My Most Meaningful Decision

by Grace Bonney

A few weeks ago, our team decided to start writing some longer, more personal posts. Inspired by essay contests we saw in magazines, we thought it would be more meaningful to reflect on the decisions we made at home that weren’t related directly to products or the latest design trends. While we all love being able to discuss the objects and decorations that make our home look and feel good, we also love getting the the chance to talk about the decisions we’ve made that make our houses feel like home. Last week Amy shared her thoughts about living for now (rather than waiting for ‘future living’) and this week I’m sharing my most meaningful decision.

Earlier this year I came out. It wasn’t a decision I expected to have such a huge impact on my home life, but it’s completely changed the way my home looks and feels- and how I live inside it. Until this spring, I’d spent the last five or six years slowly unlearning all of the confidence I had at home. I used to pick bold paint colors with reckless (and excited) abandon, choose and make-over furniture without hesitation and have rooms decorated and ready shortly after moving in. But then slowly, without noticing, I started to doubt my gut instincts and try, without success, to create a home that looked the way I thought it should look. I felt so much pressure to have a space that looked perfect that I forgot to listen to what felt right and felt like home to me. I was struggling to keep up an appearance, even in my most private and sacred of spaces. That process was exhausting and, after a lot of deep thought and difficult work, I decided to let go.

That year and a half of learning to live honestly and heal myself- and my home- was messy. Literally. I moved into a tiny apartment near our D*S offices and never really unpacked. For a year and a half. When I found a new space and moved this summer, I found boxes I’d packed ages ago and never even opened. I had needed that time to heal emotionally and get back in touch with the decisions and feelings that make me who I am. It wasn’t until that moment that I started to truly get my confidence back at home. And that confidence was what lead me to live openly, make quick but true decisions (like getting a dog and moving to a different apartment near the park) and finally create a home that feels true to who I am and lets me welcome guests and loved ones inside the way I’ve always wanted to.

*All photos by Max Tielman

[Continued after the jump…]

Amy and I have always talked about a shared belief we have, that when you finally accept and appreciate the life you have, the universe seems to give you the things you’ve always wanted. That felt true for me this summer when I met the person who would make my life feel fuller, happier and more real than it ever has. I fell in love with the most amazing woman, Julia, with whom I now feel completely honored and blessed to be building a home and life. We’ve worked together, without hesitation or conflict (even after 3 trips to Ikea in one week) to decorate the big empty apartment I found for myself and create a home that reflects both of our personalities and interests. Julia writes about food and tests (and creates) some of the most beautiful meals for cookbooks, so our kitchen was the first space I decided to tackle with my new-found home confidence.

I’ve found that most people assume I live in a colorful, pattern-filled home that looks like the things we post here on the site. But getting in touch with myself taught me I actually wanted to live in a home that looked like the opposite of that. After being surrounded by color and pattern all day, I wanted to come home to a clean, neutral space that welcomed me inside quietly. Julia felt the same way, so together we worked (along with some help from a very nice contractor, Scott) to turn our kitchen into a space we both wanted to be in all the time. The cabinets were changed, we got a new sink and shelves were installed to give us more functional space.* When the room was finished a few days later, we had a new kitchen that felt like the warm space I’d always wanted combined with the functional space we both needed. I didn’t expect it to have this effect, but the new kitchen gave us the energy to makeover not just the kitchen but the dining room, bedroom, closet and parts of the living room as well. That jolt of excitement from seeing the final result was all I needed to research, pick things out and finally create a home that felt welcoming, comfortable and calm.

While I’m sure small details will change here and there over the years, I feel like I finally have a house that feels like home. Not just because of the way it looks, but because the way it makes me feel. I look around and am constantly reminded of decisions that were made out of love, trust and a confidence that comes only from knowing who I really am and what I really want. That’s a sort of comfort you just can’t buy or pick out from a store. xo, grace

*I’ll be posting a full before & after of the kitchen soon, so stay tuned. You can still see painter’s tape on the walls, as I’ve got a few more adjustments to make. And for anyone curious, we did got our landlord’s permission before making over the kitchen. He was very excited about the upgrades.


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  • Beautiful post. I so agree that inner comfort and confidence are crucial to building outer aspects of yourself (professional choices, home choices, clothing choices, etc.) with sureness. The wonderful thing is that those aspects of life then feed your inner, emotional needs more and more. Thank you for sharing.

  • This is a lovely post. Thank you – I needed to read and see this at exactly the moment I did. Blessings to you and your loved one(s) … thank you, thank you, thank you!

  • I’ve come out of my shell a lot in the past years. You’re right that it is different for every person, no matter what the “out” is, it’s a scary journey but it is a rewarding outcome (despite the rockiness that can ensue).

    I’ve never felt exactly what I wanted at home. But the thing about it? I’m neurotic and flighty and always changing, and though somethings will stay the same, the idea of things changing is so totally me. I’m starting to learn that switching things around and loving what I have, and not being afraid to splurge a little bit is fantastically rewarding. When I come home, I feel SO at home.

  • hey grace! love the kitchen. it looks amazing! it’s definitely given me some inspiration for my own kitchen update which is long overdue!

    so happy to hear that you found love too! thanks for sharing that with us. i appreciate your candor and openness, as well as your passion for design and the artist/design community. i think you are amazing!

  • As someone who spends a large portion of her work day perusing design blogs, this is incredibly meaningful for me as well. It is uncommon to find blogs being intentional about putting promotion and frivolity to the side and focus on the nitty gritty of our lifestyles. Who we are truly impacts our spaces, and they speak volumes about the parts of ourselves we cannot formulate into words. Thank you.

  • love your kitchen. love your honesty. love that things are working out so well for you. you are an inspiration to always stay true to oneself!!

  • This whole post makes me so happy. I had no idea you even came out (guess I wasn’t following DS as closely over the summer). The peeks of your kitchen are gorgeous. I hope to one day live in a world where no one finds it necessary to come out and we all just accept and love one another. A hippie can dream! xo

  • wonderful post! I am going through some changes in my own life as well and I feel like my home doesn’t really feel like home as much as it once did. What I want out of life is changing and I can feel my style is changing along with it….the uncertainty that goes along with change is scary, but I am trying my hardest to embrace it :) Hope to see more posts like this one!

  • I love your essay Grace! I was thinking over the idea of accepting what you have and then allowing for opportunities for the last few days and its really helping.
    Thanks and congrats on a brave and exciting personal journey!

  • Wow I love the insight that not being true to yourself socially/publicly impacted your design at home as well. That would never have occurred to me, but of course I can see now how it would have to be true. That has me looking around my home a little more now picking out things that are probably chosen out of a reaction to the rest of my life rather than in harmony with it. Awesome post! Thanks for letting us in. And I also missed the coming out reveal a few months ago and I agree that it DOES matter to many people and Danny is absolutely wrong in that. Do I care whether you are straight/gay? No. Do I care whether my blogger is open and true to herself? Yes! And that’s what makes Design Sponge the incredible *place* it is. Now just that much more so. Love you Grace!

  • Grace! I love this so much. Also, your move to renovate your kitchen inspired my boyfriend & I to paint and renovate a bunch in our rental. We have accepted we won’t be able to purchase anytime soon so want to make our place feel like home, not a temporary place we reside in :) xoxo

  • I missed this post. I’m not as frequent a visitor or lurker as is my typical stance on blogs as usual. Grace I’m so happy for you! Being at one with one’s self is powerful, on all levels of life. Your kitchen is beautiful. I appreciate having a mix of posts. I love pattern and colour but…I love it best when there’s simplicity to balance it out. This was a wonderful post on so many levels. Thank-you for sharing. The earnest reflection of inner style was what originally drew me to Design Sponge. I stayed because I loved learning about new elements in the design world. I’ll keep coming in the future to watch the continuing evolution. Brava lady, brava! Loving these more personal posts about style.

  • What a great space – simple, clean, calm. And it gives you the flexibility to add colour when you feel like it or need it, and change it up too.
    I love spaces like this. And the porcelain sink, my absolute favourite thing. Thank you for a very straightforward and honest post! Wish you wonderful experiences in your new home.

  • This is my very first comment on design*sponge, although I´m a fan of your site for years now – it´s one of my first ever blogs to follow! Thank you so much for this honest post. I really appreciate your open words, I was very moved while reading this. What I love about design*sponge is, that you don´t just see expensive and unaffordable designs… there is so much to inspiration, many DIY´s for all kinds of budgets, thats very satisfying and makes your blog so very inspiring – there are too many “too perfect” and superficial design blogs out there…
    Your kitchen looks so nice and personal, simple and calm. All the best from Berlin

  • As a newly divorced makeup artist, decorating my first adult solo space, I feel every bit of this post. I may not be coming out, but it’s a similar freedom. I walked away from orange walls, heavy velvet curtains and a home full of fall shades that I loved.

    I’m keeping my space to all black, white, cream and gray tones. All of my furniture is black. Mirrors and quotes adorn my white walls, and plush textures are all that offset the stark colors. It’s very freeing to decorate a newly rehabbed space, and must feel fantastic to redesign your current space.

    I wish you health and happiness in your personal space, as well as in your business and personal life!

  • Hey Grace, I love this whole thing. Can I ask a really lame question? Where did you get your shelf brackets? I’m in the midst setting up a similar layout in my kitchen, and I really like how your brackets are just simple and kind of blend into the wall.

  • Dear Grace and Julia, you’ve done such an amazing job in your kitchen and your whole apartment! This post is so sweet and touching. Thank you for sharing the story behind the project. I’m sure it wasn’t easy. IKEA has a lot of options! You are both incredible people with really great taste. xx

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