Over the past few years I have collected items for my ‘prop’ cupboard, to be used in styling events, client photography projects and daily home life. I have a criteria, a certain look that makes the grade – all items are a similar hue, are all on the white, grey, neutral spectrum.
The reasons behind this strict colour pallet is so that items can be mixed and matched, looks can be pulled together effortlessly, and have an over riding theme of ‘modern rustic’. Plus I am also a colourphobe! Ha!
Hone your style
It took me a few years to feel comfortable with my interiors aesthetic. I went through a stage of loving bright colours and geometric prints, followed by dark and moody interiors (think Abigail Ahern), to now discovering I actually like white and grey with a bit of gnarly wood and green glass thrown into the mix. Having these colours and textures in my home makes me feel calm. Create a prop cupboard which reflects your own aesthetic. If you have a love for geometric shapes or marble or brass – then collect items that reflect your tastes.
Dedicate an area to your props
I found this old cupboard on our local buying and selling Facebook group for £30. It was brown and ugly with a grid effect glass doors. But I knew the size and shape would be worth working with. Dan replaced the glass and painted the whole cupboard in a soft grey (pavilion grey by farrow & ball), instantly transforming the piece. It now sits in the corner of my dining room which makes it a perfect place to store my crockery, glasses, linens etc. If you don’t have a cupboard, try dedicating a shelf or a drawer for your props.
Sourcing your props
Scour junk shops, charity shops and car boot sales for interesting items. I love to find glass candlesticks, silver cutlery and linen table cloths. But whatever your aesthetic is, it needn’t be expensive. Just some clever purchases will see you having endless styling opportunities. For example: the simple duralex picardie glasses work well as water glasses on a simple table or as a wine tumbler for a more grown up look. I’ve even been known to plant them up with bulbs in spring for table display. Choose items that can have multiple uses.
Practical and beautiful
Look for practical items that are also beautiful. A chopping board with an interesting patina. A bread knife with a lovely handle. Ceramic bowls are a thing of beauty, and I have many in different hues and patterns which work with different styles and looks – and of course food!
Think about what you will be styling
I get asked to style interiors shoots, so most of the time products are placed in home style setting. So surrounding the hero piece will be my bits and bobs. For example: the image above, the vase, board and candle is from the client, The White Company. The rest is from my prop cupboard. Silver plate from Marrakesh, glass bottle from France, cook books, and collected seed heads. It brings the look together, without taking away too much of the clients products.
I am a bit of collector when it comes to natural objects. Seed heads, dried grasses, feathers, conkers, fir cones – all. They all add interest to a look, and stop any styled vignette looking to ‘staged’. The beauty of dried items is that they can be used all year round and require little money – so gather fir cones on your walk. They are free.
Backdrops for a flat lay
We all love a flat lay, and in the world of Instagram styling it is a good skill to learn. The key is to have a good backdrop. I have several which I chop and change. My main one is an old pallet that I drag under a window. It’s dark, dirty wood is a thing of beauty and always sets off the styling perfectly. My latest love is a backdrop from Capture by Lucy. Her backdrop store is brimming with interesting colours and textures. They are made of vinyl and can be rolled up and put away when not in use. I have the grey temple walls, but now I’m wanting the white marble for that luxe look.
I hope this has given you a few ideas on how to curate a prop cupboard. If you are wanting to know where I have sourced some of my items – have a look below. Happy prop hunting!
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