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33 Life Lessons We Learned From Home Design in 2015

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This year, we stretched the limits of how we nest—to do so with more ambition, intentionality, and style than we ever have before.

Sarah built and stained her own table, Kenzi got down and dirty with paint and shelves, Amanda wallpapered a room, Leslie transformed her tiny kitchen nook, Alexis proved she's been doing this all along, and—like a true adult—Ali furnished a whole apartment anew. We opened our eyes and ears to design in the world, and we filtered through the fog of advice to settle on the wise words that we could share with you.

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Photo by Rocky Luten

What rose to the top? Here are the best things we learned about home design in 2015, from the crafty to the architecturally complex.

  • Everyone should own a power drill, and you can acquire one for the price of a modest dinner (another reason to cook!).
  • Bigger, fluffier pillows are always a good idea—and you really can't have too many.
Ice-Dyeing: The Hands-Off Way to Doll Up Your White Linens

Ice-Dyeing: The Hands-Off Way to Doll Up Your White Linens by Amanda Sims

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Stonewashed Linen Pillow, 22" x 22"

Stonewashed Linen Pillow, 22" x 22"

$108
  • The power of a little vintage—from accents to props and tableware—can transform a space. (And here are our tips for finding the best.)
Buying and Using Vintage Wallpaper—You Can Do It!

Buying and Using Vintage Wallpaper—You Can Do It! by Amanda Sims

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What to Look for in a Vintage Cutting Board

What to Look for in a Vintage Cutting Board by Amy Azzarito

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3 Ways to Use Thrift-Store Frames to Make Your Art Feel New

3 Ways to Use Thrift-Store Frames to Make Your Art Feel New by Amanda Sims

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An Elegant, Budget-Friendly Way to Frame Big Posters and Prints

An Elegant, Budget-Friendly Way to Frame Big Posters and ... by brad sherman

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  • Houseplants are a necessity—especially when you live in a compact apartment in a concrete jungle—and it's actually possible to keep them alive.
The Best Starter Houseplants & How to Care for Them

The Best Starter Houseplants & How to Care for Them by Caroline Lange

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7 Common Houseplant Afflictions & How to Cure Them All

7 Common Houseplant Afflictions & How to Cure Them All by Tara Heibel

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5 No-Kill House Plants for Any Home

5 No-Kill House Plants for Any Home by Tara Heibel

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How to Grow an Indoor Kitchen Garden (Starting with Microgreens)

How to Grow an Indoor Kitchen Garden (Starting with Micro... by Katherine Oakes

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  • The right length for curtains requires more consideration than we thought (that is, cafe curtains are too short for bedroom windows and long ones can be tied up)
  • Getting rid of stuff is as cathartic as it is additive.
We Tried It: the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
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We Tried It: the Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
  • The clean, seductive lines of Scandanavian and mid-century design aren't going anywhere—and thank goodness.
  • Fresh flowers are the quickest way to enliven a space, and they aren't as hard to arrange as we thought they were—just slice off the stem at an angle with a sharp knife, choose structural stems that arrange themselves, and opt for dried flowers when you know you won't keep them alive.
6 Summery Flower (& Food) Arrangements for Every Style

6 Summery Flower (& Food) Arrangements for Every Style by Emily Thompson

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How to Make Dried Arrangements (For When You Just Can't Keep Flowers Alive)

How to Make Dried Arrangements (For When You Just Can't K... by Amanda Sims

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For Longer Lasting Flowers, Trim Them Like This

For Longer Lasting Flowers, Trim Them Like This by Amanda Sims

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7 Easy Spring Arrangements for Every Personality (Some Without Flowers)

7 Easy Spring Arrangements for Every Personality (Some Wi... by Amanda Sims

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Real Solutions: the Perfect Bathroom Shelf
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Real Solutions: the Perfect Bathroom Shelf
  • You can—and should—put up shelves yourself. (Just mount those screws!)
  • Unscented candles—even the tall white ones you can snatch up at a bodega—are nice for a dinner party, but some are so good-smelling we can't help but obsess over them.
Large Teak Boat Candle

Large Teak Boat Candle

$84
Hawkins New York Candle

Hawkins New York Candle

$48
  • If you don't have a fireplace you can buy a mantle off Craig's List, paint it, and pretend.
  • Bleach is as powerful a decorative tool as paint.
How We Bleached Pine Cones for our Holiday Pop-Up

How We Bleached Pine Cones for our Holiday Pop-Up by Amanda Sims

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Semi-Homemade, Rustic Mini Trees for Your Mantel, Table, Etc.

Semi-Homemade, Rustic Mini Trees for Your Mantel, Table, ... by Amanda Sims

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  • White paint comes in a world of shades, from antique-toned yellows to washed out greys and creamy stark whites.
How to Choose the Right White Paint
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How to Choose the Right White Paint
  • High school chemistry was actually DIY 101.
How to Make Soap at Home (Even if You Failed Chemistry)

How to Make Soap at Home (Even if You Failed Chemistry) by Caitlin Pike

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How to DIY Sparklers—Because You Can!

How to DIY Sparklers—Because You Can! by Caitlin Pike

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How to Make Soy Candles from Any Containers You Have on Hand

How to Make Soy Candles from Any Containers You Have on Hand by Caitlin Pike

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The DIY Gift that Dry Winter Hands Will Thank You For

The DIY Gift that Dry Winter Hands Will Thank You For by Caitlin Pike

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  • Dyeing fabric with natural materials is doable at home—and has shockingly pretty results.
The Art of Natural Dyeing + 6 Colors to Start With
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The Art of Natural Dyeing + 6 Colors to Start With
  • Everyone feels differently about the best table size, but we can all agree that you should squeeze as many people in as possible.
  • You can build a floating copper closet, even in your rental apartment.
How to Build a Copper Clothing Rack at Home
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How to Build a Copper Clothing Rack at Home
  • Folding chairs are the dinner party lifesaver, but having guests sit on the floor is an acceptable alternative.
  • Your couch can be linen and velvet, pink and grey, worn and new.
A Tip for Getting More Color and Complexity in a Small Living Space
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A Tip for Getting More Color and Complexity in a Small Living Space
  • The options for wall coverings are endless.
Real Solutions: The Big Mirror

Real Solutions: The Big Mirror by Kenzi Wilbur

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10 Ways to Decorate That Big Blank Wall You're Trying to Avoid

10 Ways to Decorate That Big Blank Wall You're Trying to ... by The Beekman Boys

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Why the Best Wall Art Isn't Art at All

Why the Best Wall Art Isn't Art at All by Amanda Sims

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Our Art Director's Best Advice for Styling Open Shelves

Our Art Director's Best Advice for Styling Open Shelves by Alexis Anthony

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What did you learn from us about home design this year? Remind me in the comments!


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Tags: home design, interior design, decor, things we learned