Love your living room: Catherine Carton from Dainty Dress Diaries is getting cosy with Penneys’ Sentimental collection this winter

By House and Home 03-10-2018
Love your living room: Catherine Carton from Dainty Dress Diaries is getting cosy with Penneys’ Sentimental collection this winter

Catherine Carton is all about the three Cs: cuteness, crafts – and of course, the star of her home show, cat Blondie; a regular feature on her Instagram, @daintydressdairies and website

Fans follow Catherine, who works as a retail manager, for her love of a smart, achievable DIY, the lovely French country décor style she’s used throughout her Co Dublin home, and her general gasness. We challenge you to watch her Insta stories and not break into a smile.

What’s really admirable about Catherine is how she’s created her beautiful home on a budget. “I bought my home back in 2013 in the recession when prices were at their lowest,” she says. “I’d been saving for a few years – I really didn't want to rent.”

Catherine Carton, Dainty Dress Dairies' Living Room Light and bright is the name of the game in Catherine’s house, with soft sage walls, blush accents and floral prints. On shelf: sparkly vase, €5, copper clock, €6, pink candle, €3. On door: dream illuminated sign, €6. On couch: floral fairy lights, €6, teal velvet cushion, €6, pink two-tone velvet cushion. €8, white sheepskin throw, €12, burgundy velvet throw, €5, pink quilted throw, €20. On floor: faux plants, from €3 each, wire bin €6, all Penneys.

Catherine’s innate savviness is expressed across her house, and especially in her living room – “I use light, bright pastel colours. I love sage greens, light pinks and white,” she says, making her style a perfect fit for Penneys’ Sentimental collection.

Her home is a feminine, cosy sanctuary she’s decorated in her unique way. “I’d describe my style as light, floral, romantic and fun,” she muses. “When I first moved in, it was very busy with a lot of floral prints, but as I’ve gotten older it’s much calmer ­– and overall my house flows better.”

Decoding her décor

So what prompted her love of shabby chic, country-inspired interiors in the first place? “I actually fell into interiors by accident. I didn't realise how expensive furniture and appliances were, and was disheartened because I wanted a pretty home – but I had zero budget.

Catherine Carton, Dainty Dress Dairies' Living Room When in doubt, paint it! On bench: white orchid in pot, €9, pink heart cushion, €4, lilac circle cushion, €4, lilac throw, €5. On floor: pink sheepskin rug, €12, all Penneys.

“That’s when I got into furniture upcycling. I’d get free pieces and I’d paint and upcycle them to fit in with the style of the interior that I wanted,” she reveals, adding, “not being able to afford furniture was actually a blessing as it made me get really creative, and made me think outside the box.”

Catherine Carton, Dainty Dress Dairies' Living Room Perfectly pretty in pink, Catherine’s living room is her haven. On couch: cream knit throw, €18, pink cord cushion, €12 for 2, pink two-tone cushion, €8, pink heart cushion, €4. On table: candle, €5, keep cup, €7, Copper Wire Terrarium, €6. On floor: Pink sheepskin throw, €12, all Penneys.

This has inspired Catherine to craft an approach to decorating where she saves on the big things, and splurges on her accessories. “I’ll find a second-hand piece of furniture and make it my own. I just love the buzz of saving a piece of furniture from a skip. I then spend the money I saved on pretty homewares and furnishings to decorate the rooms,” she says.

Catherine Carton, Dainty Dress Dairies' Living Room Catherine’s love of décor styles is reflected in her home: French country and cottage styles both represent. On mantle: Floral fairy lights, €6, patterned candle, €4, letter board frame, €7 On hearth: faux plants, from €3 each. White orchid in pot, €9. On floor: white sheepskin throw, €12, all Penneys.

Inspiration comes from everywhere: “I love French châteaux and how they decorate their homes. I also love cute English cottages and farmhouses in America,” she reveals. “I like getting inspiration from being out and about and exploring. I also love to just ramble around interior shops to get ideas from their displays. Pinterest is great as well.”

Personal, please

It’s important to Catherine that her living room is full of items that have meaning. “I collect teapots and teacups, and I get one each time I travel or when something good has happened,” she says, adding, “I’ll reward myself with a teacup to add to the collection. I carried a full box of pink teacups across a river in old town Dubai and carried them home in my hand luggage.”

Catherine Carton, Dainty Dress Dairies' Living Room Catherine is all about that vintage China life. Sparkly vase, €5, copper clock, €6, both Penneys.


Catherine Carton, Dainty Dress Dairies' Living Room Blondie is the star of the show on Catherine’s Instagram (and on this shelf!). Pink candle, €3, pink heart decoration, €4, two toned vase, €4. All Penneys.

In her collection is a Rangemaster teapot from a shop in Bruges, brought home in her handbag, and a little cat teapot that belonged to her granny, who also had a grá for china collecting.

Catherine Carton, Dainty Dress Dairies' Living Room Perfecting your palette is the key to a harmonious, happy living room.

Upcycling is the ultimate in personalisation and making something your own. Next up, she has two projects she’s going to work on. “I’ve a big blanket box I got for free that has chipped and stained paint. I’ll strip it and give it a makeover. I also have a mahogany cabinet that a friend was throwing out and I’m going to paint that for my bedroom,” Catherine says.

Cosy comfort rules

Right now though, as the evenings close in, her focus is firmly on her living room. “I’m working early shifts, so when I get home, I put my feet up on the couch for half an hour, unplug, and take a breather. I leave the phone in the kitchen and I curl up with Blondie for a few minutes to unwind,” she says.

Catherine Carton What could be cosier than a cuddle with Blondie?

“I love changing up my home for the seasons as it feels like you’ve redecorated – even though you haven't,” Catherine says. So, what’s she planning to add to her living room to cosy it up for winter? “I recently put out some pumpkin trinkets for autumn and for the living room, it has to be cosy throws and cushions that have texture. It’s where I chill out in the evening and I always reach for a cosy throw to snuggle into.”

Like all of us, Catherine’s got her loves and loathes when it comes to her space. “I love throws to make a couch feel cosy. I love cushions with different texture as well –  faux fur and velvet fabrics. I also love warm lighting, especially in winter. I love some twinkly lights and candles in the evening to add some warmth and cosiness,” she reveals.

Catherine Carton's living room Adding a reminder to your space is the best way to help you to remember to wind down each evening. Floral fairy lights, €6, patterned candle, €4, letterboard frame, €7, all Penneys.

On the flipside of that, she’s aiming to cut some things out, too. “Less technology,” she states. “I want to make it a work-free zone. I’m now declaring my living room a phone- and laptop-free zone! Technology is everywhere and I use so much of it each day that I want to fully relax when I sit down in the evenings.”

With all that sorted, just one thing remains: “I’m considering changing my couches, as the ones I have are hand-me-downs,” Catherine says. “I think it’s time to treat myself and Blondie.” We agree!

Photographer: Philip Lauterbach; Stylists: Emma Kelly and Leonie Henson

This post is sponsored by Penneys. The Sentimental collection is available from Penneys stores nationwide now.

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