Designer Living: At home with the founder of Design*Sponge

Grace Bonney, the woman behind the web's biggest interiors blog, on her new book, Design*Sponge at Home, and the key to a happy home.

Where do you live and how long have you lived there?

I live in the Greenpoint neighbourhood of Brooklyn, New York. I've lived in Brooklyn for eight years and here for just under a year.

What made you choose the property?

I'm a renter, so I'm always hopping around looking for something that's perfect. This apartment is the closest I've come yet to something that's exactly what I want. This space doesn't have a lot of square footage but it has a covered porch, skylights and tons of natural light. The building owners renovated three years prior, so the appliances and finishes are all clean and modern, which is rare in New York City.

What does your home say about you?

Right now it says I haven't had time to focus on decorating. Right after I moved in I started working on planning our book tour (we've just released our first book, Design*Sponge at Home) and creating a summer newspaper. I've focused so much on work that I haven't been able to unpack and settle in like I'd like. But normally when it's decorated it says I'm someone who loves a mix of old and new, with a real appreciation for upgrading flea market finds.

Is there anything you would change about it, or anything you wished you had done differently?

I haven't done much yet, but I already wish I'd purchased a new couch before we moved. Now that I've waited too long I feel like I'm over-thinking the decision and will never pick a new couch.

What is the key to creating a happy home?

Filling it with people (and animals) you love. Decorating is always second to the company you keep.

Which item would no home of yours be without?

Besides my family and my cats, I'd say something that's been handed down through my family. I rotate family pieces in and out, but right now it's a desk that used to belong to my grandfather when he worked for the railroad in Virginia in the 1950s.

Where do you like to shop for pieces for your home?

I prefer to buy used pieces at flea markets. It keeps the prices low and means I feel free to paint or redo the items to suit my needs and style.

What are you working on right now?

I'm always on the hunt for the perfect sofa, but right now I'm editing down my artwork so I can get the walls decorated. In terms of Design*Sponge at Home, we're focusing on the 30-city book tour we're about to start.

What inspires your work, and what inspired you to start your blog?

I was inspired by both what I saw and didn't see. I loved the independent design happening around me in Brooklyn in 2004, but I was also inspired to create a publication that covered things I wasn't seeing in traditional media at the time: handmade work, green design and people working with reclaimed or found objects.

Do you have any advice for would-be interiors bloggers?

Absolutely: focus on what makes your style and voice different. Most people want to follow the same formula as those that have come before them, but what makes you really stand out is having something different to say. Whether that's covering design in your hometown or a specific region that doesn't get a lot of coverage, find a unique angle and stick with it.

Who are your favourite designers?

Past: Isamu Noguchi, Neutra. Present: The Bouroullec brothers and interior designers like Jessica Helgerson in Portland, Oregon.

How would you describe your interior style?

City preppy with a dash of vintage thrown in.

If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?

In a treehouse in Oregon or Northern California. I crave nature and fresh air on a regular basis.

How do you like to relax?

I love to read and nap outdoors as much as possible. Fresh air is the best way to recharge when you're tired.

What is the best way to simply and instantly update a room?

Paint. It can't be overstated how much the right colour can really change a room. It's inexpensive, quick and easy. And if you don't like it, just start over and paint again.

Design*Sponge at Home is available to order from Magrudy's stores nationwide or from


Published: September 22, 2011 04:00 AM


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