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Vanessa Colyer Tay - Stylist

Vanessa Colyer Tay on the Realities of Interior Styling

Vanessa Colyer Tay - Stylist

Vanessa Colyer Tay is the undisputed it girl of the styling world right now. You’ve seen her work grace the pages of Inside Out, Home Beautiful and a host of other publications, not to mention her regular home design features in my fave weekend glossy, Sunday Style. In this interview, Vanessa spills on style, interior integrity and why sometimes, you have to sleep in a boat shed!

You are everywhere right now, VCT! Is styling life a dream come true?

“I live a happy life, and that yes is a dream come true. I remember going for a job interview in my early 20’s, it was one of those group interviews and we were asked ‘Where will you be in 10 years time?’ Everyone said things like ‘Driving a Ferrari in Italy’ or ‘Living in a mansion on my own island’. My answer ….  ‘I will be happy’.”.

Do you think styling is learnt, instinctual or a combo of both?

“It’s a combo of both but I definitely believe that creativity and styling can be learnt. It’s then instinct that turns good into great”.

Do you believe in design rules or does breaking them sometimes make a shot?

“Rules first, but then breaking them can make magic”.

Are styled homes completely different to how the owners normally have them or is it just giving things a stylish tweak?

“That depends on the house, your brief and the magazine. I personally like to style houses with as much integrity as possible, any extra props coming in are of the same taste as the homeowner. Usually homes are pared back and slightly tweaked to make them shine”.

Inside Out Styling by Vanessa Colyer Tay Vanessa Colyer Tay Styling - Flowers

What’s your most memorable warts-and-all moment in styling? Because it’s not all glam, right?

“Sleeping overnight in a gorgeous little boat shed with a magical view, next to a bait fridge (eewww!) so make that ‘no sleep’ with no locks on the doors (I was scared for my life) and hornets living in the shower (OUCH!). It was horrible, but the shot we captured at sunrise was remarkable”.

What’s your advice for wannabe stylists? 

“Sometimes it can feel like the leap between assistant and fully fledged stylist can take forever. My old mentor Glen Proebstel once said ‘Just keep doing what you’re doing’ and he was totally right. In a nutshell, don’t over think it and take whatever time is required, before you know it you’ll be working on jobs larger than before and your skills will grow greater with every shred of experience. Most importantly, focus on being the best assistant, merchandiser or stylist that you can be”.

Style dilemma: You have $100 left in the kitty and you want to jazz up your pad. Go-to solution?

“Pare the room back and implement a new focus point, you could use oversized art, new feature cushions or paint”.

Are you an inner westy too? What’s your fave style hub or find in this area?

“Pure and General, Collectika, Pentimento, Mag Nation and we’re spoilt for props hire places here in the inner west too”.

What’s a rookie mistake you see in styling? Or what do you think makes for a bad stylist?

“Over-styling is the number one trap geared for rookies. That’s because styling is fun and who wouldn’t want to keep styling all day? But often it’s what you take out that counts, not what you put in (another nugget of advice I was given, this time by my former Inside Out magazine Editor Karen McCartney)”.

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Image Credits 
(PORTRAIT) On set for kids label Love Mae, photography by Sam McAdam Cooper 
(BED) Inside Out Magazine – photography by Sam McAdam Cooper 
(FLOWERS) Inside Out Magazine – photography by Sam McAdam Cooper 
(TABLETOP) Inside Out Magazine – photography by Sharyn Cairns


Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He's also spent time on TV, on Channel 10's Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7's Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you'd like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

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