Chic (and affordable) Winter Rustic Tablescape

As a stylist it’s painfully easy to spend a ton of money setting your table for a dinner party. There is a long list of needs – tablecloth (or runner), napkins, flatware, plates, glassware, vases, candles, flowers, place cards, blah, blah, blah. And if you want it to be beautiful, and you know where to shop for beautiful things, which I do, it’s just so easy to spend a ton of money(…slowly) so you don’t know you are doing it. I tend to want the most beautiful hand-thrown stoneware plates, hem-stitched linen napkins, hand-blown artisanal glassware, modern streamlined brass flatware and hand-dyed tablecloth that has been washed a million times, etc, etc.

Congratulations, you just spent $1500 on your 4 person dinner setting.

Holiday Tablescape_blue apron burgandy candles rosemary

Flank Steak and Beat Salad from Blue Apron. 

So, I decided to go the more utilitarian route – what do you already have or can have easy access to, and how can you make that look chic and beautiful without spending too much money or doing some crazy DIYs that none of us have time for right now?


Sponsored Content

California Winter Wonderland Glam

Lately I’ve been asked the same question over and over: “Since you have a blog, do you feel pressure to decorate differently every holiday, year after year?” and my answer is ‘maybe’. But I’d say its more like ‘desire’ and also ‘the serious need to shake it up because I have style A.D.D’. It would be like someone wearing the same dress for the Oscars and the Golden Globes. It’s not illegal, but when a lot of people are watching and expecting you to change it up, you kinda want to. Plus IT’S JUST SO FUN. 

Two years ago it was ‘CRAZY hot pink and navy’. Last year I kept it really simple with blues and woods, all Scandinavian style on a real tree (we didn’t shoot it because I had just had a baby).  Meanwhile remember when I did this ‘only teal and blues‘ for SFAS and then this crazy hot pink and white christmas I did for Holiday Celebrity Homes?  I love color, apparently.

So, this year wanted to do something totally different and more neutral. I pulled it back and practically eliminated all saturated colors except for the blue that’s in my house and the green from natural greenery. Head on over to Domaine Home for more pics and tips, but meanwhile get ready for a lot of information, friends.

Emily Henderson Home-114

I really wanted it to feel more sophisticated and soft. The holidays can be super chaotic and it really is here, even with just one kid, so instead of throwing more color in our living room, I removed a lot of it. The whole theme of the house is ‘California Winter Wonderland Glam’. It’s soft and textural with a lot of snow, animals, trees and whimsy – but in a more neutral way.

First off, I love a real tree, I do. More than a fake white tree, actually, … BUT, since we had that huge year-round Nek Buddha tree in our living room, I thought that the two trees would compete, like Angelina and Jen, or maybe more Gwyneth and Martha. They would both be beautiful in their own way, but competing for attention and somebody would lose. Either way, visually the room would look a little nuts and probably really heavy.

So instead I brought in Cate Blanchett (in the form of a tree). Angelic, white, soft and muted; peppered with soft copper, rose golds, champagne, rust, gold, silver and even some sparkly burgundy tones. Cate looks wonderful in burgundy. Besides, I already had one of them (the smaller one).

Emily Henderson Home-138

Here’s how I look at it: I have 2-3 more years (if that) before I’m going to care less about how ‘curated’ and ‘pretty’ our christmas tree is and more about it representing memories through handmade (and often not-so-chic) ornaments from my kids. Obviously I value aesthetics, but I was raised mormon, from a family of 6 kids and I LOVED unearthing the disgusting raw macaroni ornament that I made in first grade every year when we trimmed the tree. If Charlie took a brown clay mold and formed it in the shape of a turd and gave it to me with those glowing, proud, blue eyes I would weep with joy and probably place it on top as the star.

I’m digressing, but the point is for the next few years you might get some curated christmas decor because after that my challenge will be how to bring in real sentimental family ornaments and traditions in the prettiest way possible.


Happy Friday

I’ve been writing the ‘Charlie’s first birthday’ post for weeks and most of the time I just can’t get through it because it’s just so emotionally overwhelming. It’s difficult to properly encapsulate this last year, my first year of being a mom, without sounding like I’m an emotional mess that should probably be on some sort of mood stabilizer.

So I won’t yet, and instead just post a pic of this kid wishing you a lovely weekend.


photo by Stephanie Todaro

Sometimes I forget that I’m allowed to write a short post; that not every post needs to be a massive, 10 page makeover narrative situation.


photo by Stephanie Todaro

christmas pajamas

photo by Tessa Neustadt

Please note that kid’s head is practically the same size as mine. We cut his hair yesterday (check instagram for the cutest photo ever) and now he looks even more grown up and ‘executive’ – like.

Thank you so much for all 7,000 of you who took the survey (if you haven’t yet, you can any time – we are still reading the results). You have no idea how valuable it is. Nothing too shocking came out of it and no major changes are being made – just good tweaks and adjustments. I am in the process of rebranding and redesigning the website (offering more services for all budgets) and even an online vintage store – you heard me, so there are improvements happening that I’m very excited about.

Meanwhile all of you want more makeovers (we’re on it), you are split whether you like DIY (not surprising, although we only do one a month these days from the Redbook column) and you are split on whether you like the Craigslist posts (which shocked me, I thought those were super popular!).

You want more reader questions, which is great – I’m actually trying to do them but we need more answerable questions with better photos – it’s hard to post these tiny dark photos and have the question be about layout or something abstract because that’s really hard to answer unless you are in the space. But we’ll do our best and if you have questions just try to have the photos not be blurry, be more pulled back, multiple shots/angles of the room, brighter and with 1-2 very specific questions (it’s hard to answer a whole list).

You are open to having more content if we had the right contributors, which is exciting, but I’m still super hesitant about. Most of you ‘don’t mind’ our sponsored posts and many of you even like them. I was extra terrified about that question because frankly we need the sponsored posts to keep making daily original content so I am so glad that if we do them well, you guys are cool with it and a lot of you even said ‘I like them’ and ‘I find them useful’. Thank you. We try hard and we’ll continue to try even harder to come up with concepts that are valuable to you while still making sense for the client, and not doing so many that you guys are annoyed. I’m sure that you’ve noticed there are a lot more on the blogosphere right now because it’s December and every company is doing their last big sales push for the year, so January always slows down. Speaking of January we have 1 whole house to reveal plus lots of quick makeover projects to show you – some sponsored, some not. It’s a weird, weird world, isn’t it?

Have an excellent weekend. I have intentions of going through my 19 ‘junk’ drawers because I can’t find ANYTHING these days, plus going to a couple of holiday parties but this ‘storm’ in LA is making me want to curl up in my flannel pajamas and listen to Serial. Any of you addicted as well?



My living room, the last 5 years

I googled myself recently. And by ‘recently’ I mean that I do it every day like 25 times a day, looking for past work to reference, email or something. It’s a really fun narcissistic practice that I don’t necessarily recommend because initially I get excited (hey that’s me!)), but then a lot of ugly stuff comes up (bad head-shots, poorly shot spaces, designs I’m totally embarrassed of, etc).

But this particular search brought up every living room I’ve had in the last 5 years. It donned on me that a lot of you are new to the blog and maybe aren’t totally sick of seeing my past places. Then, I pondered how interesting it is to see yourself evolve. And by ‘evolve’ I don’t mean ‘get better’ necessarily, just how I’ve changed due to my lifestyle and environment.

Each house, relationship, and financial situation changes how you decorate your home. So while I’ve kinda had the same style for the last 20 years, it’s so interesting to see how it’s different; it changes and yet feels the same.

So, lets run down memory lane, shall we?


2010: This shot (by Teri Lyn Fisher) was taken right before Designstar. We moved into this mediocre apartment that we shot to look really pretty (because photography is magic). In a lot of ways this still really looks like me. I have that painting (framed in a more modern way). I still have fig trees, that rug, floral pillow, and that dog painting. And the general color palette is obviously on brand. Man, I’m predictable. But this shot still feels like ‘me’ and in a lot of ways still looks like my style now. So weird.

2011: I think I felt that I was too feminine in 2010 so I tweaked my style, I got my ‘dude’ on and made it a bit more rustic. Also after Designstar I decided that I could splurge on a sofa so I bought this sofa for $700 in Portland (in current/original upholstery) which was such a hard decision financially at the time and I look back on it as one of my best ever. I still love this living room and this shot. The cross flag was from a vintage store and I framed it myself with furring strips from Home Depot and carpet tacks. It’s the same living room as 2010 but more accurate because it’s actually where we put the sofa, whereas in 2010 the sofa was just propped in the dining room because the light was better. See? Photography is magic (and lies …. all lies).

Moving on to 2012:


2012. Here we shot the same living room for HGTV magazine. They wanted a more bold look, so we switched out the rug for a pattern rug. I had splurged on those safari chairs that I still have and that coffee table which I wish I still had (although it was so un-kidfriendly with the brass edging jutting out and begging to slice off small fingers). This may be at my “quirkiest”. Its fun. Looking back at the pictures it reminds me of that time period in my life (we moved out the next day, literally).

Also that was a cement dalmatian dog sculpture. It weighed 95 pounds. I thought it was ‘fun’ and Brian thought it was my way at ‘torturing him’. He’s very dramatic. I miss that bird lamp, the coffee table, the leather pouf (which I gave to my friend Scott as a thank you gift) and that side table that you can’t see which is coated linen and totally beautiful. This shot makes me think that I’ve gone too simple and modern.


2013: I got my funk on in 2013 (shot by Zeke Ruelas). We moved to this more regency/ornate house and because of that I went a bit wild, eclectic and back to my feminine roots (go here for resources). A lot of the same furniture that I have now, but the accessories have more color. I can’t tell how I feel about the fireplace painted navy nor can I tell about the amount of things on the mantel (is it too much?). But, when I see this room I still get happy. It’s a good room, just not sure how ‘me’ it is now. But maybe the ‘now me’ isn’t that ‘me’. Meta, much?


In 2014 we shot our new house (which we finally own) for Domino  (by Brittany Ambridge) and our living room was way more reserved and sophisticated. There are times when I think that it was tooooo pulled back. Not enough fun. Not enough crazy. But then I look at it from an objective point of view and I think ‘yeah, I would pin that so hard’.

But it wasn’t terribly kid friendly. The coffee table was easy to tip over and begging to bludgeon an eye and those chairs were lovely but just not as soft and cozy as I wanted.

So after that shoot we made some changes (as I’m sure you all know):


2015 (well, almost). We changed out the coffee table for the large leather pouf and we put back in our awesome leather safari chairs that are in-destructable and have no hard edges for Charlie. It’s not that I’m obsessed with Charlie (yes, I am) it’s that I’m obsessed with me not stressing about every single thing in my life, so these chairs reduce my stress. (shot by Tessa Neustadt)

This is where we are now (resources here) and I’m pretty happy on a daily basis. But the thing is, I think I was pretty happy with the others before, or maybe I wasn’t. Maybe I was as happy as I thought I could be. Regardless, I think it’s a pretty fun study in how your space evolves and how it often parallels your life.

So my question is:

The Studio House; the design process

The project, is alive and well. As a recap its a home-grown design house that my friend, Jen Gotch, founded 6 years ago. And its booming, y’all. We are redesigning their new space in LA and its been very fun. Read on:

When I first met Jen, she was all ‘I don’t want to prop-style anymore and instead i’m going to design really pretty things for your hair’. I thought that was an interesting choice but somehow I trusted her. Because she is the kinda person that you trust. Then she blew up. Fast. And after a few years, their design studio and headquarters (with lots of employees) looked like this:

When I first visited 4 years ago, it was clean and ‘party ready’.But by the way, its always ‘PARTY READY’. It could be transplanted into the middle of a garage sale in Delaware on the Sunday after New Years and you’d still feel compelled to have your second mimosa and your toe would inevitably tap to the ‘Its All About The Bass’ that would be playing. just makes you want to party.

But on a day to day basis it was WAY too small to fit this booming company.