How I became an Interior Stylist

 

My dream Job. How to becoem an interior stylist - tips from Inerior Stylist Maxine Brady from www.welovehomeblog.comThe question I get asked the most is NOT about tricky interior design problems or the latest trends – but how did I become an interior stylist for tv and magazines? Thought it would be helpful to share my rather chaotic career path here. If you’re thinking about becoming an Interior Stylists then think of this as a rough guide on how to become one too.

Lets start right at the very beginning – waaaaaay back in the 1990s. After finishing my degree in English and Politics, I did a journalism MA in Leeds.  This course included doing work experience and so contacted all the magazines that I loved reading (most don’t exist any more) and I got a two week placement at a fashion magazine. Although I was mostly clearing out the cupboard and opening the post, I was hooked.  Six months later – and a lot more work experience under my belt – I landed my first job at Period Living magazine as their office junior.

As part of my job (apart from making the tea), I assisted freelance stylists and I love it so much – all the luscious fabrics and thrilling props. This was way before the days of the internet, so everything we did was by phone or fax.  It was really old school – we had to call everyone to to arrange to pick up props – and I met some great friends that way from chatting to all the PR`s and little shop owners.

{Below is a cover shoot I did for Period Living many years later}

My dream Job. How to becoem an interior stylist - tips from Inerior Stylist Maxine Brady from www.welovehomeblog.comOne day, I cornered the style editor on Elle magazine in the office lift and BEGGED her to give me a chance – and she gave me my first break (thank you Susan Ward-Davies!) to look after the interior shopping pages for her. I used to do my normal job and then in my lunch hour, run down three flights of stairs, and help her comply the interior’s pages for £100 per page! I was living and breathing interiors working for such a young title and a more traditional one.

After 3 years, I was asked to join House Beautiful – my fav interior title ever – working in their style team.  This is where I really fine tuned my style skills. I got to shoot my first cover, I’d be styling two large decorating stories each month.  I worked under 5 editors in total. And I’m very very close my former editor, Sandy Cadiz-Smith – I’ve stayed with her family in Cape Town. I’ve learned that styling is about 95% organising and about 5% actual styling.

{Below here some of my work for House Beautiful and Country Homes Magazine}My dream Job. How to becoem an interior stylist - tips from Inerior Stylist Maxine Brady from www.welovehomeblog.com

On a shoot, I’m the one who is responsible for calling in all the props, getting them to the location. As well as booking the location, photographers and set builders, as well as organising lunch and making sure all the props are carefully looked after.

After five very happy years, I took the leap to go freelance – and I’ve not looked back – shooting out in Cape Town, Sydney and New York. I’ve shot covers for Country Homes Magazines and my makeovers and style shoots appear in at least two magazines a month. I’m now asked to shoot for high street clients like The White Company, House of Fraser, Debenhams, Tescos…They find me through my on-line portfolio website which you can see here.

Another big part of my job is finding beautiful homes to appear as magazine features. This has to be THE BEST PART OF MY JOB. I get to snoop in the house of real people who I find through twitter, Facebook or through friends of friends. I have met so many interesting people and have travelled all over the country in my tiny ford KA with a bunch of flowers and an iron in the boot of my car.

{This is a shoot I did for Country Homes + Interiors}

My dream Job. How to becoem an interior stylist - tips from Inerior Stylist Maxine Brady from www.welovehomeblog.com

Then about six years ago, I started working as a interiors stylist for a TV company in Brighton. That took off – and I have been the stylist for all of the Change Rooms team (remember them!) as well as for characters like Louie Spencer for This Morning (who wanted me to style his home). This year I have worked for Amanda Lamb’s Selling Houses, CowBoy Builders and for a brand new show with George Clarke for Channel 4 just this month. I’ve done makeovers for deserving families renovating their bedrooms, gardens and living rooms – and I’ve been on screen too – a bit sweaty as I have been up since the small hours set up the rooms ready for the cameras to roll.

My dream Job. How to becoem an interior stylist - tips from Inerior Stylist Maxine Brady from www.welovehomeblog.com

So that latest project I have taken on has been WeLoveHome. For years, friends and family have suggested that I started a blog to share all my style knowledge. Not being the best speller, I’ve not had the confidence, until I thought, sod it – it’s only spelling! So I launched this blog. It has expanding my career – now I do videos for my clients for their social media which I LOVE LOVE LOVE doing! As well as styling lots of mini projects just for me which I can share on here. It’s given me a lot more freedom to take on projects that are more ‘me’.

It’s all be very random. Some of it has been luck. Mostly a lot of hard work.  I’ve done some crazy things as part of my job – from spray painting vintage furniture until 1am, to trying to track down Christmas Trees in the middle of the August.

That’s the short story. I’ve had a lot of great times working as an Interior Stylist. It has hard hard work. The long + short of it, my tips on how to be an Interior Stylist – you have to be very resourceful – and a great networker. Tones of work experience – don’t forget that. Don’t expect to be paid sadly for quiet a while. You have to have good people and put people at ease (especially if you are photographing their home). I’ve learned how to take a good photo and what makes a great shoot just from practicing.

If you want more tips on what skills you need to be an interior stylist – then you have a long at my blog post on it here on How to Become an Interior Stylist. And I have done a little vlog here on what a Stylist needs in her kit to take on a shoot.

{Yes, that’s me ironing a rug for a shoot!}

My dream Job. How to becoem an interior stylist - tips from Inerior Stylist Maxine Brady from www.welovehomeblog.com

If you want to read a few features on my work – with more tips you need to check out these posts here from – where I have been interviewed by other bloggers. They have advice too on how to break into the world of home styling.

Fifi McGee has a Coffee with Maxine Brady: How to become an interior stylist 

 A Beginner’s Guide to Becoming An Interior Stylist

Dear Designer – Focus on Maxine Brady

Focus on WeLoveHome

It’s all in the mix

If you are interested in becoming a stylist – then drop a comment below 😉 I’m sure I can point you in the right direction. Lots of my former assistants now are big name stylists for tv shows and magazines. This industry is all about sharing and caring the home style love.

  • Rachel @ Fresh Design - Wow, what an impressive career you’ve had so far – long may it continue!2nd November 2015 – 12:02 pmReplyCancel

    • WeLoveHomeBlog - That is so sweet of you. Thank you so much. (Although I feel very old now)2nd November 2015 – 4:44 pmReplyCancel

  • Carole - Great, great insight into the world of an interior stylist and how much work it really is. In comparison, I’m still at the beginning of my career (though I did give up my day job last year after juggling both became impossible) and am learning with each new client. One day I’m hoping to land “the big one” i.e. Elle Deco, Living etc, and so on, but I’ve learned to be more patient and trust things will work out if I keep chipping away at it 🙂2nd November 2015 – 3:02 pmReplyCancel

    • WeLoveHomeBlog - I’m still waiting for that day Carole (ha ha). I was always so thrilled to work for the country titles as that is where my heart lies. But I find the more mass market the magazine was, the more creative I could be. That is why I love makeovers so much x2nd November 2015 – 4:43 pmReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - I bet it’s a lot of hard work, some luck and a talent for knowing what you want and going for it – well done. And that’s a lovely ironed rug – I’ve never thought to iron mine 😉 #homeinterest2nd November 2015 – 9:31 pmReplyCancel

    • WeLoveHomeBlog - Like anything in life – it is about making opportunities where you can and learning from others. I’ve had some great support over the years and editors who trust me to get a job done 😉3rd November 2015 – 11:26 amReplyCancel

  • Karen Knox - Great post Maxine!! 🙂3rd November 2015 – 12:25 pmReplyCancel

    • WeLoveHomeBlog - thank you x3rd November 2015 – 2:24 pmReplyCancel

  • Alison - Amazing!!! What an awesome career you have had!
    x3rd November 2015 – 1:32 pmReplyCancel

    • WeLoveHomeBlog - Love your shop Alison. So pretty. And modern for kids. Lovely things.3rd November 2015 – 2:25 pmReplyCancel

  • Kate Baxter - Great post Maxine, and well done for sticking with it! I was a styling assistant for many years before heading over to the dark side (PR) but still miss the days of 5am set calls and endless hours cataloguing products and bubble wrapping!!3rd November 2015 – 10:09 pmReplyCancel

    • WeLoveHomeBlog - Ahh yes, sticky labelled and bubble wrap. It’s so hard to make the step up these days. You have to be willing to work for free (or low paid at best) for ever!4th November 2015 – 3:38 pmReplyCancel

  • Stacey Sheppard - Wow Maxine. Sounds like such a fun experience you have had. I so admire interior stylists and their amazing vision. Definitely need to quiz you about your top styling tips.5th November 2015 – 6:10 pmReplyCancel

    • WeLoveHomeBlog - Of course. Quiz away x6th November 2015 – 9:27 amReplyCancel

  • miranda flowers - ive recently discovered my interest in interior design and wish to pursue it as a career, any suggestions on where/how i should start my journey?23rd December 2015 – 1:20 amReplyCancel

    • WeLoveHomeBlog - Hello. Why not check out the KCL school of design? They have lots of short courses on interior design to interior styling – so that you can work out which direction you want to go in and help you take it further.24th December 2015 – 7:47 pmReplyCancel

  • Claire - Hi Maxine,
    I really enjoy your blog and have just been checking out some of your videos on you tube too. Love the ‘how to style a Christmas mantle piece’ in particular.
    Would you be open to having me assist you on one of your shoots sometime? I’ve prior experience assisting for ideal home magazine but am looking to gain as much experience as I can.
    Would love to work with you! Feel free to contact me if this sounds like a possibility. I follow you on twitter too and my handle is @celebratecreatn
    Merry Christmas!
    Claire.x26th December 2015 – 9:36 amReplyCancel

    • WeLoveHomeBlog - Hey Claire – lovely to hear from you. Please drop me an email and we can chat.30th December 2015 – 12:40 pmReplyCancel

  • Haileigh Russell Wright - Great read! I’ve had a passion for styling, photography, art, design, interior, architecture etc for years. I remember when I was about 11yrs old, my brother & I use to design & build 3D house models so it’s been in my soul for years. What I found scary about interior design is that it wasn’t a big thing back in the South Island of New Zealand. It wasn’t seen as a career. So I lived it as a hobby & choose to study journalism & film but now after living in Australia for 8yrs & the last 4yrs in Melbourne I’ve decided to sit my cert5 in interior design this year! Im very excited but so nervous at the same time. My question is … What’s the best way to get my foot in the door? I have about 5 friends in Melbourne & none of them understand design. How do I make my passion my career?
    Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you1st January 2016 – 1:02 amReplyCancel

    • WeLoveHomeBlog - t a great journey you have had Haileigh! And well done on following your dream and going for your exams. If you want to become an interior stylist – your best chance is to contact interior magazines and asking them for work experience. Or contact stylist in your area and ask if you can shadow them – look up Claire Waymen she is in your neck of the woods. Secondly, start charting all your ideas and makeovers, the more you have to show for your work the better. And expect to take on projects for friends + fmaily for free so you can test out your ideas there.

      Good luck!2nd January 2016 – 8:01 pmReplyCancel

  • Mar Aragonés - Well, here is my story:

    I did the lasts years of high school with scientific subjects and then I started Psichology in Catalonia, where I live. I did all that without love, just because I had to do something. Just a week before starting the second grade of university I realised I wasn’t happy with what I was doing, so I gave up and started my research with what I always wanted to do: Interior Design. I had to spend a week completetly alone at the house of the beach to be sure of each step I had to follow… At the end everything was where it had to be. Now I’m doing some subjects to prepare the exam for next year, I’m also studying french and working. And what’s more important: I’m much more happy now.

    🙂18th January 2016 – 5:56 pmReplyCancel

    • WeLoveHomeBlog - I’m so pleased you took the leap. Would love to see your work.25th January 2016 – 1:58 pmReplyCancel

  • Ashley - Hello! My name is Ashley and I’m 21 years old. I’m a very creative individual and am having a hard time narrowing down which art I want to play the largest role in my career choice. I’ve looked into graphic design, architecture, and even wedding planning; I just love seeing things come together to make something beautiful! My most recent artistic interest is interior design. I love watching HGTV and shopping and gathering ideas for my own apartment. So, my question is where do I begin? There are a couple of routes I can take. Firstly, I have a good friend who is in the process of starting his own remodeling business where I would need to study architecture but I could also use my design sense inside the home as well. Or, I can go to my local community college and get a degree in interior design.
    Which route do you think I can take? Where should I go?

    P.S. I love taking pictures and have always liked the idea of working for a magazine or modeling in any form!
    Cheers and thank you for your time. 🙂29th January 2016 – 10:29 pmReplyCancel

  • Morgan Tolson - Hello,

    I so enjoyed your blog post. I am absolutely in love with all things interior design. When I see beautiful work on social media or Pinterest, my heart skips a beat. I would love to connect with you for advice on where to start. I am at ground zero – no experience & a sophomore in college – But I am hard working & determined to make my dreams come true.

    Contact: morganetolson@gmail.com

    Thank you for being an inspiration!

    Morgan Tolson19th February 2016 – 6:02 pmReplyCancel

    • WeLoveHomeBlog - Hey. Ask me a question here and I’ll post up and we can share amongst ourselves. What would you like to know?21st February 2016 – 9:14 pmReplyCancel

  • Florence - This is what I needed to read! Im about to become a lawyer but I’ve always wanted to do what I love the most, styling. I don’t regret my former career bc I belive everything you do/study/accomplish is useful. What study or courses you recommend attending in order to start a solid styling career? Thanks!!!6th March 2016 – 5:49 pmReplyCancel

    • WeLoveHomeBlog - Hello Florence. With styling it really is about practice rather than study. Start bing interior magazines and look at what they do, email stylists for work experience, and use instgram to show off your work.7th March 2016 – 8:57 amReplyCancel

  • MP - Great article – I have a degree in interior design and am trying to get back into it, your page is inspiring!15th March 2016 – 7:45 pmReplyCancel

    • WeLoveHomeBlog - Thank you x31st March 2016 – 4:38 pmReplyCancel

  • raven - Hi my name is Raven I am a middle school art teacher with a degree in fashion merchandising/design and I got the interest from my sister in law when she hired a stager to come in and stage her already beautiful house for sale. My husband has been encouraging me to look more into it for my love of all things design, decor, DIY and changing/staging our house 24/7 haha I am a blank slate and would love to know more information on how to get started or a direction to go in. I know most people have their own business, but I read you say you didn’t go out on your own till 5years, and I think working for a business and getting some experience under my belt is a great idea! I love everything about design and decorating, I am trying to find new inspiration for my passion and I can’t think of a better way to start then with something I love and enjoy doing…..24th March 2016 – 4:51 pmReplyCancel

  • Dora Medini - Thank you so much for writing this article! It gave me hope that even without a traditional educational background there is hope in becoming an interior stylist.
    I am 36 years old and have never worked in the field but have always enjoyed decorating. For the past year Styling has been a passion and i believe its time to follow my dreams. I am having a hard time breaking in the industry and was hoping you point me in the direction. I feel like eveyone wants experience but how can you get it if you arent given the opportunity.
    Any advice that you could give me would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks again! Your work is amazing!!!
    Dora15th April 2016 – 7:18 pmReplyCancel

    • WeLoveHomeBlog - That is very kind of you to say. The best way to do styling is to start. Try out little ideas and then pop them on a blog, build up your work and then start appraching magazines and stylists for work experience. It’s a long haul process. There is no short cut sadly.16th April 2016 – 7:59 pmReplyCancel

  • Krizia - Firstly I’d like to thankyou for sharing your journey, it’s very comforting to know that even the stylist that have met great success where once standing where I am now. My passion and goals is to become an interior stylist I’ve worked for family and friends doing small interior design rprojects but haven’t had the opportunity to gain experience in the industry. Do you have any tips on what doors I need to knock on to gain experience and how I go about it.1st September 2016 – 11:36 pmReplyCancel

  • Erin - Hi! Great tips – I want to learn how to be a stylist just for my own blog. We are renovating an Italianate Victorian mansion and it has a lot of great details. I can’t get the pics to look as good as it all looks to me in real life. What type of wide angle lens do you recommend ? Or do you usually shoot the room in parts?14th October 2016 – 3:18 amReplyCancel

    • WeLoveHomeBlog - I work with professional photographers who do all the magic, and I style up the shots. But now I take more photos for my blog – I’ve learned more how to work a camera, so yes, I break down a room into parts. No wide angles. They make everything look distorted.17th October 2016 – 11:26 amReplyCancel

  • Laura - Thank you so much for sharing your experience, its so interesting to learn of your journey into the dream role and gives me confidence that I can take the leap to do it full time one day! I have worked within the world of Interiors for the last 10 years, but more on the sales side. I have worked on projects with clients within these roles, but would love to have more tips on how to build a portfolio and gain more knowledge whilst still working in my current roles. I would love to help on shoots with you if you need a free extra pair of hands!27th October 2016 – 5:53 pmReplyCancel

    • WeLoveHomeBlog - lad you found it useful29th October 2016 – 5:41 pmReplyCancel

  • Lauren Payne - Hi Maxine! I graduated with a BS in Interior Design in 2011. I’ve worked in commercial design and corporate real estate as a space planner since graduation. I’ve realized my true passion is styling- whether it’s for a fashion shoot, prop stylist for food photography, editorial content for various print, anything! I love the idea of telling a story through imagery and helping clients create looks that embody their brand. I know I’m going to start out as the low man on the totem pole and that’s fine with me- I’ll do anything to work my way up as a stylist.

    Since I’m most interested in working for a magazine, do you think it’s a wise investment for me to get a masters in journalism. I do not know if my design degree is enough. I’ve always loved writing and have strong communication skills, but am unsure if I’ll get the opportunities I want without it.

    Lastly, right now I am living in Virginia. This doesn’t seem like the place to be when pursuing a career as a stylist. I imagine it would be best to live in a major city in the US like LA or NY; would you agree?

    Any feedback or advice you can share with me would be so appreciated! Thank you so much!13th December 2016 – 6:54 pmReplyCancel

  • Chloe Tran - Hi, Maxine. Such an amazing and inspiring career path. I’m 4th-yr university student and the major is finance. However, recently i realized that what i really want is to work on interior design/decoration, so i decide to try on this field after graduation. Having nothing to do with this job before, my clues to continue believing in myself are my love and passion for changing and making things around more beautiful and inspiring, my ability to sketch and draw (I can copy paintings or drawings by just watching up to 70%) and my imagination. Right now, im trying to start this way but there are a lot to concern. Actually, i am not sure how to start, where to start. Hope that i can learn something from you 😄😄😄16th January 2017 – 1:20 pmReplyCancel

  • Laura Burton - Hi,

    Thank you so much for your post! I want to be a stylist, too! I don’t care how long it takes me as long as I’m able to do it! Please , if you have a minute or two to spare– look at my instagram page– “slatecourtdecor”. Some of the pictures are of my home and the work I’ve done and others are homes I’ve visited. What do I need to work on? I would really appreciate it if you could tell what where I am lacking so I can be better!

    Thank you thank you!
    Laura B8th August 2017 – 7:09 amReplyCancel

    • WeLoveHomeBlog - Your home is beautiful. You best bet is to start a blog and share your interior design ideas and grow a portfolio 🙂8th August 2017 – 8:52 pmReplyCancel

  • madison - I have been in love with decor and arranging furniture since i was very young. Just woke up a couple days ago and want to go for it. Came across you page and it has gotten me absolutely pumped up! Wish i could talk with you and ask you questions, i know this is an old post.15th August 2017 – 9:33 pmReplyCancel

    • WeLoveHomeBlog - Hey Madison

      I need to write another post soon on this topic! It’s so popular 🙂16th August 2017 – 7:47 amReplyCancel

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