Sunday, April 18, 2010

Source, Style, Shoot with.... Emily Chalmers

This month I had a chat Emily Chalmers, an interior stylist & owner of Caravan, a fantastic shop in Shoreditch, London. I have loved Emily's books, shop and styling for ages now, so it was great to hear her thoughts on her job, her style and her own home.....

How did you get into interior styling?

If styling means re-arranging other people's furniture, then I've always been a stylist of sorts! As a child I would organize my friend's bedrooms and even got invited back to one particular home on a regular basis house to 'do' the kitchen....
My interest in interiors carried on into my twenties when I shared a house with a photographer-friend who watched me decorate my bedroom and told me I should be a 'stylist' - I asked her to explain what that was.... and I have never looked back....
After doing stints assisting other stylists on photo-shoots for catalogues, magazines and pr jobs, I landed a job on a magazine. Three years there taught me a lot about shoot production, art direction, and writing. I then went on to work freelance and that is when I also started working with a publishing company on interior style books.
I now also have a shop, Caravan, in the East end of London, and I combine books, styling, and the store - it's a full life, but I love it!
signed copies of Emilys books are available from Caravan
Read my previous review post on Cheap Chic here.

What do you love most about your job?
I love editing things - being able to choose products and to put them together. Unexpected combinations bring surprises, and this is what I love the most.
My shop Caravan gives me a chance to experiment with products and to have fun!
I also enjoy meeting people - having a store has allowed me to have customers, and they can be very inspiring too. (see pic of Caravan below)

How would describe your personal interior style?
I find it terribly difficult to describe my style - it seems to depend upon my mood, the weather, my surroundings, the time of year....
A magazine editor once described it as 'vintage, floral, bohemian' - that's a pretty good description!
My home is a mixture of styles - I am always happy to mix old and new, given and found.
I live in an old industrial building in London - decoration-wise I like a 'quick fix' and my decor is very 'rough and ready' - i.e. lengths of fabric hang un-hemmed as room dividers, floral remnants have been used to make scatter cushions, vintage postcards decorate the walls, and the space is lit with a range of brightly coloured vintage Anglepoise and standard lamps. (see pics of Emily's home below)
Where do you shop for your own home?
I shop anywhere and everywhere - in fact it's good that I do work a lot, otherwise I would probably be shopping a lot!
I always visit markets and bring something back from my travels, whether it be a particularly good shoehorn, a brightly coloured mixing bowl, or some large beads to decorate a light pull.

Is there any particular trends you think will be popular in 2010?
It's great that trends now veer towards mixing and matching - 'minimal' always used to scare me as it can seem a very strict style. In my world style should have practicality, comfort, quality, and humour in equal measures - a tall order, but it is this integrity that will last.
I think we shall see more experimentation with colour this year, juxtaposed with texture - such as big bold graphic prints on roughly textured linens, and brightly lacquered paint-work on distressed surfaces.
I also think we'll see more kitsch, in a well chosen ironic way - the success of our Bambi and toadstool lamps at Caravan is a good example of this.
Lisa Whatmough's designs for Squint are a great example of combining colour and pattern (see interiors pics below)
Abigail Ahern at Atelier Abigail Ahern likes to introduce the unexpected into a room-scheme (see giant resin animal head decoration below)....
Do you have any tips for my readers for styling their own home?
Ooooh - where do I start?!
Firstly, remember that it is your own home, and you must do what you would like to do, not what you think you should do.
I believe everyone has their own style, but may not have practiced enough with it to recognize it.
If you're not sure what you like, why not narrow things down and start with a list of what you don't like.
I've never been one for saying 'don't paint small rooms in dark colours' - what is wrong with a room becoming more cosy and dark? But do use a light colour if you don't like dark walls.
One decorating trick I always use is to 'layer' a space - working across the room put things at different heights creating a 3 dimensional 'set' - hang from ceilings (for instance try not just one pendant, but placing shades at differing heights), use the wall space (for, obviously, pictures, but how-about adding a vintage letter, an old manuscript, a lovely big bead necklace hanging from a decorative hook, a little mirror, and so on), then put tall lamps on short tables and play with scale.
Lastly, sit back and enjoy - decorating should be fun and inspiring - let your experiments lead you to something unexpected!

Thanks so much Emily!

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