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Link Up: New Furniture, Podcasts And A Controversial Design Material…


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Getting snowed in last Monday at the mountain house wasn’t exactly the way I envisioned starting this past week. I’ve been living in sunny LA 10 years and was TOTALLY unprepared to be side railed by “actual” weather. But after Brian came to our rescue (all three adults and SIX children) I was able to jump into a pretty awesome week of two shoots and more book location scouting. Dare I say that is one of the best parts of writing a design book…peeking into incredibly beautiful and well thought-out homes. Yeah, it’s heaven. But right now it’s Sunday and the only thing on my agenda is cuddling, relaxing and sharing my and the team’s interesting and thoughtful finds of the week. Please enjoy this weeks linkup with a coffee in hand. Feel permission to put on a cartoon for your kids or partner.

In case you missed it, my friend Victoria Smith aka SF Girl By Bay just launched her awesome furniture and collab with The Inside. It’s full of fun patterns and color and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. Victoria also has an AWESOME, very well curated online vintage shop that you should most definitely check out.

I know This American Life is an old podcast but I love it and have listened. This episode is SO good. I’m a sucker for a good coincidence story – the first one is cute about two HS friends, but there’s one very serendipitous love story in the middle involving a $1 bill (is this what inspired the movie Serendipity??) It’s happy and feel-good, go listen!

Speaking of the magic of podcasts…Jess has already ordered the book Dark Horse: Achieving Success Through the Pursuit of Fulfillment. After listening to Ryann’s high praises of the podcast, Armchair Expert hosted by Dax Shepard and Monica Padman, she heard an interview they did with the author and completely identified with the subject matter. Shouldn’t we all value fulfillment over “success”?

Now, JanSTEWary may be technically over but we have not stopped cooking…or souping. Arlyn (avid chef) has a bunch of amazing cooking tool recommendations (stay tuned for that post) but in her opinion, this 10-piece glass mixing bowl set is an absolute kitchen staple (she uses them nearly every day).

Also from cooking afficiando Arlyn, she says that when you all need a break from soup, you should make this insanely easy family-friendly instant pot recipe that she’s made three times in the last two weeks. 

This week’s home tour comes to you via one of our favorite Australian design sites, The Design Files. They featured a completely elegant yet super playful converted warehouse that embodies our “perfection is boring, let’s get weird” motto.

Arlyn is obsessed with Drunk Elephant products, and recently discovered their gel cleanser which she was suspicious about whether it would fully take off her makeup, but it ACTUALLY worked to take off a full face of makeup without making her feel too squeaky and dry. Overall review: It’s nice and balancing, removes makeup well and doesn’t have an overpowering fragrance, PLUS this brand is cruelty-free!!

Speaking of elephants, Water For Elephants came out in 2006 but it’s STILL Michael’s favorite book. He told me he used to buy copies and just give them out to everyone he knew as a “just because” gift. Kind of a genius and thoughtful gift idea, right? It’s a magical story with romance, drama, humor and one very special elephant that’s set in a backdrop of a traveling circus in the 1930s.

On a trip last fall Julie was having some travel anxiety and picked up the Herb Pharm Anxiety Soother at a store. At first, she thought it was just a placebo effect but now uses it about once a week. You just add one dropper amount to a glass of water or juice but warning, it has a very potent lavender taste/smell so you must like that or proceed with caution. It’s a great natural alternative. 

Jess promises she doesn’t only read articles that make her cry and is a VERY happy person but this beautiful article that was featured of Cup of Jo is a must read in her opinion. This letter, written by Julie Yip-Williams, to her young daughters about how she wants them to move through life post her dying is nothing if not inspiring, truthful and ultimately comforting…especially if you have experienced a loss.

My favorite Target mules (I have the mustard and bone colors and half of the team also have pairs) came out with a black and cognac color. Thank you Target (and Grace, for alerting me). You bet we are all hitting Add to Cart.

Have you seen Maxwell’s house in House Beautiful? (founder of Apartment Therapy) I stumbled upon in, not knowing it was his and I said to myself ‘this looks like a better version of my style’. So fun to find out that its indeed a friend of mine’s and boy is there a lot of inspiration to glean.

One of our design crushes is betting that this controversial material is making a comeback…thoughts?

Thanks for letting us be a part of your Sunday. Hope you laughed, cried and maybe got a little inspired. 🙂 See you tomorrow!

Fin Mark


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I just have to ask, “I know This American Life is an old podcast…”, but it has NEW content! It stays relevant, so does it matter how old it is? I’m confused here.


Emily, just commenting to say that I am loving starting my Sunday with this round-up. Also, a resounding YAS to basically anything Leanne Ford does, including this.


Love the Formica in the photos but not in real life. I’ll always prefer the real -organic materials. It’s like laminate vs wood. Always prefer to see real wood. I can see it used in a small way but for me, it would not be an option in design.


Absolutely love Drunk Elephant. Highly recommend. Cleanser, Babyfacial, peptide cream – I’m 62 and this is the first line of products that have actually made a different for my skin in a while.


Hi! Loving all the soup recipes but the instant pot recipe linked here (which I thought would be soup) is actually for instant pot spaghetti. Is that right??


You know what, even if formica wont be the high end material of choice, it’s so nice to see a designer doing what she can to make the material as beautiful as she can. Formica is inexpensive, and will be the material of choice for people who can’t afford or don’t want to invest in natural stone, so at least this means there will be more beautiful options. Like laminate or vinyl flooring, sure it’s not as beautiful as natural hardwood, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth trying to make pretty options.

Sarah McKinney

I’m loving these Link Up posts. Thank you!


Keep em coming!
Love these!


Love that house tour, so quirky and fun. It’s hard to go that far with the creativity and still look sophisticated.


I can freely admit to being obsessed with Leann Ford’s work. She is amazing.

Joanna Goddard

Thank you so much, Jess! Xoxoxo


Hi! Love these. No link is there for Maxwell’s house?


While I would be skeptical of Formica on a countertop, I’m wondering if it would be a good option for a backsplash against a quartz countertop. You don’t touch the backsplash much, it would be thin, easy to wipe down… I’m not totally on board, but I’m not hating on it either. I’d have to see it in person, but my vote is “yes” to Formica in certain applications.


Love you and all the links but HATE Formica. Sorry. I tried to keep an open mind, but no. The veneer-ness of it just doesn’t work for me. If money is an issue, I’d vote for ikea butcher block or something similar that still has integrity.

PSA. For others who commented, just google maxwell and house beautiful and you will find the feature. It’s very good. Video too.

Sarah Belcher

i’m up for formica! it all depends on the pattern though. anything can look cheap after all….even that cranberry granite that’s evserywhere (in the south at least).

Leigh H

Yay! I love Sundays even more now! Great job to you and team!


Formica is a really interesting design material. It’s not great for some applications (for example it can scorch if you put a hot pan on it, and scratch), but for others it’s perfect because it’s durable and utilitarian while being extremely cost efficient. I have a vintage modern desk with a wood and metal base and wood grain Formica writing surface. Looks great together. Like most design elements probably depends how it’s used. I need to remodel my laundry room due to a leak and actually want to have a floating custom sink and cabinet built and faced in Formica.


Omg I JUST finished reading Water for Elephants and I highly recommend. It was both riveting and poignant.

Also, if anyone likes serendipitous stories, read I Thought My Father Was God. This is also from NPR and a fantastic collection of true stories from readers.


Formica is plastic. It is a petrochemical and therefore not sustainable. If it is all someone can afford and they really need a new counter then I guess go for it. What I really object to is people using it as a temporary improvement until a gut remodel. I am waiting until I can afford something more sustainable. Also, while it might be resilient to staining etc when it is new, it doesn’t stay that way. So its life expectancy isn’t the same as something like quartz.

Emily K

Ya know what controversial design material I want to come back in a big way (ok maybe not in a BIG way because then it’ll go out just as fast. but at least back in a way that will make suppliers carry it)

LINOLEUM. not vinyl. actual linoleum. I hate tile in kitchens as I drop way too many dishes and I don’t think it will be affordable for me to install wood. Linoleum is green, resilient underfoot, affordable, and IMO prime for a comeback!

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