DIY Menorah Place Cards

DIY Menorah Place Cards

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I am a bit type A, so I absolutely adore lists, my label maker and a clear sense of order at dinner parties. Enter: Place cards! They are a host’s best friend for wrangling partygoers and they allow your guests to avoid the “Where will I sit?” shuffle, while also giving you peace of mind that you have enough space for all of your guests to sit comfortably. My guests have come to expect a little craftiness adorning their place setting when they attend a dinner party at my house, and they seem to love taking those projects home after the meal. Since Hanukkah is right around the corner, I decided to create these Menorah Place Cards using birch veneer plywood. They are sturdy enough to last for at least eight nights of celebrating. -Sarah

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DIY Moroccan Wedding Blanket Tree Skirt

DIY Moroccan Wedding Blanket Tree Skirt

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​I’m certainly not the type who can trim the tree the same way, year after year. I love to try something new each Christmas, and while I often start with the ornaments, this year I decided to start with the skirt. I’ve admired the beauty of Moroccan wedding blankets for quite some time now, and it hit me that I could perhaps come up with something similar for a tree skirt. The blankets add so much warmth and texture to a space, and their subtle hints of sparkle are perfect for the holidays. Plus, the neutral palette lends itself to all sorts of decor – perfect for my ever-changing tree. -Gwen Hefner of The Makerista

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Graphic Modernism in Melbourne

Design*Sponge: Suzy Tuxen & Shane Loorham, Photograph by Sarah Anderson

Graphic Modernism in Melbourne

In her mission statement published on our site last week, Grace touched upon one of my biggest beliefs when it comes to home design: no rules. There are a number of reasons why this particular principle rings true to me, but the strongest rationale I can think of for it is the simple fact that no two people see the world in the same way. Here at Design*Sponge, the homes we feature typically belong to creatives in a variety of fields, each one with different impulses, different passions, and different ways of looking at their surroundings. As with all forms of art and aesthetics, it is a matter of interpretation.

When it came to decorating their own Melbourne house, graphic designers Suzy Tuxen and Shane Loorham applied their own unique vision and expertise to create a home that in many ways is an extension of the aesthetics and principles that guide their own work. Like a piece of printed graphic design, items within this 1970s single-story home read as punctuations, pieces of a larger puzzle that are informed by the spaces between them and the rooms they inhabit. In the kitchen, a polyhedric sculpture interrupts an expanse of white; in the living room, thoughtfully placed elements of vibrant color catch the eye and guide it throughout the space. Everyday objects become design and decor elements—a vintage Olivetti typewriter hangs on the wall above a desk; a row of espresso makers provide rhythm on a shelf.

The four years that the couple have occupied the home have been filled with experimentation and self-exploration, things that have allowed them to arrive at this point. Colors have been tested, motifs have been taken for a spin. Suzy’s company, A Friend of Mine, touts itself as a holistic design practice, something that seems to carry through to this living space. Each element of the home seems to inform the other, their relationships creating a cohesive, personalized whole. “We’ve painted walls and repainted over them again,” Suzy notes, “Owning a home is great as you can be as playful as you like with it!” —Max

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Decorating For Winter With White

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Decorating For Winter With White

When it comes to decorating with cold weather months in mind, the age-old impulse is to gravitate towards something warm—an earthy brown, an old barn red, a marigold yellow. After all, when you’re suffering the so-called “January Blues,” there’s nothing like a bit of yellow or orange to brighten things up a bit. There is, however, an unsung color hero of winter, and it might surprise you: White. At first, this shade might strike one as the #basic of the color world, but that is hardly the case. White is a master of disguise, a jack of all trades, a master of all. It complements almost all decor and, when the temperature starts taking a dive toward freezing and the days take a turn toward the dark, it can help to maintain a fresh, bright look. With some help from our friends over at Farrow & Ball, we combed through our archives to find some stellar examples of white paint at work. Check them out in the slideshow! —Max

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25 Gifts $50 and Under

Great Gifts $50 and Under at Design*Sponge (2014)

25 Gifts $50 and Under

I’m almost at the end of my price-based gift guides, rounding out this week’s selections with beautiful high-quality gifts that are $50 and under. In my family we do a “Secret Santa” process so we rotate who gets who a gift every year. Our price limit is always $50 and we all work very hard to find the best and most meaningful pieces we can in that range. I kept a wide range of recipients in mind, from hosts and hostesses to business owners, cooks and gardeners. Hopefully one of these pieces will help someone on your list start a new tradition at home or work. xo, grace

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DIY Project: Modern Wooden Christmas Tree

DIY Project: Modern Wooden Christmas Tree

DIY Wooden Tree by Hello Yellow House on Design*Sponge
Today’s first DIY project comes from Tinca and Evgen of the blog Hello Yellow House. Based in Ljubljana, Slovenia, these talented architects have spent the last year restoring a home and documenting their projects online. As the holiday season got closer, they decided they wanted to make decorations that suited their modern style, while avoiding plastic as much as possible. So instead, they came up with this beautiful, minimalist wooden tree that uses a steel bar to let the tree branches turn and move. I loved the project so much I asked Tinca and Evgen if we could share it here and thankfully, they were game! I know so many people don’t have the time or interest in bringing real trees home, so if you’re looking for something a bit more modern, without the sticky sap residue, this project is for you. xo, grace

*This project involves metal and welding, so please be sure you’re comfortable or familiar with welding tools before attempting.

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Self-Publishing Your Book with Anna Watson Carl of The Yellow Table

Self-Publishing Your Book with Anna Watson Carl of The Yellow Table

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Writing a book is often compared to having a baby. While the two are vastly different in a lot of ways, most people who work in publishing reference the fact that you sometimes forget about the most difficult parts when you get the joy of holding the final product in your hands. I definitely felt that way after we finished our first book and now that I’m writing our second, I feel like I’m much more relaxed and “go-with-the-flow” this time around. I honestly feel like a part of a family at Artisan and I am really happy to be a part of their lineup, but I also understand why so many people are choosing to self-publish these days. While it comes with a number of difficult hurdles to cross, it also offers up total creative freedom and a lot more control than most authors are able to get.

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Last week we shared a delicious Turkey Lasagna recipe from Anna Watson Carl’s new cookbook, The Yellow Table: A Celebration of Everyday Gatherings, which she chose to self-publish on her own. Anna chose to crowd-fund the beginning of her process, but she was incredibly smart and inventive when it came to funding and producing her own book tour, which kept her goals and values at heart. I was so impressed with Anna’s process and the final product, that I asked her to do a special business post focused just on the process of self-publishing. If you’ve ever wondered about producing your own book or just want to know more about the process, I hope you’ll enjoy Anna’s words of wisdom as much as I did. xo, grace

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Biz Ladies Profile: Darcy Allan of Tea With Gladys

Biz Ladies Profile: Darcy Allan of Tea With Gladys

Biz Ladies Profile: Darcy Allan of Tea with Gladys
Sometimes, it turns out that being “in between things” is actually the best place to be. Darcy Allan of Tea With Gladys knew that she didn’t want to go back to working for someone else when she found herself without a job, so she decided to forge a new path, one that gave her the creativity and flexibility she had been looking for. Today Darcy shares a bit about the evolution of her online-to-in-person business and the many helpful bits of information she learned in the process. -Stephanie

Read the full interview after the jump…

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Cleveland City Guide {UPDATE}

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Cleveland City Guide {UPDATE}

Cleveland native and Navy PR founder, Mary Peffer appreciates all of the assets, features, and amenities a big city has to offer. As a previous NYC and LA dweller, it was actually her hometown of Cleveland that kept calling her name, and this past year she finally decided to return to her roots and reintegrate into the metropolitan city that is having a “rebirth” of its own right now. She shares with us some of the many shopping, dining and lodging gems this Ohio city has to offer, as well as some great must-see and -do options. -Stephanie

Read the full guide after the jump…

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20 Gifts $25 and Under

Design*Sponge $25 and Under Gift Guide (2014)

20 Gifts $25 and Under

Whether you’re looking for something fun and colorful or something serious and helpful for around the office and house, today’s $25 and under gift guide has you covered. When I was searching for great finds, I was happy to find so much brass, wood and linen. Years ago it felt impossible to find anything $25 and under that wasn’t made of plastic or some sort of flimsy rubber composite. Now the market is full of great pieces from independent artist and shops that won’t break the bank. The wooden diamond box, ceramic cat dish and maple syrup from Westwind Orchard are my favorites, but hopefully there will be something here for everyone. xo, grace

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Daylight Dreams Editions

Daylight Dream Editions at Design*Sponge

Daylight Dreams Editions

When I was first living on my own and starting to decorate my apartment, I had this idea that artwork was only something that came from a store or gallery. I relied too often on what I saw in magazines and forgot to trust my own instincts about what I valued and wanted to display. Over time I swung to the other end of the pendulum and traded or gave away every piece of art I owned that wasn’t personally significant to me. While I still lean in that direction now, I’ve started to find a more comfortable middle ground where newer pieces can mingle with the smaller family and friend pieces and it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.

One of my favorite new sites for finding beautiful artwork is Daylight Dreams Editions, an LA-based art studio that releases editions of artwork made both by independent artists and artists from their in-house team. Founded by Molly Frances and Mark Frohman, DDE sells framed and un-framed work (the latter ships worldwide) in a wide range of styles, almost all of which appeal to me, which can be dangerous. From textile-inspired paintings to photography of geodes and architectural detailing, these are the sorts of pieces that, when mixed into other loved pieces in your home, can really create a well-rounded and meaningful art collection. Prices range from $75 for prints to $3,000 for larger original pieces, but I found that the majority of pieces in easy-to-frame sizes (i.e: they fit in your standard Ribba frame) were around $150. I’ve got my eye on some of the ancient architectural prints (those columns have my name on them) but I’m going to bookmark them until after the holiday to make sure I don’t act too impulsively. If you’re looking for something to brighten your walls, click here to check out and shop their full collection online. xo, grace

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A Warm and Cozy Nest In The Midwest

Johnna and Max kept their bed intentionally low to allow for easy cuddle time with their daughter, Luella Beane. A cowhide keeps them warm and snuggly during winter months.

A Warm and Cozy Nest In The Midwest

Minnesota’s long winters are known for their subzero temperatures and punishing snow, but they seem perfect for life at the beautifully cozy home of Johnna and Max Holmgren. The proprietors of Bear Fox Chalk, an illustration studio that uses chalk as its chosen medium, the pair are no strangers to thinking creatively or working with their hands, tasks that they took to with serious verve when they decided to renovate a long-abandoned nineteenth century home in the town of Stillwater. Over the course of two years, the couple transformed this once dilapidated and damaged home, opening up floor plans, exposing hardwood floors, and giving the interior a fresh coat of bright white paint.

The house’s purchase and renovation was a labor of love in numerous ways, and love, more than anything, is what seems to permeate this home. “We dated in high school and this city was our halfway point where we would meet often for dates and outings,” Johnna recalls. “We fell in love with the city, the St. Croix River, the accessibility to both the city and country. We loved the old homes and loved the idea of our daughter Luella growing up here with parks on every corner and forests only a jaunt away for exploring.” The home, now freshly renovated and overflowing with warmth and light, is exactly the sort of place that can grow and evolve along with this young family; a charming, yet unfussy space that is filled with memories and room to create new ones. —Max

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A Philadelphia Home with Vintage at Heart

Mary and Will Spears' Philadelphia Home on Design*Sponge

A Philadelphia Home with Vintage at Heart

I sadly was born without the gene that gives so many people the patience needed to hunt for great vintage furniture and clothes. Thankfully in today’s online retail world, there are hundreds of incredible shop owners who have not only the patience, but the great eye, to find these gems and make them readily available online. Mary of Millay Vintage is one of those people and I’ve been following her excellent shop since I first discovered her Instagram feed (which is filled with incredible coats, jackets and dresses.) Mary and her husband Will recently moved to Philadelphia from Boston to pursue a new job opportunity and managed to get their new home put together in less than a month. Along with their Chihuahua, General Gazpacho, Mary and Will fell in love with their apartment’s architecture and French doors and decided to embrace the original details when decorating. Rather than covering them up with modern design, they’ve managed to mix in contemporary pieces along with a wide range of vintage finds collected from thrift shops and Craigslist. Because they’re renters, Mary and Will were limited in what they could do to the space to make it their own, but they used paint, contact paper and wallpaper (hung, not pasted) to customize their home and create a space that feels warm and welcoming and reflects the people living inside. I love seeing all their DIY projects and marveling at their incredible thrifted finds (that iron bed!)- it’s such wonderful proof that homes don’t need to be brand new, expensive or ‘finished’ to be beautiful. xo, grace

Photographs by Joe St. Pierre

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Jewelry Designers Build a Home in Upstate New York

Jude and Eben's High Falls, NY Home Tour on Design*Sponge

Jewelry Designers Build a Home in Upstate New York

A few weeks ago Julia and I took a trip to High Falls, New York, a small town near the Catskills that was having incredible makers fair called Field + Supply. Created by interior designer Brad Ford, the event was an incredible showcase of just how much talent is living in and around the Hudson Valley area. Max and I both visited on different days and we each came back with long lists of people to contact about home and studio tours. I’m so thrilled to showcase one of those tours today with Jude Rand and Eben Papele, the artist and metalsmith behind Rand Papele jewelry. Inspired by Japanese and Scandinavian symbolism and folk art traditions, Judy and Eben’s work feels like it has one foot in the future and one firmly rooted in the traditions of the past. It’s that new-meets-old feeling that I love in just about everything in my life and these two talented artists have brought that feeling to the 19th century farmhouse in High Falls, New York that they now call home. Former antique and art dealers, Jude and Eben have filled their home with historic weavings, rugs, furniture and all types of intriguing objects, from spiral entry bells to wooden crates. This is the sort of space I want to wander in for hours and ask questions about every object. So I’ll let Jude and Eben take it from here and introduce us to the beautiful things they surround themselves with at home and at work. xo, grace

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12 Gifts $10 and Under

12 Gifts $10 and Under

Design*Sponge Gift Guide: 12 Gifts $10 and Under
Great gifts come in all shapes and sizes. Few things say you care as much as spending time with someone and giving them something you made yourself, but having something special to wrap and give to a loved one is always nice, too. So this week we’re going to be posting a range of gift guides organized by theme (art! food! books!) and by price. To kick things off, I wanted to start with gifts that come with a $10 price tag (or less). Hopefully one of these will be the perfect piece for someone special in your life. xo, grace

Image above, clockwise from top left: Leather keychain $10, Woodfire Matches $6, Animal Print Bag $9, Love Matches $6, Coffee Clip/Spoon $5.95, Champagne Stars Lollipop $4, Candlesticks $5-$7, Faceted Soaps $8, Ring Holder $9.95, Gold Top Lightbulb $7, Blue Willow Mug $10, Message Pencils $10.