The Must List: The Lettered Cottage

by Chris on April 25, 2012

Layla was one of my first true blog friends, and I couldn’t be more proud to have her here today. I do well with two things—humor and full disclosure. Luckily, Layla fits the bill for both! I learned more about her in 5 minutes than what it takes some women years to learn about their friends. That’s my kind of girl! As for her blog? It speaks for itself. Seriously. Here she is!

lettered cottage

Hello! I’m Layla and I blog at The Lettered Cottage. First off, I want to send out a big thanks to Chris for allowing me the opportunity to talk about one of my most favorite subjects today: PHOTO STYLING!

Over the past few years, my husband and I have started photographing interiors professionally for a few different shelter magazines, and I have had so much fun arranging and re-arranging things during our shoots. It’s such a trip to see how differently things appear when you look at them through the lens of a camera!

I’m still learning as I go, but it seems like my 3 must haves when it comes to styling an interior photo shoot are: Texture, life and art. Texture for interest, life for movement, and art for heart.


Whether it’s a soft, ragged-edged throw blanket draped over the arm of a hard, clean-lined chair, or “crunchy” flowers mixed with glass and painted wood- layering textures always seems to add so much spirit to a photo.



I like to think in terms of rough and smooth, or old and new when approaching textures in an interior shoot. That kind of contrast is always so refreshing, surprising, and seems to photograph so beautifully.


I like to add life to photos in a few different ways. Sometimes it’s with people and pets…


Sometimes it’s with plants and flowers…


…and sometimes it’s simply making inanimate objects a little more animated….


I pulled that delicious old door forward a bit in the photo above to give the picture a little more energy. I love the movement and pulse life gives a picture.


There’s something about art that just instantly relaxes a look.

Whether it’s propped…


or perched…


…or planted…


…or hanging,


incorporating art and/or photography really comforts and grounds the room those elements live in, don’t you think?

I know Chris only asked for 3 must have’s but I did want to mention one more that I absolutely have to have at every shoot. FUN!

Without that one, what’s the point, right?



Two Thirty Five Designs April 25, 2012 at 9:53 am

Great photos, love this!!

The Mrs @ Success Along the Weigh April 25, 2012 at 10:23 am

Great tips as usual Layla!

Bethany [at] Powell Brower Home April 25, 2012 at 10:33 am

wow – thanks Layla! and nice to meet you Chris!!! I just learned SO much from that. I struggle SO much with photography, I’m just not good at it. So nice to hear what the pros do. I love the philosophy on each. I especially like the LIFE – I like to include my pup in my interior pics :)

Thanks again!

Amy April 25, 2012 at 11:27 am

Thanks! Great post! It really got me thinking beyond picture taking {since I’m not very good at that} to my own home. I bet I have enough in our home that if I just rearranged some of my ‘stuff’ I would get a completely different look. Now I just need to get one of my friends to come over and help me rearrange/redecorate! :)

Amy W.@TheBlissfulBee April 25, 2012 at 11:55 am

Thanks for all of the helpful tips!! I just started my home design blog a few weeks ago and I’m really trying to master the art of photography in my photos. Sometimes it’s hard to get that feeling of “home”, but you seem to really capture that. By the way, LOVE that sunroom up at the top of the post. So light and airy!

Stephanie April 25, 2012 at 12:55 pm

You’re so talented, Layla!! On a side note, under the section “Life” what are those flowers called? I love those & have gotten several bouquets with them but never knew the name. Thanks!

Shannon @ aka design April 25, 2012 at 12:56 pm

Great must list! I think I knew those musts, but Layla put perfect descriptions, words and photos with each of them. :) Thanks for sharing girls!

Susan @ Afford Your Passions April 25, 2012 at 1:10 pm

I also struggle with photography – I fear that my home is too dark, so my rooms never look as bright as these images (gorgeous photos, Layla!)

I love looking at the picture styling; I’m going to try to incorporate some of these into my own home, not just for photo shoots!

ToDoListMom April 25, 2012 at 1:13 pm

First off – I want to THANK Layla for sending us o your blog today and second – I’m so happy to have found you & I’m super jealous of the peeps you’ve got to guest post! :)
I totally just soaked in a couple of posts and love it!
You’ve got a new follower in moi! :)

Chris April 25, 2012 at 7:46 pm

Thank you, Todolistmom! I’m so glad this series was able to bring us together! What a great comment!

Kelly at Talk of the House April 25, 2012 at 5:15 pm

What a great series! So glad Layla sent us visiting over here! I loved all that Layla said and want to check out all the other wonderful folks you’ve featured.

Fairfield House April 25, 2012 at 7:33 pm

Wonderful series! I’ve learned something new from each contributor.


Chris April 25, 2012 at 7:47 pm

Thank you, Deborah! I really appreciate all the bloggers who have contributed. Thank you for the comment!

Dawn April 25, 2012 at 8:32 pm

Love this! Layla, you have such a great eye, and are a HUGE inspiration to me! I wish you could style my home :)

Jenny April 25, 2012 at 8:54 pm

Great tips, beautiful photos!

Becky Neville April 25, 2012 at 9:23 pm

And The Lettered Cottage is on my MUST READ list in my email inbox. I love everything about Layla, her blog and her photography and design sense.

Maureen April 26, 2012 at 12:51 am

Layla always ha great info, thanks for having her by to guest post! Now I am following your blog as well! A win-win for me, two great blogs for the price of one ;-)

Kristina April 26, 2012 at 3:26 am

Great post, thank you so much for sharing!

Megan {Honey We're Home} April 26, 2012 at 9:56 am

Just wanted to let you know that I’ve been loving this series Chris!

Londen@Sixty-Fifth Avenue April 26, 2012 at 5:30 pm

Great series! Love these tips from Layla, her blog was one of the first I started reading years ago.

Erin @ How to Nest for Less April 27, 2012 at 8:29 am

LOVE this series! And holy crap, I wish my photographs looked like Layla’s!! I simply adore the tips… now it’s actually taking the steps to follow these rules :)

Shauna @Satori Design for Living April 27, 2012 at 9:50 am

I’m just learning photography and any tips to make my pics better are much appreciated. Love Layla and Kevin’s blog. Great series!

Danielle April 27, 2012 at 4:37 pm

Great post Layla! I really enjoyed reading these tips.

sixteen fourteen April 28, 2012 at 7:46 am

I love Layla! Her tips are always so simply presented and accessible to us non-decorators. Thanks for providing this series!


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