As you flick through the achingly perfect interiors images gracing the pages of the Sunday supplements and design magazines, you may be too busy admiring and stealing tips from their apparently effortless arranging of clusters of artwork here and half-finished balls of knitting there to wonder whose job it is to create that look. Interiors stylists, that's who.
I don't know what happened at your school, but such super-cool options were never included in any careers talk I ever attended, so how does a person get to enter this rarefied world of arranging beautiful things for a living? We spoke to interiors stylist Emily Blunden to find out:
I studied textile design at university and was quite surprised at how fashion-based it was. I wasn't really interested in going down the fashion route, so I started to make all of my projects aimed at the interiors market. I knew nothing about interiors before university and even after I started developing an interest and reading all the amazing interiors magazines, I thought that being involved in that world was just a dream job that other people got to do, not me. When I left university I wasn't really sure what to do, but got some work experience at The Guardian and then The Sunday Times Style magazine and from that got my first job as an assistant stylist.
2. Tell us about the best job you've worked on recently.
I'm really excited about a Homes & Garden spread that I worked on recently, which is coming out in March. It was just beautiful and I'm really proud to have been involved.
3. Is there any such thing as a typical day as an interiors stylist?
No. There's no typical day and there's no typical job either. Within the industry there are three main areas: editorial, commercial and press shows. With editorial work, most of your time is spent finding as many amazing products as you can to fit the story you're working on for the magazine. With commercial - advertorials, catalogues, that kind of stuff - it's all about hiring props and for press shows the challenge is to create something that makes the company you're working for look as fabulous as possible.
4. Can it sometimes take all day to put together that one perfect shot of, say, a beautifully laid kitchen table?
Often when you're shooting for a magazine you'll only have maybe one or two days to get eight or ten shots, so you have to move pretty quickly. It's not just the stylist on their own though - we work with amazing set builders and assistants, so it all gets done somehow.
5. Any tricks of the styling trade you're willing to share so we can all make our homes magazine-worthy?
Well this might sound a bit random, but when you're having to create a 'perfect' look on a shoot, you can never have labels visible on jars or glasses or anything and you don't really have time to sit there soaking things off in soapy water. So my top tip is lighter fluid and a little bit of loo roll – gets labels off glassware in a second!
6. What are the best and worst aspects of your job?
The worst thing I suppose is that you're always time-restricted – everything always needs to be done yesterday. The best is that it's just so satisfying being able to create pretty pictures. I really do love it and get a buzzy feeling in my belly when I've put together something really pretty. And, although it's a cliché, you do get to work with some amazing people – really creative people.
7. Do you ever get house envy from spending so much time in incredible home locations?
Well, a slightly larger personal budget and a bigger house would be nice, but having more limited funds just makes me more creative.
8. Any advice for someone wanting to break into the styling world?
Expect to do a lot of work for free to begin with – lots of work experience. Getting onto a magazine is the ideal next step – people will be comforted if they can see that you've worked regularly on lots of published stuff. And know that it won't happen for you overnight.
To check out more of Emily's work, go to www.emilyblunden.co.uk