Friday Links

RBD links

Oh, it’s Labor Day. Everyone freaks out (me included) this time of year because it’s the unofficial end of summer and someone once said you can’t wear white for the rest of the year.

I mourn the end of summer in my adult years mostly because of how awesome everyone’s mood is in the summer…even New Yorkers chillthefuckout. It’s the closest we get to a West Coast mentality. But I also get sad because my bathing suit goes back in depths of my closet and I only wore it twice…again. And I didn’t eat nearly enough lobster or hot dogs or funnel cake.

BUT…I also get super pumped for fall times. I used to LOVE Back to School – the first day of school was tits as far as I was concerned, from K through college. Football season is on its way back and chili, roasted squash and pumpkin pie are just around the corner. There’s good stuff ahead.

This weekend though, it’s Summertime Balls to the Wall and I plan on swimming as much as possible, eating as much seafood as I can get my hands on and appreciating every last awesome thing about summer vacation.

Links, y’all:



RBD Notepad: Mainstream // Upstream


In an effort to post more of my design notes and work on this blog, I’ve started a new feature called “RBD Notepad”. If someone saw my actual notepads (of which there are about 5 scattered around the house) they would probably get shifty-eyed and back towards the door.

These notes I’m posting here are more curated and tidy, but they’re still a reflection of things I think about when it comes to design.

When I’m thinking about a new project, I tend to want to mix in something next level – something unexpected and maybe a little questionable. Not because of ‘wow factor’ or cache, but because it creates balance. Like a big bowl of vanilla ice cream with a pinch of black pepper.

But then there’s that part of human nature that’s drawn to the comfort and familiarity of the mainstream. I’m not anti-mainstream. I embrace trends with wide open arms because they’re a reflection of our culture and they create a tribe among participants – not to get all anthropologist up in here. But mass appeal is….well, appealing.

I want a client (or my guests) to feel at ease in their space first and foremost, but there should always be something that’s sparky and aloof – deviant, even. 

These notes are about appreciating what’s mainstream vs. what’s upstream.

RBD notepad - mainstream vs. upstream

Image credits: HomeyOhMy // Exterior Con Vistas // Adore Magazine // Domaine Home // Snoogs and Wilde // Berkley Illustration

Before + After – Lettered Tray Table

before and after - printers tray table

Years ago, my Mom carted this beat up table home from someone’s trash pile.  Dumpster diving isn’t exactly a competitive sport up here in Westchester – most wouldn’t be caught dead getting out of their black SUV to throw a vintage castaway in the back. Ok, maybe I’m not being fair. They wouldn’t get out of their Mini. But my Mom’s an old pro and I love her for not letting go of her “One Man’s Trash” credo. She passed that credo, and this table, onto me.

 before and after - printers tray table

The table then sat in my place with its fate undecided for months. It had a worn look that dangerously teetered on shabby chic (blegh!) with its perfectly chipped paint, cabriole legs and Queen Anne profile. But it also had a recessed tray top that was begging to be crafted.

Finally one day we had the idea to use that cool old box of ceramic marquee letters that Mom scored at a thrift shop. I pulled the title of one of my favorite Talking Heads songs and used white premixed tile grout to arrange the letters at random around the quote (with a few hidden messages).

before and after printers table tray

before and after printers table tray

Shit was fun. To finish the table and make it usable, Mom and I cut a template from kraft paper and took it to the glass shop to have a piece of tempered glass cut for the top, which costs under $50.

This table is now one of my favorite pieces in the house because it was the first thing I made when we bought Lil’ Spot. Between the sans-serif font of the letters and the white on white canvas, I think we’ve successfully rescued it from its shabby chic bad dream. Maybe one day I’ll seal the deal and sand down the driftwood-y finish and paint it hot pink or cobalt blue. Maybe. IDK. Should I?

before and after printers tray table


before and after printers tray table


before and after printers tray table


Supplies Needed:

Good to Know:

  • the pre-mixed grout is latex so you can mix any color acrylic craft paint into it to change the color – just remember that since it’s already white, your color will be lightened…
  • the grout has the consistency of brownie mix, as my Mom puts it in her classes – so you can use it on any vessel or surface, really, and this project translates really well to pots, vases, plaques, etc.
  • when you’re working with the grout work pretty quickly; it dries within about 20 minutes so it’s a good idea to lay out your pattern, if you’re going to use one, beforehand so the grout isn’t drying while you’re figuring out what you’re going to do
  • if you’re using objects or letters that are different sizes, make sure you set aside 4 pieces that are the thickest and set them at each corner so your glass rests level
  • definitely download the Talking Heads song – you won’t regret it



Friday Links



This was a busy week for Raised by Design! Our bathroom renovation was featured on Apartment Therapy this week and I couldn’t be more thrilled! I’ve been a long-time fan and reader of AT, so to become a part of their design community is really flattering and an exciting step for Raised by Design.

The post incited a pretty heated discussion about our choice to nix the vintage pink and black tile in favor of a more modern, neutral palette. It’s an interesting issue in design and I’m happy that it’s being discussed. I can’t say it was a hard decision for us in this particular renovation, given the big problems with the old layout and the fact that we needed a highly functional, hard working space to act as our only bathroom in the house for years to come. But I’ve made many much more difficult decisions in past projects when it comes to making ‘The Call’ – is it worth saving or is it time to let go and start anew? 

As a history major, the daughter of a historic preservationist and an avid vintage collector, and a real live citizen with the same aspirations of home ownership as anyone else (stay under budget, protect my investment and above all, love my living space) the debate about when to salvage the old and when to embrace the new is a familiar one.  

I’ve always loved to see a combination of old and new in design, living together happily in the melting pot of progress. That’s what this blog is all about at it’s core – marrying the influence of yesterday’s designs with the trends of today. Raising your Design aesthetic with firm roots and a taste for the modern.  

In this case, the pink tile lives on at Lil’ Spot only in memory, but there are many other nods to the past that we’ve hung onto in our renovations. Most importantly, we’ve preserved the original structure and modest footprint of our kit-built home in a time when people are buying old homes to knock them down and max out their investment. In an area with some of the highest property values in the country, we’ve opted to fit our lives into the existing tiny single level structure now dwarfed by our neighbors’ rebuilt two-story, two-family homes. That’s a choice that I feel good about.

Zip doo-dah. Here are this week’s links!

  • I stumbled across the work of Roberta Neidigh the other day and was completely taken with her series Property Line – I wish I were independently wealthy both in cash and wall space and could own the whole collection.  
  • We opted to find out the gender of our brewing kiddo (a boy!) and this photo series hits all of my nervousness about finding out right on the (Barbie) head. 
  • I’ve finally started working on designing my business cards – probably the first step you’re supposed to take when you start your own business. I’m using Moo, but here is a list of the 5 best places to order your own that I found helpful. 
  • Studying logo design 101 this week, too. I love the logo that I designed for Raised by Design (a lot!), but it doesn’t have the “B” in “RBD” which bugs the crap out of me. Redesigning is harder than you’d think though…
  • So hot right now…colored translucent furniture! 

Ta-ta! Loveyoubye,


Friday Links



It’s been a while since I’ve done a links post. For those of you not following me on Instagram, my excuse for everything from now on is we’re expecting our first baby this February! And I’m completely distracted by the motherly changes that are already happening in me. James and I are excited, to say the least. I’m not sure yet how much of this blog will include things related to Bambino, but I am definitely cooking up nursery designs like a champ and I’m sure I will be sharing that project in the near future. Oh, baby!

Otherwise, here’s where my head’s been this week:



Fun with Fonts

Have you guys ever visited Font Squirrel? It’s a ‘free font utopia’ and as an admitted font hoarder, it’s a deep rabbit hole for me. I can spend hours in there…and then hours again in Photoshop playing around with layouts, kerning, drop shadows and textures. Font Squirrel is a great resource for designers, all of the fonts are “100% Free for Commercial Use”* which is a giant generous blessing. You can even generate Web Fonts for use in web design.

I want to give these guys a big hug, a chest bump and a cupcake.

Here are a few of my favorites from this week.

Click here to download Sofia

Click here to download Sofia



Click here to download Quiggly Wiggly



Click here to download Mathlete



Click here to download Yard Sale



Click here to download Seaside Resort



Click here to download Lobster


Have fun! Loveyoubye!

*Font Squirrel mines the web for font with licenses that allow commercial use and shares them on their site in an easy format to navigate. You should still read the license on each font before you use it to make sure there aren’t any restrictions. For more info, check out their FAQ page. And if you have the means, you should also donate to the designer where possible – it’s not easy to design a beautiful font! 

RBD Makes: Copper Paper Towel Holder

Raised by Design - DIY Industrial Copper Paper Towel Holder

Yesterday, my Dad came over to help me make this industrial-style copper paper towel holder. We are pretty short on counter space in our small kitchen and I’ve been trying to declutter where I can.

Decluttering is a tough business for me because there’s a powerful gravity that exists between me and clutter. But I’m also a serious cook and I use my kitchen and everything in it a LOT. There are things that need to be within arm’s reach and I just have to accept that I’ll never be that person with one bowl of lemons and two rustic spoons on their counter. Plus we’re apparently running an illegal espresso bar and can’t possibly live without BOTH an espresso machine and coffee maker in our tiny coffee loving lives.

One easy win was to get rid of our countertop paper towel holder in favor of a hanging dispenser under one of our shelves by the sink.

Before you go hating on the asymmetry of these one-bracket shelves you should know that (a) there was a decent reason for building them like this and (b) I’ve already beat myself up good for not taking more time to design ones that I liked better. I just wanted them to be functional, sturdy and cheap (thanks to a good case of renovation fatigue). If I were to change them out I think I would go for something more rectilinear like these or floating shelves like these. But whatever. In 4 years when I get around to doing something about it maybe I will have changed my mind again.

Moving past the self deprecation…I’m going to show you how to make this kick arse copper paper towel holder.

Here’s what you need to hunt and gather from hardware stores, Dads and basements:

Raised by Design - DIY copper industrial style paper towel holder

  • propane torch with standard nozzle
  • 18″ piece (or longer) of ½” copper tubing cut to the following sizes:
    • (1) 14″ piece
    • (4) 3/4″ pieces
  • (4) ½” copper tees
  • (4) ½” copper caps
  • tin-lead or lead-free tin solder
  • soldering flux (we used paste flux but any form will work)
  • (2) screw hooks
  • emery paper
  • tubing cutter (any size will cut ½” tubing)
  • power drill fitted with 3/16″ bit

Other supplies you’ll need:

  • WD-40, Goo Gone or ketchup
  • rags
  • permanent marker
  • square (optional but very helpful)
  • measuring tape
  • gloves

Here’s my super technical design drawing:

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

The two biggest considerations we had were (1) to make it easy to change the roll and (2) to prevent it from sliding out of the hook/hanging mechanism during use. I wanted a modern/industrial look so we headed to the plumbing aisle at the hardware store to see what we could dig up in Copper Land.

We decided to use screw hooks as our mounting/hanging mechanism because they’re easy to install and leave an opening for removing the dowel to change the roll.  Using copper tees would solve the issue of sliding and keep the dowel in place so we grabbed a couple of those.

In order to cap off the tees for a finished look, we would need to cut small pieces of tubing to use as connector pieces. They do make caps that fit inside the tees, eliminating the need to cut connector pieces. But they’re $5/ea versus the standard caps which are $0.75/ea. I went with the standard caps and bought myself an iced latte and piece of $12 cheese from the fancy food shop in town…because that’s what’s up with my priorities. 

OK here are THE STEPS:

First use your funny looking tubing cutter to cut one 14″ piece and four 3/4″ pieces from your copper tubing length. Cutting tubing and pipes sounds like it would be scary and involve goggles and sparks, but it’s actually really easy and about as scary as using scissors. I’m lucky because I have one of those Dads who knows how to do everything. Here’s a good video tutorial for cutting tubing that could stand in for an all-knowing Dad if you need it to.

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

Then you’ll want to clean up any serious gunk that’s on the tubing. For this you can use Goo Gone, WD-40 or…Ketchup! It’s nasty but it works.

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder


Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

To really get your copper shining bright like a diamond, you’ll need to go over it with emery paper or very very fine sand paper. Sand the outside of your long piece and the ends and insides of your connector pieces, tees and caps. This step is really important because it removes any oxidation so that the solder will adhere to the copper. You want to work fairly quickly and do this when you’re ready to get right to soldering so that it doesn’t re-oxidize. (PS – those are my Dad’s ManHands…I love them.)

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder


Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

After all of your pieces are sanded inside and out, use your ManHands to apply flux (capacitor) to the parts of tubing that will be connected. I’m a fan of this kind of work just because it’s an excuse to use the word ‘flux’ all day.

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

As you apply flux to each piece, begin to assemble the holder. Flux flux flux. Use my super technical drawing above as a reference…the long piece connects to the tee, which connects to the connectors, which connects to the caps. Capisce?

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

Assembled and ready to solder…

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

Use a paper towel to wipe off any extra fluxity-flux-flux.

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

Now get to torchin’. The only real safety tips for using a propane torch are these:

  • go outside in a well ventilated area, especially if you’re using solder that contains lead
  • wear goggles because it makes you look like you’re doing something dangerous
  • wear gloves to protect your gorgeous ManHands
  • work on a piece of wood or tin – no stone (you’ll crack it) and no asphalt (you’ll melt it) and no piles of leaves (you’ll start a forest fire)
  • don’t be a dope and burn yourself while you’re reaching for something
  • you know…workin’ with fire…
  • if all of this scares you too much, just grab someone who knows their way around a torch for help

Turn on your propane torch and heat up one end of the assembled rod, being careful not to place your hand too close to the flame (the entire pipe will heat up as it sits over the open flame, another good reason to wear gloves). Notice that Dad didn’t heed any of my safety warnings.

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

As you heat the copper, hold the solder over the seam and allow it to drip into place and spread to form a bond.

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

The whole job takes about three minutes. Once you’ve covered your seams, use an old rag to wipe away extra tin and clean it up a little. If you want to get it really clean, you can bust out your emery paper again, being careful not to sand away your bond. Personally, I prefer the look of the mixed metals which will complement the screw hooks.

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

Head inside and do a whole bunch of head-hurting fraction math to figure out where to drill holes to hang your hooks so that the paper towels will have space to turn and you can easily take the rod out to change them. Measure a million times, cut once, is the goal.

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

Dad taught me another good trick for making sure you don’t drill clean through your beautiful shelves, which I’m 100% sure I would have done. Hold the screw up to your shelf and mark the depth on the screw with a permanent marker. You can do the same directly onto your drill bit for drilling your pilot holes. Then you just stop when you get to the line! And you can feel free to do this dance.

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

Drill some pilot holes…

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

Screw in your hooks and hang that sucker!!

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

I LERVE it. Si! Si! Si! I think it complements the colors in our counters and coffee station quite nicely.

The asparagus dish, btw, was my Dad’s Mother’s and it has a good story. It hung in her kitchen for years when my Dad was growing up. When she passed, he and my Mom got it. It hung in our kitchen in Oak Park. Years later we moved to New York and down-sized to fit into a loft apartment. She gifted it to our dear friends Anne + Jeff across the street. It hung in their kitchen for the better part of 14 years until I got married and Anne gifted it to me at my shower. I cried. And it hangs here in proud memory of my Grandma Betty.

Raised by Design - DIY Copper Paper Towel Holder

The whole project (including a run to the hardware store) took us just under 4 hours. It cost about $25 not including the solder, flux and tubing cutter. If you’re not into pyrotechnics but are loving the industrial copper look you can score a similar one for $65 at ScoutMob.

I’m pumped because I freed up about 8″ of counter space…and that’s a big deal for me. Plus I got to spend the day with Dad and play with fire.

Loveyoubye! Mags