Get Inspired

On the heels of our 19th anniversary, we spoke to renowned decor stylists to share their favourite things, projects and Christmas props!

JAN 2, 2020 | By Sonia Dutt and Aneesha Bhadri
(L-R) Simple accessories recreate an eloquent winter palette; Sonia Dutt; Photography by S Thiru;
(L-R) The beauty salon turned Wundekammer houses furniture from the Beidermeier period. Moulded lamps from Tsetse have been moulded over to portray a working atmosphere; Dietlind Wolf
(L-R) Falguni Nayar's home is decorated with Indo Portuguese 1860s furniture. A screen by architect Ahsan Ansari holds the space together; A pink quarter plate designed for Good Earth is placed on a pink table christened "Fifty Shades of Pink" ; Pavitra Rajaram
(L-R) Lots of fresh peonies from a flower importer in Kolkata were used to decorate the 101 seater dining table, along with silverware and candelabras; Ritu Nanda
(L-R) This north facing room with its grey oak floor uses sustainable design from SSM and Mater; One can style minimal brass designs with anything from dried foliage to traditional evergreens says Tiffany Grant-Riley; Tiffany Grant-Riley

As 2019 draws to a close, Sonia Dutt, our Chief Creative Officer, shares how the concept of styling has evolved over the years, what’s important to her—and gets renowned decor stylists to do the same. Read on for a jolly time and inspired celebrations!

Sonia Dutt
Chief Creative Officer, ELLE DECOR India

Since starting the ‘Style’ section of the magazine, I have realised that a well-styled space is not about glossy or expensive pieces. It’s about creating a look that inspires dreams which stay with you. For a long time, I’d pinned an image on my soft board—a glass of milk on a wooden table with a folded napkin under it. It’s every precious detail stood out: the overused wood grain, the weave of a crushed linen napkin, a plain glass filled with frothy milk. That was the benchmark I wanted to achieve. It is why the styled image (see the scroll above) in a winter palette is one of my favourites.

Of course, ‘tis the season to celebrate such cherished memories and pull out Xmas decorations that have been preserved over the years. Personally, I love these glass baubles with an angel from Sia Home. My first and most beloved memory of them is of my then-five-year-old, clutching the angel in her tiny fist as she drifted off to sleep. This wave of nostalgia led me to wonder what my peers remembered this time of the year. So, we decided to ask them!

Dietlind Wolf
Cofounder, Kitchentricity

Wolf combines her acute understanding of colours and materials with her expertise as a former textile designer, long time prop stylist, chef, ceramicist and photographer.
My favourite styled space is… A Wunderkammer where the heart of a former pharmacy can be seen— the matte clay colour on the walls is matched to the furniture left in its original state. What is still missing is a painting on the ceiling inspired by those seen in Nordic churches, which depicts the history of the house and its inhabitants… a kind of modern comic.
My preferred Christmas prop is… Pomegranates
My first decor purchase… A tram stop sign purchased at an auction at the age of 13
My greatest extravagance… Japanese and Korean pottery, and Dries van Noten beauties… and saying no
Materials I love… I’d like to go back to porcelain and clay

Pavitra Rajaram
Creative Director, Pavitra Rajaram Design

After spending over two decades leading the design team at Good Earth, she diversified into an independent interior design practise focusing on styling homes, retail spaces, restaurants and boutique hotels.
My favourite styled space is… This weekend home for Falguni Nayar, the founder of Nykaa, a few years ago. It has all the elements of a classical South Indian home with a courtyard in an updated and contemporary avatar
My preferred Christmas prop is… I love a pink table all year round and especially for Christmas!
Colours on my mind… Aquamarine, apricot, charcoal and bronze
I am currently reading… Around the World in 80 Trees by Jonathan Drori. It’s part history, part science and mostly wonderful
My wish for 2020… More green, more ocean, less traffic and less clutter
One perception I wish I could change about the industry… That it’s tough to break into! I’m always looking for young talent to work with

Ritu Nanda
Founder, Ritu Nanda Design

Back in the 1980s, she was one of India’s first female fashion photographers. She then went on to establish a boutique design firm with offices in Mumbai and Goa with the aim to design and style spaces as well as sets for photography and film.
My favourite styled space… is the 101 dining room at the Falaknuma Palace in Hyderabad
My preferred Christmas prop is… Candles surrounded by pinecones and glossy red apples or oranges studded with cloves
What I love about styling is… The vision and ability to create and transform spaces, defining the meaning and context of a room
My first decor purchase… A feline sculpture from an artist in Brussels, Belgium
The one living person I most admire is… Belgian designer and collector Axel Vervoordt
My greatest extravagance… An old Italian tapestry I convinced my partner to buy for me
My dream home is… One like an aircraft hanger—a single enormous undivided space, where the floor levels would vary to create different zones

Tiffany Grant-Riley
Freelance interior stylist, blogger and photographer

After completing a BA (Hons) in stage management at Rose Bruford College, she began a career in wedding planning, running her own business before sidestepping into editorial styling.
My favourite styled space is… Our 100 year old Edwardian home designed with Nordic in influences in tone on tone shades of beige. I wanted it to be an elegant yet cosy space—inspired by the Nobis Hotel in Copenhagen
My favourite Xmas prop is… One can’t go wrong with a simple, festive wreath. I always come back to eucalyptus for a minimal, Nordic feel. It lasts forever and smells wonderful
Colours on my mind… Muted neutrals such as oatmeal, beige and plaster, with a touch of black
One perception I wish to change about the industry… As someone with Guyanese heritage, I want to encourage more diversity within the design
My dream home is… My own pre-fab, it would be open and contemporary, clad in charred black timber with steel-framed windows
My wish for 2020… To cancel Brexit and visit Finland with my family