When you step into Katie Hart’s San Diego home, a few adjectives will suddenly come to mind: delightful, bright, and eclectic immediately came to ours. Her Tudor style home, which she rents with her sister, has a natural vintage quality thanks to the arched hallways and large windows. That vintage charm blends seamlessly with her propensity for decorating with a mid-century modern aesthetic. Think simple furniture with clean lines and vibrant colors in shades of coral and turquoise. Katie’s creativity isn’t only seen through her interior design skills, but also through her hand-lettering and illustrating talents. That natural knack and passion for illustrating, plus some good old-fashioned risk taking, prompted Katie to open up her own paper company, Odd Daughter Paper Co. Go ahead and take a look at her stationary designs–we’re sure you’ll be just as smitten as we are!
Because Katie works full-time, runs a small business that she is continuously working on expanding, and spends her free time chronicling her adventures and travels on the Odd Daughter Paper Co. blog, she has decorated her home on a budget, which we love! She welcomed hand-me-downs from her parents, like her living room sofa; built her own furniture, like the mid-century inspired hairpin-leg dining table; and scoured Craigslist for sweet deals, like the olive green chairs in her living room. Did we mention they were only $30 a piece? Katie’s adorable home is proof that style doesn’t have to come with a hefty price tag. Livening up a room can be as simple as adding a few affordable succulents or colorful accent pillows. We adore Katie not only because she’s got serious style, but also because she’s happy to dish out advice to those of us who are Craiglist and eBay novices or are living with roommates–especially siblings! So come on inside, have a look, and get to know this down-to-earth, creative gal. We are certain we’ll be seeing a lot more of Katie and her designs in the near future!
Full Name: Katie Hart
Location: San Diego, CA
Current title/company: Owner of Odd Daughter Paper Co.
Educational background: Degree in Interior Design from Seattle Pacific University
What was your first job out of college and how did you land it?
I got a job as a receptionist/HR assistant at a general contractor. The company I worked for built absolutely beautiful homes, which was pretty cool. And I think my degree in Interior Design gave me an edge in getting the job. I learned a lot about working hard and providing good customer service, which was invaluable.
You’re currently running an illustration and hand lettering business, Odd Daughter Paper Co. What prompted you to start a creative business? Had your college major or previous jobs influenced your decision to start Odd Daughter Paper Co.?
I spent four years studying Interior Design, which I was definitely passionate about, but I didn’t know much about graphic design and illustration until after I graduated. Nearing graduation, I realized that some of my favorite aspects of interior design were hand drafting and lettering–rather than space planning, selecting materials, etc. With that said, I just started drawing, painting, and practicing lettering in all of my free time!
Tell us about the process of starting your own business. What steps did you take, both personal and financial, to get the company up and running? Did the process ever intimidate you?
To be honest, the process still intimidates me! I work full-time, so the profits I make from my business can go directly back into the business. This can be a bit draining in that most of my free time goes towards Odd Daughter, but I really love it. I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to freelance and design paper goods full-time at some point!
Your paper goods are absolutely lovely! Where do you find inspiration for them? How do you go from dreaming up a particular idea or illustration to actually creating the tangible product?
I find a lot of inspiration in nature; one of my favorite parts of living in San Diego is enjoying all of the bougainvillea, cactus, and succulents. I typically just start each design with black ink on paper. I’m constantly sketching and lettering random things, which often end up on cards. I then scan the designs and am able to work with them in Illustrator. The final step is printing–I’ve found some amazing local vendors–and letter press is my printing method of choice!
How have you been able to grow your business? Do you network with other driven, creative business owners? Do you utilize social media to gain exposure?
Yes, making friends with other creatives is absolutely key! It’s so helpful to be able to chat with other business owners about their struggles, and better yet, what’s worked well for them. Ironically, I’ve made a lot of these connections via social media. Twitter and Instagram have been such amazing tools in connecting with people. Lastly, getting out in the community and attending events is a great way to meet rad people who are doing cool things with their time.
Along with illustrating, you run the Odd Daughter blog. What else can new readers expect to see and read? Details about what you’re working on? Travels? Life in San Diego? How has the blog enhanced your business?
Blogging is definitely an important part of Odd Daughter. I love sharing bits of my life and design process, as well as my favorite things about life in San Diego. You can expect to see an abundance of film photos of succulents and cactus! In my experience, I love purchasing items from makers who I feel like I know (through their blog, social media, etc). My hope is that readers enjoy getting a behind-the-scenes look at Odd Daughter.
You currently rent a lovely Tudor-style home in San Diego. How did you find such a great space? Had you looked at renting apartments as well? If so, what made you choose renting a home versus an apartment? How did you know it was a great fit for you?
When my sister and I first moved to San Diego, we rented a 2-bedroom apartment. It was great, but we really wanted to live in a house with a little yard and our own laundry–goodbye quarters! So as the end of our lease drew near, I spent (likely way too much) time on Craigslist. I stumbled upon a beautiful home with arched doorways, vintage door knobs, and large windows. I needed to see it. After viewing the house and falling in love with it’s charm, we walked around the neighborhood. The house was slightly out of our price range, but after chatting with the realtors, we were able to get the price down a bit. That pretty much sealed the deal!
Because you live with your sister, what was it like in terms of figuring out how you wanted to decorate your home? Did you two already have similar tastes or did you blend your two styles together? How long did it take you to decorate the house?
It took a little while to decorate the house because we were coming from a smaller apartment and couldn’t afford to purchase additional pieces right off the bat. While my sister and I each have our own personal style, we’ve really been on the same page when it comes to our shared spaces. We both love having plants all over the house, which is a serious win. While I’m drawn towards warmer colors, like pink and coral, she loves mint and turquoise. Fortunately, we’ve found a way to blend the two throughout our house, and we’re very happy with it!
What are the advantages and disadvantages of living with a sibling? Did you learn anything new about each other? How do you handle any sibling or roommate squabbles?
Full disclosure–my sister and I lived together during college for a summer, and it wasn’t exactly ideal. But, this time around, we’ve loved living together! We cook together, go for walks around our neighborhood, and spend a lot of time laughing at and with each other. I think we’ve learned more about how much alone time each of us needs, and we’ve definitely learned that neither one of us is amazing at keeping our house tidy. It’s something we’re working on! Roommate squabbles are few and far between because we’re comfortable enough with each other to be honest. Thank goodness! There isn’t any underlying passive aggressiveness!
How would you describe personal decorating style? What are your favorite sources for inspiration? Did your background in illustration and being an artist influence the way your designed your home?
I’d describe my style as mid-century modern with pops of color and pattern. I find quite a bit of inspiration online through design blogs, pinterest, etc. I love looking through home tours of other creatives (shout out to The Everygirl!). San Diego itself has been incredibly influential in my decorating style, in that I want to bring the outdoors in, through the use of air plants, cactus, and succulents. I think my illustration style carries through in the way that I want to decorate our home as well. I enjoy using similar colors schemes and patterns in both our house and in my illustration.
When we found out you built yourself a hairpin-leg desk, we were so impressed! You must have been proud of yourself for tackling that project! How difficult was it building a table from scratch? Do you have any other DIY pieces or artwork you’d like to share with us? Do you have any advice for those of us who are too intimidated by DIY projects?
Thank you! I really wanted a new dining table but didn’t have available funds, so I decided to build something myself. It took a few weeks, and I had to borrow tools, but it wasn’t that difficult. I basically just followed some online tutorials! I’m very happy with the table. Although, to be completely honest, it does wobble a tiny bit. I need a more experienced handyman to take a look and give me some advice. DIY projects are so worth it though! If you know what you’re doing–or have a friend that does–you can save so much money!
Your home is also mix of hand-me-downs and eclectic finds from places like EBay. What should young women know before purchasing home goods from sources like EBay or Craigslist? Do you have any other budget-friendly stores you’ve picked up home décor and furnishings from?
EBay and Craigslist can be incredible sources! With EBay purchases, you definitely want to check out a seller’s feedback; this can help to avoid any negative surprises. With Craigslist, always bring a friend with you to check out the item. Remember that you don’t have to purchase it unless you really want it! I was lucky enough to get the two olive green chairs in the living room for $30 a piece through a Craigslist seller. The remaining pieces in our home were purchased from Craigslist, IKEA and a local mid-century shop.
What items for the home would you say are worth investing in? What items do you recommend saving on?
I think it’s worth investing in key pieces that you’ll use in any home. I spent more money on items like our coffee table, credenza, bookshelf, etc., because I know I’ll use them for a long time. I think a couch is also a worthwhile investment. Because my sister and I have decorated our home on a budget, we’re using a hand-me-down couch. This was actually the couch our parents used when they first got married! What?! At some point I’d love to invest in a gorgeous mid-century piece (like this), but for now, we’re loving our comfortable family couch. I’d recommend saving money on curtains, storage items, etc. You can get good looking stuff at IKEA, which will last a decent amount of time because they won’t have as much wear and tear.
What do you love most about living in San Diego? For anyone who isn’t familiar with the city, what are you must-sees, must-eats, and must-dos in your town?
I mean, the weather is perfect, so there’s that. On top of that, it is just a really cool city! There is so much to do and there are so many amazing places to eat.
If you’re in the mood to explore some neighborhoods, North and South park are so fun. Don’t miss Polite Provisions or Coffee & Tea Collective. There are fantastic mid century furniture shops on Park Ave, and Pigment is a must-see in North Park. Walk around the charming South Park neighborhood and get pizza at Buona Forcetta.
Balboa Park is another significant highlight. It’s a huge park in the middle of the city. It houses the San Diego Zoo, museums, and a beautiful succulent garden. If you want to see incredible ocean views, take an evening stroll at Sunset Cliffs. Then stop by Bo Beau for the best brussels sprouts in town.
Where do you see yourself, your company, and your home in five years?
I’m hoping that I’ll be able to dedicate more time towards Odd Daughter. I’d love to have a much larger stationery line and be designing more and more custom pieces. As for my home, I have no idea if I’ll be in the same house. But I hope to continue to spend time creating a space that reflects my style. Most of all, I want to have more and more people spend time in my home, hearing people’s stories and growing in friendship.
Katie Hart is The Everygirl…
Best advice you’ve ever received?
So this wasn’t advice given specifically to ME, but that’s okay! This quote by Ira Glass resonated deeply with me when I was getting started in the world of illustration. The idea that it takes a while to get in your groove and start creating good work, is very very comforting.
If you could have lunch with any woman, who would it be and what would you order?
Mac & Cheese with Jimmy Fallon’s wife. I’d ask her if she has abs of steel from all the laughs.
Dream home purchase?
A fire pit! Someday I’m hoping I’ll have a large enough backyard to have a table for dinner parties and a fire pit for good conversation with friends.
If you could travel anywhere right this second, where would you go?
I’d go to Croatia to visit Plitvice Lakes National Park. Seriously–google it.