The power of Instagram to help you make friends and influence people is astounding, though not surprising as the picture-led format and the commenting facility make it easy for users to interact and share images and ideas.
A prime example of how influential it is comes via a creative quartet of Yorkshire Instagrammers, whose success story we have previously highlighted in The Yorkshire Post Magazine. To recap, Joanne Hardcastle, aka hardcastletowers on Instagram; Jack March, aka jackdmarch; Marie-Claire Jackson, aka thegingerhareofyorkshire; and Wendy Simpson, aka the_yorkshire_homestead, gathered a huge following after collaborating on the hashtag #Thestoryofmyhome.
Spotted by a publisher, they were asked to come up with a pitch for a book full of advice and great ideas on how to make a property look and feel great. The result is Story of My Home, which has already attracted a huge number of pre-orders ahead of its publication date on September 16. We are featuring each of the authors’ homes and this week, we take a look inside Marie-Claire’s detached house in north Leeds. She has almost 25,000 followers on Instagram.
“I joined about five years ago and loved it immediately. I never imagined it would lead to me co-writing an interiors book,” says Marie-Claire, better known as Maz. Followers are particularly impressed by her can-do attitude to DIY, which began in earnest 19 years ago when she and her husband, Paul, bought their home, which was in need of updating.
“We both loved the house immediately but it had a red carpet, a turquoise bathroom and woodchip on the walls so we wanted to change the decor,” she says.
Redecorating has always represented joy to Marie-Claire, who has learned to start with a moodboard. “It helps you really see what goes together and what doesn’t. It also means I can easily share my ideas with Paul. He usually agrees with them, though he didn’t like the thought of having a pink velvet chaise in the lounge. Fortunately, he let me have my own way.”
The chaise from Sofa.com has been joined by a deep lilac chair and there’s a side table in bright yellow for extra zing.
One wall is panelled and painted in Farrow & Ball’s Downpipe while the rest of the walls are white. All the coloured paint used in the house is Farrow & Ball and Little Greene. “The Real McCoy is more expensive but worth it because the pigments are fantastic. Paul moans that they take about three weeks to cure but once they do, they don’t chip,” says Marie-Claire.
What looks like a dresser in the kitchen is painted in Little Greene’s Sage Green and is an ingenious way of hiding an ugly radiator while making use of previously redundant space. Paul made the radiator cabinet with star-shaped cut-outs so heat could still circulate and he also made the shelving above.
“He works in IT but he can turn his hand to anything, including all the panelling we’ve got in the house,” says Marie-Claire. He also made the shelving in the dead space either side and above the door in the study, which has created a library for the family’s books.
The projects above were carefully planned but the painting of the stair steps was not. After reaching the end of her tether with the cream stairs carpet, which was not compatible with the family’s pet dog, the former was ripped out and the steps were given a coat of white eggshell with a painted pale pink runner, which ties in nicely with the dark grey bannister.
Upstairs, the main bedroom is in calming soft whites with minimal clutter and mdf panelling behind the bed. “Panelling has become really popular and we’ve used it a lot because our property was pretty featureless,” says Marie-Claire, whose favourite home accessories include framed prints, mostly from small independent makers found on Instagram.
Her most-loved include the “Ginger Hare” print by Lorna Frey and the Rubenesque nude by Siobhan Cooper, which are both part of an ever-changing gallery wall. Fresh flowers, especially peonies, are also plentiful and there are lots of houseplants, though only a few indestructible succulents are real. “I’m a notorious plant killer, so instead I have some faux plants,” says Marie-Claire, who has invested in clever copies from Abigail Ahern and a large faux cactus from M&S.
Along with independent traders and makers on Instagram, her favourite places to shop for homeware include John Lewis, Graham & Green, Cox and Cox and Anthropologie, though there are also eBay finds like the chair in the study, a bargain £35, which was reupholstered in Designers Guild fabric.
Next on Marie-Claire’s to-do list is a new kitchen and bathroom and putting the finishing touches to the children’s books she has written. “I’ve really enjoyed writing for the interiors book and am hoping my children’s books can find a publisher too,” she says.
*Story of My Home, £14.99, from Studio Press, is published on September 16 and available to pre-order from Amazon.