Work Experience 8: Property Stylist
I’ve always imagined property styling to be a glamorous type of job, and was excited about working with Jackie from Feather My Nest this week.
Getting ready for work on day one I was dressed in smart black trousers, a button-up shirt and pretty ballet flats. My hair was straightened and my makeup was done. As I was deciding which earrings and necklace to wear to complete my outfit, I received a message from Jackie suggesting I wear my gym clothes as I’d be getting hot and sweaty. As quick as a flash my business clothes were thrown off, my active wear was thrown on, my hair was scraped into a ponytail and I was ready to go. And go I did. All day. Without a break. Thank God I was wearing comfortable shoes!
What did I do?
It was great to have the opportunity to work with Jackie to style two very different properties this week, using two different suppliers.
The first double-storey house had 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, study, formal lounge, dining room, family room and rumpus room and required a partial style. The owners had left beds in each of the bedrooms, as well as side tables and a chest of drawers in the Master bedroom. Downstairs there was a glass coffee table on a rug in the lounge, plus a bar in the rumpus room. A large outdoor dining setting and day bed were on the patio. The owners will continue living in the home until it is sold.
The second very large home had 6 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, 3 living rooms, a kitchen/dining area and 3 kitchenettes. It was completely empty so required a full style.
Each day started with the arrival of a delivery truck which contained all of the items Jackie had previously selected. From the moment the truck doors opened it was time for action! As the furniture was being unloaded Jackie set to work directing the delivery team on where to place each of the larger items. Boxes of accessories were placed in the kitchen ready to be unpacked, lamp bases, lampshades and globes were grouped together, bags of linen were dropped into bedrooms and a bag full of bath towels placed in one of the bathrooms.
My first job each day was to help unpack all of the accessories. The furniture and accessories for home one came from Domayne, which is a high-end supplier. I felt like it was Christmas as I removed the bubble wrap from each item. There were frames, vases, greenery, decorative bowls, magazines, and even a bottle of wine and glasses. So many pretty things that just so happened to be in my favourite colours, and that I think I may actually need in my home (I see a trip to Domayne in the near future). Most of the packaging is recycled so the bubble wrap, large plastic bags and packing paper were neatly piled and boxed to send back to the supplier.
I put all of the lampshades onto their bases and screwed in the light globes. After that Jackie and I made each bed with a valance, fitted sheet, doona, standard and European pillows. Jackie likes the beds to look full and comfortable so folded back the top part of the doona before adding the pillows and cushions. She showed me how to fluff up and karate chop feather cushions to make them look just right. Some beds had a throw added, and on one or two we folded a flat sheet and laid it across the bed to add some warmth to the room. We used a steam iron to remove any creases on the bedding. Bedside tables and lamps were chosen for each room, and the lamps switched on.
Jackie looked through the collection of artwork and mirrors she’d previously chosen and decided on where they should be hung. Some of them were switched to different walls and rooms throughout the morning until the look was exactly what she was after. Anthony from Anthony’s Art Hanging arrived at each property at around 12.30pm to hang each piece. He got to work with his measuring tape, drill and hooks. It’s amazing how ‘finished’ each room looked once the art was hung.
At the first house, the owners had a well stocked bar, with bottles displayed on the shelves above it. We put many of the bottles aside to be packed away, but Jackie chose a few to keep as display items. I was really amazed at the transformation in that corner of the rumpus room. It looked great!
As Jackie raced around from room to room and back again finding the perfect place for each cushion and rearranging accessories until she was 100% happy, I was given the task of styling the owner’s bookshelf. It had the most amazing collection of recipe books, which explained the size and design of the kitchen, and I had to work out a way to display them best. I never would’ve thought that’d be such a tricky job! I started rearranging a couple of the lower shelves and really wasn’t feeling confident in what I was doing. It looked worse than before I started. I caught Jackie as she was zipping past and she told me to think about symmetry and to group books according to size. After some more jumbling of books and adding in a couple of the owner’s accessories (with some help from Jackie) I was done! It may not have been particularly practical, and the owner may not have been able to find her favourite recipe books easily, but it looked amazing and in this situation that’s the most important thing.
Last jobs of the day included styling a corner of the kitchen bench, gathering some trimmings from the garden to use in displays including rosemary for the kitchen and some palm fronds for the dining room, and moving a couple of pot plants around in the patio area.
At the end of the day, the homeowner was so impressed he offered us a glass of wine and I have to say I was tempted. He did have a pretty good collection after all! But of course we politely declined due to being professionals (and needing to drive, and having to be mum and cook dinner when I got home). It was only at the end of the day that Jackie showed me pictures of how the house had looked when she first came for the consultation. The transformation really was incredible.
What did I learn?
Styling a home in preparation for sale with furniture, art, lighting and accessories makes it more attractive and desirable to home buyers by highlighting its best features. It benefits owners greatly as it will most likely lead to a higher sale price and faster sale.
The biggest surprise to me this week was just how physical a property styling job is. I was literally on my feet from the moment I arrived at 9 until I left at 3.30, and even ate my lunch on the run. We were screwing feet onto bed bases, rearranging furniture, carrying frames and walking back and forth all day. I even had to climb a fence to trim the palm fronds! As I’m an active person I really liked that aspect of the job, but I crashed at the end of each day. Even when I’m used to being on my feet as a teacher. It requires a bit of training I think!
I also learnt about the process of styling a property. During her initial consultation with the owners Jackie takes lots of photos and measurements, then uses them to work out furniture placement for each room. She has a list of all the surfaces she’s got such as consoles, buffets, side tables and coffee tables, and works out what accessories she needs to style them.
Domayne and Guests operate differently as suppliers.
At Domayne, Jackie sends through a brief with some photos and her product selections. She gives the staff at Domayne a detailed idea of the style she’s after, for example tribal, Hamptons, coastal, or contemporary, and they will send a suggested product list back to Jackie including everything from furniture to artwork to greenery. She’ll agree to items or request changes until she’s happy.
Guests have two large warehouses, one with furniture and the other with accessories, florals and linen. Jackie selects every item herself including furniture, throws, linen, cushions, art, bathroom accessories and decorative items. Everything you could possibly think of! She always chooses extras in case they’re needed. For the large house that we styled later in the week, Jackie spent about a day and a half selecting all of the items from the warehouse. What a massive job.
I wish the home owners all the best in the sale of their homes and am excited to hear how they go. I’m positive that the work we did will lead to a quick sale, as their homes look better than ever.
Now…anyone want to join me on a shopping trip? I’m planning to visit Domayne very soon!