From Blogger to Interior Designer

West Fargo Interior Designer Katie Sullivan has always loved creativity and sharing her ideas with others through writing.

Photo by Josiah Kopp

How Katie Sullivan Turned a Creative Outlet into a Career

West Fargo Interior Designer Katie Sullivan has always loved creativity and sharing her ideas with others through writing. But it wasn’t until after having her first child that she realized she needed a creative outlet to keep herself engaged and inspired while being a stay-at-home mom. Because of her background and degree in journalism, she naturally took to writing, so, she started an online blog.

“It just happened that we bought our first home… my husband was super handy, and I had creative ideas,” Katie said. “So when I was writing about stuff, the thing that most people were interested in was when I’d write about our house.” And thus, her blog, Pretty Domesticated was born.

The Minneapolis native’s journey into interior design was rooted in a childhood rich with creativity and encouragement. “As a kid, I was always super creative,” Katie said. Despite not having a formal background in interior design, Katie’s family nurtured her and her siblings’ creative pursuits.

In addition to her visual arts talent, Katie developed a passion for writing during high school and college. “The outlet has changed, but there’s always been a creative aspect of my life,” she said. After graduating with a degree in print journalism from the University of Minnesota, Katie initially worked as a freelance writer. Her career path turned into marketing, predominantly with engineering companies. It wasn’t until she had her first child that her career took a significant turn.

“I was planning to return [to my job] after maternity leave, but I didn’t see myself pursuing that in the long run,” she said. Instead, she embraced the role of a stay-at-home mom for about a year, during which she sought a creative outlet, and in 2016, she started Pretty Domesticated, a home and lifestyle resource blog.

However, it wasn’t until she and her husband Daren built their first home that Katie discovered her passion for interior design. “I found myself reading everything I could about design, [browsing] all the magazines, and looking for inspiration online,” she said. This enthusiasm led to documenting the addition of a sunroom to her house on Instagram, a project that significantly increased her following and encouraged her to explore interior design.

Not having a formal design background didn’t stop Katie from relying on her resourcefulness and passion for learning. “I made an effort to learn the principles of design, to know proper scale and industry standards,” she said. This self-taught journey for Katie was marked by studying the work of prominent designers like Trever Hill, Katie Curran, and Lindsey Grace, who became valuable mentors.

Katie’s Resume at a Glance

  • Entrepreneur, Interior Designer, & Blogger
  • Built an online community via Pretty Domesticated
  • Wife & Mother

Katie’s passion and drive quickly put her on the map, instantly making waves in the community and creating some truly beautiful interiors, many of which you can see in this story. After her confidence and portfolio began to mature, Katie realized the need to branch out into offering more established interior design services—yet she didn’t want to do away with her DIY blog. So, in 2023, Katie expanded her brand into two sister businesses: the original Pretty Domesticated and a new full-service interior design firm, Domestic Studio. She explained that while Pretty Domesticated grew from a DIY and personal design background, Domestic Studio specializes in luxury services like full home renovations and new builds.

Yet, Katie noted the importance of maintaining Pretty Domesticated for its community, focusing on the personal side of design and continuing to offer something to her DIY enthusiasts. “Pretty Domesticated still exists to document more of the personal, unpolished side, where I can share what we’re up to, and then also have resources for people who want to [DIY],” Katie said. “With Domestic Studio, the community may not necessarily be the same. So I thought it would be best to have the separate businesses that are servicing the diverse needs [of homeowners].”

Domestic Studio: Katie’s Newest Chapter

Domestic Studio offers a range of services to suit various client needs. Sullivan described her full-service design as a turnkey experience where everything, including furniture installation, is managed by the firm. For those who prefer a more hands-on approach or have smaller projects, Domestic Studio offers virtual design services, providing designs for clients to execute themselves. This service allows clients to implement the design in stages, accommodating different budgets and timelines.

Additionally, Domestic Studio provides one-on-one consultations. These can range from one-hour sessions to full-day sessions, which offer flexibility for clients who may need only specific guidance or who wish to manage most of the project themselves.

The essence of her brand lies in creating spaces that are not just aesthetically pleasing but also genuinely livable. “I want it to be beautiful, but not stuffy; it’s not supposed to be a showroom. You want it to feel good when you’re in it but you want to feel like you can live in it too,” she said.

Sustainability is also a core component of Domestic Studio’s design philosophy. Katie prefers using sustainable and natural materials and aims to be resourceful in her design approach. “I design for it to last,” she said. While she incorporates current trends, her focus is primarily on creating a timeless space that reflects the homeowners’ goals. “The goal is for [the home] to reflect the people living there and to have a timeless quality,” she said.

photo by Josiah Kopp

Advantages of Working with Katie

Katie believes that the foundation of a successful design project is trust between the designer and the client, understanding the client’s main goals, and choosing a design that supports their lifestyle.

One especially unique aspect of Domestic Studio’s design process is Katie’s use of AI and photorealistic renderings to assist her clients in visualizing potential designs. “I can create AI renderings that [aren’t the final design], but get a feel—you can create some pretty dreamy spaces,” she said. This approach enables her to present unique and personalized options while maintaining project efficiency.

Katie uses tools like Discord Mid-journey to conceptualize AI designs, and from there works alongside contractors and architects to create the exact space to scale via photorealistic renderings, including every furniture and decor detail. She also offers an organized, streamlined process that aims to reduce stress and save money for her clients. She works in a step-by-step process and communicates upfront to clients, ensuring transparency and setting clear expectations regarding project cost and timeline.

3 Home Improvement Tips

  1. Invest in high-quality, customized furniture that will stand the test of time in your main living spaces, then save elsewhere. Performance fabric, in particular, will take you a long way. You can always recover a well-made chair or refinish a wood table if the styles change.
  1. Skip the painted or wallpapered accent wall and do the entire room instead. This is a controversial take, but I promise you won’t regret it. The room will feel more finished.
  1. Never underestimate the power of a fresh coat of white paint. Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee is one of my go-to’s, but always sample a large swatch on your wall. Paint can do funny things in the light, especially white.

Katie’s Outlook for 2024 Trends

For her outlook on 2024 design trends, Katie highlights several emerging styles, including the return of 90s aesthetics, which she calls “country club chic” or “grandpa chic,” characterizing them as warm, inviting, and rooted in the past, thus lending themselves to classic interpretations. She also mentions the trend of “quiet luxury,” which combines luxury with livability, utilizing materials like linen that age well and look sophisticated.

“I’d say the biggest trend right now in making a space feel classic would be [the use of] red paint or reddish-purple paints,” Katie said. “10-15 years ago, everybody painted their accent walls red or muddy brown colors, and I never thought I’d be using red again. But it feels really good right now. And I think the way to make it [feel] classic and lean into the trend now is to go all out and do what we would call color saturation where you [paint] the trim, the ceilings—the whole thing. So you’re not just painting one wall.”

Lastly, Katie says murals are also making a comeback, transitioning from hand-painted art to more accessible wallpaper versions. She views murals as timeless due to their artistic nature.

Featured Projects from Katie’s Career

Commentary from Katie Sullivan

A Balanced Family Home

Renovation, Full-service Design | West Fargo, ND

“What began as a builder-grade house was transformed over time into a family home filled with character and meaning—documented thoroughly on my blog, Pretty Domesticated. The end result is a sort of living gallery, a medium for personal artistic expression. It embodies our belief that the most memorable homes are the ones that mirror their owner’s essence.”

Shop Katie’s Home
The above photos are Katie Sullivan’s own home, which you can browse, room-by-room on Here you can shop for every piece of furniture, decor, and paint swatch used in each room.

A Character Filled Bath

Remodel | Fargo, ND

“The goal of this bathroom renovation was to brighten and modernize the space without carrying it too far from its classic roots that tied it to the rest of the home. We paid homage to the original blue and yellow color palette with accents of blue and gold against crisp white walls. We kept the original footprint, focusing instead on installing a timeless stone checkerboard floor and one-of-a-kind patterned curtains.”

An Organic Transitional Home

New Build | West Fargo, ND

Architect: Strom Architecture
Builder: Radiant Homes

At first glance, these might look like photos. However, these renderings are a perfect example of the imagery Domestic Studio can provide clients before project execution.

“This home is a marriage of old-world charm and modern livability—a truly sensory experience of natural, enduring materials like solid oak, wool carpets, linen textiles, and curation of metal finishes. Inspired by the muted tones of natural landscapes, we chose soft, airy, and warm hues, utilized with intentionality to complement the existing architecture.”

3 Local Home Professionals Katie Recommends Working With

Strom Architecture

“Jackson Strom and his team are creative, professional, and talented. They share the value of exceptionalism over just ‘good enough,’ and above all they are a pleasure to work with.”

Current Electric

“These guys are my go-to electricians. They are reliable and do great work.”

McNeal & Friends

“Great resource for quality furnishings. This is where I stop by when I’m in need of last-minute styling items.”

Q&A with Katie Sullivan

Photo by Jill Ockhardt Blaufuss

One thing I really appreciate about you is how down-to-earth and relatable you are, even mentioning on your website, “I’m just a woman trying to figure it all out.” As a female business owner and a creative, what do you hope to demonstrate to other women in business or those with a dream of owning a business?

There’s the saying, “You can have it all, but you can’t have it all at once.” I think that’s so true. There’s so much out there about work and life balance and how to have it all, but I think it’s important to realize that pursuing a dream also comes with sacrifices. While my kids were really young my blog and social media content were taking off and people were reaching out to ask about hiring me for design services. It would have been the perfect time professionally to dive into starting a design business, but I knew it wasn’t the right time for me personally. I made a conscious decision to keep my business small at the time. I’m pretty driven so it was hard for me not to try and do it all at once, but I’m glad I let my business evolve with me instead of rushing in.

Also, don’t be afraid of a pivot. You have to try different things—that’s how people find what they’re meant to do.

You mentioned you enjoy baking—what’s been your favorite baked treat you’ve made for gatherings lately?

My baking habit tends to ebb and flow depending on my schedule, but when I have the time I love to bake cakes of all kinds. I have all the tools and find the process almost therapeutic. However, my kids’ preference is always good old fashioned chocolate chip cookies. You can find one of my go-to recipes on

You recognize that remodels are big investments, which is why you have your DIY blog, Pretty Domesticated, for people on a budget. Why is this blog so important to you and Domestic Studios’ story?

My story has been more of an evolution than a journey. Pretty Domesticated started as a passion project for a stay-at-home mom but has always been dedicated to thoughtful, enduring interiors. That mission extends to my design firm, Domestic Studio. At the core of both brands is a mission to help people love their homes, whether that be through design tips on the blog or through our elevated design services at Domestic Studio.

A big priority in your design philosophy seems to be in creating spaces where people will want to make lifelong memories. How has having a family of your own shaped that philosophy?

I was lucky enough to grow up in a home that felt welcoming and beautiful, but what struck me most was that it felt very personal. It was professionally designed, but didn’t feel like any of my friends’ homes. My parents still live there and while there are aspects of the home that could use an update, when I walk in it still feels beautiful because it’s undeniably an extension of my family’s story. Having my own family didn’t change my philosophy, it reinforced it. If you can come home, and actually feel at home, that’s great design.

You started pursuing this career after having your first child. Now, you’re a mom of three—how exciting! What has being a mom taught you about design and creating beautiful, livable spaces?

Kids don’t care about how beautiful a room is—they care if it feels inviting and if they can live in it. A great home holds space for what truly matters—all the messes, memories, and milestones. I make an effort to really understand my clients’ lifestyle and routines so that I can craft spaces that not only feel beautiful, but also enrich their lives.

Being a mom has taught me about what materials last because we put our furnishings through the ringer. If I recommend a material to a client with young children it’s because I can speak from experience that it’s going to wear well.

When you do need time to recharge and refresh, where do you go to get re-inspired?

When I need to recharge and refresh, I unplug from technology and indulge in my own life. I feel calmest at our lake cabin in Minnesota—life is slower there. I feel more connected to my family and the outdoors.

I’ve always been inspired by nature; the color palettes and tactility of my designs are inspired by what’s found outside my windows.

When I get a chance to listen to a podcast, I really love “The Interior Collective,” which is a podcast featuring lessons learned from successful interior designers. I love learning from the experts who have paved the way.

My dad, who is a pro DIYer, once told me: If you’re going to hire a professional, ask to see their own home or homes where they’ve done work in. I think that’s brilliant. In fact, you have a tour of your home on your website. Why do you think that’s so important?

My home is my design lab and an honest reflection of myself and my family. My goal is to welcome people into that story. I take the biggest risks in my own space, so it’s a great reflection of what I can do. I don’t copy and paste my style onto others, but chances are if you see images of my home and they resonate with you, Domestic Studio would probably be a good fit for your project.

How to Support Katie
Instagram | @prettydomesticated
Instagram | @domestic_studio


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