Behind the Scenes: Sofa Styling with DFS

Sofa Styling Sneaky Peek with DFS by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

I thought I’d do another little day-in-the-life type feature about a job I recently worked on for DFS. Sound good? Good. Right. It’s a rather clever little idea actually. Keen to show how you can transform an everyday space with relatively simple changes – such as swapping in new furniture and accessories and sprinkling on a bit of canny styling – DFS painstakingly recreated everyone’s favourite East End living room (no, not mine, silly – Kat and Alfie’s from upstairs in the Queen Vic on Eastenders) and set several stylists the challenge of transforming the space simply by changing the products within it.

DFS Products Wishlist by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

1. Bergerac sideboard with two doors and three drawers, £1065; 2. Vista four-seater sofa, £899; 3. Vista footstool, from £199; 4. Trio round lamp table, £359; 5. Sant Cruz charcoal rug, £160x226cm, £399; 6. Vista plain accent chair, £299, all DFS (all Vista items currently half price as part of the Spring Collection).

Naturally one of the stylists was moi, and I was asked to select a sofa and armchair from their Spring Collection to form the basis of the makeover. I was somewhat smitten with their Vista, with its nod-to-Great-Gatsby Art Deco styling and soft taupe colour. It also comes with an optional footstool that doubles up as a great coffee table. I was then given a virtual free reign to pick out any other furniture items from their range to accompany the piece – which I have to admit I wasn’t overly familiar with until I took myself over to their online portal, and was pleasantly surprised to see some fab nuggets such as the Utah console table and Patent foot stool.

Get the Look Art Deco Shopping by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

1. Black and cream spectacles cushion by Maria Hatling, £45, Gallery Bobbin. 2. Faceted round mirror, dia. 80cm, £175, John Lewis. 3. Vitra Poligon clock, £344, via Clippings. 4. Ribbon gunmetal lamp, from £60, Habitat. 5. Luxury bridge set by Bridge in the box, £98, Notonthehighstreet. 6. Diamond bowl, £59, BoConcept. 7. Chrome lobby phone by Wild & Wolf, £59.95, Bloomsbury & Co.  8. Santa & Cole Tripode G5 floor lamp, £435, Rume.  

So to pick up on the Art Deco elements, I decided on a fairly masculine, monochrome scheme, peppered with touches of raspberry to lift it, all with a modern lilt. Above is my props moodboard which I supplied to the lovely team at Hangar Seven, where we shot, who matched up the look by picking out pieces from a local prop house ready for me to style.

And now for Le Grand Reveal:

Before & After DFS Makeover Challenge by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

D’you like her? The decor is exactly the same and the layout hasn’t changed much, though I’d like to think it’s at least a slight improvement (though a part of me did secretly love the kitsch gold wall sconce in the before, shhh!) The raspberry details encourage the eye to flow throughout the space, and by decluttering the back wall of oddly-positioned art and replacing it with a subtle silver starburst clock, the focus is shifted down to the seating area. A large faceted mirror helps anchor the sideboard unit against the wall, whilst food and flower props give the space a bit of character. Quirky touches like the glasses cushion and  uber-cool diamond bowl (see above for credits) bring in an extra dash of personality, too. Doubling up a footstool as a coffee table is a great trick for a small space (and to conteract pesky partners who like putting feet up on the table), and this clever little Trio side table is great for storing games and throws close to hand for those chilly, not-much-on-the-telly Spring evenings.

Details1 DFS Styling Challenge by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

Details2 DFS Styling Challenge by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

I was pleasantly surprised to learn on the day that all DFS’s sofas are entirely handmade – many in the UK – by craft experts across their three factories which, as Philip Watkin from the DFS design and development team admits, is a level of quality that’s “few and far between” these days. He advises, when choosing a new sofa, to “always check for a guarantee, and ask how the sofa is made. And consider the heritage of the company you’re buying it from – there’s no substitute for a proven track record in crafting sofas that are built to last”.

Details3 DFS Styling Challenge by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

Details4 DFS Styling Challenge by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

DFS’s Vista sofa is currently half price (until the end of April 2013) at £899, along with other items from their Spring Collection. With thanks to DFS for sponsoring this post.

{Images: top two behind the scenes shots by me; all other styled shots by Matt Griffiths at Hangar Seven. All product shots as per the companies’ credited)


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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)

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