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DC Design House Exterior Patio AreaGarden design by Botanical Decorators

Attention design lovers and do-gooders! You gotta see this house.

The Washington, D.C. Design House is on a mission to showcase designer talent and help bring healthcare to children in need. The Design House got its start in 2008 as a one-time exhibition for designers to raise money for a local charity by showing off their work. The showcase was such a success, it was made into an annual event, and they raised more than $1 million for Children’s National Health System in just six years! Pretty amazing, huh?

Now they’re back for their 7th year with a spectacular house filled with bold blues and cool greys. Every nook and cranny (inside and out!) of the 2014 house has been personally crafted by top area designers, so each space has a unique look but still flows seamlessly into the next.

Exterior and Front Door of the DC Design House 2014Entry Garden by D&A Dunlevy Landscapers, Inc. | Facade by Rill Architects

See inside the Design House!

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Designer Jonathan Adler has teamed up with TOMS Shoes to create a limited-edition collection of spring-inspired shoes and sunglasses. The collaboration features TOMS’ classic shoe and sandal with Jonathan’s iconic designs. Plus, plain eyewear is transformed with splashes of colorful stripes and patterns. “I’ve been a long-time fan, wearer and devotee of TOMS, so when the collaboration came about I was ecstatic because it felt right and organic,” Jonathan says. “I wanted the collaboration with TOMS to reflect the spirit of my work, which is what I call style, craft and joy.”

Jonathan Adler for TOMS

Jonathan Adler for TOMS

Jonathan’s collection will be included in the “one for one” plan. So, with every pair of shoes purchased, TOMS will give a pair of shoes to a child in need. And with every pair of eyewear purchased, TOMS will help restore the sight of someone in need.

Jonathan visited The Action Center in the Rockaway Community of NYC to fit kids with TOMS shoes. Hear what Jonathan has to say about his collaboration with TOMS and his recent giving trip >>

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Let me come clean. When I walked into designer and HGTV.com guest editor Nancy Fire’s studio, Design Works International, last week I was shaking. The knocking in my knees was more likely caused by a mixture of excitement and dorky nervousness, because — let’s be honest — I’m a 22-year-old intern and meeting the design director of HGTV HOME is kind of a big deal.

Design Works International

From left: Nancy Fire, HGTV HOME intern Ashley Chase, HGTV Home Studio intern Sam Clyde, HGTV Home Studio intern Catherine Blubaugh

After spending more than three hours in her workspace and asking what had to be a draining round of rapid-fire questions about her life, art and work with HGTV HOME, I discovered that — spoiler alert — Nancy is the bomb. She exudes creativity, passion and wisdom; just by shaking her hand, you can feel in her grasp that she gets it. She gets the HGTV brand, she gets the audience and most importantly, she wants to make sure that everyone else gets it too. Not only did I get a sneak peek at what’s to come for HGTV HOME, I also walked away with several quotes, catch-phrases and pieces of amazing life advice that are totally worth sharing with you all.

Sensibility is key.

The word has a lot of different meanings in the Design Works studio. For example, Nancy might say, “I wanted this particular partner to understand the sensibility (feeling) that we were trying to create with the new lines for 2014.” Breaths later she might follow with, “The blue sensibility (collection) is my favorite of the color-ways.” She may even point out, “It’s so nice to work with people with such sensibility (logical understanding).” The bottom line is, Nancy has plenty of sense in all of its contexts. Her sensibility comes through in both a business-minded, reasonable way, as well as in the emotional connection she has with every single vision she creates for HGTV HOME.

Design Works International

Typical doesn’t exist.

Moving through the studio “ooo-ing” and “ahh-ing” over all of her projects and ideas, I wondered what exactly a regular day at the office looks like for Nancy Fire. She explained that sometimes she’s in Paris at shows like Maison & Objet, and sometimes she’s showing wide-eyed interns around her textile printing machines. Kind of confused, I asked how she defines her job if she doesn’t have a daily set of tasks or a routine. With a laugh, she said her mom still asks the same question. The answer? Nancy is the idea person. Sometimes those ideas pull her in different directions and land her in different locations, but the constant is that she is always generating new ones. She describes her value to the HGTV HOME brand by saying, “I’m not the best at one particular thing. I’m the best at putting the pieces together and seeing the big picture.”

Design Works International

Do what makes you happy.

Admittedly, hanging around such a successful and put-together woman was a little panic-inducing for a college junior with graduation and need for an adult job looming over her head like a black cloud of despair. When I asked for career advice, Nancy simply said, “Love what you do. It’s a long day and a long week … It’s hard to find people who love what they do.” In the event that you do chase your dreams but still come up short, she said, “It’s always good in life to have a great Plan B. Plan B keeps you going. My husband and I always said that if this didn’t work out, we’d move to Hawaii and I would lifeguard and he would bartend. Plan B doesn’t sound so bad, right?” No ma’am, it certainly does not.

Design Works International

There’s no room for vanity.

The biggest lesson I learned from Nancy came in the form of a beverage. “Does anyone want a drink? Tea? Coffee?” she asked when we arrived. Limbs still thawing from the frigid outdoors, we happily accepted. Just as happily, she got up to boil water and brew a pot of coffee. Everyone exchanged a surprised look. “There is no ego here,” she said. Nancy is as down-to-earth, friendly and fun as she is talented, powerful and successful. She is a doer, from generating the big ideas to accomplishing minute office tasks. At the end of our visit, she even genuinely asked us to help her select fabric from the new collections to use in an upcoming promotion for HGTV HOME Fabrics. After stabilizing those cursed knocking knees, I happily obliged.

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As design director of HGTV HOME (HGTV’s product line), Nancy Fire is leading a team to produce stunning home decor that encompasses the looks and styles seen on HGTV and HGTV.com. If you’ve ever shopped HGTV HOME, then you’re familiar with Nancy’s remarkable attention to detail and her keen eye for what’s beautiful. It’s Nancy’s style and expertise that made the decision to choose her as our first ever HGTV.com guest editor a no-brainer. What exactly is the “HGTV.com guest editor?” Glad you asked!

This year, our team will be bringing in a few extra movers, shakers and visionaries who possess interesting perspectives on the world of design. We want these industry insiders to jump into the mix of everything we do here at HGTV.com. So, we asked Nancy if she’d be our first guest editor, and she happily agreed. Welcome, Nancy!

HGTV.com Guest Editor Nancy Fire

HGTV.com Guest Editor Nancy Fire

In the coming months, you’ll find Nancy offering her expert commentary here on Design Happens, adding insight on 2014 trends throughout HGTV.com, and even taking over HGTV’s Instagram here and there as she travels the globe. (Catch her this weekend on Instagram while she’s at Heimtextil, Germany’s international trade fair for home textiles.)

For you to get to know a little more about our guest editor, we recently interviewed Nancy.

Our Chat

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We virtually introduced you to HGTV.com and Design* Sponge contributor Amanda Brown last week. As part of a tour for her book, Spruce: A Step-By-Step Guide to Upholstery and Design, she and her team stopped by the HGTV offices to hold an upholstery workshop for us. That’s right, we actually made the benches pictured below with our own bare hands.

HGTV Editors' Upholstered Benches

I had an overwhelming feeling of “Can I actually do this and use power tools without hurting myself?” when I first walked into the workshop area. But let me tell you, I was ready for more when I was done with my bench. If you think there’s no way you’d even attempt an upholstery project, keep reading. Amanda’s expertise and step-by-step guide couldn’t have made it any easier.

See How We Made Our Benches

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A former partner of the legendary design firm Parish-Hadley, interior designer Brian McCarthy is a member of Elle Decor’s “A-List” of designers and is known for creating personal and distinctive interiors for an elite and very private clientele. Brian’s clients’ desire to keep under the radar means that he doesn’t often publish his projects, but in his first book, Luminous Interiors, he’s pulling back the curtains on nine luxury residences from all over the country.

Luminous Interiors by Brian McCarthy

Left: Luminous Interiors Cover | Right: Brian McCarthy photo by Peter Murdock

Inside, Brian showcases the refined eclecticism that defines his work. He’s passionate about collecting art and furniture, and for one project shown in the book, he took his clients on a grand tour throughout Western Europe — a total of 35 trips in five years! — to scout for the perfect pieces to fill their home.

Take a sneak peek at some of the luxurious and opulent homes Brian has designed for his anonymous clientele:

The Grand Tour

Luminous Interiors - Elegant Guest Bedroom

Photo: Fritz von der Schulenburg

This guest bedroom offers the ultimate retreat, balancing both opulent and rustic design styles.

Peek Into More Luxurious Interiors

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The Knit Parade by Rebecca Rymsza showcases 12 original knitting patterns for motif sweaters from the creative team behind the Wheres Me Jumper brand. These patterns make a bold statement and encourage knitters to personalize their sweaters as much as they like. Each pattern is inspired by a song, ranging from musical notes (“On Repeat” by LCD Soundsystem), to a leopard print (“Me Jane” by PJ Harvey) and dripping paint (“Paint It Black” by The Rolling Stones).

The additional six customizable graphic swatches are practically begging to be played with. “Use one or use them all, however you like. You might be a polka-dot prince, or princess, and choose to stick to one pattern … or you might want to channel the Fresh Prince, circa 1991, in which case, we salute you,” Rebecca says in The Knit Parade.

Take a peek into the funky patterns you can expect. (Hello, handmade Christmas gifts!)

The Knit Parade Sweater Pattern

Pattern: Bad Girls
Inspiration: “Bad Girls” is a song from alternative electronic hip-hop artist M.I.A’s fourth studio album, Matangi, in 2013.

The Knit Parade Sweater Pattern

Pattern: Weather Experience
Inspiration: “Weather Experience” is a song from English electronic band The Prodigy’s debut studio album, Experience, in 1992.

The Knit Parade Sweater Pattern

Pattern: Are ‘Friends’ Electric?
Inspiration: The song “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” is by English new wave band Tubeway Army from the 1979 album Replicas.

Who’s ready to get out their knitting needles and speakers?!

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Made By Hand, the newest book by Lena Corwin, is a collection of projects based on the classes held in her studio. Her first book, Printing By Hand, showcases a modern guide to handmade printing with stamps, stencils and more. In her newest book, she decided to expand her curriculum and even invited some of her talented friends to teach classes on everything from dyeing and sewing to weaving and jewelry making. In 26 studio classes, Made By Hand introduces readers to ageless crafting techniques with modern projects. Take a look at some of my favorites straight from the book:

Lena Corwin's Made by Hand - Rotary-Printed Cloth Napkins

Project by Lena Corwin

Rotary-Printed Cloth Napkins: ”While planning this book, I spent time experimenting with printing techniques that were new to me, and I have become especially interested in the concept of rotary printing,” Lena says in Made By Hand. “When manufacturers produce rotary-printed fabric, a large cylinder is carved with impressions and is used to print on long, continuous rolls of fabric.”

To make a smaller rotating stamp, Lena attached pieces of foam to a rolling pin. The foam pieces soak up the ink, allowing the design to easily transfer to the fabric. Here, she chose a fun polka-dot design in neon hues to create napkins.

Lena Corwin's Made By Hand - Crocheted Garland

Project by Erin Weckerle

Crocheted Garland: To create this garland, Erin used three different doily patterns and chose muted, vintage colors. You can hang the garland anywhere around your home — on a mantel, headboard, window, etc.

Lena Corwin's Made By Hand - Crocheted Rugs

Project by Cal Patch | Braided rug, top; Crocheted rug, bottom

Crocheted or Braided Rugs: “For this project, Cal and I decided to show two great rug-making methods — braided and crocheted. Both methods use the same fabric but produce distinctively different looks,” Lena says in Made By Hand. “Braided rugs … have a classic, old-fashioned appearance, while crocheted rugs … look more modern.”

SEE MORE HANDMADE PROJECTS

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If you’ve scoured HGTV.com, it’s highly likely you’ve come across interior designer Jamie Herzlinger’s designs. She’s all about functionality, and believes you don’t have to skimp on style to achieve that. As part of our designer interview series,  we asked Jamie eight questions — here’s what she had to say:

Interior Designer Jamie Herzlinger

Browse Through Jamie’s Designers’ Portfolio>>

D-Happ: How would you describe your overall aesthetic?

JH: My designs are all irresistibly comfortable. I have a deep love for luxury, but no design is done correctly if it is not functional.

Jamie Answers 7 More Questions

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If you peruse HGTV.com, you’ll quickly find that we have thousands of images from designers across the globe. From Modern to English Country, and Eclectic to Traditional — we have all design styles. In the coming months, Design Happens will dare to go beyond the photos and talk to the designers who actually created some of these stunning rooms. This week, we asked Richard Gacek, of the Gacek Design Group, eight fun questions.

Designer Richard Gacek

D-Happ: How would you describe your overall aesthetic?
RG: It’s a refined sophistication with a relaxed and classic twist — with simple, clean lines and an earthy modern design style. Natural elements and the architectural form play key roles in my work.

D-Happ: Where do you source inspiration?
RG: OMG – everywhere! My travels abroad in both exotic and European locations have been key. For example, a classic historic Parisian building can inspire natural elements, modern furnishings and linen fabrics. Architecture, history and culture — to me — define classic style and inspire comfortable living. Also, I am inspired by Frank Lloyd Wright’s structures that work in harmony with humanity and its environment.

D-Happ: What’s your favorite space/room to decorate in a home?
RG: My favorites are the kitchen and great room (house plans today are open concept). I like to create an experience that addresses the heart of the home — the comfortable place that a family goes to entertain and enjoy each other’s company.

5 More Questions After the Jump

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