With Grace Mitchell, what you see is what you get, and that’s refreshing for an up-and-coming HGTV star. We visited her the afternoon before the season two premiere of her show, One of a Kind, with her four school-age kids popping in to give hugs and request snacks. For the whole family, being on-screen has become the norm—even though, ironically, there’s no TV allowed in the house on weekdays.
Before all the national attention, Mitchell was just blogging to connect with the outside world; now, the craziness of it all is finally setting in.
“It all happened very fast,” she reveals. “When my production company said, ‘We need to sit down and have a Skype,’ I thought they were going to tell me when the pilot was going to air, and they were like, ‘Just kidding. You’re going straight to series, and we need you to start filming next week.’”
DFWChild: What was the idea behind your blog, A Storied Style? Grace Mitchell: When you’re a mom and you have a bunch of littles, it’s hard to feel connected and it can feel kind of lonely. I’ve always loved creating and been very interested in art; the blog was just a good way for me to connect.
Child: Why a blog about interior design? GM: At the time I ran a vintage furniture business. My husband was in training for his job—he was working really crazy 80-, 90-, 100-hour weeks. I had to teach myself how to do things at our house, and started fixing up our house. Then I started my blog, and through my blog I started getting some attention. I wrote for Domino magazine and for Better Homes & Gardens. I wrote for a TV show called Home Made Simple on OWN. One day I got an email from a production company, and here we are.
Child: How did you make time work on your blog with four kids and a husband who worked a lot? GM: I would work until 3 or 4 in the morning. I would sleep two or three hours, and then I’d wake up and do the full day with the kids. I honestly came to a point where I felt like I was doing OK at a lot of things and not awesome at anything. I really had to take a step back. I stopped blogging five days a week, then slowly it fizzled out, and I started working on magazines and clients. For a long time, I thought, I’ve worked so hard all these years and I’m giving it all up. But ultimately, I feel like taking that time really gave me a chance to hone my craft.
Child: When did you realize that you were onto something successful with your blog? GM: Every year Better Homes & Gardens chooses 50 style-makers of the year. I was pretty new in the design world, and somehow, they had found some of my work and asked me to come. It was really the first time that I felt like I belonged. I didn’t feel right calling myself a designer because I didn’t have the degree. It took me a really long time to get past that.
Child: Have you ever dealt with being uninspired or creatively drained? GM: I’ve never really felt like I was low on creativity. With the show, it’s different because the pace is very, very fast. There are times where I think, Oh my goodness, I have to stop and breathe for a second so I can take in the world around me. That’s really where I get a lot of my inspiration—outside, or just something that I see at my kids’ school. There was this mom the other day, and she had on the most beautiful lavender skirt and yellow T-shirt that was knotted. And I was like, “I need to build a room around that.”
“I felt like I was doing OK at a lot of things and not awesome at anything.”
Child: How do you best balance being a mom of four and running your interior design business and putting together a show? GM: Something that Kent and I are really passionate about is just being a student of our kids. I feel when I’m really authentically trying to be a student of them, then I can tell what they need and how I need to shift or change to meet their needs. I can provide for them the best way when I’m really observing who they are.
Child: Having your own show on HGTV is obviously a career highlight. What does that feel like? GM: It still hasn’t sunk in. I’ve been doing this for two years now, so it’s sort of normal life to us. The other day, I just happened to catch the commercial when I took my kids to the dentist. For the first time I was just like, “Whoa, we’re really doing this.”
Child: Do you think not having TV in your home helps you and your kids have a perspective on it? GM: Yeah. It was funny because we told them, “Hey, there’s going to be cameras in our house; we’re just gonna do our thing and love on people and be kind.” They were like, “OK, can we go play outside now?”
Child: What’s your design motto? GM: When I was first starting, I had a mentor and I remember her telling me, “You’ve got to roll through these projects. You’re never going to make it if you keep making it personal.” At first, I just thought, Is she right? As time went on, I found that when people invest in things that are meaningful to them and bring that into their home, their decor isn’t as likely to change because it’s personal.
Child: Have you had a moment where you felt like you’ve made it? GM: I don’t think I’ll ever have that moment. I am very driven, and I will always be dreaming about what can be and exciting things that could happen in the future.
Child: Where do you picture yourself in five years? GM: I would love to have written a few books. I would love to be creating products, and I would love to have a house in Seaside to renovate. Seaside Grace is really my favorite version of myself. Seaside Grace does not care what her children are wearing or if they eat cereal for three meals a day. She’s pretty awesome.
An Inside Look
Hails from: Arlington
Lives in: Fort Worth
Alma mater: Texas Christian University
Significant other: Kent
Offspring: Ellis, 11, Tate, 10, GloryEvelyn, 9, and Karis, almost 8
Early career: “I was an interior design major for about a year in college, and my adviser said that it was a dying profession and I should use my mind for something different. I was really interested in sign language, so I’m fluent in American Sign Language. I taught in the school system for a few years. Then after I got my master’s, I started doing language therapy for babies. Then I started pursuing my doctorate in audiology when we got pregnant, and we just kept having kids.”
Current career: Interior decorator and star of HGTV’s One of a Kind
Favorite color: Aqua blue
What she wanted to be as a kid: “I always used to tell myself that I was going to be a mystery solver.”
Favorite destination: Seaside, Florida
Image courtesy of Carter Rose.