Home Ec

Coming Soon: Home Ec on Design*Sponge!

by Grace Bonney

Earlier this year we partnered with Mrs. Meyers Clean Day to create a series of fun DIY videos that ran on Youtube and even on Hulu in between shows. It was one of the most enjoyable, open-minded and creative work experiences I’ve had so far (I got to work side-by-side with one of my favorite people, Paul Lowe), so I was excited when they invited both Paul and me back to teach free DIY classes at the Renegade Craft Fair in New York, too. We all worked together so well and enjoyed the collaborative process so much that it led to a much bigger partnership that I’m happy to announce today: The creation of a new section of Design*Sponge called Home Ec!

For some, Home Ec conjures up memories of learning to bake, balance a checkbook or do laundry for the first time. For others, it may not conjure up any memories because, sadly, Home Ec has been cut from the budget of most public schools. But both Max and I love what we see as the real message of Home Ec — learning to build and care for a home that matters to you. Whether that home is a studio apartment in downtown Chicago, a farmhouse in Iowa, a townhouse in Atlanta or a shared dorm space in college, creating a space that welcomes and nurtures the people inside is our number one mission here. So we decided to work together with Mrs. Meyers to create an entirely new section of our site that would be devoted to weekly updates that are equal parts practical and inspiring. In addition to learning clever DIY ways to clean things around your home, we’ll also be sharing creative and inventive ways to personalize your home, entertain your friends and family and decorate your space so that it works for you. These lessons will start out as a simple, 101-level refresher and progress over the next year to advanced-level projects that help you finish and craft a home that looks and functions exactly the way you want it to.

We have a slew of ideas for posts already, but we want to hear what YOU want to see in Home Ec. Do you want more practical advice from experts on cleaning and laundry? Do you want to hear how a seasoned pro budgets out their family meals? Or do you want to find inexpensive ways to decorate, upgrade existing furniture, or repair things you already love and have at home? Whatever YOU want to see, please let us know in the comment section below. Your requests will be an important and valuable part of the content (posts, how-tos, videos and more) that we produce and we want to make sure we get to the heart of what you’d like to learn about building and maintaining a home you love. So let us know below and stay tuned next week for our first installment! xo, grace

Suggested For You


  • Meal planning and grocery budgeting is a big one for me. I feed up to 10 people all summer at my outfitting camp. We provide room and board for our staff and are always looking for ideas! I’ve been following DS for a couple of years now, I love you guys! Fantastic content!

  • I am SO excited about this new section! I went to school when Home Ec was mandatory and I’ve frequently wished that I could go back and take it again now that I’m an adult. Yay for this!

  • How to pick the right houseplant for the right spot in your home (depending on the amount of light the spot gets and the amount of care and attention the plant needs) would be a good one.

  • I love this idea. I never got to take a home ec class growing up and I feel like I missed out on a lot. I know that a lot of questions have come up in my own life about using food before it goes bad, how much money really goes into buying and owning a house (closing costs, taxes, insurance, etc), what to do if something in your house breaks, how to do your taxes, the fact that it’s actually important to floss, mending tears in clothing, what to do if you get sick and don’t have a regular doctor, how to deal with insurance companies, caring for pets, and important numbers you should have on your refrigerator.

  • What a great idea! What to keep in your pantry so you always have the basics on hand to make dinner or do some baking. Also – floor care primer for hardwood, carpet, wall to wall. What basic vases you need to keep on hand to do quick easy flowers yourself. Can’t wait to see what happens next!

  • I love this. And I love the many directions it could take. I wonder if it makes sense to ask a whole bunch of people what’s the one thing they’re happiest they’ve done at home. That could cover everything from menu planning to paper organization to painting the walls to hosting dinner parties to getting a dog.

  • Maybe not as many craft/decorating things? Since it’s easier to find that stuff on the regular Design Sponge and all over the internet. Rather, really practical stuff! Like cleaning, budgeting, meals with easy to find ingredients, gardening, fixing things, etc. I really liked Daniel’s “Before & After” cleaning techniques and I hope Home Ec has more stuff like that!

  • I’d like to read inspirational pieces on how to “love the home you’re in”. Some of are stuck, for whatever reason, in spaces that do not have a whole lot of character or unique architectural features and could use some guidance on how to maximize our feelings of connectedness to our homes even though they are not our ideal choices. Perhaps an article specifically for those stuck in the suburbs? What really does make a house a home? How to embrace the imperfect, even dull, space and make it your own without spending a whole lot of money on remodeling or refurnishing. Thanks!

  • So cute! I love the concept of Home Ec although I never took it in school. Hanging out with mom were my best lessons in home care, gardening, laundry tips, and home beautifying. I think these videos would serve as a refresher or enlighten someone who wants to learn but doesn’t know where to start. Great series!

  • House plant care yes! Building and maintaining a terrarium specifically. Time saving tips and tricks for painting around radiators and molding.

  • I’d love to read y’all’s take on healthy (and yummy) meal planning on a budget. A lot of times I come home from work and I just don’t feel like cooking/being in the kitchen…though I love our little apartment! I also would like to read more about the houseplant thing – there are mealy bugs that are just killing my plants :( One problem we’re having right now at my place are outdoor pests…ants specifically. Maybe some pointers on ways to remedy that.

  • I’d love to see a Room Arranging 101 sort of thing—I know there are lots of those floating around on the internet, but I feel like D*S would put its own incredible spin on it. I remember something like this being taught in my own Home Ec class however many years ago but I remember none of it! It’d be especially great if it featured a bunch of different kinds of rooms with all their own difficulties/quirks and showed multiple options for floor plans for each with explanations of the benefits/drawbacks of each. As a visual learner, things like that help me so much more than vague guidelines like “choose a focal point.”

  • This might sound boring, but I think it’s a neglected topic: home insurance – how to estimate what you need, how to evaluate different types of plans, what they do/don’t cover, etc.

  • I would love a segment on how to wash more delicate fabrics (silk, cashmere) at home. I’ve read that it’s possible, but I’ve always been nervous to do it. I would trust what you guys had to say, though! (And it would help save me some $$$)

  • House plants for sure (how to pick, how to rescue one that you think is dying). Go-to dinner party menus! A compilation of basic menus with excellent and easy recipes for an enjoyable evening that you’re not stuck in the kitchen! How do you organize bills etc.? Other things you can knit besides scarves if you’re a beginner and like knitting, but you know, don’t wear knit scarves and want to create things for your home (knitting and sewing are home ec. yes). Tips on washing dishes WITHOUT A DISHWASHER (seriously, this is my greatest goal in life right now, to figure out how to get spotless dishes, minimize water use, and be enviornmentally safe, can it be done? please say yes.)

  • I think this is a great idea! Many good ideas already mentioned. A few I would add:
    -basic schedule of home care – what needs to get done daily, weekly, monthly to take care of your first apartment to your family home – no one teaches that!
    -best green make it yourself budget house cleaning supplies – great for all of us from first apartment to experienced homemakers
    -simple sewing tips – what you can mend/fix/hem/make yourself with a machine/no machine
    -What’s worth buying for what price range in terms of towels, dishes, basic furniture – it’s hard to know if I $5 towel is worth buying or you will just hate it/have to replace it? Is a $20 going to last more than 4x as long?

  • All those ideas sound great, but I definitely would love to learn more about budgeting out and planning healthy, tasty meals each week. I took homec in 8th grade by the way, and loved it.

  • Carpet care please!! I have carpets installed in the upper part of my house, (not my choice and I can’t afford to replace them with wood yet), they’re an off white colour and I have a toddler. I’ve looked all over the internet for natural cleaning advice. As of yet, can’t find anything that really works, (prevention would also be good).

  • This is a fantastic idea !! I love seeing how DS evolves. I’m in the same age group as you guys are, I bought my first home four years ago, and I have the same interests. I feel at home here !

    I second a guide on natural ways to clean fabrics. Wine spills for exemple: what do I do ? I’d also enjoy something on repairs. For the rest, I leave it to you imagination, I’m sure I’ll love it !

  • Laundry! Especially how to wash whites–including how to get stains out of white clothing, how to keep white bed linens looking new, how to get the kind of crisp sheets you see in nice bed-n-breakfast places. I guess this often involves bleach and starch but it would be great to hear about environmentally friendly ways to deal with washing whites! Thanks!

  • How to choose a good broom & mop. Does anyone else have this issue? I have a hard time finding brooms & mops I like.

  • Guides, lots of them, on differents topics: repairs worth doing yourself vs worth going to the pros; labels, how to decipher them , especially for food, personnal care products, etc.
    And, of course, all the ideas mentioned by previous readers !

  • Crying with Joy over this!!! So glad to get the chance to do a little Home Ec. second time around and maybe actually learn something this time! haha! and yes! All things Laundry PLEASE!!!

  • love this idea! i think a post on mending/sewing would be fantastic…for people without sewing machines! also, maybe something about the proper care for materials in your home and how often to clean them…like draperies, tile grout, antique picture frames or vintage art, etc. i am also looking for ways to correctly hang photos…not like how to put together a gallery wall, but options for actually correctly hanging art…like how they would in a gallery…what products do they actually use?

  • I’m so excited about this! My favorite blog and my favorite cleaning product company! Some of these have been mentioned, but I’d love to know…

    -How to drill into brick/masonry. I have the correct drill bits but I’m intimidated and it’s keeping me from hanging things on the walls of my new place.

    -Along those lines, how to hang things in general! Heavy mirrors, hooks for hanging plants, etc.

    -How to care for spills on shaggy rugs.

    -How to design outdoor space to be an extension of the home. I have a giant deck but am stumped on how to make the best use of it without investing thousands in outdoor furniture.

    -In addition to the indoor plants suggestion, which I’d love to see a post on, I would like tips for planting an edible garden, how to plan well so that all of the food isn’t ready at the exact same time, etc.

    Can’t wait for the column to begin!

  • This is so exciting!

    I’d love to see info about when to plant things(maybe for both hemispheres?), insurance and accounts, hand-washing, darning and spot-cleaning because no-one knows how to do that anymore, fixing holes in walls, and really basic plumbing and electricals?

    We never had Home Ec in school, but my mother has an old copy of Mrs Beeton’s Household Management, which was first published in 1861. I still refer to it for budgeting, cleaning and waste management advice. Timeless indeed!

  • I am interested in design and decorating tips for renters! I haven’t owned any of the places where I’ve lived, and it’s important to me to be able to design my space within the confines of a lease.

  • I loved home ec…I think I was one of the last classes to take it in middle school. I would love another look at stain removal, mending all kinds of fabrics (denim, knits, knitted sweaters, etc.) and basic clothing sewing skills (simple skirts and trousers).

  • Budget making, laundry tips (I had to google today what the difference is between the delicates and permanent press cycles on my washing machine!), and home organization. I’d also like to learn about different types of fabrics, and simple sewing techniques for those with and without a machine. A Design Sponge Home Ec test lab would be fun. Like testing different homemade cleaners to let us know which ones really work, or testing different methods for seasoning cast iron pans to see which is the most effective (IME, the pre-seasoning that most new cast iron pans come with is terrible!) I’d also like to learn about the pros and cons of different kinds of cookware (stainless v. cast iron v. enameled cast iron v. copper v. the various nonstick options now available, etc.)

  • Sorry, one more thought. For cooking, I’d like to learn how to improvise more in the kitchen, so maybe…guidelines (?) to help with that, like what goes with what (both foods and spices) based on different flavor profiles. Thanks!!!

  • I would absolutely love to see videos on how to efficiently clean a home and maintain the cleanliness level. Back in the day, my grandma taught me how to keep the kitchen clean while cooking…waiting for a pot to boil? Clean the counter. Put dishes away. I wish she’d offered similar advice for the whole house.

  • “Make do and Mend” is one of my favorite lines. I would love a post on mending, repairing, fixing. Definitely seeing is a part of it, but there are other amazing solutions I have found as well as someone who works in a hardware store and teaches beginning sewing classes five days a week. I know my friends and others are thirsty fof the information. For example a couple years ago the sole of my gym shoe was becoming detached and then I discovered the miracle of Shoe Goop. Two years later, the shoes are doing great! I think hardware stores can be intimidating for some people, so maybe some fixes they think might be complicated are actually quite doable. For example re screening a window screen or removing a door lock to have it rekeyed at your neighborhood hardware store rather than calling a locksmith.

  • Oh one more thing- what is the best way to “keep” or store an “address book” these days? I can’t figure it out…do you want it to sync with your phone or be able to mail merge or what other time saving considerations are there in deciding how to store, organize, and keep your list of contacts up to date?