shoppingsmycardio interviews: design*sponge, part 2

as promised, here is part two of the interview we did with the lovely and talented grace bonney, of design*sponge. she has loads more wonderful tips, tricks and words of wisdom to help us all demystify the world of home design.

(photo of grace’s lovely home, courtesy of d*s)

shoppingsmycardio: with all of the time you spend scoping out new designers, pieces, and artists, how do you restrain yourself from buying one of everything? i guess what i’m asking is, budget aside, what keeps your style consistent?

design*sponge: The nice thing about running the site is that it feels like the things I’ve covered are actually in my home. I know that sounds totally cheesy, but I set up the site to feel, for me at least, like my own personal inspiration board. I even wanted the background of the site to feel like a neutral backdrop on which I could post new colors, fabrics and pieces that I could enjoy for a day or two and then let go. It’s like window shopping without having to actually go anywhere.

In terms of consistency, my style actually isn’t all that consistent – it’s always changing and morphing as seasons change and trends come and go. I tend to always go for something classic and feminine but the details are always different. I think that’s pretty true of a lot of my readers though – we all have a base style we feel comfortable with and add and subtract details on top of that style to fit our moods.

(mixed media, by amy ruppel)

SMC: it can be so daunting to start an art collection – and especially now, with sites like etsy and 20×200, affordable art is everywhere. it’s a good problem to have, but i think a lot of people have a hard time narrowing the field, and being selective. do you have any words of wisdom for younger people that are interested in starting to collect art?

DS: I’m definitely starting to focus on artwork more and more these days. I used to care more about furniture but with the economy being what it is, I can’t really afford to buy big pieces of furniture anymore – so I find myself focusing on prints, small collages and paintings. But when it comes to editing a personal collection I think that it’s something only the collector can decide. Artwork grabs people for different reasons so it’s tough to suggest ways to be selective.

That said, I always suggest that, rather than buying up multiple $25 prints from a popular artist (that everyone else on Etsy can buy), people save up that $25 for a few months and try commissioning a small, custom piece from that artist. It’s a great way to have something one-of-a-kind without totally breaking your budget. Those are the pieces that mean most to me in my home.

(oil on canvas, by zoe pawlak)

SMC: i’m particularly impressed by your ability to pick out artists early on in their careers that are destined for success – jen garrido is an example that comes to mind. who would you say are some of your “artists to watch” right now?

DS: Oh man, there are always so many artists I’m enjoying and trying to soak up before they become so popular I can’t afford them any more. I guess in terms of fine art I’m really loving Zoe Pawlak and Chelsea James right now. And even though Julia Rothman is totally a design star now I still think she hasn’t even begun to have the sort of visibility she’ll have in the next few years. I have my eyes firmly planted on her. She’s wildly talented, incredibly sweet and I think she’s going to be huge. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see big, national companies wooing her in the coming months/years.

(image courtesy of jonathan adler)

SMC: home design can feel really overwhelming for most people – i think it’s hard for most of us to translate the fabulous ideas we see into something concrete and workable, but still our own. individual pieces, or even entire rooms designed by other people might sing to us, but how do you translate those inspiration items into an overall aesthetic, so that you don’t just end up with clutter?

DS: Man, if I had a short answer to that question I’d be a genius. But sadly I’m pretty ‘green’ when it comes to creating an overall aesthetic. Because my style is always changing I’m in a constant struggle to keep things less jumbled, but ultimately I think that’s okay for now – I’m young, I’m sort of all over the place when it comes to life and projects and style, so right now my home reflects that. But I’m sure as I settle down and mature a bit more my style will become more refined.

In more general terms though, I think it’s always great to stick to simple, classic pieces when it comes to big furniture and let smaller decorative accessories like pillows, lampshades, etc. do the talking when you want something fun and different in a room. Those can easily be sold or gifted when you’re ready to try something new and they won’t leave you with a heavy, expensive piece of furniture that feels dated.

(image courtesy of d*s)

SMC: if you weren’t writing design*sponge, what would you be doing for a living? do you have a “back-up” dream job?

DS: I’ve got a few, but they all involve food. I’d love to go to culinary school just to learn and then go work at a specialty food shop. There’s no way I could handle the heat of a professional kitchen (literally and figuratively) but I love food too much to ignore that side of me forever.

SMC: what one design tip do you wish you could teach everyone out there?

DS: Right now it would be to focus on quality pieces and let accessories do the trend-talking. When it comes down to it, we’re all on some sort of budget so it makes sense to stick to classic pieces that won’t go in and out of style quickly and leave the fun, trendy purchases to small things like lighting and pillows. Those smaller, less-expensive pieces will let you play with color and pattern without maxing out your credit card.

i’d like to extend a really huge thank you to grace for taking the time to talk with us. she’s a busy, busy lady these days, between the incredible success of design*sponge, her new gig as a contributing editor at domino magazine (my all-time favorite mag, by the way), and the zillions of other projects she’s always working on. if d*s isn’t already in your top blog reads, i hope you’ll change that soon – it’s really a fab and inspirational site!

(ps…if you missed the first half of the interview, catch it here!)

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