Filed under: Design & DIY
Danny Seo Shows Us the Beauty of Upcycling

Danny Seo 3

It’s completely fitting that environmental lifestyle expert Danny Seo’s birthday falls on Earth Day! (Happy Birthday, Danny!)

Saving the environment has been important to Danny since he started a teen activist charity at 12 years old. Today, Danny is the author of numerous books and has his own line of eco home product. He is also a regular guest on NBC’s The Today Show.

Danny visited the Honest offices and told us about his love of upcycling and how crafting is a lot less intimidating than people think.

Danny Seo 1

“A lot of people associate crafting with fine arts, but it’s not the same thing at all,” he says. “Upcycling takes less skill, then say, painting or sewing. And traditionally with crafting you have to spend a lot of money for supplies, but that’s not so with upcycling.”

“What’s great about upcycling is you’re using stuff you would have thrown away anyway, so you’re not wasting money and, if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t really matter,” he adds.

The creative process of turning trash into something beautiful is what Danny thrives on.

When Danny was 12 he started Earth 2000, a grass roots organization that sprung from his desire to save the planet. It was a small group of his friends that germinated into a national organization and actually challenged legislation in congress. It lasted seven years and taught him the ethics and savvy he brings to his business today.

Danny Seo 4

His book Upcycling and Upcycling Celebrations contains tons of clever ideas for turning everyday items into usable, stylish pieces. And the projects are simple—every project in his book is three steps or less.

Danny Seo’s Tips & Tricks

  • You don’t need a lot of tools to be an upcycler. The best thing to invest in is a good pair of sharp scissors. Forget the large pack of 10 for $9 and get the good professional ones. “A good, sharp scissors is the best way to get good results with everything,” he says. A glue gun also comes in handy.
  • He avoids glitter because they’re actually microns of plastic and glass, which can be dangerous with kids if it gets into the air and they breathe it in. He makes a non-toxic glitter using salt and food dye (you can find naturally derived dye at natural grocery stores). Mix the two ingredients together and then spread it on a baking sheet. Bake it for 10 minutes at 350 to dry it out. It’s not as sparkly as glitter, but it’s non-toxic and affordable, Danny says.
  • You don’t have to be boring and beige to be eco-friendly. He tells clients to focus on the big picture and not get caught-up on the small stuff. Invest in an eco-friendly sofa, floors, paint, and appliances before you look for small eco items.
  •  To find furniture, Danny goes to flea markets and antique fairs. He doesn’t buy upholstered things that are vintage because there could be mold, mildew, or unwanted pests inside. He buys solid wood pieces.

Danny Seo’s Top 5 Eco-Friendly Tips

  • Use batteries until they’re totally dead, or switch them to another appliance.
  • Replace bulbs with LED bulbs.
  • Mulching in the garden can be expensive, but you can call your local transportation department. When trees fall, they haul them away and mulch them. You can call and get that mulch for free.
  • If you don’t have the money to swap-out your windows for eco ones, you can pin sheets of bubble wrap on the inside of drapes to insulate your house.
  • Give your old bath towels, sheets, and blankets a good wash and donate them to your local animal shelter because many rescued animals have to sleep on concrete floors and any warmth from the textiles will be put to good use.

Say hello to Danny and wish him a happy birthday on Facebook, Twitter (@dannyjseo), and Instagram (@dannyjseo). And stay up to date on his eco ideas and tips at DannySeo.com.

Friday Finds: Sunset’s Top Wilderness Experiences

Friday Finds

Looking to unplug from the daily grind and reconnect with your family, friends, and nature? We’ve got the answer: Camping! From pitching a tent to riding in a cattle drive or hiking a glacier, Sunset shares the best wilderness trips for new and seasoned explorers. The great outdoors never looked more inviting.

Sunset's Top Wilderness Experiences

Photo by Sarah Gage / Sunset.com

Lighten Up with Natural Egg Dyes

DIY Natural Dyes for Easter Eggs

What do leftover cabbage, wilted kale, and unused onion peels have in common? They all make easy, inexpensive, and naturally beautiful dyes for your Easter eggs! Plus, chances are you already have everything you need sitting right in your fridge.

By now you’re probably aware of the concerns that food dyes present and, while your Easter eggs may not pose the biggest threat, the natural option is safer and much more fun. This DIY also is a great learning opportunity for your kiddos to see how many beautiful colors can be derived straight from nature — the perfect kitchen experiment.

Ingredients for Making Natural Egg Dyes

Materials

  • Hard boiled eggs

  • Purple cabbage

  • Kale

  • Brown onion skin

  • White vinegar

  • Chopping knife

  • 3 medium saucepans

  • 3 Quart sized Mason jars

Natural Egg Dyes

1. Chop your cabbage and kale, and peel away your onion skins. Or use whatever vibrant colored fruits and veggies you have on hand — think beets, blueberries, blackberries, orange peels, spinach.

Prepping Natural Egg Dyes

2. Add each food type to its own pot and fill with enough water to cover. Measure a tablespoon of vinegar into each pot.

3. Place each pot over the stovetop and allow a boil. Bring down to a low heat and allow each to simmer for about 15-30 minutes. (If you don’t have enough pots, you can do this step separately and repeat for each different dye).

Making Your Own Natural Egg Dyes

4. Heat each dye until it appears to be several shades darker than your desired hue. You can test a sample in a white cup or bowl to see the color’s saturation. Once you are satisfied, remove each mixture from heat and allow to cool.

5. Once cooled, strain each mixture into its own Mason jar. If you prefer your eggs to have a natural speckled effect, feel free to allow some of the food pieces to remain in your dye.

Your dye is ready!

Colored Eggs

1. Wipe each of your hard boiled eggs clean to make sure there are no particles on the outside of the shells.

2. One by one, divide your eggs among each jar of dye. Be careful not to crowd your eggs, as you may risk cracking them.

Natural Egg Dyes

3. Place a lid on each of your jars and store them in the refrigerator to chill overnight. Natural dyes will take longer to set than your risky artificial dyes, so be patient!  However, this step can be customized depending on the color saturation you are aiming for — try removing individual eggs as you go to get different shades of each color.

4. After all of your eggs have been removed, set them on a paper towel to dry. Refrigerate your eggs and keep them on hand for a quick and nutritious snack, or arrange them into a naturally festive centerpiece!

Drying Easter Eggs

Tip: Make sure to compost all of your vegetable scraps!

How to Make Natural Egg Dyes

What do you use to make natural dyes? Share your favorites in the comments below!

DIY Tips From Our Showroom Designer Carrie Callaway

If you walked into our offices, we think you’d be impressed by the creativity of our beautiful eco-showroom and  kids’ play area. No detail was overlooked, from the reclaimed wood walls to the handmade lighting and accessories. Designer-Artist Carrie Callaway created this one-of-a-kind space for Honest with the help of co-founder Jessica Alba. Here, she tells us her inspiration and the how-tos for putting the showroom together.

Honest's showroom designer Carrie Callaway and her family

What type of design do you usually do?  What’s your background?

My background is in fine art. I received a bachelor’s from ULV in studio art, and an associates from FIDM in fashion design. I love everything having to do with art, design, textile, color theory, and composition. I find that most elements of good design span across the board and apply to every medium — from fashion, photography, interior design, fine art, graphic design, etc., which allows them to be intertwined. I have the most experience in fashion as a children’s wear designer and a screen print artist, as well as hand painting one-of-a-kind garments for an organic contemporary boutique. I’m always working on making, sewing, decorating, painting something in my spare time. It’s just what makes me tick.

When did you first connect with Jessica to discuss designing the showroom?

It was the end of June/early July [2013] when we met to discuss the design of the room. I fell in love with it when I saw it. That big space could be anything we imagined.

The Honest Company Kids' Play Area

What design ideas did you decide on?  What feel did you both want the showroom to feature?

Working with Jessica is really great because she has a super sense of style. I love designing for people who have ideas and an understanding of art, and she does. This showroom is really important to her, we were combining two important components into one collective area — a beautiful display of Honest products and a beautiful play area for children. It was like combining two things dear to her — her company and her girls. Jessica had a vision of a safe space for little ones to play in if they came to visit mommy or daddy at work, and an area where we could market the products artfully. Were they together? Were they separate spaces? How do we tie our design in with this industrial building? We had all kinds of ideas for the space, and collaborated with pictures and clippings to decide on where we were headed. The possibilities were virtually endless, but we knew we wanted it to be clean, hip, fresh, and well, honest.

Handmade Nursery Decor - Stars

What were the challenges in designing the space?

I would say the most difficult part was the dark red brick walls of the building itself. The lease would not allow us to paint the brick or the concrete floor, so we had to design around it.  We both loved the idea of covering the brick somehow, and I felt like we needed to bring in a natural element to soften and contrast the hard concrete, industrial lights, and exposed metal air ducts. I had my builders frame and attach a second wall to the brick made out of recycled pallets — many of which came from the Honest warehouse. The difficult part of this was making sure that outlets and safety panels are accessible, and that the wall met all electrical and safety codes for an industrial facility. (The pallet wall is an idea all over Pinterest, but you really have to know what you’re doing to pull this off safely.)  The pallet walls are 12 feet tall.  Then we stacked the darling Honest boxes on top of that, giving us over 16 feet of coverage, which leads your eye away from the brick, and also carries the Honest logo into the room.

DIY Nursery Decor -Handmade Cloud Pillow

We love those cloud pillows in our new crib — do you know where those are from?

Lol! I do — I made them! I made all the bedding in the crib. Everything was custom made for the showroom.

What are a few items you love in the space, where are they from?

My favorite thing is probably the fairy light tree. I love that tree. It evolved from being a chandelier to a little tree to a 24 foot monster tree! We were just obsessed with making it. I am proud to say that I designed/built/installed it myself—all 24 feet of it!  (Someone got power tools for her birthday.)

The Honest Tree

I also love the moon chair. I saw a photo of a crib display in a French boutique that was a moon, but it wasn’t functional. The overall urban look of our space needed some soft whimsical elements to tell a better story. This inspired me to design and build an actual reading chair in the three-dimensional shape of a moon. For this, I enlisted the help of an incredibly skilled master builder, my father-in-law. He helped me with several build projects for the showroom, bless his heart. If I was smart, I would have him teach me everything he knows.

Carrie Callaway 1And the playhouse is just so fun! Jessica saw a beautiful play structure with a geometric leaf pattern on the front that she adored, and from there we came up with this clean and simple design. It was custom built on site by my builders. Honor came to test drive it one day and said, “Mommy can it have a door on the front?”  Me: “Of course it can have a door!”  Jessica: “And maybe curtains too so the bottom level could be a clubhouse, or a store, or anything she could imagine.” The round lodge pole pine is from C & E Lumber Co. in Pomona, which happens to be owned by my husband.

The Honest Company Play Area

Oh, and the “HONEST” marquee lights look even more amazing than I dreamed they would. Those were a labor of love.

Handmade Honest Marquee

What would most people be surprised to know about designing this showroom?

Merchandising is an integral part of designing for a public space. Product placement evolved several times within the project, and eventually we ended up with wall mounted modular boxes that featured the Honest products. The wood worked as a natural backdrop for the corrugated galvanized metal walls I constructed — this tied the two ends of the large industrial room together. I custom made the wooden boxes and outsourced some custom fabricated acrylic boxes as well. The magical Jenny Berkley is a merchandising and product display genius! She arranged and placed all the product for us and was instrumental in helping with the design and arrangement of the displays — she has a very artful eye.

Custom Modular Product Display

What are some basic decorating concepts to keep in mind when designing a nursery or any kind of space?

“If it looks beautiful to you, chances are it will look beautiful to someone else.”  Diane Von Furstenberg said this to me in a meet-and-greet when I was in college. I think about it every single time I work on a project, no matter what kind it is. I would also tell people not to be afraid of color and of mixing patterns and prints. Don’t always do the same thing, step out of your own box once in a while. Don’t go with what is ultra-trendy at the time — those things tend to change quickly, plus your work will look like everyone else’s. Spend your money on timeless well-made furniture, fixtures, and wall treatments — the rest can be done on a budget with a little ingenuity and a DIY attitude. Plus, you can change it around later on when you want to freshen up the look of a room, or decorate seasonally.

Details of The Honest Company Play Area

What decorating advice do you give to your best friends?

First, choose the overall look and feel of your room — make a design board to collect all your ideas. It’s the most logical and clear approach, especially for those who aren’t designers. On the board you can put snippets of color, texture, pictures of window treatments, lighting, decor, furniture, carpet, rugs, etc. Evolve that into a second board of what you have to work with in real life, and go from there. Getting inspired by what you love really helps to create a space you enjoy. Sometimes you can work with what you have, and other times you change it, every space is different.

Anything else you think we should know?

The coffee machine at The Honest Company is amazing.

To learn more about Carrie and her work, visit her site Scarlet Harlow and follow her on Pinterest.

Thanks, Carrie! Share your favorite DIY tips for overcoming design challenges and share pictures, too! #HonestDIY

Friday Finds: Bird Seed Feeder

Friday Finds

Invite birds to your backyard with this upcycled seed feeder by esprit cabane. The online magazine shows you the sustainable steps for making this rustic-meets-modern “bird bar.” All you need is reclaimed wood, a glass bottle, a hook, some wire, and a sunny Saturday morning. With that, you’ll help the local ecosystem and wildlife conservation.

esprit cabane DIY Bird Feeder

Image by esprit cabane