The perfect blend of work and play led Preston financial planner Katy Allen to sharing her love for design in a new Instagram blog
Little did she know after securing the keys to her first home, her stylish ideas would catch the attention of housing developers Barratt Homes and gather quite an online following.
Initially the 28-year-old, who lives in a new home in Fulwood, began her blog as a mood board, sourcing interior design inspiration from across the web and putting in one place to get advice from the person she trusted most - her mum.
But her part-time side hobby and a penchant for DIY creations has attracted attention far and wide and Barratt Homes have now invited her to style-up one of their view homes.
Katy said: “Amusingly, my Instagram page (Independently Kate) came about as my mum and I couldn’t figure out to follow one another on the scrapbook app, Pinterest.
“I had just begun looking for my first home in the summer of 2017 and was using the app as a source of interior design inspiration to motivate me in my property search.
“I was keen to share the ideas with my mum so began adding my favourite images to an Instagram account - she was my first follower.”
What began as a space to share ideas with like minded people soon brought Katy to the attention of the design team at Barratt’s Wesley Chase development and she was invited to kit out one of the view homes at the development.
Katy, who was known as the ‘arty one’ at school, hails from Lytham St Annes and was living with her parents when she decided to take the opportunity to buy her first property on her own.
She’s now living in the new home at the development in Preston with her puppy Rolo.
Katy adds: “A mixture of aggressive saving while living at home and the Help to Buy scheme helped me get on the property ladder. I knew I wanted to move quickly and wanted something low maintenance with less DIY to do and a new-build seemed perfect. The blog started out as just a mood board so I could put my ideas in one place, but it’s grown.
"One of the best things I have got out of it is connecting with like-minded people.
“It’s great to see other accounts on new build homes and get interior design ideas as well as meet other people.”
“There are a collection of people I speak to almost daily; sharing ideas with one another and offering each other opinions on the next projects we plan to undertake on our homes.
“These relationships that have helped the direction of the page in recent months, as I find my followers engage much more when I post cost-saving décor tips, DIYs and share my latest home purchases, just as you would do with your friends."
Katy's top tips for designing your home on a budget:
What are your top tips for up cycling/ DIY projects?
Do your research before starting a project and trust the process.
There are so many video tutorials online which are incredibly detailed and informative. I'd look at these first to understand both the time and cost involved before you commit to a big DIY, and make sure to follow the instructions to the letter to avoid your tufted headboard looking like a garden gate!
With most DIYs, things often look worse before they get better but with patience and perseverance you will be surprised at what you can achieve.
Where do you take your inspiration from?
So many places. Not only the work of interior designers and the homes of people on Instagram/Pinterest, but I also find inspiration in places I travel to, pictures in art galleries, clothing...
even the seasons!
For me, interior design is about creating a feeling when you walk into a room that is beyond just a visual experience, so I like to keep my mind open to the possibility of that
feeling, being evoked when engaging with different surroundings.
Would you like to pursue a career in interior design?
I would never say never, although I love my full time job and have no plans to change that. If I ever figured out a way to do both without compromising the quality of my work, I would probably consider it.
For now, however, interior design remains just an interest and a hobby for me.
What is your full-time job and is it easy to fit around the blog?
My full-time job is a financial Adviser. I would say I fit the Instagram blog around my day job, as opposed to the other way round, as my priority is to make sure I am always doing the best possible job I can for my clients. This sometimes means early starts or late nights, which, in turn, means my interior blog sometimes has to take a backburner.
I don't see this as a problem though as I believe the people who follow my page want somebody 'real', not somebody who can spend all day staging the perfect photo in their perfectly manicured home. I do the best I can with what I have - in both designing my house and balancing my blog with my day job.
How did the collaboration with Barratt Homes come about?
I was contacted directly by their PR team who had found my Instagram page.
It was very exciting to get recognition for designs I had come up with in my home, particularly as I have done it all on a tight budget. I actually went back and forth a lot on whether to by an old or new property, before finally committing to reserve a new build house with Barratt Homes. My decision to buy a new build ultimately came down to wanting a stress-free experience with my first home.
You can see more of Katy’s DIY projects and her designs visiting her Instagram page www.instagram.com/independentlykate/