Design*Sponge By Grace Bonney | New York Interior Design Blog
Design*Sponge, A Brooklyn Home For A Growing Creative Family, is your home for all things Design. Home Tours, DIY Project, City Guides, Shopping Guides, Before & Afters and much more. The blog is updated daily with resources, ideas, projects, tips, recipes & home tours.
Eating blueberries was a treat when I was little. It didn’t happen that often, but when it did it was in the form of blueberry cobbler with vanilla ice cream. I loved biting into the plump blueberries and the stain they left when I smiled like the Cheshire Cat to show off my purple teeth. This week’s recipe from the amazing new cookbook Soul: A Chef’s Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes by Chef Todd Richards encloses summer’s plumpest blueberries in a crisp crust to make Fried Blueberry Pies with Meyer Lemon Glaze. You get a two-in-one with this recipe, because Todd uses a crust recipe by Erika Council of Southern Soufflé. —Kristina
For a chance to win a copy of Soul: A Chef’s Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes, respond in the comments section below by August 15th, 5PM EST to the following question: What is your favorite pie, sweet or savory? We will announce the winner in the comments section, so be sure to check back!
Why Todd loves these pies: This is a special dish, especially for summer, because the combination of textures between the crisp crust and the bursting freshness of the blueberries is incredible. The inspiration for this dish comes from growing up in Chicago and eating Hostess pies… this is a bit more healthy!
About Todd: Todd Richards is a self-taught cook who paid his dues in countless restaurant kitchens before garnering national attention. He was a James Beard nominee for best chef in the Southeast, an Iron Chef competitor, and named one of four new chefs to watch by Esquire magazine. He is currently owner/chef of Richard’s Southern Fried at Atlanta’s Krog Street Market. Find Chef Todd Richards on Instagram at @cheftoddrichards.
Images above: Book Cover and Portrait of Todd Richards by Eric Vitale
Image above: Blueberry Fried Pies, photo by Greg DuPree
Image Above: Enjoying a meal of Todd’s recipes, including the Blueberry Fried Pies, photo by Victor Protasio
Ashley Watt first fell in love with the natural solution of body sugaring after some poor experiences with both waxing and shaving. She quickly realized the lack of education in regards to the process and decided to make it her mission to teach and inform people of the more comfortable, biodegradable and all-natural process. In an urge to share her know-how and to get people to put down their razors and waxing pot, she founded Sucré, Calgary’s first salon that strictly specializes in the ancient art of sugaring.
Sucré recently opened their second location in Calgary’s McKenzie Towne neighborhood. To turn the new space into the perfect reflection of Sucré’s brand, Ashley enlisted Alykhan Velji Designs for the job. “I wanted the space to feel elegant, luxurious and feminine,” Ashley explains. The most important elements of the space-planning were the treatment rooms. Instead of feeling clinical, Ashley wanted each room to be in line with the rest of the boutique — comfortable, elegant, and sweet with an edge.
When transforming the former photographer’s studio into the hotspot in hair removal, Alykhan and his team used carefully selected wallpapers as their design inspiration and jumping-off point for the concept. For an edgy-meets-sweet feel, the designer played with the contrast of bold black quartz against soft pink walls and completed each space with geometric brass light fixtures for an intimate and welcoming feel. Although it took Ashley some time to get her head around the black and brass reception desk, she’s so happy she went for it. “Now that the desk is installed, I can’t imagine it any other way and [I] am so glad that I trusted my design team’s vision!” she exclaims. Since opening their doors in May, regular and new customers have been able to enjoy Sucré’s sugar-sweet services in an even sweeter space. Ashley adds, “It reflects our core business values in a stylish, professional manner and is welcoming to our clientele — we’re excited to be a part of a new and growing community.” —Sofia
Image above: The entry wall is a taster of Sucré’s fresh and elegant interior concept. “We love the simplicity of the matte black logo and geometric pink details on the wall. Nothing is overdone, which allows each element […] to speak for itself,” interior designer Alykhan Velji explains.
This past March, our team gathered in upstate New York for a D*S retreat to brainstorm new content ideas and have some much needed face time since we all work remotely with one another. We were lucky enough to stay at Hasbrouck House in the historic hamlet of Stone Ridge, an 18th-century Dutch Colonial mansion turned boutique hotel. For our team of design lovers, the property was pure magic from an aesthetic standpoint — unique wallpapers, brass fixtures, original fireplaces, marble, and sumptuous textures blended together — but we left the trip even more in awe of the attention to detail for us as guests. We were particularly impressed with how all of our needs seemed to be anticipated before we even expressed them, surely a tall task for a smaller operation. Orchestrating all of these details behind the scenes was Hasbrouck House’s General Manager, Ruth Hevelone.
Ruth’s story is one that career-switching hopefuls dream of — she jumped ship from the corporate world into an industry she didn’t know much about: hospitality. There was no backup job, no prior experience in the field, just her blinding desire to change her life and follow her gut. Now Ruth runs her own tight ship with her stellar staff at Hasbrouck House — albeit, a smaller, far more relaxing ship — where, “honestly, the most stressful day I’ve had here never even holds a candle to the stressful days I had in my former career.”
Today Ruth’s telling us the motivations and fears she held in leaving her corporate job behind, the assurance she discovered in her own skills to make it in hospitality, the whirlwind path that led her to working at Hasbrouck House, and more. Scroll down to read her remarkable story, and stay tuned tomorrow for a recipe from HH’s delicious restaurant, Butterfield! —Kelli
Anasuya Sanyal and Newley Purnell are two busy journalists — Anasuya is a former TV reporter turned consultant, and Newley covers tech for the Wall Street Journal with bylines also appearing in the New Yorker and the New York Times — so their workdays can become hectic, to say the least. The most recent season of their life saw them move from Singapore to the neighborhood of New Friends Colony in New Delhi, India, a transition which greatly excited the couple for two reasons. The first of which meant they could trade apartment living for a real home with a garden (and more space for their dog Ginger to roam), and the second of which planted the couple in a country that bears Anasuya’s heritage, who is of Indian descent but was born and raised in the US.
Their new home came recommended by friends who were leaving Delhi, and while it isn’t a typical expat neighborhood, the landlords of their 1,200-square-foot place were very accommodating to the couple. An older townhouse-type home, the rental had great character and room to express Anasuya and Newley’s love for vintage items — they just needed someone to help them put it all together. They enlisted interior designer Shivani Dogra, and launched a collaborative design process that took about two-and-a-half months. “After we briefed [Shivani] and approved the initial drawings, we gave her a relatively free hand, which we think helped the outcome,” Anasuya and Newley tell us. “We learned that clear communication and being open about our preferences is essential when you’ve hired someone to decorate your space. Also, choosing someone whose taste you trust is important, as it makes the process much easier. ”
Shivani’s skill of deeply understanding her clients — and what makes them who they are — results in a design outcome that is undeniably personal and cohesive. Throughout the home, vintage Indian furnishings mingle with treasured mementos and keepsakes from their travels, showcasing the impact each place has had on the two of them. “We needed for the house to feel like our connection to the US and our experiences in South East Asia [and] fit in seamlessly with New Delhi, India.”
Culling together all of these details, Shivani devised a design plan that encompassed all facets of Anasuya and Newley’s story as a couple. “Since their time in Delhi was to be brief, Anasuya and Newley wanted a quick but thorough home makeover,” Shivani begins. “The first meetings were mainly discussions covering a range as wide as their love for vintage, her divided but equal love for Calcutta and the US, the story of Newley’s name, their meeting and even his attachment to an old IKEA armchair, which I tried in vain to get him to trade up! Next came the fun bit, as we explored some popular and hidden sources searching for unique, furniture, art and textile. We traversed the chaos of New Delhi in my old Indian (Ambassador) car from the 1980s, which made for part of the experience — what couldn’t be found in Delhi, was bought in Calcutta.”
With room to spread out and enjoy the company of each other and Ginger, Anasuya and Newley are perfectly comfortable in their New Delhi home — however long they may be there until the next journey calls. —Kelli
Image above: “The dining table was bought after the wall had been painted and went perfectly with it,” Shivani tells us. “The teak cabinet fit all of Anasuya’s crockery, and also fit in perfectly between the two niches — this was a serendipitous arrangement.”
As we’ve seen throughout the course of our Celebrating the Statescolumn, each region of America boasts unique points of view when it comes to decorating and design. And the area west of the Mississippi River is no different. Take it from me — I grew up in Texas, and I can wholeheartedly say the state has left a very permanent mark on my personal style.
Growing up there, I distinctly remember homes being heavily influenced by cowboy and Mexican culture. The first was all about fringe and leather, and natural elements like rocks and plants were king. The latter leaned more colorful, with patterns and layers of textiles that my childhood self found absolutely irresistible.
Nearly 10 years after leaving Texas, the two styles are still alive and well within me today, informing nearly all of my home decor choices. And I’m not the only one. The way of life in the region as well as its look and history have also wedged their way into the mindsets of many other artists, designers and business owners who live there. Scroll down to hear them speak about how living in the South (west of the Mississippi) has informed their individual styles. Enjoy! —Garrett
Guess what? It’s Prime Day. We tried to make a silly knock-knock joke for you earlier but that didn’t really work out and we’re moving on. So we know it’s Prime Day, you know it’s Prime Day and let’s face it the entire internet knows it’s Prime Day. We love Prime Day like we love the holidays, but yep – it can get stressful wondering what fantastic deals one may be missing out on.
Enter our calm, clean Prime Day post. First off, to get the deals, youneed to be a Prime member and that costs $119 per year. If you’re not a member, you can see all of the benefits here and sign up here.I can tell you from first hand experience that it’s easy to sign up for a 1 month free trial to test it out and just as easy to cancel your membership. I pay the monthly fee ($12.99), but you can pay it all at once too.
Now back to the goods and deals that caught our eye. Keep in mind that we’re generally on the hunt for versatile pieces in styles that can be woven into a whole slew of interior looks. When it comes to actually laying money down, neutrals are our thing because they generally have a much longer life than your “everyday” neon pink pouf. Scroll down for eight of our favorites, their discount now through tomorrow at midnight and their average rating from people who have actually purchased and used the pieces.
If you’re interested in a piece, do click through (the green button with the price & rating info) to the product page because they do have some relatable styled shots of the pieces in an actual room that are neither too showroomy or too technical catalogue-esque with weird arrow and measurements.
And if you have any great deals you’d recommend – please share them in the comments! This is a once-a-year deal friends so spread the word with your Design*Sponge friends! –Caitlin
Rivet Gold Table Lamp
Rivet Modern Upholstered Orb Office Chair in Light Grey
Rivet Marble & Brass Arc Floor Lamp
Rivet Cove Mid-Century Tufted Sofa in Light Grey
Rivet Meeks Round Storage Basket Side Table (Walnut and Grey Fabric)
Of all of the things I love about the telenovela spoof Jane the Virgin, the relationship between Jane and her Abuela is my favorite. Their respect and adoration for one another is clear and as solid as a rock. In today’s edition of Checking In, we’re stepping into to a suite made-to-order for Jane and Alba — complete with traditional and modern touches that personify my favorite TV grandmother and granddaughter. Grab your favorite romance novel + a babysitter and cozy into the Jane & Alba Villanueva Suite with us. And yes, there will be porch swing sessions every hour, on the hour! –Caitlin
P.S. Be sure to read one of my favorite Alba quotes at the end of the post!
Hi everyone! Just a quick programming note: we’re looking to hire new team members to help with ad/sponsorship sales (remote work, commission-based pay). Want to join our team? Just email us at submissions [AT] designsponge.com for more details and to apply. (Experience in online ad sales required)
When Deepali Kalia first moved from her home country of India to the United States, she was fascinated by the amount of Indian textiles being used in the design industry and stores where she worked. Having her own skills and background in textiles and design, she decided to begin creating her own line of home goods and clothing with her own signature style. She partnered with her sister, Nanu Khanna, and began her own shop — Filling Spaces.
While Deepali manages the business stateside in Portland, OR, her sister Nanu oversees the production and manufacturing process from their studio in Delhi. Today we not only get to take a peek inside their studio, but Deepali is sharing her journey as a small business owner with some tips for growing a happy and successful shop. —Caitlin
Image above: Deepali Kalia (right) with her sister and business partner, Nanu Khanna (left)
Where do you live and work?
Portland, Oregon and then a few months in Delhi, India with my sister and business partner, Nanu Khanna.
Can you remember the first time you learned about your field of work? How did you discover what it was and how did you know it was what you ultimately wanted to do?
Working as a merchandiser for a design house in India, I was responsible for creating samples for western buyers. Developing their exclusive samples using Indian fabrics and resources was very intriguing and paved [the] path for my own product line.
Image above: Wooden blocks that create the design atop the fabric used for Filling Spaces’ pieces.
What was the best piece of advice you were given when you were starting your business?
“Keep it fresh” was the best advice I got from peers! That has really helped me through difficult times as the passion and desire to create new products keeps me going!
What was the most difficult part of starting your business?
Funds, marketing ideas and finding customers.
Image above: The master printer in Deepali and Nanu’s Dehli studio.
Can you name the biggest lesson you’ve learned in starting your business?
Trends come and go, so just stay true to what you love most, what makes you happy and it’s not a competition. We are all in this to enjoy our moments.
Image above: Nanu reviews print samples with her production team.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned running your small business?
Trying to run a retail store and do wholesale business and raise a family — doing it all, while keeping control of every aspect, was a big challenge. Learning the art of delegation to keep the peace of mind and learning how to move away from micro management has really helped.
How do you approach marketing your shop?
Social media, various shows, pop-ups and above all, wonderful clients that share and spread the word!
Image above: A Filling Spaces team member reviews finished textiles that will be used in Deepali’s product designs.
Your shop is filled with beautiful textiles fashioned into pieces for the home. How do you decide what to produce?
Watching what sells best and inclination of the customers towards certain products helps us with our stocking, and my sister and business partner Nanu runs the production side of Filling Spaces in India, ensuring our products are high-quality.
Image above: Pillows and scarf from Filling Spaces.
Thinking of your business as a whole, what is the most rewarding part of it for you personally?
When I first laid eyes on the work of Taylor Lee, I felt the electricity that vibrates in her paintings. I also felt an affinity for her bright palettes, brimming with some of the same hues that colored my great grandmother’s muumuus. A thriving abstract painter in Charlotte, NC, Taylor has a superpower — and she uses it well.
Taylor was originally diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and after making therapy a regular part of her schedule to manage her BPD, her doctor realized there was more to her atypicality. Taylor’s rampant anxiety and lack of sleep, coupled with her extreme feelings of “being on top of the world,” led to the additional diagnosis of bi-polar disorder. This atypicality has become an important component of Taylor’s creative process. As she describes it, “I see the world through the ever twisting kaleidoscope of mania, experiencing extreme periods of high energy regularly as a result of bipolar disorder. Still, I find ways to bring the reality of a stigmatized mental illness into a celebratory light, creating paintings that are buzzing with energy, movement, and loud colors. My goal is to normalize mental illness and encourage people to see their ‘disorders’ as superpowers.”
Today we’re taking a tour of Taylor’s studio, which is located in the apartment that she shares with her husband John — in a renovated gingham mill that was originally established in the early 1900s in Charlotte, NC. It has gorgeous high ceilings, exposed brick, and a concrete floor that she doesn’t mind covering with paint. I was thrilled that Taylor was open to the idea of my interviewing her about her art and her atypicality, too. Read on to discover how Taylor turned a “disorder” into a creative asset and a successful life. You can follow Taylor on Instagram here. –Caitlin
Taylor: I create brightly colored abstract paintings, mostly, but I also create resources for other artists, like e-books and recorded workshops.
What is your favorite thing about the space?
I love the natural lighting pouring in from the 15-foot windows, and I love being close to my dog all day as I work.
Image above: Taylor‘s in-home studio in a renovated gingham mill in Charlotte, NC. The mill was first established in 1903.
Is your studio in your home? A shared space?
My studio is in our apartment and takes up a large chunk of it.
Do you have a regular schedule in your studio? If not, what brings you there? An idea? A dream?
When I first wake up, the immediate thought is coffee. I typically have a few cups while my husband and our dog, Frida, are still asleep — I enjoy this quiet time alone first thing in the morning. I’ll spend this time staring at the paintings I did the day before, deciding whether or not I like the direction. When John gets up we’ll have breakfast and take Frida out. It’s best to get out and do any errands first thing in the morning because in the South it’s already almost 90 degrees and so humid by lunchtime. But throughout this whole process I have this nagging feeling to get back to the studio as soon as possible. I get really rusty if I don’t paint every day, so each day’s goal is to at least show up and paint. You’d think it would be easier to achieve this goal since my studio is at home, but it’s actually the opposite. The ideas come while I’m in the act of painting. I may write out notes on ideas I have for concepts that get inspired by movies, music, or going on a walk, but they never really form into an image until I’m in the paint.
Image above: Taylor working on “The Sound of Cicadas,” a painting inspired by the sounds of Southern summer nights. She enjoys bringing intangible experiences, like sound and emotion, into her work.
Tell us about your art.
Through my paintings I strive to depict things that are unseen but felt. For instance, emotions, sounds, and mental illness are just a few of the things that fill up our lives, yet we can’t see them. I have bipolar disorder, and I am particularly sensitive to noise, lights, and definitely to emotion. I was talking with one of my favorite artists, Tara Leaver from the UK, recently and she described trying to use art to show how something feels more than how it actually looks. That idea has stuck with me. I often hear that people see my work as bright and happy because I use a lot of vibrant colors and expressive brushstrokes.
Describe a typical day or night in your studio.
First I have to choose music — this is a really important element in my process. I like music that triggers synesthesia, like CHVRCHES. Or I’ll choose music that is made by someone who I think “really gets it,” like Panic! at the Disco. Their frontman, Brendon Urie, talks openly about ADHD and to me his music feels super manic, so I get really into that. I also love playlists full of 80s and 90s hits.
Choosing the music is an ordeal for me. But once that’s over I try my best to tune everything else out, and usually I do my best work when I get lost in the music. I have loose canvas pinned up on the walls and spread across the floor — I tend to work my way across multiple pieces at once. If I’m waiting for layers to dry I’ll put on another pot of coffee, but I’ll sit and stare at the pieces, evaluating what is singing and what isn’t. This process will go on for about 10 hours if I’m in a manic period, and more like 6 if I’m not.
Image above: Vibrant, heavily pigmented paints like Golden Acrylics and Liquitex Professional are just a few of the materials that go into Taylor’s paintings.
Can you describe the process of making a piece of your art?
A lot of my process begins in my head. I’d say almost 80% of the process is mental. I study artwork from my favorite movements — Fauvism, Naïve art — and also take workshops from my favorite contemporary artists. I look at painting like a skill that I’m honing, and I believe that the more effectively I can use the materials, the more effectively I can communicate my ideas. Abstract art is tricky because it doesn’t have a clear subject, so I’m essentially coming up with a vocabulary that doesn’t exist yet. I like for my paintings to look free and unrestrained but I also love shape, volume, and gravity. It’s a hard balance! So upfront I study and consider concepts, but only hold them in my head while I actually do the painting. I’ll start by painting colors and shapes and then “bust them up” into something more abstract.
Image above: From Taylor — “This is my painting ‘Don’t Go Chasing Watermelon’ while it was in progress. The title was inspired by my childhood dream of running a bubblegum company whose flavors would be titled after 90s hits. “Gettin’ Figgy With It” and “Smells Like Teen Spearmint” are just a couple of my other gum flavor ideas, which have now become fun painting titles!”
How long have you been making abstract paintings?
I’ve been creating my whole life. My grandmother was super creative and we didn’t have cable, so we spent a lot of time watching Bob Ross on PBS. But back then I was really concerned with a realistic painting style. At the time that was my definition of “good” art. When I was 21 I moved into an inpatient eating disorder treatment facility. It was there that I learned about art therapy, which is highly expressive. It was really tough for me at first because I am a perfectionist, but eventually I came to appreciate the freedom and power I found in creating these raw pieces of expressive artwork. I fell in love.
Image above: Taylor says “A good desk is hard to find, so I went the DIY route. I have been using this desk for over two years, and paint remnants of many hours in the studio hang onto the surface like memories.”
Prior to your diagnosis, did you know you were different from your peers or family or did you think everyone thought and saw things as you did?
I absolutely knew I was different. My husband describes it as me having a “burning fire inside.” I don’t know how much of that is my personality and how much of it is pure mania, but I do know that it is a core part of who I am. At my wedding my dad referred to me in his toast as “free-spirited.” It’s who I’ve always been.
How does your “superpower” enhance your life, and conversely, how do you struggle with it?
There are some aspects of my disorder that do make life harder for me. I’m so overly stimulated by lights and sounds, and that’s made simple, mundane human experiences like driving and going to the grocery store herculean tasks. Being constantly activated can make it hard to relate to people — I’m told on a daily basis by someone that I need to rest. But the thing is, I’m wired to be manic, so resting isn’t really an option for me.
However, there are aspects that have become my greatest strengths. I have this “burning fire” that goes for long periods of time with no stopping, so I’ve been able to literally create my dream job and have the fuel to actually run it. Long studio hours, shipping days, live workshops, engaging on Instagram — I can do those things in my sleep. So in that case, my disorder empowers me to do things that most people can’t do. It also provides endless inspiration for my favorite part of my life — painting.
I have to put special effort into things that many people don’t need to do, but the special efforts that I put into things I care about go above and beyond. I’d personally rather have a thriving art business than to be naturally calm in a room full of people. It’s a tradeoff I’d make every time. When I began sharing these insights about myself on my social media, a lot of people started to tell me that I was putting words to their feelings and experiences in a way that they hadn’t been able to. Something that started out so personal, and made me feel so alone and different, actually has become the way I can best connect with others.
I talk about mental illness (or neurodiversity, as I like to say) on Instagram and as an essential part of my brand because I’m not the only one who has a special set of abilities that isn’t common (and are usually a source of deep shame). Those abilities come with a price — my mania flips into deep depression, for example. But if you just think of mental illness as a list of symptoms to manage, you can miss out on the ways that it can actually empower you.
Image above: Taylor’s analog table, she has a digital workspace. She was inspired to do this by the advice of Austin Kleon who described the importance of separating your creative space from your business space.
Where do you get inspiration?
I get inspired by emotions. Maybe I wake from a dream in which I felt utterly free and I want to get that down on canvas. Or I’m just full of manic energy and I need to get it out of my body. I also get a lot of inspiration from movement, like seeing trees wave in thunderstorms, or the leaves falling in October. And I will forever be the most inspired by color. Its ability to transform and not be confined by mankind’s determination to contain it into tiny aluminum tubes. A lot of my paintings start with a single color, and as I build in more and more I love to really make them sing.
Image above: This portable, tabletop easel traveled with Taylor across the US on a three-month road trip last year. This easel allowed Taylor to create in plein air, from Lake Michigan to the rocky beaches of Pacifica, California.
Did you always make art as an outlet for yourself? If so, when did you realize it was therapeutic and a healthy container for your anxiety (and mania) and that you could use it to your advantage?
After getting into art therapy I was mostly making work that was directly inspired by my experiences with an eating disorder, which I recovered from almost six years ago. It wasn’t until about two years ago that I switched my focus to what I was going through NOW instead of just my past.
Image above: Taylor sometimes uses unconventional materials in her studio — that red wedge is a kitchen tool by Betty Crocker! She recalls, “I was in the flow, and it was either this or a whisk.”
Image above: “This painting (“You are a Kaleidoscope”) depicts that feeling of swirling colors clicking into place. I like to think of our memories and emotions doing this in our heads.”
Image above: Taylor shares that her “first creative mentor was my grandma, Katie. When Katie passed away last May, I wanted to keep her spirit alive, and without any real place I began to paint these gigantic, energetic floral paintings. My grandma was a fantastic gardener with a free spirit, so I think the big flowers are fitting.”
Image above: “I experience vivid dreams, an aspect of living with bipolar disorder. I decided to try to paint some of them, and found myself working on these color explosions that evoke wild flowers. These are my most popular paintings, so I recently started hosting workshops to help new painters create some of their own. This one is titled ‘It’s This Dream I Keep Having.’
“I can never have enough brushes. They’re like extensions of my hands, and I want to have as many hands as possible.”
“Celebration.” I created this piece in May as a celebration. I felt myself breaking through anxiety and impostor syndrome, and really coming into my own as a painter.”
Taylor and her studio mate, Frida, who is named after her favorite painter. She noted that her “husband and I joke that if we get another dog we’ll have to name it Diego.”