Home Tour: Inside Katherine Vo's O.C. Pad
When you think of a young Hollywood actress' home, the words "budget-friendly," "DIY," and "750 square feet" don't usually come to mind. But for Katherine Vo, these were words she embraced after five years of living the LA life. With zero furniture between them, Katherine and her husband created their home from scratch. The result? A cozy-chic abode filled with luxe and sophisticated DIYs you'd never know were done by a novice.
Given a blank slate, where did the design process start? Did you have a theme in mind or key pieces you knew you wanted? KV: It can actually be daunting to begin with a blank slate because you can do pretty much anything, but I decided to start with the color scheme. I had such a blast scouring the internet for inspiration. From Pinterest to interior design publications like Lonny Magazine and Elle Decor, to lifestyle blogs and resource sites like The Everygirl, I looked everywhere for ideas! I literally browsed hundreds and hundreds of photos of bedrooms, living rooms, and vignettes and acquired a library of images that spoke to me, no matter what they looked like or whether or not I planned on emulating that look. I guess it was a bit of an intuitive process. I simply wanted to call upon my subconscious to identify whatever caught my attention. Afterward, I started to look for a pattern within my collection of images and analyze what had repeatedly resonated with me. I realized that I often bookmarked interiors that had white walls, with splashes of blue, black, or pink, and gold accents. From there I began to create my color palette and overall aesthetic.
What were some of the challenges you faced in decorating your home? KV: Going off of the previous question regarding my instinctive approach to developing a theme, the challenges I faced went from "what do I like/want?" to now "how do I create this with a limited budget?" and "will this work with my space?" The budget was a constant reality check but it forced me to get resourceful and creative, hence all my DIY endeavors. Another challenge I had was making my living room cozy. Before this apartment, I never gave coziness a second thought and therefore never realized just how difficult it can be to create it. After studying the art of cozification online, I learned that you need lots of texture (fur is the best), close spacing of furniture (to bring the room in), pillows, and tons of candles to produce warmth and comfort. A good shag rug is also essential.
Speaking of the sofa, what prompted you to go with blue velvet? Collective conventional wisdom from the interior design community states that we should invest in neutral sofas to maximize versatility. Were you ever afraid of investing in such a boldly colored sofa? KV: Sofas are often the stars of the living room so from the get-go I wanted a statement sofa. I initially opted for velvet because it just looks so luxurious and inviting. It's a rich texture that is comfy cozy yet stylish and chic at the same time. And blue is a color that's very versatile, so it could go with an array of different colored throw pillows. It was definitely a tough choice though pondering whether to play it safe with a neutral couch or take a risk with color! I vacillated between the two for months, but ended up deciding on color because I wanted to live in the moment and satiate my desire for the bold choice. The problem with living in the moment though is that the moment constantly changes. Unfortunately, this is not practical for your wallet when your tastes and preferences are always evolving. If money isn't an issue, I'd say go for it! Don't be afraid of color if that's what you're currently lusting for, or if that's your favorite color and you'll always love it. But if you change your mind and style often, listen to conventional wisdom and stick with the neutrals!
We firmly believe that being on a budget is the mother to all DIY. Tell us about your DIY projects and any tips you have to share. KV: I did a lot of DIY pieces thanks to the plethora of brilliant tutorials online. My wax paper capiz shell chandelier, fur stools, pouf ottomans, bubble chandelier, and blue nightstands would not have been possible if it weren't for the collective guidance of the creative minds of the blogosphere. Everything I did was my first time, and I had so much fun getting inspired by others and finding ways to make projects my own and unique by adding adjustments and embellishments.
KV: My biggest advice for DIY: If it feels like work, don't do it. Sometimes it's better to try to purchase something if the thought of making it stresses you out. You don't want to get frustrated half way and quit a project because it's too difficult. If I saw a fantastic DIY idea online but it seemed like too much work, I looked for something else. It had to excite me and be attainable and realistic with my skills. Certain projects, such as my wax paper chandelier, campaign dresser or blue nightstands, are tedious and take a few days to complete. It wasn't always easy but I tried to enjoy the whole process as much as possible. DIY is best when it's fun. The more you love doing it, the better your projects will turn out.
KV: One of the easiest and simplest DIY project that I did was making my own decorative trays. Trays can be pricier than you expect, so I used the lids of boxes and picture frames (just remove the backing). They're not strong and can't actually transport anything, but if you're just looking for a stationary tray atop a table, dresser, bar, nightstand, or coffee table, they'll do the trick. I just cover the tray in decorative tape or use pretty fabric or paper to cover the bottom. Voila.
I also found the ability to sew my own throw pillow covers an extreme advantage. Pillow covers can be ridiculously expensive, especially the ones with designer prints. Even if you find the discounted ones from TJ Maxx or Target, they can still cost $20 per pillow. Multiply that by 4-6 pillows and it can add up! I simply purchased cheap pillow inserts from Ikea (or you can just cover existing pillows) and then went to town at my local fabric store. I got to customize my sofa to my liking but without breaking the bank.
What are your favorite resources for shopping on a budget? Tell us about your best score. KV: Estate sales, IKEA, and Craigslist. Ikea was definitely the easiest resource. I probably went to Ikea as often as I went to work during the months I decorated. Estate sales were more of a hit and miss and took a bit of work because they can be all over the place and often you have to get there on the very first day or the good stuff will be taken. You will have to compete with estate sale sharks! But if you can wait until the last day everything is usually half off. Craiglist is my favorite resource because you can shop from your computer and you can get anything off it. Plus, I value the personal connection and interaction that comes from buying something directly from another person versus a vendor or store. It's a completely different shopping experience. I also like second-hand items because not only are they cheaper but you're essentially recycling. My best score would probably be all of my vintage rattan pieces (a swivel chair, foot stool, magazine rack and sofa side table) that I got from Craigslist. They were absolutely free!
Do you have any other budget-friendly tips for making your home look like a million bucks? KV: Two words: spray paint. I simply created the illusion of high end by spray painting furniture and decor. We ultimately went through over 20 bottles of spray paint! I painted everything from the coffee table, dressers, lamps, and chair frames to smaller things like picture frames, lamp shades, lamp cords, drawer pulls/knobs, and the glass balls on my bubble chandelier. I particularly used a lot of gold paint. I think painting something gold can instantly upgrade its look and make it appear more expensive and high-end, so I used that trick quite a bit.