When you spend half your life living out of a suitcase (and sharing your globetrotting adventures with thousands of followers), home is more than just a place to drop your bags between trips. Stylist, writer and travel photographer Lucy Williams explains how she built a career out of her hobby with her blog FashionMeNow and why her West London flat is cosy and cool but never Insta-perfect.
Fashion is my background, but interiors are definitely something that the older I get, the more I’m into. It’s nice that there’s the opportunity to cross over; you no longer have to be an expert in one field. I kind of love that. I’m still figuring out whether my fashion and interiors tastes are in unison. I have things in this flat that I bought a few years ago, when I was still working out what I was about, whereas now I feel like if I move, I have a much more distinctive view of what I like. It’s the same with fashion – you can like lots of things, but they don’t necessarily work for you. With my home, it’s about figuring that out – I might look at something and think, 'Oh I love it, I need to have it!’ then get it home and think, ‘Oh it doesn’t really work.
'I like lots of textiles and colour and I guess my house is a bit more feminine than my style - I can be quite tomboyish but I like my house to be quite soft and cosy. I guess that's maybe at odds with what's on trend at the moment. There's a real trend among the millennial Instagrammers for beds that are literally just a mattress on the floor with linen sheets. I'm like, "No!" I've always been: lots of pillows, the higher, the bigger the bed, the better. I like lots of lighting, candles, artwork and stuff, so I guess the minimalist thing is not my bag.'
'It's funny sometimes in this house - when I go to try to take photos, I think, "God, I wish I had thought about Instagram" because I don't really have anywhere in the house that's a white wall. I do have a floor-length mirror in my horrible box room that I don't let anyone go into. I think that's what happens when you've slightly outgrown the space - there's one room that just ends up becoming a dumping ground for all your stuff. If I did this place again I think it would be quite different. I think it's because it wasn't designed, it was just painted and I've bought bits and pieces of furniture, but it's definitely not a forever home. I think the next place, I'd like to take more time over it and fill it with things that I love. It would still be just as full of clutter, but maybe just a bit more refined and considered.'
'A Soho House feels like an even nicer version of your own house - home on steroids. I like the fact that it's always very cosy, there's lots of nice textiles, all the seating is very 'sink into' comfortable. I love the treats jar with cookies - that's my favourite thing - and the little kitchens at Soho Farmhouse. Being able to wake up and have a mug, not a cup, of tea in the morning. I hate going to a hotel and not being able to have a proper cup of tea. I really like the way they give you proper milk jars, little things like that. When you look for something it's where you think it would be - with so many hotels you're like, "Where have they hidden the hairdryer?!" whereas in a Soho House it's like, "Of course the hairdryer is in the dressing table". Just being comfortable and quiet, having really nice sheets, curtains that actually make it dark - things that should be common sense but remarkably aren't.'
1. Precious pieces
'I haven't really invested in one particular piece. I treasure the little things - stuff that I got on my travels, the artwork, lots of the little dishes. I've got my Dinosaur Designs one, some Luke Edward Hall stuff. I love my Jonathan Schofield piece in the hallway and my dining chairs and table from Graham and Green. They were a big purchase at the time but they're something that I still love. I feel that for someone who can be quite fickle and change my mind quite a lot, I did well with those.'
2. A private space
'I think mostly about colours and things that I've seen that I want to do, or specific pieces of furniture that I want to get in there. I actually don't think that much about photographs. When you start thinking about that, it really does change it from a home to a modelling space and that to me is not what it's about. I do post pictures of my home but it's very much a secondary, rather than a primary thing, and actually I quite like keeping it as a bit more of a private space and not sharing every element of it.'
3. The beauty of books
'My house would feel naked and not like me if I didn't have books on the shelves and I love going into other people's houses and seeing what they're reading and what they've got on their shelves. I like people to be able to eat on the sofa, wear their shoes, flop down. I don't like people to feel like they're standing on ceremony. So somewhere that is nicely done, but isn't too precious.'
4. Putting the blinkers on
'There's a real 'Instagram interiors' aesthetic and I've definitely fallen prey to that at times, but that's when you really come down to thinking "OK, that looks cool, but is that something that I want to live with and is it going to feel nice and relaxing? Is that how I want my house to be?" I try to put the blinkers on when it comes to social media and just go with my gut… With interiors - and fashion - it can be easy to get wrapped up in "Is that cool?" whereas actually it just needs to be "I like it" - having the confidence to own it.'
'I started my blog as a way to talk about what I wasn't doing in my day job as a trend forecaster. Slowly, I started putting more time and energy into it, working evenings and weekends. Then affiliate linking happened, so you were able to make commission from people buying products through the blog. I had a few projects come through and after about six months of properly working on the blog, doing projects and working full time, I knew that I needed a change and there was nothing I wanted to do but work for myself. I took the leap thinking maybe in six months' time I'll be temping again. Two days after I quit my job I was on a plane to Barcelona to do this advertorial job and it just kind of kept going. In this job, you have to work hard and let the ball roll a little bit and see where it takes you.'
'You don't need to be 'qualified' to be a blogger, anyone can be one. While some people see that as a negative thing, I see it as something amazing, especially if it allows you to talk about what you love, do what you love and make a living while doing it. I love the fact that this industry has allowed lots of women to be entrepreneurs, work from home, make their own career after having kids. I have more issues with the word 'influencer' than I do with 'blogger'. I think it implies that we've set out with the sole purpose of encouraging people to shop. There's an element of that - without my followers I don't really have a job - but when I started there was no money to be made in it. It was just a creative outlet and it's ended up being a job. It's not a word I would ever use about myself. It's this all-encompassing word when lots of 'influencers' are photographers, stylists, writers, designers, doing lots of things, creating something.'
'There is that joke of "If you didn't post it on Instagram did it really happen?" and it did. I feel like I've got a lot more of a balance to that now. While I share a lot and I'm happy to, I try not to force it and I allow myself to have free time. I used to be really bad at the weekends, if I was sitting there twiddling my thumbs, I'd think 'maybe I'll take a picture' rather than doing something out and about. Having a dog helps; when I walk the dog, I get out of that rut of living online.'