Behind the Scenes: The Airbnb SXSW Exterior

Alright folks, this is my 4th and final post about the SXSW Airbnb design project – and this one, about the exterior, was a BEAST which is why its taken me 5 weeks to write. It was one of the most challenging projects i’ve ever done, and I remember even saying once that I was more stressed out than i’ve been in years. Let me tell you why:

We had to turn this 20K square foot asphalt parking lot into a green, lush, backyard oasis full of trees, grass and furniture …. in TEXAS … without ever seeing it and in the winter when most trees didn’t have their leaves on them. 20K square feet is MASSIVE. Like Costco size. Also this area needed to function a very specific way for all the events that were going to happen there – live music events, magic shows, dinners, yoga …. so making the design for those needs was challenging, too. (Check out the first Airbnb event we did HERE and look at at the popups we designed with these celebrities: MobyLake BellMolly SimsAnjelica Huston, and James Franco, as well as Snoop Dogg’s and Capital Cities, and Allen Stone)

Here is what I had to work off of:

blueprint sxsw

To someone like me (untrained in architecture and no FORMAL design training) the above blueprint is about as understandable as a diagram of a car engine … its all just martian language, really.  So then I satellite viewed the parking lot on google maps:

satellite view

Ok, now that I am starting to understand better but its still so abstract. In retrospect I probably should  have flown down there for two days a few weeks before to see for myself, but I was busy it wasn’t in the budget, yadda yadda.

street view 2

And here’s how it looked from the street view – she was a dead, gray asphalt parking lot. So Ginny and I started to brainstorm how to turn this parking lot into a ‘neighborhood oasis’ – using these kit haus’ and 20k square feet.

We brainstormed for a couple of days and came up with this ‘Edward Scissorhands meets the Indie Southwest’. We figured it we were going to create a neighborhood why not create a super iconic suburb with acid colors, a picket fence and topiaries (which got nixed, sadly).

Airbnb SXSW

We loved the idea of taking a really traditional suburban house and neighborhood and plopping it in the middle of a total young, hipster party zone. It acted as both the respite from the craziness, and contrast to the grittiness of the East 6th neighborhood, while still being a total party space. (more…)

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Tips to bookshelf styling

I have so many long drafts of 1/2 finished really good posts that just need a couple more hours of work on them, but after I work all day and put Sir. Charles to bed (which is a lovely 3 hour process the last three nights … the little guy is sick and stubborn – we are transitioning out of the swaddle and it sucks) I just stare at the posts with the blankest of thoughts. I simply can’t put so much effort into them and then just hit publish without making them awesome so they just sit there as drafts – taunting me.

So, thank god I remembered that I had another Redbook column from a couple months ago that I never posted. This one is more about styling, less DIY. Its a house that I designed 2 years ago that I still haven’t revealed to you because I wanted to pitch it to a magazine, then I was hoarding it for good maternity leave content, and then writing those posts (before, process, after) are so daunting that I just keep putting them off. But, here’s a sneak peek. The style was french country meets hollywood and its more traditional than I’ve done before and yet I totally still loved it.

emily henderson redbook

The photo is by the lovely Bethany Nauert. Thanks, B. I promise i’ll blog about the rest of the house sometime in the next year or so. I have 3 houses hoarded, ready to post … which leads me to …

The good news is that we found help – after reading through like 120 resumes and interviewing 23 people, (over four days – Ginny did most of them, THANK YOU GINNY!!) we have hired a lovely man named Brady. He is tall, blonde, from Utah, full of skills, creativity, brawn, enthusiasm and very nice necklaces. We are going to get back on our feet, design my house, set up shoots, create some awesome content for you, AND most importantly make all of our wonderful clients and partners even happier. The blog always ends up being last priority because there is no client asking for deadlines and monitoring content (except the sponsored posts, of course) and its solely me writing it (while I do have help with the content and uploading the pics, linking, etc), but its what got me here and you guys are what has literally made it and me a success, so with more help we’ll be able to put it back up to the top of the priority list and blow this sucker out. We have the ideas, just needed  more help .. Welcome to the team, Brady (and thank god for you always, Ginny). xx

Customize It… Entryway Shoe Organizer


Hey mudrooms, entry-ways, and small apartments – this one is for you. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE how simple, unoffensive and functional this shoe organizer is. I’m the worst. I wear the same 3 pairs of shoes every day and they are always left by the door. I’m dying for something like this (we installed it at my friends house because I was moving at the time when we shot it, and now i’m very jealous). All you do is slip your shoes in there and boom – they are off the ground, looking all neat and tidy and dare I say even pretty. Thanks again, BNeato for the good organizing tip and DIY –  you anal genius, you.

Here’s what you need:


1. self adhesive felt blankets $2.98 2. keyhole hangers $2.19 3. 2x2x8 wood board $8.81 4. screwdriver 5. high gloss white spray paint $4.98 6. dap adhesive $3.82


1. Pick up your wood piece at your local hardware store and have them cut two, 3 feet pieces and two, two inch pieces. Take your first small piece of wood and some Dap glue and affix to the first long wood piece.

2. Keep going with each of the wood pieces until you have created a rectangle. Let dry overnight.

3. Screw each of the keyhole hangers on the back of the shoe organizer (opposite ends). You’ll next need to hold up the shoe organizer on the wall where you plan on hanging it. On the wall, mark out where the keyhole hangers are located. Place the shoe organizer down and screw two screws into the wall where you made your marks. Leave about a centimeter of room between the wall and the head of the screw so you can slide the keyhole hangers onto the head of each screw.

4. Give the shoe organizer two good coats of white spray paint and let dry. Next, cut out a few strips of felt adhesive and apply to the inside of the shoe organizer.  Next, hang your shoe organizer on the wall and load up with your fanciest flats.


So simple, and doesn’t call out for a lot of attention. Its not like, ‘HAY!!! I’M AN ORGANIZER SO GIVE ME YOUR BIG, RED, SLUTTY, FANCY, FULL OF PERSONALITY SHOES!!!”. Nay. Its like, “Pardon me, ma’am, but if you have some simple shoes to temporarily store, don’t mind me, i’d be happy to store them neatly for you”. I like that lady. She is nice and polite. Not that Snookie impersonating shoe storing slut that said the first quote. She’s the worst.

Thanks, BNeato for the idea and the DIY. Every day of my life I wish to be organized, and with your help we are getting there. Check out the other posts i’ve worked on with BNeatobracelet towers, hanging lucite filing folders, and jewelry blocks. All big hits. xx

Photos by Tessa Neustadt  and thanks Vamp Shoes for loaning us some pretty shoes.

Trolling Craigslist… Detroit!


I have a strange amount of friends from Michigan all living in LA. But you know what is there? Awesome Craigslist finds. I mean considering that last July there were all of these houses starting $1200 then proportionally the furniture has got to be cheap, right?

trolling cl detroit vintage couch and chairs

1. $100  Vintage Sofa I like your shape and lines, but lady, take off that skirt and show us your legs. Not bad for $100 and in the right space (Anthropologie style loft) it could be great as is.

2. $250 Set of  vintage Eames chairs Since it’s the real deal I’ll let it slide that there are only three of them. But hell, maybe you only have three people in your family and you have a silent vow to never let anyone come over. Then you are in luck.

trolling cl detroit vintage barstolls and rocker

3. $250 Pair of retro barstools. Ridiculously cute. I think my lady friends, Bri or Joy would like these two. Super poppy, sherbert colored and looks like they are in great condition.

4. $40 70s whicker chair Its cute. Throw an ikea lambskin over that bad boy, pop a pillow on it and call it a ‘cute moment in the corner’. You can introduce it to your friends like, ‘hi. have you met my cute moment in the corner?’. He’ll be very popular, for such a little squat dude.

5. $310 Set of 4 turquoise chairs I always figure that if I can get dining chairs for $100 then that is as cheap as the best at Ikea. Therefore if there are sets for less than $400 that are even better, then that is a good deal. These are pretty adorable. Maybe spray the base white if they are in good condition (if they are more in ‘vintage’ condition then don’t spray paint them because then you are mixing new with old in the same piece which looks like you just couldn’t afford to reupholster or something. I learned this the hard way. I updated the paint on a piece of furniture, but didn’t replace the lucite that was scratched and it just looked like weird and stupid). It’s like, either update it all or keep it vintage.

6. $225 Vintage bamboo rocker: I don’t really know what to say. Except that i want to ramble on about how amazing this piece is. I’ve seen plenty of bamboo/wicker in my day, but this beauty is


Trolling CL detroit vintage barstools and side tables

7. $100 Set of four barstools If these were counter height and in LA I would snatch them up. I’m DESPERATE for counter stools that are mid-century that I can upholstery in an awesome leather or vinyl (yeah, you read that right).

8. $40 Mirrored nesting tables Either these are awesome or total pieces of garbage. Nice clean lines and interesting nesting capability, but are junk or good? Someone would get on this mission and report back. Stat.

trolling craigslist vintage chair and daybed

9. $65 Lightbulb table lamp. Oh how VERY quirky are you. Funky, even. These types of things can obviously look silly and stupid and try-hard, but in a super modern shelving unit with the right collection of beautiful art books and mid-century pottery and you have yourselves something kinda interesting. Would be cooler if the base was brass.

10. $99  Green leather chair Cute green color, in leather, in an old school style shape. I’m not opposed for $99.

11.  $300 Rattan daybed Whut. I’ve never seen this before. Put that on your porch, thrown with bohemian pillows, STAT. But only if you have the right style house (mid-century, Japanese, regency or super eclectic).

trolling cl detroit vintage thonet and lamp

12. $100 Set of 6 Thonet chairs Steal of the century. These are probably gone by now. Classics, for cheap. A stupidly good deal.

13.  $25 White ceramic lamp Cute little shape for $25. Not going to make a splash debut at ICFF this year, but she is cute. With a black shade? or a colored shade? Cute.

14. $100 Vintage club chair Ok, this may have been a mistake. It’s now looking kinda foreskin-y. Get your foreskin chair for $100 on CL, folks. Pass it down to your children and your children’s children. They’ll tell the one about how their grandma got suckered in by some blogger (by then we’ll be extinct) to buy this foreskin chair. They’ll laugh. It will make good memories. Don’t you want good memories?

Trolling Cl  vintage chairs and twin bed

15. $  Alexander Begge chair Its a classic, but only really looks awesome in the right space.

16. $75  Twin headboard Painted a cute color – emerald? coral? navy? this would be just darling in your kids room – probably your girl kid, otherwise known as ‘daughter’.

Well, Detroit, you certainly did not disappoint. You are up there with Pittsburgh in my CL trolls. Keep it up and i’ll be buying a house and setting up shop.

Handmade | Kitchen Edition



1. Dipper & Jar Honey Set| 2. Cleaver | 3. Made-to-order Mixing Bowl | 4. Herringbone Engraved Cutting Board | 5. Arrow Wooden Spoons | 6. Schmidt Brothers Teak Knife | 7. Pellicano Decanters | 8. Handled Rolling Pin | 9. Hand-Painted Triangle Bowl

1. Dipper & Jar Honey Set : Made by a jewelry designer in Brooklyn NY. Ok, I have no idea what I would actually dip honey on .. cereal, toast, Brian’s throbbing hairy pecks? .. I don’t know. But this guy sure is pretty (but seriously, what do you need one of these for beside photo shoots?) (also they don’t throb … unless provoked).

2. Cleaver : Handcrafted from stainless steel and boxwood in a small town outside of Barcelona. I need this for all the bones I constantly be breaking; I’m hardcore like that. Also I only buy my cleavers from provincial Spanish towns. Or French .. wait, don’t be ridiculous the French are way better at butcher knives.

3. Made-to-order Mixing Bowl : By NelleDesign from Orchard Park, NY. Beautiful. The old me that styled a ton of food shoots would have shoved you into your cart and comically rolled you into that big stack of cereal boxes at the end of the isle  to buy this mixer. Its just so pretty.

4. Herringbone Engraved Cutting Board: hand-crafted by Richwood Creations in Fayetteville, WV. There are a million handmade cutting boards out there right now, and I really appreciate this subtle pattern. Sweet, simple classic but with an edge.  Like Meryl Streep.

5. Arrow Wooden Spoons : This pair of walnut  spoons with arrow detail are hand carved from locally sourced walnut wood by Amelie Mancini in Brooklyn. My only wish is that these were big enough to toss salad. Unless that hand model has a HUGE hand and they are actually really big in which case i’m terrified and yet want to see more pictures.

6. Schmidt Brothers Teak Knife : Yes the creators of Schmidt Brothers are actually brothers. I picture them probably singing masculine musical numbers (like from Sweeny Todd of something). Great knives. I have two and someday will cut something with them. Hopefully intentionally.

7. Pellicano Decanters : by Madrid-born Jaime Hayon. OH you are VERY cute you little copper penguins. I’m going to decant all over those.

8.Handled Rolling Pin : one solid piece, hand turned, no two are alike. Now this is something I would LOVE to get as a gift. So pretty, will last forever, and tells people – ‘Hey, I have time to bake a tart if I want to’, which is a story I’d like to tell.

9. Hand-Painted Triangle Bowl : By Half Light Honey Studio in Ashville, NC. So Organic and happy, like the weeds growing all over my neglected front yard.

Post curated in partnership with Rebecca Zajac and check out Handmade Paper, too.