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An open-plan kitchen, with a round table at center, around which two dark wood chairs and two white chairs gather. A short green plant sits on the floor to the left of the scene, while small gold objects sit clustered atop the table.

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Grant Park prop stylist's home offers clean slate for decor experiments

A lifelong Atlanta resident finds an apartment that provides a place to work her magic

Giana Shorthouse was born and raised in Atlanta, but she didn’t have to leave home to live in a new city. “It’s grown so rapidly in the last four or five years; it’s a different place,” she says. “There are a lot of transplants here from other cities, and they are bringing in new ideas and enriching the creative culture.”

She looks no farther than Grant Park, where her grandparents still live and where she spent much of her childhood, as an example. “My grandparents moved there in the 1970s, and it wasn’t the safest place,” she says. “Now it’s one of the most sought-after neighborhoods in town.”

Giana Shorthouse sits in a small area off the kitchen; it was meant to be a breakfast room, she uses it as an office. It’s set up with a white desk and chair.
The home environment is very important to Giana Shorthouse (seen here) because, as a photo stylist, it’s where she lives and works. She turned the breakfast area into an office. The desk is by IKEA, the wallhanging is from Westside Market.

You could say Shorthouse’s apartment has the same tendency toward evolution. The prop stylist has opted for a clean, neutral palette—the better to shift styles.

“I like to switch out decorative items. Keeping the slate blank means I can quickly change the look,” she says. “I can also bring in almost anything and it will work.”

In her line of business—which involves bringing in props and accessories for everything from editorial shoots to national advertising campaigns—coming across must-have items is something of an occupational hazard.

“I frequent a lot of stores, and I see the latest trends and how things are changing from season to season,” she says. “Bringing things home to my personal space is a bit of a guilty pleasure.”

The living room is mostly white, with a light colored sofa, walls, and console.
Shorthouse sourced the sofa from IKEA for a photo shoot. “I decided that I was taking it home with me at the end of the day,” she says. The armchair is from Urban Outfitters and the console is a CB2 piece that was used on the set of Ghostbusters.

But when she went looking for an apartment three years ago (the first time she had had a place of her own in her hometown), neutrality wasn’t what she was looking for.

“I wanted something with personality, and that can be hard to find in an apartment,” she says. She settled on this place located between Morningside and Ansley Park.

“I was attracted to the place because it’s right in the middle of two wonderful, old neighborhoods,” she says. “It’s not a cookie-cutter commercial apartment building. It was built in the 1950s or 1960s, so it’s got some character.”

But it’s Shorthouse’s personal touches that make the place unique. The living room may be done in neutrals, but it’s a riot of texture and pattern provided by woven pillows, woven baskets, and a rag rug.

“Deep down inside I’m a minimalist, but I collect a lot of things,” she says. “I don’t believe in buying things all at once. All of these things are pieces I’ve collected over time, picked up while traveling, or that mean something to me.”

Shorthouse’s desk is pretty due to the fact she buys workaday items such as a brass stapler that are inherently attractive.
Shorthouse consciously selects functional items that are attractive, which makes for a desktop that’s photo ready.
Cosmetics and toiletry items on open shelves look neat and pretty due to the way they are displayed.
Attractive toiletry items on open shelves from IKEA make for an attractive display in the bathroom.

That’s why each piece seems to have a story. Wooden beads that hang in the office came from a trip to Spain, the jewelry box on the living room console was given to her by her grandmother, the console itself was a prop that was used on the set of Ghostbusters, a movie filmed in Atlanta. “Personal experiences bring personal life into a space,” she says.

But, of course, it’s the way you put it together that makes magic. In this respect, Shorthouse finds it impossible not to bring her work home with her. During this shoot, the photographer had to ask if her bathroom shelves are always so perfectly arranged or if they were simply made photo ready for the day.

“I had to tell her that that’s how it always is—it’s just my stylist eyes,” Shorthouse says. “I find that I’m constantly creating little vignettes, constantly putting things back where they belong, and trying to make things look better. I sometimes walk around my place after work arranging things, trying to wind down from a big photo shoot.”

Her way of making visible storage pretty is evident in her bedroom, where she purchased a hanging rack to display the clothes she loves and wears often.

She stores the clothes she wears often on an open rack in the bedroom.
Shorthouse stores her frequently worn and favorite clothing on an IKEA rack in the bedroom. The regular closet is used for off-season items.
A white bedroom has a natural wood bench in front of it. Shorthouse made the bench with a friend.
Shorthouse has crafted and created several of the items in her home—including the bench in front of the bed, which she made with a friend.

“I had a bare spot in my room, and I needed something with height and presence to fill it,” she says. “I found this clothing rack, and I decided to curate my clothes on it. I keep things I like and wear often here. It started as a style thing, but it makes it incredibly easy to get dressed in the morning when everything is in front of you.”

If you think Shorthouse has a calling for this, you’d be right. But she came to it in a circuitous manner, as there’s no college course that can teach you the stylist trade. “In high school, I was obsessed with shelter magazines. I wished I could be in that space,” she says. “I studied interior design in college and ended up working in the marketing department for a local interior design and architecture company. I started styling their photoshoots, and a photographer told me I should be a professional stylist. I had no idea there was such a thing.”

A few years later, she found an agent and went out on her own. “I discovered a way to meld interior design and photography together. It makes sense for me,” Shorthouse says.

That’s not to say it’s all form and no function in her home. “I share the place with a 35-pound dog named Stella,” Shorthouse explains. “I vowed that owning a dog would not change the way I live—but it has.”

A neutral sofa comes alive with colorful textured and printed pillows.
The accessories on Shorthouse’s sofa illustrate her flexible decorating strategy. The pillows from CB2 and Cost Plus World Market can be easily rearranged or swapped for a completely different look.

Stella, who was too energetic to be part of shoot, jumps on the furniture, knocks over plants, and basically does the things active dogs do. “I compromised by getting an off-white sofa that doesn’t show as much dirt and smaller rugs,” says Shorthouse. “No matter how many pads I put under the larger rugs, she would run and skid on them. There have been some concessions, but I’d rather have a life with her than a life without her.”

In fact, she lists the dog as one of the things that makes the home hers. “It feels great to have my own space, my own dog, and my own things,” Shorthouse says. “I have a place I can make to my personal taste.”

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