Emily Chalmers is an interiors stylist and author who excels at using more dash than cash to create inspirational interiors. Emily’s freelance career spanned a number of magazine titles and newspaper supplements and she now happily combines work with play in her hip home boutique, Caravan, located in London’s Shoreditch.
Emily’s new book Modern Vintage Style is all about cherry-picking pieces from the past and using them in a fresh original way.
How would you describe Modern Vintage Style?
Modern Vintage Style is an approach rather than a theme. This style encompasses new and old – it could be a new way of looking at an old piece, or a traditional way of presenting something new. The modern vintage styled home has room for vintage ‘finds’ and family heirlooms alongside high street buys.
The homes in the book all bring modern and vintage together successfully. Can you give us some tips on how to achieve this?
Starting off with as blank a canvas as possible is the best way to approach any re-styling…. Spaces should be clean and organized and cleared of any unwanted pieces. If you’re planning a re-haul then dedicate one area to things you don’t think you need (a spare room or loft space is perfect for this if you have the luxury!). Slowly then go through what you want from the cleared space – being very disciplined about what you can and cannot do without.
Vintage pieces can often be picked up very cheaply, but don’t let this fool you into creating your own flea market at home. Use the same care and attention as if you were buying new.
Some vintage items can be expensive. How can you create the modern vintage look on a budget?
If you are not in a rush to purchase then do your research well. The internet allows us to search far wider than ever before and auction sites mean you can choose your highest bid – just try to stick to it!
Where are the best places to source vintage items?
Car boot sales, charity shops, antiques centres, websites such as Pre-Loved and Ebay…. There is a wealth of outlets – just keep your eyes peeled at all times!
What is you most treasured vintage item, where did you find it, and what do you think it says about you?
Ooh, that is such a difficult question! I would say most of my belongings are treasured…. I recently took a £20 charity shop chair to be upholstered in some wonderful un-used vintage Sanderson floral linen. It looks amazing now…..!
Up-cycling and reusing is very fashionable at the moment but it’s something you’ve always been passionate about. How did you discover your love of styling in this way?
For ever since I can remember I have been interested in rummaging through other people’s junk. I still have a set of small wooden drawers that were found at the local refuse tip when I was about 8 years old! I do like the thrill of a ‘find’ and I am happy to look but just as happy to leave empty-handed if there’s nothing there for me. It’s important to be able to walk away!
Is Modern Vintage Style here to stay?
Yes! This style is creative, fun, flexible and relaxed. Combined with the fact it can be easier on your purse strings, Modern Vintage Style is definitely here to stay!
How do you juggle a career as a stylist, running your shop Caravan and writing books?
I really enjoy all my various activities and find that they each inspire the other. Collecting stock for my shop, Caravan, can often inspire themes for shoots, and vice versa. Working on my books has been a great excuse to get me out and about and into some wonderful homes and locations. I think I am very lucky to do what I enjoy for a living!
What’s your next project?
There always seems to be something on the go but right now I am enjoying finding things for my new home. I also have exciting plans for Caravan over the next few months – so watch this space!