Grace Bonney is the 28-year old Brooklyn-based blogger behind DesignSponge. The “Sneak Peeks” section on her blog is one of the web's most popular places to lurk for a glimpse into peoples' homes.
Why do people like to take “sneak peeks” into other peoples houses so much? What is that urge about?
I think the success of the sneak peeks is two fold: people love to learn how to decorate their home through examples, and the peeks give people a chance to indulge in the guilty pleasure of peeking into someone else's personal space and seeing how they live.
Have you ever shown your own home as a sneak peek?
I saved my home for the relaunch in 2007. When we redesigned the site and moved off of Blogger, the first post we ran was a home tour of our Brooklyn apartment.
Did you consciously style each room for the photos? Meaning, did you clean up, and arrange the books and accessories in a pleasing way?
Oh man, definitely. I think 99% of the homes we run are styled in some way, whether it's overtly or in a “quick clean up” way. It's tough to put your home out there for 50,000 people to see and not want to put its best foot forward.
It seems scary to post pictures of your home for the entire world to critique. I mean, what if people hate it? Have any of the people you've featured expressed that kind of anxiety?
I'd say it's half and half. Some people love feedback, good or bad, and some people need to be reassured that we don't allow “mean” comments. I started d*s to provide a positive place to discuss design, so we moderate any comments that seek to attack or disparage homeowners. We welcome disagreement and constructive criticism, but we try to protect our homeowners from the world of hurtful “your home sucks!” comments that lurk online.
Of the Sneak Peeks you've done so far, do you have a favorite?
It's a tie between two of our editors' homes, Ryan and Alissa Walker of Shop Horne, and an upcoming peek that belongs to another of our editors, Amy Merrick. Her home is an absolute gem–so we're saving its debut for the book.
Why do people get so worked up over minimalism? I've seen similar sneak peek house tour type posts on other blogs, and the ones that get the commenters all riled up the most are usually pictures of homes that are super clean and minimal. Is it jealousy? Annoyance over a space being “too perfect”?
People want the best of both worlds–they want a home to be beautiful and inspiring, but they also want it to feel real and lived in. I think minimalist homes often lack the sort of warmth a more decorated home has, so people tend to respond to that strongly. But I try to remind them that some people genuinely enjoy living in those types of homes, and they need to take that into consideration before assuming that someone's removed everything from the room just for the photos.
Have you seen any recurring decor themes or items? You know, owls? Things with antlers? Gothy stuff? Eames chairs?
Oh man, it changes all the time, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the dreaded “Keep Calm” poster that was in nearly everyone's home for about a year. We try to avoid shots with it now because it drives readers crazy. But in general most people are happy to see vintage pieces and anything “nature” themed in homes (i.e., vintage demijohns filled with branches from the owner's yard).
If you had all the money in the world, what would your home look like? What furniture would you have? What style would it be in?
I'm a true gemini so i'd have to have two homes: one that's modern, sophisticated and in a big city. And one that's small, cottagey and homey. I love both feels in a home, but sadly that don't really blend well in one space.