I quit sugar cold turkey on January 5th this year, and haven’t eaten a single granule since then. I have not, however, stopped baking with it for others! One of the easiest things to make is a tall, fluffy sheet cake — mix up the batter, pour it into the pan, and add some frosting if you like. This week, Quin Liburd, the author and photographer behind the food blog Butter Be Ready, shares her recipe for a citrus-intense sheet cake that anyone who loves lemons will want to try right away. Quin adds an extra special garnish of candied lemons, which is as much a feast for the eyes as it is for the palate. Try it out and let us know what you think! —Kristina

Why Quin loves this recipe: I am a huge lover of lemon-flavored anything, especially sweet treats. Sheet cakes are also one of my absolute favorite ways to make a cake with no fuss involved. This lemon sheet cake has a tender and moist crumb with lots of fresh lemon flavor. The tanginess of the lemon cream cheese frosting also complements this cake beautifully!

About Quin: Quin Liburd is...

The first time I saw Genevieve Gorder on television, I knew I was seeing something special. It was 2000 and I was home on break from my freshman year of college. My mom and I tuned in to a new show called Trading Spaces, which paired designers and a carpenter with neighbors who would make over each other’s rooms for $1,000. I’d grown up in a home with parents that were interested about decorating and architecture, but I’d never seen a younger person approach interiors the way Genevieve did.

She walked into people’s homes — usually barefoot — and would proceed to use random objects or pieces of inspiration as the jumping-off point for totally creative, exciting, and one-of-a-kind room designs. I watched her turn colanders into light fixtures, choose paint colors inspired by artichokes, create walls covered in moss and rust, and, my favorite, turn simple sheets of plywood into celestial wall light installations.

In the early 1970s, the renowned Philadelphia architect Louis Kahn took on a project that entailed turning a century-old Philadelphia, PA corner storefront, the spaces above it, and the adjacent colonial row house into one single family home. The end result is a home with layers and layers of history — an intriguing mix of styles, boasting everything from historic brick walls and beams to modern, minimalist lines that Khan himself has become known and admired for. Elizabeth and Jeffrey Bergeland, “a couple of rock-climbing Colorado kids who somehow ended up in the middle of the city,” have called this unique family home their own for the last five years.

The house, located in the heart of the historic Queens Village neighborhood, isn’t hard to miss — its oversized statement arch entry is unlike anything else in the area. Viewing it for the first time, Elizabeth, an artist, and Jeffrey, VP at a tech startup, knew they had their work cut out for them, but the endless potential and unique features, including a private outdoor courtyard,...

What makes me so happy as a writer at Design*Sponge is our constant effort to share with you a variety of homes and homeowners from all over the country (and even the world!). There will always be room to widen both our views and understanding of interiors and design and what they mean to people in different cultures and societies. Today I’m so thrilled to introduce you to Lena Späth, first-time author and publisher, whose book Behind Closed Curtains offers a peek into some of the most beautifully decorated private homes in Iran.

Lena, who grew up in Germany and currently resides in Spain, first became acquainted with Iranian interiors during her Middle Eastern Studies exchange in Tehran. She was instantly drawn to the deep heritage and architectural mastery of the buildings that surrounded her — the contrast between grandeur and simplicity along with the natural materials, earthy colors and elaborate designs made a big and long-lasting impression. When Lena decided to leave her full-time job in Barcelona two years ago, she...

At some point during the last three and a half years, my fanboy admiration for decor morphed into a desire to know the ins and outs of home improvement, mixing styles, layout design and even construction. The shift was subtle, but once I discovered it had happened I was a bit stumped. Why the new laser focus? I soon realized my newfound goal of owning a home was to blame. As it turns out, I’d been subconsciously collecting information so I’d be ready when it came time to design my own place.

Like me, Spruce Creative Studio’s founder Jourdan Fairchild learned a lot about design by observing others. During her time as an editor at O at Home and Country Living, she interviewed countless homeowners, all the while picking up on their tricks, noting where they shopped and starring what made their spaces unique. One lesson in particular, though, stood out. Jourdan found that the most memorable houses were those decorated with sentimental accessories as opposed to ones filled with stuff that was...

As we head into the weekend, I wanted to wrap things up this week with one of the beautiful images that Andrea Pippins just added to the Adobe stock imagery collection. This week’s discussion about inclusivity in design (the response to which has interestingly been happening mainly via DMs, but you can see my public response to those in my Instagram stories) has led to so many great off-shoots of that topic, one of which has been the lack of representation for people of color, people over 40, people with disabilities, and people from the LGBTQ community in stock photography. We don’t use a lot of stock photography at Design*Sponge, but I know so many publishers, brands and companies do and I wanted to share some of what Andrea is putting out into the world, as well as links to three companies providing wonderful options for anyone looking to celebrate women of color in stock photography: CreateHerStock, ColorStock, and Nappy. Seeing ourselves and our full community reflected in imagery is so important, so if you’re looking for imagery for your next project, I hope you’ll consider pieces like the ones Andrea has...

What started as a 1948 GMC bread van has since been transformed into one of the best-looking food or beverage trucks I’ve ever seen — and it has an even better story to go with it. Lady Falcon Coffee Club in San Francisco, CA has been serving neighborhoods all over the city since 2017. Buffy Maguire, owner of Lady Falcon Coffee Club, shares the story of the name: “Lady Falcon Coffee Club is a respectful nod to an era in San Francisco Ocean Beach history. In the 1880s, an impromptu neighborhood of abandoned street cars on Judah Street became ‘Carville-by-the-Sea.’ Carville housed many a freethinker. The Falcon Ladies Bicycling Club was one of the first cars in the bunch and helped shape the legend of Carville. With deep roots in Ocean Beach, San Francisco, we sought to imagine the lives of these forerunners who built the spirit of the neighborhood on a sand dune we love so well — with recycled streetcars, grit, tenacity and a passion for fun.”

The transformation of the bread van to a coffee truck was not as easy, laid-back, nor quick, but completely worth the wait. The buildout on the truck took around two years from purchase of the vehicle to serving the first cup of coffee. Chris and Mike at Hellcam completed the truck in two stages. The first...

When Jessica and Christopher Brigham still lived in their East Haven, CT rental apartment, Jessica used to go house hunting in rural areas, hoping to find that dream property with character, charm and a good amount of land. The couple had no immediate plans to move, but daydreaming never hurt anyone. When Jessica’s mother, a realtor, first told her about a house for sale in New Haven, Jessica scoffed — staying in the city wasn’t what she had in mind. Despite her hesitations, Jessica decided to drive past the house that her mom had mentioned, just to see what it looked like. The moment she set eyes on the 1930s Craftsman that stood on a double lot and bordered a city-owned forest, something sparked. A few days later, Christopher, who hadn’t really been in on the house hunt game, came home and told Jessica that he too had driven by the house and had the same feeling — it just felt right. “Chris and I opened a bottle of red wine that night and talked it through — the rest is history. We still have that bottle. I’m so grateful this home independently tugged at our heartstrings and that it’s ours,” Jessica shares.

Fast forward four years brings us to a couple of very...

This week, like so many others, has been a challenging news week. I’ve been trying to maintain a balance of staying plugged-in (and active) and also quiet and finding space for rest and care. It can be discouraging, but I’ve found so much joy and beauty in Instagram lately, especially in the pages of our hashtag challenge feeds. You all have shared so many stunning moments of natural beauty, serenity and hope. This one (of Monarch Butterflies at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden) taken by @mol_dek (Molly Dektar) is a favorite of mine, and I hope it will bring you the same sense of peace and love that it brought to me when I saw it. Until Monday, here’s to a wonderful weekend! Some of our favorite links from around the web and Design*Sponge this week are below! xo, grace

12 talented illustrators to follow on Instagram

This West Village apartment is such a quintessential NYC space. I love the old tiles.

Mugs are a bit like the whole magnet collection on the fridge phenomenon. They just keep appearing and taking up more and more kitchen real estate. While homes (and kitchen cabinet interiors) tend to be a whole lot more “curated” in the Instagram and shelfie age, I’ve been reminiscing about opening my grandmother’s cupboards in Florida and being visually overwhelmed by not only the sheer number of mugs contained within, but also the colors, slogans and multiple zodiac-related graphics emblazoned on too many mugs to count.  But boy, was her collection charming! I currently own three mugs and only one of them did I purchase for my personal own pleasure (thanks TJMaxx clearance section & Pantone!)

Since I bought my first home (at 50!) and kicked my eleven-year old out of the master bedroom, I’ve been doing a bit of #adulting. For me that means adding some small things to my home that are within my budget – think real shaving cream, a full set of matching cutlery and a mug or two I’ve chosen to start my morning with. So long Shepherdstown Chronicle (local newspaper) freebie mug! May you find a new home in a college dorm where you’re held gently and filled with powdered hot chocolate and mini-marshmallows.

Here are some of our favorite indie shop mugs to hold all your warm beverage this seasons!...

Seeing potential in almost any space is a skill that comes easily to Michelle Gage, an interior designer in the Philadelphia, PA area. She works with her clients to unveil what could be in their spaces while utilizing the same budget-savvy eye to make-over her own 1920s colonial home in Havertown, PA. Michelle and her husband, Alex, have been working room by room in their house to make it home. They’ve recently transformed their dated basement into a gorgeous family room.

Michelle and Alex wanted to do this project for less than $1,000 — minus the cost of furniture and accessories — which meant doing the process themselves from start to finish. “The basement was one of the last spaces we tackled. We started by ripping out some of the paneling and a dated ‘church-pew-like’ bench. Alex built a custom cabinet for the TV and décor. We painted the walls a fresh white coat. One hurdle we faced was asbestos tile. We couldn’t rip it up, so we had to layer flooring on top of it,” Michelle says. “This faux-wood floor looks like the real deal, but snaps into place and was super affordable.” The exposed beams were left the same, keeping the richness and charm from the wood in the space. Michelle chose furniture that layers color and texture in a cozy way and...

How often do you find a creative project looming and think, “If only I could just get away, hole up in the woods and think through this”? It’s a thought that has crossed my mind with each passing season. For Robin MacArthur, it’s a thought that crossed her mind, and she did something about it — a very big thing about it. She and her husband built a cabin with their own hands, dug the septic trenches and all!

Robin and her husband Ty both grew up in idyllic Vermont, but as a couple, they spent stints living and creating in Providence, New York and Philadelphia. Robin is a musician and author (her second book, Heart Spring Mountain comes out this January), and Ty is a composer for documentary films. They also collaborate musically under the moniker Red Heart The Ticker, but as they ventured away from Vermont, they came to a decision. “We realized that the only way we had a shot at having artistic careers was if we moved back to my parents’ land in Vermont and built ourselves a cabin where we could live mortgage- and rent-free. The dream!”

The land itself was storied already. Robin’s grandparents moved to an abandoned farmhouse on three-hundred acres of land in Marlboro, VT in 1950. Her parents later built a...