Grace Bonney and Julia Turshen's Cheery Living Room Update
Grace Bonney (founder of one of the original interiors blogs Design*Sponge) and her wife, Julia Turshen (bestselling author and professional cook) know how to make a happy home. While we've never actually been to visit their charming farm house in the Hudson Valley, through the magic of social media we get a sense for their abode. We can just feel the coziness of their living room, hear the laughs that take place at the dinner table, and smell Julia's famous chocolate cake coming out of the oven. The couple gave their space a bright refresh in a color palette that Grace had been craving for a while. "I’ve been gravitating toward a pink/ochre/rust color palette for a while, so getting to bring these colors together in this space was so exciting," she explains. The space was finished with personal touches and DIYs, to make it feel like their own. Read on for our interview with Grace and Julia.
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You started the blog Design*Sponge and you're an author. Your wife, Julia, is a chef and cookbook author. Tell us a little about how you both got started.Grace: I started Design*Sponge because I wasn't seeing the type of design that I loved anywhere. I wanted to see DIY, budget-friendly, and outside-of-the-box design being celebrated. So I started a blog during my lunch break at a different job and it took off in a way I never expected.
Julia: I have loved to cook since before I can remember and taught myself how to cook through reading cookbooks and watching public television. I started writing about food in middle school when I wrote my book reports about everything that the characters ate in the books we were reading in school. I have known what I've wanted to do for pretty much my whole life and feel very grateful that I get to do it.
One of the many things that draws so many readers to your blog is that you aim to make the art and design world personal. Has that always been your mission?Grace: Absolutely. Without the story behind the design, the design feels empty to me. Sometimes I'm moved more by the story of the person in a home than the home itself and those are the stories and interiors that have always made me the happiest.
After 15 years of running Design*Sponge - this will be your last. What will you miss the most about running the site and what are happy to leave behind?Grace: I won't miss any of the negativity that has become so common online these days, but I will miss the positivity and community support that we built at Design*Sponge. We worked hard to make Design*Sponge a safe space for community dialogue and those conversations are what I will miss the most. But thankfully our time will remain friends, I will remain on social media, and I plan to always be a part of the creative community in some way.
You live in the Hudson Valley. What’s your favorite part of living there?Grace: Peace and quiet and the ability to have more space.
Julia: What Grace said plus seeing lots of green on a daily basis and also having access to great produce from local farmers.
What are some of the most important things to making a house feel like a home to you?Grace: Personal references are a must, whether it's framed photographs or pieces of memorabilia that are highlighted, the things that make a room feel like home are always the small, personal bits.
Julia: I agree— highlighting personal things that remind you of the people you love are so important. I also think filling your kitchen with foods you love and having the smell of something wonderful cooking are equally important and transformative.
If you had to give advice to someone just starting on their home design, what would it be?Grace: Embrace DIY and thrift stores. You don't have to spend a lot of money to make a space feel special. Save up and invest in pieces that make you feel good. Regardless of trends, pieces that make you happy will always be worth your time and money.
Julia: You don't have to do it all at once. Live in your home for a while and figure out how you use the space before you start making big decisions.
How do you describe your personal style?
Julia: I would describe my personal style as New England dad meets Fran Lebowitz.
Do both you and Julia have similar taste in terms of design?
Julia: That is true! But I'm glad we do.
What is your ideal way to spend a lazy day?Grace: A quiet breakfast on our new sofa together with the dogs, a walk outside, an adventure drive to check out a new-to-us town or place in our county, and backyard barbecue with friends to end the day.
Julia: I'd only add ice cream and some time gardening to the list.
You and Julia are both creatives. What inspires the two of you the most?
Grace: I'm always the most inspired by interiors or projects that are done by hand. I love seeing what someone can do with a staple gun, a hammer, and a little bit of fabric or wallpaper. DIY is always my biggest inspiration.
Julia: I'm most inspired by hearing about what women have cooked for generations.
Grace, what’s your favorite thing Julia cooks?
Grace: Julia has the ability to make leftovers feel like something brand new. So anything she whips up using last night's dinner.
Julia, what’s the best part about being married to a design aficionado?
Julia: Grace opens my eyes every single day to something I haven't thought of. Whether it's a paint color or a new insight into our dogs' psychology, I always learn something new when I'm with Grace.
What’s next for you both?
Grace: I'm working on a book celebrating creative women over fifty and leaving the door open for something exciting after that.
Julia: Well it's the morning as we're answering these questions, so lunch is next. I'm always thinking of the next meal...
Photos by Kelly Merchant