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Decorate Like a Design Boss

Mar 15, 2022

Kimberly Grigg welcomes Kate Dryer, founder of Kate Decorates, to the show to explore beautiful family-centric decor on a “normal person budget”. Kate shares how she puts her belief that form and function can coexist in design into action. 

Kimberly and Kate debunk the theory that beautiful living must wait until children are grown. To that end, Kate breaks down the benefits of performance fabrics, how to test them for durability, and recommends carpet tiles as easy-to-replace solutions. They explain how to find a color palette based on a signature piece and where to find less expensive options for furniture and accessories.

Kate is an enthusiastic DIYer and Kimberly prompts her to divulge secrets on decorating with peel and stick wallpaper, ways to visually upgrade plain countertops without breaking your budget, and how to bring color and pattern into your spaces like a pro. Kate’s ability to create attainable beauty for any family home will surely inspire you in decorating yours.

About Kate Dryer:

Kate Dryer is a thirty something wife and mom to two kids and one incredibly energetic labradoodle. She started her blog, Kate Decorates, as a creative outlet in 2015 and has been DIY’ing and decorating ever since.

Their family’s 1980s builder-grade home in the Washington, DC suburbs (where she was born and raised), was a beige box when they bought it which wasn’t really her jam, so she immediately got to work adding color and pattern. Kate’s mission is to help busy families create beautiful, functional homes they love… and have fun in the process.

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You can find the show on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and Spotify.


Kimberly Grigg  00:00

Welcome to another episode of Decorate Like A Design Boss. And today I am so happy to share with you my new friend Kate Dryer. Kate is the founder of Kate Decorates where she's dedicated to sharing tips and tricks for creating a fun, functional and family friendly home. All on a normal person budget. Kate founded her business in 2016, shortly after giving birth to her second child. Despite searching Pinterest and her favorite magazines for attainable decorating advice that could help young families like her own, she quickly found that there were next to no resources out there for parents who wanted homes that were stylish enough for adults, but functional for life with kids and pets. You're gonna love Kate dryer. So let's welcome her as we discover all sorts of tips and tricks for family centered homes, but, not just that, for some very, very gorgeous decorating. Welcome to Decorate Like A Design Boss, a podcast for design lovers who want to create beautiful spaces in their very own homes. My name is Kimberly Grigg, and I'm a professional interior designer who teaches design lovers like yourselves how to decorate. And when I say decorate, I mean decorate like a design boss. If you're ready to create a space that your family loves, and your neighbors can't stop raving about, well, buckle up honey, because it's time to design. Well. Hi, Kate Dryer. I'm so happy to have you here.


Kate Dryer  01:58

Thank you so much, Kimberly, it is great to be here with you today.


Kimberly Grigg  02:02

Ah, well, I wish everyone could see how pretty you are and how pretty you look in your surroundings like, wow, this is perfect. I'm gonna have a good time watching.


Kate Dryer  02:13

Thank you. A box full of jewel tones, I guess.


Kimberly Grigg  02:16

There you go. And your sweater and everything is so color coordinated. So I want to kind of dive in, Kate. I mean, there's so many interesting things about you, including your cybersecurity background, and like all this cool stuff and your, your whole process, your brand. Kind of describe to me what it is that you do.


Kate Dryer  02:41

Sure. So about six years ago, after I had my second child, I needed a creative outlet. You know, it was... I heard someone say once - which now being a mom of more than than one I get it - they said 'one is one and two is twenty'. And I felt that so deeply at the time that my son was born. And so I started Kate Decorates, I started my blog, again, just kind of as a hobby for me to you know, have something to sort of, you know, maintain my own identity and give me some me time, which was great. But one thing that I noticed, as I was talking to a lot of my other friends who were at a similar stage in life, you know, they were just getting married, just starting families, everyone would come over to our house, and they would look around and say, Oh my gosh, you know, your home is just so calming and really put together and polished and like, Okay, how did you do that with two young kids and toddlers who make messes and hit their heads on the corner of tables and things like that. And it kind of dawned on me that there really was not a lot of information or great resources out there for parents who were a lot like myself, you know, just kind of starting out, but you know, needing their space to be functional, but also wanting to feel really good about their surroundings, especially during what's really a hectic time, I think, in a lot of people's lives. So fast forward to today. I actually left my full time marketing job a few months ago to focus full time on my design and doing consulting there. So it's been quite a ride, but it's been really fun, I think, to share really simple, easy family friendly decorating tips that people can, you know, put to use in a few minutes. You know, they're not difficult, it's not expensive, and it's just attainable and fun and makes you feel good about the home that you're in.


Kimberly Grigg  04:53

Love this. So I'm going to let you in on a secret. Well, it's not really a secret but something that is kind of interesting along these lines is I raised six kids in my home, and I can so relate. My youngest is now 21 and off at college, but I can so relate to how valuable this information is. I know for us, my husband would say things like, Why are you bothering? They're just gonna put peanut butter and jelly hands on everything. But I insisted that we live beautifully and that I have to somehow make the home function. So now that mine are grown, you're in the thick, you're in the thick of it. And so tell the listener, the audience, like, let's just dive in: what are some starting points for how people can live beautifully with children and peanut butter and jelly hands?


Kate Dryer  05:57

Right, and goldfish cracker crumbs and all those fun things? Yes. You know, one thing that I noticed, especially as a young parent, is that if your space feels chaotic, your life is going to feel chaotic. You know, home should be kind of your safe haven, a place that brings you joy and peace. And it is more important than people usually think to create something that you feel good about. And so I would say, you know, number one, think about how you want to live and how you want the space to feel. Do you want to decorate with neutrals and have it feel really calm and airy? Does, for example, like me, does color energize you, and does that bring a smile to your face? So think about what's going to make you happy, and then start to plan out, probably starting with... I always like to say start with the room that you spend the most time in and kind of create a plan for yourself and start there. It can be really overwhelming when you try to tackle too much at once. So focusing on one space in the beginning and getting that right, where you feel good about it, is really important. And then I think it gives you the confidence too to move on to other spaces in your home and sort of apply the same patterns, I guess.


Kimberly Grigg  07:23

Yes, and that's such good advice. I agree with you wholeheartedly. I tell people, Don't polka dot your house, like start somewhere and finish something so that while you're working on other spaces, you've got somewhere for the eye to rest. And I find that that's so important, because sometimes people will take their budget, we're going to talk about your cool thoughts about budget in a second, but they'll take that budget and they will start spending it in various areas of the home. And the next thing you know, you have nothing to show for your results. You got a lot of stuff. And you've done a lot of things but nothing is really complete. So I love the way that you said that. And one of the things that you also say that I'm very fond of, and this is right up my listeners' alley, is you like to decorate with normal people budget. So tell me a little bit about that. And how do you accomplish that?


Kate Dryer  08:26

Yes, I am so glad you asked. This is one of my favorite things to talk about because I think there's such a misconception in the design world that great design has to be expensive, which is absolutely not true at all. And so when I think of normal person budget, I think of, you know, I typically I'll put money into kind of the larger pieces that I know I'm going to have for a really long time. For example, you know, I have a great Crate and Barrel sofa in our living room that has been with us for years. It's withstood all kinds of incidents, and still looks great. So when you know there are those pieces that you're... they're kind of the heart of your room, I tend to invest a little more there. But when it comes to a lot of other pieces, you have to be realistic. So even thinking about, particularly with young kids, area rugs, okay? I would never at this stage in my life, invest in a really pricey rug. But the great news is there are so many different options today to find affordable decor, whether it's going to places like, you know, Target or Home Goods or looking online at places like Wayfair, there are so many different options that I think it is totally possible to mix and match in terms of kind of price, and just find ways to incorporate things that maybe look expensive but aren't, without without breaking the bank.


Kimberly Grigg  10:02

Yeah, so kind of even a high low, but like really sourcing and looking and I agree, I do feel like a steady piece, something that is a statement strong piece like your Pottery Barn sofa, but that also will withstand the hardships of everyday life, is a great place to start. So do you think that - can anyone learn to decorate?


Kate Dryer  10:31

I think so. You know, I was not always a decorating enthusiast myself, funny enough. I was always creative from a young age, but I love to write, and then I danced my entire life. And, you know, I think I've always had a good eye for design, but I've developed it, for sure, over the past couple years as I've become more interested in it. I think the other thing, you know, going back to kind of the normal person budget, the way that you can execute on that easily - because I think, you know, in theory, it sounds great, right, but somebody is probably sitting there going, Okay, this is cool and all but like how do I how do I do this in practice - having a plan for your space, and knowing what pieces you're looking for, is really, really important. And the other thing I would say is as a Type A person who is always in a rush to do everything, it like hurts my heart a little bit, but great decorating takes time, don't be in a rush to just kind of go out and get everything all at once and set up your room. It is just so much better if you can kind of make that list and think about, okay, I'm looking for a martini style side table or a rug with these colors in it. And kind of keep a list on your phone or in your pocket. So when you're out at stores or when you're, you know, shopping online, or, you know, at the local flea market, you can keep an eye out for those pieces, as opposed to just, you know, hitting the panic button and just getting things that are good enough in the moment.


Kimberly Grigg  12:13

So let's break that down even further. When you start your plan, let's say you walk into a space, tell me kind of step by step. What do you do? How do you develop that plan? How do you create your concept? How do you really, in a bare roots way, tell someone this is your process, this is how you do it?


Kate Dryer  12:36

Sure. Yeah, so the first thing I always like to do is just find out how people are going to use the space, how they use it today, or how they want to use it, because maybe their vision for it is a little bit different than how they're using it right now. So understanding the functionality of it is step number one, always. Then I like to understand kind of colors and things that they gravitate toward, you know, what colors, make them feel happy, what brings a smile to their face, are there certain, you know, places or experience or interests, maybe, that I can kind of listen to and figure out a way to bring those kind of feelings of those activities into the space. And then when I sit down to actually create a plan, I typically start with, in terms of figuring out a color palette and textures and things like that, I start with what I like to call the inspiration piece. And that is typically something that has a lot of color and pattern in it. So most of the time, that's, for me anyway, a piece of art. And then I build my color palette from there and then add in, keep in mind kind of the the functionality and ,you know, what the client has articulated that they want to use the room for, and I build it out that way.


Kimberly Grigg  14:04

I love that. I have a very similar approach often. And there's something about, especially when you start with a piece of artwork or a piece of fabric, there's something about so much of the work has already been done for you. And a) you already relate to it, and b) you can even take a smidgen of something that's in that - you like that word smidgen - something in that artwork and pull it out and can create some of the most unusual color schemes that exist. And I love to do that too, and I think that it also gives the average person who's trying to decorate some confidence, and you at least know that these things are going to work together. So I love that tip, that idea. Let's talk, let's kind of circle back round just a wee bit to when you're decorating for a family centered home, like speak to me about fabrics. And we talked a little bit about rugs and durability. And for that mom who says, I'm gonna wait until my kids graduate from high school to decorate my home because I don't want to spend money that is not going to necessarily be a long term investment, because there's peanut butter and jelly hands and all this stuff. So how do you kind of handle that with your clients in the spaces that you're creating?


Kate Dryer  15:38

Sure. So performance fabrics are your friend. There is just, for young families, there's no other way to go when when it comes to upholstered pieces. So I have - every room in my home and most of the spaces I design do include sofas and, you know, accent chairs that do have performance fabrics. And I tell my clients too, Okay if you really want to put this to the test, go to your local store where we're planning on getting the sofa from, ask for a fabric sample, take it home, and spill red wine and ketchup and grape jelly on it ,and like take your keys and rough it up. And that will give you a sense of how well it's going to last. You know, just like put it through the wringer, and make sure that okay, that's gonna work for us. The other thing that I like to do as well, because a lot of people are concerned about textiles, particularly like throw pillows, when we're decorating a space, a lot of times for my clients, and you know, even in my own home, I use outdoor pillows. Because, you know, I think if you look back years ago, outdoor pillows were not available in as many fun colors and fabrics as they are today. I mean, right now you can pretty much get almost any fabric and design in an outdoor really durable fabric. So that's another thing that I like doing. They're just easier to clean and withstand a lot more. And then the last thing that, you know, I typically look at is when it comes to rugs, you have a couple options. I think, yes, you can buy kind of a less expensive rug where, hey, if something happens, you're not going to cry if you have to throw it in the trash. But there are two other options that I really like, both of which I have in my own home as well. So one is I love carpet tiles. So there's a particular brand  Flor, F-L-O-R, and they have some carpet tile sets that basically look like really lovely, you know, area rugs. And that's great because if something happens, you pull up the tile, you clean it, if it's messed up beyond repair, you just order a new tile instead of having to kind of, like, throw the baby out with the bathwater so to speak. So that's great.


Kimberly Grigg  18:09

I love floor tiles, I used those when my kids were growing up, I thought they were amazing. And inevitably that would happen. I mean, I remember my 11 year old daughter spilled fingernail polish. And all I had to do was just replace two tiles and off we went, and I bought extra cartons when we started and it just worked out.


Kate Dryer  18:33

That's a great idea, buying the extra.


Kimberly Grigg  18:35

Yes. And just for the listener who doesn't know what we're talking about, these tiles come in... I know they used to come in 12 by 12s but now I'm sure they have multiple sizes, and they are literally tiles that you can put down just like a carpet. And you can pull them up and replace anything that gets damaged. It's wonderful. For families, for pets, for any, for rental properties, AirBNBs, I can't say enough great things about the usage of products like this. So yeah.


Kate Dryer  19:12

Yes. And I have to say, so we've had, I think three different floor rugs now. They have outlasted kind of my basically urge to redecorate, because I've never gotten rid of them because they're in bad shape. It's just like, oh, okay, we want to refresh the room and now I need a new rug. And I do have to laugh too because the only person who spilled something on our rug is me. I spilled a cup of coffee and cleaned it up with baby wipes and no problem.


Kimberly Grigg  19:43

And there you go. And so many of today's materials do speak to this. You know, somewhere along the line the manufacturing industry really got savvy to the way that people need to live. And it's not just people with children, it's people with messy husbands, it's people who, like you just said, spill coffee. I mean, I spill coffee too, or tip over a glass of red wine, or the spaghetti plate falls, or whatever - I mean, life is to live. And I know that when I was growing up, my family didn't use a lot of things, like we had towels that were the guest towels and you never touched those. And I'm sure they probably had dust on them eventually. But we used the regular towels, and I made it a life's mission, and I bet you have too Kate, that I don't want anything in my house that I can't use. I can't stand to see an unlit candle. I can't stand... I have a dining room now that I'm completely changing because we don't use it. And why have it? I mean, I'm not up for once a year, that's just not enough usage for me. And it's just a wasted space. So I love it when people use their homes, I think people are freeing up a little bit to utilize their things. I think that's been a big thing since bloggers and people started decorating with all these fabulous materials that we have now. But I still get pushback, and I want to know your answer, I still get pushback from that mom who doesn't want to decorate right now, who literally feels like she's just gonna wait and save her money until the kids are older, and they can somehow accommodate the home a little better instead of the home accommodate them better. So how do you handle that? And what do you what do you say to that mom?


Kate Dryer  21:49

Yeah, that's a great question because I've definitely gotten into conversations with people about this exact topic. So number one, you know, I like to gently remind people that there's a reason you contacted me, right? There is, you know, there was some trigger, where you looked at your home and were not happy with it. And were just like, Okay I'm fed up, I'm frustrated, and I want someone to help me create something that I really love. I also dig into kind of how spaces make people feel. And I will ask questions like what I just said: How do you feel when you wake up in the morning and come downstairs to your great room? Or, Do you enjoy having people over? Are you proud of the spaces that your family and your friends see? And typically no one is giving a resounding, like, Yes they're awesome. And so I also, in that moment too, I think it's good to remember that you can also start small. And so if someone is kind of on the fence about whether they want to put some money into it now or just, like you said, save up for the quote/unquote, real decorating later on, I like people to think about, well, let's, instead of tackling, you know, your living room, your kitchen and your dining room, let's focus on one area. Let's kind of work through this process together, and figure out, when we get to the end of it, how are your feelings different than they were when we when we started the process?


Kimberly Grigg  23:35

Yeah, and I bet that it's sort of like a snowball effect. I'm sure it is for you as well, you get that one room looking all pretty, and you start to notice that if done correctly, and if you've really considered who lives there, how they live, what the obstacles are, what the solutions to the obstacles are, then suddenly you have a room that functions, you have a room that lives well, you have a room that is so aesthetically pleasing that nine times out of ten that client will forget that Oh the pushback was all about my kids are young, and say this is so great I want to do this in the rest of my home. And I want to feel good about walking in my front door instead of just one room and I find people let up a little bit. And I encourage my listener to really put some thought into this. Do you really want to wait? Do you want to deprive yourself of living beautifully because you have young children? Or do you want to incorporate them, and we're going to really get into some of your DIY stuff, do you want to incorporate them? Because I also have found, and again raising six children in a home and insisting that it be beautiful and functional, I felt like by exposing my children to pretty, they became more reverent of the pretty, nothing really was ever broken in my house - to your point about the coffee, except my husband threw a nerf ball at or to one of the children and it knocked over a vase. The children didn't do it, my husband did it. And you know, and we lived through it, no biggie. But when kids learn that pretty is around them, they learn to respect that those things are there. And when they go to other people's homes, they're more respectful, in my opinion, of other people's things and the way that they live because they've just sort of been around it, exposed to it. Do you feel that way?


Kate Dryer  25:51

Oh, I completely agree with you. That is a great point. Because I think when, you know, and I've had clients where they're like, Oh well my in laws gave us this couch, and it's fine. But I think yes, absolutely, there is a tendency when you are living with pieces that you really don't have a vested interest in, it's really easy for... to see the kids jumping on the couch, or the dog jumping up, and you kind of shrug your shoulders and turn a blind eye, but then that behavior and that mentality is kind of set. And you don't want that for all the reasons that you mentioned. The other thing, I think, too, that has been helpful for me with my own kids, is we've decorated both of their rooms, and they have been really involved in the process. And you know, certainly yes, okay, I like a little bit of control over what the final product is going to look like, what a surprise, I give them choices, and I give them a voice, and want to make sure we're creating something that they feel really good about. So for example, my husband and my son built bunk beds for his room. And my son, I mean, he was, I guess he was five at the time, he actually painted the frame of the bunk bed. So I think when you can find moments to involve your kids in that process, I think it results in exactly what you mentioned Kimberly, is them having a deeper respect for their surroundings, for their things, and then that's going to translate for the rest of their life, which is great.


Kimberly Grigg  27:33

Yes. So I want to segue a little bit because I think, you know, we've talked a lot about how to live beautifully with obstacles. Now let's talk about how to live beautifully. And so I'm looking around at your beautiful spaces and of course I've been totally stalking you with your website and your Instagram and all of that, and your aesthetic is so lovely and a couple of things that I've noticed, and I do want you to speak to this, is girl you are not afraid of color. And what I've noticed, though, is you have a wonderful way of inserting wall color without it being overpowering. For example, I'm looking at the room that you're in with a beautiful shade of green on the walls and then it looks like a maybe a navy sofa and, so speak to me about how does someone not - especially with all the white in the world that we're living with, everything's white, white, white, white, white, white, white, and you know we're besieged with Pinterest and everything else like paint your walls white, paint your walls neutral, paint your walls, you know all that stuff - but yet here you are living in this gorgeous space and the walls are definitely not white. Tell me how you arrived at that and how you help people feel confident about putting a color on their wall.


Kate Dryer  29:11

Yeah, well, thank you for the kind words, first of all. When it comes to painting walls a saturated color, I still go back to what we talked about before: thinking about kind of that inspiration piece. When you are designing, for me actually it informs because we basically have no doors on any of the rooms on our first level, it informs everything I do on the entire first floor of our home. And so I think with... the biggest thing to remember when you do choose a wall color, like the green that I have here, which green is my favorite color so it wasn't a hard sell, although I will say my husband definitely questioned this decision but he got on board and painted anyway, like God bless him. But I think when you are painting walls a saturated color, for me at least, it's important in any room for your eye to kind of have a place to rest so that saturated color doesn't feel overwhelming. So if you're going bold on the walls, try to incorporate more neutrals. And you know, maybe textures, instead of more color and pattern, to still make the space interesting but not overwhelming. I just had a conversation with a client the other day, actually, who just has an amazing eye for design. And one thing we were talking about is that when you're decorating a room, not everything can be the superstar. Because when you have, you know, too many shining stars in a single room together, it's overwhelming. And you're just not sure where to look. And it starts to feel a little chaotic.


Kimberly Grigg  30:57

I call that 'one wow per room'.


Kate Dryer  30:59

Yes, yes, exactly, exactly. So with the green walls, you know, as you mentioned earlier, we have a navy blue sofa, we have, which you can't see, a tan and white area rug. And then aside from the pictures over here, you know, we don't have a lot of, I would say like extra elements. I have a white shelf back here that holds some toy bins, again in a neutral color. So I tried to kind of tone everything down around it, knowing that the green walls in and of themselves do make quite a statement.


Kimberly Grigg  31:35

Agreed. Although I do notice that you have some yummy patterns mixing up and I've noticed this in your work as well. So you mix patterns as boldly as you decide to put a color on the wall. A lot of people are terrified of patterns. So how do we get them comfortable with pattern and even mixing pattern?


Kate Dryer  32:00

Yes, it all goes back to, again, you know, start with that inspiration piece, you take all your color from there. And then, you know, I typically... I know a lot of people have different rules for mixing patterns. I like to think of it as basically make sure the patterns that you're choosing are visually different. And I work usually in the rule of threes. So thinking about, you know, okay, you can see behind me I have a buffalo check pillow, I have an embroidered colorful striped pillow, and then I have one that's more abstract in green. So a lot of the formulas, I think, that you read about on design blogs and in magazines are like: go with a geometric, go with a floral, or a more abstract pattern. And then for the third I say either go with a solid or you could incorporate some texture, for example. But I think working in the rule of threes is helpful because it can be easy, I think, to get carried away and not necessarily know when okay, I have enough here that it's going to be beautiful without being overwhelming. So typically yeah, I would say start in threes. And then go from there.


Kimberly Grigg  33:22

Love that. That is such great advice for the listener. And you got to go to Kate's website to see the way that she incorporates what she just said, it's so beautiful and interesting. And it keeps, I think, things from getting, like, again that polka dot feeling, like you could have a strong wall and then a strong sofa and then some solid pillows and the whole look would sort of be not right. But the movement in the artwork and the movement in the textures and the patterns of the pillow bring it all home in such a nice nice way. So you make things look so easy, Kate. Like that looks so effortless to me. And at the same time I was reading through some of your DIY stuff and I'm transitioning to DIY because a lot of my listeners love projects. So speak to me about some of your more successful DIY projects and how you brought them about, like tell me what you did and what someone at home could do that could have max impact.


Kate Dryer  34:42

Absolutely. So I am, I will say like a light DIYer. I'm not, you know, building bookshelves and built ins and things from scratch - actually my husband does which is very convenient. In those situations I'm the supervisor, not the person doing the building. I like, you know, easy DIY projects that you can do in a weekend or less. So a couple that I have done that I have really loved, so a couple actually have to do with wall treatments. You can see in my background, that there's patterned wallpaper in our foyer.


Kimberly Grigg  35:22

And I love, by the way, just love that, by the way,


Kate Dryer  35:26

Thank you. Thank you, it was, you know, it was... we have gray door, gray walls, it was very boring beforehand and I just felt like, you know, it's kind of cornered off nicely, because you have the coat closet and the stairs there, so it was the perfect nook to inject a little bit of personality. And so the wallpaper that you see is actually peel and stick wallpaper. Don't get me wrong, I love traditional wallpaper, but I am also to a degree like a little bit scared of commitment, and we're gonna long term. And this was our first kind of foray with wallpaper in general. So wanting to do something a little bit safer. But I think I spent less than $100 on wallpaper on Showed up on my doorstep in two days and, I mean, it completely changed the look of our foyer. We did the same thing in our powder room on the main floor as well. It used to be a pretty boring, beige box. And, you know, lucky for me my husband added some wainscoting in there. And then we ended up putting, again, peel and stick wallpaper in a really pretty floral pattern with yellows and blues and greens above that. I mean talk about like an instant burst of sunshine.


Kimberly Grigg  36:47

So I'm looking at the foyer that you're speaking of because we're on screen together. And no one else can see this right now. But I am here to tell you, as a witness, I can imagine that space without that wallpaper, and you're right, it would have been a nothing. And because you do have a bit of an open floor plan, even, like you don't have doors, but... so you're open, your rooms are open to one another, I could only imagine how boring that would have been, or lackluster against these beautiful green walls that are sort of a showstopper. You needed something with strength to carry, something that could stand on its own. And, and that does it. I love the pattern choice especially. But I've got to ask you, I've not worked with peel and stick wallpaper. So how hard was it?


Kate Dryer  37:47

It wasn't hard. And the great thing is, if you mess up,you can take it off and do it again.


Kimberly Grigg  37:53

So you basically just... is it pre cut and you just, like, put it on and roll it? Or what do you do?


Kate Dryer  38:00

It comes in typical rolls just like a traditional wallpaper would. And, you know, we used let's see, a level, a razor blade, a pencil just to mark different areas of the wall where we needed to attach the piece of paper. And there is, of course you can get a smoothing tool. We we did not get a smoothing tool and just use our hands instead but that ended up being fine. But it was it was really easy.


Kimberly Grigg  38:30

Great to know. I have a lot of people ask me about peel and stick and I have not personally done that. So I was curious with someone who has done it. So it sounds like what a great idea and what a breeze and you can remove it and you're good to go, right? So this is great for renters, this is great for people moving into apartments, that kind of thing, or the ones who don't want to make a commitment. It would be great for me because my home is my laboratory and my husband says you change the walls in our homes like you change your underwear, which is probably true. So another DIY project that you've done that sounds fascinating to me and very helpful is a $10 trick to display your kids art. And I guess it could be anyone's art, I don't know. But, so tell us about that.


Kate Dryer  39:27

Yes. So in our previous playroom I wanted to create a place where we could display all the creations that the kids were bringing home from school. So I kept it really simple. We had a big blank wall and I ended up getting picture wire and eye screws and creating basically almost like a clothesline, in a way, for the artwork and then I got colorful clothespins to be able to display the art. And it was great it, you know, 1) it took up a lot of space and kind of helped us fill in what used to be a big blank wall. So that was great. 2) it was, because we were using clothespins, it was so easy to swap out the different pieces of art. And 3) I think, my kids anyway, they love seeing their creations displayed in our home. I have framed some of it, but, you know, obviously, gosh, they're bringing home so much stuff, you can't frame all of it.


Kimberly Grigg  40:31

Yes, so true. And I love that because the kids could actually change it out. Instead of you having to do it, it gives them some ownership in displaying what they have. I love that tip.


Kate Dryer  40:43

Exactly, yeah, my son in particular is really good about saying, Hey, I just did this, can we swap out this print over here for the new thing I just brought home, so it is cool to see them be excited about it and want to take part in that.


Kimberly Grigg  40:58

Yeah. So you also talk about making a faux slate countertop. Now how did you do this, and because a lot of people have not so ideal countertops, especially in places like laundry rooms or play rooms or things of that nature. And sometimes they don't have the budget to go out and just buy stone or tile or whatever for that countertop. So this sounds very clever. Tell me about this.


Kate Dryer  41:25

Thank you. Yeah, so our laundry room is in our basement. And again, like a lot of the other rooms in our home when we moved in, was just sort of a big, boring beige box. And obviously, with two young kids, we spend a lot of time in the laundry room. So I wanted to do something that just made it feel a little bit more cheery without spending a ton of money. So I used chalk paint to paint our cabinets. And then, this is a bit of an experiment, but I used chalkboard paint, just flat black paint, to paint over our laminate countertops. And now it, you know it worked well because there's no water or moisture on top of the counters here. We strictly use them for folding clothes, so they don't see a lot of wear and tear. But there are so many good options for updating your countertops these days, you know, I have seen people use chalk paint on their counters, I know that there are kits you can buy at, you know, the big hardware stores to kind of mimic the look of granite or marble. And then another thing that actually a few of my blogger friends have done, that I have loved, is that there is a company called Easy Counter Renewals and it's essentially almost like contact paper that looks like marble that you put over your counters


Kimberly Grigg  42:46

Ooh how cool. That sounds really great. Especially if you have a home that, again, maybe the budget won't allow new countertops, maybe it's not your forever home, maybe you don't want to spend, but you want to make things look a little better while you're there, kind of thing, these are some wonderful options and solutions. And I have to say, though, this must take courage, you must be very courageous, because if you haven't done it, and then you decide to wallpaper your foyer, or you decide to paint your countertops with chalk paint, like how do you get the courage? How do we give people confidence to embark on something like that?


Kate Dryer  43:32

I think there's always a Plan B, right? There's always another option. And I also tell myself, as funny as this might sound, and this actually hits close to home because we recently, kind of on a whim, ripped the carpet off of our staircase that leads from the main level to our upper level without really having a lot of experience in redoing staircases. But I think, like I said, there's always another way you can approach it. Or too, you know what, you can always make a phone call to a professional if something really goes south.


Kimberly Grigg  44:11

Sure, sure. And I think good design has a lot to do with developing a practice and really honing in on that practice, just like yoga. And I think that good design, once you have a little confidence really, and one way to get confidence is to take risk, and once you have a little confidence, good design, really, especially when you get into the category of things that are extraordinary, it's because you took some risk. And because you were brave enough to do so. And the homes that really become stellar have that combination of confidence and risk taking, don't you think?


Kate Dryer  45:00

Yeah. No, I agree. And I think too, especially when it comes to DIYs, I mean, you know, taking cues too from people around you. And that doesn't necessarily mean copying exactly what someone else is doing, but sort of learning from, and picking up tips and tricks along the way, from other people who maybe have tried similar things, to whatever it is you want to do. Because, you know, I'm not the first person to ever paint a countertop, but there probably aren't a lot of people out there who have said, Okay, I have leftover chalkboard paint. How else can I use it in my home?


Kimberly Grigg  45:39

Yes, yes. And, you know, I think that, to your point, there's so many things you can do. But the design enthusiast has a way of reading blogs, listening to podcasts, studying Pinterest, studying Instagram, all these things, to me that's part of the practice. And it's part of how you develop your eye, and really can hone in on what it is you love, or start to narrow, or weed out what you might love, but you don't want to live with in your own space. So, Kate, I could talk to you all day about all these fabulous ideas, and these tips and all of this stuff. And what a wealth of information. And a lot of this people can find on your blog, and on your website, and of course your Instagram, and I want to get into how those contacts work. But I always conclude with a signature question. And kind of think of it as a billboard of what you would be saying to the world about your craft or what you stand for in this craft. And I pose the question this way: if you had a hashtag on your tombstone, what would it say?


Kate Dryer  47:09

Oh, wow. Hmm. That is a good one. You may have stumped me. Ah, let's see. Attainable beauty.


Kimberly Grigg  47:23

Oh, that's really beautiful. And to me, it's what you stand for. When I first noticed your work, and I really noticed because obviously I asked you to be on my podcast, so I was drawn to it. Because I can tell that you are living life in a beautiful way. And I could tell immediately by your work that that was important to you. And my mission is to encourage people to do that, to live their lives in a beautiful way that is meaningful to them. Not what I consider beautiful, necessarily, but what they consider beautiful. So I love the way that you said that because to me, that is what your work embodies. And I think that is to be championed. So yay, hat's off to you. Now tell everyone how they can find you, get in touch with you, all those things. Like where do they look at this beautiful body of work?


Kate Dryer  48:34

You can find my brand, Kate Decorates, on my website, of course. And it's So no "m" on the end of the URL. And you can find me on Instagram as well. My handle is @Kate_Decorates.


Kimberly Grigg  48:52

Fabulous. And for you listeners, you really want to check this out. It is breathtaking work. And Kate, thank you so much for being here and for sharing all of this great information. I really appreciate it.


Kate Dryer  49:09

Thank you. It's been so fun talking with you today.


Kimberly Grigg  49:12

You too. I hope you enjoyed getting to know Kate Dryer as much as I did. What a talented young gal. She is chock full of great tips and tricks for making your home not only attainable, but drop dead gorgeous. I loved this conversation and I'd love to hear from you how you enjoyed it and how we're doing on this podcast. Please leave a review. And I'll love it if you would subscribe and share this podcast with someone you think might benefit. And as I like to say don't wait: today is a great day to decorate. Bye for now. 


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