Monthly Archives: November 2016

A California Cottage Ideas

Attempting to overhaul your design scheme DIY-style? You don’t need to conform to a specific decorating style—or era—to create rooms that are stylish and modern with a unified look. Rather, your rooms should be dynamic, interesting, and full of the things you love, regardless of their provenance. In other words, yes, you can mix this with that!


In this new recurring series, we’ll dissect gorgeous spaces to see what makes them tick—by hearing directly from the pros that designed them. You’ll learn exactly why each room works, item by coveted item.


This month, we examine an adorable three-bedroom cottage in Altadena, California. Charmean Neithart, the San Marino-based designer, talks to us about the home’s Modern-Tropical aesthetic.

Neithart chose to mix the two decorating styles based on the downsizing homeowners’ fun-loving nature and their willingness to incorporate bright colors.

“But marrying styles isn’t always so intentional,” says Neithart. “A designer will rarely hear a client say, ‘Here’s my empty room. Here’s a bunch of money. Do whatever you want.’”

“That concept is a fantasy,” she adds. “And design shows on TV often make it seem like reality.”

Stylists Do Before a Photo Shoot

Have you ever looked at a photo of a beautiful room in a magazine and wondered why your own home doesn’t look like that? Don’t feel too discouraged. The truth is that those rooms don’t usually look like that either – they’ve been styled by professional prop stylists.

Before a photo shoot a prop stylist comes in armed with accessories, art, and props of all kinds to make the room look as good as possible on camera.

Even those rooms designed by well-respected decorators and interior designers are amped up a bit with props. That’s because what we see in reality and what we see through the lens of a camera can seem a little different. Rooms that look beautiful in reality can look a little empty through the lens, so it’s up to the prop stylist to layer in the appropriate items and fill the space in the appropriate way. It’s also up to the prop stylist to make any other necessary alterations to the room so that it looks like the aspirational fantasy we all look for in magazines and decorating books.

Here are 10 of the most common things prop stylists do to get a room photo shoot ready.


Get Rid of Clutter

The first, and arguably most important thing, is to get rid of the homeowner’s clutter. That means envelopes and papers, remote controls, dishes, rogue pens and pencils, kids toys – all the things that are a part of normal, every day life.

These are things we all have laying around our homes, but they don’t look great in photos. So when the prop stylist comes to prep the room for the photo shoot, all those things get carefully hidden away out of sight.

Clean Everything

It goes without saying that a dirty house is unacceptable for a photo shoot.

So prop stylists make sure there are no specks of dust or dirt on any of the furniture or other surfaces being photographed – especially the floor. There’s usually someone wiping things down right before the shot is taken so that no speck of dust has time to settle. And if they happen to miss anything it gets touched up by the photographer after the fact so that no one will ever see it. So don’t feel too bad that your house doesn’t look as clean as what you see in the magazines. Those houses aren’t that clean usually either!

Steam Fabrics

Every prop stylist has a steamer and iron on stand by, and before the first shot is set up, every fabric that is going to be in the shot gets ironed or steamed so that any and all wrinkles are eliminated. Any window treatments gets steamed so that there are no visible wrinkles as are any other hanging fabrics.  In many cases upholstery and throw pillows also get a quick steam or swipe with the iron so that they look smooth. It’s also very common to add a decorative throw to a sofa or chair, and this item will be steamed as well.


Fresh Cut Flowers

Every interior prop stylist knows the ins and outs of flower arranging. That’s because fresh flowers are the most common prop you’ll find in professionally styled interiors. Look in any decorating magazine and you’ll see them on coffee tables, end tables, bedside tables, and mantles. Fresh flowers add color and life to photographs (and real life rooms), and they work in any space at any time. They can add a burst of color and they quite literally bring rooms to life.


Decorative Boxes

One of the most common props used by interior stylists (besides fresh flowers) is decorative boxes. This is because boxes do wonders for filling empty spaces, and for creating height in styled vignettes. And in real life they’re great for hiding things like remote controls, pens and papers, etc. Decorative boxes come in all sorts of styles and colors. Antique mahogany or inlaid boxes are classic and traditional, while faux shagreen and lacquer boxes can be modern and glam.