Claire Lawlor is one of the UK's leading stylists and art directors, having worked in the industry for over 17 years on some of the country's best loved brands.
She's the creative genius behind Funky Chunky Furniture's photography, having art directed all our location shoots, setting the vision and bringing the brand to life through her inimitable style and talent.
Alongside her styling, Claire also has experience in visual merchandising, designing exhibition stands as well as product design and creation.
With Autumn fast approaching, so too is our next seasonal shoot which will be within real homes across Yorkshire and Northumberland. We've been working closely with Claire, planning and prepping, but we stepped away from the mood boarding and designing, grabbed a cup of coffee and had a chat about all things interior and trends. Claire also gave us some tips and tricks to take your styling to the next level and of course, some fabulous new designers to get inspiration from.
Claire, can you tell us a little bit about how you got into styling?
It wasn't the route you'd expect actually! After university, I got a job as a booker at a model agency which was loads of fun but after a few years, I felt creatively unfulfilled but had no idea what I wanted to do. Around that time, I bought my first house which was a complete wreck, I had no money but loved experimenting with my house and a friend of mine said one day "ooh you should be an interior designer"! This was a real ‘light bulb moment’ and I just thought I would absolutely love, to do that!
I tried to get a junior interior design job but without any relevant qualifications, I struggled. Then a photographer friend of mine suggested becoming a stylist. I did my first test shoot with her and then began working on my portfolio. That was really the start of my career and I've never looked back!
And where would you say you get most of your interior inspiration from?
I have always loved Living etc and Elle Dec. Pinterest and Instagram are amazing visual tools, but I have a real love of the natural world which is a constant source of inspiration and I always try to incorporate natural elements into my schemes. That's why I love our shoots, the combination of natural wood furniture and of course all the foliage and flowers that I incorporate into our schemes. It's a great look
Are there any particular designers at the moment who you are loving and why?
Kelly Weartler is a genius, she is such a fearless designer. Each of her projects are so different and her use of materials is amazing. I love the work of Roman and Williams – they create such layered spaces, and I love the calm and serene vibe that Athena Calderone creates in her home.
What would you say are the top colours for the upcoming months?
Well, it's right up my street! You know I love natural tones and textures. This Autumn it's warm earthy tones like terracotta, ochre and peach hues are here to stay, as well as deep greens. Whereas, cool grey is being replaced by warmer more neutral stone-like colours.
And are there any trends that you are loving right now?
I mean, obviously I am loving the warm earthy tones, natural aesthetic and pale woods. I am also a fan of the gloss ceiling trend that is around at the moment but have yet to do it in my house! However, I do love a painted ceiling.
If you had to describe your style in 5 words, what would they be?
Earthy, layered, textural, eclectic, natural.
What are your top do’s and don’ts with interior design?
Don’t be a slave to trends! Your home should reflect you and tell a story of your life. Develop an idea of your own personal style (creating a Pinterest board with stuff that you love will help you do this) and see what you want your end overall look to be like, then you will buy with the future in mind and not be tempted by random purchases or the latest trends.
What is your favourite space to style?
I don’t really have a favourite, I love the variety of each project.
What do you love most about interior design and styling?
I love that no two days are the same and the alchemy of putting stuff together and seeing the magic happen. I especially enjoy creating mood boards to then see the end result when it all comes together.
Are there any secret tips and tricks you can share with us?
If you restrict your colour palette, you can then go crazy and do whatever you like in terms of mixing patterns. You should always have lots of textural interest too and play around with scale.
Do you have any top tips around styling specific spaces, like smaller living areas or open-plan spaces?
With open plan areas, create a cohesive space plan with a materials palette that runs throughout. Zoning is also really important for open plan spaces, this can be done through a variety of ways, either furniture positioning, paint, flooring or a physical partition.
Thanks for speaking to us Claire!