Just because we’re all still stuck at home this summer, doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy the fresh air and warm weather. Whether your idea of a fun time is relaxing with a well-crafted drink in hand or playing games with family, we’ve come up with some of our favorite ways to enjoy a stay-home summer!
>>> Games >>> Heat Wave 3′ Mega Jumbling Tower
We’re all familiar with jumbling tower games, but we love this one for its colorful twist! Not only is it bright and rainbow, but it’s also made with mega-sized blocks for an even better tumble at the end!
>>> Music >>> TYKHO Bluetooth Speaker + FM Radio
What’s a great summer without some music? That’s where the TYKHO Bluetooth Speaker comes in. It’s easy to use, making it great to grab and take outside. Plus, its minimalist aesthetic looks great sitting between your patio chairs.
> Sun Protection >>> SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion
You’ve gotta stay protected when you’re out in the sun — that means everything from sunglasses to sunscreen. SALT & STONE’s lotion is our go-to this summer. It blocks UVA + UVB rays, it’s water resistant, and it’s not greasy, which is a huge bonus!
>>> Outdoor Furniture >>> Drum Table
Bend Goods has a creative, eye-catching collection of outdoor furniture. This table is just one of our favorites from it. An intricate wire pattern makes it into a simple shape that’s perfect for holding drinks, books, and a speaker.
>>> Lighting >>> Carrie Portable LED Lamp
One of our favorite parts of summer are late nights spent outside having good conversation. A portable lamp, like this LED one, is designed to go anywhere with you. That way you don’t have to go inside when the sun goes down.
>>> Drinks >>> Porter 15oz Glass
One essential for a stay-at-home summer is delicious drinks. W&P is always one of our go-tos for this because their products are portable, functional, and well designed. This 15oz Glass is perfect for a cocktail on a hot day — especially when you throw some ice from one of their molds in it.
>>> Barbecue Essentials >>> Essential BBQ Tool
When we think of a perfect summer day, one of the first things that comes to mind is barbecue. Izola’s Essential BBQ Tool is designed to be multi-functional, which is why it works as a spatula, fork, brush, corkscrew, and wine opener. You want this on hand whenever you’re standing at the grill.
>>> For more Stay at Home Summer ideas, visit the Design Milk Shop here! <<<
Through September, we are donating 1% of the Design Milk Shop sales to The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund. Click here to read the Design Milk Mission for our commitment to donations, diversity, equity, + anti-racism action.
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“I’ve been doing this for 47 years,” says Tom MacDonald. “I started when something electronic was the acceptance of a contract with a telegram.”
MacDonald heads up his own realty group in California’s Central Valley, and like most realtors, his business in recent months is depending on technology more than ever before. Jurisdictions across the U.S. have responded to the coronavirus with an array of restrictions, including a total ban on traditional open houses in California.
So in the absence of baked-cookie scents and mingling strangers, MacDonald and other realtors are turning to tools that help them show off houses online. This allows for more immersion than was possible just a few years ago, and makes it easier and less expensive for realtors to put a property’s best foot forward.
These new tools include so-called “virtual staging,” in which images of a property have lifelike decor added to them digitally using 3D modeling and Photoshop. They also increasingly include digital walkthroughs of various kinds, verging on full-blown virtual reality. And while many serious buyers still want to see the property in person before signing on the dotted line, realtors and entrepreneurs believe the new marketing tools will stick around well after coronavirus pandemic is under control.
“Because a lot of open houses and conventional staging companies were not operational during the lockdown … we were actually busier,” says Young Kim, cofounder of Vancouver-based Bella Staging.
Bella specializes in virtual staging, the digital evolution of the common practice of temporarily redecorating a house to impress potential buyers. But instead of renting real furniture and hiring movers to haul it in, which can cost into the thousands of dollars, Bella adds furniture to photos of an empty house using digital wizardry. According to Kim, his team of designers and photo editors can virtually stage an entire house for under $100.
That occasionally leads to confusion. “There’ve been times our clients have had offers on a property, and the buyers wanted the [virtual] furniture included,” says Kim—but for the most part, clients understand that virtual staging is an exercise of imagination. “We help paint the picture of what it can be.”
Another digital tool that has seen a surge in relevance is the virtual walkthrough, which gives potential buyers a more immersive sense of the space. At the very high end, those can be built as full-blown virtual reality experiences using a 3D-rendered simulation. But more common (and affordable) are walkthroughs created using 360-degree photos.
“It gives you a feel for the place. How big it is, what’s the layout,” says Bartek Drozdz, cofounder of Kuula, whose core product he describes as “like Powerpoint for virtual tours.” Users take their own photos, then use Kuula to arrange them into an immersive home-tour experience. (One downside is that Kuula doesn’t allow for the addition of virtual decor, instead capturing a house’s real-life appearance.)
Drozdz says he’s seen a significant uptick in interest and web traffic during the pandemic. But growth at Kuula was steady for years before the coronavirus hit, and Drozdz sees lockdowns as accelerating a longterm change in homebuying, rather than a temporary shift. That’s because of a simple reality: even in normal times, open houses aren’t always an efficient way to shop for a home.
“In L.A., with the traffic, you have to drive for an hour to see a house you don’t like the moment you walk in,” says Drozdz. While sites like Zillow have been shifting more of the homebuying process online for well over a decade, immersive experiences take that to the next level.
MacDonald agrees: “I think this will change longterm how homes are sold. People are becoming very comfortable with sitting in their living room, using their Apple TV to look at real estate.” MacDonald says most shoppers do still want to see their new home in person before committing to a purchase, but the new tools give added confidence to some, such as cross-country movers, who snap up properties without ever setting foot in them.
Thanks in part to these digital tools (but also a lot of help from record-low mortgage rates), the real estate business overall appears to be holding up during the pandemic. In May, according to the National Association of Realtors, contract signings were off just 5.1% compared to the year before. That’s a minor drop compared to many sectors of the economy.
In fact, with supplies tight, U.S. home prices have actually gone up on average in recent months. Combined with job losses and economic uncertainty, that might make it tough for some people to buy a new home, even as stay-at-home orders have highlighted the shortcomings of their current one.
“Almost everybody during this pandemic is learning how their space isn’t working for them,” says Sally Huang, who directs visual technologies for online home design community Houzz. The site offers an online visualization tool called “View in my Room” that lets shoppers virtually check the size and style of furniture against their living space.
So whether you’re on the hunt for a new house to love, or trying to love the house you’re in, you can do more of that work online than ever before.
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Staying in shape can be tough for entrepreneurs, especially with most office gyms closed. Fortunately, we’ve rounded up six great products that will help you stay in shape without cutting into your business time. Plus, right now you can get some extra savings. If you spend more than $50, use code JULYFOURTH15 to get an extra 15 percent off. If you spend more than $75, use code JULYFOURTH20 to get an extra 20 percent off.
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1. Vortex VX3 Fluid Assist® AR Water Rower – $1,800 (43 percent off) with promo code: VORTEX18
Rowing offers an excellent, full-body workout in as little as 15 minutes each day. With this fully-adjustable resistance rower, you have complete control over your workout sessions. Put it in your home or office and you’ll be able to get a quick workout whenever.
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2. THE CHOPPER: Full-Body Workout – $96 (30 percent off) with promo code: JULYFOURTH20
Endorsed by NFL and NBA athletes, The Chopper is an innovative, portable workout solution. This device uses chopping motions to help you achieve a full-body workout. The resistance grows based on how you swing it, and it comes with a companion app that provides guided, personalized workouts throughout your day.
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3. Push Up Machine: Home Exercise Equipment – $72 (44 percent off) with promo code: JULYFOURTH20
Push ups are an outstanding exercise, but many people don’t know how to do them correctly. This Push Up Machine helps to put your body in the correct position effortlessly while promoting a full range of motion in every push up. This way, you’ll reach the highest level of muscle activation in your core, chest, shoulders, and triceps. Just a few minutes and you’ll get an incredible workout.
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4. Aduro Sport Elite Recovery Massage Gun – $64 (50 percent off) with promo code: JULYFOURTH20
One of the toughest parts of a workout regimen is just being consistent. Workouts hurt, and when you’ve got muscle pain or aggravation after a workout, you can target it with this massage gun. The Aduro has four attachment heads and six intensity levels to reach every part of your body and provide relief wherever you need it.
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5. ABXCore: Ab Machine With Virtual Trainer – $109.59 (39 percent off) with promo code: JULYFOURTH20
ABXCore is a revolutionary workout device for your abs. With four adjustable resistances, AI technology, and a companion app, this machine helps you see unbelievable results fast. Each core workout takes just seven minutes a day, delivering results that you can be proud of.
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6. MoonRun: Portable Cardio Trainer with Virtual Running Apps – $199.20 (50 percent off) with promo code: JULYFOURTH20
Don’t want to run outside with a mask on? Run inside instead! MoonRun is the ingenious resistance band trainer that wraps around you and lets you simulate running without ever going outside — and without taking up a ton of space like a treadmill. Plus, the companion app lets you go on group runs, compete with friends, and more.
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While some people prefer remote work to going into an office, many of us struggle with productivity when working from home. In this video, Ben Angel describes a motivation technique that can help you stay on-task and reduce stress.
Angel explains how researchers found that leveraging the internal reward systems of test subjects resulted in productivity gains. To trigger your internal reward system, Angel recommends rewarding yourself for completing projects, big or small.
Start by identifying and writing out your goals. Angel recommends keeping a journal or using task management software to list your projects and due dates. Next to each, list a reward you’ll enjoy when you complete the project.
A few examples of rewards you could give yourself:
Don’t reward yourself until you’ve completed each project. If necessary, keep yourself accountable by enlisting the help of friends or family or by posting to social media. But do celebrate daily successes to maintain momentum and stay motivated.
Angel also recommends organizing your day before you start work, breaking the workday into 30- or 60-minute increments to compartmentalize projects and reduce stress.
Less stress and proper nutrition, Angel says, will help fuel the brain, keep feelings of overwhelm in check and improve productivity.
Related: Why You’re Having Vivid Dreams, and How Some Sleep Supplements Can Trigger Nightmares
Toronto-based design firm Cecconi Simone Inc. recently designed the interiors of a contemporary home located in Toronto’s Lawrence Park neighborhood. The home’s quiet and elegant design merges landscape, architecture, and interiors seamlessly, lending itself perfectly to a light and sophisticated material palette that highlights outside views to the pool and yard.
Cecconi Simone Inc. decided to keep finishes and lighting consistent throughout the space to maintain its calm nature and highlight the stunning outdoor views from double-height windows. Wood floors, white cabinetry, and a black fireplace maintain the structure’s contemporary style without sacrificing comfort.
“When you enter the front door, there’s a direct sightline that connects to the rear yard. To reinforce that sense of space and connection with the outdoors, we have a continuity of finishes and lighting, inside and out,” says Cecconi Simone principal Elaine Cecconi.
The main level is divided into a public and private area, which allows for easy entertaining and an extra level of privacy. The public zone features a combined dining and living room with a piano placed by the front window. A wood staircase with floating treads is set behind a glass screen, which becomes more noticeable when flooded with light through the skylight above.
The private zone is a double-volume space that features a grand family room with views of the yard and pool and a contemporary kitchen.
The upper level includes bedrooms for the family, along with a separate guest suite with two bedrooms and a shared bathroom.
Other notable features include a gym, home theater, and a music library that showcases the owners’ extensive vinyl collection.
Photos by Shai Gil.
Liang Architecture Studio has transformed the interior of home in China into a grand space that highlights its own architecture. Design director Xu Liang and his team focused on creating a flow that focuses on how a human would naturally move through the space.
The ease of movement resulting from the careful layout allows the occupants to focus more on their surroundings as a whole as they move around.
A main goal when designing the space was to let in as much daylight as possible, which was accomplished through playful skylight cutouts and strategically placed windows that mimic the height and shape of the structure building. The skylight cutouts project tiny light shapes on the walls that act as a natural art installation.
Previously, there were only two areas that allowed natural light inside, so a central atrium was added to strategically allow sunlight to enter the space from all sides and on each level.
Subtle details, like a structural beam above the foyer remain from the home’s previous design to pay homage to past memories.
The overall layout is open and free-flowing to encourage interaction amongst family members. Parts of the ceiling above the living room and dining rooms were cut out in order to connect the public areas as much as possible.
Photos by Wang Ting and Ye Song.
With the pandemic still affecting parts of the world and others still taking precautions, working from home has become the norm for many. Not everyone has the space to create a home office setup, and even if they did, it’s not always ideal when other family members are home to distract them. Enter the Workstation Cabin – a multipurpose, geometric refuge designed by Budapest-based design studio Hello Wood.
The pebble-shaped Workstation Cabin is fairly compact as to not take up too much of your outdoor space, but roomy enough to house a highly-functional office, guest room, or playroom for the kids.
Hello Wood did away with the typical cube shape and turned it into a work of art to enhance your outdoor space.
By pushing the walls out at different angles, the interior opens up and feels much larger than it is. Natural Scots pine wood and large windows create a cozy, yet light-filled space to enjoy all year long. It’s insulated, and with its built-in A/C, the structure offers a long-term solution throughout the year, no matter the weather outside. Decked out with state-of-the-art technology, the cabin has electrical outlets and internet access to keep all tech running.
The 15-sided cabin was designed on a computer so blueprints for the design can be sent to a CNC machine for easy production. As with most modular prefab structures, the cabin is built offsite and then delivered and installed in only a matter of days to limit disruption at home.
For more information on the Workstation Cabin, visit hellowood.eu.
Photos by Zsuzsa Darab, courtesy of BowerBird.
ORTHO is a minimal home located in the Kanto region of Japan, designed by Apollo Architects & Associates. The design of the residence makes use of the distinctive shape and topography of the tiered, irregularly shaped plot.
The exterior is defined by two rectilinear concrete volumes with a board-formed finish. The residents enter via a four-car garage that is retracted from the main road, taking advantage of the offset elevation. The main level is then accessible via stairs or elevator.
The main level features a courtyard and large garden terrace on the south side, which serve as intermediary zones for outdoor leisure while maintaining privacy. The laundry room, master bedroom, and private areas all face the garden terrace, allowing for abundant exposure of natural light.
Photography by Masao Nishikawa.
With Americans spending a lot of time at home these days, more money is being spent on soft toilet paper. That may be bad news for the environment.
The kind of cushy tissue that was sold out earlier in the pandemic uses material that comes primarily from clear-cutting forests, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. Office buildings, on the other hand, tend to use recycled fibers in their toilet paper, the group said.
“The side-effect of one crisis shouldn’t exacerbate another,” said Shelley Vinyard, an environment expert with the NRDC, which released a report Wednesday on the climate impact of toilet paper. “There’s no real reason why office tissue has to be made with recycled and the consumer tissue has to be made with virgin fiber.”
Nearly 60% of at-home toilet paper in the U.S. comes from so-called virgin material, which is sourced from Canada’s northern forests. The NRDC for years has highlighted the impact of tissue that uses non-recycled content.
In the latest study, the group handed out F grades to brands from Procter & Gamble Co., Georgia-Pacific, and Kimberly-Clark Corp.—the three largest U.S. manufacturers of toilet paper—for the environmental impact of their products.
P&G said via email that its popular Charmin brand is “sourced from responsibly-managed forests,” and that at least one tree is regrown for every one the company uses. A Georgia-Pacific representative referred to an earlier statement that said the company is committed to sustainability and that Canada in particular has regulations in place to help minimize the risk of deforestation.
Kimberly-Clark has committed to reducing the use of virgin wood fiber from natural forests in its tissue products by 50% by 2025, said Terry Balluck, a company spokesperson. “We understand the point of view of the NRDC, and we remain committed to the ongoing dialogue with them on the complex challenges presented in their report.”
The heavy reliance on virgin fibers is releasing an “enormous Pandora’s box” of carbon emissions, said Jennifer Skene, a co-author of the NRDC report along with Vinyard. Logging in the Canadian boreal forests region, which stretches from the Yukon to Newfoundland, emits 26 million metric tons every year, the report estimates, an amount which is equivalent to the emissions produced by 5.5 million passenger vehicles.
As tissue remains one of the fastest-growing sectors in the paper industry, investments in virgin fibers will likely continue in years to come, according to the NRDC, which is headquartered in New York.
Ekaterina Künzel Architects recently completed Casa Castaños, a modern concrete home in Argentina near Buenos Aires. Both the exterior and interior spaces are informed by a desire for communal spaces that enhance connection.
The top floor hovers over an open, airy ground level to break up the heaviness that would come from a multi-level concrete structure. The designers alternated covered spaces with semi-covered ones to avoid a compact look.
The bare concrete exterior is rather modern, but the owners requested a more traditional interior with plastered walls and wooden floors. Black accents are used throughout the space to continue a touch of modernity.
On the ground level, a large social area, kitchen, and swimming pool create areas to gather.
The living area is situated adjacent to a central courtyard, which brings a connection to nature into the sleek space.
The kitchen and dining room are conveniently near a semi-covered grill area.
The main entrance and staircase occupy one side of the courtyard.
All private rooms, including three bedrooms, are located on the upper level. The main bedroom is positioned to the right of the courtyard and has access to an outdoor walkway that overlooks it.
Photos by Daniela Mac Adden.