Though you haven't seen her on the storied Elle Decor A-List or Architectural Digest AD100, Farah Merhi just might be the best-known interior designer in the world. Or, at least in the Instagram world. Merhi, a Michigan-based influencer, is the woman behind @inspire_me_home_decor, an Instagram account that boasts a stunning 5.7 million followers. This week, she launched her debut book, Inspire Your Home.
Merhi didn't set out to be an influencer—or even a designer, for that matter. Born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to parents from Lebanon she always admired her mother's design style, but headed to the states to study political science herself. Partway through the program, though, "I realized I wasn't happy," she tells House Beautiful. So, she dropped out and entered "what I called my self-discovery phase."
Around the same time, she and her husband embarked on what any homeowner knows is a big project: a renovation. "That's when my aha moment came," Merhi says. She relished work on the home and began sharing her journey via Instagram, which, in 2012, was on the up-and-up—as was the economy.
"People were starting to put more money into their homes, but they didn't know what they wanted and didn't know how to put things together," she says.
At the same time, while shopping for her own home, Merhi said she saw a hole in the market for a specific look that married elegance, comfort, and a bit of glitz. "You can have a glamorous, elegant-looking home that’s still cozy and inviting and timeless," she insists. "It doesn’t have to be modern. That’s what I was seeing—no one was putting the glam look out there. I think people were just afraid of it. Because when you think of glam, you think untouchable, unlivable."
So, she decided to be that person, sharing her adventures in creating a modern glamorous home as well as inspiration from others with similar styles. "I wanted to make sure that it was a platform where people get inspired by not only by my style in general," Merhi explains. "I also wanted to share what inspires me, and I wanted to give designers and builders and decorators and bloggers and just anyone in this community kind of a platform to share what they do, but it has to be true to my aesthetic."
Merhi began design school, but soon her social media following grew big enough to become a full-time job, so she decided to focus on it full time. Her loyal fans attracted the attention of QVC, where she launched a home decor line in 2017.
The influencer found insights culled from her Instagram audience invaluable in designing her line. "What I want to do is to take their feedback in terms of what is missing in the industry, in the market—as well as what I feel is missing—take a look at where they're responding to, and come back and work on a collection that speaks to that," she says.
Essentially, it's all about making it as easy as possible for fans of her look to get it—and that's where the book comes in. "People read about my story, and they really get inspired, so I get a lot of questions," she says. "It's almost the same questions over and over: How do I place my furniture? What's the right way to place the rug, under your furniture, in a family room, for example? What's the right way to accomplish color? So I thought, okay, I feel like I'm answering these questions on a daily basis." So, she translated it into a book.
Part memoir, part how-to guide, Inspire Your Home breaks down topics like furniture arrangement and accessory pairing, all from Merhi's personal voice, which feels accessible and confident at once—appropriate given her attitude that, with the right nudging, anyone can create a home they love.
"If you're not decorating the right way, you're not getting that sense of peace," Merhi says. "If you put time into it, it will make a world of a difference. That's where your inner peace starts. You start to say, 'I feel good in here. This is my sanctuary, my safe place.'"
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