Katie Gaskell, the designer behind Our Home on The Hill, an online interior design brand, tells us about how she found her passion for interior design, making the switch to running her business online and tips for you to fire up your creative side when looking at your own home. By Harry Palmer
Katie’s Instagram account has over 100k followers, and she recently worked with Lovell Homes to design a room for their new Gateway apartments in Manchester. This was Katie’s first major collaboration with a housing association as big as Lovell, which she had down as the moment when she realised her passion for interior design could become something more: “Being approached by a national housing developer was the real ‘pinch me’ moment. I was asked to design and install their show apartment at a development in Manchester, and the project was hugely successful. It’s only recently that I’ve come to realise how passionate I am about this type of work, and how I’d like to pursue it further.”
However, Katie’s career in design began from humble beginnings, and was as simple as choosing to document her own journey when decorating her home: “I’ve always been creative, but my interest in interiors began a few years ago when some friends renovated their house, and I was so inspired by what they’d done. I found myself scrolling Instagram and Pinterest, and when we began work on our own home, I decided to document the process with my own Instagram account.”
Katie was able to build a following on social media and use her Instagram platform to begin an effective business, however the social media space has a whole host of unique challenges when it comes to building an audience.
“I think the biggest challenge is the idea that I’m simply an ‘influencer’ getting lots of free stuff. I’ve always viewed this as a business, and perceived myself as someone who has something valuable to offer a brand. I create beautiful and inspiring photo and video content on behalf of brands and businesses, to help them market their product. It’s a job I’m extremely passionate about, and one which I’ve always taken seriously.” She said, when talking about the challenges of transitioning into working through social media.
Find your niche
For anyone looking to follow in Katie’s footsteps on social media, she had these words of advice: “There are no short cuts to success! It’s important to find your niche and understand what your audience wants from you. Take the time to create quality, valuable content which resonates with your followers and this way you’ll promote genuine engagement and trust with your audience. Engage, engage, engage! Engagement with other accounts and brands you love is key to building your ‘community’.”
Katie also had advice for those who are simply looking to begin decorating their own homes and are struggling to find their own styles when it comes to their interior design projects: “I think it’s important to take the time to really get a sense of your own tastes and style, rather than rushing decisions based on current trends.
“I’ve spent many hours scrolling through my favourite interiors accounts and taking inspiration from them, but it’s important to stay true to what you love also. Mood boarding is a great way to create a vision for a space in your home, so you can get a feel for how colours, fabrics and styles might work together.”
We also asked Katie about her personal favourite colour palettes to use when working with her designs, to which she answered by talking about her passion for more neutral, soothing colours: “I’m a neutrals girl at heart; using a neutral palette can create a classic, timeless space, and you can then add pops of colour through the seasons using soft furnishings like cushions, throws and rugs. A feature wall in a room can also create a different dimension without painting an entire space; a delicate pale pink shade like Dulux colour of the year ‘Sweet Embrace’ is perfect for a cosy bedroom or dressing room.”
When working with pale colours, Katie uses this as the perfect opportunity to bring the colour using decorations such as a vase and flowers as a centrepiece to a room: “I think it’s the little details, the finishing touches which really bring a space together. Faux flowers and foliage are my favourite decor item for any space; they’re great for seasonal styling, add a pop of colour and create a great focal point when styled in a statement vase.”
Although Katie has recently collaborated with Lovell, the project that first gained traction for her online was the process of decorating her own home, and she still has her living room as her favourite room she’s worked on.
“My favourite room by far has been our living room; it became a casualty of our kitchen renovations and was a sad, neglected, and dusty space. I spent a really long-time taking inspiration for this space and it was a long time in planning; we added alcove cabinets and redesigned the fireplace, and the finished room was so popular with my audience, it’s really at the heart of my account success.”
For any homeowners, the idea of moving into your new home is daunting enough, never mind how you want to design and decorate it once you’re settled in. We asked Katie about her best advice for new homeowners on how best to tackle projects such as decorating your first home: “I think the most important thing is not to make any quick decisions. Spend some time living in your home first to really get a feel for how you’d like it to be. Inspiration from others is great but stay true to what you love too – this way you’ll never fall out of love with the home you’ve created.”
“Keep things neutral and timeless – you can add lots of interest by adding beautiful art work, decor and soft furnishings. Focus on one room at a time to avoid becoming overwhelmed; create a mood board to help you visualise your ideas. Once you understand what you’re drawn to, you can use this to inform the aesthetic and colour scheme for the whole home to create a cohesive space that flows.”