If you thought the services of a talented interior stylist were only available to the rich and famous, think again. If you’re willing to put in your own time and energy, you can channel their expertise to create a home you cherish, albeit at an affordable rate.
Interior stylist Emilie Jacob of Stella & the Stars is known for creating homes that are bold, beautiful, colourful and cosy. She works by the ethos “small budget, big impact”. Her secret to achieving a high-end look at a purse-friendly price is a clever mix of Ikea hacks, and high-street and under-the-radar finds, with investment pieces. While Jacob offers full-time interior design services, she also provides remote styling, plus hourly and daily consultations, which are the answer for those watching their budget.
“Our remote styling service begins with an initial consultation in the client’s home, where we’ll take measurements and take photos for the mood boards,” says Jacob. “In contrast, a typical e-design service allows the client to do 100 per cent of the work, including sending their own images and floor plans.”
From there, all the work between Jacob’s team and the client takes place by phone, email or through an online platform. For those who have the time to execute the work, who want a flexible approach to the budget, have a desire to learn about interior styling and / or enjoy being in control of sourcing and making decisions, a remote home styling service ticks all the boxes.
While this option means that the client manages the project, orders and organises delivery of products and installation, and liaises with suppliers and contractors, there’s plenty of support. This includes recommended tried-and-tested contractors, as well as product tips from those who live and breathe interiors, and know what’s in stock at any given time.
"We have a guide to framing artwork and another on choosing paint, for example," Jacob adds. "We explain where to shop, who to speak to at the paint shop, what finish to go for and how to test samples in your own home. We also give our top tips on receiving the smoothest experience from each supplier. For example, for Ikea, always order online and book the handy service, which is Dh120 – there's no other way you can get a handyman to complete the work for you at that price."
While you may discover just how challenging it is to deal with unexpected problems, such as communicating your address for delivery or liaising with customer service when a product arrives broken or in the wrong colour, Jacob’s advice will ensure that you won’t waste time and energy on calling someone to fix a poorly executed installation.
For one client, who wanted to redesign her family villa in Jumeirah Park, the biggest challenge was the floor plan. "The dining space, play zone, seating area and entrance were located in a big L-shaped room," says Jacob. The client wanted to keep a large, good-quality modular sofa from Crate & Barrel, which provided the starting point, as it dictated the layout. Previously covered in a brown velvety fabric, it was reupholstered in a grey linen, while the stark, white walls were broken up with an eight-metre-long statement wall, painted in a bold grey. "We created the illusion of the TV being part of a gallery wall by surrounding it with artworks," she adds. "It's a trick we often do to avoid the TV from becoming a focal point in a room." Jacob also created a hidden play area for her client's son, located behind the sofa.
To add texture to the room, custom-made, off-white linen curtains with a dark border framed the arched windows, while tactile cushions, velvet chairs and a luxurious rug added to the cosy vibe.
“I love that the client executed every detail that we gave her – to the millimetre,” Jacob says. The ground floor transformation is the beginning of a larger project, which will eventually see the whole villa revamped. By styling the home in stages, starting with the high-traffic areas where guests are entertained, the costs are spread out over a long period of time.
The decor mixes investment pieces that can be reused in the next property, such as a rug from The People of Sand and a bespoke dining table by The Line Concept, with practical pieces such as a TV unit. “If you combine soft furnishings, such as Zara Home or H&M cushions or throws, with more expensive pieces around them, you can wow guests,” says Jacob. “And you can ensure that the investment pieces – accessories and lighting, for example – won’t be wasted when you move.”
About 90 per cent of Jacob’s clients are renters, so there’s often a mindset that an impermanent home isn’t worth spending on. “However, renters generally stay in the same address for a minimum of 18 months or two years.”
Indeed, remote styling and hourly consultation services ensure you can keep track of exactly how much you’re spending while you’re saving time and energy by hiring an interiors expert. What’s more, you’ll be investing in creating a home that makes you feel happier – whether you’re living in it for two years or 10.