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"Design*Sponge" - 6 new articles

  1. sneak peek: john & vivian of square feet studio
  2. sneak peek: gwendolyn of dear hancock
  3. sneak peek: lizzy janssen
  4. simply color: joslyn taylor
  5. i heart hearts
  6. so cool: country living tree carving app
  7. More Recent Articles
  8. Search Design*Sponge
  9. Prior Mailing Archive

sneak peek: john & vivian of square feet studio

When Grace and I were in Atlanta for Lavish, Wendy Hanson and Lucy Allen Gillis took us to Star Provisions for lunch (yummy!), and then insisted we check out Sid Mashburn. I’ve seen a lot of stores, but I seriously wanted to move right into this one! (I’m determined to find someone to paint a huge horse for me like the one in the shop!) We were so taken with the store that we had to find out who was responsible for its Southern-gentleman look, so we tracked down architects John and Vivian Bencich to see if we could get a peek into their personal home. When John and Vivian purchased their house, it had barely been touched for 70 years and was in desperate need of a refresh. So the couple worked t0 bring in more light, add smart storage and workspaces and open up the kitchen and den to create a spot for family gathering. It’s now a bright, modern and welcoming home! Thanks, John & Vivian! And thanks to Jeff Herr Photography for the images. — Amy A.

We’d been looking for a small home for our family of three. We found it within four miles of our office and walking distance to our daughter’s school. And close to other things we love about in-town Atlanta: museums, parks, bike trails, restaurants and shopping. The home was designed in 1939 by architect Clement Ford, was built as a one-story brick cottage and with the exception of one modest interior renovation, it remained unchanged until our purchase in 2008.

Image above: In our daughter’s room, we took off the closet doors and had bright and sturdy drapes made by Drape 98 Express with Hable Construction’s Magenta Beads canvas. The big bolster pillow on the bed is from John Robshaw.

Image above: The niche in the dining room was existing, and it was exactly the right width for the Oly Studio Elizabeth buffet that I’d been considering for years; it works well for stylish storage in a small space. We painted the dining chairs white and recovered them; they’re hand-me-downs from my parents.

Image above: My favorite new piece in the living room is the Maguire Laura Kirar chair; it’s really comfortable. We roll over the oval ottoman from the fireplace (it’s on casters), and it’s even more comfortable. The chair’s covered in a Perennials dark brown outdoor fabric. It was a floor model — a great find. And it complements the traditional camel-back sofa, which belonged to my grandmother. We recovered it in a Dogwood Fabric cotton velvet.

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CLICK HERE for more of John and Vivian’s Atlanta home!



sneak peek: gwendolyn of dear hancock

When Gwendolyn Mason and Earnest Merritt started Dear Hancock last year, they had to choose between dining space and work space. It was no contest. The couple put two drawing tables on the ends of their dining room table, and in the evenings, when Earnest returns home from his job as a woodworker and an art teacher, they paint right across from each other. They’ve lived in this Los Angeles bungalow for five years, and since meeting in grad school at Cal Arts, the two have made art and design an important part of their relationship. Thanks, Gwendolyn and Earnest! And many thanks to Stephen Chiu for the lovely photographs!Amy A.

The layout of our house is very open. Our fireplace, garden and back yard with a lemon tree, various succulents and palm trees are favorite aspects of our home. When we started Dear Hancock, we transformed our California bungalow into a functional creative work space. As artists, we are comfortable living in an environment that functions both as a studio and as a living space. We also enjoy being able to spend most of the year outside on our backyard patio equipped with cafe lights and a farm table. Our Frenchies are happy, too, because they get to hang out in the yard and bask in the sun as they please.

Image above: Wooden table and fiberglass shell chairs by Modernica. My dream wedding gift from my awesome sister Holly! Painting on the wall: “This Particular Clenched and Floating” by Earnest Merritt. Tulips and green hydrangea are on the table.

Image above: My inspiration board is constantly changing and growing, but some of the mainstays are my painting and illustration heroes: David Hockney, Mary Blair, and Feodor Rojankovsky. Also pictured are the witty contemporary sculptors Rachel Harrison and Isa Genzken. All of the cards that Earnest and I used to leave for each other at our Cal Art’s studios (where our romance for paper correspondence began) are permanent fixtures on my inspiration board.

Image above: We transformed our California bungalow into a functional creative work space by placing drawing tables at either end of our dining room table and by converting our sunroom into our storage room. Earnest works full time as a woodworker and art teacher, but when he is home or on break, we paint across from one another. Before we started our company, Earnest and I hand-painted cards for family and friends for the holidays. Our company allows us to recreate this fun experience all year round.

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CLICK HERE for the rest of Gwendolyn’s home tour after the jump!



sneak peek: lizzy janssen

Almost immediately after graduating from the Rhode Island School of Design, Lizzy Janssen moved to the Fishtown neighborhood of Philadelphia. During the day, she works as a designer for Free People, and she spends her free time working out of this jewel-box apartment — literally, the apartment was originally a jewelry shop — working on illustrations, collages and freelance art direction for Print Liberation. Lizzy has had a dollhouse obsession since she was a child, and this home, with its spiral stairs, chandelier and lofted bedroom, fits the bill perfectly. Thanks Lizzy! Amy A.

I have always been “more is more” when it comes to design. When I look for inspiration, I find myself drawn to the rooms wallpapered in pictures and overflowing bookshelves. The space houses my collections and the furniture I’ve accumulated through the years. My parents are antique collectors, and I spent my childhood in flea markets, auctions and garage sales. When it comes to furniture, it’s actually hard for me to buy anything new! In collecting, I don’t stick to a particular style — I love early Americana, mid-century modern, 50s kitsch, and anything with a sense of humor!

Image above: My parents live in a small town in Pennsylvania, where no one knows what they have! I got this vintage egg chair at a garage sale for under $20; I think it once lived in a doctor’s office. The vintage hand-painted eye chart I found this summer at a town-wide garage sale in Amish country in PA. We all held our breath as we plugged it in, but it has an interesting lighting system, which turns on one little box at a time. One day, I’d like to turn on the eye chart after a good party and quiz my friends!! I love blankets, and on the chair are some vintage Navajo blankets. I love their colors and the patterns.

Image above: One day, I decided to start collecting hand-painted vintage portraits. I love the outsider art feeling of the paintings, as well as the strange personalities that come through. Having always been a collector, it’s starting to become fun to put faces to eras and times. On the far left is the “headmistress” as I call her; she came from a flea market. My favorite is the portrait of the guy in glasses and a red blazer; it looks like it was painted from his school picture — he cracks me up! I fell in love with the color of the couch — that perfect rusty red — and made a trade with a friend. A drawing for the couch! My pillows are a mix of new finds and a few from a friend’s travels in India.

Image above: My bathroom, surprisingly, was the first room to come together. It is such a beautiful, bright and sunny large space, and it gets an immense amount of light from some secret skylights. The stark white just seemed to ask for really bright, playful colors. This room has everything in it that makes me smile; it reminds me of a kid’s room from the ’60s — a globe, bright colors, funny little animal portraits and statues. Under the table is a funny vintage chalkware bank of three cats in a basket. They happen to look exactly like my cat, Arlo, who out of nowhere popped his little head out of the tub!

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CLICK HERE for more of Lizzy’s Philly peek!



simply color: joslyn taylor

Joslyn Taylor’s favorite spot in her house is the nook between the kitchen and breakfast area. Don’t you just love how the Woods wallpaper creates a gorgeous backdrop for her collection of white dishes? And what make her kitchen and bedroom even more exciting are the pops of Kelly green wall color, which provide such great contrast and keep the spaces lively and inviting. Click here to see the original sneak peek. — Lauren

A. Midnight Black (Pratt & Lambert), PMS 419; B. Greenway (Valspar), PMS 361; C. Florida Gold (Pratt & Lambert), PMS 137; D. Tangy (Valspar), PMS 102; E. Shoreline (Valspar), PMS 7057

1. Woods Wallpaper, $198; 2. Paper Pretender Dinnerware, $32+; 3. Cage Pendant Lamp, $199; 4. Dip Cup, $35; 5. Botanical Chart Card, $4; 6. Cain Collection Stool, $130+; 7. Scribble Hanging Planter, $58; 8. Zebra Print Cowhide Rug, $499;


i heart hearts

Okay, I promise this is my last lovey-dovey post for today. I just couldn’t resist one last heart explosion because so many sweet Valentine’s Day submissions are starting to flood my inbox. These last pieces are all dedicated to classic heart shapes in a number of styles: a minimalist gold heart poster ($50 here by Banquet) and a series of stickers, doilies and a perfect-pair themed pencil set ($3.50 to $12 by Knot & Bow here). Whether you write a sweet note, seal a lunch bag with a heart or give someone a special pencil to take to work, it never hurts to remind someone that you love them. xo, grace


so cool: country living tree carving app

I have a lot of friends who aren’t big fans of Valentine’s Day — something to do with the “conspiracy created by the greeting card companies.” But I really love Valentine’s Day. I loved it when I was single, and I love it now that I’m married, mainly because I don’t think of it as a day only to celebrate a boyfriend or girlfriend, but everyone who’s special in your life. Parents, friends, teachers, co-workers — I love having an excuse to take a second out of my day to say, “Hey, thanks. I think you’re great.” And if you’re pressed for time, emails and texts can be a quick and easy way to send that little note. I’ve enjoyed seeing all the apps that have popped up recently, and this new app on the scene is quickly becoming a favorite: Country Living magazine’s “Treemail” app. Treemail lets you “carve” custom messages on a virtual tree and then send them to people via email, Twitter or Facebook. You can choose the “knife width” with which you carve and the tree bark style, and add little pre-made stamps like hearts and arrows. So if you have $0.99, you can send the loved ones in your life a little digital xoxox using this new app. Click here to check it out or download it. xoxo, grace

Speaking of Valentine’s Day, this cute new heart box set from Sesame Letterpress came in late last night. I happened to be up late after an amazing concert and caught it just before I went to bed, so I couldn’t resist adding this in, too. In case you’re looking for a paper valentine to send loved ones, you can pick up a set of 25 letterpressed cards for $50 right here (enough for all the special people in your life).

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