sarah akwisombe interior stylist

Yesterday I had the pleasure of styling a shoot for 2 very different clients in the same space. As a multi production shoot day I had to source and style items that suited the different brands, one female and one male. Here's what I sourced and how the day went, with some before and after shots!

On Tuesday I headed over to Ikea and John Lewis home to source props for each client that could be used in the different settings. The male is a chef and required two slightly different dinner settings. The female client, a life coach, required a soft and serene lifestyle setting.

When it comes to sourcing on a budget, Ikea's great for a plethora of objects in different styles and colours at a really affordable price - great when you have a limited budget and quite a few pieces to get!

ikea neutrals

John Lewis is definitely better for grabbing the really decorative, upmarket pieces that can be blended with cheaper high street options to give a sophisticated look without blowing the budget. For comparison, I spent £120 in Ikea and got around 15-20 pieces, in John Lewis I spent £100 and got 5!

I spent around 3 hours in total sourcing. 

john lewis home

When I got home I picked out a few of my own home objects to complement my bought props.

Before I knew it the shoot had come around and I was in a cab heading for Brixton to a beautiful space overlooking the Brixton Windmill. 

brixton windmill

I was also accompanied by two little kittens with the loveliest grey fur I have ever seen! Though I had to keep their sharp little paws off my soft furnishings!

grey cat

I set about transforming the table and bookshelves into what I call an 'urban rustic' look! 

Here's how the space looked before...

and after...

For the bookshelves I removed all of the books and made a selection of the owners books that fitted within the neutral colour palette and arranged them. Then I dressed the rest of the shelves with interesting large jars full of spices and pulses from the chef's kitchen, plus a few bottles and decorative pieces.

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For the table setting it was about keeping the colours quite neutral and embracing some organic, tactile textures such as wood, slate and glass. Some potted herbs and succulents in tin pots added a fresh, earthy element. 

Next, I moved on to setting up the sofa area and transforming it into the female client's brand colours and style. I needed to evoke a sense of wellbeing, calm and spirituality without being overly obvious or cheesy! Softer tones and textures were brought it alongside a tiny buddha, fresh flowers, books and a sand timer (which I promptly smashed within minutes, sad face!)

Here's how it looked before...

and after...

I kept in the owner's indian style patterned cushions as I liked that they hinted at Eastern traditions of spirituality. The flower arrangement was put together using only supermarket flowers and cost around a tenner. 

Next we moved onto a kitchen scene, which is where the chef would be shot preparing food. It went from this...

to this...

Sarah akwisombe interior styling

This shot was relatively easy to style, it just needed a tidy up and a little dressing on the back surfaces to make them more clean-lined for the camera.

A lot of the time things can look great in real life and then on camera look too messy or all over the place. The reverse applies - sometimes things look boring in real life and then when shot at a certain angle with a proper camera it all comes alive! I always check the set through my own camera and then also get the photographer to show me how he's going to shoot the scene and show me a couple of test images. I'll move bits around after that to get the in the right position. Also, when people are added into set they will naturally move things, which is great as it then looks more realistic. You can't be too stuck on your set idea and have to be really adaptable. It's all to get the perfect shot!

Moving onto a lifestyle setting for the male, the seating area needed to become de-feminised and masculinised! 

So I took it from the female set to this...

This was achieved by simply paring down the look and changing the cushions from coloured and patterned into simple neutrals. The yellow throw was used to add a little colour to the shot and some of the table decor remained, as spirituality and wellbeing is also a large part of the chef's brand. The flowers in the background were removed after I took this and realised they were still in shot!

As the sun set over Brixton we moved onto the last shot for the day. I can't share that one just yet as we need to keep the food shots a secret until the final images are released, but I can tell you, the shot was fun and the food was amazing (yes, we ate it afterwards)!

I'm still amazed that I can now do this and get paid for it. It was a long day, over 12 hours, but it was so worth it and I could have carried on till midnight! I love styling and it just gives me such a happy feeling. Working with fab clients also helps, and the energy on set this day was incredible. Very inspiring to be a part of. I'm so grateful for these opportunities that keep presenting themselves to me! 

brixton sunset

So which was your favourite setup? Do you like what I did? What else would you add to the set?

S x