Home Making takes real talent and Grace Bonney has it in spades. With her blog, Design*Sponge, she's taken that talent and her love for beautiful things and turned them into a successful career. Read our Q&A to hear how she got her start and why she doesn't believe in perfection.
What was your very first job?
My very first job was babysitting in my hometown of Virginia Beach. I've always loved taking care of other people and animals, so it was a great way to enter the working world. I had some less-than-enjoyable jobs as a waitress after that...
Was there a defining moment when you decided to turn your passion into a profession?
Around 2008, the print world took a big hit and we lost some of our most treasured home and design magazines. In that moment I realized that blogs might actually be the future (or at least have one!) and that I should turn my passion into something that might actually support me and anyone else who wanted to work alongside me. From that moment on, I've taken Design*Sponge more seriously and treated it like the dream job it really is.
If you could go back and give yourself one piece of advice when you were just starting out, what would it be?
Relax. I worried so much about being perfect when I was younger that I forgot to learn how to recover from a mistake, say sorry and accept that all of us are imperfect, but that's ok — and great, actually. I've learned most in my life from the times things didn't work out, so I've learned now how to put things in perspective. No dinner party needs to be perfect enough for a magazine (or blog), and no room will ever be 100% "finished.” I love that our home — and life — is about embracing real life and what makes us happiest and most comfortable.
When you meet people and tell them about your job, how do they react?
Five years ago, most people didn't understand what I do. I did a lot of explaining about what a blog was and how you could make that a living, but now most people have heard of blogging, at least in theory. I'm 11 years into blogging now, and I find most people think it's great or exciting that I get to talk about the things I love every day. So getting to experience that through them every time I explain my job is a nice reminder to be thankful and appreciate what I do here at Design*Sponge.
What's the best homemade or DIY gift you've ever received?
A few years ago, my wife collected all of our early emails to each other and bound them into a book. That was easily the best DIY gift I've ever received.
What's the best homemade or DIY gift you've ever given?
It was a small one, but I decoupaged a clear phone cover with beautiful gold sparkles for my mom a few years ago. She loved it and told everyone that her daughter made it for her. That made my day.
Any clever tricks or favorite ways to use Mrs. Meyer’s products?
We have two rescue dogs who love to watch chipmunks from the downstairs windows. Their adorable, but messy, little paw and nose prints cover every downstairs window so I'm always running around with Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner to clean them up. But we also love to save leftover (washed) Scented Soy Candle jars and use them for making quick salad dressings. (Just add ingredients and shake!)
If you could be a Mrs. Meyer’s product, which product would you be and why?
I'd be Red Clover Multi-Surface Everyday Cleaner for sure: a little sweet, a little spicy.
How does Mrs. Meyer's inspire you and your Home Making?
I share Thelma's garden inspiration and try to find a way to bring the outside in whenever I can. If I could find a way to live inside our garden, I would. It's my dream to build a greenhouse with a guest room in it one day.
There’s just something magical about a handwritten recipe card. Perhaps it’s because the same love that goes into cooking goes into writing each and every word. With this DIY from Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge, you can put that love into a gorgeous DIY decoupage recipe box. All you need is a plain wooden box and just a few other materials and tools.
Materials & Tools
- Wooden box
- Large and small paintbrushes
- Botanical images
- Precision knife
- Decoupage gloss adhesive varnish
Start by painting the box. Lightly sand between every few coats to give the box a smooth finish.
Roughly cut out the images, then go around the edges more carefully using a precision knife. Continue to cut out images so you have a good range to choose from while placing your design.
Place the images over the top and sides of the box (situate in an arrangement you like).
Using the smaller paintbrush, spread a thin layer of gloss adhesive onto the back of each image and smooth down. Dab off any excess adhesive with a sponge. Repeat until all the images are secured. Don’t forget the sides!
Once everything is dry, run the precision knife between the top and bottom of the box, slicing any pictures that go over the two parts.
Using the larger brush, paint the gloss over the whole box. Keep the layers thin to avoid bumps. If you do get any buildup, just wait for the gloss to dry, and sand until smooth. Paint on three to four layers of gloss varnish, leaving each layer to fully dry between coats.
Once everything is dry, your new recipe box is ready to house your most beloved recipes. And the box itself may even become one of the most inspiring items in your kitchen.
If you're a fan of candles, you know it's only a matter of time before empty jars start piling up. Save those jars from a one-way trip to the recycling bin by transforming them into planters.
Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Blog celebrates and inspires Makers. Find simple DIYs for your kitchen. Get inspired by recipes and crafts and cleaning tips from Mrs. Meyer's home to your home.