How to make your home the vintage space of your dreams (according to Katrina Carroll)
While Instagram is our main squeeze for fashion and beauty inspiration, there’s a growing community on the platform seeking out ideas for a different kind of design — all things interiors. Accounts dedicated to DIY fixes, vintage furniture and how to truly make a house into a home have surged in popularity, and given users a new outlet for their creative juices.
Of course, we all know how much a personality behind a page helps. Getting to know the DIY-er behind the camera, and having a few laughs at things not always going to plan is what budding crafty homemakers love to see. It’s part of what Instagram interiors extraordinaire, Katrina Carroll is best at. Along with gorgeous shots of each decorated room in her Walkinstown home, Carroll (@vintageirishkat on the platform) really shines on her Instagram stories. With DIY Saturdays being her most active time, Carroll shares her process of doing up a room, including every wallpaper tear, paint-fail and glue gun disaster. But the end result always checks out — Kat’s taste for unique, vintage-styled pieces have made her home into one of the most distinctively cosy in Dublin.
IMAGE sat down with Katrina to chat about her start on Instagram, where she finds her inspiration, and why decorating a child’s bedroom is so much more fun than her own.
How I got started
My husband and I bought our house in 2016 and had to gut the whole place and start decorating from scratch. With all the work that had to be done, I started doing little videos on Snapchat, just going through what we were working on that weekend and any ideas I had for decorating. My close friends all loved it, and I moved over to Instagram to post them publicly. I only started doing Instagram Stories last year, and that was what really took off and got me a lot of followers. When I was on maternity leave, I was posting room makeovers, before and after shots, and I started doing DIYs. People really seemed to like it.
It’s really just a big hobby of mine. I’d see furniture and ornaments in shops and think “I can make that easily — why would I pay that amount of money for it?” I’ve always loved second-hand stuff and charity shops, and when you start doing it yourself, it grows and grows. My husband doesn’t do any DIY at all — I’m still waiting on him to put up a picture frame that’s too heavy for me!
I’ve always loved charity shops but was never thinking that I was saving the planet by buying things from there. It was probably quite ignorant of me at the time, but when people started to tell me that everyone should be doing what I’m doing, and that fast fashion and consumerism are ruining the planet, that’s only when I started to realise the impact of it.
That’s when I started doing videos of charity shop hauls, which isn’t for everyone — my best mate won’t set foot in one, let alone wear anything from them, but she doesn’t know what she’s missing! George’s Street and Camden Street in Dublin are always the best, but you get unreal things in little local charity shops as well — most days they’ll be full of sh*te, but the one time you find a brilliant piece, it’s worth it!
Where I get my inspiration
I’m not really the type of person who spends all day on Pinterest, I just go off my own ideas. For example, there was a time, a while ago, where everyone was stencilling their floor, and so I thought that I would stencil my ceiling — seemed like the obvious choice! But when I Googled it for some inspiration, there was nothing apart from Michelangelo so I had to just go for it myself. I ended up doing it as a DIY for Instastories for House and Home magazine, and I was terrified because it’s one thing to mess around on your own story, it’s another to take over someone else’s.
My way of thinking is; do I like it, and is it doable? I always say if you don’t like it, you can just paint over it!
Finding the best pieces
I always have to find something with a bit of character. I’d spend hours in a charity shop, looking at each and every piece and deciding what’s unique and what stands out. If I see a piece of furniture that’s awful but I know I can make it pretty, I’ll get it. I was terrible when I first got the house because I just bought so much stuff that we didn’t need.
Adult vs Kids room
It’s way more fun to do the kids’ rooms! You can actually let loose and do ridiculous things. I’m doing it now while they still have no say over the decoration — once they become teenagers, they’re going to tell me where to go! My daughter’s 80s-themed room came from that being everything I wanted growing up — if I could live in Saved by the Bell, I would! It would be my nightmare if they grew up to be minimalists!
Where to start
If you want to start doing DIY around the house, start with a mood board for yourself. See how colours look together, do a test run. It works for me. I just take as much inspiration as I can and go from there — even if I end up going off on a tangent that’s completely different.
Take your time — people think when they buy a house they have to do everything straight away. Take it room by room, pay attention to the furniture you already have and how it will work with your space.