Zoe Gilpin from The DIY Decorator

Style Sourcebook Profile: The DIY Decorator

If there is one person who can create a killer mood board it’s Interior Decorator Zoe Gilpin from The DIY Decorator. From her ever inspiring and joyful mood boards to her thrifty bargain homeware finds, Zoe is well and truly a Style Maker. Zoe is a Perth based qualified Interior Decorator. With a wealth of industry knowledge, Zoe shares with her casual 151K Instagram followers that decorating your home doesn’t have to dry up your bank account and that there are always ways you can create your dream home that require less effort, and budget, than you may think. Zoe regularly posts gift ideas, DIY hacks, budget friendly furniture finds, inspiring mood boards, insights into where to find the latest homeware products, incredible giveaways and an occasional cute snap of her family or gorgeous ginger cat.

One thing (although it is hard to find just one) we love about Zoe is the fact that she makes interior decorating accessible to everyone and embodies a spirit of inclusiveness - something we value strongly here at Style Sourcebook. We have had the pleasure of knowing Zoe for a few years now and have watched the hard work and dedication she puts into her business pay off. We couldn’t help but take the opportunity to speak with Zoe and ask her to share some insights into her interior decorating business, how she grew her Instagram following to over 100K followers and a few of her top-secret decorating hacks.

Tell us a bit about yourself. How did you get into the wonderful world of Interior Decorating?

As a teenager I always had an interest with interiors. I drove my parents mad rearranging my bedroom on almost a weekly basis! So, after school and a gap year, I moved to the city and dove in to getting my diploma in interior decorating.

You make some amazing mood boards! Where did your love affair with mood boards begin? 

Thank you so much! Back when I was studying, we created a lot of physical mood boards using samples sourced from retailers, inspirational imagery etc. I always really loved putting them together. So fast forward to more recent times where we can now create them online from the comfort of home, I am in my element! Clients started wanting to work with me from all different parts of Australia, so I started creating my boards digitally for them. It’s such an easy way create inspiration for not only clients and followers, but for myself too.

How would you describe your design style in five words? 

Cohesive. Textural. Inviting. Layered. Affordable.

What are some of your secret decorating hacks people need to know?

One top secret decorating trick is to purchase cheap cushions and remove the insert it comes with and replace it with a duck feather insert. This instantly gives the cushion a more luxe look and allows for it to be chopped too as it now has shape. 

Invest in a high loft quilt insert to instantly take a bed from flat and lifeless to luxe and inviting. I'm often asked how I make beds so fluffy and my secret is simply the insert!

To save some pennies, I repurpose items with a coat of paint so that they fit my new scheme. Or even recover an item with a new fabric design to also achieve a whole new look. This is something I will advise clients to do also to save them some money rather than replacing items.

You’ve cultivated quite the following on your Instagram account, The DIY Decorator. What would your advice be to someone who is wanting to grow their Instagram account/business? 

Hard work and patience! It has taken me five years to grow to where I am today and I’m super proud of that. It’s been five years of hard work but work that I love so much! Creating relationships with businesses and brands, as well as my following and fellow interior loving accounts, I think, is a big part of why The DIY Decorator has done as well as it has. Sticking to what I love doing best, being real and genuine and having fun are key factors to my success in my opinion.

What are your top five tips when it comes to building your Instagram presence?

Be yourself. Don’t try and be another account as that’s been done before. Be you and share what you love and you will attract those who like the same things. Be genuine and kind. As in real life, being kind to someone online can only lead to great things. Support others and they will return the favour. Post often. Try to post at least four or five times a week. And share stories. Followers love seeing some behind the scenes and everyday content via stories. Keep your content interesting. Posting the same few pictures on rotation isn’t going to keep followers interested. Mix things up a bit by using different styles, photo angles and types of post to keep things interesting. Collaborate with others. Whether it’s sharing other accounts you love or working with businesses suited to your style, collaboration is a win-win situation for all parties involved and can help spread the word about your account.

The Kmart chair that nearly broke the internet after Zoe's post on Instagram.

What three things does anyone looking at starting a career in Interior Decorating need to know? 

Prepare yourself to work with different interior styles. Clients will want varying styles and also have varying budgets. A good decorator will be able to cater to different clients and their needs. Hands on experience is vital. I recommend to anyone that is looking at becoming a decorator to get some work experience with a decorator or in a furniture and homeware store to get some experience physically decorating. Constant research into current and upcoming trends as a decorator is very important to make sure that you are in the ‘know’ for what clients are seeing and wanting. Browse stores both in store and online. Read blogs and articles that speak about current trends to keep up with what’s in style at all times.

Talk to us about your biggest career highlight and the biggest challenge you’ve faced in business to date

The biggest challenge for me is time management. As mum of two kids under 7 as well as a husband who works away more than he’s home, I have to schedule my time between general life and work life constantly. Being not only an interior decorator, but also a content creator, product stylist and interior blogger, my to do list is never ending! But I do make it work - even it means some late nights and weekend work in order to spend more time with my kids. Highlights of my career are many! I’m lucky enough to work with some of the best brands and businesses in the industry, such as Dulux, IKEA, Kmart, Target and more. When I began my career as an interior decorator I never dreamed of having these opportunities.

What are your three favourite tools you use when it comes to creating content for your social media? 

Style Sourcebook website is one of my most used tool I use not only to create my mood boards that I share, but I also use it to create giveaway posts and more.  My Canon DSLR camera to capture my styled images of products. I just purchased a new 50mm lens for it which I am loving! This also gives me nice crisp images to share on my socials and for businesses I collaborate with too. Pen and paper. I’m still a big fan of writing down my schedule, to do list, blog posts etc. via good old pen and paper. Writing it down gets it out of my head and I can refer to the piece of paper when needed.

Coastal Living Room Mood Board here.

"Style Sourcebook website is one of my most used tools. I use it not only to create my mood boards that I share, but I also use it to create giveaway posts and more."

 - Zoe Gilpin, The DIY Decorator  

What tips would you give someone who is wanting to refresh their home but doesn’t have a large budget to work with?

 Start with a clean base. Keep your furnishings but take away the decorative items. Then after you’ve got an idea of what new scheme you are wanting to introduce to the space, purchase cheaper items such as decorative accent pieces, cushions, throws, wall art etc. This will give the room a whole new look without blowing the bank. Then when budget allows, you can replace larger pieces, like furniture if you like.

What does a day in the life of The DIY Decorator look like (we want the good, the bad and the beautiful)

My alarm goes off at 6:30am. I then spend half an hour checking my email and socials before waking the kids at 7:00am. Once the chaos of school morning rush is over, I tend to get any non-work-related tasks like food shopping out of the way before heading home. My days differ each week. Generally, I’ll have a dedicated styling/photo day where I’ll capture all the products sent to me recently at once. Then I have another day set aside for photo editing. Another where I’ll create mood boards and content to share on my socials. Usually a coffee date day with friends one of the days off.  And on other days, a non-workday , I’ll either get out in the garden or put my feet up and binge watch some Netflix. At the end of the day I’ll share a post to my socials and spend some time replying to messages and comments on my social platforms. Then its dinner time, bath time for kids and spending some time with them until bed. On the weekends I’m either visiting friends or family or at the park or the beach with the kids. No content creating or work is done over weekends for me. It’s a pretty busy schedule I have but it works well for me.

If you could go back to when you first started your career in design, what advice would you give yourself? 

Stay true to yourself and do what you love. Not everyone will love it too, but you don’t need to impress everyone. You will attract the clients who love what you do!