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Interior Styling – 3 Simple Rules

Lauren Aston
31 January 2018

Hi There

Thank you for your wonderful comments on last weeks blog – you’re always so good to me! This week I’m actually away on holiday, drinking mojito’s (bottled water) and tanning (burning) poolside so rather than just post pictures of my holiday and rub it in, I thought I’d ask a talented friend to step in and write something brilliant. The wonderful Holly Knott kindly obliged and has written a CORKER of a post with some amazing styling tips. I won’t bore you with my introduction of her genius as she sums it up beautifully so here are her 3 Simple Rules for interior styling…

Hands mic to Holly

Hello everyone! My name is Holly and I’m a Surrey based Prop Stylist.  Which in simple terms is making anything from cushions to bog roll look pretty for a photograph!

I didn’t even know this job existed two years ago after I’d graduated. That was until I got a job at John Lewis as an assistant Interior Stylist and I’ve been pursuing it ever since.

 Holly wearing robe by

Holly wearing robe by

So I wanted to give you a few quick tips on what I’ve learnt so far and the rules I sometimes use when I’m either styling a photograph for work or making a few décor decisions at home.

1. The Rule of Odds

I had to include this universally known rule as I feel it’s completely fail-safe when it comes to styling a photograph. So, for example if you’re taking a picture of a gorgeous armchair as your centerpiece and want to use a pile of books as background props, consider using an odd amount of them. The same would apply to any other small objects you want to prop with, candles, bottles, cushions, etc. It’s suggested that this is because you would never come across symmetry or even numbers within the natural world, so an odd amount of objects in a photo appear to be more engaging, satisfying and more effectively presented.

Now, this rule is subjective and of course doesn’t apply in every situation. For myself, I like to occasionally use this rule when the setup has to appear ‘real’ or ‘lived-in’. However, if you want to shoot a very contemporary style image, using an even number of objects and symmetry would work well.

This rule would also work perhaps if you’re planning a dinner party or having friends stay over.  Use an odd amount of candles or flowers to dress your dining table, or consider using three or five decorative cushions for the bed to get that relaxed, homely look.

2. Balance

Balance in a photograph or a piece of artwork is key for great composition and you can also take this into consideration when you’re adding finishing touches to your home. Again, this rule has, and will continue to be broken. But from my personal experience on either interiors or still life shoots this rule is quite important.

A quick way to a successfully balanced photograph is to divide your image up into thirds (both vertically and horizontally). With practice, you can do this by eye or your camera’s viewfinder will already have this three by three grid as an option. The grid lines and the four crossing intersections become important parts of your picture, meaning you should consider placing objects of interest at these points. This will enable the viewer’s eye to travel around the picture and interact with it more naturally.  For example, below is a still life image I helped to style and you can see that most of the objects on the table are connecting well with the grid lines, which helps to create quite a satisfying image to look at, don’t you think??

Top Tip

The way you can create a bit more balance in your home is with assorted objects that vary in height. What I mean by this is perhaps bring in some lovely tall houseplants together with some big, plump floor cushions. I also like to sit large prints on the floor and lean them against the walls to fill unwanted empty spaces.

3. Work from a Painting

This is a favourite of mine purely because a lot of the work has already been done for you! It might sound cheeky but I like to use this when I’ve perhaps been given a last minute brief and I’m under pressure to deliver in a short space of time, or this is also great if you’re decorating your home and unsure about what colour combinations to use. So, simply choose a painting that you love and use the colour pallet and tones from the picture to use in your home or perhaps for a mood board you’ve been asked to create for work.

L.S. Lowry is one of my favourite artists and he uses beautifully muted and muddy tones. He works with a lot of mustard shades, dark blues and burnt oranges to create his moody industrial scenes. His painting titled ‘Street Scene’ helped me redecorate my living room!…

So, whether you’re an aspiring stylist like me or you just want to revamp your home, I hope these tips will help you on future styling projects. Good luck!

Holly x

You can find more of Holly’s beautiful work on her website and see lots more on her Instagram page


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