveries didn’t stop with their apartment: “One of our best finds was our matching dressers from a salvage store in Brooklyn. We were only looking for one dresser when we came across these two. We liked the design and they were priced at $40 so we decided to take one home. Just before we bought it we noticed the Herman Miller seal on the inside of the top drawer. When we got home we Googled it and found they were designed by George Nelson and retail at $1,700 apiece. We immediately went back and bought the other one and made it work in our living room.”

This home is balanced with neutrals and color, things old and new, purchased and made. The Hoppes have made it into a space that reflects both of them in a beautiful combination. “We always want our home to feel like it’s a part of both of us,” says Alyssa. “We tend to like a lot of the same things but my aesthetic can be a little more rustic and raw while Paul’s is clean-lined and more modern.” Of course, the home of an art director and stylist is this incredibly well done while looking effortless at the same time. The items they have found to bring into their home are as incredible as the space itself. —Lauren

Photography by Kathleen Bly

 

 

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Life & Business: How to Let a Trip Shape You (Rather than Shaping a Trip)

Life & Business: How to Let a Trip Shape You (Rather than Shaping a Trip)

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While many of us find ourselves on a pre-planned vacation, with comfort top-of-mind, Adrian Traquair seeks the unknown, the uncomfortable, and the complete immersion into a new culture. A few years ago, Adrian, armed with his friend Dustin and two self-operated cameras, set out on a mission to row down the Ganges River in an inflatable raft, over 1,500 kilometers from New Delhi to Dhaka. It was all captured on camera and made into a documentary (one of my favorites), Around The Next Bend. And if that wasn’t enough, they’re at it again, planning a 6,000-mile, 3-wheeled auto rickshaw expedition through South America, hoping to capture it all on camera to create another 12-episode series. More than anything else, Adrian, a 30-year-old filmmaker who works in the art department for film and television, is a passionate and experienced traveler on a mission. Over the years, he’s learned some lessons about making (and breaking) travel plans, and his trips have shaped him in ways he could never otherwise have achieved. Today, we’re thrilled to have Adrian share his insight into travel in an effort to encourage you to consider how to let a trip shape you, rather than shape a trip. — Sabrina

If you’d like to know more about Rickshaw South and Adrian’s next adventure, you can show your support on their (hilariously entertaining) Kickstarter page.

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Beacon, New York City Guide

Beacon, New York City Guide

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Just 60 miles north of NYC along the Hudson River, you’ll find Beacon, a charming-and-hip small town with a population of under 20,000. Home to the renowned contemporary art museum Dia: Beacon, which opened in 2003, it has attracted crowds of artists, writers, filmmakers, designers, young couples looking to start families and veteran entrepreneurs. Beacon, an industrial and historic town once known for manufacturing textiles, hats and boxes, has a vibrantly growing locavore community, and myriad new businesses continue to open shop in the historic buildings on Main Street. And through the influx of galleries, craft beer breweries, organic food shops and more, the town has harmoniously kept its industrial character while also preserving the natural beauty of the Hudson Valley. As today’s city guide writer, Euni Figi, explains, “Beacon has it all!”

Euni (who commutes into Manhattan daily where she works as a designer at Caro Home) and her husband have called Beacon home since 2008. They can’t get enough of the relaxed lifestyle and super-friendly community, and today, Euni is thrilled to share a few of her recommendations of things to do, see, and eat. — Sabrina

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A Moody Mid-Century Modernist Maisonette

A Moody Mid-Century Modernist Maisonette

A Moody Mid-Century Modernist Maisonette

As the title suggests, this home is full of “mmmm” moments. Its calming atmosphere and eclectic decor reflect the depth of its owners: Vija Rhodes, a maker of handwoven textiles who grew up in the south of France, her husband Greg Rhodes, who works for Reebok, and their beautiful Hungarian Vizsla, Bernie, who ended up being their golden ticket to getting the home! Vija and Greg were renting in Victoria Park, East London, UK at the time, and on their many walks with Bernie as a puppy, they ran into the estate agents who were based around the corner. They came to know them well (over many puppy cuddles), so when this home became available, they were the first and only people contacted.

Designed by Crown Estate architect John Spence & Partners in the early 60s, the home had more window than wall in nearly every room, original parquet floors and a massive garden. But “it needed a lot of work,” Vija says, “which is exactly what we wanted.” They hired a builder named Richard, a Yorkshireman in his late 60s, to live with them through the weeks that it took to complete the home. “Living in a dusty building site in the dead of winter (and with someone outside of your little family unit) was really hard at times,” Vija says. “At points we were washing up outside in the pouring rain and flushing the toilet with a bucket!” Walls were moved, the bathroom and kitchen they designed began taking shape, the purple ceilings and walls were painted over, the old faded burgundy carpets were pulled up, and the floors were all hand sanded. Bernie had a blast living and playing in the construction site, and in the end, it was completely worth it. –Sabrina

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A Less-is-More Home and Studio in the Pacific Northwest

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A Less-is-More Home and Studio in the Pacific Northwest

I am such a sucker for photography — or art of any kind, really — that uses significant amounts of negative space in the composition. It’s eye-catching and makes the focus of the piece that much more stunning when this technique is done right. While I love rooms with layers, textures and life, there’s something that draws me into minimal rooms and homes where empty space meets beautiful objects and furniture and really shows them off.

Mallory and Luke Leasure are professional photographers who work from their Portland, OR home. Creating a home with studio essentials for these two was challenging with 625 square feet of living space. They pared down their belongings to those that fit physically and aesthetically in the couple’s home to make the most out of the apartment. “We loved the challenge of making a studio apartment a functional living space and home office. As photographers, we spend most of our days working from home, so lots of natural light is key for us, especially in the Pacific Northwest,” Mallory says. “Our dream was to have a fully functional living and working space complete with a daylight photo studio. The space is smaller, so we had to be strategic about the kind of items and stylizing that we could incorporate into the overall aesthetic.” The custom desk in the bedroom and the white backdrop rigged over the doors in the living room have helped Mallory and Luke get the function they need from the space.

Their home mixes modern and vintage furniture with natural details. The Leasures value the pieces they have, but don’t want to overwhelm their small space with things they don’t need. “Less is more. We love the idea of living minimally. We both don’t like clutter or too many colors,” Mallory says. “I think our biggest goal is making the studio feel bigger than it is. Having a small space means small and functional items. There isn’t any unnecessary seating or bulky items, that way no one feels crowded in an already tight space.” Mallory and Luke’s small, beautiful apartment has a large amount of negative space without feeling sparse or cold. It is a home that works for the couple efficiently and reflects them artistically at the same time. —Lauren

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A Young Family’s Happy, Golden-State Home

A Young Family's Merry, Golden-State Home, Design*Sponge

A Young Family’s Happy, Golden-State Home

Being the son of Smith & Hawken co-founder Paul Hawken, Aidan is no stranger to impeccable design. His keen eye led him to this sunny, 1940s Los Angeles home where he and wife Andrea are raising their smiley son Gabriel. It was clear from the beginning that this couple was a match made in design heaven. Andrea’s love for mid-century pieces, Aidan’s crush on modernism and their shared desire to create a home that’s open, bright and uncomplicated has resulted in today’s pretty Golden State peek.

When they first moved into this two-bedroom space, a good purge was in order. Good thing neither of them are known for hanging onto anything for too long. “We had lots of things – enough furniture for our previous home which had three bedrooms, two bathrooms and an office. We were moving into a much smaller place, with smaller rooms and much less storage,” Andrea says. Letting go of so much has helped the couple truly appreciate the items that remain and has made their home feel “so much more open and comfortable.”

As renters, non-invasive tweaks were the only options when personalizing their home. In order to fill the space with as much natural light as possible, the two painted all the walls a brilliant white. New, dimming light fixtures and fresh hardware were also some of the first changes the couple made when they moved in. “We’ve been renters for a long time, and as a result, we don’t shy away from improving on a space even though we don’t own it,” the couple says.

Not only is the home’s interior gorgeous, it is located in a national, historic landmark so the views are spectacular. LA’s Village Green neighborhood is “nestled within acres of hundred-year-old trees and grass fields as fas as the eye can see,” so Gabriel can run and play without the worry of speeding traffic. If that wasn’t enough, the home even sits on the migratory path of many butterflies and birds, so once springtime hits, all types of little critters call The Green home. Living in such a place where hummingbirds, hawks and wildflowers are right outside the door is exactly the type of childhood Andrea and Aidan always wanted for Gabriel. “I am most thankful for the chance to raise our son in a place that he can run outside and play and climb trees,” the proud parents gush. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Monica Wang

 

 

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Our Favorite Kids’ Rooms

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Our Favorite Kids’ Rooms

It was actually one of our lovely readers who inspired us to round up some of our favorite kids’ rooms. Stellar idea, Eliina! Thanks for the tip. I myself have always had a soft spot for our “Best Of” retrospectives. They provide me and the team with such an insightful snapshot of how decorating in the real world has evolved. While no two rooms are exactly the same, bold walls, the colors pink and green and nautical touches kept popping up as I combed through our extensive library. Heck, I’d be happy to call any of these bedrooms “home,” and I am a 27-year-old man (but clearly a kid at heart). From toddlers to teenagers, these are some seriously stylish guys and gals whose bedrooms are sure to inspire any room in your home. Each pick is even accompanied by insightful stories about how each space came to life. While these rooms are all interesting and fun for various reasons, one thing is consistent throughout – they were all labors of love. Enjoy! —Garrett

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#DSRainbow

#DSRainbow

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I cannot believe that June is already here. I’m in complete denial and find myself clutching onto spring with all of its cool temperatures and beautiful flowers like I can’t let go. But I know that the long days of summer are ahead and with all of their downs (air conditioning bills and mosquitoes) there will be some wonderful ups, like hiking to waterfalls, dips in the pool, backyard badminton and getting flip flop tans that make me feel like I’m a kid again. This month not only marks the first day of summer (June 21st), it also holds my 34th birthday on the 9th (woohoo!) and the start of Pride month. Whether you’re a member of the LGBT community or an ally (thank you!), this month will be about celebrating love, equality and happiness for everyone. Part of that celebration almost always includes a rainbow or two, so I decided to make this month’s hashtag challenge: #DSRAINBOW.

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We’re taking inspiration from the iconic rainbow flag to celebrate gorgeous photos of all themes that show a color change from red to orange to yellow to green to blue to violet (or any part of the spectrum)! I’ve shared some of my favorite examples above and below, but if you spot something beautiful with a rainbow-inspired feel, share it at #DSRAINBOW and we’ll share our favorites here on DS and on Instagram. xo, grace

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[Images above, top to bottom: DandyFineParty, WrightKitchen, EBMNewhaven, TonyAvista]

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Beau Ciolino’s Matcha Truffles

Beau Ciolino’s Matcha Truffles

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Beau Ciolino, a New Orleans-based writer and author of Probably Baking blog, is another one of my favorite Instagram finds this year. His enthusiasm for baking is present in every image and in his writing, making his blog and Instagram feeds both fun places to wander around. Beau created this recipe for Matcha Dark Chocolate Truffles for us this week. Though the shops here in Italy remove chocolate from their shelves around late May, when it starts to get hot (and chocolates don’t typically return to stores until autumn), I think there’s always room for a truffle or two in the summer! For two more tea-inspired variations on this truffle, visit Beau’s blog here.—Kristina

Why Beau loves this recipe: I’ve always loved making truffles. They are so easy and versatile, and will totally impress your dinner guests. I fell in love with matcha a few months ago and use it constantly in baking and desserts. Its zing of green tea flavor pairs perfectly with the very intense dark chocolate in this recipe. These little guys are a great addition to a fruit and cheese board, just add a glass or three of champagne and you’ve got yourself a lovely after-dinner delight. If you don’t like extremely dark chocolate, you can always use a lower cocoa percentage, such as 50%, to make it more to your taste.   

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