Life & Business

What We Believe: The Design*Sponge Mission Statement

by Grace Bonney

The Design*Sponge Mission Statement: What We Believe
After 10 years, 6 redesigns and nearly 16,000 posts, I thought it was time to sit down and define what we stand for here at Design*Sponge. This site began as a small personal hobby during my lunch break and has grown and changed in ways I could never possibly imagine. I’ve gone from blogging alone in my room to managing over 20 people to narrowing down to a small, nimble and devoted team of colleagues that I wouldn’t change for the world. When I first started, there were less than a handful of us talking about design online. We didn’t need to stand out because there wasn’t a crowd to differentiate ourselves from. But 10 years later this incredible design community has grown to such great heights that I think it’s important to talk about the things we do (and don’t) believe in here. I’ve spent months thinking about why we write this blog, what matters most to us and what informs every single thing we post. And what I ended up with was a manifesto of sorts, a list of 10 statements that lay our hearts, minds and beliefs on the table and hopefully will help you get to know us better as we are today. One of the greatest joys of my life so far has been getting to learn and grow alongside all of you and I hope that sharing our goals with Design*Sponge can enable us to connect even more as we move forward. xo, grace

The Design*Sponge Mission Statement: What We Believe
We believe that great homes are real, lived-in spaces. One of the first things that led me to start a blog was a desire to see homes that I could relate to. Homes that were still finding their way, figuring things out and that weren't perfectly symmetrical and color-coordinated. I will always have a soft spot for well-matched patterns, but our goal is to celebrate spaces that represent a wide range of people, places, styles and moments in life.
The Design*Sponge Mission Statement: What We Believe
We believe that great homes take time: My favorite homes belong to people who have lived a long and interesting life. That's because they've had time to experience things, collect objects that mean something to them and put them together in a way that is unique to them. For me, the lesson to learn from those great spaces is that design will evolve and change as you do. We want to accept homes for where they are right now and celebrate them for what they represent at every stage of your - and our - lives.
The Design*Sponge Mission Statement: What We Believe
We believe in guidelines, not rules: I'm tired of being told that there is a right and wrong way to make a home. Most of my favorite spaces are the ones that break those "rules" and turn them on their head. They use furniture that doesn't match, embrace patterns that often clash and accept clutter if it means giving their favorite objects the attention they deserve. So instead of rules, we believe in guidelines that are helpful. There's more than one way to arrange a living room and we'll always be here to share creative inspiration for that process, but we don't believe in telling anyone that there's only one "right" way to build your home.
The Design*Sponge Mission Statement: What We Believe
We believe in the power of color and pattern: Color and pattern can completely change a room and, a lot of the time, your outlook on your entire space and how you'll start (and end) each day. They don't have to be bold (some of our favorite colors are neutrals), but when used wisely at home, they can turn an empty space into a home that reflects who you are and what you enjoy.
The Design*Sponge Mission Statement: What We Believe
We believe that anyone can create a home that makes them happy: No one at Design*Sponge is a professional decorator or interior designer. We have the utmost respect for them and the deep range of skills and vision they bring to the table, but we also feel strongly that anyone can make their home beautiful with the right tools, information and guidance. Whether we're working together to find an affordable striped fabric for a DIY shower curtain or suggesting ways to make a room feel bigger with mirrors, we have the power to help each other make homes that work.
The Design*Sponge Mission Statement: What We Believe
We believe that making mistakes is part of building a home: Doing something the wrong way is sometimes the best and most effective way to learn something. It's true for life and business and also for your home. We're not afraid to make mistakes, change our minds or embrace that our styles and interests will change over time. Your home is a living, breathing space and it's okay to repaint, rearrange and admit that that spray painted couch didn't quite work out.
The Design*Sponge Mission Statement: What We Believe
We believe great homes are both functional and beautiful: A home that doesn't work for the people who live there will never be quite right. We love an ombre fade on a bookshelf as much as the next Pinner, but for a home to truly be beautiful, it needs to be practical for the people who live inside. That's why we are devoted to finding better ways to work more storage into your home and organize things so you can focus on displaying and celebrating the objects that mean most to you, whether they're books and artwork or family collections and wall hangings.
The Design*Sponge Mission Statement: What We Believe
We believe high quality work takes time and is worth investing in: Design*Sponge began with a simple goal - to build a platform for handmade design. Now that "handmade," "DIY" and "indie" are words we see in mainstream catalogs, our goal has shifted toward helping all of us understand, or at least respect, the prices makers have to charge for their time and materials. Does that mean that everyone has to shop this way? Absolutely not. But we believe that, in the long run, investing in pieces that are made well and have a personal connection to you and your community will lead to a longer life for the objects in your home and a more meaningful relationship with them.
The Design*Sponge Mission Statement: What We Believe
We believe that beauty doesn't have to cost a fortune: Handmade or store-bought work isn't in everyone's budget - and that's totally fine. There is no end to what you can build and up-cycle with your own two hands to make your home a beautiful space that you love. We vow to always dedicate a weekly section of our site to projects that are affordable, easy and fun - that way you always have a choice when it comes to decorating. You can buy, share, swap or make it yourself.
The Design*Sponge Mission Statement: What We Believe
We believe that the creative community online has the power to transform not just spaces, but lives: Design blogs aren't just about decorating. We're helping each other start businesses, find collaborators and friends, and more importantly, share ideas and tips that help us all build happier homes. When people have a place where they feel happy, safe and comfortable, good things can happen.

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  • Always so thankful for this site Grace! A few words that describe design sponge* …Humble, authentic and celebrating true artist and real people. This post was a hearty reminder of why I stop by every day – Thank YOU (and your team) for all of your hard work and original content. xx

  • Right on. I appreciate that you really just want to help people create & love the spaces they live in where they feel good. And the new design is so great, Grace. I love it.

  • Design Sponge is so much more than a resource for home design and decorating. You have a savvy business sense and an intuitive knack for bringing relevant business and marketing topics to the blog world.
    I rarely read the design posts but have devoured Biz Ladies, artist profiles and have listened to many of your podcasts.
    Keep going with your amazing creative visions and inspirations!

  • Congrats on the 10 year achievement! I agree on all of this. So many times you see beautiful rooms in magazines but they can’t really be lived in or serve any function other than to look nice. We love your site and thanks for all the love you put in it!

  • Love this. Also, just a heads-up that your new blog design doesn’t seem to be playing nicely with Feedly reader . . . it’s no longer pulling in images for the post preview, so it’s just a block of text. Thought you’d like to know!

  • Congrats on all of your success! I didn’t know you redesigned and I love it. I think it’s so important for any blog to be able to outline its mission statements, no matter what stage of blogging they’re in.

    I appreciate all of the inspiration you’ve given me in the past (and continue to provide).

    Keep at it! -Jenn

  • Wow this is so great! I can really relate to this. I think with all these “installations” we see out there on the blogosphere of these perfectly decorated spaces, it seems like so many are taking the fast track. Like you said, I think the most beautiful homes are not the ones that are “installed” but rather the ones that are lived in and the product of many experiences and travels over time. Well done.

  • Well said. I appreciate all of this. I feel like, in our social media/ Pinterest world… Some of us, including me, have fallen into a overinspired rut. Forgetting that uniqueness makes a space more interesting and should tell our story. Were also in a hurry to decorate. I have to remind myself that a beautiful lived in room takes time and it also isn’t perfectly styled. Thank you so much for this post!

    • Jen

      I couldn’t agree more. We’re working on a book now based on that idea. I think it’s easy to get overwhelmed, so we really believe in starting with what works best for any one’s given home, first.

      Grace :)

  • Authentic is inspirational. And we all have the ability to be our true selves. That’s what makes interior design so interesting and fun, no matter your design expertise or background. Your house, your “rules”. I’ve always found Design Sponge inspirational, in more ways than one, because it tells the stories of real people though art, design and interiors. The people behind Design Sponge are real people connecting with real people. That’s the whole point of it all if you ask me.

  • Design Sponge has captured my heart and attention for almost 8 years, which makes it my longest blog relationship :-)

    The stellar content drew me in, but your commitment to creating a thriving, inspiring and truly caring community is what keeps me coming back. You and your team pour your hearts into this space, and it shows.

    All this to say, thank you!

  • “The creative community online has the power to transform not just spaces but lives”.

    Amen to this. We’re meant to create. We’re meant to experience the arts. We’re meant to nest and make our homes in a style that reflects our own unique tastes. It’s so much more than just pretty things.

    At least it should be.

  • Well thank goodness someone said it! I have to admit, I’ve really been struggling with designing our new(ish) house. I often have a difficult time connecting with resources that once were popular and now feel so distant. Decorating a home doesn’t happen overnight and with a ga-zillon dollar budget. I’m happy you wrote these statements because they really do represent what Design Sponge is about, and it’s nice to have a conversation about it and reminder. :) Now I’m going to go stress out about what color to paint our hallways.

    • Thanks, Susan. I can only imagine what your home will look like in 20 years. It already looks so great now but I agree, “finished” is kind of a myth and a real lived-in home takes a while to build.

      Grace :)

  • Thank you so much Grace for this thoughtful and well-written mission statement that could be guidelines (not a rules :) for living in a home. Thank you for bringing these thoughts to life on D*S for so long, and all best wishes as you continue with manifesto in hand. It’s a huge commitment to keep this up with such excellence for so long – you and your staff are appreciated!

  • Your blog is new to me and I can see it’s right up my alley!!

  • So many times when I read mission and vision statements, they seem so artificial. This is real and carefully crafted. Well done, D*sponge!

  • WOW! ten years..wheewaha…I have been in and out of my own lifes journey and sometimes went months without visiting Designsponge…but I found that my pattern was/is whenever I had a moment of wanting to feel really wonderful…I just told myself (without actually telling myself) type in designsponge.com..I love beautiful things, great design, creative people, and seeing how people take the best of what they have and make it better and then share their version of design with the many designspongers…from day one your site Grace has inspired, uplifted,encouraged and taking me away on little mini trips…It is true that what you love…even if no-one ever sees’ it…it is serving the most important person…YOU! Anywho, I cannot remember when or how I stumbled onto your site but I can honestly say it is one of the best design sites online…Thank you Grace for sharing your love of design…may you continue to share and grow for many more years…

  • Congrats Grace! I agree with Liz above and the whole overstimulating need for a perfect home with Pinterest perfect photos. I love how I can go to design sponge and feel grounded again- feel like I can look at true lived in home spaces and interiors. You do a wonderful job-
    Great site and great podcast! Xo-

  • so happy for your success Grace. And even more happy to be a recipient of all your hard work, it shows. The content and love and care that you put into every detail is great. I’ve listened your podcast while walking for miles outside and often in the house as I do other things and feel like I have gotten to know you. There’s a genuine concern in all you put into this Sponge that makes it one of all time favorite places to always ” come home to” on the web. The beautiful, quirky and intimate thoughts and views you bring to this are so comforting. I often want to crawl thru my screen and enter the site. Thank you for all you share. Continued joy to you and J. and all you do. DC

  • Congrats on the new design by the way. I followed you for 8 years and I’m still interested! I can’t say that for many design blogs. Not many kept me hooked as long as you did and many died before I got bored. It’s a hard thing to keep up! So congrats on that too! :) Once in a while I do take a break but I always end up back here to soak up some inspiration, guidance and entertainment! :)

    I love those statements too! They are so true and it does show on this blog. I think it really hit me when I saw a sneak peak of Meg Freeman’s bathroom who runs the blog elsie marley. I was smitten and almost cried from relief as I read the great little story behind the ugly bathroom and broken sink. We also struggled with life, kids, budget and limited skills in the “reno” department. We pulled through though. Well, almost. We still have to deal with our bathroom but the first few steps were finally made. It’s a slow process to love a home and to give it personality and we definitely learn from our mistakes. Like a family it grows and changes and never stays the same. Patience is definitely part of the equation. Love and patience! Thanks for reminding us that with you statements and many, many posts.

    • Bérangère

      Thank you so much, I’m so appreciative and thrilled to have had you as a part of this community for the past 8 years :)


  • What a lovely sentiment. Lovely statements, and making us bloggers feel as though we’re part of this community :) xxx

  • I have been reading since your beginning and this post sums up everything I love about your site and keeps me returning: the authenticity, the balance, the generosity and simply put (apologies for the smarm but…) the love. Keep it coming!

  • I am a new follower, less than 6 months, and I have enjoyed the blog immensely. In a busy world, this is time well spent. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

  • Love, love. I hope you put this somewhere on the site for easy access, because I’d love to be able and go back and retread as necessary.

    “Great homes take time,” so true! I’ll stop beating myself up over my current uninspired bedroom. I don’t know why, bedrooms are my most challenging design dilemmas.

    As always, great work, and thank you!

  • Grace, as an avid follower for many years, what I love about you guys goes beyond your impeccable style and creativity, but the tangible community aspect you bring to the table Your sensibilities for representing businesses and sharing knowledge with your audience has always inspired me and given me perspective. It takes a lot of time and passion to compile this valuable information, and you and your team deliver it flawlessly. Here’s to your continued success!

  • I love your mission statement! I have been following D*S for a few years now, and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. Your philosophies on decorating and life have also earned my respect and admiration – I love that I love everything about D*S!! Thank you for being positive, genuine, and inclusive of design lovers of all locales and budgets. I *heart* Design*Sponge!

  • I used to ready your site daily, now I might check in every 2 weeks. I miss when you posted 3-4 before and afters. I loved it when you partnered with “Knack”, or “Spruce”. These were series I could refer to to build my home step by step. I can pics of interiors anywhere. Sorry, I just miss the old Design Sponge. If it ain’t broke…..

  • Thank you so much Grace for your inspiring words.
    I love Design Sponge and never miss your articles, they make me feel part of a of huge comunity of people looking, making and finding beauty everywhere. Thank you :-)

  • I remember stumbling across your blog in my last year of uni, (some *ahem* 6 years ago) and I loved the quirky sneak peaks of real homes. I’ve continued to check in weekly and have loved the evolution – the refinement – of your site but it has never, in my opinion, veered away from its core voice and values. This 10 part mission statement is testament to that and a reminder of my own feelings and why I’ve stayed in love with such an honest, inspirational and down to earth site. Thank-you!

    Please don’t stop Grace and the gang :)

  • HOLY CATS. Ten years! That’s like Bob Hope age in blog terms. And you just keep getting better. Funny, I was just reading something about how every person and small business needs a manifesto — it’s wonderful to see one here. Well written and refreshing (as always). Congrats on your journey, ten years and many more. May the road rise to meet you!

  • I LOVE this mission statement! You’re the best design blog out there. I love all the Biz Ladies profiles. I love your take on design. just YAY for you! Thank you for doing what you do.

  • Hi Grace.
    Here’s something you should know about readability, from http://baymard.com/blog/line-length-readability

    Optimal line length, including spaces, is 50-60 characters, maybe 75.
    Your redesigned pages have fixed line lengths in the 80-90 character range. Can’t scan. Hope you’ll fix it.

    Best wishes.

    • MooninFog

      Thank you for sharing that source. However, web standards have changed greatly since 2010 when that was written. 100 is now considered industry standard, especially for blogs like ours (where pictures are intertwined with images).


  • Beautifully said. Your blog continues to be a treat.
    (11/11 We believe in the power of pets to add endless joy, beauty, warmth and companionship to any living situation)

  • It’s clear how much love and attention goes in to this site. I’ve found it invaluable to have genuine homes that reflect the people living in them as inspiration. I especially love the emphasis on using interiors to enhance your experience as opposed to simply purchasing items to curate something impressive. I didn’t seek out Design*Sponge to satiate my interest in design, I stumbled across it and as a result, my love of design and long-term focus on building a home unique to me and my partner was born. Thank you for this, Grace & team. Happy Holidays!

    • Allie

      Thank you so much, I’m so glad that that connection between interiors and how we experience life is coming through :)


  • Grace,
    Thank you for sharing from your heart. Design sponge has become a regular part of my life. It is so lovely to hear from you and your well thought, beautifully expressed Mission Statement. You filled a need for all of us to express ourselves and for that we thank you.

  • Grace, I really like this mission statement. I like that you kept it all about decorating and design – this is why I keep coming back to Design Sponge. When I visit a decor site, I want to read about decor and not about social or politically correct stuff – agendas. We all have our own views on all that and I myself have even gotten in to a few debates. No need for that here anymore, I think you are on the right track – keep showing these great homes and sharing ideas and projects. Thanks!

    • Cindy

      I’m glad you enjoy our mission statement. We don’t discuss politics here per se, but we do discuss larger issues in life and work. This site was founded as a personal blog to talk about things that mean something to me so that will happen here from time to time. But please feel free to join the discussion/debate/conversation any time you like. I just wanted to clarify that, as we are a home inspiration site in the larger sense- meaning we are about the substance behind design and not just the pretty things themselves.