my favorite photo styling props

Monday, January 25th, 2016

I think / hope / pray we all know by now that celebrities don’t actually look like their magazine photos.  Are they gorgeous?  Absolutely.  Are they flawless?  Of course not.  Everyone has a minor — and, in the case of supermodels and Hollywood’s leading actresses, very minor — “blemish” of some sort.  Maybe it’s a freckle or a hair out of place.  But that’s what PhotoShop is for, right?  Oh, and they were also made up, coiffed and styled within an inch of their lives.  Trust me, I am not judging.  This girlfriend will take all the help she can get!

Traci Zeller Lake Wylie Breakfast RoomBut did you know that the same thing is true in interior design?  Here’s a shocker for you:  That dog did not jump into the basket.  Au contraire.  There is so much that goes into making a beautiful photograph.  Sometimes what works well in a room looks awkward through the camera lens.  You may need to scrunch furniture together or move it farther apart, make a lampshade crooked so that it appears straight, and so on and so forth.  Plus, interior designers and magazine stylists often add props and other accessories before a photo shoot.  Those props and accessories shouldn’t change the look or the feel of a space, but they might add that final layer to help a room pop off the camera.

Juliska Harriet VaseNow that I have more than a few photo shoots under my design belt, I’ve developed a bit of a rhythm.  What made me laugh, however, is when I realized that I had a decorating “tell.”  In poker, a “tell” is some change in behavior or demeanor that gives your opponent clues about your hand.  Or at least that’s how I understand it; I don’t play poker.  Work with me here, m’kay?  

Traci Zeller Designs Breakfast Room Hydrangea ArrangementSo what’s a decorating “tell”?   In my case, it was a vase.  Namely,  this Juliska vase.  Floral arranging is not my strongest suit, but anyone — and I mean, anyone — can make flowers look good in this vase.  Gather stems together, tie with clear rubber band, cut to appropriate length, plunk in water, done.  See?  Four hydrangea stems et voilà!

Six Top Styling Props1. // 2. // 3. // 4. // 5. // 6

Fortunately, I realized my decorating “tell” … and I stopped using that vase in photos.  But there are several stylish essentials that I either pack or buy before almost every photo shoot.  Why?  Because they look great in photos, of course — and they are realistic for a homeowner to use and enjoy.  Not-so-coincidentally, I use many of these same things at home.  It’s how I style my everyday — and my photos.

How do you style your everyday?

tzd trend alert: shagreen

Tuesday, January 19th, 2016

It’s Brooke again and I am ready to share with you one of my favorite finishes in home décor: shagreen.  Do you know what shagreen is?  If not, I am here to help!  Shagreen is a coarse hide with an incredible granular texture that comes from the hides of sharks and stingrays.  Shagreen hides have been used as far back as the 12th century and became a luxury item in France during the reign of Louis XIV.

Fortunately for the sharks and rays out there, the furnishings industry has created a faux shagreen that is just as amazing as the real thing.  Typically made from vinyl, faux shagreen can be found covering occasional case goods, decorative accessories, lamps and even wallpaper.  Here are some of TZD’s current faves:

Shagreen Decor Final1. // 2. // 3. // 4. // 5. // 6. // 7. // 8. 

In a rare turn of events, the interior design world has led the shagreen charge … with fashion designers just starting to take note.  The subtle texture is soooooo divine.  I am especially loving the cabochon-encrusted cuffs from Anna Blum, which are available in several colors.

Shagreen Dress Final1. // 2. // 3. // 4. // 5. // 6. // 7. // 8.

Do you remember Ronald McDonald House of Long Island business office that Traci designed along with Lisa Mende?  Yep, you guessed it.  The entire room was wallpapered in a faux shagreen texture.  Sigh.  My flat walls will forever be envious.



Isn’t Brooke the best?  I’ve been coveting the AERIN match striker.  You know, because I need another way to strike my matches.  The ones I haven’t lit in years.  That’s what those long multi-purpose lighter things are for.  Who’s with me???  I’m taking form over function on this one.  And do those lighter things have a name??  Anyhoo.

I am c-c-crazy for shagreen … and now I have a few more items for my wish list!  What’s on your shagreen list?