Kris Jarrett, founder of the blog Driven by Decor, took a very unusual path to becoming an interior design influencer. While she always had an eye for design and a creative streak, her educational background is genetics. After spending 15 years in the field, a change of scenery due to her husband’s job gave her the freedom to explore her artistic side.
Her aesthetic leans more toward neutrals, although she respects color in small doses. She described it as “timeless and warm.”
Relocation, a New House, and Lots of Ideas
Kris and her family moved to Connecticut, and she decided to take time off from her genetics career. She began blogging about the updates and projects she was working on in their new home, originally built in the 1940s.
Her blog was not an overnight success. Rather, she cultivated her audience and soon saw it growing, which now totals over 200,000 on Instagram. Her posts were her authentic experiences and ideas, which began to resonate with other interior design aficionados. “When it came time to decide if I was going to stay with my blog or go back to work, I knew it wasn’t’ a hobby anymore. It was a career and one that was flexible enough to be more present for my daughters versus a 9 to 5 job,” Kris commented.
Her DIY Roots Go Way Back
Kris was always thinking about ways to design, decorate, and organize. She wasn’t a designer when she started her blog, just someone who had an aesthetic. As a young girl, she asked her mom for some money to reorganize her closet. After a trip to the hardware store, she set about making it appealing and functional.
That same spirit is a part of her blog, which her fans adore. Her commitment to showing not just before and after pictures is very popular with readers. “Showing the process is just as important as the before and after. People want to know the steps and the fails. No project will ever be without challenges,” she noted.
Partnering with Walker Zanger: Kitchen and Master Bath Makeovers
Kris’ kitchen and master bath both feature Walker Zanger tile. Both rooms received major renovations to improve the aesthetics and functionality.
The Kitchen: Dated and a Terrible Layout Transform to Stunning and Livable
First was the kitchen that required a complete gut job. “The floors were horrible, the ceiling low, the cabinets were original. It was a mess,” Kris said.
After four years, the project was a go, stripping everything down to the studs. There was a slight reconfiguration, placing the sink below the window, but the footprint didn’t change. The usable space did, however.
The kitchen got new everything, but Kris wasn’t writing a blank check. She used standard cabinetry and spent more where it mattered. The focal point of the kitchen is the accent tile above the stove. “This tile was the inspiration for the kitchen. It was my starting point, and why I choose gray for the island,” she said.
The tile, by Walker Zanger, is Granada from the Villa D’ Oro collection. White subway tile frames the inset and makes it stand out even more as a statement. The tile has definition, depth, and a timeless appeal.
The kitchen remodel also has many other details that add interest and functionality, including the paper towel holder built-in above the trash can. She also mixed up the cabinetry with some open shelves, which helps the space feel bigger with such low ceilings.
The Master Bath: From Closet-Sized and Ugly to Stunning and Spacious
Next, Kris tackled the master bathroom. This was a renovation and addition, as the original bathroom was anything but big. She went with her favorite neutral color palette, with elements of wood and rustic.
The master bath needed a statement, as well, and the wall behind the bathtub was just the spot. Kris chose the Rattan tile in charcoal. The tile, a porcelain and marble mix, provides a textured look with different hues of gray. It complements some of the woven design aspects throughout the bathroom.
“The tile is such a statement maker. People ask all the time, ‘Is that tile?’ It just tied everything together and is a real wow element, but it’s not over the top,” Kris added.
Future Projects and Thoughts on Design
Kris and her husband purchased a second home in N.C. this year and plan to move there once their daughters finish high school. “It’s a fixer-upper, so lots of new projects in the future. But eventually, I would like to build a new house,” she said.
When thinking about the future of interior design, in general, Kris believes that the pandemic may shape things. “Everybody wants open floorplans, which is what we have in the N.C. house, versus our older home in Connecticut. When everyone’s home because they have to be, there’s little privacy. It could change what homeowners want going forward. Maybe more pocket doors or separation where everyone has their own space,” she noted.
See more projects, get great design tips, and explore Kris’ story by visiting her blog at drivenbydecor.com.