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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)


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


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*



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.


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).


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.


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), (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).


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


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.



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

Hold the Front Page

As those of you who follow me on Twitter may know, there’s something rather special on the newsagents shelves this month (well for the next few days at least), nestled away in the Homes & Lifestyle section. It’s, um, my FACE! And the rest of me. Standing in our finished* living room! (*OK it’s a tiny bit pretend-finished – more on that later…) Let me explain…

Having worked on several issues of budget-savvy, real-home-loving interiors mag Style at Home last year (and luncheoned with the lovely editorial team many a time), when I heard way back in June that they were looking for a living room makeover to feature for their Christmas issue, up shot my (virtual) hand to volunteer my own blank canvas of a room. They were keen to feature a space that had a fireplace and bay window that we could decorate in one of this year’s top festive trends. At this point, the room was still white and empty bar one solitary sofa, but I knew I wanted to paint it dark grey and had fallen madly in love with the gorgeous Harlequin Zosa fabric which I was desperate to make into curtains. I figured the bright pops of colour within its lovely botanical print would work brilliantly against dark walls and, having seen lots of rich, bright festive decs at the Christmas press shows (yep, these happen in the middle of Summer) I could see a way to tie the whole thing together. Luckily the Style at Home team thought so too, and wanted to know if I could turn it all round by the end of August ready to shoot. I agreed, then promptly spent the remainder of the Summer in a decorating frenzy (you may have noticed a rather lengthy lull on the blogging front…)

… until the shoot day arrived and we made it all look like this!

The shoot itself wasn’t without its difficulties (including having no Christmas tree for the bulk of the morning due to a courier blunder) and as we were facing a small room/big sofa/nowhere to put the camera situation, poor photographer Jamie Mason spent much of the time squashed into a corner barely able to fit his head behind the lens. Not to mention quizzical looks from neighbours wondering why the new girl on the street was putting up her Christmas tree on the August Bank Holiday weekend. But in the end, we managed to pull it out of the bag, aided along with a few festive nibbles.

And here’s a little glimpse into the organised chaos of the day:

Far be it from me to burst the bubble here, but I think I’m not giving away any spoilers when I say the festive decs duly came down straight after the shoot, and due to my severe lack of furniture some of the items in the room were borrowed from PR’s. So like a whirlwind from the future giving a tantalising glimpse of a finished, cosy space, some CitySprint couriers promptly came and whisked much of it away again, leaving the room as it stands today looking much like this:

The coloured table nest (the Kilo, from Habitat) is doing a sterling job, though ultimately I’m hoping to source a circular coffee table to better fit the space so that these can pop back into the corner next to my as-yet-non-existent armchair (I’m on the lookout for a snuggler or loveseat as this would be a great fit for the back wall). And much as I love my wooden floors, it sure was nice having a rug for a few days so I’m also keeping eyes peeled to find something similar to the Dunelm Mill rug I borrowed to shoot. The blanket box in the window (just seen) is actually a vintage Ikea piece that’s been gracing my parents garage for the past few years. I’ve had some foam cut to fit the top and thrown this Next blanket over it all, but ultimately I want to paint it (possibly the same colour as the walls to vaguely make it look built in) and fit some fabric properly on the top. Still, it makes a handy perch for those times when we have multiple guests. The tall lamp is also an old piece from Next which was being chucked out from a Next Directory photoshoot – not only did we manage to fix it, but I used an old pompom trimmed pelmet picked up at a sample sale to recover it. Oh, and that newspaper bunting? There’s a little story to go with that too – all will be revealed in Dec!

{Images} All the well shot ones are copyright Jamie Mason for Style at Home magazine. The dodgy iPhone ones are all copyright Joanna Thornhill. If you’d like to blog or pin any of them, please include full links back

Easter Decor Delights


As I am still heavily embroiled in house-attempt-purchasing malarky, I haven’t felt I’ve had a huge amount to say around these parts of late. Every time I catch myself lusting after a wallpaper or admiring a pleasing shelving configuration, I’m hit with that sick-to-the-stomach feeling you get as a teenager when you spy that boy you really like and sometimes dare to dream he might actually like you too, even though you’re simultaneously pretty certain he doesn’t know you exist and suspect he already has a girlfriend anyway. Well, it’s like that. Except with floor joists and unsightly brown pebbledash. I hope either way to be put out of my misery soon so that I might share what’s going on, but for now (and for the fourth long month running) patience is the name of the game.

I digress. What I actually came onboard to say is that, if you missed my feature on decorated Easter tabletop displays in Woman’s Weeky magazine last week (of which there was a pretty high likelihood as I was so preoccupied with said joists/pebbledash I forgot, um,  to tell anyone it was out) and you’re at a loose end this Saturday night, why not try whipping up one of the following projects:


Fabric decoupage eggs, using some gorgeous Amy Butler fabric (available for £11 per metre at John Lewis)


Hold back on scoffing those there mini eggs – why not arrange them in a vase for an alternative floral centrepiece instead? You can gorge on them after, promise…


And finally, egg cup tea lights. I was actually really impressed at how easy it is to burn down a ubiquitous Ikea tea light and transport it into another vessel ready for candlelight enjoyment. This could be applied to all manner of little bowls and other quirky, molten-wax-safe vessels as well as eggshells. For the full how-to, check out the instructions on the Good to Know website.



And finally a few behind the scenes shot – big thanks to lovely Sussie Bell, the photographer who let me overtake her house for the day with my trinkets and baubles (and took these stunning snaps, of course). There’s a few more of these to be seen over on the Woman’s Weekly Facebook page of you fancy ambling over.

And yes, I did eat approximately 25 duck eggs (and approx 957 mini eggs) during the planning process of this shoot. Tough times, friends, tough times…

Next big project on the horizon is my Jubilee shoot – pinkie promise to share it before July!