2018 finally brings a series I've been working on for a couple months now; my Personal Style Series! I am beyond excited to share this with you all.
Shooting interior photography for Wayfair's lifestyle brands Joss & Main and Birch Lane has given me the opportunity to work closely with the most fantastic group of Stylists. Together we create aspirational spaces day in and day out, and each Stylist puts their unique spin on their work - but it's not very often we get to fully see their own personal style.
This series is an in-depth look and profile of Wayfair's Stylists and their favorite room, nook, piece of furniture or décor. What I love about shooting this series is getting to see everyone's personality injected into their space and brought to life.
Today I'm featuring Tommy O'Donnell and his charming living room in his apartment in Providence, RI.
Tell me a little about yourself.
Me? You want to know about little old me? Well, if you insist. I’m Tommy. I’m a Senior Interior & prop stylist for Joss & Main and Birch Lane, nonstop jokester, connoisseur of all things beautiful, unique and fun. Recently, I moved to Providence via NYC and couldn’t be happier with this little city. I’m obsessed with all things furniture, architecture and home related which is good thing considering my career. Also, I live for the little imperfect moments that if you blink you’ll miss - which is why I had my eyelids surgically removed. Uh, should I continue…? Also, I’m single if you couldn’t tell by this brief bio - Serious inquiries accepted.
How did styling become your passion?
You know that famous tagline “Maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline”? Well, to put the rumors to rest, I was born with a passion for styling. Growing up, I would always redecorate and rearrange the furniture in my parents’ house. They would come home and I would be repainting a wall, ripping up rugs, reorganizing a shelf or the mantle – I was pretty hands on from an early age. Like as soon as I discovered I had hands. When I was old enough to buy things with my own money I would beg my mom to take me to IKEA (still one of my favorite places to go) and would completely overhaul my bedroom. My first job was at 14 and all that money went to new furniture for my bedroom. My 14-year-old bedroom looked nicer than most college students’ dorm rooms or apartments – actually, probably nicer than some adults, too. I learned early on you spend money on the substantial pieces like your bed, sofa, etc. and the rest is about getting creative, repurposing old furniture and turning weird things into art, décor, tables etc.
Before I knew styling was a career I remember walking into stores like IKEA, Pottery Barn, and Restoration Hardware and the visual merchandising would just blow me away. I cannot explain the energy that would immediately run through my body seeing these beautiful pieces expertly arranged in beautiful settings. And I knew I loved design and furniture so I thought that I must want to be a furniture designer or interior designer - but math and precision of building codes, line weights in mechanical drawing and computer software like AutoCAD really made pursuing those majors in college challenging. So, I switched gears moved to NYC and studied Home Product Development at the Fashion Institute of Technology. While in school I began doing visual merchandising and window displays for West Elm and small stores until I made some friends in the photo industry who introduced me to the world of photography and styling. I remember sitting on a friend’s roof in Brooklyn (VERY new to NYC so I was just living for the experience) listening to this girl I had just met talk about assisting a food stylist. I remember thinking ‘That! That is what I want to do!’ And fortunately, enough, those people became my friends and began recommending me for assisting jobs which led to my career and continued passion for styling.
What makes this space in your home your favorite?
To be honest I love this entire apartment. It’s a 1 bedroom in a late 1800’s converted mansion with so much charm and detail. I have an actual claw-foot tub in my bathroom which I still adore. One thing I learned while living in NYC was the word “cozy” and although I now live in Providence there’s something I’ve grown to love about smaller spaces – especially living alone.
Where do you find inspiration for your personal style?
I find inspiration in a number of places: walking around flea markets and museums looking at paintings & displays - the MET is one of my all-time favorites. Visual displays in stores are incredible! They’re wildly imaginative and creative. I used to feed my eyes just by walking around NYC on days off staring into windows like Bergdorf Goodman’s and smaller boutiques and just take it all in. Magazines and catalogs always provide new and refined ways to look at styles but I would be lying if I didn’t say Pinterest wasn’t one of my main ways to get ideas and inspiration. You can find me in the gym on the treadmill or between sets on machines just scrolling through Pinterest and adding to my boards. I’m like Goldie Hawn in The First Wives Club – I get my best ideas when I’m working out. I can’t tell you how many times during a workout I’ll see a room on Pinterest and reimagine it for a set for one of our photoshoots.
How does your personal style translate into your work as a stylist?
I used to think my style aesthetic was Hoarder - I’m not even joking. I just LOVE things. You would think that I had been in a flood or fire in a past life because of my inability to satiate myself with things. Recently, I discovered a new style term: Maximalist; which is essentially styling and decorating a space with ALL of your favorite things. When I discovered this term, it gave me goosebumps because it finally defined my personal style and how I work on photoshoots. On set, this type of propping is called “layering” – layering in props appropriately so the space doesn't feel congested. The brands that I work with most – Joss & Main and Birch Lane are all about the layered look. It just gives the space that lived-in feel while still being completely aspirational and blogger-worthy. At home, I believe surrounding yourself with your favorite things – things that mean something, that hold a favorite story or memory is more beautiful than an empty space with clean lines and tidy corners. I need a home with a soul and I try to convey that as best I can when imagining the rooms I style and who would be living in them.
Finally, What are some of your favorite local places to source props/find decor for your home?
I’m a big fan of thrift stores and flea markets. I’m not made of money and I don’t think something needs to be brand new or expensive to be welcomed into a home. There’s this great little marketplace in Worcester, MA called Crompton Collective and it’s a bunch of little shops in a big open space that has the most amazing and unique pieces. If I could buy everything in there I would. There’s something special about being able to find one-of-a-kind, not mass-produced items, that I love.
I also try to make a habit of hitting up vintage or thrift stores when I’m traveling. I try to visit friends and family in Pennsylvania and New York as often as possible so whenever I’m on the road I’m on the lookout in case I pass any. It’s always those little towns on the back roads of Pennsylvania or New Jersey that have the coolest things and they’re usually more affordable than markets like Brimfield. Just like dating, you just have to be willing to dig through the junk to find gold.
Where you can find Tommy: