If you love interior design, you know Farah Merhi. With nearly four million followers and counting, Merhi has been inspiring people around the world through Inspire Me! Home Decor’s Instagram page. We chatted with Merhi about what drove her to pursue her dream, what continues to inspire her, and what’s to come in the future.
Cliché: Knowing how you started Inspire Me! Home Decor, what drives you to keep going?
Farah Merhi: When I launched Inspire Me! Home Decor on Instagram, it was an outlet for me to share my passion for interior design with others. Inspire Me! now serves as a platform that inspires homeowners as well as a platform for interior design professionals and self-taught designers to showcase their work with those who share the same passion. When I first launched my page and as months went by, I came to the realization that the economy had just picked up and people were starting to focus on home improvements, specifically redesigning rooms to give them an update. What was really interesting was that homeowners wanted to be involved in the process and were just looking for platforms that could simplify the process for them as they embark on their design journey. They were turning to social media for answers! That was my “AHA!” moment.
Since then, I have made it my mission to make Inspire Me! Home Decor a place to get inspired, get your daily questions answered through IG short videos, YouTube videos, Instagram posts, and blogs. What drives me is the comments, emails, and private messages that come through daily from my viewers and followers who thank me and share what they have done, saying things like, “You’ve inspired me.” That is so humbling; I have to pinch myself every once in awhile! My followers are responding so well to the tips and tricks I share with them and that in itself is what drives me to keep going, and to keep looking for other innovative ways to help out homeowners.
You were just short of applying for law school until you switched gears. What motivated you to take that step and pursue your dream?
I was miserable—plain and simple; there is no other way to put it. A few semesters short of graduating and starting law school, I decided that I was done doing what I thought I wanted to do and start doing what I knew I wanted to do. I was struggling daily trying to build up enough courage to face my inner truth. How can one throw away all the hard work and effort, and what about the time that has passed? I had to dig deep to find the courage to face my truth.
Two things did it for me. We were remodeling our home and the sheer happiness I felt from redesigning my home and the realization that interior design made my heart dance with joy. That’s exactly what I wanted out of life! I have always had a passion for interior design. I helped friends and family out, but never really thought much of it since I had the idea of becoming a lawyer already set in my mind. There was no other way.
The second thing that did it for me was going through some personal family tragedy; it put things in perspective. Life is too short to do what you THINK you want to do! Live it to the fullest and do what makes your heart jump with joy! With my husband’s support and my parents’ as well, I am thankful to live my dream life every day.
If social media wasn’t around, do you feel you would be at the place you are right now?
If social media was not around, I predict that I would have opened my own interior design firm as a self-taught interior designer and still lived my life doing what I love doing. But would I reach the amount of people I reach every day? Not a chance. That’s the beauty of social media! It brings people together from all over the world. You get to share what you love with those who enjoy your posts, your work, and what you do. Brands and companies recognize your passion and your connection with your followers through social media. You then get the opportunities to collaborate and partner up with them, something you could only dream of doing from your office without the power of social media.
You now have nearly 4 million Instagram followers, becoming the number one interior design inspiration page while being a busy mother of three. How do you balance work and your personal life?
OH BOY! That’s the million-dollar question! Inspire Me! Home Decor is like my fourth baby. I’ve been building it and growing it from the ground up. This is a constant for me; I wake up thinking about IMHD, and I go to sleep thinking about IMHD, and it’s a struggle to completely turn it off sometimes. But of course my family comes first. My day starts at 7:30 AM; I work from home so I am in my office or out on consultation appointments, ordering furniture for my clients, filming or working on projects for my brand. By 5:30, I like to shut everything down and focus on homework, dinner, cleaning up, and bedtime. I still have to post on my social media in the evenings though. Most people don’t realize that I am the only one that posts on IG and Facebook. No one is allowed to touch those platforms, so it’s hard to completely relinquish this responsibility to others because every post is a reflection of my design esthetic. It’s also a way for me to connect with my followers. So to be completely truthful, I am still struggling to find the balance just like a lot of working moms or even stay at home moms.
Where do you pull your inspiration from for new ideas for clients?
The work that I share is curated from everywhere. It doesn’t come from one set place. I get thousands of tags a day from professionals in this industry as well as interior design enthusiasts. My hashtag #inspire_me_home_decor has over 270,000 tags. I also receive daily emails from designers and their teams, sharing work for a possible feature. Aside from that, I like to explore and research images that will inspire my followers so I check out websites. Finally, I share my work as well!
As far as inspiration for work that I do for my clients, I attend furniture and home decor shows multiple times a year where I get to see firsthand what’s trending and what’s to come in the design world. There are certain designers who also inspire me with their creative work. Having a platform like Inspire Me! Home Decor, I am exposed to designs from all over the world which certainly inspires me in many ways as well.
Which project are you the most proud of to this day?
From a brand development perspective, I am most proud of the launch of my YouTube channel. For several years, I have seen questions come through with my followers asking for specific insight to help with their design journey. With over 3 million followers at the time, it was really hard for me to keep up with all the comments and questions that were pouring in. At the same time, it was hard to look the other way since my followers were turning to me as an expert and someone they closely connected with. So I decided, to better serve them, I would launch my YouTube channel as an extension of my Instagram page where I curate questions directly from Instagram and emails, and answer these questions through videos for better visual aid. I launched YouTube over five months ago, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
From a personal perspective, I am always proud of all the projects I take on for my clients. There is one project though, a project I am still working on, that I am particularly proud of. A young couple reached out to me for help in designing every room in their home. After interviewing multiple designers, they were frustrated that no one was “getting them,” as they said. The wife reached out to me and during our consultation, it was obvious that they were both frustrated. We are a few months into the project and the house is coming together beautifully. Most importantly, my clients are happy to see their house slowly turn into their beautiful home.
What plans are in store for Inspire Me! Home Decor?
Inspire Me! Home Decor continues to grow as a brand. I am currently working on projects that will start to launch in 2017. Unfortunately, I can’t elaborate on that just yet, but I can say every single decision and partnership I make, I make with my followers and subscribers in mind. Stay tuned!
Farah Merhi Proves There’s No Place Like Home: Photos Courtesy of Farah Merhi