Kara & Her Home
Chances are pretty darn good that you've seen at least one of Kara Whitten's pattern-packed creations somewhere along the way. As founder of the popular DIY blog, A Kailo Chic Life, and contributor to big-name sites like A Beautiful Mess and Lovely Indeed (to name just a couple), it's safe to say that Kara's work has taken the colorful crafting world by storm.
And we're happy to report that Kara's penchant for poppy hues and sparkle carries right on over to her home! The Whitten abode is filled top to bottom with lovingly handmade details, and, as we came to find out, the entire family gets in on the fun.
Keep reading to find out how Kara has managed to pass her love for all-things handmade on to her creative children, plus find out how her role as DIY extraordinaire has directly influenced the décor of her open-concept space in Austin, TX.
Tell us about your blog, A Kailo Chic Life. When did you launch the site, and why?
I began A Kailo Chic Life in March of 2015 as a new creative outlet. At that time, I had been in business for 10 years creating and selling laptop bags, clutches and accessories, but was beginning to feel burnt out on sewing and making the same thing over and over again. I decided to launch my blog so that I wasn’t limited to any one thing and could try making any projects I dreamed up.
What advice would you give to fellow creatives looking to start a blog?
My first bit of advice would be to start your blog out with your own hosting and domain name. I started with Blogger and am still trying to make my way over to a self-hosted blog. Second, be consistent with posting. Even if it is just once a week, try to post consistently so that your readers know when new content will be up for them to see. And lastly, I would say to look to others and trends for inspiration, but try to think outside the norm when creating. This will help set you and your blog apart.
How has having a DIY craft blog affected the décor of your home?
Well, the décor definitely gets moved around and changed out much more often. I am always stealing pieces from around my house to style new posts, and no gallery wall ever stays up for long! I have always loved color and patterns and they have always been a major part of my décor. One noticeable change is that my décor now features so many of my own creations—everything from pillows and vases to candles. It’s fun when I can decorate an entire space with pieces I created.
Who do you love to follow on Instagram?
Got any tips for those of us looking to decorate an open-concept living room/kitchen like yours?
Everyone that comes to my home always comments on all the color I have going on, but if you look closely, you will see that the base of all my spaces is made up of neutral whites, grays and sometimes navy blue. By painting the walls light, neutral colors, I can add in pops of color in the accessories (think: pillows, vases, art), which can all be easily changed out as needed. This also helps create a cohesive design in an open concept. While the patterns or colors may change from one space to the next to create a visual separation for each living space, the neutral colors help make the open concept more cohesive and blend together seamlessly.
How do you combat creative slumps?
The best way for me to get my creative juices flowing again is to step away and take a day off. On these recharge days, I love to go shopping at a few local design stores, and just get out into the city. I almost always see new designs, patterns and colors that inspire me to create new things. It also just helps getting out of my routine and let my brain breathe and relax for a bit.
I am always stealing pieces from around my house to style new posts, and no gallery wall ever stays up for long!
Where do you find inspiration for your DIY projects?
It may seem silly, but when I am trying to think of new designs and DIYs I can do, one of the first questions I ask myself is, “If I went into Target, what would I like to see sitting on the shelves?” This always gets my brain flowing with ideas of unique vases, candles, napkins, plates, glasses, etc. Then, of course, I get a ton of inspiration from just going out and shopping. I will see expensive pieces that I want to try to replicate or colorful items that give me ideas for new color combos. Inspiration really is everywhere!
Can you name a few favorite supplies in your craft closet?
When you eat out, where do you usually go?
Because I have two young kids, we usually go out to family-friendly restaurants, Chuy’s Tex-Mex being our favorite. Of course, pizza is always a go-to, but we tend to make the rounds to all the pizza restaurants in Austin. Via 313 and Toss Pizzeria are our current favorites.
How would you describe your personal style?
Is colorfully understated a thing? Funny enough, I dress similar to the way I decorated my house—neutrals with pops of color. The color pops can be anything from turquoise jeans, to a fun patterned shirt or colorful shoes, but then I pair them with neutrals. And as much as I love color, black or navy blue almost always seems to be a part of every outfit.
Favorite DIY project to-date?
This is such a tough one, as I really do love so many of the projects I have made, but I think my current favorite are my gradient planters that I made from a few pieces from IKEA and a bit of spray paint. They are just so fun and colorful and look great in every space in my home (and trust me, they get moved around often!).
What do you love to do most with your family around Austin during the summer season?
It gets hot in Austin, so any activity that includes water is always good. My kids love playing at splash pads or at the pool, and we also love going to local museums (to cool off and learn) and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center for nature nights. My hometown of Wimberley (about 30 minutes outside of Austin) has an outdoor theater that plays family-friendly movies on the weekends out under the stars, so you can find us there often, too!
What's your favorite holiday to craft for? Can you share a favorite holiday DIY?
Hands down, that has to be Christmas. This past year, I had a blast creating an entire colorful Christmas look with all my DIYs, recipes and cocktails. It was so much fun to reimagine the holidays in my own colorful way. My favorite holiday DIY has to be when I decorated my tree with a huge balloon garland! It was so different, but seriously the best tree we have ever had!
How have you managed to pass your creativity along to your children?
The creativity gets easily passed because I am always making things around them and having them help me with projects in small ways. Both of them are always by my side asking to craft and they love looking on Pinterest for ideas. We also love to cook together. I think children just want to be a part of whatever their parents are doing, so by creating with them, they start to become creative thinkers on their own and enjoy creating as much as I do (maybe even more sometimes!).
I get a ton of inspiration from just going out and shopping. I will see expensive pieces that I want to try to replicate or colorful items that give me ideas for new color combos. Inspiration really is everywhere!
Got any tips for mamas looking to teach their own kids to be artistic?
I would say the easiest way is to just make things with your kids. Explore, show them new techniques and craft materials. If you love it, they will likely love it, too.
What's next for you and your brand/blog?
As I mentioned, I have been in business for 12 years now creating everything from bags to women’s accessories. The blog has reinvigorated my love of product design and I am currently creating a line of home décor and gift products that I ended up showing at a gift show in Atlanta last month. I am taking my creativity beyond DIY projects into tangible products that everyone can buy for their own home even if they aren’t crafty. As for the blog, I will continue to use it to stretch my creative muscles and create projects that I would love to see made into products one day. Hopefully one day you will see Kailo Chic products in all the major retailers!
You can help Kara with her newest endeavor by checking out her Kickstarter.