A Sheltered Life Interview with Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge


This week, we continue our Sheltered Life interview series with Grace Bonney, founder and editor of Design*Sponge.

Grace Bonney’s professional experience reads like a huge stack of your favorite mags; prior to starting Design*Sponge, Grace was a contributor for Domino, CRAFT, House and Garden, New York Home, Food and Wine, In Style, Better Homes and Gardens, New York Magazine, CITY Magazine, Time Out New York Kids, Archinect, The New York Post, Everyday with Rachael Ray and more. (There’s more?!)

Her down-to-earth tone combined with her compelling sense of shabby-chic style makes Design*Sponge the approachable and entertaining source it is today. From DIYs, to before and afters, to showcases on student design work, Design*Sponge is a blog bursting with inspiration.

A note to readers: Grace types in all lower-case, which I think is totally cute and wanted to preserve for this post.

It’s safe to say that your blog helped catapult the modern day DIY movement. We love the idea of taking something old and making it new again. Any tips on easy ways to incorporate DIY elements into our homes?

thanks! it’s been such an honor to be a part of this vibrant scene of crafters and DIY-ers. for me, the easiest way to incorporate DIY elements into your home is to upgrade existing pieces of furniture. that way you’re not buying a lot of new pieces and you’re working with something that’s already your style. i always suggest people consider paint – two ways. first, consider stripping the paint OFF a piece of furniture, sometimes the natural wood (which you can finish with a nice stain or coat of clear gloss) can be way more beautiful than the paint. but, if your furniture is made of veneer or something you don’t mind covering, a decorative paint job can definitely bring a boring piece of furniture back to life.

What was the most surprising thing you learned about sustainable design while compiling features for Design*Sponge?

at design*sponge we don’t focus on sustainability in a single, focused way, but rather by embracing the idea of re-using and salvaging as much as possible. i’ve cut back on the number of “new things” posts i do, and have tried to focus on providing content that will teach and inspire people to work with what they already have. i think the most important thing i’ve learned is that it’s never too late to teach someone to act more sustainably. i get the most wonderful emails from grandmothers and older readers across the country who’ve been inspired to pick up found furniture and turn it into something beautiful.

In your opinion, what’s the most important room of the house? And the most over-looked?

i think that really depends on each person. for me it’s the living room, because i spend 90 percent of my time there. but if i had a bigger kitchen, it would probably be the kitchen. but every family is different- some people always eat out, so maybe the bedroom is their sanctuary – or maybe you have a small bathroom where you decided to be bold and experiment with a bright color or pattern and that room brings you the most happiness. i think the most important room can be every room if you decorate based on the colors and patterns you really love.

What is your personal favorite flea-market find?

vintage boxes – i’ve turned them into rolling storage units, benches, shelves – you name it – i’ve turned a box into it.

What does “home” mean to you?

the place where my husband and cats are – that could be a hotel room, a vacation spot, or our small brooklyn apartment. if they’re there, i’m home.

What’s the simplest tweak you can make to a room that has the biggest impact (other than a can of paint)?

paint is king, but fabric is the queen. a simple staple-gun-upholstery change to chairs can make a huge difference in a room.

What are your 5 favorite eco resources?

inhabitat.com (blog)
branchome.com (shopping)
ecofabulous.com (blog)
treehugger.com (blog)
dannyseo.com (blog/ideas)