How I Became An Interior Stylist

In this post you’ll discover how I became an interior stylist AND discover in five easy steps how you can become one too.

One question I get asked the most is NOT about tricky interior design problems or the latest trends – but how did I get my career as an interior stylist for TV shows and magazines? In this post, I’m going to share my career path and give you hints and tips on how you can follow my path.

What Is Interior Styling?

Being an interior stylist is the best job in the world. One day I’m viewing locations and booking photographers for a shoot. Next I’m styling an event for a private party. One week, I’ll be invited by big name brands to view their latest collections in Paris, New York and Millan. Or I can be on location with a film crew styling behind the scenes for a prime time interiors show.

It’s fantastic job if you love people, travelling and being super creative. This is a shoot HERE I did for Good Homes magazine if you want to take a closer at what you could do to if you want to become an interior stylist.

How do I know all of this? Well, I’m Maxine. And I have been an interior styling for magazines and TV shows for the past 20 years. I have no formal training interior design. But I did have a keen eye for trends and a love of interiors which I have turned into a career which has taken me around the world!  I started this blog back in 2015 to share the makeovers that I do on my home.

You can discover more about me and why I started this blog on my About Me page HERE.  This is me at home with my dog Teddy.

Let me share how I got my dream job as an interior stylist….In this post you'll discover how I became an interior stylist AND discover step-by-step how you can become one too.Step One – Get Lots Of Work Experience

 

After finishing my degree in English and Politics, I did a journalism MA in Leeds.  This course included doing work experience and so contacted all the magazines that I loved reading, and I got a two week placement at a fashion magazine. Although I was mostly clearing out the cupboard and opening the post, I was hooked.  Six months later – and a lot more work experience under my belt – I landed my first job at Period Living magazine as their office junior. I made sure everyone in that publish house knew who I was.

As part of my job, I assisted freelance stylists and I love it so much – all the luscious fabrics and thrilling props. This was way before the days of the internet, so everything we did was by phone or fax.  It was really old school – we had to call everyone to to arrange to pick up props – and I met some great friends that way from chatting to all the PR`s and little shop owners.

Above is my styling for Good Homes magazine

Step Two: Start Networking

One day, I cornered the style editor on Elle magazine in the office lift and BEGGED her to give me a chance – and she gave me my first break (thank you Susan Ward-Davies!) to look after the interior shopping pages for her. I used to do my normal job and then in my lunch hour, run down three flights of stairs, and help her put together the interior’s pages. I was living and breathing home style at this time as I was working for a traditional interior one by day and a contemporary interiors one by night.

My tip: If you want a join interior styling you have to put yourself out there. Speak to as many people as you can in the industry and tell them how much you love interiors. You can learn more about how to do that in this post – Everything you need to know about interior styling

My first big break was getting a job on a magazine. After 3 years hard work, I joined House Beautiful in their style team.  This is where I really fine tuned my style skills. I got to shoot my first cover, I’d be styling two large decorating stories each month.  This is where I discovered that styling is about 95% organising, and 5% actual styling.

After five very happy years of working on a magzine, I took the leap to go freelance – and I’ve not looked back – shooting out in Cape Town, Sydney and New York. I’ve shot covers for Country Homes Magazines and my makeovers and style shoots appear in at least two magazines a month. I’m now asked to shoot for high street clients like The White Company, House of Fraser, Debenhams, Tescos…They find me through my online portfolio website which you can see here.

Above is my styling for magazines

Step Three: Try Your Hand At TV Styling

After working on magazines for years – I got a my break into styling for TV shows. How?I started working as a interiors stylist for a TV company in Brighton. After two years of working for them, I was put forward for an audition for a new show. I got the gig and ended up working on This Morning, You can watch my first presenting role HERE – I have bright blonde hair.

By networking and making friends as I go, I’ve ended up working for Amanda Lamb’s Selling Houses, CowBoy Builders and for a brand new show with George Clarke for Channel 4 just this month.

If you want to work in TV interior styling – why not contact local TV production companies and see if they offer work experience. Once you build up your contacts, you could be on the TV scenes too.

Step Four: Start An Interiors Blog

The latest project I have taken on has been this blog – We Love Home. For years, friends and family have suggested that I started a blog to share all my style knowledge. Not being the best speller, I’ve not had the confidence, until I thought, sod it – it’s only spelling! So I launched this blog.

OMG – it has expanding my career so much. Now I do videos for my clients for their social media which I LOVE LOVE LOVE doing! As well as styling lots of mini projects just for me which I can share on here. It’s given me a lot more freedom to take on projects that are more ‘me’.

My blog has been shortlisted for over 14 years in just 3 years including Amara Best Lifestyle Blog in 2019. WOOO HOO!

If you want to become an interior stylist – then one great way to kick start your career is by launching a blog. A place where you can chat about all things design and decor. Why not take a look at this post here for some fab tips on How to make your lifestyle blog stand out

I love sharing my home makeovers on my blog

Step Five: Ask yourself the following

Do you love hard work and can work long hours?

Are you very resourceful and love being creative?

Are you great networker?

If the answer is  a big fat YES then you’ll make a fab interior stylist, I promise. Go on, start a blog, go get work experience – and start sharing your ideas and this career could be yours.

You can become an interior Stylist!

If you want more tips on what skills you need to be an interior stylist – then you have a long at my blog post on Beginner’s guide to becoming an interior stylist.

It’s all be very random. Some of it has been luck. Mostly a lot of hard work.  I’ve done some crazy things as part of my job – from spray painting vintage furniture until 1am, to trying to track down Christmas Trees in the middle of the August.

If love all things interior styling – why not try Join my workshops: Become an interior for the day

In this post you'll discover how I became an interior stylist AND discover step-by-step how you can become one too.

More Posts On Interior Styling

How I became an interior stylist

My year as an interior stylist

Christmas Interior Styling with Next

 

 

Love interiors? In thi spost, award winning interior stylist Maxine Brady shares her career advice so you can get your dream job working in home decor.

Love interiors? In thi spost, award winning interior stylist Maxine Brady shares her career advice so you can get your dream job working in home decor.

68 thoughts on “How I Became An Interior Stylist

  1. Great, great insight into the world of an interior stylist and how much work it really is. In comparison, I’m still at the beginning of my career (though I did give up my day job last year after juggling both became impossible) and am learning with each new client. One day I’m hoping to land “the big one” i.e. Elle Deco, Living etc, and so on, but I’ve learned to be more patient and trust things will work out if I keep chipping away at it 🙂

    1. I’m still waiting for that day Carole (ha ha). I was always so thrilled to work for the country titles as that is where my heart lies. But I find the more mass market the magazine was, the more creative I could be. That is why I love makeovers so much x

  2. I bet it’s a lot of hard work, some luck and a talent for knowing what you want and going for it – well done. And that’s a lovely ironed rug – I’ve never thought to iron mine 😉 #homeinterest

    1. Like anything in life – it is about making opportunities where you can and learning from others. I’ve had some great support over the years and editors who trust me to get a job done 😉

  3. Great post Maxine, and well done for sticking with it! I was a styling assistant for many years before heading over to the dark side (PR) but still miss the days of 5am set calls and endless hours cataloguing products and bubble wrapping!!

    1. Ahh yes, sticky labelled and bubble wrap. It’s so hard to make the step up these days. You have to be willing to work for free (or low paid at best) for ever!

  4. ive recently discovered my interest in interior design and wish to pursue it as a career, any suggestions on where/how i should start my journey?

    1. Hello. Why not check out the KCL school of design? They have lots of short courses on interior design to interior styling – so that you can work out which direction you want to go in and help you take it further.

  5. Hi Maxine,
    I really enjoy your blog and have just been checking out some of your videos on you tube too. Love the ‘how to style a Christmas mantle piece’ in particular.
    Would you be open to having me assist you on one of your shoots sometime? I’ve prior experience assisting for ideal home magazine but am looking to gain as much experience as I can.
    Would love to work with you! Feel free to contact me if this sounds like a possibility. I follow you on twitter too and my handle is @celebratecreatn
    Merry Christmas!
    Claire.x

  6. Great read! I’ve had a passion for styling, photography, art, design, interior, architecture etc for years. I remember when I was about 11yrs old, my brother & I use to design & build 3D house models so it’s been in my soul for years. What I found scary about interior design is that it wasn’t a big thing back in the South Island of New Zealand. It wasn’t seen as a career. So I lived it as a hobby & choose to study journalism & film but now after living in Australia for 8yrs & the last 4yrs in Melbourne I’ve decided to sit my cert5 in interior design this year! Im very excited but so nervous at the same time. My question is … What’s the best way to get my foot in the door? I have about 5 friends in Melbourne & none of them understand design. How do I make my passion my career?
    Any advice would be appreciated. Thank you

    1. t a great journey you have had Haileigh! And well done on following your dream and going for your exams. If you want to become an interior stylist – your best chance is to contact interior magazines and asking them for work experience. Or contact stylist in your area and ask if you can shadow them – look up Claire Waymen she is in your neck of the woods. Secondly, start charting all your ideas and makeovers, the more you have to show for your work the better. And expect to take on projects for friends + fmaily for free so you can test out your ideas there.
      Good luck!

  7. Well, here is my story:
    I did the lasts years of high school with scientific subjects and then I started Psichology in Catalonia, where I live. I did all that without love, just because I had to do something. Just a week before starting the second grade of university I realised I wasn’t happy with what I was doing, so I gave up and started my research with what I always wanted to do: Interior Design. I had to spend a week completetly alone at the house of the beach to be sure of each step I had to follow… At the end everything was where it had to be. Now I’m doing some subjects to prepare the exam for next year, I’m also studying french and working. And what’s more important: I’m much more happy now.
    🙂

  8. Hello! My name is Ashley and I’m 21 years old. I’m a very creative individual and am having a hard time narrowing down which art I want to play the largest role in my career choice. I’ve looked into graphic design, architecture, and even wedding planning; I just love seeing things come together to make something beautiful! My most recent artistic interest is interior design. I love watching HGTV and shopping and gathering ideas for my own apartment. So, my question is where do I begin? There are a couple of routes I can take. Firstly, I have a good friend who is in the process of starting his own remodeling business where I would need to study architecture but I could also use my design sense inside the home as well. Or, I can go to my local community college and get a degree in interior design.
    Which route do you think I can take? Where should I go?
    P.S. I love taking pictures and have always liked the idea of working for a magazine or modeling in any form!
    Cheers and thank you for your time. 🙂

  9. Hello,
    I so enjoyed your blog post. I am absolutely in love with all things interior design. When I see beautiful work on social media or Pinterest, my heart skips a beat. I would love to connect with you for advice on where to start. I am at ground zero – no experience & a sophomore in college – But I am hard working & determined to make my dreams come true.
    Contact: morganetolson@gmail.com
    Thank you for being an inspiration!
    Morgan Tolson

    1. Hey. Ask me a question here and I’ll post up and we can share amongst ourselves. What would you like to know?

  10. This is what I needed to read! Im about to become a lawyer but I’ve always wanted to do what I love the most, styling. I don’t regret my former career bc I belive everything you do/study/accomplish is useful. What study or courses you recommend attending in order to start a solid styling career? Thanks!!!

    1. Hello Florence. With styling it really is about practice rather than study. Start bing interior magazines and look at what they do, email stylists for work experience, and use instgram to show off your work.

  11. Hi my name is Raven I am a middle school art teacher with a degree in fashion merchandising/design and I got the interest from my sister in law when she hired a stager to come in and stage her already beautiful house for sale. My husband has been encouraging me to look more into it for my love of all things design, decor, DIY and changing/staging our house 24/7 haha I am a blank slate and would love to know more information on how to get started or a direction to go in. I know most people have their own business, but I read you say you didn’t go out on your own till 5years, and I think working for a business and getting some experience under my belt is a great idea! I love everything about design and decorating, I am trying to find new inspiration for my passion and I can’t think of a better way to start then with something I love and enjoy doing…..

  12. Thank you so much for writing this article! It gave me hope that even without a traditional educational background there is hope in becoming an interior stylist.
    I am 36 years old and have never worked in the field but have always enjoyed decorating. For the past year Styling has been a passion and i believe its time to follow my dreams. I am having a hard time breaking in the industry and was hoping you point me in the direction. I feel like eveyone wants experience but how can you get it if you arent given the opportunity.
    Any advice that you could give me would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks again! Your work is amazing!!!
    Dora

    1. That is very kind of you to say. The best way to do styling is to start. Try out little ideas and then pop them on a blog, build up your work and then start appraching magazines and stylists for work experience. It’s a long haul process. There is no short cut sadly.

  13. Firstly I’d like to thankyou for sharing your journey, it’s very comforting to know that even the stylist that have met great success where once standing where I am now. My passion and goals is to become an interior stylist I’ve worked for family and friends doing small interior design rprojects but haven’t had the opportunity to gain experience in the industry. Do you have any tips on what doors I need to knock on to gain experience and how I go about it.

  14. Hi! Great tips – I want to learn how to be a stylist just for my own blog. We are renovating an Italianate Victorian mansion and it has a lot of great details. I can’t get the pics to look as good as it all looks to me in real life. What type of wide angle lens do you recommend ? Or do you usually shoot the room in parts?

    1. I work with professional photographers who do all the magic, and I style up the shots. But now I take more photos for my blog – I’ve learned more how to work a camera, so yes, I break down a room into parts. No wide angles. They make everything look distorted.

  15. Thank you so much for sharing your experience, its so interesting to learn of your journey into the dream role and gives me confidence that I can take the leap to do it full time one day! I have worked within the world of Interiors for the last 10 years, but more on the sales side. I have worked on projects with clients within these roles, but would love to have more tips on how to build a portfolio and gain more knowledge whilst still working in my current roles. I would love to help on shoots with you if you need a free extra pair of hands!

  16. Hi Maxine! I graduated with a BS in Interior Design in 2011. I’ve worked in commercial design and corporate real estate as a space planner since graduation. I’ve realized my true passion is styling- whether it’s for a fashion shoot, prop stylist for food photography, editorial content for various print, anything! I love the idea of telling a story through imagery and helping clients create looks that embody their brand. I know I’m going to start out as the low man on the totem pole and that’s fine with me- I’ll do anything to work my way up as a stylist.
    Since I’m most interested in working for a magazine, do you think it’s a wise investment for me to get a masters in journalism. I do not know if my design degree is enough. I’ve always loved writing and have strong communication skills, but am unsure if I’ll get the opportunities I want without it.
    Lastly, right now I am living in Virginia. This doesn’t seem like the place to be when pursuing a career as a stylist. I imagine it would be best to live in a major city in the US like LA or NY; would you agree?
    Any feedback or advice you can share with me would be so appreciated! Thank you so much!

    1. Hey Lauren. You don’t need a degree to do what I do. I just came through this route through journalism and then learned my skills on the job. And you can work remotely – there are going to be lots of local companies looking for a stylist. Good luck!

  17. Hi, Maxine. Such an amazing and inspiring career path. I’m 4th-yr university student and the major is finance. However, recently i realized that what i really want is to work on interior design/decoration, so i decide to try on this field after graduation. Having nothing to do with this job before, my clues to continue believing in myself are my love and passion for changing and making things around more beautiful and inspiring, my ability to sketch and draw (I can copy paintings or drawings by just watching up to 70%) and my imagination. Right now, im trying to start this way but there are a lot to concern. Actually, i am not sure how to start, where to start. Hope that i can learn something from you ????????????

    1. Try applying for work experience on a magazine or at a local interior design studio. That wil guide you on the next steps to take. Start by offering to style pages on your student magazine.

  18. Hi,
    Thank you so much for your post! I want to be a stylist, too! I don’t care how long it takes me as long as I’m able to do it! Please , if you have a minute or two to spare– look at my instagram page– “slatecourtdecor”. Some of the pictures are of my home and the work I’ve done and others are homes I’ve visited. What do I need to work on? I would really appreciate it if you could tell what where I am lacking so I can be better!
    Thank you thank you!
    Laura B

    1. Your home is beautiful. You best bet is to start a blog and share your interior design ideas and grow a portfolio 🙂

  19. I have been in love with decor and arranging furniture since i was very young. Just woke up a couple days ago and want to go for it. Came across you page and it has gotten me absolutely pumped up! Wish i could talk with you and ask you questions, i know this is an old post.

  20. Hi Maxine!
    I came across your website through researching on the internet and adore it and blown away by your achievements. I am an emerging Interior Stylist and am currently assisting home staging jobs in Brisbane Australia and love it! I would love to also get into styling for hotels, airbnb, brands and lifestyle products but mostly INTERIORS!! I am obsessed!!
    I am moving to the UK in November this year and will be living in Oxford because my partner is studying there. Do you recommend approaching Design Studios, Interior Stylists in this area to gain similar work experience?
    Am I able to assist you at some point or meet up for a coffee or even phone call? I don’t have my connections in the UK so I feel as though this might be tricky for me!!!
    Thank you,
    Jenna

  21. I’m Saranya ,from Bangalore,India . It was great that I came across your article! Such a dedicated personality you are! Very inspiring. I’m a interior designing student . More than structural interior designing ,I like styling and organising the place. I just started reading you blog since morning! Im aw’ed! I would like to learn from you! I wish I could join with you and assist. And learn.

    1. There are lots of good magazines in india! Try finding a stylist local to you to shadow. Let me know how you get on.

  22. Hi, I really appreciate your post n everything that was said. I’ve been back and forth with the whole idea of being an interior stylist but letting my shyness n lack of resources get in the way…your blog gave me hope. Got up this morning n was thinking about my life n where I need to go n what I need to do about. I know I was born to do this, but keep holding myself back. I have been doing this ‘styling’ all my life n was encouraged to make a living out of it. I dream one day that my work will featured in a magazine….Your post really woke me up..Thanks a mil!

    1. Hey Karen. I’m so pleased you liked the post and it is lovely to hear that it has inspired you. I’m going to make he blog more of a focus on how to become an interior stlyist, with lots of tips and advice – so keep popping by. And yes, you can do it!

  23. I’ve just stumbled across this post and wanted to personally say “ thank you “. I’ve been trying to hone my interior styling skills for several years now.
    I’m in the middle of a One Room Challenge with CallingitHome and House Beautiful and was looking for some last minute pointers. Your blog is exactly what I need right now. Thank you again.

  24. I am just finishing up interior design schooling, and am looking into becoming an interior stylist. What do you think my first move into a job/position/internship should be.

    1. Build on your portfolio. Start writing, researching and snapping interiors you like – and start to develop a look and style. Pinterest + Instagram are wonderful tools for this – and are a great way of connecting with others in the industry.

  25. Hi, I am very new to this. I am in the beginning stages of attempting to break out on my own freelance. I have a lot of experience styling my own home, prop (furniture) shopping, and organizing. I’m not sure how to get started with positioning myself to receive some amazing opportunities. I currently live in Austin, TX. Any tips you have would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!!

    1. Hey Andrea. Please many check out my blog regularly as I will be posting more and more about styling and how to tips and advice that you will find helpful.

  26. The “snooping in” in the house thing , i’ve done it myself. Except that i am not an interior stylist. I just wanted to see a house , which i was admiring by outside and i wanted to see that from the inside. So one day i just asked them , if they can show me their house. And it’s for a school project, and they agreed and showed me their entire house , proudly.it showed how content you feel when u live in a house , that can be presentable as well . I knew from the start i had a thing for interior decor. Because , when i try to clear my head, i think about decoring a house. But , i know now after all this time . That i don’t wanna be an interior designer. I wanna be someone related to that but with more drama. And i think i found it.p.s- your post is inspiring.please help me in acquiring this.

  27. Hello Maxine!
    I’m Mansi, currently pursuing Bachelor’s of Design from National Institute of Fashion Technology, India. I’m into Fashion and Lifestyle Accessory design department. I’m very keen towards home styling and décor. But I don’t know as to how to proceed with my interest.
    I will be graduating next summers and I’m not sure how should I enter into home styling career.
    kindly do suggest me something!
    PS: Your work is great!
    Thank you.

    1. Hey Mansi
      Your best bet is to get some work experience in all fields so that you can decide where you want to go The more people you meet the better. Get networking.

  28. Hello , this was such a great post! I’m also an English student and I’m also doing a part time diploma in interior designing. Most people ask me why I’m wasting my time by doing two things at the same time. Reading this post tells me that I’m not alone. This was like a “virtual hug”
    This boosted my confidence. All this time I gave room for people’s opinion to impact. Reading this post I can I can do anything and still pursue of dream of becoming a designer. Xoxo

  29. Good content. Thanks for all the ideas on how to become an interior stylist. It’s very informative and helpful for us. I really appreciated. Thanks for the wonderful article. Keep it up.

  30. It’s actually a nice and useful piece of information. I am glad that you shared this helpful information with us.
    Please keep us up to date like this. Thank you for sharing.

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