Our famous Interior Stylist and Art Director Aurélien Farjon talks us through how to make a house a home, for both television and real life.
When creating something premium, you need to pull out all the stops. That includes making a show home into a lifelike living space worthy of a high-end film production.
With an impressive showreel featuring ads from IKEA, Next Home and Wayfair, we thought Aurélien Farjon was the man for this job. Here are his impressions of Redrow, his process for set dressing, and his tips and techniques for styling an interior to make your own house look and feel like a home.
What was your first impression when walking into a Redrow show home?
The first thing I noticed as I drove up to the house were the trees. Some of them were centuries old, and there were some big, beautiful oaks! You very rarely get trees in new build developments. And, if you do, they are usually newly planted. It was very peaceful. I was impressed that Redrow had made an effort to build around these trees, rather than tear them down.
When I first walked in I was taken back by the space. The layout has been very well thought through, with a big hallway and a grand central staircase. There's an open plan kitchen-diner, and no corridors, just big spacious squares. This is always very pleasant and makes my job so much easier!
What is your process when dressing a show home for a television advertisement and what were you trying to convey through the set dressing?
I dress for an advertisement the same way as I would for a film. I find out the story, and the characters – and then I get into their heads. Who are they? What do they do? How old are they? What do they like and dislike? What is their background? That sort of thing. And then I build the set around what I think they would choose for their own spaces.
Let's lead with an example. For the older couple in the living room, they are arty, hippy and well-travelled. That set up all the choices for their room. Their age would suggest turn of the century, but because of their unique characters, we are leading with new art and statement decorative elements.
What looks were you going for with each room, and how did you achieve them?
- Kitchen/dining room
This scene was unique and vibrant, with a group of 30-something professionals sharing dinner in the evening and enjoying themselves. For this scene to work, it had to be aspirational and warm with overtones of comfort. I dressed it all up with indirect lights: fairy lights and little candles, as well as floor lamps to make everything warm and cosy.
- Living room
This scene was all about art and luxury. They are a successful older couple who have worked hard and now get to enjoy their down time. You already get a luxurious feeling with Redrow homes, so I just built on that with lots of lush cushions, vibrant plants with big green leaves, new art, and big white candles from the White Company. If you have those in your home, you're doing it right.
- Master bedroom/en-suite
This scene was all about convenience and comfort for a young family. We had to position the furniture to show this convenience, with the en-suite right by the bed and a big dressing table next to the walk-in wardrobe. We also placed an emphasis on the lovely high ceilings.
For the comfort element, I used an excess of soft furnishings with lots of different textures and fabrics. Layers of throws, more pillows than you could ever need and lots of little cushions – everywhere and anywhere you can fit them.
What are your top tips dressing the home and what makes Redrow different, from an interior stylist's perspective?
- Accent colours
For the average Joe who may not be so great with colours on walls, it's good to go for a neutral scheme overall with an accent to finish it off. Go for a bit of bravery, bright orange cushions, for example. That way, if you fancy a change, you don't have to repaint your walls – just change your cushions. Add other items to build the look – decorative things, sofa throws, lamps, planters – all in the same shade of orange, or whatever colour you prefer.
- Item placement
Right now, the big trend is plants and greenery, so bring in the greenery! Put plants, flowers or succulents in the corners of the room, and on surfaces, to give you a bit of vibrancy and life. If you are a plant killer, you can get some good fake plants, and you can mix up real with fake.
People tend to fill up space. Every corner and every wall has to have some furniture occupying it. But it's a good idea to leave some corners and walls empty if you can. It's not compulsory to put furniture everywhere, and not necessary to fill every space.
Space is particularly nice to have when you have children. They can then throw themselves over the floor and make their own play areas. They can't do that with unnecessary side tables and shelving units everywhere.
Turn off the top lights and brighten the room with indirect light instead. There's no such thing as too much! Regular lamps, floor lamps, candles and fairy lights are all great for this. I particularly like fairy lights. They're cheap and you can throw them pretty much everywhere, even kitchen shelves!
It's also a good idea to put white voiles on the windows, they diffuse the light while still letting plenty in and they give you some privacy from your neighbours during the day.
The shape of the houses – they're very wide and very deep. You usually just get one or the other, but with Redrow you get both. They also all have amazing landscaping in the garden. The development we filmed on was only six months old, but it felt like it had been there for decades. Everything is so beautifully manicured.
I also love how everything is built around the central staircase. It's very pleasant to be able to walk around a house in a full circle.