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current obsessions: (mostly) grown-up grace

by Grace Bonney

Getting to talk about the struggles I’ve had over the past few years with focus and motivation was incredibly helpful. I got such sweet emails from some of you out there who’ve dealt with the same issues of inspiration and I found myself feeling less alone and more like someone who’s going through something that happens to everyone at some point. While this week has been one of the most exciting weeks we’ve ever had (I still can’t believe we get to work with Amy full time!), I’m continuing to struggle with something a bit more difficult: my personal style. Which is incredibly tough to admit because I’ve built my life around talking about the style I love.

Normally I’m someone who knows exactly what I want. I’m not known for holding back my opinions and I’ve never been slow to make a decision and move forward. But over the past year or so, I’ve felt this subtle, internal shift that I’ve had a hard time understanding and fully adjusting to. Maybe it’s related to my impending 30th birthday or the natural way people grow and change over the years, but when I pick my head up from my computer and look around my home these days, I’m not connecting with the things around me anymore.

As my work load has increased over the years, I think I’ve subconsciously surrounded myself with things as a way of comforting myself. Too tired to get out, see friends or work out? I’ll just buy something small and pretty to distract myself. While this may not sound like a very important problem to have (I know there are more pressing issues in the world), I would gladly give away 90% of the things in my apartment to have a few more moments of inner peace and a greater grasp on what my shifting personal style really is.

Our move into a new apartment (hopefully in the next month or two) couldn’t have come at a better time. As I realize I’m no longer the same girl who bought all the things around me five or six years ago, I’m recognizing that I need a fresh start. So I decided to start selling off the things that don’t speak to me anymore and focus on creating mood boards that speak to the more “grown up” style I feel slowly evolving and revealing itself to me. While things are still not fully formed, I thought I’d share some of them here today. While I still love a great pattern, I feel the need to strip down all the clutter in my life and focus on investing in a few key things. So I rounded up those few key things I’d like to invest in- from the perfect pair of sunglasses to a rug I’ve literally started a savings account for.

Do any of you keep “grown up” style boards? I would love to see what you guys create that speaks to the more sophisticated version of yourself. I think the fact that I still put quotation marks around the words “grown up” means I’m not really there yet, but I hope you know what I mean. I’d love to see (and find a kindred spirt in) those collections that speak to the style we hope to fully embody one day. xo, grace

Image above, clockwise from top left: Gold Metallic iPad Sleeve $125, Siwa String & Button Envelope $48 (I love this weathered black work), Vintage Kilim Rug (This rug rocks my WORLD), Red Enamel Pin $110 (I’m so bummed this just sold!), “Les Touches” fabric by Brunschwig & Fils (I love this sort of abstract animal print feel), Fairfax Pendant $275 (So sophisticated and chic), Sailor Sweater $88 (This is my dream look, head to toe)

Image above, clockwise from top left: Tie Dyed Throw $135, Cutler and Gross Sunglasses $420, I’m perpetually in love with white writing on tan paper (via Sunday Suppers), Vintage Red Spoon $18, Dizzy Dot Bag $145, Nailhead Strip $7.95, Antique Butcher Block Table $3295, Antique Crewelwork Settee $3995

Image above, clockwise from top left: Vintage Kilim Rug (I am seriously saving up for this), Stella Velvet Pillow $229 (So soft and perfect for napping), Dot to Dot Studs $45, Quips + Queries Cards by Russell + Hazel $24

*P.S. I finally got a Wacom tablet! I’ve wanted one for years and finally decided it would be a fun way to play around with customizing images on the site. After two hours of playing with it I managed to successfully put my name on the top picture. Looks like I’m gonna need some practice…

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  • I am having the same problem! I already ditched my old couch and am desperately trying to figure out who the grown up version of me is – and knowing that the younger self’s furniture isn’t a part of it! But what is??

  • Grace, love this:

    Do any of you keep “grown up” style boards? I would love to see what you guys create that speaks to the more sophisticated version of yourself. I think the fact that I still put quotation marks around the words “grown up” means I’m not really there yet…

    I’ve just started getting some “life coaching” (there goes those quotes again!) and the very first thing we did was visualize me 25 years in the future. Needless to say, it looked pretty different.

    I think glimpsing into the future is a great way of focusing on where you’re going now. It’s so easy to follow our latest whims. I want to give myself room to explore while being grounded in a future vision.

    Inspiration boards seem like a great way to do this!

    • laura

      i love your packaging page on pinterest! thanks for sharing :)

      i haven’t joined yet because i tend to keep my inspiration boards sort of private until they’re “done” but i’m slowly starting to embrace the idea of sharing something when it’s not quite done yet. :)


  • This post really resonated with me. I am also turning 3o in a few months and experiencing a shift in my personal style. I went through a big ethnic Indian phase that began 3-5 years ago and I only recently realized that I’ve grown out of it. A big move (Singapore to Amsterdam!) gave me the opportunity to de-clutter big-time. I am taking more time and care with this new apartment, though it’s hard sometimes—I just want everything to be pretty and proper asap!

  • I’m a long-time D*S reader but first time commenter. I really appreciate your honesty – both about your personal style and about creativity/inspiration and what a fickle thing it can be. Personal style is something that in many ways defines us and it can be both scary and exciting when you feel it shift. I just wanted to thank you for providing a forum to talk about it! It’s something I find fascinating and important, but I think many times, at least in my world, it’s seen as frivolous or trivial. Thanks again for all that you do!

  • Grace – I think I have read this “grown up” style post from about three bloggers today. I think the changing season is making people reflect on what they own and how it doesn’t feel “grown up,” and certainly how owning more things doesn’t make them happier. I have been using Erin Loechner’s $100 rule (she posted last week I think) for keeping my closet from a forever 21 takeover. Very helpful in forcing me to make “grown up” decisions about my closet & home.

    • Lindsay- thanks so much :)

      Bekka- that’s a great idea. I finally did the same thing (with a slightly lower price point) to my makeup drawer. I have never, ever worn makeup on a day to day basis, but I recently realized that that hasn’t stopped me from collecting the “Forever 21” of makeup drawers. I cleaned out all my sparkly, Rite Aid makeup and invested in a clean makeup bag and 10 pieces of basic, high-quality makeup: tinted moisturizer, cream blush, mascara, dual eye liner/brow corrector, highlighting powder, 3 shades of lipstick and 2 new brushes. I feel so much more “grown up” looking at it ;)

      Grace :)

  • wow, you people make such a big deal out of turning 30. it is a wonderful milestone, but it is not that serious. we all change and go through phases. you people over analyze things too much, just live.

  • I think moving can really make you re-evaluate your possessions/style. I’ve fairly recently moved into a new apartment and it’s made me look long and hard at lots of stuff I’ve accumulated that technically has nothing wrong with it but just isn’t me anymore. Also, when you first move it’s hard to resist buying things just because you need them rather than being able to wait and find the perfect pieces to suit your current style.

  • I’ve been grappling with myself recently. I’m a bit older than you (almost 37!) but some heavy changes in my personal life in the past year have caused me to reevaluate a lot of things, including my personal style. It’s interesting to think about how our changing emotional state could (should?) be reflected in our living space; a difficult year has created a desire for a softer, more “homey” home. I’m learning to embrace it, but it’s not always easy!

  • I feel the same exact way. Unfortunately I can’t afford the “grown up” version of me! My fear is that by the time I’ve saved up for the things I want my fickle self may not like them anymore!

  • I’ve gone ahead and taken it a step further with an entire blog dedicated to the idea of being “grown-up”, in quotation marks :)

    Thank you for your lovely blog, Grace. It’s an inspiration and a great source of guidance each day. I don’t know where the design blog world would be without you.


  • I am about to turn 28 and have been experiencing a similar shift – not just in my style, but in my life. I find myself becoming more feminine and comfortable (and found myself in my first relationship I could really see lasting a lifetime), and learning to save up money for some really key things that I know I will keep forever. You are not alone – this is the time in our lives for this. We are identifying who we are for the long haul – and that can be scary and incredibly exciting at the same time. I hope you keep talking about this and find deep peace moving forward.

  • I think you will love your Wacom tablet. I have one too and it’s so much fun. Even my brother who used to draw stick people in art class enjoys using it.

    I also think you might need a vacation. I would recommend Costa Rica. It’s so beautiful there.

  • Not owning beauty but enjoying it seems to be a lesson I have to learn over and over. And it’s always an easy distraction. A few years ago I made tiny paper collage self portraits from color aide paper. I made 15 to represent different periods in my life. Interesting thing is the combinations reoccur constantly for me in what I design, paint and collect for my home. I go back to them often as my touchstones for what I love and my soul craves. Grown up feels pretty weighty and locked in. Growing up seems like constant motion but revisiting the loved over and over. Congrats to you and Amy and Aaron. Seems like a pretty mature move to me.

  • I love these posts you’ve done the past two days. It’s good to get to know the real Grace. I’m interested in seeing where you’ll be taking the blog. We’ll all be growing and changing with you.

    • thanks so much trista. it’s been really nice to talk a bit more. i don’t want to bore anyone to death with “grace” jabber, but every now and then it’s really nice to reach out past the products and connect more :)

      bargain bex- i say yes! we’re all in it together ;)


  • grace!

    kindred spirit here! kindred spirit here!

    i feel like ever since i did hit the big 3-0, all of the sudden, my style isn’t my style anymore. the hours i spend staring into my closet is embarrassing ( i mean, i have and write a style blog for goodness sake!) and my love for all things pattern-y and trendy have gone out the window and all of the sudden i want nothing more but crisp, tailored and classic pieces with a slight lined cat eye and red lips. go figure.

    it’s nice to know i’m not alone and maybe we can go through this style transition together. whadaya say?


  • Enjoy your Wacom tablet!! My boyfriend got me one a year ago, and for someone who mainly does hand-drawn illustration work, it’s so great when I need to do things on the computer! What’s better than being able to erase as many times as you want?

    I really enjoyed your post as it’s something that I’ve been thinking about lately as well. I’m currently living bare-bones in my studio, so I’ve naturally had to keep a lot of things packed up and only keep out what I truly love and need. I know that once I move into an actual apartment, I’ll be able to be more decisive about what stays and goes into my home.

  • grace — i went through the same thing, but at a much, much later stage in life. divorce. new place to live. new climate. out with almost everything i’d lived with for over 25 years. i started nesting big time. just started without a plan. now i have a wonderful place filled with vintage, found objects, seed pods from trees, giltwood….my decorating “rule” has been think fast, act fast. this little condo is so much more of a home than i had when i agonized over decorating decisions. just enjoy yourself. have fun with it. don’t take it too seriously. and never be too ‘grown up’!

  • I got a wacom tablet for christmas and it’s totally awesome though I don’t know half the stuff it can do. Check out some of these videos, you might find them helpful http://www.wacom.com/i4settings/

    This post post really resonates with me as I just turned 30 and I’m struggling to define my personal style. Trouble is I actually do know what I like but I’m too often influenced by what works for others and by what they like. I also a little over-stimulated by the internet lately. When you see so many beautiful things daily it’s difficult to hone in on what works for you and what will really make you happy. So basically, I blame you Grace – just kidding :)

    I recently took a look around my home (that I decorated only a few years ago) and realized it’s not really me at all. However, I’ve decided to tackle my wardrobe before my home because I think I know better what my style is fashion wise. I’m an impulsive shopper (see it, like it, buy it) so I’m using pinterest to keep myself focused this Spring. http://pinterest.com/designevolution/spring-wishlist/ I pin things I like, see hoe they work with other things I’ve pinned, and make sure it fits in with what I have determined is my personal style. It’s working so far, I’m definitely shopping with a purpose & buying less but better things.

  • I think a lot of us D*S gals are going through a similar phase, and it is heartening to read that you’re sharing in it. There are so many contributing factors: a (relatively) new year, changing of the seasons, milestone birthdays or events (I’ve been feeling this keenly since getting married last fall), and a sense of weariness with disposable fashion (for home and closet). I think that in a world of So Very Many Ideal Options, it can be tempting to find comfort in a Box that Fits. I believe that change is a good thing, and that the thoughtful (and fun!) transitions are important parts of growing as a a person, as a couple, and as a tastemaker! I think a key word that many of us can center on, despite the plethora of options is ‘authenticity.’ To thine own self be true, even if that self feels a little unformed at the moment. I can’t wait to see how the D*S evolution progresses, and I know I’m not alone!

  • I’ve been feeling the same way too, looking around my home (and my closet) and not really feeling connected to some of the things I’ve purchased and surrounded myself with.

    I’m 38, single-handedly run my own business and have 2 little ones. And though I find inspiration around me all the time and in my work, I’m finding myself stuck in a creative rut when it comes to my own personal style.

    Decor-wise, I still love many of things that I was drawn to in my 20s and early 30s, but I’m definitely feeling the need to refine and simplify. Style-wise, I want to wear things that make me feel good about myself, that reflect my personality and express my style…but with my busy work schedule (and having 2 kids), adding a scarf to my jeans, tee and chucks ensemble is already a stretch. And I must admit, I’m not sure if I’m ready to dress “grown up” yet…I’m approaching 40, which freaks me out a bit. Uh, please tell me this isn’t a mid-life crisis…

    What I keep telling myself is that I need some TIME (like a month) where I don’t have any other distractions and deadlines…to reflect, restructure, refine what I surround myself with. But this is a complete fantasy and not practical reality…I’ll never find that time. The only thing I can do is try to find inspiration from sources I truly admire (like D*S) and try to make changes one room, one side of the closet or dresser drawer at a time,…little by little, each weekend if possible or whenever the inspiration strikes. I’ve also recently become completely addicted to Pinterest ( http://pinterest.com/eitak/ ) as a way of visually organizing my inspirations…it’s put a little creative pep in my step, so to speak…

    Thanks for posting about something so many of us are feeling but probably didn’t know how to express.

  • grace, i completely relate to this post! i turned 30 recently, am newly married, and i am in the process of mashing two housefuls of stuff into one!

    i tend to have a very t-shirt + jeans ‘style’ and definitely have ideas of a ‘grown-up’ me that i can’t really seem to mesh with reality… i complain to my hubby all the time about my lack of any defined style. i really love the idea of making a style board, although i’m sure i can’t afford my ‘grown-up’ self either!

  • I recently went through the same transformation. I had to come to terms with the fact that the things that spoke to me so loudly and that I fell head over heels in love with at one time, were for that one particular time in my life. Like seasonal friends. Letting go of the idea that if I once loved this item I need to keep it forever, but instead internally thanking it for the beauty it brought to me when I needed it, then contently moving on. I began a design notebook, filled with all of the things that spoke to me from magazines etc. I make a note to right on the page about what it was that grabbed my heart. I’m hoping it will be the a reference to my children someday about what their mother found beauty in in life. A design scrapbook of sorts… documenting me, now.

  • Hey Grace!
    I put together a collection for Aprizi.com ( http://thetail.aprizi.com/2011/01/decor-me-unpolished-elegance-guest-curated-by-michelle-fifis/) a few weeks ago and I didn’t realize it at the time, but I totally designed a space for where I want to be vs. what my environment looks like at the moment. This collection is heavily inspired by nature and all its glory…Nature! I guess it is just more authentic to me and my personality. You sound a little down about the prospect, but don’t be. Evolving is beautiful and you will probably look back on this moment and breath a sigh of relief. Enjoy the freedom ; )
    thanks for doing all that you do

  • Thanks for sharing, Grace – I feel the exact same way. I’m nearing 30 but definitely don’t feel “grown up”. Sometimes I feel a little silly for feeling so lost regarding my personal style (and swaying from one style to another doesn’t help) but I’m glad to hear that I’m not alone! We’ll figure it out in time, I know that much is true. :)

  • I was looking forward to this post after you tweeted about it last night. I must say that I was surprised to hear you were struggling with your personal style – after having read your blog since its beginning. At the same time, it is comforting to realize that no matter who or where you are in life, we all go this identity struggle. Thanks for being so candid in this post.

    I am in my mid thirties, and finally at the point where I’m starting to blossom into my individual style. The biggest change starter for me was at 31, my husband and I sold our house along with all our furniture in Asheville, NC and moved across country to a tiny 1 BR apt in San Francisco. Our family and friends thought we were crazy, and to this day we think it is the best decision we ever made. The bay area has reinvigorated our lives and allowed me to start over with acquiring “things”. It also has made me evolve into my,”adult self” which is actually quite playful. Not that everyone needs a drastic change like that to be the kickstarter, but we all need something to help initiate the transformation.

    Thanks for the honesty! Always love reading your personal thoughts. Kindred spirit indeed, thats why I’ve always followed this blog – (I’ve purged a lot of blogs from my “adult” reading, but you remain!)

  • grace, i’m 50 (this month) and have had similar experiences about every ten years. part of growing, changing. one simplify thing i did recently is to wear one amazing ring, one amazing necklace and earrings that i dont change out. i may add a necklace for the day but leave the other on. wasn’t ready for this before turning 50. house stuff i tweek. so enjoy and relate to your blog, have sent to many others :)) good luck in your new endeavor with an additional employee! now might be a good time to escape for that vaca mentioned above??

  • This post touched on such an important topic in my life. Thank you for sharing!

    I’m currently going through the transition from early 20’s to mid 20’s. I didn’t realize how much I would grow and change in the course of 2 years. Since taking on a full time position at work I’ve found myself wanting to put more effort into my job and less muss and fuss into my wardrobe and home decor.

    One of the things I have done to appease both the thrift store junkie and working professional in me is to limit my thrift store purchases to stuff that I can wear to work. I’ve found that I have been able to curate a much more sophisticated wardrobe by following this rule. No more oversized floral print muumuus cinched at the waist for me. I’m more about finding simple wool and silk tops with fun details.

    If I ever find myself in a style-rut I’ll just watch an old movie or tv show as they are full of wardrobe inspiration.

  • Grace, as a 47 year old, i can confirm Maggie’s post above. I still struggle, especially with clothing. I want to be age-appropriate but still cool and fun. Finding clothes that fit the bill is a huge challenge. Paring down to fewer, more beautiful pieces is a great idea, but if you have kids and a career, you quickly realize that you no longer can spend hours shopping for the perfect skirt or pair of jeans. That’s why it’s easy to fall into a rut when you find something that works. Anyone who can help solve this challenge, I’m all ears!

  • I was going to suggest pinterest too! I always try to keep style boards but pinterest helps me keep everything much more organized with little work.

    I thrift and vintage shop a lot, and have gotten much better at looking for stuff that I can wear and look grown-up but still interesting. I find that moving frequently has helped to clear out a lot of the college-age clothes that aren’t “me” anymore.

  • I can definitely relate–re: the house stuff, as well as the make-up–and I’m a few years older than you. It is comforting to hear from Maggie and DJ above that this is a cycle that may continue over the years, that it is all part of, yes, growing up!

    We’ll be moving into a new place in the next few months, and I am so looking forward to simplifying and purging and re-thinking everything. With another kid on the way, I can’t spend as much as I’d like on my new wishes, but I can definitely practice the art of editing. And saving. And restraint.

    Oh! And like you, I tend to keep my inspirations/bookmarks/etc private, but I am enjoying Pinterest because it makes it so darned and easy. I still have my private wishlists & links, but I am getting more comfortable with the idea of letting people peek into my brain. xo

  • one more thought on this topic. i started to find my style by going to thrift shops, goodwill, junk stores. definitely NOT the “old” me! the stakes are low, you just graze and choose. and make fast — not slow — decisions. what you don’t like goes back (so far, i’ve returned nothing) and if you don’t like it, you’re out just a few dollars. it’s surprising how many things begin to…not define….but illuminate the new you. i’m using colors i never used before, textures, patterns. it’s been a wonderful process of discovery. and it’s affected my wardrobe choices, as well. main thing: have fun! enjoy the process. it’s part of being alive. cheers.

  • Grace – thanks for writing about this. I have been having the same feelings – looking at my closet and my apartment saying “I wouldn’t buy any of this stuff again”. I was inspired to dig through my inspiration pictures and try and put together the “Adult Kari” wardrobe and here it is: http://bit.ly/e53HY6 I will have to do the apartment next (I see you in my inspiration folder, Parsons table)

  • There is probably not much more to say about this, but I relate as well. I had a melt down when I turned 30. I’m now almost 35, and I’m realizing that my 30’s are all about living into the person I am. My word for this year is ‘edit’ as I feel as though so many things in my life need editing, from my wardrobe to the stuff in our home. I am much more content when I have less stuff and more time (with kids, my husband, our friends). Good luck on this journey, we’re all here to cheer you on!

  • Perfectly normal and natural, the changes that happen to us – sometimes around the milestone birthdays, sometimes not. I’ve been through it too, and I am normally very sure of my aesthetic – have been since I was 4! I recall a time when I wore a white button down shirt, levis and tony llamas cowboy boots everyday for months because I did not know what my ‘style’ was any more. I’m very glad you shared this and I like that having shared it makes you feel less alone while in the midst of it. Enjoy the transition as much as you can – that is key!

  • Wow you get the best comments on DS! Much wisdom.

    I never understood the idea of “identity” until I started to feel that I lost it. I think it is natural, but it’s just a weird feeling to have it happen. It comes back, promise.

    One nice thing that happens is that you are ready to give up the old stuff, without too much sadness. If I try to get rid of something before it’s time, it just kills me! I know it’s right when I can happily move on.

    What helps me find myself again is to get “heros” for my next stage in life/style. Finding older ladies that I see living amazing lives with style is a must. That way you can see it is possible. Just think, maybe you are this inspiration to others? (not the old lady part!)

  • Ahhh I too could have written this word for word, or rather, sentiment for sentiment. Looking at my Roxy-esque, beachy wardrobe and decor are suddenly like looking at my old baby blanket. I am fond of it but over it and it all needs to be sold or put in a box.

    Changing is one of my most favorite things ever. I think the ability to change is one of the biggest things that engenders a sense of hope inside of me. I love the fact that I may even be wrong about things… because I know change is possible. Hope is a happy feeling and like I said, change engenders hope. A fresh perspective on life and or/style is just as satisfying to me as buying a great new jacket or leather side-chair. Its a clean slate.

    Sorry to get all philosophic… I think I am also just really inspired by the changes I am seeing around the world right now.

    I say embrace it! Learn, grow, and love it! And plan on doing the same thing all over again someday. ;)

    And for some reason all of this talk makes me think of a book that I haven’t even read yet but that I have heard discussed and explained: The Fourth Turning. I think some of its ideas actually apply very well to what you are talking about.


  • Hi Grace and everyone else. I just had to add an older perspective, along with Maggie and DJ. I turn 49 this week and let me tell you, the soul-searching never goes away. But it’s true, with kids comes less time to spend wondering about it all. I love your site and I just know that you will continue to change, but we will all be here changing in our own ways too. Here’s a quote that always always makes me feel better:
    “Growing is a living word, with forward motion—even if one is growing older . . . as opposed to staying, which has no motion, which is a dying word—even if one is staying young.” — Rebecca McClanahan

  • I totally understand! I bought and moved into my tiny house last summer and it really changed how I looked at my possessions and style. It’s all mine, I thought, I have a mortgage, I need it to look like a functional adult lives here!!

    That said, I must confess, after swinging totally in the direction of totally adult sophistication initially, I eventually allowed myself to find a bit more of the balanced center and decided it’s ok to have some “cute” things too. Realizing that marrying it all is the key thing, editing is constant and important, and that keeping only things both functional and that you really love makes the most difference.

    Good luck with your new style makeover! It’s a fun process!

  • Grace,
    I totally, totally know what you mean. As a fellow Virginian, I know that the traditional homes I grew up surrounded by always seemed boring, and I wanted to grow up to have a mod, vibrant, bright, energizing place. But now, I find myself attracted to the Colonial Williamsburg colors, and just good, timeless pieces. It’s just part of growing up, I guess. I can’t wait to see your style continue to evolve!

  • Hey Grace,
    I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately because I’ve felt my taste changing as well. When I first got married and had my first home it was all about filling up my house. Now I’m trying to edit and sell things I don’t care about any more and use the money towards key pieces that I will have forever…like herman miller dining chairs. All this to say I think its perfectly natural for people like us who enjoy design to change their style thoughout their life. :) Btw, I’m always making mood boards. ;)

  • I think we put a lot of pressure on ourselves because we’re “creative people”. Things in our home are a reflection of us and our design talents. Sometimes I find myself making choices with other peoples thoughts in mind. Not so much what I like but what would a designer choose. I would never have anything I didn’t like but may steer away from things that I do like that aren’t cool enough or querky enough. Does anyone else have this self imposed pressure? Maybe just need the confidence to have what I like and not worry about what other people think.

  • I am totally feeling you here. I just rounded 27-and-a-half, and woman! I am really having trouble not feeling like a grown-up dressed up like a teenager. I want to look adult, but not fusty. I’m not quite ready to wear matched linen pantsuits and big jewelry, but I am so over being anything but polished. Thank you, thank you–most of the time I’m a little depressed that I seem to be aging faster than the blogs I read. xo.

  • Who says we have to grow up just because we’re approaching 30? I love your style/blog precisely because of its fresh and fun vibe.

  • Hi Grace,
    I’m also turning 30 in a couple months… and while I have always been one to think age is only a number (my husband turned 40 last year and I remember thinking it was sooooo no big deal!), I have heard from a lot of people that turning 30 is even possibly more difficult than turning 40 or 50.
    Anyway, I just thought I would defend you from ‘d’ above who said it’s no big deal! :)
    x Courtney

  • Hi Grace,
    I don’t mean to sound presumptuous, but I really really suggest going to yoga and perhaps beginning to explore meditation. Things only go so far, and we all know it, but we have to know ourselves in deeper ways to reconnect with inner peace.

    that said, love your honesty and your blog. it makes a boring work day much brighter every day!
    thanks for all you do.

    • hi ish

      i hear you. meditation is something i’ve wanted to learn more about for a while. hopefully this summer i can find some free time to investigate it more fully :)


  • Good luck with the move. It is always stressful and yet can be so liberating at the same time. I hope you love your wacom tablet — I do, although I never have as much excuse to use it as I wish, and so get frustrated that I am not as adept with it as I am with a pencil/brush.

  • Grace,
    For someone who’s almost 30, gosh, you speak with so much wisdom. I am a 42-year old with a twenty-something mindset. As a former Cali-girl, I parade around suburbia in pink and black checkered Vans (how’s that for not wearing “grown-up” attire?) and definitely get the “once-over” (look) from other moms, when we’re standing in school pick-up lines. I agree with Maggie. I think that every 10 years we go through a mental and physical inventory of our goals, our lives and our “things.” At 30, I did my first (and last) triathlon. At 40, after a few house moves, I finally got on a great cycle of purging things and reevaluating my wardrobe. As pared down as my wardrobe currently is, it feels great. The same applies to your home furnishings, upgrading sofas, or finally investing in a custom upholstered headboard (or all of the things you have on your “grown up” board). My (interior designer) mom, always told me to spend the most that you can afford on furniture (and those are the pieces that have stayed with us). My biggest guilt – over the years – is buying art (prints mainly). I feel like that has been an ever evolving changing thing, and have found that it’s onlythe original stuff that we’ll love time and time again.

  • I’m feeling the same way the closer I get to 30. I thought when I was younger that’s the age you have everything figured out and it’s the epic beginning of your life and career and relationship, etc., etc. Well, right now my goal is to stop worrying and just enjoy life day by day and I’ll figure my life out or it’ll just work out when I’m worrying about something else. And btw… the post about Syrie Maugham was inspiring. It really made me feel better to know that success doesn’t come early for everyone. Late bloomers are pretty lucky. All the best!

  • I’m just a few months from 30. I’ve recently begun getting serious about moving from NY (Brooklyn) to CA (San Francisco). I’ve lived in the same lovely apartment for 5 years, and as it has evolved it has become this perfect little glimpse of who I actually am and what I think is beautiful. While I am no longer in love with the couch I adored 5 years ago, I have no desire (or, well, money) to replace it because, along with the contents of my whole apartment, it tells the history of my life here.

    In many ways, my home is keeping me from leaving a city that I know is not right for me anymore. A new apartment, a blank slate (because moving all of these things I love across the country is not something I have the money to do), is terrifying — what does the new 30-year-old version of me look like in apartment form? I suppose the only way to find out is to use my upcoming birthday as the push I need, pack up a few family heirlooms, and move across the country with just a suitcase…

  • ohhhh you know i love when you get personal on here! LOVED this post and am in the SAME boat with a lot of this.

    can i say kudos to you for admitting that sometimes when you’re bored / uninspired / lonely you buy little things? i recently put a ban on online shopping for this very reason. ive never been an emotional shopper (b/c i’m too lazy and hate the mall!), but when i can shop at my desk, it’s detrimental.

    i just did a closet clean-out and MAN. i own a lot of crap. i love the sneak into grown-up grace and can’t wait to start a list of my own!

    thanks for the insp, as always. ;)

  • Glad you replied to my previous comment ( I was jittery about posting it). Hope you will check out my little blog and share what you think of my art ; )

  • Looking at the kilim, reminded of Navajo rugs. Contemporary Navajo rugs are quite amazing also. Not inexpensive, but extraordinary works of art. You should check them out too.

  • So much great advice on here Grace. Thanks for opening up this discussion. I go through periods like this every so often too. Time to declutter and only keep the things I love (which I’m now discovering are books & shoes!). I have loved the advice from Michelle here:
    Even if you’re not a minimalist, this blog is full of great tips for better (and healthier) living.

  • Grace, I think I must be one of your older “grown-up” readers … still in quotation marks at almost 55 years old. I have found that I re-invent my style at each milestone or phase of life, from the birth of a baby to the good-bye-car-seat stage (that was freeing!). We are about to embark on empty-nestness (sniff) after raising three girls who are spread out over 26 years, so I think it’s time for a new style mode … I’m hoping for one that is conducive to more travel! It’s exciting to think about the possibilities. So, enjoy your new style direction … and revel in the idea that you can be daring and bold in your change, because before you know it, there will be another reason to change again!

    And, p.s. I just began using a Wacom tablet for the first time, too. After 25 years of illustrating using a pencil and a brush, I am embracing my new digital pencil and brush. Here is a post, in which the last picture I included was my first image created entirely using my Wacom pen. On an official snow day in Austin, I compiled an image of our snowy drive with an illustration that I drew and “painted” with the Wacom pen of our dog, Neville, making his first snow angel. I can’t wait to make more art using my new tool … I mean toy. I hope you enjoy yours.

  • It totally happens when you turn 30! I love looking back on photos of my old apartments and seeing how I have changed. Of course back then it was way more DIY stuff out of necessity. I get mad at myself now though because I will buy a shelf or duvet etc instead of making one! Also marrying a guy who has very distinctive taste and a passion for interior design has sort of melded our tastes together.

    I love that rug!!

    You will get used to the Wacom tablet and soon enough the mouse will seem like an ancient device! I have been using one for about ten years now and can’t imagine not having it!

  • Grace and D*S readers – One tip I read years ago and still utilize is to pull pages from magazines (now you could use flickr or pinterest, etc) of things you love and put them in a binder, or envelope. It doesn’t just have to be design mags I also have fashion and cooking and gardening and art pieces in my binder! Once you get a small pile, look back at them and list the common themes – a certain color, similar lines in a sofa, a particular style of vase, etc. I have kept this up for about 5 years and it has really helped me narrow down my personal style. It inspired me to do a hallway completely covered in artwork – black frames with white mats which is one of my favorite things in our house! It is surprising what common themes emerge – and it is fun looking back at items you chose for inspiration.

  • Turning 30, evolving style, struggling with motivation, putting off working out- over here too! Each time you start breaking out of another one of life’s cocoons and evolve into a more grown-up version of yourself (this, I believe, happens multiple times in life), there are moments lacking inspiration/motivation and just treading water while you take stock. That’s why I love design as a way to express yourself- I have mood files. Collections of beautiful items and art that capture the moment. I like to look back at the evolution of color, pattern and style to see where I’ve been and where I’m heading.

  • Hey Grace,

    Interestingly I was just having a similar conversation with my boyfriend last night about being at a place in life, finally, where I’ve stopped sweating the frivolous stuff (and boy is it liberating). I turned 30- at the Alt conference, coincidentally, and I think this shift in mood/personality/confidence just comes naturally. You really only have yourself and your loved ones to answer to when you live a life you’re proud of.

    In terms of style- maybe throw a fashion swap? Might hit two birds w/one stone? You end up having a much needed catch up w/friends and it’s quite productive!

    Between monthly trips to the framer and continually selling furniture on craigslist, my apartment’s in a constant state of flux. Though it can be slightly unsettling when visitors try to piece together a story, it’s kind of fun, since the project’s ever-evolving.

    And last but not least, the wacom tablet’s a dream! Kiss any carpel-tunnel related aches goodbye. I got one 7yrs ago and never looked back.



  • Loved this post, Grace! It is so honest, and really resonated with me. I think so many of us are trying to navigate all of these same feelings. I remember a distinct shift in my style starting to happen as I approached 30, too. Coupled with the fact that I design busy textile patterns all day, the colors that I dress myself in have gone completely minimal. It’s basics like black, white, tan, grey and metallics that keep me sane. If there’s a pattern it’s usually a stripe, and I am basically obsessed with metallic accessories of every variety to glam things up and keep me happy.

    It’s so funny because I did a guest post yesterday for Elise at Pennyweight on the same day of this post with all of these feelings in mind. Looking over my board I put together, I realized my tastes are continually shifting in the grown-up direction too, and investing in classic well-made pieces that you don’t easily tire of – is really the new me. We both love those gilded notecards from Russell & Hazel. I fell in love with them at the Gift fair!


    Congrats on your new apt! I live on the border of Greenpoint.
    xo Jennifer

  • grace! this really struck a chord with me. i’m narrowing in on thirty, too, and i’ve really found that many of the things i’ve bought are no longer exciting or meaninful to me. when i was living with garage sale furniture in my first apartment, i assumed that as soon as i was able to buy “real” furniture, i would love it forever. so it came as a real shock to me to realize that my “real” sofa and dining table became lost their thrill after a while i had been feeling really terrible about falling out of love with my stuff, thinking that this showed some great materialistic character defect, until i realized that morgan (from the brick house) constantly rotated things in and out. which explains the logic of setting a limit on how much you’ll spend on any one thing!

  • dear grace —

    You’ve touched on a common human experience I think.

    I just turned 40. Last year was a mess; my life, my house, my hair — it was all a mess so I started the very long process of decluterring. I even went to a holistic doctor to truly understand how my body works. I’ve changed the way I eat, starting to look into my personal spaces and seeing how I truly want them to be not how I saw it in a magazine. It’s work in progress but I like where I’m going.

    I thought turning 40 was going to be scary but it turns out there’s lots to look forward to about it like a new age-appropriate wardrobe which I now document here:


    I’m sure you’ll do well.

    Thanks for the post. It is truly one of the best ones yet.


  • I’ve read DS for a while now but never felt compelled to comment before. I just turned 50 recently and I confess that I am still dealing with my changing sense of style. I suppose I qualify as a full fledged grown-up. I have a grown child, lived through a divorce and have worked at my career for 30 plus years and I decorated four different homes–I could go on, but the main point is that for me there has never been a point of arriving and feeling like I am now all grown up and know who I am and what I need, want and like. Perhaps for a few years at a time, I have been comfortable and confident, but it seems to be the way of things that we change.
    I remember reading an interview–I think it was with the painter Pat Steir–and she said that she felt if she could just get a show she would have made it, then she got a show and she realized that she needed a one person show and when that happened she realized she needed a major museum retrospective and so on–that she never got to the point where she felt with confidence that she had made it.
    I have let that idea guide me–that we don’t reach stasis really and it can keep us going.

    Thanks for a feeling of fellowship,

    • Jan (and everyone else),

      Thank you so much for all of your kind comments here. This has been a truly special week for so many reasons. And your thoughtful comments were at the very top of the list of reasons this week was amazing.

      Grace :)

  • I could relate to your post. Being much older than you I can share this happens at different times as you age. I’m at that place again – who is really living inside of me?! I want to create and express myself but it is locked up inside.

  • Hi Grace,

    I love the rugs you’re in love with. I’m not sure how much loom is charging for them, but with the markup a lot of companies put on this stuff, it’s worth just going to Turkey and finding the perfect few for you on your own! I was recently in a town where a lot of those rugs come from, and saw countless beautiful, beautiful vintage kilims. You’d get to wrap vacation and rug-finding mission into one trip! And maybe even ride in an air balloon, to top things off!

  • To quote Jimmy Buffett “I’m growing older but not up. My metobolic is pleasantly stuck.” It makes me smile but speaks the truth to me. We never grow up. We all age – if we are lucky enough to be given the chance. We can grow or not grow while that happens. I tell my students if they are the same people 10 years from now – like the same music, food, design, people, believe the same things, they have wasted their time. And we are so quick to have the answers and once we have the answer it takes a stick of dynamite to change our minds. It’s good to take time to dwell in the questions.

  • I’m a first-time commenter to d*s, but I couldn’t resist since I completely relate to this post! I’ve still got a year to go before turning 30, so I think my need for an overhaul is more related to other major changes in my life – a move upstate with my fiance, buying a house and planning a wedding….so I’m with you in your feelings of limbo. Here’s to moving into the “grown-up” realm with grace (literally and figuratively).

  • Sure this happens with me as with all after a few years it seems we are not “grown up” but everyone thinks so and yes a few things we bought with such gusto even remain unused and may be will be never used.

  • i feel you, grace. i’m coming up on 30 this year and a move, too… i wrote a poem about it recently because i feel like i’m molting. every once in a while i get to points where i feel like my surroundings and…coverings? (wardrobe) are suddenly so uncomfortable and it feels so mysterious, and magical, and vulnerable to see what will come out next…

  • Grace, face it: you ARE a grown up. No quotation marks. You are accomplished, independent, making your living and adding spark and color to the world in a structured, disciplined way (I say that because children add spark and color too, but without planning or thought).

    I’ve reflected on this post a lot because at one level it seems, forgive me, self-indulgent considering all the real problems facing the human race today.

    Yet at another level, it means you may be dissatisfied with the world of things and willing – perhaps – to start asking yourself harder questions.

    I hope you will go beyond questions of style! I was thinking about this, believe it or not, as I changed my 21 year old daughter’s diaper this morning. I was about your age when she came into our world and little did I know the speed with which she was going to demand a fully grown up mother.

    I’m so glad she did. She’s made me a tougher, stronger, more resilient person, in a way no furnishings, clothes or accessories, however ME, ever could. Life is full of mystery and suffering and joy and hard choices. I think being grown up is about recognizing that and preparing for it; not so much about developing a personal style. Because when you are facing those big decisions, you’ll suddenly realize you have got a personal style and it has nothing to do with STUFF.

  • Dear, Grace,
    from reading most of the posts here it seems to me that a lot of people are going through the same thing and it seems like it happens when one is about to turn 30, as i will be in a few months. I want to thank you for voicing the thoughts on many people’s minds which for the most part i couldn’t get a grasp on. When i read your article it seemed like you were writing about me! And i’d just like to add that I’ve been subscribed to Design Sponge for the last 2 years and it is something i look forward to everyday because it is the one thing that has helped inspire me and get me out of the rut that i’ve been in for far too long! Here’s to all of your and the whole Design Sponge crew’s hard work which is opening the door to inspiration for people everywhere!!! Cheers and good luck with everything.


    • sabeen (and everyone)

      thanks so much for all your kind comments, it’s reassuring to know i have such good company in this somewhat awkward stage of life ;)


  • guess what. i came on here because i’m making my living room ADULT! currently, its a mix of free crap and really cheap thrift store stuff. i want to be in a more mature phase. it was so comforting to see you’re going through a shift in your style and yourself as well. thanks so much :)

  • This summer marks my 34th birthday… What?!?! The beginning of becoming a “grown up” was at 29 when I moved to Portland OR. I left everything behind realizing, so similarily, that it didn’t represent me as my present self. It took another year here to feel settled… and to take down my last milk crate book shelf. That occasion deserved champagne and I had a great friend over to help me assemble some “grown up” furniture from IKEA. So, here’s to the process of “growing up”… CHEERS!

  • Hi Grace,
    I came across with your site while surfing on Pinteret.
    I’m 37 and have been going thru the same thing. Nothing around me makes sense anymore. I have a successful job and a loving hubby, but my house and my things are not me. We’re in a process of a huge step: leaving our suburban 3-bedroom home behind and move to an urban setting – a loft. I’m so happy to downsize and recreate ourselves. We want to be challenged, motivated, engaged.. That’s my hubby’s philosophy: be a beginner again!!!!

    • Ana

      The idea of being a beginner again is both liberating and terrifying – which to me is always a sign I should do something (if im scared to). Glad you guys are giving it a go ;)


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