Kansas woman pins her hopes on Pinterest

EASTBOROUGH, Kan. — Kelsey Cary humbly says she’s just a good copycat.

Long before she and her husband bought their house in Eastborough, Kan., in 2014, the stay-at-home mom had pinned a photo of the exterior of a Georgia house that she’d fallen in love with — white brick, black windows, set back in the trees — to a board on Pinterest.

After the Carys bought the Eastborough house — red brick, dark-green trim, set back in the trees, like something out of “Hansel and Gretel” — Cary called forth the photo that she’d put on the Pinterest social-media bulletin board.

The photo had come from the blog of a Georgia company that was chronicling a house it was redoing.

“I followed them on Instagram and asked them, ‘What color did you paint that house?’ and they actually replied and said, ‘Natural Choice by Sherwin-Williams,’” Cary said. “It was like, ah! I can execute my vision.”

Cary is one of millions of people who go to social-media sites such as Pinterest and Instagram and the craft site Etsy for home decor ideas and DIY projects. Pinterest is a sort of online bulletin board where you see images — photos, diagrams, recipes — and “pin” them to bulletin boards you create to refer back to later. You can follow certain people or businesses to see what they’re pinning, and you can repin what you like to your own boards.

Thanks to Pinterest and Instagram, the Carys’ house is now bright where it was dark, painted Natural Choice — not too white, but more natural, naturally — and cars slow down to examine the new look on the 1940 house.

The exterior is only one of many home-decor ideas Cary has pinned to Pinterest boards under such categories as “boy bath,” “girl room” and “shut the front door.” The stay-at-home mom uses the site to organize ideas for the house as well as other areas of life such as recipes, clothes for the kids and vacations.

Whereas some people pin vicariously, dreaming of things they pin that never see the light of day, Cary sees Pinterest as something quite practical.

“I don’t have to go out and find my own color,” she said of painting the house, for example. “It’s the perfect color.”

With inspiration from Pinterest she’s also redone a bathroom, decorated a hallway — and tore into the fireplace wall in the den. One red-brick wall was taken up with a fireplace, a long narrow mantle, and built-in shelves.

“I got inspired on Pinterest one day and tore out all the built-ins on the side. I texted my husband and said, ‘Hey, I started a project!’”

Jay Cary’s response: “You’re killin’ me!”

It turned into a team project. Kelsey painted the red brick white. “My husband took down the mantle and sanded it, and I stained it, and we put it back up together. For $50, it totally changed the look.” Except for the built-ins, that is; there’s still the hole in the wall where they were. “The contractor has been called.”

Inside the entryway, along the wall at the base of a staircase, “this little nook is Pinterest-y and -inspired. I saw an image I liked and thought, ‘I could do something like that,’” Cary says.

She bought a wooden bench at Juliana Daniel Antiques, some pillows on Etsy, art from last year’s local Young Life Art Show, and a basket online. “It kind of worked out perfectly.”

But her biggest Pinterest project was gutting a bathroom on the first floor of the house. It started with a pin of some tile she’d fallen for because of its unique pattern - again, before they’d moved into the house.

“The floor was the main piece, and I had pinned that floor like a year and a half ago. Then I saw this bathroom that had the tile, and I said, ‘No way. I’ve gotta have it.’ “

She tracked down the source of the tile and saw that it wasn’t available locally. But she talked to Designers Expo in Wichita and found out that it was getting ready to become a distributor for the manufacturer of the tile. So she ended up being able to buy it locally.

“When people see the tile, they say, ‘Are these floors original?’ Because they have that ’40s vibe.”

Almost all of the other elements in the bathroom are also exactly what Cary saw on Pinterest, or it’s pretty darn close, from the brass hardware to the custom-built cabinet vanity.

“Ah, I love it,” Cary said. “Every time I walk in the door.”

Kathy Haines of Designers Expo who worked with Cary says that while customers can be overwhelmed in a store, not able to see different elements pulled together, such online tools as Pinterest or Houzz can help with that.

“In the past we were loathe to send customers to the internet,” Haines said. “But now they are able to show us things they like. It’s something that makes it much easier to get inside their head. We refer people back to it all the time because you do a search of ‘Carrera marble backsplash’ and you get millions of pictures and they can usually find something they like.”

Cary says she thinks she gets her love of design from her mother, who, among other things, was always rearranging the furniture. Cary tells the childhood story of the time her father carried her and her sister to bed and dropped them on the floor because her mom had moved the beds and not told anyone.

“She was of that generation that tore ideas out of magazines and collected them, and this is kind of our generation of that,” Cary said of Pinterest. “It’s all online. Makes it pretty easy.”

And Cary has only just begun. The kitchen still has to be finished, and she wants a big firepit out back.

“All this gives me a sense of accomplishment,” she said.