Q&A: ‘Mr. Kate’ Albrecht dishes on Hollywood, DIY and her hilarious memoir
Always teetering in on-trend sky high heels (she’s barely 5 feet tall) and look-at-me costume jewelry, and with a thick mane of carefully highlighted locks, lifestyle guru Kate Albrecht is pretty much the antithesis of Martha Stewart. In fact, the L.A.-born-and-raised creator of Mr. Kate — known for DIY home and beauty projects that can be viewed on YouTube as well as her popular blog — would undoubtedly make Stewart blush with her insistence on oversharing with her fans. In her first book, “A Hot Glue Gun Mess: Funny Stories, Pretty DIY Projects” (William Morris, $20), Albrecht mixes how-to chapters (i.e., making a headboard out of found objects, constructing a cute clutch out of a pair of jeans) with hilarious personal stories about her oft-wild life (discovering her BFF was a high-class hooker, how Sarah Jessica Parker helped her through her parents’ divorce, her one-night stand with Tiger Woods, etc.).
Thus, even if transforming a garage sale table into a faux bois masterpiece isn’t your thing, the book’s worth considering, especially if you like to laugh. In that respect, Albrecht probably has more in common with the late Nora Ephron than with any maven of domesticity. We touched base with Albrecht this week in anticipation of her book party at Space 15 Twenty on Saturday:
As the daughter of Chris Albrecht, the former chairman of HBO and current chief executive of Starz, you rubbed elbows with tons of famous people and lived next door to the Kardashians at one point. So why aren’t you enjoying your 12th stay at Promises or screaming at your cast mates on “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills”?
[Laughs.] Well, years of therapy have helped! I’ve gone since high school and still go. Love it! Also, my education was different from most of the other kids in the business. I went to this very artsy, hippie school in the Valley — a Waldorf school, not an L.A. prep school where all the kids drove BMWs, and I wasn’t allowed to watch TV. And I know it might seem odd, but my parents are pretty down to earth, especially my mom, who grew up in Maine.
When did you discover your DIY gene?
It’s just something I’ve done my whole life. My mom was always sewing and gardening and building stuff, and my grandmother knew how to restore furniture — she was an expert at gold leafing.
Let’s talk home projects. What’s a quick bedroom makeover trick?
Bring in some color. Let’s say the color is blue. I know a lot of people don’t use throw pillows on a bed, but the repetition of three things in the same shade sort of makes your eye settle, so get a throw pillow or two in blue for the bed, another accessory in blue on the dresser and another, maybe a throw, on a chair or at the bottom of the bed.
I’m having a summer cocktail party, and my decorating budget is under $100. Suggestions?
People are always getting rid of vases, and you can pick them up so cheaply, so go to Salvation Army, Goodwill or any thrift shop and pick up three to five different-sized clear glass vases. Then buy a bunch of inexpensive flowers in the same color and a bag of lemons. Slice the lemons and line the vases with them to hide the flower stalks. I guarantee you it will look fancy and you’ll come in under budget!
Watching you and your husband renovate your home on your online series “OMG We Bought a House!” is addictive fun. What’s been the biggest challenge so far?
Funny enough, it’s the decision we made when we bought the house in December 2013 that we’d film the entire renovation process — we can’t do anything without documenting it, so it’s slowed us waaay down! There are days when I just want to finish something, but I can’t because there’s no film crew, so it’s taking a long time, especially for a pretty small house. The biggest room challenge would have been the guest bedroom. I mean, we only have guests, like, a few times a year, and I’d like it to have other purposes, like maybe a meditation room, but I haven’t done anything about it yet. And it’s not very big, so with a queen-sized bed, there’s not a lot of room for other things. And even the queen-sized bed is pretty small for [husband] Joey’s parents. They’re from Indiana, so they’re very tall!
Buying your first house is so scary, especially because the vast majority of them need a lot of work. What’s your advice?
It’s true what they say: Paint really does do wonders. Don’t move in until you paint the interiors — even when you have lots of other projects that need to be done, a fresh, light color will freshen everything up and make you feel better. And then take a deep breath and take your time. You don’t have to do everything at once. It’s better to live in your house for a while before figuring out what you want. You’ll make less mistakes that way.
What’s your decorating pet peeve — something that, when you walk into someone else’s home, you want to fix or destroy?
I just hate houses where it looks like HGTV threw up in them — you know, where everything’s new and there’s travertine in all the wrong places. [Laughs.] And I really don’t like it when people put up small family photos on a wall, the kind that are really meant for a table, but there’s a giant group of them on a wall. Make them bigger and mix them with other art — sketches, paintings — to give it a collage feel.
You reveal a lot of very personal details in the book, not just about yourself, but about friends and family. Did anyone object?
Um, not really! [Laughs.] I have to say, I was pretty lucky with that. Both of my parents and my sister love the book. My dad said, “Well, it all happened!” And my mom just said, “Don’t make me look too crazy!” It’s a coming-of-age memoir in some ways, which can be traumatic, but I always try to find a humorous angle. None of it was so devastating that I can’t have a giggle about it!
Albrecht will appear at a Mr. Kate book launch party 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday at Space 15 Twenty, 1520 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Hollywood. The event will feaure a DIY station, complimentary BeautyMarks tattoos, refreshments and a DJ. Free and open to all, but advance reservations are requested by clicking here.
Albrecht will also be signing books 1 to 3 p.m. June 27 at Forever21, 1431 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica.
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