Look who grew a pair and painted their dining room a crazy turquoise!

 

turquoise-blue-dining-room-fiddle-leaf-fig

Yep. I did it.  Brian and my smurfy dreams have come true, our dining room is turquoise.
Here’s why I did it:
a. it’s awesome.
b. it’s exciting.
c. We have a pretty dark apartment, unfortunately, and I feel like in rooms where there is a lot of pretty, natural light then you really don’t need a lot of color on the walls, the light reflecting around the room creates visual interest on its own.   BUT, in a not so light apartment dimmish natural light on a lightish colored wall can be boring – which mine was (although if you guys want a good neutral that has a lot of pigments in it and changes slightly throughout the day as light moves around it, look at BM Novemeber rain).

 

Oh. and here’s the real reasons.  We are saving for a house (we have about $12 now) and have decided to stay in this pretty good, really cheap, big outdoor space, great neighborhood (Los Feliz) apartment until we do.   I have never really invested in stuff that you can’t take with you (like the wallpaper i already ordered), but if we are here for 3 years or less, then I want to have a super fun apartment for our last rental.  It might look a little cookoo, but we entertain a lot (we have friends over nightly) so I want to just embrace our last place, have some 20-something fun (i know, i know i’m 30), before I start baking one in the oven.  Will I get sick of this color and the wallpaper? yep, eventually.  But it’s just an apartment.  It’s just a wall treatment.  It’s a good place to take risks.  Sofas? maybe not the right place to take a $2500 risk, but spend $20 on a gallon of turquoise semi-gloss and see how much more fun you’ll have in your dining room – which is also my office and connected to the living room – i make it sound like its a big space that I give four course dinners to twelve guests, and it aint.

And also, i’m gearing up for Design Sponge and Apartment therapy house tours.  I want those readers, bad.

color-swatchesturquoise-blue

 

So I chose a few colors from the Benjamin Moore PREVIEW fandeck to start.  The preview has a lot more modern colors than the classic; it has a bunch of super saturated teals and turquoises.  I had to choose one that would work well with my crazy indigo rug, but not match it too perfectly (nor did I want it to be that dark).  I ended up choosing Carribean Azure.  I love it.  And yes, get semi-gloss.  It reflects the light around the room, and frankly gloss on your walls is back – especially for a young, urbanish space.  (I was also loving ‘Bermuda blue’ and for a darker color check out ‘Twilight’ (I’m sold already, hello!) or ‘Marine Blue’)

It’s a bit greener than the picture at the top looks  and lighter.  As soon as I finish the wallpaper and refinish a couple pieces of furniture, reupholster their cushions,  repaint the rest of the apartment a color that works with the wallpaper and buy a couple occasional tables, THEN i’ll get photos taken and post them. Not that you are all waiting on the edge of your seat, but I kind of am.

Today’s tasks – re-finishing this chair

wood-leather-chair
I got it at the flea market for $35.  Today i’m going to strip it and stain in a dark walnut (so it’ll look like teak, basically).  I’ll see how it looks stripped, it might look pretty really light. And then as soon as the wallpaper is up I can decide what color to reupholster that orange vinyl cushion – no me likey.

And yes, i did dedicate the last few days and beginning of next week to personal house projects.  I’ll go back to work next wednesday, I promise….

 

A day in the life of a stylist, and yes, its a long one….

 

floral-bedroom

I’m getting caught up on work that was published while i was out of town.  It’s hard to keep track of what comes out when because we shoot everything months in advance and nobody is exactly paid to just alert me of stuff I should know about.  So i missed some.  These shots were from the Target Ad campaign for the new Liberty line that I shot with Mark Lund (or I should say Mark Lund shot with me, remember this post?)

food-styling-purple-and-white-polka-dots

When people ask me what I do, there is always a bit of confusion. Prop styling is more abstract that interior design, or set decorating.  So i’m gonna break’it down for you, using these photos as an example, step by step and see if it clears anything up.

 

**Warning, warning.  This could possibly be super boring and probably/definetely self-important.  I know my job is not rocket surgery, nor is it helping any of the problems in the world, but it’s still my job, i like it and it is important to me.  So if I sound like the earth might implode if I accidentally bring to the shoot a turquoise throw pillow instead of a the teal one that the client requested, then that’s because it actually is important to my job.  BUT, i’m completely and utterly aware of the frivolity of it all.  No delusions here.   Oh and it also seems like I really like to hear myself talk, which unfortunately i suppose I do or I wouldn’t have a blog, but i’m aware of it and i’m not proud of it.  But its my blog, and someday little Emily jr is going to wonder what mommy did for work (why am i talking in the past tense) and this way I can direct her to April 29th, 2010, where she’ll learn the ins and outs of prop styling.

Ok. This is how it all works. Target hires a photographer (Mark Lund in this case) to shoot this ad campaign.  Mark recommends me (we had worked together before) and they both look at my portfolio, check my schedule and book me.  This happens about 2 weeks before the shoot date. (this is why i never ever can know my schedule, unlike film/tv i often get booked only a week in advance) A week later, target (or their ad agency PMH) gives me pictures of the product, a shot list and a rough drawing of the shots they are looking for.   It’ll have major things drawn in, like a bed, window, side table, girl, etc.  but it’s rough, and not completely reliable at this point, decisions are still being made by the big-wigs.

After i’m given the product photos, drawings and shot list, then the producer will sent pics of the location.  Often we shoot at either an already beautiful house with pretty light, or in a photo studio where everything has to be built. In this case it was a bit of both – 2 days at studio, 2 days at location.  Once you know the location, then you have a better idea of what to bring/expect  – what the floors/walls look like, the window treatments, etc, etc.

Then I start prepping.  I get the set builders booked, I sourc the wallpaper (not shown, still need to find that shot), and start researching furniture online -all the major stuff that will keep me up at night if i don’t get nailed down.  With magazines you have a lot of freedom with where to shop, but ad jobs are tricky.  I had to use only target products but their furniture (which is kinda great, bt-dubs) has a 2 week lead time, and I get no special treatment, its simply just unavailable to me or any other consumer that quickly. So my job is to find furniture that is identical to targets and it has to be available in two days.  This is kinda hard and means I rent from a prop house, or perhaps that big blue store that has no lead time.

After the major pieces are secured -ish, I started buying all the little stuff, from Target, and every Target has slightly different stuff, so I went to four of them.  Now I don’t just buy six glasses (for the brunch shot for instance), I buy 18.  It’s a whole different kind of shopping.  I had to buy at least three different glassware options (six of each, we might want to use juice and wine, or water and wine or goblets and rocks, etc etc), flatware options (different patterns, finishes, ets), vases (shapes, heights), etc. And these aren’t just random, you have to look at all of them together and make sure that the glassware will work with the flatware/napkins/placemats no matter what combination the client wants. Its so much stuff to keep track of it’s kinda ridiculous.    Any given shoot, i shop for days and nights, making sure I have 1. my favorite amazing risky things that will impress everyone, and 2. the safe backup options – you never know how its gonna play out, and if you bring a bunch of safe boring things everyone is uninspired, but if you only bring a bunch of weird, amazing things it might be ‘too cool’ for the brand.  So the right amount of each, in the right colors, sizes, finishes, etc, etc.  etc. etc.  I spend all day long deciding between which throw pillow is perfect for me, for the client, for the shot, angle, etc….  This is why when Brian asks me at the end of the day what i want for dinner, i literally sometimes won’t be able to make the decision because my brain is done deciding.

Day of shoot: We show up, 7am, with a moving truck of merchandise sent from the client (days prior, we open it make sure that nothing is broken/missing, inventory it all, look at it in person, and then yep, you guessed it REPACK it all). And there is also the moving truck of props that i’ve shopped for the last 4-5 days.  The guys unload both while the photographer, art director and I walk through the location and decide where all the shots should take place.  We take pictures of all the furniture in its original place and then, oh you know, remove all of it and bring in all of ours.

What did I bring, you ask?  besides all the the product that is sent, it’s this little old thing called OPTIONS.
The amount of options that i bring (and this is standard, if you know what you are doing) is kind of insane and never ever ceases to amaze first timers.  I’m serious. It will blow your mind.  For each piece of furniture that you see here, I bought and brought at least 2 other options for it to set (and some smaller pieces there were 4 options).  So the brunch shot above? I brought two different dining table options, with 12 different chairs (two sets of six, but we only assembled 1 of each and then decided).  In the shot we only saw 1 chair in the foreground and an apparent chair that the girl is kneeling on, but you never know if you are going to see three or four chairs, so you have to be prepared.  Also there is were 3 rug options and a chandelier, none made it in the shot because of the angle.  I even had a bunch of vintage botanicals framed to go above the bed, flowering trees to put outside the window and four different bedroom rug options, none of which we see.  The side tables, cubes at the end of the bed, sheets, pillows, drapery, books, etc all had many options.

Is this wasteful? in every way possible, EXCEPT its totally necessary. Everything changes once you get on set and slight variables like the angle, space constraints, lighting, wardrobe and clients whim, effect everything. For example, if the client loves the natural wood table (even though they may have asked for a linen tablecloth originally), then we clearly can’t use the stained wood chairs that I brought because it would be too much wood.  But, not to worry because just in case this would happen I have a set of backup upholstered, white chairs.  And yes, ideally major pieces would be approved by the client beforehand, but it rarely happens, people are busy and the reason they hire a stylist is because they trust that they’ll bring good options, (when it is low-budg, expensive items are pre-approved, these kind of options are a high budget luxury).  But really the main reason that stylists bring options is because everybody loves ‘em, the more you have the more perfect the picture.  Everyone responds to things differently and i have a lot of people to please.  The photographer might love the water goblets, but the art director might think they are a bit too green.  The photo editor might love the chandelier, but the client thinks that it doesn’t work with their brand.  There are a lot of ‘clients’ to please, I have no idea who will hire me next (the photographer, the ad agency or the client client, Target), and I have to please everyone.  Most importantly, when a gazillion dollars are being spent on one photo that will run world-wide, and many a jobs are on the line (the target client, the ad agency, the art buyer, art director, photographer and myself), you bring options.  Options are your best friend, and your assistant worst enemy.

So we set up the first shot, while prepping for the second (steaming, ironing, putting together furniture) and once its kind of set up the photographer plays with the best angles, and this could change the entire setup, bt-dubs.  We might think we are shooting the table straight on, and then realize you can’t see the product well enough and we need to come at it from above, so I have to completely rearrange everything.  Once an angle is decided on, you obsess over very freaking detail, the angle of each fork, switching the patterns of the plates, the composition and position of the flower arrangement, (yes, made by muah) all while making sure there is room for type.  I play with all different options of everything, going back and forth between the computer screen and the set – you can’t just look at the set, everything is different through the camera lens. I tweak and tweak and tweak and tweak. I make sure that there aren’t any major wrinkles in the bed for instance, but enough small ones that it looks natural and effortless, not stiff.  The biggest challenge, and why people hire stylists instead of designers, is that we have to sell the product while more importantly,  selling the lifestyle – and finding that right combination is harder than it looks.  Target has a great lifestyle brand,  that’s why people, even super cool people, love target as opposed to, say, Bed Bath and Beyond.  They create and sell a lifestyle that people want.  Consumers have to look at the photo and want to be in that bed or at that brunch table. And just a bunch of product perfectly positioned on the table or on a bed would not do that.  My job is create an environment surrounding the product that is inviting, warm, relaxed, kinda hip, and natural, while still letting the product be the main focus of attention.

It was a four day shoot, 2 in the studio doing all the stuff on the left side of the page, and 2 in the pretty house (there were a bunch more shots, but i haven’t seen them yet).  At the end of the second day we have to load out.  This is not my favorite part.  The target product had to be divided up between what was shot (so it can go to the color correction location) and what was not shot, which goes to the corporate office.  Every box has to be labeled with its contents, as well as fed ex labels to be overnighted often that night.  god my brain hurts thinking about it. Then everything that was purchased has to find its price tag again (this is a super super super fun game at the end of a 14 hour day) and boxed/bagged according to receipt – ideally.  There was 5-6 huge long receipts all from different targets, and yes we stand in the customer service line like everyone else with like 10 carts of merch. Its pretty awesome. I go quickly from being their favorite customer that spent $10,000, to their least favorite that is returning $8,000 worth of probably scratched up products.   So just to be clear:  there is Target product, target merch (stuff i bought), rented props, other purchased pieces from various other stores that need to be either returned or given away, and a lot of my own personal props/tools/etc/.  The amount of stuff to keep track of will blow your mind – truckloads and truckloads of stuff.  I assisted for four years and this is one of your main responsibilities as an assistant.  I paid my dues, so now i have good assistants that just know to keep track of everything from the beginning ’til the job is wrapped.   Oh, and we need to be out of the location at 6:30 with the house put back as if we were never there.   So we were, and will always be, scrambling to box/bag everything appropriately, load the trucks, put all the furniture back in the house EXACTLY how it was before, clean up and get out of there or else we get charged major major major overtime use fees.  We are booked the next day to return everything and fix all our previous mistakes, which hopefully there aren’t a ton of.

Still here??? nice job. you must be a family member.

So what is my favorite part?  The shopping. For sure. Whether it’s wallpaper, flea markets, fabrics, food props, furniture, flowers, rugs, artwork, etc, i’ll never get sick of it.  truly. it’s a bit creepy.  Oh, and the flower arranging – one of my favorite parts, always different, always pretty, always makes me happy. (You only see one arrangement on the brunch table and a peek of a flower on the nightstand, but there was $300 worth of flowers there, which I had bought two days prior to shooting, at 6:30 in the morning at the flower market so they have time to open).  I love that every single job is sooooo different. I never ever get bored.  But, I guess the final product is the best part – when you look at the set, or the computer screen, and say to yourself, ‘yep i’d like to be there’, or, ‘i’d totally buy that, now’.

And yes, there are a lot of ‘worst parts’ but i’m not going to go into them (namely schlepping, packing, fronting thousand of dollars and then waiting three months to get paid, etc).  BUT, no need to be negative this early on a thursday.

woah. it’s 12:30.  is this really all i’ve done since 7am???

Less blogging, more painting of the dining room, which, yes, will be teal by the end of the day.

Mr. Black, you do intrigue me.

 

So many posts about crazy colors that my friend, mr. black, got neglected.  No, not the John Black from Days of our lives, circa ’85 although yes, he has also been neglected (is he still whispering instead of talking?).  But the color, BLACK.  Yes. Black is always ‘in’, never boring (although the whole ‘little black dress’ thing really can put me to sleep if its not done right); It is assuredly masculine, often feminine, and is modern and traditional at the same time. It’s a real go-to color, whereas most others are trendy, their popularity wavers with the season, year and decade.  Would I say that black is ‘The Notebook’ of all colors?  – For sure. It’s timeless, ageless, an instant classic that tends to conjure tears and make me force Brian to repeat ‘i promise we’ll die together, i promise we’ll die together’ until I cry myelf to sleep.
 um. …woah.
black-kitchen-wall-color-block-leather-couch
Give me that beatup leather sofa, on that traditional rug, with a surprise black wall.  via emmas blog
black-pendant-bedroom
messy messy sexy bed, with an awesome black pendant.  thank you Mikkel
white-wood-floor-black-accents
Love this room.   I love how clean, inviting, modern yet casual, fresh and huge it is.
(adjetives much?)
I already regret ‘The Notebook’ comment.  I’m feeling a bit paranoid.   But, am i alone ladies? …Am i?……… Ladies?  (dear god….i am, aren’t I…??)

 

Thrilling tales of chandelier shopping… on the edge of your seat kind of stuff.

 

Remember when i was like, ‘I’m thinking about getting the random hanging light from DWR’? as if, ‘Oh, if i have the time i’ll swing by and grab it’,  or, ‘Perfect, i happen to have $1200 extra dollars in my piggy jar (is that the right word, piggy jar? hmmm), or, ‘Sure, since i’m in the neighborhood i’ll give it a whirl’.  Well, reality has set in, (I hate you reality, take a f-ing hike). So while Mr. amex is tempting me and Mrs. I-can-rationalize-anything is whispering in my ear all the reasons why i deserve it, Sir. Reason has now won.  Yes, Sir Reason, you are quite correct, I can not afford this light right now.  La di da. Way to ruin the party.  This is the blessing and the curse of being raised by super practical high school teacher parents.

string-chandelier
i won’t be buying today.

 

But I still need something.  My dining room is the main source of light in my apartment, wall to wall windows, so i don’t want something too obtrusive.  I want something that is a huge statement, but quiet and not too distracting. I love the random light so much because it is organic (the string is totally random and different on each one) while still being graphic (a perfect sphere); and it’s a huge statement while being super quiet and not needing a lot of attention – one of my favorite combinations in things and people, bt-dubs, take note.  But I need to get over it.  It’s in the past.   It didn’t work out, it wasn’t meant to be, it is a sad parting, but both of us will move on.  So, I went to Ikea to look at this one, the Ikea Maskros:

ikea-maskros-chandelier ikea-maskros-chandelier
It’s great in a huge space where you don’t actually get too close to it. But it is uh-normous – like over 2 1/2 feet in diameter.  I love the pattern that it reflects on the walls though.  And it’s only a hundy, which is a lot of bang for your buck.  But it’s too big for my space.
So back to the drawing board.  A reader (I heart you Natalie, from Ban-do) reminded me of the diy version on Etsy which looks like this:

Unfortunately I can’t do it, not for such a big moment over the dining table, it’s too diy for a serious room. Although it is only $15.00.  I think it could be cute like in a kids room or somewhere where the DIY-ness of it will be embraced.
So here is my newest idea:

modern-industrial-chandelier
It’s from Clayton Gray Home.  Not exactly the first time we’ve seen this, I know. But here are the plusses – it has some drama, but it’s not distracting at all – the sunlight will filter through easily.  It is modern, kind of has the industrial thing going on, but there is a looseness about it that works for me.  And lastly, its $280. Not nothing, but certainly not $1200.  And lastly I just found this on-line, a diy blog called Small notebook, which i think is super pretty, although I would use white chord/bulb thingys instead of black.  might be worth trying, they give the step by step, and it under $50.

What do you think Sir. Reason? oh and by the way how did you get knighted? by being the biggest buzz kill in all of England?
But seriously, is the Clayton Gray chandy too played out?  is saying the word ‘chandy’ super douchey?  is the word ‘douchey’ played out?  do i ask too many stupid questions?