Only eight years ago, Grace Bonney was just a kid with an idea: that great design doesn’t require a big budget or a professional degree. She started a blog that caught the DIY wave, and today her Design*Sponge blog frequently tops surveys as the most influential design voice on the Web. We caught up with the Brooklyn-based Bonney in a cab while on tour to promote her first book, “Design*Sponge at Home” (Artisan Books, $35).
Q What inspired the blog?
A Not seeing things I love represented anywhere. I had just graduated from college [William and Mary], and the design scene was about to explode with the handmade indie aesthetic. But in 2003, no one would give those people attention. I walked around town with a camera, and it grew from there.
Q You made your name by blogging. Why did you decide to write a book?
A I waited a long time. I didn’t know if there was a hole in the market. What was really missing, I decided, was a book as beautiful as it was functional. There were how-to books that overlooked the aesthetics or pretty coffee-table books. Our readers deserved a design bible that encapsulates this style, this mix of old and new.
Q What’s a low-cost way to freshen up a home this fall?
A Use DIY staple-gun upholstery to change out the fabrics on your chair seats. It’s easy to swap out and it makes a huge difference. I love to repurpose old plaid flannel shirts or old sweaters. They feel soft and warm. Something with warmth and texture is good to swap in the fall.
Q How has your aesthetic evolved since you started?
A I dig deeper than I used to. My eye and taste have changed. I’m still drawn to pattern, but I try to look deeper for details and quality. We’re always excited to see pretty things but we expect quality, too.
Q What are you inspired by right now?
A The pendulum is swinging back to much more minimal design. I’m inspired by the woodworkers who are working with salvage material, stripping things down to unpainted raw wood.
Q How is that influencing you at home?
A I just moved and had a huge yard sale. I sold almost everything I owned. I wanted to start with a fresh clean slate. I collect vintage wooden boxes, and those were the only things I held onto.
Q What spot in your house would you never let anyone see?
A My whole house right now. I’m a classic case of the cobbler’s children having no shoes. I keep my office as private as possible. People like to imagine I have a color-coded office, but it’s never neat and clean.
Q Why do you think Design*
Sponge became so influential?
A I don’t ever really think about it. I keep my head down and focus on what I’m doing. I’ve always worked really hard to maintain an authentic voice and to have slow organic growth.
Q Do you still work 13 hours a day?
A Add a couple hours to that.