Studio Visit

Stylist Heather Nette King

Lucy Feagins
Lucy Feagins
1st of July 2011
Savvy Cameos for The Age M Magazine, styled by Heather Nette King, photo by Mike Baker, © Fairfax.
Heather's own home for Real Living Magazine, styled by Heather Nette King, photo by Armelle Habib, © ACP.
The Melbourne home of Jenny Elliot for  Sunday Life magazine, styled by Heather Nette King, photo by Mike Baker, © Fairfax.
Christmas Toys for Grown-ups for The Age M Magazine, styled by Heather Nette King, photo by Mike Baker, © Fairfax.

OK I should warn you, if you're prone to feelings of job / life / efficiency envy, today's interview may leave you feeling a little inferior. That's because Melbourne-based interiors stylist Heather Nette King is a bit of a creative dynamo!  After reading this interview, I am getting the distinct impression that she squeezes a fair bit more into her day than the rest of us!

As a freelance interiors stylist and writer, Heather's days are filled with the varied and seemingly endless tasks required to produce stories and impeccable images for magazines such The Age M Magazine, Sunday Life, Real Living and Country Style.  And can I just say, being an interiors stylist is rarely limited to simply sourcing a few pretty props!  Invariably the task includes sourcing a location and photographer, pulling in talent, organising catering and budgets and everything in between!   It takes a truly special multitasker to pull all this off with style and a minimum of fuss, often whilst juggling multiple clients in any given week (and in this case, two kids!).

In addition to squeezing a helluva lot into each DAY, Heather also seems to have squeezed a fair few career paths into one lifetime!  She's held jobs in music concert production, artist management (she was Jason Donovan's PA at one point!), PR and publicity at Channel Ten... but she always had a burning desire to work in magazines.  A few years ago she finally followed her heart - and it didn't take long for Heather to carve out her very own niche in the competitive world of interiors styling!  She's been helped along but an innate sense of style, a passion for brave colour... and super-human levels of energy and enthusiasm - even when it comes to Excel spreadsheets!

Heather has a brilliant blog which you should most defo bookmark and re-visit regularly!  Huge thanks to Heather for giving us an insight into her creative career!

You seem to have had a few unexpected twists and turns in your career! - can you tell us a little about your career background and what path led to what you’re doing now?

I deferred a journalism course to study PR as I thought it would be glamorous (yes, 18 and naive!). After the degree I worked in concert production (busily running around backstage at concerts as diverse as Jimmy Barnes and Dizzy Gillespie). Then it was artist management - I was Jason Donovan’s PA in the Stock Aitken Waterman hit factory days which was ridiculously good fun, but not sure you could call it a career move though! Then it was nine years (with a couple of breaks to have babies) working in the publicity department at Network Ten. Despite always doing a lot of writing, I don’t think I ever felt creatively fulfilled - I was a serial renovator who always dreamed of working in magazines, so when we moved to Sydney in 2005 I realised it was the perfect time to follow my heart and finally get the courage to get a folio together. I was incredibly lucky to get a break from the Art Director at Sunday Life, Aleksandra Beare who gave me my first styling job.

Where might we have seen your work?

Mostly in the Fairfax papers – I do the Melbourne homes for the ‘my space’ section in The Sun Herald / Sunday Age Sunday Life magazine, The Sunday Age M mag, Real Living, Country Style (to be published soon) and I am presently working on stories for a few other great Australian home titles. I love writing the stories as much as styling the shots.

The home of Lisa Gorman and Dean Angelucci for Sunday Life magazine, styled by Heather Nette King, photo by Mike Baker, © Fairfax.

You spend your days making gorgeous homes even more gorgeous… but what about your own home - how would you describe your own interior decorating/styling aesthetic?

I love colour. I am a demon with a paintbrush and I’m constantly repainting walls, floors and furniture around here. My style is very feminine, but also strong. I love old homes, (I love modern ones too but I want to live in old ones). I don’t buy a lot of stuff for my home. My litmus test is whether I still want something after shooting it and writing about it. Quite often I am over things by the time I have returned it to a store. I have zillions of old chairs, but only one new one - the hot pink ‘Frilly’ chair by Patricia Urquoila. Pink is definitely a recurring theme in my home and my work. I love it in every shade.

Heather at home!  Shot for Real Living Magazine, styled by Heather Nette King, photo by Armelle Habib, © ACP.
Heather's own home for Real Living Magazine, styled by Heather Nette King, photo by Armelle Habib, © ACP.

A lot of independent creative professionals say that they love the creative side of their job, but hate the paperwork, organising, and the ‘business’ side of things. How do you manage to balance these necessities with the creative side of your job? Do you have an assistant, book keeper or other help along the way?

I actually love the producing and organising part of shoots: sourcing talent, locations, permits, budgets, catering - anything to do with prepping a shoot day. I find it deeply satisfying to break out an Excel spreadsheet and get busy filling the gaps. As far as the books go… I have a very lovely husband, Jeremy, who realised a while back that if he didn’t do my invoicing then I’d never get paid, so he has kindly taken on the role of CFO! And I have a fourteen year old daughter who is my IT specialist – she rolls her eyes at my lame computer questions and patiently helps me out.

Which Australian designers, artists or creative people are you loving right now?

There are so many, but this week, spcifically, I love artist Arite Kannavos’ brightly hued paintings. I did a story on her home recently and it nearly killed me not to buy one of her works. I adore Shannon Lamden’s designs and textiles. I asked her to do my new business card and blog header and she totally got my style. Her blog is hilarious too. ( I am also coveting a Ned stool by Darcy Clarke – in pink, of course.

When in need of a bolt of creative inspiration for a new brief or new project, where do you turn - books, magazines, your environment, travel, fine art, etc..?

I meet loads of creative Melbournians when producing the ‘my space’ page for Sunday Life, and always come home invigorated after these shoots. I have serious magazine storage issues – I buy all the Aussie home titles plus loads of UK, French and US ones as they are a brilliant source of inspiration. More and more my inspiration comes via blogs, but to me, it still doesn’t beat the thrill of sitting down with a coffee and a fresh mag.

The home of Michelle Schoeps and Max Doyle for Sunday Life magazine, styled by Heather Nette King, photo by Richard Birch, © Fairfax.

What does a typical day at work involve for you?

It is different most days – which I love. I am either out propping or sourcing for a shoot, looking for homes to shoot, quite often painting sets or props, doing the actual shoots, writing up the stories, or my least favourite bit – captioning – it’s every stylists nightmare. I work from home and around my daughters’ schedules, so quite often my second shift will start at 9pm.

Heather's daughter Annabelle's bedroom shot for Real Living Magazine, styled by Heather Nette King, photo by Armelle Habib, © ACP.

What are you most proud of professionally?

A little while back, I produced and styled a massive shoot for a corporate client. It was a mammoth task involving locations, talent, props, a crowd scene, plus coming up with lots of creative solutions to fulfil the brief.  I am so proud that it went off without a hitch – and the client loved the creative results!

A recent 'Melbourne' themed shoot styled by Heather Nette King, photos by Mike Baker.

What would be your dream creative project?

That’s easy – it would be to produce a design & décor based TV show. I have written a treatment with a very talented friend, and we are about to start actively pitching it to networks. Anyone out there in TV land interested in hearing our idea???

What are you looking forward to ?

Summer, because last summer didn’t count. And I am working on a great project that will culminate in August, so that has my adrenalin pumping at the moment! Oh, and getting a call from a TV network about our show…

Gold shoot for The Age M Magazine, styled by Heather Nette King, photo by Mike Baker, © Fairfax.

Melbourne Questions

You favourite fossicking spots in Melbourne for furniture and home accessories?

I love trash and teasure markets – Camberwell and Coburg usually deliver a treasure or two (or a hot jam donut at the very least). Visiting homeware shops most days means you can easily suffer ‘homeware fatigue’ so it is great when you find people who either make or import different stuff, like Jenny and Peter at Nyary 604, Lyn at Scarlet Jones, the lovely folk at Tarlo and Graham. Oh, and Design Dispensary in Little Lonsdale Street.

What and where was the last great meal you ate in Melbourne?

Oh it was the Saganaki with figs at Hellenic Republic. I think I may have drooled. We mostly go out as a family – so Mr Wolf for the funghi pizza, or La Lucciola for the Matriciana.

Where would we find you on a typical Saturday morning?

By 8.30am I have done a quick scan of the newspaper headlines then I take my dog, Dougal to the local dog park, where we meet up with all the regular dog gang (it’s such a mixed bag – a professor, an ex-AFL footballer, a homewares designer, mums and kids, photographers, lawyers, advertising types – all brought together by a common love of dogs). The girls at the park café, The Cubbyhouse Canteen, make a mean brew to help get your day started. Then it’s the ballet run – I take Annebelle to her class in Albert Park and always love to pop into Victoria and Albert, The Avenue bookstore and Ernst Zacher Antiques. I head back home via the Prahran market to stock up on Jasper coffee and pantry provisions.

Melbourne’s best kept secret?

My pavlova!

The Melbourne home of Jane Hall shot for Real Living Magazine, styled by Heather Nette King, photo by Chris Warnes, © ACP.

Latest Stories

Recent Studio Visit