Michelle Hart is the woman behind Bask Interiors. She is a Melbourne based interior/product stylists who's work has been featured in Real Living, Adore Magazine, Australian House and Garden and more!
Her work is also bright and fresh with rich colours/textures creating a strong but complimentary contrast. Her philosophy is "When you walk through your front door, I want you to forget about the stresses of the outside world. Your home is your sanctuary. Your interior space should make you happy and you should want to bask in it. As if you were on the beach in the sun. Reading a book. Sipping a coconut. No – a Mojito!"
When did you know you wanted to become a stylist?
I’ve always been creative and loved the idea of “home” being a sanctuary. I am always re-arranging things all the time at home and also loved studying magazine photography and the art of placement with styling.
I don’t think I really consciously realised I wanted to be a stylist until around 7-8 years ago. These were just things I always liked doing in my own time!
How long have you been in the industry and what was your first job?
I’ve officially been in the industry now for over 6 years and my first paid job was styling a friend’s home for sale in Donvale.
What was the biggest surprise/struggle you encountered starting out in the industry?
I started off in the industry as a property stylist. I think the biggest struggle for me then was trying to be competitive in price in a fast paced industry against companies that employed a lot of staff and had their own furniture stock!
It was hard to win jobs and convince people the value of styling their properties for sale – when I started out, it was still a new concept to a lot of people so we really relied on real estate agents to sell the idea to their clients.
Now it has become industry standard to have your property styled for sale and presenting it at its best, you’d be mad not to style it if it wasn’t a knock down and rebuild property!
Has your career evolved how you expected?
Not at all! I am not sure I had an expectation of how it would evolve, I was just going with the flow and hoping for the best. I have had amazing opportunities come my way, worked and collaborated with so many talented people like stylists, photographers, other small business women, artists and artisans who create the most wonderful pieces. My work has been so varied from property styling homes for sale, to decorating homes that people live in or have just moved in to, to editorial styling and also product styling for companies and I’m now working on a commercial office fit out in town and collaborating with another stylist on it, which is all completely new to me. No two jobs are ever the same, which is one of the things I love about my work!
What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about being a stylist, and whats the most enjoyable part of your job?
I think the biggest misconception about this job is that some people may not realise how physical this job is and how dirty you can get at the end of a busy day!
Yes there are days when you feel like you are tied to the computer, but then when you are setting up a home for sale and walking up and down stairs at least 30 times carting furniture, accessories, artwork it can be exhausting! Styling for photography is also quite physical bringing in props and setting up shots, moving things around that may include furniture and heavy items, painting sets, packing up boxes – even installing a client’s home or room when everything arrives involves arranging and moving items around that can include furniture and heavy pots and plants.
Lots of packing and unpacking of the car, boxes and rooms/homes. That’s why style assists are like angels from above!
I’d have to say the most enjoyable part of my job is seeing the transformation and the end product – and also knowing my client is happy with how their homes look afterwards too. I find so much satisfaction in seeing their reactions!
What piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to get into the industry?
Get lots of experience by volunteering your time to businesses or other stylists as a style assist or doing work experience or applying for an internship. Collaborating with others is a great way to get started too.
Study and work with like minded people at places like the Design School, Mercer, ISCD or do short workshops and go to as many trade events as you can to get yourself familiar with people in the industry. Finding a mentor who is willing to help you is invaluable.
Another way to start off is to style your own home, or a family members or friends home, get on social media and connect with other people in the industry and start showcasing your work. If you are passionate, it won’t be a chore but a labour of love!