TikTok is known for everything from popular dances to short comedy sketches. But during the pandemic, another sort of content went viral.
With people stuck at home during lockdown, home renovation projects took on a whole new urgency. And TikTok was there to deliver.
One creator, Kyla Herbes, runs the account @houseofhipsters and saw her internet presence blow up as a result of the interior design videos she posted during the pandemic. While her early videos from 2019 would only get around 1,000 views and no more than 50 likes, she now has nearly 350,000 followers and her videos can top 100,000 views.
Herbes’s first brush with TikTok fame came in May 2020, when she embarked on a project called the “One Room Challenge.” The viral video, now at over half a million views, shows the sped-up renovation of a room in her house, with the popular song “Renegade” playing in the background. In fact, she often uses trending sounds or songs in her design videos in order to get more views.
After that first viral video, Herbes worked to grow her following, posting one video a day for a month straight. “People were doing 30 days of outfits, so I started doing 30 days of home vignettes,” Herbes said. “It was really difficult because I was like, ‘Well, which corner am I going to style now?'”
She started out small, showing a piece of empty counter space in her kitchen, for instance, which she would decorate with a few basics like plants, candles, and bowls. However, as the videos progressed, Herbes realized that viewers were more interested in “tips and tricks” and learning how to improve their own homes. She changed her strategy to start reconfiguring small parts of her house, like a video teaching viewers how to style a bar cart into a coffee station.
Herbes also runs a blog called House of Hipsters, which she started eight years ago. TikTok came later, in 2019. While she still runs the blog, she now posts TikTok videos three to five times a week, largely featuring home projects, vintage store finds, furniture renovation, and decor and shopping advice.
“I definitely like mixing old and new,” she says. “I would say [my style] is eclectic modern. I like to put something brand new with something kind of creepy, crumbly, crusty, and old.”
In her bedroom, Herbes has high-end Philip Jeffries wallpaper, paired with $50 velvet curtains from Amazon, along with a vintage Chapman tassel lamp, mixing a variety of styles for a unique, signature design. She plays up these juxtapositions in her TikTok home tours, where she regularly talks about mixing modern pieces with thrifted and vintage finds, like old lamps or even vintage ceramic monkeys.
Before the pandemic, Herbes owned a vintage shop, but once Covid hit, she found herself in the position of many other small business owners and had to shut down her store. TikTok became her primary business. Because of the popularity of her blog, Herbes was able to monetize her TikTok through sponsored posts, which she works with brands to develop.
Sometimes, to mix it up and engage her followers, she’ll involve them in her design choices. When decorating a guest room, she asked viewers to vote on the color of the decorative pillows. (Teal won out over pink, and viewers also chose a salmon-colored paint for the walls.)
This viewer involvement is what really helps Herbes’ TikTok stand out. She doesn’t claim to be the absolute authority on interior design and, like many of us, has made some purchases she regrets (a $70 pepper grinder, for instance, or a French cutting board that doesn’t fit in her cabinets).
One of the most popular designs in her home right now are her unique wallpapers, which appear on #wallpaper TikTok frequently. Right now, six rooms are wallpapered, including three bathrooms, a closet and her office.
One bathroom, which she calls “Potty Paradise,” has a black, animal-print wallpaper, paired with a Lucite chandelier. To her surprise, many viewers have recreated the look in their own bathrooms, and she found out that a restaurant in Seattle has done the same.
In the foyer closet, Herbes has a pink wallpaper design by Divine Savages. One of her followers loved it but was unable to find the same wallpaper for sale, so they designed their own by hand, then sent it to a printer. “I was like, that is amazing,” Herbes says.
Deena Elgenaidi, for Fast Company