The DIY and decorating rules we can learn from Instagram’s most stylish homes influencers

With summer on the horizon, it’s time to give your home a seasonal makeover, says Liz Connor.

Liz Connor
Tuesday 18 May 2021 08:32 BST
Emma Merry of @homemilk
Emma Merry of @homemilk

Working from the same kitchen table every day, it’s easy to think of our homes as a world away from the beautiful spaces we scroll through on social media.

But homes Instragrammers are just like us, and they manage to create on-trend editorial looks while still juggling work, life, pets, kids and often, a tight budget too.

With remote working still very much on the agenda, there’s never been a better time to spruce up your pad with a DIY project. With that in mind, we asked a handful of Instagram’s most stylish homes influencers to share the trends, hacks and ideas that they’ve recently introduced into their own homes.

Cheerful woman browsing cellphone

From adding a luxe vibe with MDF panelling, to getting creative with a paintbrush – via changing the ambience with a few well-placed indoor plants – here’s what we can learn from the interior design masters.

1. Experiment with wood panelling, says Pippa Nixon (@LittleMCRHouse)

Modern renovated wood panelled room with cat asleep on chair.

“Panelling is all over Instagram at the moment and it’s a trend I can really get on board with. It’s where detailing is added to walls using wood or MDF trim, to give any room more depth and character.

“Panelling works in the same way striped wallpaper does; it can make a room look taller or wider, depending on the placement of the panels. There’s no set format, and you might also want to add a mid-rail or coving, too.

“It’s an achievable DIY project that only requires relatively simple tools, and you can see the transformation instantly. Panels can be planned using masking tape so that you can see what the room might look like before you start. It’s great for rooms like a home office or a living room, and it can make your home look more expensive and add character, without needing a sizeable budget.”

2. Bring nature indoors, says Stacey Sheppard (@StaceyJSheppard)

Botanical Bathrooms

One of the big trends we are seeing for 2021 is biophilic design. This is the process of designing nature back into the built environment. The global pandemic and multiple lockdowns have shown us how important it is for our mental health and wellbeing to be able to connect with nature and, over the past year, many of us have felt a deep longing to invite nature indoors.

“As a result, our décor choices have become more inspired by the natural world. You can get the look in your own home by bringing in lots of plants, greenery, and botanical prints. Choose natural materials such as wood, cork, seagrass, jute, bamboo, raffia and terracotta.

“Opt for earthy colour palettes and highly-textured surfaces on furniture, soft furnishings and accessories. This will provide a much more multi-sensory experience, something we all need after a year of being told not to touch anything or anyone.”

3. Paint the walls and ceiling in the same hue, says Sarah-Louise Marks (@No.17House)


“In our master bedroom, we wanted to create an elegant backdrop with layered points of interest.

“By painting our walls, ceiling, skirting, radiators and fireplace in the same grey hue, it allowed the room to flow ,and created a calming and enveloping feel to the space.

“We then contrasted the bold lines of wall panelling with softer round details, like the lighting and the mirror, to create interest. Adding concealed layers that aren’t always immediately obvious to the untrained eye, can amalgamate to create a masterpiece.”

4. Introduce a pop of joyful colour, says Emma Merry (@HomeMilk)


“This year has been a period of experimentation in our homes. Many of us want to make big changes on a budget, and I think the cheapest way to transform your space is with a paintbrush.

“I believe that colour can have a transformational power and a huge impact on how you feel. The trick is to block out worries of what others might think, and mindfully choose colours that stir your passions and feed your soul.

“If you’re hesitant, then start small – upcycle an old stool, paint a doorframe, then work your way up to bigger projects as you get into your groove. You’ll be admiring your yellow staircase in no time.

5. Source sustainable furniture, says Emilie Fournet (@emiliefournetinteriors)

Green kitchen 2 Emily Ayres credit

“This year, we’ve seen a huge shift towards sustainable interiors. One of the best ways to achieve the trend is by incorporating vintage or antique pieces in your house.

“Not only are these kinds of furniture built to last, but they also help keep your carbon footprint low. Probably the biggest advantage is that they add an instant personal touch to your interiors, too.

“There are so many places you can look for second-hand furniture; from the obvious sites like Ebay ( and Facebook marketplace (; keep it local for bonus sustainability points) to the more specialised websites like Vinterior ( or Pamono ( You can also scour your local flea markets and auction houses. It’s all about the thrill of finding that perfect piece!”

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