Meet Interior Stylist Selina Lake

Loads of color and pattern -- there's no better way to kick off a new week! I recently came across Interior Stylist Selina Lake, a fresh young talent who has already at age 26 accomplished so much - including a book soon to be released in April called Bazaar Style. Based in the charming countryside of Leicestershire, England with regular visits to London for work, her job is one many express an interest in so I thought it would be fun to interview her. Perhaps some of her words may stick and encourage other budding stylists out there to go for it! Her portfolio is certain to stimulate your creativity today so let's meet Selina Lake, shall we?

From Living Room shoot, Photographer Andrew Boyd.

decor8: Hi Selina! The first question I have is pretty basic but can you tell us how you came to be an stylist?

Selina: With lots of self-PR -- a lot of hard work and perseverance! In the beginning I posted letters, had postcard business cards printed, sent loads of emails and made hundreds of phone calls. I basically bombarded magazine editors until I got my first styled shoot commissioned.

decor8: For those who aren't familiar with what a stylist does, can you tell us about a normal workday for you...

Selina: Everyday is different with this job, ahead of a shoot a lot of prep work is done before hand. I work from home calling in products, organizing couriers and booking the locations. On the days when I'm shooting it usually involves arriving early at the location, after making a flower stop on the way. Then I get set up, sometimes I have a set builder to do any wallpapering, painting etc. I then work with the photographer to produce the best possible shots ? this involves lots of tweaking, plumping, polishing, ironing, flower arranging, pinning, sticking, etc.!

From Summer Room shoot, Photographer Andrew Boyd.

decor8: In England, what is the difference between an interior designer and a stylist?

Selina: I imagine all designers and stylists have a slightly different opinion on this, my understanding is an Interior Designer tends to design residential and commercial properties. They come up with designs, which meet their client's specific requirements. An Interior stylist's role is usually to produce images, which are used to sell products, and to inspire magazine and book readers.

decor8: What formal training do you have or if self taught, how did you learn?

Selina: I trained as a Surface Pattern designer, which was a good base to start. I learnt styling skills through assisting other stylists when I first started out. I worked on shoots for Elle Decoration, LivingEtc and Ikea Home magazine. I think a lot about being a stylist is instinctive as well you can?t be taught what looks ascetically pleasing its just in you, however I picked up lots of useful tips from the stylist I assisted.

decor8: Who are some of your clients?

Selina: I work for many UK editorials Inc: Marie Claire, Real Homes, Ideal Home, and House Beautiful. I also style advertising shoots for the Next Directory; on the last shoot I was styling the children?s bedlinen/furniture section. Plus the publishers for my new book Ryland Peters & Small.

Cover and images froom Bazaar Style.

decor8: Impressive client list! Did I hear you say earlier something about a new book? Can you elaborate? :)

Selina: Yes, my new book Bazaar Style published by Ryland Peters & Small releases in April 2008 and is about real homes furnished with intriguing pieces from different eras and cultures, which mix and match color, patterns and designs. The Bazaar look is so achievable because anything goes, in the book you discover an inspiring mix of vintage and retro influences, flea market finds and pieces inspired by a French brocante market or a Moroccan bazaar. The book will appeal to magpies who have an eye for a hidden gem on a yard-sale table or in a thrift store, so its ideal for collectors. I shot the book with photographer Debi Treloar, who has taken beautiful photographs for many Ryland Peters & Small books including: Flea Market Style and Cheap Chic. The writer I worked with, Joanna Simmons is a regular writer for Country Living UK and contributing editor for LivingEtc magazine.

decor8: That sounds fantastic, especially since Flea Market Style and Cheap Chic are two of my favorite books. Lots to look forward to. So if someone reading this interview is interested in becoming a stylist, how do you suggest they get started?

Selina: Well, I started by contacting magazines and offering (begging) to do work experience. I think that?s the best way, although there are now college courses in styling so that could be another option.

decor8: Do you blog?

Selina: No, but I?m loving looking at and reading all the lovely blogs I keep coming across. Including decor8!

decor8: Since you're not a blogger, how do you network online?

Selina: My website has recently gone live and so far I have had lots of positive feedback and interest in my work from all over the world ? which I?m thrilled about!

decor8: Let's talk about where you work, which I imagine is a mix between home and on location...

Selina: I?m often out propping for shoots, attending meetings or researching locations so I don?t spend all my time at home, and when I do I?m usually so busy the time whips away. When I was shooting Bazaar Style I got to travel to Amsterdam and Morocco which where both amazing!

decor8: Tell us about your workspace at home.

Selina: Sure. I work from home when I'm prepping for an upcoming shoot or when I'm writing copy. I have a large old desk (painted white), with shelves on the wall above which is storage for brightly colored hand painted Indian woven boxes, filled with old magazines, catalogues and press releases. I also have a large pin board for pinning up inspirational pictures and reminders ? it?s decorated with pink fairy lights. I use a decorative Chinese lantern as the main light shade in the room, which gives off a pink glow, and a retro desk lamp, which actually gives decent light when I?m working. Oh and I sit on a chair which I bought from village bazaar for a ?1 and painted bright pink.

decor8: Sounds lovely. Any advice for others who want to work from home but have never done it before - what keeps you focused and on track?

Selina: I feel like I?m always thinking about work? with ideas popping into my mind at anytime. My best advice would be to have a notebook to hand to scribble down notes and ideas to explore, when you?ve put that load of washing in or when the dinners cooked! My job doesn?t really feel like work, because I enjoy it so much, I think if your doing something you enjoy it?s easy to stay focused. (It works for me until I have a day of doing my accounts anyway!)

decor8: Where do you find your inspiration for design?

Selina: From all over the place, often a fabulous new product or flea market find can spark an idea for a shoot. I also love looking at my contacts photos on Flickr.

decor8: What was the best advice anyone ever gave you?

Selina: My Mum and Dad always told me to smile, be myself and try my best, and these gems of wisdom have served me well so far!

decor8: Describe how you feel about your work...

Selina: I LOVE my job I feel really lucky to be doing something I enjoy so much and make a living from it too.

decor8: And finally Selina, if you weren't a stylist you would be a.....

Selina: Shop owner. I?d have my own boutique, which would sell all the bits and bobs I love, if I could bring myself to part with any of the treasures that is!


Thank you Selina for visiting with us here on decor8 today. Readers if you have questions for Selina please ask by posting your question below. Selina will do her best to answer them for you. Yay! This was fun, thanks again for your visit Ms. Lake!

(images all from selina lake showing her styling work)