Walking in a Vintage Wonderland

When Heart Home magazine asked if I’d produce a festive shoot for their second issue, my first reaction was “weee, yes please thanks!” Then my second reaction was, “umm, can I have a 25th hour in the day to complete it in?” My current full-time job at another magazine sadly doesn’t leave much spare time for extra-curricular activities. Fellow styling buddies Emily Blunden and Kate Baxter also found themselves in a similar predicament. The solution? We decided, much like several soloists at the X Factor boot camp, that our best plan was to combine forces to become an uber-styling machine. And uber-style we did: taking this seasons three key festive decorating stories – Nordic Chic, Neon Brights and Vintage Pastels, we each chose our trends, then styled the b’Jesus out of them on one epic shoot with one very game (and patient!) photographer, Sarah Hogan.

I thought I’d take the opportunity to share a few behind the scenes pics from the day here, as a little insight into what goes into planning a shoot. True to form, all sneaky snaps drew to a swift halt fairly early into the proceedings when the enormity of the remaining workload kicked in, but nonetheless here goes.

Firstly, a few inspirations behind my trend. I was keen to embrace the pretty pastels that typify this look, but to ensure it didn’t feel overly cutesy I wanted to add a few quirky, whimsical twists to keep things feeling fresh. Amongst a whirlwind of ideas, I loved the notion of wrapping a teapot in ribbon and using a sweet figurine as an alternative placecard holder (tearsheets taken from: Teapot – Wilkinson; Wrapped presents – Good Homes magazine; Fireplace and Fawn – LivingEtc magazine.)

The first task on any shoot (after coffee and chats, natch) is to get all your props unpacked and organised – a task my OCD relishes, as I gleefully go about labelling bags and arranging things neatly on tabletops (until inevitably there isn’t enough table space for everything and it all gets rammed on). I never fail to get overly excited about laying everything out in all its glory, and there’s always a nervous anticipation as you see things slowly coming together.

I started with my lateral tree shot, knowing it would be a tricky Mother to set up (it ended up taking a good two hours). Following the positive reaction to my rental flat, which appeared in the debut issue of Heart Home, I was keen for this shoot to include decorating ideas suitable for small-space dwellers such as myself – a lateral tree is perfect when floor space is tight, and by stringing it up with fishing wire attached to removable 3M Command hooks, you can whip the whole thing down on the 5th of Jan without leaving a trace. By laying my decs out on the floor, I was able to work out a pattern I was happy with (much easier than trying to figure it out when you’re knee-deep in fishing wire!)

One lethal danger on a shoot is accidentally falling in love with your press loans: it was super hard to say goodbye to these amazing octopus and bird snowglobes (from Anthropologie and Liberty respectively), but when it came to Shan Annabelle Valla’s Itzy Bitzy Ditzy vases, which I’ve been hankering after since she launched them at Pulse over a year ago, there was nothing for it but to hold them ransom and purchase them post-shoot. Luckily, lovely Shan was more than happy to oblige, and they are now living happily with me and a somewhat confused boyfriend still struggling to understand why we justifiably needed more tiny little ornaments.

My table decorating shoot came together reassuringly easily – the giftwrapping shot took rather longer to prep, however. I worked out my giftbox set-up in its ‘nude’ form first, before deciding which wrapping technique to apply to which item. I also wanted the presents to balance somewhat precariously, to add an extra touch of whimsy.

Alright, that’s enough pre-amble – want to see the final shots? Um, alright then – feast your eyes, my pretties:

Decorations from left to right, starting from top:

  1. Star, from a selection, Lombok
  2. Alpine Frost glitter feather, £4
    Alpine reindeer, £3
    Alpine Frost jewel, £3, all House of Fraser
  3. Snowflake, £17.50, Wedgewood at Liberty
  4. Chandelier decoration, £4, B&Q
  5. Fortnum’s Clock tree decoration, £14, Fortnum & Mason
  6. Tangled Droplet decoration, £15 for set of two, Timea Sido at Seek and Adore
  7. Crystal Baubles biscuit decoration, £34 per tin, Biscuiteers at Harrods
  8. Alpine reindeer, £3, Linea at House of Fraser
  9. Coach ornament, £4.95, Lisbeth Dahl
  10. Porcelain origami star, £5, Paperchase
  11. Ceramic teapot, £2, B&Q
  12. Alpine Frost glitter swan, £3, House of Fraser
  13. Ceramic lace print bauble, £22 for three, Abby Monroe
  14. Pastel baubles, £10.95 for box, The Conran Shop
  15. Crystal Baubles biscuit decoration, £34 per tin, Biscuiteers at Harrods
  16. Ceramic Tangled Snowflake, £10, Timea Sido at Seek & Adore
  17. Alpine Frost glitter swan, £3, House of Fraser
  18. Small ribbed baubles, £9.95 for 10, Aspen & Brown
  19. Ceramic lace print bauble, £xx for three, Abby Monroe
  20. Crystal Baubles biscuit decoration, £34 per tin, Biscuiteers at Harrods
  21. Ceramic teapot, £2, B&Q
  22. Alpine Frost jewel, £3,
    Alpine Frost glitter feather, £4, both House of Fraser
  23. Crochet snowflakes, £4 for 12, Paperchase
  24. Glass raindrops, £5.95 for set of six, The Conran Shop

    On mantelpiece:

  25. Distorted candlestick in grey, £29, The Conran Shop
  26. Candlestick, Anthropologie
  27. Cockatoo candle, £14, Rockett St George
  28. Sea Story octopus ornament, £14, Anthropologie
  29. Itzy Bitzy Ditzy mini porcelain vases, £14 each/£30 for three, Shan Annabelle Valla
  30. Swan in blue dome, £11.95, Pink bird in dome, £19.95, both Liberty
  31. Mason jar snow globe, £20,
    Candlestick, both Anthropologie

  1. Tablecloth made from Aquilla fabric in pewter, £48.99 per metre, Voyage Decoration
  2. Lily table runner in white, £39.99, Rockett St George
  3. Flock handmade paper sparrows, from £35 each, Maxine Greer
  4. Sequin scatter stars, £20 Cox & Cox
  5. Porcelain origami stag, £5, and penguin, £5, Paperchase
  6. Gold tie-on letters (used for place names), £7 each, Jo Heckett
  7. Opera cake plate and dome, £20, Brissi at John Lewis
  8. Dahlia placemats in pewter, £9.95 each, The Conran Shop
  9. Blossom deep plates, £38 each, and dessert bowls, £29 each, Bodo Sperlein
  10. Teapot napkin ring, £15 for four, Habitat
  11. Amara napkin, £4, Twig pastry fork, £5 each, both John Lewis
  12. White glitter stars (inside bowl), £4.50 for 20, Cox & Cox
  13. Marvellous marzipan fruits, £9.99 per box, Hope & Greenwood
  14. Eat Me cake toppers, £4.95 for ten, Bag of Tags at Etsy
  15. Ania wine glass, £27 for set of four, LSA
  16. Social Soiree Charming Cleo cracker, £8.25 for eight, Talking Tables

  1. Teapot wrapped in Dots ribbon in pink/mint and Picot edge ribbon in pink, both £6.95 for 5m, Cotton and linen tape in turquoise, £6.60 for 5m, all VV Rouleaux at John Lewis
  2. Small white dove (on spout), £7.50 for 12, Cox & Cox
  3. 1″ star bows, 99p for 12, Hobbycraft
  4. Other ribbons, from a selection, John Lewis
  5. Handmade blue paper, £4.95 per sheet, Silver glitter paper, £2.25 per sheet, Erboristeria floral wrap, £2 per sheet, White wrap, £2 per roll, all Paperchase
  6. Purple Stars washi tape (used in star design), £2.95 per roll, Papernation
  7. Grey felt snowflake garland, £7.50, Cox & Cox
  8. Silver toadstool, £2.95, The Conran Shop
  9. White ceramic wings, £2.50, Paperchase
  10. Powder ornament with glitter, £4.95, Lisbeth Dahl
  11. Ice drop ornament, £20, Anthropologie
  12. Flower pattern bauble, £2, Rabbit decoration, £2, both B&Q
  13. Fairy lights, £10, Wilkinson

Big thanks to all the PR’s and designers who loaned the scrummy bits and bobs featured in this shoot – and for Emily and Kate’s trends, get thee over to Heart Home (p13-19) now!

{Behind the scenes images all copyright me. Final three images copyright Sarah Hogan, styled by me}


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About Joanna Thornhill

Freelance Interior Stylist, Author, Writer and Crafter working for a range of magazine titles and commercial clients. Author of Home for Now (CICO Books 2014)

2 responses to “Walking in a Vintage Wonderland”

  1. Mary Middleton Design says :

    This was so super helpful and it looked fab in hearthome mag as well. Thanks for sharing

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