Meet interior and lifestyle stylist Selina Lake

All images featured in this article are taken from Selina Lake Winter Living by Selina Lake, photographed by Debi Treloar, published by Ryland Peters & Small 

If you've had a chance to flick through the latest issue (67) of Creativity, you'll have found lots of helpful advice and tips from creative professionals about turning your passion into a successful business, no matter what the size. Here we get more invaluable advice from interior and lifestyle stylist Selina Lake, who's worked for the likes of Mollie Makes, SHE Magazine and Prima to name but a few, and has six best-selling books to her name.

The latest instalment Winter Living is full to the brim with ways in which to create a warm and inviting home to seclude into and avoid the elements over the winter period. Here we ask Selina what her home looks like in winter, where she visits to pick up all of her amazing props, and advice on becoming a freelance stylist.

How did you get started in interior styling and art direction?

I studied Surface Design at uni and, while in my final stages of the course, gained valuable work experience opportunities with a couple of freelance interior stylists and some interior magazines. The summer I graduated, I started working as a freelance stylist assisant on photoshoots and at magazine head offices.

After a year of assisting a range of established stylists, I started orchestrating my own styling projects and an image I had styled from one of my early photoshoots was choosen as the cover shot for Real Homes magazine. After that, I started to get commissioned to style and art direct a number of projects and shoots.

When I was 24 I approached Ryland Peters & Small with my first idea for a global/boho interiors book, which they loved and decided to commission. The book, Bazaar Style, is a best seller to date and has been published in six different languages and in hardback and paperback formats. 

Your self-titled blog is an online portfolio of all your work, what inspired you to create it?

Back when my first book, Bazaar Style, was released I set up a Google Alert so I could keep track of any publicity the book received as well as media coverage in the UK and US. Bazaar Style was being reviewed on lots of interior lead blogs, such as Decor8 and Apartment Therapy. I was intrigued about blogs as at that point, I wasn’t in the loop with who was using them.

A while later, I decided to start my own blog to keep track of the styling projects I was being commissioned to work on. At the start, it was like an online portfolio that I could easily update. As my range of books has grown, my blog as developed into a place where I promote my books, events and special projects, as well as my work as a stylist. 

What would be your advice to others thinking about ditching their 9-to-5 jobs and going freelance?

It's a huge leap, and one that needs lots of thinking and planning. I’ve only ever been freelance so I never got used to the 9-to-5 and monthly pay cheques. My advice would be to save as much money as you can before giving up your job - freelance work isn’t always regular so you need to be prepared for quiet times. If you want to become a freelance stylist you need to gain experience of working on photoshoots. Being an assistant stylist was my way in. 

You have over 1800 members on your blog, and a strong social media following. Do you think social media and online channels are the way forward when trying to break into a creative industry?

Social media is definitely a tool that all businesses and freelancers should embrace - building an online presence opens up opportunities. With most professions, experience and knowledge gained over time is the most straightforward way to break into an industry and should go hand-in-hand with a good online presence. 

Do you prefer to pin, tweet, blog or post?

I love Pinterest and I have my biggest following with 400k followers. I use Pinterest for research and ideas. I’m also a big fan of Instagram, which I have linked to my Twitter and Facebook accounts. I prefer image-led platforms. 

You’re the author of six bestselling titles – with your most recent, Winter Living, released last year. How does an idea for a book come about?

I usually have an idea for my next book brewing while I’m working on the current book. Winter Living for me was a natural follow-on from my best selling title Outdoor Living.

How do you utilise your blog and social media channels to successfully publicise your books?

I run signed book giveaways, promote any book signing events and interact with fans of my books. 

There are interior styles to suit everyone in the book, what does the inside of your home look like in winter?

Our living room is my favourite room in our house, especially in winter. My husband installed an old carrara victorian marble fireplace which we bought on eBay and I love styling the mantlepiece. I have a brass lantern with an ivory church candle inside and a selection of scented candles. I also use small pots of winter pines to bring a natural feel. Our floorboards are painted white and I use a large Benni wool rug from The Plantation Rug Company to keep the space cosy. 

The imagery and styling within the book is so natural and inviting - we just want to go and curl up in front of the fire in a big fluffy blanket! How do you go about sourcing all of the props for the shoots? Do you have any favourite places you like to go prop hunting?

Thank you - I often source props from flea markets and antique fairs. I live fairly close to Sunbury Antiques Market which is on the second and last Tuesday of every month. I also love a shopping trip to Brighton where I visit Snoopers Paradise, Design Vintage and Workshop Living. 

Do you get involved in all aspects of the book process?

I come up with the initial idea and title and research locations and spaces where we will create the images. There is also a team I work with at my publishers which assist on location research, book design and image selection.

What would be your top three interior tips for winter?

1. Invest in plenty of candles and a few strings of warm white fairy lights.

2. Layer beds with a mix of cosy cushions and blankets to create a stylish and inviting space.

3. In the absence of lush flowers, be inventive with dark floral displays and evergreen cuttings from your garden or collected from winter walks. 

Your next book is due for launch in spring of this year, what can we expect?

Yes I’m very excited about it. My seventh book is titled Botanical Style and is a guide to styling and decorating interiors with a mix of plants, florals and nature. There are different style chapters from industrial botanicals, vintage botanicals to boho botanicals so I’m hoping it will appeal to everyone. I also share some quick DIY craft ideas and my botanical style tips. Check out my Instagram @selinalake #botanicalstyle to find out more and for a few sneak peeks into the book! 

For more advice and tips on turning your craft into a career make sure to check out our fabulous feature in our February issue (67) of Creativity magazine, available from docafts stockists as well as newsagents and supermarkets across the UK.