Today on the blog, T&W stylist and boy from the bush, Adam Powell, shares a riches to rags to riches styling tale of when bad things happen to good people.
Even as an interior stylist working in the industry, I’m sure you feel the same as I do when flicking through homewares magazines: Who are these people? Why are their homes so perfect when mine is so… well loved? How come everything just seems to work so effortlessly?
It’s easy to think that nothing ever goes wrong in the hands of a top decorator. No piece out of place. No purchase mistakes in the heat of the moment. Every bold paint choice a tour de force of on-trend colour foresight. With so much perfection presented to us every day, it’s easy to get disheartened about improving your own humble abode.
So with that in mind, I thought I’d share with you something a little different – a story from our own professional lives of when something did go wrong, and what we did about it.
We shoot three or four lifestyle scenes a day, so time is always precious and never on our side. One scene can involve many hours of concepting, sourcing and shooting, requiring lots of planning so things go smoothly when the camera starts clicking.
My big shoot for the day was an old T&W favourite, Nomadic Marketplace Persian textiles, but this time I wanted to represent them in a different way. I wanted to show people that even in a contemporary home, by drawing on certain elements from traditional textiles you can work them into a modern setting.
The hero piece that provided this foothold into the possibility of modernity was a colourful patchwork rug with bright pops of saturated yellows and turquoise, which sent me off into creating a contemporary inner city apartment with a masculine edge.
After prepping, propping, composing, lighting, and final art checks, we had our beautiful scene all shot, done and dusted. Exactly what I had in my head. It was perfect. Only problem was – we’d been given the wrong rug.
My heart sank. Despair set in. We stared blankly at our substitute. It didn’t have the colour pops that gave birth to the rest of the room. It just… didn’t work. We scrambled for excuses. “Can we just have the rug just at the edge? Can we put a little note on the rug saying “please don’t look at this rug???” The whole room was based on this rug; without it we may as well scrap it and start again.
Our Head of Styling Jess Bellef popped her head in. “Ok, so let’s think on our feet. We have to shoot something, we have to shoot it now, and we have to use this rug – what can we do to make this work?”
The new rug was a much more traditional rug, with a much more muted, neutral palette. With only 30 mins of studio time left, I needed to change the scene quickly, and I didn’t have time to run about town sourcing other options. The key furniture and props had to stay, and I was at the mercy of whatever we had about the studio. But what to change?
Clearly I had to address colour. The new rug had an ivory and navy base with small muted pops of red, orange and green. My highly saturated yellows had to go, their departure radically changing the tone of the room. Our thirtysomething lower east side bachelor was now ageing gracefully into his forties. The floor lamp was going. The blues were staying.
I introduced some more classic, neutral pieces. His penchant for pop art had matured into dusty bronzed metallics, his classic bright teal chair transforming from a contemporary colour pop to an elegant estate. Hints of gold continued this sophisticated look, and by adding a few key vintage items gave the room history and character. Crisis averted people, we made it.
The lesson? You don’t have to change everything about your home to feel change. Sure, some of your favourite bits and bobs may have to take a spell, but you don’t need to think you have to throw the baby out with the bathwater to freshen up your look. You just need to understand the stories things in your home are telling, and make sure they’re all speaking the same language.
And most importantly, remember things don’t always go to plan, but if you think hard and stick at it, they always work out in the end.
Adam Powell told his story to T&W Creative Director Chris Deal. Follow Adam on Instagram @theboyfromthebush
Shop for Persian rugs, cushions & ottomans at our Nomadic Marketplace sale.