Stylist Kate Alexander has been enlisted as a creative consultant on new DIY tv series Creative Living. Homes to Love NZ sat down with Kate to quiz her on all things interiors
Kate, what’s your styling and interior background?
After decades as a practicing graphic designer I made the switch to interiors. I felt the need to be more hands on and practical. For five years I have been running my own boutique home staging company. Staging has led me into interior design. My creative direction experience has let me into editorial styling. And my marketing background has led me into writing.
How long have you been an interior stylist?
Five years practicing but really I’ve been a stylist all my life.
What is Places & Graces, in a nutshell?
An interior styling company. A vehicle for me to put my over-active creative brain to good use.
How did you get involved with Creative Living?
Via my kids’ school fair! I run the cafe each year which requires me to transform a drab and dreary school kitchen into a fun and funky cafe with no budget and no time. The Creative Living producer is a mum at the same school. She noticed my work over the years and knew that I had both the right experience and attitude for the show.
Have you ever done anything like this before?
Nope! But I have always wanted to.
What is your role on the show?
My role is to add the finishing touches. I come in when the rooms are in the final stages to give advice on how to furnish each room. I also provide guidance on details, like where to place artwork. I show how a room can be truly transformed by what you choose to put in it. I show how you can pull high and low value products together. There will also be blog posts with each room reveal so you can find out where to purchase the items used.
How will your styling skills come in handy as a creative consultant on the show?
Styling is about both ‘overall feeling’ and ‘detail’. I can imagine what the space will be like before it comes together – useful when working on a renovation that had very few walls or floor! I show how you can create cohesion through a house while also giving each room its own personality.
Take a sneak peek at Kate’s new show
How would you describe your interior style?
My personal style is eclectic, leaning towards mid-century. I like to use a bit of old with new. And I like to make people laugh or ponder by including something a little bit random.
Will you be letting the homeowners’ own style sing, or will you be quite firm with your suggestions?
I take my creative brief from Jo and Richard. My job is to give them exactly what they want but more than they could imagine themselves. They have a passion for mid-century style so this definitely comes through in the final pieces I choose. Some of their own pieces make their way into the room reveals, including a painting which is actually pivotal to the overall colour approach.
How do you narrow down all the interior decisions that have to be made during a reno?
With difficulty! My moodboards start with colour, then widen to include everything that gives the right ‘feel’. Narrowing down is then based on budget, availability and practicality. The best projects are ones with parameters – a complete ‘open brief’ is my nightmare! I thrive on solving problems.
What kind of projects have you worked on?
My short and varied styling career has included staging around 120 houses; event styling, including The Vintners Lunch at Sky City; styling editorial shoots; interior styling for shopping tours; residential and commercial interior styling.
What’s a typical day like for you?
The only common thing between my days is that it starts with two coffees – one in bed and one at my local cafe. After that I could be at my computer, on a shoot, styling a house or shopping and sourcing items. I start slow and often work late. I prefer to do one thing for a whole day rather than jump around.
What are some interior trends that you see on the horizon for spring?
Trends are a funny thing. Although I try to avoid them we end up following them because that is what is available. Some things I think you will start to see more of are:
• Red and blue together
• Green of all kinds, including greenery
• Long lumbar pillows
• Standing screens
• Wall sconce lighting