Styling is definitely not something I learned in architecture school! For many an architect or designer, it would have been seen as a failure if you had to add a vase or mirror to the space to make it feel the way you wanted it to feel. The ultimate goal would have been to make the property feel right with my architectural language – structure, solid / void, light, shadow, material, texture, abstraction… rather than populating it with “stuff”.
Although the dictionary meaning suggests that styling is just arranging things in a particular way, I like to describe it as setting the mood for a space.
The reality is that styling is a very useful tool that helps us imagine how to use a room. I remember my brother saying to me that he wishes he was as creative as I was. I never really understood that he wasn’t creative and still don’t believe that he isn’t, I just think sometimes his imagination isn’t easily triggered. I use styling to help trigger that imagination in a space by using architectural language and styling to create a story or mood that inspires someone’s imagination to enjoy a space.
The main ways I use styling in my life and business are:
- To help developers and builders sell newly built homes when they are empty.
- I help buyers of newly built homes create their requested mood in their homes once the empty house is bought.
- For real-estate agents and landlords, I style a space so that potential renters or home buyers imagine how to use a space.
- For my clients, I style a 3D or sketch to help them feel how they can use a space I am creating for them.
- At home for my husband, guests or just for myself, I style my rooms to make the space feel the way I want it to feel either for a party or just for us to accentuate how lovely the morning, space or evening is.
In one of the architectural offices I worked in, interior designers were looked down on and they were seen as “pillow puffers”. At the time I was working on high rise, new build apartments and the work was particularly technical, in that the common thought about the spaces was just units, figures, numbers, areas, not what I saw – spaces for living a life in.
In their minds the planning department and the developer decided how many windows there had to be in a room, it wasn’t guided by how the space was used.
It shocked me that there was so little love for the thousands of homes being built for happy new homeowners trying to create a life and saving for what was most probably their first home. I have struggled to decorate some newly built properties as there often is no soul or connection from the structure to the interior. Even in architecture school, I was taught to explore the relationship between the inside and outside or even Mies Van der Rohe’s basics of “form follows function”… but I love what I do and I realise creating homes, houses, properties, buildings is my dream.
So styling can help you when the other architectural elements aren’t working or it can help you adjust a mood in a space. You can use styling to enhance particular features of a room or to help someone’s see what you can see in a space. Sometimes you can use styling as a picture frame – to frame an idea, to tell a story or to show off a piece of art.
More and more often I see builders or developers altering properties or arranging spaces or positioning windows and doors without a care for the person’s life in it. With such a disconnect between the end user and the “designer” no wonder styling has become more and more a part of my work. I have to try really hard sometimes to make a space feel like a home, imagine someone like my brother who hasn’t trained that imagination muscle? Soon you’ll need more than two degrees just to furnish a home to function in the right way – or you could just start styling.