Fresh Business Cards for a Fresh Start

 

At the start of the month I mentioned how I’ve been taking on more projects outside of Design Crush. Turns out that when you’ve been one thing for so long – nearly 12 years – a change of perspective helps with the next chapter going forward. In my case, a change of identity as I went back to being Kelly Beall. Getting some fresh business cards seemed like the best place to start.

 

 

Basic Invite has a nice collection of specialty business cards with plenty of modern designs to choose from, along with every other style you might be after. They offer over 180 color options, coordinate with your business or just choose your favorite. You can apply a different color and font to every element of your personalized business cards if you’d like! Speaking of fonts, there’s a library to choose from – but if that sounds too overwhelming you can just go with what they’ve suggested on the template. If you want to get extra customized choose the foil option that’s available in silver, gold, and rose gold, or the clear card.

 

 

I chose the Modern Hello design, perfect for handing out to potential clients. I love the clean lines, bold type, and straightforwardness of the layout partnered with that bright punch of green. And speaking as a graphic designer, it was a nice change of pace to find several designs that I didn’t need to change a thing on to suit my own taste.

 

 

 

Basic Invite offers a lot beyond business cards online, they’re also one of few sites that give customers the ability to order a printed sample of their actual invitation before they ever place their final order. Test the paper, see the quality, make sure everything meets your expectations – then choose from 40 colors of envelopes to make the perfect invite for your event. To make the process even easier, they offer an address capturing service allowing customers to share a link on any social media platform to request their friends and family’s addresses. The addresses will then be stored in your account and can be selected during the design process.

If all of that doesn’t make you want to check out Basic Invite, well, they’re currently offering 15% off with code 15FF51.

 

 

This post is sponsored by Basic Invite. Thank you for supporting that brands that help keep Design Crush kicking!

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Reinventing the Recliner

 

When you stop to think about recliners, what do you picture? I’m willing to bet your mind will lead you down the same path as mine, toward the bulky upholstered chairs of your childhood that were likely helmed by and reserved for your dad or your grandfather. They probably look nothing like any piece of furniture in your own home today, but thankfully the recliner has been quietly reinvented for a more modern home by American Leather.

 

 

I, for one, am thrilled – because man, are recliners comfortable or what?! I have a lot of fond memories of curling up in my Dad’s cumbersome chair, and these new designs are equally as welcoming. The seven sleek silhouettes are stylish and modern, two things I look for in every piece I bring into my own home. And when closed and upright you might never even know that these clean-lined chairs are concealing a reclinable feature.

 

 

When creating your chair choose from literally hundreds of color and texture options, making your custom modern day recliner perfectly suited to whatever kind of lifestyle happens within the walls of your home. There’s microfiber for homes with children or clumsy adults, cozy chenilles for the homebody, and of course natural classics like leather for a timeless aesthetic. Even with customizations you’ll have your new recliner in about 30 days.

 

 

My favorite design, and the one seen throughout this post, is the Aston. I love its obvious mid-century design influences and the natural walnut frame that conceals its reclining capabilities. It features a slightly curved back that just begs to be curled up in! Have a look at American Leather‘s entire line and see how innovation really is at the heart of everything they do.

 

 

This post sponsored by American Leather. Thank you for supporting the brands that help Design Crush create fresh, inspired content regularly!

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The Magic of Linen + 5 Linen Care Tips

 

Warm, breezy days and flowing linens were made for one another. The centuries old fabric is made from the fibers of the flax plant, and the lightweight, breathable fabric is perfect for slower, more rumpled days. You’ll notice I didn’t bother to iron out the fold seams in these photos, and that’s because I think they add to the charm of all things linen.

MagicLinen is a family business located in Lithuania that combines their knowledge of textiles and love of décor to create linen pieces meant to be passed down through generations. All of the company’s goods are made from high quality European OEKO-TEX certified linen fabric and is softened through stonewashing, the modern way of doing so without any harmful chemicals. MagicLinen’s collection is entirely handmade and includes linen bedding, clothing, napkins, towels, placemats, table runners, towels, scarves, aprons, and more.

 

 

“We care a lot about eco-friendly, organic and slow living. We cherish classic values, at the same time being modern, opened to a world and new ideas, doing our best with a lot of enthusiasm and hard work. These principles reflect in the goods we deliver – we choose the most organic fabrics and enjoy the process of making items by hand than going to big factories.”

 

 

MagicLinen is aptly named, because the fabric really is just that and has been used through the ages to make everything from canvases and wallpaper to clothing and bedding. It’s super durable because linen is naturally thicker and 30% stronger than cotton, so it will keep its shape and withstand more washings while growing softer over time. It can absorb up to 20% of its own weight in water before starting to feel damp and dries quickly, making linen the perfect material for bath towels and clothing. The material is also a natural insulator meaning it keeps you cool in the summer and retains heat from your body in the colder months. It’s also hypoallergenic which is fantastic for people who have sensitive skin or suffer from allergies. A big bonus – linen is sustainable and eco-friendly.

 

 

I’m not fussy when it comes to the textiles in my home or in my wardrobe, so MagicLinen’s pieces fit right in. The dishtowels are super absorbent, the bed linens so cool and soft for summer, and the tablecloth and napkins my favorite options for pulling together a quickly dressed table. I want these pieces to last for along time, so I did my research when it comes to caring for them.

Washing
Linen items can be both hand washed and machine washed, though preferably on their own. When machine washing use the gentle cycle with warm water with a mild detergent. For hand washing also use warm water and about a teaspoon of mild detergent. Allow the linen to soak for 10 minutes before swishing it around while avoiding the urge to wring, twist, or scrub as it can stretch the fabric. Rinse with cool water until all of the soap is gone. To combat any stubborn stains, soak the spot in a detergent and water solution and launder as usual.

Drying
Washed linens can be machine dried on low heat. Remove them from the dryer while still slightly damp and hang or lie flat to dry completely. Air drying adds softness to the linen items, you can line-dry lay them flat on a white towel. The only linen pieces that will ever require dry cleaning are more structured garments such as linen jackets, suits, and hemstitched items in order to preserve their shape.

Avoid
Bleaching your linens or using detergents with optical brighteners can weaken linen’s fibers and cause discoloration. Fabric softeners and dryer sheets can weaken the fibers and reduce their absorbency and moisture-wicking properties. Don’t store linen in plastic bags, instead choose linen bags or reuse old pillowcases.

Ironing
I prefer the wrinkled look, but if you’d like a crisper appearance you can use a medium-hot iron on the fabric while it’s still damp or overlay it with a damp towel.

Storing
Make sure they’re are completely dry to avoid mildew before storing your linens in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area that’s located away from direct sunlight.

 

This post sponsored by MagicLinen. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting our carefully chosen partners that help keep Design Crush creating fresh content!

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Adding Exterior Character with James Hardie

 

It’s been nearly four years since I found myself buying an old house and moving back to the Pennsylvania town where I grew up. As you’ve seen, since then I’ve put my modern and eclectic stamp on the 118-year-old structure through projects and updates while trying to retain its character. I’ve added window shutters to the front facade, switched out all of the interior doorknobs, and replaced the front and backdoor entry sets among many other things.

The exterior is still not where I’d like it to be however, and doesn’t match up with my aesthetic. My hope is to give it a much needed facelift with new siding, as well as boxing in those columns and adding a porch that most certainly existed at some point in the past.

 

 

For your reference, this photo was taken last summer. The light fixture and mailbox have been replaced and some new plants have been added to the front flower bed, but that’s the extent of this past year’s progress.

One of my biggest peeves about the curb appeal – where the majority of the house’s character lies – is the mix of sidings used, both in colors as well as directionality. While I understand that this is an aesthetic some prefer, I’d love to have wide plank horizontal siding in one style and one color.

 

 

Something like this.

After putting some research time into this eventual project, I realized what a massive collection of products James Hardie has to offer as well as the quality that backs them up. Their product line offers a great selection of profiles, textures, widths, and colors, while their commitment to artistry and innovation allows for timeless designs and performance.

 

 

Now for the nitty gritty. James Hardie‘s ColorPlus Technology coats surfaces, edges, and features of each siding plank uniformly while multiple layers of color are baked onto each board for a great finish and a strong bond that resists chipping, peeling, cracking, and fading for years to come. With HardiePlank lap siding, HardieShingle siding, and HardiePanel vertical siding, you have the design versatility to achieve a look that’s sure to stand out on your street. They also allow you to enjoy the peace of mind that comes with a 30-year non-prorated warranty on siding, a 15-year non-prorated warranty on trim, and ColorPlus Technology with a 15-year limited finish warranty.

 

 

Only James Hardie fiber cement products are Engineered for Climate. In the northern U.S. and Canada, HZ5 products resist shrinking, swelling, and cracking even after years of wet or freezing conditions. (Perfect for climate zones that experience it all, like Pennsylvania!) HZ10 products resist damage from hot, humid conditions, blistering sun and more. These products are actually tougher than the elements – they stand up to storms and harsh weather, are water resistant to protect against swelling, warping and cracking, and also resist mold. They’re fire resistant and her reduce the time and money you’d spend on maintenance of other materials. With all of these assurances you can feel good about everything James Hardie has to offer.

 

 

At this point I have a specific idea of how I’d like to add more character to the exterior of my home, but if you need some help check out James Hardie’s site for additional design inspiration. And if you’d like to check out their siding in person be sure and request some free samples to compare – choose from textured, smooth, or beaded.

 

 

This post sponsored by James Hardie. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting our carefully chosen partners that help keep Design Crush creating fresh content! Follow James Hardie on Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, Houzz, and YouTube.

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Creativity Takes Courage: Dare to Think Differently + A Giveaway

 

Creativity tends to show up in my life as a feast or famine – is it like that for you, too? This year has particularly been full of highs and lows and I’m hoping everything will even out soon enough, after all challenging times generally point towards periods of growth.

The latest book from the co-founders and creative directors of Flow Magazine, Irene Smit and Astrid Van der Hulst, and Workman Publishing couldn’t have better timing. Creativity Takes Courage: Dare to Think Differently was released earlier this week. (If you’re unfamiliar with Flow, it’s a magazine that celebrates creativity, imperfection, and life’s little pleasures.) This is a creative book like no other – simultaneously a practical, hands-on guide to stretching your creative muscles as well as an inspirational book that focuses on the pleasure of the process.

 

 

Creativity Takes Courage is organized around a series of twelve so-called dares that are intended to break you out of your usual creative habits and provide a fresh perspective to help you step outside of your comfort zone. (And man, do I need that frequently!) It’s a book both about creativity and a book that inspires creativity with tons of prompts, tips, and challenges to complete in your own time.

 

 

Most chapters end with an And Now You section of questions, the answers to which can be written directly right in the book. These questions follow the theme of the chapter – reexamining something you may consider a failure that could be seen as a learning process or questions that might help you break down a new project or challenge into more manageable parts for example.

 

 

There are lots of pull-out extras throughout the book – probably my favorite parts! Use the daily project notebook for getting started and focused on something as simple as saving your shopping list or receipts, drawing a cloud, or writing something positive on the sidewalk with chalk. Read about the importance of sleep in creativity, then decorate your sleeping space with tear-out inspirational images. Pull out the included Polaroid-style photo frames to use in framing your favorite photos, or use them to help you frame a scene before taking a picture.

 

 

Not every single page includes an interaction– there are also essays about and lessons on how to get started on a new project without getting overwhelmed, stepping outside of your comfort zone as a means to unlocking creativity, and learning how to enjoy being alone and doing nothing at all among others.

 

 

There’s no right or wrong way to use Creativity Takes Courage! Make your way straight through or jump around among the dares. Tear out pages to put on the refrigerator or mail some to a friend. Keep it by your bedside to work through when you first wake up or before you go to sleep. Dog-ear it, use it to your advantage, and realize what a gift true creativity can be.

Want to win a copy of Creativity Takes Courage: Dare to Think Differently for yourself or a friend? Keep scrolling for a ton of ways to enter!

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This post sponsored by Workman Publishing. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting our carefully chosen partners that help keep Design Crush creating fresh content!

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Danze by Gerber Introduces the Draper and Vaughn Collections

 

One of the fastest ways to update your kitchen or bath is by swapping out the faucet and accompanying hardware to make your it feel more like your own. I did just that with all of the sinks in my first home and I’m looking to do it again in my current space. Danze by Gerber has two new kitchen and bath faucet collections – Vaughn and Draper – that look to be the perfect match for my modern-meets-118 year old house aesthetic.

 

 

The Draper collection is an updated classic with vintage detailing and soft industrial influences, the curved lines paired with geometric detailing give each piece a refined traditional elegance that would look right in just about any home. Choose from chrome and stainless steel finishes for kitchen fixtures and chrome and brushed nickel for bathroom fixtures.

 

 

 

If you’re looking for a more dynamic, streamlined design then the Vaughn collection is for you. These kitchen and bath faucets feature a beautiful transitional style and sophisticated look that would be a perfect match for a more modern or minimal space. Choose from chrome, stainless steel, and satin black for kitchen fixtures and chrome, stainless steel, satin black, and brushed nickel for bathroom fixtures.

The Draper and Vaughn collections both boast pulldown kitchen faucets with DockForce magnetic docking technology, a SnapBack retraction system, dual function sprayhead, drip-free ceramic disc valve, and a water efficient flow rate.

 

 

No matter which style you favor, both come equipped with an arsenal of features from Danze by Gerber that focus on design, function, quality, and experience.

We know that stylish reliability is born from the balance of form and function. We know that when we polish the outside, the inside gleams too. And we know that the result of our work isn’t just a faucet—it’s our pride. Because inside every one of our designs is not only Gerber quality, but our relentless dedication to bringing even more beauty to the world.

This post sponsored by Danze by Gerber. All words and opinions are my own. Thank you for supporting our carefully chosen partners that help keep Design Crush creating fresh content!

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A Little Variety with Purely Fancy Feast Filets

 

Everyone in my house eats grain-free, including me most of the time, so having healthy foods on hand is a must.  And just like my own diet, I like to approach my pets’ diets with a little variety. They may not notice the time and care I put into their food choices, but I know they’re healthier for it and that goes a long way towards my ultimate plan of owning the first immortal cats and dogs. (Mwahahaha!)

 

 

A new addition to my cats’ food plans is Purely Fancy Feast Filets. They’re 100% natural filets of real seafood or chicken with no preservatives that can be fed any number of ways. I recruited my cat Rainey to try out all three types of filets – salmon, white meat chicken, and tuna. We opened the salmon first and flaked a bit of it over her everyday kibble, a healthy way to change up the same thing she’s eaten twice a day for the past four years. I knew it was a hit before she even tasted it because her little paws hit the stairs and she came running down before I even called her name!

 

 

 

Next up was what turned out to be Rainey’s favorite, the white meat chicken. I simply broke up the little filet into pieces she could nibble on and set it out for her to discover – which didn’t take long. This option even received her patented “prey shake” before each bite (she reserves it for the foods she approves of most).

 

 

 

The last taste test was the tuna. I set out the entire filet to see what she would do, and I wasn’t sure if Rainey would grab it and run to enjoy elsewhere or just eat off the plate I had set out. Turns out it was a little of both! After licking it all over she took a few bites and then carried it over to her food bowl to enjoy.

 

 

 

Purely Fancy Feast Filets couldn’t have been a bigger hit! I love that you can tell exactly what you’re getting before even opening the package – real food, no by-products, no preservatives. I’m looking forward to introducing them to my two seniors diets as well because I know they’re going to love them just as much.

This post sponsored by Purely Fancy Feast Filets. All words and opinions are my own, as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that help Design Crush create fresh content!





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Everything Grows with Love

 

If you follow Design Crush on Instagram you may have noticed our on-going quote project, where I’ve hand-written one a day for the past several years. Quotes are something that I’ve collected, first written in a journal and then on Pinterest board, since junior high school because when someone is able to capture a thought or feeling that I haven’t been able to put into words myself I like to hang onto it.

 

 

If you’re also into the smart words of others, you’re likely to enjoy Everything Grows with Love as much as me. This squat little book from Workman Publishing is edited by the co-founders and creative directors of Flow Magazine, Irene Smit and Astrid Van der Hulst. If you’re not familiar with the wonderful-ness that is Flow, it’s a magazine that celebrates creativity, imperfection, and life’s little pleasures.

 

 

Similarly, the pages of Everything Grows with Love are full of hand-lettered and illustrated graphics by twenty contributing artists covering musings on life, love, and friendship. The affirmations, motivational sayings, and quotes will remind you to appreciate the small moments, be present, think happy, and appreciate the people around you.

 

 

Valentine’s Day is known for being *the* day for romantic love, but it’s also the perfect day for reminding others just how much they mean to you. Everything Grows with Love makes a great little gift or alternative to a traditional card. It’s a book you’ll want to keep around and return to whenever you need a smile or a bit of inspiration in your day.

 

 

Take out your favorite pages to frame or hang on the fridge. Mail one off to your long distance BFF. Or play Secret Saint Valentine and drop a few copies in the mailboxes of unsuspecting neighbors. Everything Grows with Love is just one of those gift that’s good to have handy for birthdays, engagements, or just someone who just needs a little pick me up.

 

 

This post sponsored by Workman Publishing. All words and opinions are my own, as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep Design Crush creating fresh content!

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Accounting Confessions of a Businesswoman, Part 4

 

I’ve barely started this post and I already feel naked. Last year was difficult for a multitude of reasons, and the hard and fast truth of it is that my business was one of the bigger ones. I won’t sugarcoat it or try to distract you with pretty words – although maybe some nice photos might help? At times this journey with FreshBooks has felt like picking up the rug only to discover the dirt underneath, or putting on makeup to hide the flaws. It’s made me take a very real, very deep look into my future and the future of this site.

 

 

Blogging is a funny business. It’s not even one that existed in a professional capacity when I started Design Crush almost eleven years ago, and it’s definitely not a career path I planned for myself. But I fell in love and absolutely adore what I do here, and at times probably border on being a bit of a workaholic because of it. But what was once one person sitting behind a desk or on a couch or at a dining room table putting something out into the void of the internet is now a career that includes teams, financial backers, and the dreaded pivot to video. Algorithms seem to change with every week, decimating audiences that have been hard-fought for. Then there’s the game of comparison, and reminding oneself that someone else’s endgame isn’t going to look the same as your middle. So is this my middle or am I nearing my end? Who knows.

 

 

What I do know is that even ten years later I’m still figuring it out as I go.

Last year I was able to get the financial side of Design Crush on lockdown with the help of FreshBooks, and I can honestly say that thanks to them I don’t hate dealing with money nearly as much as I once did. Having all of my invoices present and accounted for on a platform that’s well designed and intuitive with a slew of other features that I actually use has made it loads less painful. It’s so gratifying to see the charting of my earnings throughout the year, and time previously spent on my finances can be dedicated towards making those numbers go up! (Because no, product offers unfortunately do not pay the bills.)

 

 

Like I said, I’m far from having it all figured out. I don’t want to hire a team or have financial backers or pivot to video, and I never did. But one of the most important qualities any small business owner can have is adaptability and I’m certain some changes will be inevitable. And when they show up I’ll learn to roll with the punches just like I have over the last decade. (DECADE!)

Thanks for coming along with me on this four part journey! It’s been eye-opening  and mildly nauseating to say the least, but I wanted to give you an honest look at what goes on behind the scenes and through my mind – usually at all hours of the night. If you missed the first three parts of the series with FreshBooks you can catch up here, here, and here.

 

This post sponsored by FreshBooks. All words and opinions are my own, as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that help keep Design Crush creating fresh content!

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Let There Be Porch Light

 

This is the story of a porch light fixture that was supposed to be an easy self-install last spring, but my 117-year-old house has something to say about that. Namely that the electrical needed revisited. No sooner had we removed the old fixture that it became abundantly clear that something was amiss – the grounding wire was charred and literally crumbled when touched and there were two black wires rather than one white and one black.

This is the end of any novice’s electrical work ability, and I’m not one to mess with anything that has the capability of burning down my house.

 

 

I had picked out a fairly low-profile three-light, energy-efficient, LED Vance outdoor fixture back on April 14th. April 14th. The heads swivel a little for light placement and I loved the modern-meets-traditional design of the piece.

 

 

Luckily an incredibly competent electrician was referred my way who was able to get the job done, as well as correct a few things that weren’t up to code. So maybe this was actually a blessing in disguise? Not burning a place down is always a good day in my book.

 

 

The LED lights are wonderfully bright and much improved over the old one-bulb fixture that had most likely been hanging up there for decades. And I not so secretly love how my little collection of decorative gourds are on display until all hours.

 

 

In fact, here are a few more gratuitous photos. I couldn’t resist adding geometric shapes with some paint pens to these two.

 

 

And I’d really like to turn that Hubbard squash into a crow’s face before October 31st rolls around next week.

 

 

I’ve also been wondering whether or not that butternut squash will last past next Tuesday so that I might cook with it? Only time will tell! Now let’s talk about how long it will take me to box in those scrollwork pillars…

This post sponsored by Lamps Plus. All words and opinions are my own, as always. Thank you for supporting the brands that help Design Crush create fresh content!

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