Anesthetist Kaitlin Spring moved to Albany in August of 2020. The move coincided with a global pandemic, a new job at a nearby hospital, and a burgeoning interior design account. Despite her reticence to leave her small Fort Greene apartment, Spring took the opportunity that a bigger space provided her to test out some long-dormant design chops.
Spring grew up “out in the country” in North Carolina, on a plot of land down the gravel driveway from her grandpa’s farm. Her parents built her home the same year she was born. “It was a big house with a wraparound porch, you know, very late '80s style,” Spring says. Her mom’s design was “more beachy,” with white walls and clean lines whereas Spring herself trends towards the “funky.” Spring’s aunt influenced her interest in design. She sold vintage wares on eBay for years and would take a young Kaitlin to yard sales and vintage shopping. Her aunt introduced her to new design possibilities. “It was completely different from my Southern style house that I grew up in,” she says.
Post-college, Spring was living in a condo in North Carolina mocking up Pinterest interior design boards when she became hooked on the thrill of the Craigslist search. “I think part of it is just wanting something and then finding it for a really good deal or secondhand… is such a good feeling.” She moved to a small apartment in Fort Greene, Brooklyn and did what she could within the square footage, but it wasn’t until the pandemic hit and she moved to Albany that she unlocked her innovative potential. “I just never had a chance to let these creative, funky juices flow if you know what I mean,” Spring says. “Once I finally had this space it was just really fun to buy furniture and not feel like I couldn't fit it through a small New York city apartment door.”
Spring and her partner first moved into a rental where she fell wholly in love with the wood paneling in the kitchen. It was a dark wood, so her mom, friends and even the property manager advised her to paint it a light color but she felt she had to maintain the integrity of the “amazing wood.” Her love for the wood propelled her to search for vintage pieces that inspired the same feeling in her. Her literal ceiling was caving in, but her artistic vision was forming. She started posting her interior design progress on her Instagram — which at this time was her personal page with around 500 followers — and “it just kind of spiraled into what it is now,” she says. What it is now is a prolific account with 15.6k followers and features in ArchDigest, Clever, and Apartment Therapy as well as a side-hustle project selling found vintage pieces called Yin and Yang Vintage that she started with a friend of hers from the city.
"It just kind of spiraled..."
Spring is self-taught and will humbly admit she’s certain there are people more knowledgeable about design than she. However, she has sunk hours into researching design and design history. “I grew up reading and buying ArchDigest, Domino and those magazines,” she says. “I have a lot of really vintage design books and yeah, honestly, Instagram. I follow a lot of these Danish and Swedish accounts.” She’s done some consulting work for other people’s apartments and homes and has also been learning through Spoak, an interior design tool and platform.
Despite her lack of credentialed experience, Spring’s home bursts with zingy color, refracted light, and ‘70s-style squiggles. She doesn’t sit down with a design plan and instead fits objects together as she goes. “I always feel bad saying that when people ask, ‘What's your biggest tip?’” she tells me. “It's more just like find things that really make you happy, make you smile and give you that feeling: ‘oh this is a beautiful item that I want to look at every day,’ and usually those things are gonna go together.” Spring and her partner moved from their first rental and purchased a home a little bit outside of Albany in August. A craftsman built the place in the 1920s and it came with an additional perk: Spring has become close with the woman who lived there for the previous 50 years. “We text all the time,” she admits. “She's literally almost 80 years old but acts like she's 50. She's the cutest thing in the world. She's come to see the house and her style was amazing. They had amazing antiques, beautiful Moroccan rugs.”
A Caprani lamp, a lime-green togo couch, a Sonneman globe lamp, and a Noguchi lantern are among Spring’s most-cherished investments. She knew she desperately wanted a Danish 1970s Mads Caprani lamp but because they’re so hot right now, she couldn’t find a reasonably priced one anywhere on the internet. She finally found one in Kansas that was selling for $300 but the seller backed out when he started worrying that it wouldn’t travel well (that was probably a valid concern, she concedes). “And then randomly I just told my partner, ‘Can you look for these lamps for me?’,” Spring says. “And he literally just pulls his phone out and searches "Caprani lamp" in Facebook Marketplace and finds one in New Jersey. How ridiculous is that?”
A Caprani lamp, a lime-green togo couch, a Sonneman globe lamp, and a Noguchi lantern are among Spring’s most-cherished investments.
While not particularly design-oriented himself, Spring’s partner has been majorly supportive of her projects. “I have this guy that really just doesn't care as long as things are functional,” Spring says. “It's so amazing. I hate to say it: he doesn't have much of a style.” (God bless benevolent straight men.) Nevertheless, he’s always down for a long drive to pick up a special piece or to pinch-hit on an intense search. The one time he put his foot down concerned Spring’s ‘70s Le Bambole sectional sofa. “He still curses it. He hates it because it's modular and the pieces kind of move if you're like sleeping on it, I don't know.” They compromised by keeping it and also getting a perfect-for-napping, deep sectional for the TV room.
Spring currently works 40 hours a week in the Operating Room (OR) but she envisions a future for herself where she can give more of her time to design. “I feel like there would be a world — this is like my ideal world — where I work like 2 days a week in the OR and then the rest of the time, did something with design,” She says. “There are so many pipe dreams. I'd love to open a shop up here with cool, curated candles and homeware and a little coffee shop.”
What are three words to describe your style? Colorful, joyful, eclectic. I don't really stick to one period or like style. I kind of piece them all together.
What's the furthest you've traveled to pick up an item? About 4 hours. We [my partner and I] picked up something in deep Long Island from upstate. It was the Togo style couch that I have in the back room, the green one.
Any weird Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist interactions? One vintage seller that is pretty prominent on Instagram wanted something personal for her house. She found this marble, Italian console. It had glass and was really pretty but she had messaged the guy and I guess, for some reason, their conversation— he didn't like the way she was talking to him and he just blocked her so she asked me if I could message him and pretend to be another person. I messaged the guy and was like, ‘Hey, I like this thing.’ And I negotiated the price that she wanted and I said my cousin was coming to pick it up and it was a dude and it was her cousin that went to get it and it was just hilarious because we had to carefully do this. I feel like he started to doubt it 'cause he was like ‘What kind of car are you in?’ And so I had to text her and be like, ‘What's the car??’ And she got it and she's like, ‘I'm forever grateful for you,’ 'cause the guy was being so weird. She wanted it so bad so I was like, 'OK, we're gonna get it. We're gonna get it for you'.