Karen Wilson is a freelance writer based in the North East of England and writes features on homes for magazines including Ideal Home, 25 Beautiful Homes, Your Home, Woman & Home and Good Homes.
We chatted to Karen about her style inspiration, favourite trends and beloved pastime – playing the drums in a rock and indie covers band.
Tell us about what you do:
I’m a freelance features writer and I work with two photographers – katieleephotography.com and jilltate.com – to provide real homes features to the national homes and interiors magazines. These have included titles such as Ideal Home, 25 Beautiful Homes, Your Home, Woman & Home and Good Homes.
As well as featuring entire homes, we also provide one room makeover features of bathrooms, kitchens, living rooms, hallways etc if the homeowner has a ‘before’ picture that shows the transformation.
We cover the whole of the North and offer a complete package of words, styling and pictures to the magazines. Although my background is in journalism, I’ve really enjoyed styling homes for photoshoots. As we are working with homeowners who already have a strong sense of style, the styling is done with a light touch to complement their existing interior design.
Normally this just means loaning a few seasonally appropriate home accessories and bringing fresh flowers.
Describe your interiors style in 5 words:
Colourful, quirky, laid back, bold and eclectic.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I read all the interiors magazines for my job, as well as looking at Pinterest and online interiors stores for product loans, so I probably have too many influences which makes it hard to decide on a look in my own home. My favourite websites are Graham & Green, Rockett St George and Etsy, while my top stores are RE in Corbridge and of course Barker & Stonehouse!
Which trends are you most looking forward to styling/having in your home in 2014?
I try and avoid trends that seem a bit too gimmicky, and will be passé within a year and just home in what I love for my own place. I do like the Bohemian artistic gypsy feel, but rather than go mad with Russian Doll motifs and multi coloured chandeliers, I’d like to bring a pared down version into my living room.
I also love bold wallpapers but I think the days of papering one feature wall are over, so I’m planning to re-decorate my bedroom with a gorgeous gold and black bee wallpaper – contrary to all the advice on creating a calming environment in the bedroom!
Who or what has been your biggest influence in the design world?
I love the work of American designer Jonathan Adler, especially his Bargello cushions, and Brian Yates’ wallpaper designs are amazing. The North East also has some fantastic furniture designers who are very inspiring such as Nick James, DeadGood, Yolyon Yates and Trunk Reclaimed.
What’s your most prized accessory or piece of furniture?
My wardrobes that were made by local furniture designer Tony Carneblad. They are so well made they should last a lifetime. I also have a lovely clock made from the heart of an oak tree and some beautiful sake cups and chopstick rests given to me by students as a goodbye present when I used to work as an English teacher in Japan.
What has been your career highlight to date?
Winning a North East Press Award in my previous job at The Journal was a big confidence boost, but making the decision to go freelance last May has probably been my career highlight. I love the flexibility of working for myself and being in total control, although I do miss my former colleagues.
Describe a typical working day:
I’ll either be on the phone to contacts trying to unearth beautiful homes, out on recce visits with a photographer, writing up interviews, sending pitches to magazines or out sourcing products for styling a photoshoot. If I have a home photoshoot booked in, that takes up the whole day, while a one room photoshoot tends to take half a day.
What do you love about your job?
I love meeting so many different people who are passionate about design and being invited into their homes is a real privilege. Going shopping for accessories to style the shoot is great fun too. Oh and getting to eat the food props we buy for the shoots is a bonus!
What advice would you give to somebody looking to get into the interiors industry?
Be nice to people, don’t be a diva, do your homework about what companies are looking for, and don’t be disheartened by rejection. I’d advise budding homeware designers to invest in good photography of their products and get them sent out to the media.
When you’re not working, how do you like to spend your time?
I play the drums in a rock and indie covers band called Blue Star, which I absolutely love. It’s just a hobby and we don’t take ourselves too seriously, but we practise once a week and do the odd gig around the North East – mainly parties and charity events. Our next gig that’s open to all is on 2nd May at The Hillheads pub in Westerhope.
*Karen would love to hear from anyone who’d like their home featured in an interiors magazine. Contact her on 07717742667 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information visit www.facebook.com/beautifulhomesinthenorth.