A day in the life of a property stylist, Emma Tobin

From the outside, getting to style homes for a living looks like an incredibly glamorous career. But it’s not all scatter cushions and floral arrangements as we recently discovered! Today we met with Emma Tobin from The Urbane Property Stylist to find out what REALLY goes on in a day in the life of a property stylist.

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TheUrbanePropertyStylist_Emma Tobin

Getting started…

Always creative at heart, Emma used passion, drive and hard work to steer her career path in the right direction.

“Like many high school students, after graduating, I wasn’t certain of what to do. I found my way into a Bachelor of Design, majoring in Interior Design.

“After a short time in interior design, I was eager for change. I wanted to draw more on my creativity and I found that opportunity in landscape architecture.

“I loved it and would have continued down this path, however my husband’s career took us to Melbourne,” Emma explains.

“In 2017, I decided I wanted to put my passion and energy into something that was my own. This was when I launched my own property styling business.

“Oh and here’s a funny story! Recently my Mum found an information sheet I’d completed from my high school careers day.

“My top 3 career preferences were an interior designer, landscape architect or real estate agent! I’m absolutely amazed at how this aligns with my career journey so far!” laughs Emma.

Styling a property for sale_Emma Tobin

A day in the life of a property stylist…

So, what does a typical day in the life of a property stylist really look like?

“Well, most days start with breakfast and coffee followed by taking my dog for a walk. His name is Murphy and he’s just the cutest King Charles Cavalier you’ll ever meet!

“From this point on, no two days are ever the same! I visit new homes or meet new clients. Some days I head straight to a consultation or I may meet with a real estate agent or home owner.

“Other days, I’ll be at the warehouse loading a truck nice and early for the day’s installations. Depending on how busy the day is, lunch may be at midday or at 3 pm! When I start an install, I won’t stop until it’s complete!” Emma says.

My afternoons are usually spent planning in the warehouse. Once a project is approved, I select the furniture, artwork, accessories and soft furnishings that will create the style for that home.

“I complete the office work, like proposals, emails and accounts, whenever I can fit it in. Sometimes it’s in my office, but often I’ll work from my laptop on the road and do some between consultations.

“The first thing I do when I get home after a day of installs is take a long hot shower. There is no better feeling than washing off a huge day!

“My husband loves to cook and will often make us dinner if I’ve had a long day — win!” laughs Emma.

“If I’ve still got more work to do, I love to sit down in front of my computer with a sneaky glass of wine to ease the pain! Running your own business is hard work — it’s long hours and stressful at times.

“By doing something I love, I always find the energy and enthusiasm for each and every day,” says Emma with a smile.

Emma Tobin styling a property

Why property styling?

“To be honest, it was one-part curiosity, one-part necessity. I didn’t have a job when we moved to Melbourne, so I was open to anything design related.

“I stumbled across a property styling role and I was curious enough to give it a shot. It actually made a lot of sense. I already loved home styling so why not do it for a living?!”

Challenges along the way…

“Oh yes, there have definitely been a few of those! Like establishing a reputation, that takes a lot of time. And after two years of hard work in Melbourne, my business was well and truly up and running.

“Then, earlier this year we returned to Brisbane for family reasons. This meant I had to re-establish my business in a brand new city. It was a really daunting task.

“But after I put in so much hard work, I couldn’t just let it go. I’m currently forming new relationships and building the business in Brisbane.

“Its been a really busy start to our Brisbane chapter but I have been pleasantly surprised at how quickly I have found new clients,” Emma says proudly.

Bar cart dining area from Emma Tobin_Tanner Gve
Photography by Spacecraft Media

Best part of the job…

“The final product! I’m a self-proclaimed perfectionist, so when I finish an install, I’m often not completely satisfied. I always doubt at least one little aspect!

“But when I receive feedback from the client and see their reaction, it completes my satisfaction of a job well done,” says Emma.

Not so fun part of the job…

“The grunt work at the install! I think a lot of people have a misconception of what a property stylist does. Yes, we have removalists to do the heavy lifting, but installations are very labour intensive!

We are on our feet all day long. Steaming bed linen, carting accessories around the property — goodness only knows how many stairs I’ve climbed by now!

“I would say this is the least enjoyable part of the job. However, when the property is finished, I get a great sense of satisfaction. Then I definitely feel it’s all been worth it!”

Concrete wall styling by property stylist_Emma Tobin
Photography by Dylan James Photography

Best advice for those keen to work in the industry…

“Just do it. There’ll always be doubts and reasons not to try something new, don’t let that stop you.

“Taking my career in a new direction or starting my own business were both giant challenges for me. But by breaking it down into smaller chunks, it made it much more achievable,” says Emma.

What do you most want to be known for?

“Reliably providing a high-end product in every single home. The true judges for this are the real estate agents. They see the work of dozens of stylists and know who does and doesn’t deliver consistently.

“I want to be known as a dependable property stylist amongst real estate agents,” smiles Emma.

Thank you so much to Emma for sharing a day in her life with us. To check out what else she gets up to, take a look at her Instagram or visit The Urbane Property Stylist website.

Read more interviews with creatives here

Property Stylist Emma Tobin
Photography by Cheyne Toomey Photography
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