Design It Yourself: Lockdown fuels surge in budding home stylists

We may be a nation of DIY-ers, but many of us have been taking bolder design decisions, too.

Lockdown fuelled a trend in home improvements as we spent more time surrounded by the same four walls and furnishings. 

This interest appears to have led many to consider turning pro: the Inchbald School of Design (, which runs a number of courses from one-day online events to three-year diplomas, reports a 200 per cent increase in inquiries for its student interior design courses.

DIY boom: Lockdown has fuelled a trend in home improvements as we spent more time surrounded by the same four walls and furnishings

‘The idea of learning how to design and create dynamic interiors is increasingly attractive,’ says Alan Hughes, the school’s principal. ‘It’s about taking on a new creative challenge.’

The prevalence of inspiring interiors across social media platforms has made design feel more attainable, too.

We’re all looking for ways to decorate with more confidence — and it’s easy if you follow a few simple rules…

Back to basics

‘Instagram is full of people panelling their walls, hacking Ikea cabinets and painting over their UPVC doors and windows,’ says Kate Watson-Smyth, author and founder of homeware edit store Design Storey ( 

‘But it’s important to start with the bones. Bear in mind that a cheap sofa can be elevated by a great floor, while an expensive chair will be brought down by laminate.

‘Equally, good lighting can enhance great furniture as well as disguise the bits you’d rather not focus on.’

Floors, walls and lighting are the holy grail of interior architecture and it makes sense to focus on those first. Then, pay attention to touch points.

‘Swap out white plastic switches and sockets for a feature metal or even versions that co-ordinate with the rest of your decor,’ says Kate.

‘Play with scale, too; when it comes to rugs and plants, always buy the biggest you can afford for an instant luxury look.’

Soft touch

Fabric has the ability to change the energy of a space with its colour, texture and pattern.

The secret to creating a room with interest is layering. ‘When it comes to fabrics,’ says interior designer and textile specialist Alexandra Morrall (, ‘this could mean adding an antique flat weave rug on top of a sisal carpet, a tonal trim to the leading edges of your curtains, mixing cushions of varying textures, prints and colours, opting for softly gathered lampshades, or draping a Suzani tribal textile over the back of a sofa.’

Cushions look effortlessly good with inners, preferably feather, that are one inch bigger than the cover itself, perfect for Insta-worthy plumped pillows.

Switch it up

Swapping handleware or cupboard fronts is a game changer. HØLTE ( specialises in hand-finished plywood or wood veneer kitchen cupboard fronts and worktops for Ikea and other High Street cabinet carcasses.

For something different, try commissioning a maker. Decorative artist Natasha Mann ( can transform anything from ceilings to door panels in hand-drawn designs inspired by Moroccan Zouaq geometric painting.

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