WHEN Katie Woods bought her seven-bedroom Arts & Crafts house, little did she suspect it would put her on the path to Instagram stardom. Her bold choices in decor and vision for overhauling her Edwardian home in Leeds have turned her into one of the UK’s biggest interiors influencers, with more than 85,000 followers on the social media platform.
‘I didn’t know I had it in me,’ laughs dentist and mum-of-four Katie, 40. ‘And I didn’t know I’d go so crazy. I wanted something bold and different and I started with the living room and it went from there…’
Katie’s first leap into the world of interiors came when she tackled the living-room fireplace. It was the only room on the ground floor not to have a fire, so she installed a wood burner and false chimney breast and had to choose some tiles.
‘I mulled it over for quite a while and then went for it — I chose bold monochrome tiles. I find paint choices really easy — if you don’t like it just paint it back, take a risk!
‘When you’re tiling behind a fireplace, you’re never really going to take them off. But I’m a pattern junkie. I love a pattern and a clash.’
The tiles got the ball rolling and now the living room has a bold blue theme, tropical-print wallpaper, a monkey hanging off the light and a neon sign proclaiming ‘Come Down To The Woods’.
‘That’s my Instagram handle. I wanted a neon sign for ages. We do a lot of entertaining here — the kids bring their friends back — and I wanted something welcoming that said “Come on in, this is where I want to entertain you.’’’
While Katie’s approach to interior design is striking, the changes she’s made haven’t all been cosmetic. Soon after buying the house, the family moved out for four months while construction work got underway. They added a ten-metres-long glass extension to the rear of the property, which now contains a big open-plan kitchen and dining room, reconfigured the first floor — meaning that Katie and husband Chris now have a bedroom with en-suite bathroom and dressing room — and built a garage with utility room on the side of the house.
Because they live in a conservation area, they employed an architect to design a garage in keeping with the area so it would get through the planning application process.
Surprisingly for such a complicated project, the work was completed on time and on budget.
‘The builders were incredible,’ says Katie. ‘A friend recommended them as they had renovated her house. We got on with them so well that they came to my husband’s 40th birthday party.’
And Katie had an unusual request for the joiner — turning a former pantry into a secret study. ‘We had blocked up the former door and knocked out a cupboard, which was left looking like an alcove.
‘I asked if he could put a bookcase in there that, when you push it, opens up into the study. He said, “no problem” and whipped it up.
‘I wanted to have something different and when you walk around the house you always discover new things. It feels like it’s a house with history and secrets, so a secret study seemed appropriate.’
The study itself, which is resplendently fitted out with industrial furniture and tropical wallpaper, is one of Katie’s favourite rooms. Another is her downstairs toilet, which she painted black. She says: ‘It doesn’t have windows and people ask me why I didn’t paint it white, but I say embrace the darkness.
‘The house was decorated peach from top to toe. I kept the peach sink in the toilet as an ode to that, and added a neon light shaped like a peach.
‘I like things that are Marmite — that people either love or hate. When people say they don’t like something of mine I quite enjoy it.’
Like the black toilet, her pink bath also divides opinion. ‘It’s a freestanding, cast iron pastel pink bath in our ensuite. People love it or hate it. But it’s me and I made the decisions with my family in mind — we wanted a fun house.’ Katie originally joined Instagram to get some style inspiration for her new home. Now she’s part of the Instagram interiors community and her house features items from small businesses who promote their wares on the social media site — such as lamp designer Love Frankie. She now also runs a business organising interiors networking events.
While she has achieved a great deal with her home, she says she still isn’t finished. There are ambitious plans to modernise the top floor.
‘I’d love to create a room for our boys as they get older so they have somewhere they can take their friends. But that’s a job for when the money tree starts sprouting.’
Let’s hope the money tree is available in neon…
How to get the look
The Salina bar trolley brings together some serious bling and polished marble. Stack it up with your favourite tipples, or use as a glamorous side table. £329, swooneditions.com
Take a stand
Bang on trend, these mid-century ceramic planters sit on sturdy walnut tapered legs to help bring the outside in. £169, westelm.co.uk
Make a stylish statement with a beautiful lampshade crafted from real goose feathers to add a unique texture to your decor. Available in two sizes in light brown, light grey or white. From £69, roseandgrey.co.uk
The ideal statement — perhaps literally — a neon light adds character and the perfect finishing touch to any room. Choose your own words for a made-to-measure service, or keep it subtle with this cute heart. £59, bagandbones.co.uk
These wool do nicely
Keep cosy with these amazingly soft, chunky hand-knitted bed runners made from giant yarns of pure unspun merino wool. Available in various colours. £220, mizzknits.myshopify.com