Thursday, April 10, 2014

interview (and selfies) with selina lake

Book Selfies (Shelfies?) with Selina
As soon as I found out that stylist and author Selina Lake’s latest (and fifth!) book was completed, like an eager student raising their hand I emailed our shared publisher to request a review copy. Selina Lake Outdoor Living arrived the other day and the timing couldn’t be more perfect. With the last patches of snow melted away I find myself out of hibernation and staring at my muddy backyard daydreaming of ways to make it pretty on the cheap.
Selina's brilliant new book demonstrates how to decorate natural settings as you would an indoor space but unlike so many publications, there’s no fancy fire pit feature or illuminated in-ground pool, instead there are picnic tables covered in florals and jam jars bursting with posies; there are pillows and tee-pees and buckets filled with floating candles and flowers. It’s all very practical and impractical and brilliant! And as with all of Selina’s books, there are signature pops of her rosy pinks, vintage floral prints and china, and a feeling of spontaneity.

Selina Lake Outdoor Living
Okay, enough of my sincere gushing, let’s chat with Selina …

Hello, Selina! This book is extraordinarily beautiful. I love how you show such pretty outdoor living spaces but the best part is that it’s all very do-able. You’re throwing scalloped muslin across a picnic table, decorating SHACKS with floral prints and bunting, and floating candles and flowers in buckets. I can do that! So what comes first? The location or the idea? For example: the mustard-colored velvet chair in a field of buttercups – this sound like poetry! – what came first? The chair? The location? Or is it all very organic and just happens?  
Thank you so much. I’m delighted you're enjoying my new book. I like to create achievable style on a budget and make my ideas accessible as well as hopefully aspirational. Before photographer Debi Treloar and I started shooting the book I spent quite a bit of time researching and thinking up ideas. I knew I wanted to include some wildflower meadows in the book as I just love them -- for me they are the ultimate in outdoor whimsical locations and although not everyone has access to their own meadow perhaps you could take some of the ideas to implement in your own garden -- like leaving an area to grow slightly wild. I’m also a fan of the ‘Indoor Outdoor’ trend of taking typical indoor furniture outside to be used and enjoyed on a sunny day. 
So how did I find this particular buttercup field to shoot in? I put a shout-out via Facebook and one of my followers Sarah from Sarah-Jane Down the Lane blog got in touch to say she’d love it if I came to her buttercup field situated in the Kent countryside and of course I jumped at the chance. As soon as the meadow location was booked, I set about sourcing all the props I was going to need to create the dining space in the meadow. I bought mix and match dining chairs from my local furniture charity shop and gathered fresh flowers from my local florist and picked sweet peas, peonies and lilacs from my own garden. I was also on the hunt for a velvet vintage armchair as I had a vision of placing it in the middle of the wild flowers with a beautiful floral bouquet resting on the seat. I spoke to Sarah again a few days before the shoot to double check we were still good to go and I mentioned I was looking for an armchair to use and she said she already had the most perfect old mustard velvet one which I was welcome to use. So that floral armchair shot came together a few days before the shoot and I’m so happy with the outcome! 

Selina Lake Outdoor Living
Was planning difficult for an all-outdoor book or did you just roll with it and pack the Wellies? Any funny stories?   
Before we started shooting we were slightly worried the weather might not be on our side all the time (summertime in Britain is notoriously unpredictable) so when I was booking the shoot locations we kept dates fairly loose and penciled in a couple of days on either side so we could keep flexible. Having said that, last summer was actually one of the best on record for the UK and we enjoyed absolutely glorious sunny and dry days. We had to keep reapplying our sunscreen!

When we met last February, I recall you sharing that you would be writing the text yourself for this book and I want to let you know that it’s wonderful! It’s such a pleasant read – very charming and conversational, beautiful word choices (abundance, dappled – I’m such a nerd). Did you enjoy the process of writing?
Tea and books
Ah thanks! I was slightly nervous about the writing process beforehand even though I write features and shopping pages to accompany my styled features for magazines, writing a whole book was something else! I’m also dyslexic so I was worried I would make loads of mistakes. I wanted to keep the style of text quite chatty as if I was having a chat with the reader about my ideas. Although styling and creating the images is my first love I did really enjoying the writing once I got into it. I also had a really helpful editor Nathan, who corrected my grammar/ spelling mistakes.

Selina Lake Outdoor Living
The layout of the book is very fun. I love the almost scrapbook feel with “I heart” notes and images set in Polaroid frames with scribbled captions. How did the layout come to be?
Thanks, yes I wanted it to have a scrapbook feel and for the font to have a handwritten quality to match my style of writing. I shared my ideas with the book designer Barbara Zuniga, and she came up with the finished design.
My backyard
Okay, last question. My backyard abuts a wooded area and we don’t have a fence but I want to create some kind of delineated area but I don’t know what to do. Any suggestions? 
Wow, how fabulous to have a woodland on your doorstep. If you're looking for a temporary fix say for a garden party or celebration, you could create a washing line effect by tying string from tree to tree around the boarder and then pegging up pretty floral fabrics or for something more permanent you could install some kind of screen, maybe made from woven willow, bamboo canes or recycled timber.

Selina Lake Outdoor Living
Love your ideas! Thank you! Oh wait, one more. What is your favorite color and if you had to give it a name for a nail polish company, what would you call it?
I’m always drawn to Pinks and I’m a huge fan of fluro pink at the moment, I’d call a neon pink nail varnish - PINKPOP!

Thank you so much to Selina for making the time to chat as she plans the Selina Lake Outdoor Living Book Tour 2014. Find Selina Lake Outdoor Living at all good booksellers.



NanaDiana said...

What a wonderful interview. She is a beautiful woman-inside and out. I could have answered that last question for her and gotten it right!;>) xo Diana

Theresa said...

Oh what a beautiful picture of you two famous ladies:) Gorgeous books, both of them! Enjoy your day sweet Elyse, BIG HUGS!

Anonymous said...

fab! I have so many books to buy. including your new one! My best friend loves everything nautical so Im hoping it will be a book full of gift ideas!!