10 years ago today, I was working on the ground floor of my boss’ home office in Brooklyn about to hit “publish” on a blog that I had no idea anyone else would ever read. I picked a name, wrote about some of my favorite things (an Eames chair and vase by the Bouroullec brothers) and took my first, and only, selfie to set up my user account on Blogspot. People always say that if they knew what something would turn into before they started it, they would have done things differently. But I can honestly say that after a decade of running Design*Sponge, I wouldn’t change a thing. Every mistake I’ve made has led to a valuable lesson and every success has been a team effort that I’ve been honored to share with an incredible group of co-workers and friends. This site has given me some of the happiest and most challenging moments of my life. It’s introduced me to my best friends, endless inspiring collaborators and even led to me meeting my wife. This blog has allowed me to repair and nurture a sense of self-confidence and has taught me to discover my own voice and find ways to use it to empower the people around me in the community I love. I quite simply wouldn’t be who I am without this site and it is a complete and total joy to be able to celebrate it’s 10th birthday.
If Design*Sponge was a real baby (and not just the metaphorical baby I pour my heart and hard work into), she would be entering 5th grade and just starting to figure out who she is. And in some ways, I feel like this year we’re doing the same thing. As the landscape of the online community changes more and more quickly, we’re learning to ride each wave and find more momentum and motivation to use these changes to make us better and more efficient communicators. Whether we’re sharing photos on Instagram, writing personal essays on the blog or shooting videos to share with people halfway across the world, every single piece of content we put into the world is done with the same amount of enthusiasm, curiosity and passion that we’ve had since day one. It’s not always easy to keep up the same pace, but I truly believe the people I work with here at D*S are the best in the business. And I think our readers and this creative community at-large represent some of the kindest and most incredible people in the world. It’s your voices, your input and your friendship that’s kept us going over the years and we want you to know just how much it means to all of us. Your emails, comments and even your hugs at events are the energy we use to keep pushing harder to find more (and better) ways to share ideas that we hope will help and inspire all of us to create homes – and lives – that represent who we are.
This week our team is getting a well-deserved break from the internet so rather than go on too long, I want to just take a moment to thank everyone who has read, supported or talked with us here at Design*Sponge. You’ve made this the best job anyone could ever have. To be able to talk about the things we love on a daily basis is truly a privilege and each and every one of us look forward to the next 10 years of celebrating the incredible talent and inspiration the creative community has to offer. Thank you for continuing to talk, share and work with us all. xo, Grace and the entire team at D*S.
*To celebrate our 10th Anniversary, photographer Julie Lee has created two beautiful images inspired by our D*S color palette of pink and grey (that’s one above!). Using all natural materials, she created these gorgeous collages that you can download here to use as desktop or phone wallpaper. Thanks so much, Julie!
Earlier this year I decided to stop drinking. I was never much of a drinker in the first place, but after seeing an allergist I realized that all the things I felt when I drank even the tiniest bit of something alcoholic were signs of an alcohol intolerance. Nothing was severe enough to send me to the emergency room, but every time I had the occasional beer, my nose would immediately stuff up, my throat would start itching and my skin would get flushed so much that I felt like something was wrong with me. It turns out there was something wrong and that, shockingly, this wasn’t something that everyone else was feeling. So I decided to cut it out of my life and haven’t looked back since. That said, I still enjoy the act of having a festive “drink” when I’m out with friends celebrating something. So instead of drinking what everyone else is having, I have learned to ask bartenders about mocktails or anything they can make easily without adding alcohol. Those requests have led to some of the most delicious drinks I’ve ever had (the blood orange mocktail at Lola in Cleveland is amazing), so I decided to share some of my favorite non-alcoholic drink recipes for anyone looking to mix up something special for end-of-the-summer celebrations. Served in a punch bowl, these can be great drinks for anyone at a party (including younger guests) but you can easily dress them up in a fancy coupe with a garnish for older guests who want something that looks a little more sophisticated. I hope you’ll enjoy these drinks as much as I do! xo, grace
Image above: Chelsea Fuss’ Elderflower Drink is as summery as it gets. The post includes a version you can add alcohol to, but it is not required for the recipe.
Click through for all of my favorite mocktails after the jump!
If you live in a city and don’t have access to a backyard like a lot of us, you probably share my love of being able to cook (or just eat) near an actual grill. It’s illegal for us to put a tiny grill on our fire escape, so I relish any chance to visit our families outside of Brooklyn who have room for outdoor cooking. Julia and I are spending time with my family in Virginia this week to celebrate my mom’s birthday (Happy Birthday, Mom!), so we’re preparing a special all-grilled menu for her party. In honor of cooking outside and making something under the stars, I rounded up my all-time favorite grilling recipes. From Yotam Ottolenghi’s grilled bread with spinach to an incredible chai tea s’more recipe, there’s something in here for every meal and taste bud. Happy grilling! xo, grace
*Image above: This is my favorite grilling recipe we’ve ever posted. It’s Green Kitchen Stories’ delicious take on a grilled Portobello burger (with peaches!). Vegetarian, fresh and super tasty, it’s my go-to for summer grilling when I visit my family in Virginia.
Click through for all of our favorite recipes after the jump!
I don’t know about you, but there’s nothing quite as satisfying as witnessing a real, good kitchen renovation. Whether it’s on a cheesy daytime home and garden show or an in-person tour at a friend’s house, a brand-spankin’-new kitchen has the ability to give me chills and send my heart beating in envy. Self-closing drawers, you say? Ohhhh. Custom cabinetry? Shut up right now. Marble countertops? Let me just run my hands across them—that’s not creepy, right? If a fancy-shmancy new kitchen does it for you like it does for me, you’re quite in luck! Today, we’ve hand-picked 15 of some of our favorite, most awe-inspiring kitchen transformations from our Before & After archives—all for your viewing pleasure! May they excite you, thrill you and inspire your own kitchen renovation projects! —Max
I don’t know about you, but even though my school days are long over, the onset of September still gets the butterflies in my stomach going and I suddenly feel the urge to buy pencils, notebooks and fresh new planners. This yearly stirring presents a great opportunity to turn over a new leaf at home, too—a second January, if you will. September usually finds me clearing out desk drawers, reorganizing my filing cabinets, and sprucing up my at-home workspace. If you get in a similar mode when the fall mood sets in, we’ve got some snazzy, handy-dandy tips, ideas and projects to get your back-to-school/back-to-work workspace in tip-top shape! Check out all 23 after the jump! —Max
Above: Take a page from Yield Design Company’s book and turn a large portion of your office’s wall into a peg board—you’ll find endless uses for it, from organizing to a place to hang inspirational artwork!
Every year the radio station from which my radio show, After the Jump, is broadcast takes a two-week break to gear up for fall programming. This year I’m using my radio break to think BIG about the show and try to reimagine the format to include new and exciting features, more interview clips with people from across the globe and more resources to help people get inspired and stay motivated with their creative businesses. One of the ways I try to learn what people want more of is to take a look at what’s worked in the past and what hasn’t. While I was digging into my stats to see what shows had been most successful, I thought it would be fun to share the shows that people have enjoyed the most so far. It can be tougher to figure out these stats than you’d think, as there are so many ways and places people can listen to shows (on this site, on other sites, through iTunes or other apps like Stitcher). I used a mix of all these stats to calculate your favorites and I am so excited to see how I can integrate more of these ideas you liked into shows going forward. If you have any requests for the fall season, please feel free to leave them below. So many of my shows come from direct listener requests, so feel free to request to your heart’s content – I’m listening. xo, grace
Click through for the 10 most popular shows of all time…
I get really frustrated when I find a great DIY project that I want to try, but discover that it comes with an incredibly high price point. For me, DIY is all about using what you have around the house and finding clever ways to turn inexpensive materials into something that looks fantastic. So if you’ve got some extra time on your hands this summer, these 10 projects will show you how to take things you have around you at home (like old sheets, towels and even fallen branches) and use them to create home decor that’s as beautiful as it is functional. No complicated instructions and no trips back to the ATM to get extra money for pricey materials. xo, grace
Image above: Copper Curtain Rod with Geometric Finials
Click through for all 10 projects after the jump!
Peeking into the these toolboxes is a bit like looking in the host’s medicine cabinet where you’re at a dinner party. (Not that I would know.) But it is quite revealing and it’s fun to see what people consider to be their must-have items. There might even be something that makes its way onto your own wish list. (Click through the name to see more of the studio spaces for each of the artists). -Amy
*If you want to see more of our What’s in Your Toolbox column, click here.
Image above: Cynthia Warren’s toolbox for her work in hand-lettering, calligraphy and illustration (she did the menu designs for Chez Panisse!).
Image above: Childhood friends Mark Warren and Chris Pence have converted a 120-year-old farmhouse in the hills of North Carolina into a ceramic studio called Haand. Mark uses his grandfather’s drafting tools whenever he works on a new project.
Image above: Brooklyn-based jewelry designer Aaron Ruff creates pieces inspired by everything from history to literature for the line “Digby & Iona.”
See more toolboxes after the jump!
If there’s one thing I love about summer, it’s the incredible wealth of beautiful fresh flowers. From roadside wildflowers to huge sunflowers, this is the season when nature seems to offer up so much inspiration and color. One of my favorite pastimes is container gardening, so I love any DIY project that lets me bring gardening and flowers into the equation. So to celebrate the last days of summer, I rounded up 10 projects that use flowers and gardening as the focal point. Whether you’re looking to make plantable notes you can send to friends (that will grow flowers after they’ve read them) or gorgeous paper flower centerpieces, these are ideas for all of the flower-lovers out there. Here’s hoping fall brings just as many gorgeous flowers as this summer did. xo, grace
Image above: Giant paper flower DIY project by Ruche
Click through for all 10 projects after the jump!
When people ask me what I enjoy most about my job, the first thing that comes to mind is the community that’s sprung up around our Biz Ladies series. From the first women I met in Brooklyn who inspired me to create the series to the hundreds of women I met in person when we took the series across the country in 2008 to the many friends, colleagues and collaborators we’ve met through the online column, this area of the site has been one of the most rewarding of all. I’m always inspired by the people who share their stories with us and open up about what they’ve learned from good (and bad) moments in their careers. But I’m most excited by reading your reactions to posts and by hearing the personal stories you’ve all shared with us in comment sections and on social media through the years. So today I wanted to share the posts that have been the most popular over the last few years. These are the posts you’ve commented on the most, returned to and continue to share over time. I hope they’ll be inspiring or helpful to get some last-minute summer business planning going or set you off on the right path for a successful fall! xo, grace
Click through for all 10 posts after the jump!
If living in teeny-weeny living spaces over the past decade of my life has taught me anything, it’s that ingenuity and cleverness—at least when it comes to the home—can go a long way. From making the most of a small space to using unusual materials in a new way, a clever idea can save you money, brighten your life, and make your living space feel like a home. Over the years at Design*Sponge, we’ve shared hundreds of homes with you, many of which showcase some seriously brilliant ideas. Here are fifteen awesome ones we’ve pulled from the D*S archives. Check out 26 more here! —Max
Above: Looking for a quick way to get downstairs that also adds 100 points of fun to any space? Take a page from designer Alyn Carlson’s book and install a vintage fireman’s pole!
This post is brought to you by eBay, where you can score amazing finds for your home! Design*Sponge has created some collections of our favorite things on eBay and put together some fancy guides for everything from DIY projects to Weekend Entertaining ideas. Follow us on eBay for exclusive content right here!
One of the site changes I’m happiest about this year is expanding our travel section to include smaller city guides that focus on one ideal day in a town. As much as I’d love to have days on end to explore a new area, I often find myself with only a few hours to check things out in between meetings or family events. So sometimes a shorter guide comes in handy, especially when it’s written by someone who I think would have a good idea of what design-obsessed folks like us would want to see. So early this year we introduced “24 Hours In” to provide more in-depth looks at one local’s ideal day. From Kinfolk Magazine’s guide to Portland to chef Hugh Acheson’s guide to his hometown of Athens, GA, these guides have a personalized feel that I really love. We have dozens more coming this year, but today I wanted to share my 10 favorite “24 Hours In” guides of the year in case anyone reading needs a little help planning a quick getaway for the end of summer. Whether you’re looking to explore Washington, D.C. for a day or visit beautiful Savannah, GA for biscuits and sweet tea, these guides will give you plenty of great ideas. xo, grace
Click through for 10 great cities to visit with 24 hours to spare…
The first question you might have after reading the title of this post is: “What is a classic kitchen?” I thought a lot about what makes a kitchen classic as I was looking through our sneak peek archives. And, for me, a classic kitchen is one that is timeless. And so unsurprisingly, many of these kitchen are white (and if they are not white, they are a subtle gray). After all, a white kitchen is pretty timeless. It feels clean (which is how you want your kitchen to feel), yet it also feels unfussy and subtle. But the best thing about a white, classic kitchen is how the look of the kitchen can be transformed by changing small details. So we have some “classic” kitchens that feel a little country, some that feel city, some that feel poppy and some that feel subdued – and that’s what makes the classic white kitchen so great. It can really change with you. -Amy
Image above: White cabinets, black hinges and a Shaw Original farmhouse sink make up this kitchen in a stone house in the Hudson Valley.
Image above: Accessories designer Farah Malik considers her Viking stove to be the hearth of her Brooklyn home. She looked for over a year for the brass hood until finally finding this one for $200 on eBay.
Click through for more great kitchens after the jump!
Last week, I gave a talk titled “The History Behind Design Trends” here in New York City, and when I finished talking about the history of black, of white rooms and of indigo, I was asked to comment on other trends in design. My answer? Bright, colorful textiles from around the world. We all seem to have been bitten by the same textile bug. From Turkish kilims to Peruvian rugs to pillows from Mexico, the world has become a smaller place where textiles are concerned. And I wholeheartedly love this trend. For one, many of these textiles are handmade by women, so when you’re buying a piece either directly from the source or from a company that ethically sources the textiles, you have the potential to support a woman-run business. But leaving gender aside, you’re also supporting handmade work. A greater appreciation on the international market of this work also makes it lucrative – meaning that these traditions aren’t lost. There’s something that is just so special about the artistry that goes into these one-of-a-kind textile pieces, so it even makes me happy when someone rescues a piece from a vintage shop or eBay and gives it a new life. Get ready to be wowed. -Amy
Image above: The bed in this New Zealand trailer was found and bought on Trade Me (a New Zealand version of eBay). The rug is a vintage Afghan carpet, the artwork above the bed is an old bark tapa cloth from Papua New Guinea.
Image above: Paige Morse’s Dallas home is filled with textiles. In this little corner of her living is a small settee made from vintage kilim rugs paired with a throw brought back from Mexico and pillows made from vintage wedding clothes from India.
Image above: The San Francisco home of Yellow Owl Workshop founder Christine Schmidt showcases this Berber carpet (found for a steal on eBay).
Click through for more beautiful textiles after the jump!
If there is one subject that is near and dear to my heart, it’s book storage. Even though I try to watch what I bring into my house, I make an exception for books. As a former librarian, I do make a point of checking what the library has before I pull the trigger, but in the last week alone, I’ve bought Love Customs in Eighteenth-Century Spain, The Festive Tradition: Table Decoration and Desserts in America, 1650-1900 and Now I Lay Me Down to Eat: Notes and Footnotes on the Lost Art of Living. And those are just the tip of the iceberg. I only buy decorative arts books that I know I’m going to use for reference or inspiration, but things spin quickly out of control. There’s a book coming out on Marella Agnelli? That goes on the wish list! You can see my problem, but I’m of the opinion that well-loved books make the best decoration in any home. So, book storage is important. You can see my own book solution below, but I’m always looking for other options. -Amy
See many more book storage options in our Best of Book Storage.
Image above: These are the bookshelves in my Williamsburg apartment. I turned my ugly brown Billy bookcases into beautiful built-ins following instructions from Little Green Notebook. (Note: Painting IKEA furniture is not fun. It took many, many coats to turn those brown bookcases white!)
Image above: The library in this New York City apartment was created using metal garage shelves.
See more book storage options after the jump!
Above photo by @two13vintage.
You guys—September is a week away. If that sentence doesn’t make your blood run cold and your soul want to hide in a corner, I don’t know what will. Seriously—where did this season go? Although summer’s official end date (at least up here in the Northern hemisphere) is September 22, there’s something about the shift in tone after Labor Day that sounds the death knell for summer. Still— I don’t mean to be all doom and gloom—there’s one more week, after all! So, to kick off your last-ditch efforts to soak up the sun for summer’s last hoorah, we’ve collected some more of our favorite submissions to the #DSSummer feed. May they fuel your weekend adventures, your Labor Day festivities, and your end-of-summer blowouts. Have a wonderful weekend, everybody! xx Max
Above photo by @bethkellmer.
The trifle is a traditional English layered dessert generally made of alcohol soaked sponge cake, layered with custard, gelatin, whipped cream and fruit (not necessarily in that order), and served in a glass dish. As a child, I remember being fascinated by desserts layered in glasses such as trifles, sundaes and what we refer to as parfaits in the US. I even like to think of tiramisù as a trifle, even though I am sure very many people would disagree! This week Elaine McCardel, author of the food blog The Italian Dish, shares her version of a trifle inspired by her Sicilian heritage. Her lemon cake and pistachio creme trifle uses a pistachio studded mascarpone in place of custard for a lighter texture, and a hint of limoncello to brush the layers. It is beautiful to see! If you don’t have a trifle dish, you can use a cookie cutter to make smaller rounds of cake to layer in individual glasses or bowls. -Kristina
About Elaine: Elaine McCardel is the author of The Italian Dish food blog, where she encourages people to cook from scratch. With an emphasis on her food photography, she guides you through recipes and shows you how easy cooking can be. She holds sold-out cooking classes in her home where people learn to make fresh pasta and homemade pizzas. Her mother was from Italy and she definitely has that Italian gene – the love of feeding people!
See Elaine’s trifle after the jump!
Once cottages for 19th century salt mine workers, the Salt House Inn opened as a refuge for those escaping from their own version of the salt mines in the city to the beach town of Provincetown, Massachusetts. The project was a collaboration between hotel industry innovator David Bowd and interior designer Kevin O’Shea, who purchased the property in May 2011. David, originally from the English village of Salt, which partly inspired the Inn’s name, has been in the hotel business for 30 years. Kevin studied interior architecture at RISD and then began a career in hotel design and opened his own interior design studio, Kevin O’Shea Designs in 2009. Kevin and David had been vacationing in Provincetown for the last few years and noticed a void for a stylish, yet affordable place to stay. And opening an inn in their favorite vacation destination seemed like the perfect collaboration for a couple who has their hands in the hotel industry. Kevin designed every inch of the inn, from the largest room right down to the privacy signs that hang on the door. The result is a hotel that evokes the feeling of a breezy beach cottage and perfectly captures the history and charm of this seaside destination located at the tip of Cape Cod. -Amy
Image above: “The long shingle style building dates back to the 1850s and was once cottages for salt mine workers,” says interior designer and hotel owner Kevin O’Shea.
Image above: “The components that make up our rooms are very simple, but the details have been carefully considered, for example the glass shades on the wall sconces are different in each room.”
Image above: “The Loft is our premium suite and is very popular with people celebrating special occasions, especially honeymoons. This space was never part of the inn before the renovations, rather it was the bedroom of the owner’s quarters, we felt it was too spectacular to not be part of the guest experience so with some reconfiguring we were able to add onto the guestroom side of the inn.”
See more of the Salt House Inn after the jump!
The art of textile making is one of the world’s oldest, a pursuit that has followed practically every civilization since the dawn of mankind. With the potential for functionality and beauty, textiles have served both our physical and emotional needs, weaving together generations, communities and entire cultures through their communicative and connective power. We here at Design*Sponge don’t think we’re alone in saying we love a good textile. In recent years, we have seen the art of textile making, especially in our own locales, experience something of a renaissance—friends, family members and some of our favorite artists have taken up the loom, the knitting needle, or the sewing machine to take part in this timeless craft. Still, despite this resurgence of textile interest, these works have often taken a backseat to other art and design objects, their importance minimized in comparison to art forms favored by the Western tradition, their appreciation relegated to tight-knit online communities and the aisles of craft stores. This is why we are so thrilled to see a new, fresh face on the indie publishing scene—Knit Wit, a lifestyle magazine dedicated entirely to the love and appreciation of textile arts and design.
Founded by friends Zinzi Edmundson and Gigi Jack, Knit Wit promises to be a textile publication like no other. Decidedly au courant in terms of style and design, the magazine eschews long-held presumptions about textile arts, media and makers. “We’re repelled by the cutesy; we’re fatigued by the heady,” the magazine’s manifesto reads. “We are a lifestyle-driven art and craft publication that celebrates the people and objects in this dynamic and growing community. It’s a beautifully put-together collection of photos and stories for all interested parties: the master, hobbyist, or newcomer alike.” The 108-page inaugural issue of Knit Wit is set to hit newsstands this November, but in the meantime, you can secure one of these bad boys by donating to Knit Wit’s ongoing Kickstarter fund drive! —Max
Over the past few weeks, we’ve been contemplating our spending habits and, more specifically, what it means to splurge. The idea of splurging is a somewhat enigmatic one, its definition shifting depending on its context and usage, but I’ve always associated it with the broader notion of spending more than one typically would on something. As our team sat around our little table at Makeshift Society discussing what the term means to each of us specifically (Amy noted how she prefers to splurge on beautiful, memorable experiences; Grace mused on the importance of waiting for the right purchase), I found myself thinking about my own choices as a consumer—my role the grand scheme of the worldwide marketplace and how I felt about that role.
A few weeks ago, I found myself in Kingston’s Stockade Tavern, having a glass of wine with a friend and chatting—as one does—about life, work and the problem of sweatshop labor. I had just read an article in The New Yorker about the troublesome disappearance of the anti-sweatshop movement in America. The movement, which was practically inescapable on college campuses and activist circles in the nineties, has all but disappeared, its battle cries hushed to quiet whispers, the siren call of $5 t-shirts apparently too strong to question. My friend, a purveyor and professor of textile design, is well-versed in such matters, so I took the opportunity to pick her brain on the subject. What she said, while quite simple, blew my mind. (more…)