Styling and staging are some of the most important components to creating the look and feel for an event, photo session or ad campaign. The right background, lighting and layout are imperative to wow your clients or guests. Talented and creative people like Brittany from Birch & Brass make it their task to bring the unique and distinctive styles of their clients to life. Brittany welcomes us inside her warehouse to discuss collecting, styling and legacy.
Heirloom: Tell us about what inspired you to begin collecting and styling?
Brittany: I can't recall a time that I wasn't a collector. I rummaged through flea markets and antique stores even as a young child, often spending my weekly allowance on doilies and small treasures to fill my bookcase's shelves. For birthday gifts, I would ask my parents for antique turn-of-the-century dressers with claw feet and an oak nightstand to house my antique lamp.
It came very naturally to me when I was getting married that I would incorporate many of my own finds throughout the years. But, I never really thought of myself as a stylist until these past few years. After I had essentially created an Excel file of where each piece would go at my wedding (and we're talking about hundreds of items), I realized that perhaps I actually enjoyed styling equally as much as I enjoyed hunting for the pieces. I never knew I had a knack for design or even considered myself creative until friends began complimenting my tabletop designs and asking me to help style their parties. It was an "aha moment" for sure!
Heirloom: What thoughts & ideas do you wish to pass on to generations to come?
Brittany: If I can pass on anything to future generations, it would be to appreciate the present moment rather than focusing on unobtainable perfection. At Birch & Brass, I always aim to inspire people while keeping our approach realistic. Our culture seems so wrapped up in this unrealistic notion of storybook lives, but I find beauty in imperfections. We place such a strong emphasis on having curated homes, offices, and lives. More often than not though, the beauty is taking place behind the scenes.
A blogger may show their fresh blooms arranged ever so delicately on a kitchen table each week, but I say that the foraged flowers I find in my tiny backyard are equally beautiful - especially because I'm putting them in the vase that I scored from a flea market for a dollar. Some of my plates at home have chips in them, but I wouldn't even think about tossing them. I can often remember a lively conversation where that chip took place and it brings back so many fond memories of friends gathering at my place. A gorgeous red velvet cake with edible florals is wonderful, but so is that Betty Crocker cake your friend was kind enough to bake for you with her own two hands.
A meal doesn't have to cost a fortune to be tasty, a table doesn't require china, and your glasses can all be mismatched (heck, I prefer it that way - look at my inventory and you'll notice nothing matches). Entertaining should be about spending time with people we love, enjoying their company, and finding the beauty all around us, even where it's least expected.
Don't get me wrong - I live for styling a beautiful tablescape or lounge area, but at the end of the day... sometimes, a simple glass of wine and a bowl of pasta will do the trick. We shouldn't avoid entertaining or inviting guests into our homes out of fear that our beds are unmade and someone may accidentally stumble upon this finding. The reality is, our friend's beds are probably unkept, too.
Heirloom: When you are coming up with a concept for a style where do you find inspiration?
Brittany: Inspiration can be found absolutely anywhere. There are obvious choices such as Pinterest and design blogs or books, but I often find that untraditional sources spark the best of ideas. I was reading an article about florists in Detroit that gathered to place thousands of florals in a dilapidated home recently to emphasize the importance of rebuilding, not destroying. The images sparked so many ideas for me!
My main source of inspiration though, would definitely be through my travels. I typically go out of town at least once per month, even if it's to surrounding cities. I travel both near and far, and I collect pieces from each of my vacations. Other cultures and traditions are very fascinating to me, and my finds throughout my adventures are a huge part of my inventory.
Heirloom: What’s one event you haven’t styled yet but have been dying to?
Brittany: I would love to style an anniversary party for an elderly couple. There's nobody I enjoy spending time with more than my grandma, Monda. She has the most wonderful stories of love, hardship, and laughter. At 94, she's seen more in her lifetime than I could ever fathom, both with my grandfather and after his passing.
To style an anniversary party honoring the love behind a couple that has truly been through life's ups and downs together, would be the most rewarding experience to me. I truly believe that life is meant to be lived in love.
photography: love the nelsons