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Studio Tour: QVC

QVC Studio Tour for Stylist's Own Blog by Joanna Thornhill - The Sets

Whether you’re a die-hard viewer or occasional stumble-upon-during-a-late-night-channel-surf casual voyeur, we all know QVC. But aside from occasionally featuring their numerous homeware products in styling shoots and shopping round-ups, I have to confess I knew rather little about the company. Until now. As part of their 20th (UK) birthday celebrations, they invited a bunch of bloggers, journo’s and ‘slebs to check out their state-of-the-art HQ in Gunnersbury, West London (having moved out of their former home by Battersea Bridge to this custom-built metropolis) to show us how it all goes down. As I used to work in TV production in a former life, and still dabble in the odd bit of set dressing, I was particularly interested to see what goes on behind the glossy veneer, so off I went, camera (and credit card) in tow.

QVC Studio Tour for Stylist's Own Blog by Joanna Thornhill - The Sets2

Arguably the kings of televised home shopping, they remain stoically unaffected by the advent of the Internet during their lifetime (whilst many products are now available to buy from their website, the majority of their sales are still generated from their TV ‘shows’). To lure in viewers in their droves, celebrity guest presenters feature regularly, and are as diverse as Trinny and Susannah to country crooner extraordinaire Dolly Parton, who presenter Miceal Murphy described as an “absolute firecracker” after hanging out with the pint-sized popstress. (New-favourite Dolly fact? Her Twitter description reads as “working 9-5, what a way to make a living”. This almost makes me as happy as teen-lit legend Judy Blume’s one-line profile: “Are you there, twitter? It’s me, Judy” (teens of the 90’s – geddit?). I’m also now considering redoing my own website, to include a giant picture of me in the middle wearing a silver sequin dress, towering barnet and jovial expression, Dolly-style. Why not?! I digress…)

QVC Studio Tour for Stylist's Own Blog by Joanna Thornhill - Live Studio

Sadly there were no Hollywood A-Listers pedalling their wares during my studio tour, but it was a most fun little visit nonetheless – despite having been on TV sets many a time, there’s still a great buzz knowing that what’s happening just a few feet from where you’re standing is also going out live on the tellybox.

QVC Studio Tour for Stylist's Own Blog by Joanna Thornhill - The Gallery

A peek in the gallery revealed the nuts-and-bolts behind what we saw on the studio floor, with live sales graphs jumping around on monitors, leading producers to feed nuggets of information to the presenters on what was nearly sold out or to recap on queried items, resulting in ever more fervent caller spikes.

QVC Studio Tour for Stylist's Own Blog by Joanna Thornhill - Curated Picks

After the tour wrapped, I was then greeted with the real-life versions of a curated product selection I’d picked out to accompany my entry on their website (above) – I’ll update this post with the link to the final selection once it’s live on QVC.

QVC Studio Tour for Stylist's Own Blog by Joanna Thornhill - Collier Campbell

A personal highlight for me was seeing this original watercolour hand drawing (above) by design house Collier Campbell – a glorious riot of flowers and unabashed girlieness, it forms the template of a best-selling cushion from their range and is also part of my curated selection. I always enjoy seeing the mark of the maker on products, and there was something super charming about viewing their original brushstrokes up close and seeing the ‘selvedge’ colour palette at the side of the piece.

Other favourite pieces included Prepology’s rather space-age looking chef’s whisks, for all the baking I do (cue chortling boyfriend in background), this quirky coral design paperweight by none other than Taupe Queen Kelly Hoppen and a rather bling-tastic peacock cushion by Butler & Wilson.

Right, I’m off to bag a steam cleaner – I do love a gadget…

{Images: all copyright Joanna Thornhill}

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)

Styling Resources: Where I Find Cool Stuff

Easter Dining Shot by Ochre and Ocre for Stylist's Own Blog

As I’m often asked where I find fab things for features (and therefore life) and with lots of you looking to do home improvements this Easter Weekend (inbetween scoffing choc, natch) I thought I’d give you a little insight into my processes. So let’s say I’m pulling together a little story on Easter tabletop dining and decor ideas. What do I do?

Well, on receiving my brief, I initially rack my little brains and think what I’ve seen recently at press shows, in lookbooks and in the shops that might fit the brief, and start making a list of people to check out. Then as well as targeting specific go-to retailers, I generally make the following ports of call:

1a. Google Screengrab for Stylist's Own Blog

1b. Google Screengrab for Stylist's Own Blog

Yes, a bit of an obvious one, but having recently attended a talk on how to get the most out of Google, I’ve learnt a few tricks for getting a more targeted search. The two I’m currently liking best are the ‘search by colour’ option (top – type in your item, then click the Search Tools tab, then select the Any Colour tab beneath and choose your hue) and the “reverse” image search (bottom – take a screengrab/pull an image onto your desktop, select Images in Google, then drop the image file directly into the searchbar to find out what it is and where to source it). The former is a slightly slicker way of doing a colour search than just typing the colour direct into a toolbar, and is great for sourcing items for any colour-based features. And the latter is perfect for tracking down a product to its source or finding an alternative supplier (if the original link is to a website in another country, for example) as well as discovering similar items for any Get the Look type features.

2. Pinterest Screengrab for Stylist's Own Blog

Another fairly obvious one, but as well as being a land to unashamedly ogle over perfect girlie crafts and whimsically beautiful people, for me Pinterest has become an almost refined Google, where I can search for specific product types as well as styling and design ideas around a certain theme, look or colour. I’ve also set up a number of ‘Supplier’ boards in my own account and am constantly adding cool designers, quirky webshops and specialist specialists to my various categories, which forms my very own Little Black Book of design and is something I often refer back to (check out my boards here)

3. Not on the HIgh Street Screengrab for Stylist's Own Blog

With literally thousands of sellers onboard, much like Pinterest the Notonthehighstreet.com website is almost a second Google to me when it comes to product research. Whatever weird and wonderful item I might be searching for, you can pretty much guarantee that I’ll find it here. By its nature, it’s a particularly good resource for handmade pieces.

4. Clippings Screengrab for Stylist's Own Blog

A new kid on the block, Clippings seemed to appear out of nowhere a few months ago (well, to me anyway) but it’s quickly snuck its way into my must-visit resources. Part home store, part magazine, it comprises articles on the latest homes trends and product round-ups, with a searchable product gallery linking to various retailers and brands affiliated with them. Theirs is a very carefully curated selection, however, favouring clean, modern, quirky pieces, nearly all either from UK retailers or available in the UK.

5. Press Loft Screengrab for Stylist's Own Blog

Technically a website designed to link up press with retailers, giving us ‘hacks’ an easy way to source and download high resolution images for features, nonetheless this site is still a useful resource for bloggers and ‘everyday’ users – the latter are still able to search through the site without being members (though it’s worth bearing in mind that as it’s geared towards long press lead times, not everything featured will be out in the shops yet). Numerous retailers and PR agencies sign up to the service and upload their product pics then tag them with keywords, meaning you can search away to your hearts content through their bulging image banks. Some canny PR’s, such as the ever-resourceful Zero2One, have even set up their own ‘hubs’ to showcase their various clients all in one place (a tried and trusted trick for the time-strapped journo is to hotfoot it to PR’s who have a large number of clients on their books, meaning that you can organise content from several different brands all via the same middleman. Shhh!)

So to round up, I leave you with some lovely Easter Dining-inspired products from Zero2One via Press Loft, sourced using various keywords (woodland, dining, rabbit…) which would make any Easter get-together go with a bang:

Easter Dining Products Round-up by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own Blog

1. Fauna plates by Magpie, £19.99 for four, Mollie & Fred. 2. Traditional foutas (can be used as tablecloths or outdoor throws), £28 each, Febronie. 3. LSA Mezzo hiball glass, £22.99 for four, Drinkstuff.com. 4. LSA Serve cake stand and dome, £52.50, Beautiful Homes Direct. 5. Dutch rabbit salt and pepper set by Quail Ceramics, £13.99, Cotswold Trading. 6. Girl’s rabbit headband, £25, White Rabbit England. 7. Anemone Scabosia vintage bottle with faux flowers, £13.50, Paper Whites. 8. Koziol Pip party picks, £16.80, Red Candy. 9. Stag stopper, £9, Just Slate.

So, dear readers – fancy tearing away from your chocolate gluttony to tell me where you turn when researching your own interiors goodies?

{Images: Opening shot: Madelaine lavender organic cotton tablecloth, £40, and napkins, £20 for four, Ochre and Ocre. Google accompanying product: Birdy egg cups and plates by Magpie Lifestyle, from a selection at Who’s It For? Pinterest accompanying product: Forest Critters wall decals, £55 per set, Love Mae. Notonthehighstreet.com accompanying product: White Rabbit light, £68, White Rabbit England via Notonthehighstreet.com. Clippings accompanying product: Scrabble coasters, £12.99 for 54, Getting Personal. Shopping round-up all as per the credits within the main post. With thanks to Zero2One PR for supporting this post.}

Meet the Blogger: Offline Adventures at the ME London Hotel

Joanna Thornhill speaking at Meet the Blogger London - as seen on Stylist's Own

Well after last week’s blogging frenzy it’s been a little quiet over here, whilst I calmed down from the excitement/terror of giving my first ever public talk to a group of over 100 members of the Interiors Blogosphere, for the wonderful Meet the Blogger event at the ME London hotel. To my relief, it all seemed to go rather well – my slideshow worked, I didn’t fall on my face/have any freak Wardrobe Malfunctions ending in Dr-Pepper-ad style social disasters, and I think I kept the incoherent rambling to a minimum. After spending the week working with Dulux to create a series of blog posts on their latest SS13 trend, I presented all my findings to anyone who’d listen, along with some extra post ideas for other bloggers to try out, plus a few real-life examples of features I’ve created which give a spin on a bog-standard press release.

Meet the Blogger Dulux Workshop Pictures, seen on Stylist's Own

Dulux also hosted a painting workshop to teach attendees the ombre technique I trialled on my bedroom wall earlier this month, along with some other highly interesting workshops, including basic photography techniques by interiors snapper Paul Craig, plus a furniture painting masterclass by Louise from West Egg Interiors.

Meet the Blogger Food Snaps, Seen on Stylist's Own

The food was naturally a chi-chi affair, created in line with this season’s colour trends (we all do this at home, right?) which prompted a feverish bout of Instagramming from the assembled crowds.

Meet the Blogger Speakers, seen on Stylist's Own

Keynote speaker Yvonne from Belgian uber-blog Yvestown even bought along a film crew for the day (she’s currently the subject of a TV show about bloggers, Shoot, airing currently in her native homeland I believe). She talked passionately about how she’s managed to carve out a rather idyllic lifestyle for herself through the opportunities her blog has afforded her, going on to host a more practical styling workshop alongside British blog royalty Will of Bright Bazaar. And if that wasn’t enough, a team of nail artists suddenly appeared at the end, lined up along the side like a row of very stylish jurors, to ombre/spot/stripe our nails into perfection. I went for a sapphire/baby blue ombre mash-up but due to post-speech shell shock, forgot to actually photograph it, but trust me, it looked very cool.

Collective Passions on Pinterest by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

To see a bit more about what I talked about, take a pootle over to my Pinterest board on the topic, with a multitude of links and inspiration. Big thanks to Mischief PR for approaching me to work with both them and Dulux on it all, and also to Meet the Blogger for so graciously hosting me. And a special shout-out to Byron Burgers, who very kindly reserved a table for 14 of us at the last minute post-event, and even appeared to have quickly repainted an internal wall for us in-keeping with the key colour themes of the day…

Byron Burgers Wall by Joanna Thornhill for Stylist's Own

{Images: All copyright photographer Yeshen Venema for Meet the Blogger, via Flickr, apart from the Pinterest screengrab and bottom striped photograph, which are mine}

Book Club

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Happy New Year one and all! I trust you all had a wonderful festive break and are now ready to take on the challenges of a shiny new year with fervour? And not with a looming tax return weighing you down almost as heavily as the extra few pounds gained from one too many mince pies? *ahem*

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Way back in the Autumn of 2012, I was commissioned by the lovely Caroline Taylor of Patchwork Harmony fame to shoot a feature for 91 Magazine’s Winter issue, on the subject of vintage books and how to use them in the home.

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Each shot was designed to tell a different story of ways to use old books within the home, both as display and to create new decorative pieces from upcycling old tomes. As well as a couple of my own crafty makes, I also featured products from some fab British designers/e-tailers including Hunted & Stuffed (A Room of One’s Own cushion), Not on the High Street (book artworks by The Spotted Sparrow and Roo Abrook, book clock by Maison Ami plus this rather special wooden stag head by Clive Roddy) and paper flowers, Shakespeare mug, typewriter cufflinks and music paper bows from the perfectly-named Bookish. Keen to steer away from anything too twee, I chose a slightly moody colour palette, with a mixture of dark tones and chalky pastels with undertones of grey to give them a bit of an edge, even including a subtle sneak of metallic. Mixing together a look I like to think of as Rustic Lodge Skandi Chic, there were elements of chunky knit, textured wood and nods to Victoriana scattered throughout – and eagle-eyed readers may recognise the shoot location as my own little abode (specifically, the living roombedroom and study).

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To complement the theme, I mixed in some pieces which had a ‘bookish’ feel to them, such as the amazing value pendant light in my wallpaper shot from Very, which reminded me of curled book pages, and this bookshelf print wallpaper from B&Q.

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For full credit details, do check out the full feature on p65 of 91 Magazine – though as a heads-up, suppliers include After Noah (vintage letter blocks), Anja Jane (postcard back), B&Q (knitted throw), Debenhams (dog lamp), DuluxLoaf (bed), Made.com (dining chair), Rowen & Wren (painted pine cones/acorns/birch tealight holders, miniature bird and metallic tray), Shan Annabelle Valla (miniature porcelain vase), The Conran Shop (feather pens) and The Orchard (apple crate).

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Extra reading? Get the look with these lovelies:

Book Club Get the Look Shopping Feature by Joanna Thornhill at Stylist's Own

1. Hand carved lime wooden antlers, £68, Rowen & Wren. 2. Blub 2 by Ext.T, £151, Bell side table by Decode, £690, both FAO Shop. Knitted effect clock, £19, Very. 5. Set of three mango candlesticks, £25, French Connection Home. 6. Book tomb iPad case, £79.99, Emyub. Handmade vintage music wreath, £23.50, The Original Pop-up Shop. 8. Fibreglass bucket chair in mustard, £195, After Noah. 9. Steel hammered vases, £50 each, French Connection Home. For more of the same, check out my Rustic Lodge Vintage Books Pinterest board.

{Images: All styled images photographed by Malcolm Menzies and styled by Joanna Thornhill for 91 Magazine. If you wish to feature these on your blog please ensure you use all listed credit details. All product images taken from the relevant companies’ websites – credits provided}

Charidee Christmas Shopping

Blood Cancer Opener

Yes, this might have been more useful had I posted it up, um, about a month ago – but nonetheless I just wanted to pop in quickly (between finishing off the last of my 2012 projects and attempting to tong my hair before attending a wedding reception) to point you in the direction of the Beat Blood Cancer website.

Blood Cancer Baubles

Back in Stylist’s Christmas Month (also known as July) I was commissioned by the good folk at the Leaukemia & Lymphoma charity to style some shots for their website, to showcase some new lines they were stocking in their online shop. Cue a last-minute cupcake baking session and an attempt to style cress to look like a tiny lawn in a miniature cardboard house, amongst other things, and we had ourselves a rather lovely little shoot. It *might* be a little late to get any of these items in time for the big day itself, but do head on over there anyway to plan out what to spend that Christmas money on once the Queen’s speech is finished on Tuesday.

Gardening BannerWomen's Gift BannerCalendar GirlsBaking Banner

 

All items shown are available at the Beat Blood Cancer shop

{Images taken by  Tiina Erami, copyright Tiina/Leaukaemia & Lymphoma research}

Craft your way to an Ideal (Home) Christmas

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Way back in the height of Summer (you recall – those three months a little while ago when the UK was submerged under monsoon rainfall, following the Spring where the UK was, um, submerged under monsoon rainfall) I found myself, as you do, ensconced in baubles, wreaths and crackers galore whilst working as Feature Writer and Festive Crafter on Ideal Home’s standalone magazine, Ideal Home’s Complete Guide to Christmas. Under the fantastic editorship of Heather Young, we popped crackers, crafted advent cones and sampled a whole host of Christmas culinary creations to bring you a comprehensive guide to Winterval. The tone of the magazine throughout is of hankering down with friends and loved ones for a cosy, traditional family Christmas, with a slight homespun, crafty spin to keep things contemporary – perfect for these chilly, cash-strapped times.

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As well as several shopping features, I produced and styled a wall hanging advent calendar project, using some good ol’ loo roll tubes, candy-striped gift wrap and numerous strips of double-sided tape, plus showed different styling ideas for customising some DIY cracker kits and arranged a right-lovely display of kitchen cupboard food staples. There are also some fab festive styling ideas for getting your Christmas dinner off with a bang courtesy of Ali Bradshaw, plus sweet ideas to customise shop-bought gifts by Selina Lake. Available in all good newsagents now – go buy a copy and get your craft on!

{Image credits} Photography by Emma Mitchell and production/styling by Joanna Thornhill, for Ideal Home/IPC Media