Back in focus: How to use backdrops to change the aesthetic of your flatlay

We've got your back!

Last week we talked about finding inspiration from the pages of magazines and using that content as your foundation when styling your images. This week we are all about the backdrops!

Ever wondered what your flatlay image would look like if you were to move away from the comfort of white? Well we have done just that to show you that sometimes being brave can result in an exciting unique style.


[wall lining from Bunnings painted black - $20/$30]

[wall lining from Bunnings painted black - $20/$30]

Black is always back - A universal shade that highlights objects better that any other, bringing everything forward and allowing the 'hero' pieces to shine. You may have heard the term, 'negative space'? This is the space in and around your objects and usually forms it's own unique artistic shape. This positive styling technique is crucial in balancing the composition in your shots, creating 'a point of interest', and making your image easy on the eye. 

[for more detail on negative space read Karli Ostle's Jan 15th blog in the CS journal]


[contact cover from Bunnings over plywood $17]

[contact cover from Bunnings over plywood $17]

Texture takeover - What's not to love about bold texture!? Using this style of backdrops really stops the viewer mid scroll and draws them right into the image, the opportunity then to play with contrasting textures opens the door to a whole new layered shot that's interesting, and currently in high demand. 


[plywood from Bunnings $11

[plywood from Bunnings $11

It's everywhere! - Natural in texture and in tone this is usually a safe but beautiful choice. What's your style? Scandinavian, modern, eclectic, beachy, industrial....or? Whatever it is, this backdrop works for it all! Another great reason to use a natural material is the shadowing it shows, creating a realistic and welcoming image that comforts the viewer. So if you really want your pieces to stand out and you aren't keen on using black, then this may be something, (other than white), that you should try.

Pattern & colour

[Kerrie Brown Designs palm print fabric]

[Kerrie Brown Designs palm print fabric]

Pattern on pattern anyone? Experimenting with wild bold pattern is not only fun and creative, but it adds a 3D element that only pattern and colour can. Here in this shot, I am drawn to the jungle palm print, without having to take my focus off the product, and selecting dominant primary colours have the same effect. The good news? It is easy to source - think fabric shops, wallpaper, vinyl, or even get those paintbrushes out! Pattern on pattern is my favourite trick when decorating or styling, perhaps I'll leave that for a whole other blog. 


Here are some accessible resource suggestions for you to consider.

  • Wrapping paper
  • Tulle / lace
  • Pavers
  • Old timber
  • Tiles
  • Linen
  • Foam board
  • Wallpaper
  • Photographs
  • Grass
  • Painted boards
  • Leather
  • Rugs

Instagram inspo

A few Instagram accounts who use texture, colour and a variety of backdrops in their styled images. 

  • @feastandpaint
  • @hol_fox
  • @foreverfaffing
  • @helensvo
  • @letizilla
  • @thekitchenmccabe
  • @minibackdrops

Further reading

Background options for Instagram flatlays by Amanda Adams

Meet the stylist - Beck Simon by Nathan+Jac (yes a few shelfie tips - take notice of the backdrops)

Some artistic negative space examples on Pinterest

Mixing patterns 101 with House & Garden UK

Give it a go!?

Convinced that pattern, texture, black and natural elements are the new white? Why not use this coming weeks challenge 'my loves' to be brave, get extra creative and experiment your shots on various backdrops - floral perhaps! You could win yourself a shopping voucher with the lovely sponsor @_lovetildy_ and together with the CS Team, we look forward to seeing your images come to life. 

Katie (@katiejane_stylist) ️