A true creative and absolute expert in all things interiors, Emma Morton-Turner has been an Interior Stylist and writer for eighteen years. What she doesn’t know about inner workings of the Interiors Media is not worth knowing; she has worked in every facet of commercial and editorial interiors styling over her career.
After working on titles such as Essentials and Prima, and spending five years as Home Editor at Woman & Home, she went freelance and has styled magazine photo shoots, company brochures, press launches and filmed video tutorials for the web too. She continues to write features for the interiors media both online and offline.
Her expertise is unparalleled and around the time she took the leap to go freelance with her interior styling work, Emma leveraged this expertise and her position in the industry to create Inside Stylists www.insidestylists.com, a community and resource bank for stylists, writers, photographers and assistants.
Of course we pinned her down to quiz her on her career, how she creatively approaches new projects, what trends she’s expecting to see over the coming months and so much more! Emma was a delight to talk to and we hope you enjoy finding out more about her…
Tell us about your journey from print media to freelance interior stylist
I worked in magazines for nine years, the last five as Home Editor on Woman & Home. I styled real home features, decorating shoots, gift guides, spring flowers and copious amounts of Christmas. I also wrote everything from newsletters, top home gadget roundups, Classy Cleaner pages and gardening pages. If it was connected to the home I styled or wrote about it.
I’m really lucky that Woman & Home was (and still is) such a well regarded magazine as when I decided to go freelance I was associated with high end features and got booked straight away.
I thought being an in-house editorial interior stylist would be really different to being freelance but the work is very similar- it’s how you promote yourself and stay in touch with brands and PRs that changes.
Tell us what your job entails as an Interior Stylist both editorially and commercially
My job as an interior stylist is to inspire readers in editorial shoots or encourage customers to buy in commercial ones. Commercially it’s more about ensuring that the hero product in the shots is the first thing a viewer sees.
I always think that it only takes one great find, new product or fresh style idea in a magazine to make it right for a reader. That makes them want to keep treating themselves to that magazine.
With commercial shoots you have to balance the shots so the product is the hero but in a way that looks natural and as true to real life as possible. I never want my product shoots to look like an advert. They should look like a moment in time. It’s a fine line and the main reason why brands hire interior stylists in the first place. We’re trained to make their product sing - without you even being sure how.
Tell us a little bit about Inside Stylists
Inside Stylists is the website I set up four years ago to support the editorial and commercial shooting and writing world. I basically built what I wish was there when I first went freelance. Somewhere to share who I am, what I do, my contact details and examples of my work.
The members of InsideStylists.com are Interior stylists, style assistants, writers and photographers. You can find the perfect team for your shoot or feature all in one place.
We also now have an academy where you can learn to style your home and your brand.
How would you describe your style and design ethos?
As an Interior Stylist I need to be able to turn my hand to whatever style is needed on my shoot whether that’s super modern, affordable high street or totally retro. At home I’m all about vintage furniture. I love to find a piece of old furniture and paint it up with a specialist paint effect using Annie Sloan chalk paint. Painting takes me to my happy place (as well as baking and sewing)
When I’m designing a room - for work or home, I always start with the strongest/boldest pattern. Usually it’s a wallpaper - I’m a big wallpaper fan, but sometimes it’s fabric. I like to mix and match patterns starting with the most bold one then adding a smaller scale pattern. The third pattern is usually a small ditsy print or something geometrical - spots and stripes work really well. Each design is different but in one colour palette to hold the look together.
Finding collections that have a good eco ethos is essential and I try to support small/local businesses. It’s a great way to help them get their names out there and they are always unique. No-one wants a home that looks similar to their friend down the street and this is a great way to stand out.
Has your design style changed through your career?
I think as I’ve got older I’m more able to make choices due to my style rather than my limited bank balance. In our first house we had a lot of Ikea. Now I choose vintage pieces that fit in with my look - which is much more colourful. I don’t follow trends, I follow what makes my heart sing. I want to love every room.
The biggest problem I have is choosing one look for my home. I’m lucky enough to get sent new wallpaper and fabric designs as they launch throughout the year. I fall in love with new designs all the time. It makes it very difficult to make a decision in my own home. I think I may be in the best job as I get my fabric/wallpaper fix at work!
Where do you find your inspiration? And how does the inspiration process start for each new project?
I always encourage styling students to get out and see exhibitions, galleries, see what shop windows are doing and watch the fashion industry. Travel is a big inspiration for so many people. There are so many places to be inspired by.
My design inspiration usually comes from a wallpaper or fabric design I’ve fallen in love with. I will then use the colours from that as my palette.
Do you have any key principles of interior styling that readers would be able to apply in their homes? (might be proportions, layering up textures, creating focal points etc).
Balance is the key to good styling whether that’s in a whole room or on a shelf. Grouping accessories in odd numbers will always look better than even numbers.
Adding textures is another great way to style a space. Paint effects with texture on the walls look great as do layers of furnishings on sofas. Textures can be added everywhere and be super subtle - even down to the feel of a curtain fabric can enhance a space.
What are your style and decor ‘must haves’ when it comes to entertaining at home and hosting the perfect dinner party? (dressing a room for comfort, practical touches, colourful decor, perfect table centre-piece etc)
I’m a huge fan of the mix and match vintage style. My glassware and china are similar colours but different designs. I think it makes for a relaxed look and our guests always feel welcome and at ease.
When entertaining I start by laying the table with lots of glass candle sticks - usually different shades and heights and I add coloured dinner candles. Next I add small vases full of either flowers or foliage from my small garden. You don’t have to spend a fortune to get the right look.
If there’s space I’ll add a few tea lights. I fill the centre of the table as much as I can. If truth be told, as soon as the food is ready my husband will always turn on the lights saying “We can’t see what we’re eating”, missing the point of atmospheric candlelight and removing all the decor on the table to make room for the food and drinks. I’ve learnt that the compromise is less candles and decor on trays that can be removed when the food is ready. That way I get to dress the table and welcome our guests in and he gets the space he wants for the chicken. Even decor is a compromise - but as long as I don’t have to cook (just bake) I’m fine with that.
What interior trends do you expect to see coming through over the next year?
I think natural elements will continue to be a big trend. We’ve seen the houseplant trends continue and I see full grown trees coming inside now - even in small homes.
Along the lines of natural elements people are even more eco conscious now, choosing products that are not only produced with renewable or recyclable sources but with their packaging too. It’s starting to be surprising when something isn’t posted via eco mailers.
In terms of colours - anything uplifting will be key. With everything going on in the world now - and what we’ve been through in the last few years people are looking to be uplifted as much as possible. Colour psychology is key to ensuring you surround yourself with colours that lift you whether that’s your home surroundings or clothing. We’re going to want to stay upbeat and colour can do that. Pastel colours are key - especially pinks and lilacs.
Curves are here to stay too. On sofas and armchairs, art and the way we paint shapes on our walls. No hard or pointed edges. Nice and smooth all the way.
What is your go-to podcast?
I predominantly listen to podcasts on business and money. Every Saturday on my run I listen to ‘Ask Martin Lewis’ which is a BBC podcast. He’s incredible. A real champion for the people. He gives so much sound advice and explains what’s going on with price hikes, electricity bills, pensions, savings - the whole lot. I feel educated at the end.
I usually binge on any topics that I’m researching at the time. I love Helen Perry’s “Just bloody post it” for instagram and business tips, The PR Spotlight for insight into the world of PR and The Recipe for SEO Success podcast for constantly improving my website.
What are you reading at the moment?
I tend to listen to business books via Audible on the dog walk but right now I’m on a beach in Mallorca and I grabbed ‘Chloe’, by Freya North from the hotel reception. I’m rubbish at choosing fiction books. I like to have them recommended to me.
What current Hudson Home products do you love?
Where to start! I love the lighting and the rugs but I think the art is totally unique. Very beautiful, especially the Still Life of Pears Oleography. You make art so affordable.
When you are not working, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I’m a runner, baker, sewer but my all time favourite thing to do is treasure hunt at antique fairs, auctions and boot sales. I usually have a collection of something in mind - at the moment it’s coloured glass but if I find furniture to paint it’s a double win.
What can’t you live without?
My silk blanket. I made both my daughters silk blankets for their second birthdays and for some reason I put the youngest’s on my bed. It’s gorgeous. She’ll have to fight me for it if she wants it back.
If you were to ask my older daughter what she couldn’t live without it would be her silk blanket too.
I’m feeling guilty now ;0)
What’s next for you?
I’ve just launched our second online course on InsideStylists.com called “Christmas styling for brands” which teaches small brands how to make the most of their photography so it’s more likely to be featured in magazines and online blogs.
Our first course is Learn Interior Styling which is all about the basics of setting up a professionally styled shot.
I’m happy to share a 15% discount for either course with the code: HUDSONHOME15 https://www.insidestylists.com/courses/
We’ve got some more courses planned for next year.
You can find Emma here:
Her courses: https://www.insidestylists.com/courses/