Heart Home meets... Sally Cullen

I’ve been a fan of Sally Cullen’s work since long before I first met her; one of the first tearsheets I ever ripped from the pages of Elle Decoration to fill my inspirations scrapbook was something she had styled!

So meeting her for the first time, nearly five years ago now, I felt almost starstruck! I have long admired her creative versatility - she can turn her hand to any style challenge and create something strong and dynamic whilst still retaining a soft, feminine edge - and I'm happy to say that she is just as inspirational in person as her gorgeous styling would suggest.

Her latest shots for Sainsbury's SS12 lookbook showcase her style capabilities beautifully, and the image of the boudoir below faintly echoes that long-ago torn image in my scrapbook...

{Sainsbury's SS12 lookbook, photography by Paul Raeside}

I studied Fashion Promotion hoping to become a Fashion Stylist. It wasn’t until Wallpaper magazine launched while I was at University that I even realised there was such a career as Interior Styling! Couple this realisation with some pretty harrowing work experience in the fashion industry and I suddenly knew where I was headed. After I graduated I secured my first position in the industry as Editorial Assistant on Kitchens, Bedrooms & Bathrooms magazine. I was extremely lucky to work on a small team where I was able to start styling from week one. I learnt so much there and soon I was promoted to become Stylist and eventually Style Editor before leaving to pursue my freelance career.

It’s funny because I don’t really have one particular style in my portfolio. Some stylists have a very strong look and they become the go-to person for that look. I prefer to be a bit of a chameleon and change my style to suit each commission. I think perhaps that being versatile instead of slavishly following one aesthetic has contributed to my success. At home however, I do have a very strong look; I like to mix contemporary with vintage pieces and I do love a good piece of mid-century modern design.

{Sainsbury's SS12 lookbook, photography by Paul Raeside}

Other people’s creative efforts usually get my creative juices going whether that’s in the form of a blog, an outfit, a theatre production, a hotel room, editorial shoot, a piece of furniture or even an amazing meal. One thing that always stops me in my tracks and gives me that instant buzz of inspiration is colour and more specifically unusual colour combinations. I’m massively into nude pink and pillar-box red at the moment. Hmmm, where to begin! Well there are those shoots that are memorable because they were wonderful; great products in beautiful locations with talented photographers are always magnificent. However it’s always the shoots that were pretty awful that seem to stick in my mind the most! Crying on my first ever Living etc shoot because we ran out of time and didn’t get everything shot is one example. Breaking a homeowner’s hurricane vase and finding out it was a sentimental wedding gift was pretty hideous too. Oh and the time I locked my keys and all my props in the car was bad. Once of the most bizarre though was having to take fake snow to the French Alps because it wasn’t snowy enough at the time – hilarious!

{Sainsbury's SS12 lookbook, photography by Paul Raeside}

I would have to say introducing a wonderful colour to your home; simply painting a wall can have the most tremendously uplifting effect. Also starting some sort of inspiration board where you can stick all your favourite tear sheets will bring a smile to your face; whether that’s online or on physically your wall. Finally buy what you love not what you think you should love; it’s your space, who cares if it’s not ‘on-trend’, a home should be a reflection of you.

{Sainsbury's SS12 lookbook, photography by Paul Raeside}

I feel pretty lucky whenever I get commissioned for any job really; it’s a privilege to be part of the creative process. However, if I were to choose just one job I think it would be working on a Lookbook for a new paint company exploring inspirational colour combinations. I’d also like to pursue my latest passion: wedding styling! Ever since my wedding was featured in Conde Nast Brides I’ve been approached by several brides-to-be asking for my input. I even arranged all the flowers, including the bouquet at a friend’s wedding recently. I have enormous admiration for anyone making a living from styling; the hours are long, the work can be incredibly demanding and the work/life balance can be non-existent. In terms of careers I admire: I think Faye Toogood’s transition from stylist to designer is quite remarkable and I’ve always admired Benjamin Kempton’s meteoric rise to become Interiors Editor at Wallpaper – he assisted me on a shoot many moons ago!

{Sainsbury's SS12 lookbook, photography by Paul Raeside}

Obviously finding a career that you love, that you’d do even if you weren’t being paid to do it is the Holy Grail and I’ve definitely found that in my career as an Interior Stylist. I thrive on the creative buzz and the feeling you get when a shot comes together perfectly is indescribably good. Also the constant stream of inspirational homes, products and people that I’m lucky enough to work with is truly good for the soul.