The key to successful DIY is getting stuck in, says interior designer Tara Slinger. She has more than 100,000 social media followers for her interiors tips and ideas, and her own home at St Annes is an explosion of colour.

The problem with Tara Slinger’s home, is that there isn’t enough time to see everything.

You’d need a week to take in all the unique items and design details, but chances are that before the week was out, Tara’s already likely to have repainted, rearranged, repapered or recycled enough that you’d need to start all over again.

Great British Life: The hallway was one of the things that attracted the family to the house initially (c) Kirsty ThompsonThe hallway was one of the things that attracted the family to the house initially (c) Kirsty Thompson

A true maximalist with an eye for design, Tara is a full time content creator who lives with her firefighter husband Joe, six year-old son Henry, and Angus the sausage dog.

The couple bought their end terrace property in Lytham St Annes when Henry was just a few months old, after viewing countless houses in the area. ‘It seemed like all the places within our budget at the time were fairly dire and hadn’t been looked after; there were lots of tired and scruffy rental properties being sold off by indifferent landlords. We decided to view this house even though it was slightly out of our price range, and we knew it was ours the moment we walked in. Even the simple fact that there’s a little hallway/entranceway set it head and shoulders above the previous ones we’d viewed and it felt so welcoming and spacious. You could tell that the family who lived here had really loved it and taken care of it.’

It’s hard to imagine now, but for the first couple of years after they moved in – the walls were simply whitewashed and the décor was kept plain and simple.

Great British Life: Every corner is a celebration of colour and pattern (c) Kirsty ThompsonEvery corner is a celebration of colour and pattern (c) Kirsty Thompson

Tara was busy with a young child and running her own personalised clothing business at the time. (She later closed the business after becoming frustrated by huge online retailers copying and underselling her designs).

In 2019, the couple opted to do some home improvements instead of spending their savings on a honeymoon. But it was during the first COVID lockdown that Tara really began to unleash her creativity around the family home. ‘I was watching the news too much and becoming anxious; it was a scary time where none of us quite knew what was happening and because I have asthma I became scared to leave the house at all really.

‘I distracted myself by tackling a few more home improvement projects. I started to teach myself a bit of DIY and began painting and papering my way around the house. Joe was really supportive because he could see that it was doing me good and giving me a creative outlet. My instagram page began as a way to document the process for myself, and - maybe because everyone was suddenly spending so much time online - it really took off.’

Great British Life: The lounge is Tara's current favourite room (c) Kirsty ThompsonThe lounge is Tara's current favourite room (c) Kirsty Thompson

Tara’s creative streak didn’t appear out of the blue, she had done fine art at GCSE, textiles and photography at college, and then a fashion styling degree at UCLAN.

Now, with 100k instagram followers, well respected design companies and major high street brands trust Tara to creatively showcase their products to her audience, but she remains discerning about who she works with. ‘I have turned down well-paid jobs in the past, believe it or not, because they didn’t reflect my style or my values. I know my followers would see straight through it if I was promoting something I didn’t believe in. I’ve built up an audience by being completely authentic and I’m not willing to compromise that.’

Dulux is just one of the brand partners Tara has worked with recently. Since 2021, Tara has suffered with chronic pain that doctors haven’t yet diagnosed. But when the 31-year-old vowed to no longer let her illness stop her from doing what she loves, she was chosen to partner with the paint brand as part of their ‘New Chapter’ campaign; a project that examined how bringing colour into your home can help you through difficult life moments; ‘I chose to clear out the office, which had become a bit of a dumping ground – and colour drench it floor to ceiling in pink. Now it’s a really inviting space that I use all the time. Henry often pulls up a seat next to me to do some colouring which is sweet.’

Great British Life: Even the utility room is given its own unique style (c) Kirsty ThompsonEven the utility room is given its own unique style (c) Kirsty Thompson

Henry’s colouring is mentioned again in passing when his mum laughingly explains how some monochromatic animal wallpaper had once been unexpectedly brightened up with felt tips. ‘He was only little at the time, and his reasoning was that it wasn’t colourful enough. It was a bit hard to argue with him when you compared the black and white wallpaper to the amount of colour in the rest of the house.’

It’s clear that the house is first and foremost a family home, not an exhibition space. Mustard lockers are bright and quirky but they also offer practical storage for a myriad of coats and shoes, colourful designer blankets are lounged on by the dog, and ornaments are frequently gathered up by Henry and his friends to populate a toy farm or zoo.

When asked about her eclectic style and bold colour choices, Tara explains her belief that you should decorate your home in a way that brings you joy now, rather than preparing it for some unknown future buyer. She’s also adamant that home improvements shouldn’t cost a fortune ‘some of the things in here that get the most compliments came from Home Bargains or Facebook marketplace’ and she also advocates for simply getting ‘stuck in’ to DIY. ‘I didn’t know how to hang a picture or fix a shelf when I started, but I learned along the way - and now my next project is to create a whole fitted bookcase and dining banquette!’

Great British Life: Tara worked with Dulux to refresh her office (c) Kirsty ThompsonTara worked with Dulux to refresh her office (c) Kirsty Thompson

Almost everything in Tara’s home has some kind of twist, without seeming forced. The famous ‘Chinese Girl’ print has been updated with an adidas tracksuit, the kitchen clock hangs on the sloped ceiling instead of the wall, and even the coffee table looks to be literally melting into its surroundings. A custom cut out sign sits above the picture rail on the chimney breast in the lounge – a commission painted by a local tattoo artist who couldn’t ink people while COVID restrictions were in place.

Tara’s favourite room in the house? ‘Probably the lounge at the moment, but there are still some things I need to finish and areas of paint to touch up. I love our bedroom because we put a lot of work into making it perfect, but it didn’t cost a fortune – it was all DIY. I made the headboard, upcycled the mirror and designed and built the fitted wardrobe doors.

‘My favourite item in the house is probably Henry’s bed which is upholstered in the most beautiful wild animal fabric. Bed bases are usually so plain and boring, I just love it. I always say that’s what I would save in a fire.’

Great British Life: Angus makes himself comfortable (c) Kirsty ThompsonAngus makes himself comfortable (c) Kirsty Thompson

When asked what her husband thinks of her colourful style and constant changes to the house, Tara pauses and then smiles. ‘He… accepts it.’

See more of Tara’s house, and follow the family’s home improvement journey on instagram @OurLayeredHome

Great British Life: Traditional prints are given a modern twist (c) Kirsty ThompsonTraditional prints are given a modern twist (c) Kirsty Thompson Great British Life: Tara works with well-known brands to showcase their products and her creativity (c) Kirsty ThompsonTara works with well-known brands to showcase their products and her creativity (c) Kirsty Thompson Great British Life: Much of Tara and Joe's bedroom transformation was achieved through DIY and upcycling (c) Kirsty ThompsonMuch of Tara and Joe's bedroom transformation was achieved through DIY and upcycling (c) Kirsty Thompson