Design Star Season 7, Episode 9 recap.

Down to the Hilary, Britany and Danielle. I like them all style wise, so now its just who can carry a show.  There are a lot of design shows on right now and frankly even i don’t watch all of them, so i want personality personality personality. Jeff Lewis, for instance, has kinda boring contemporary style and He ALWAYS does the same thing – grey walls, chrome, contemporary tiles, clean lines, yadda yadda. But am i still riveted? Well, maybe not ‘riveted’ but i ALWAYS look forward to his show because of his personality.  If he shook it up every week design wise it would it  be WAY More successful, yes, but i still love it.  I suppose that could be because frankly i’m not looking for design information as much, i’m looking for entertainment which is opposite of what a lot of people look for on HGTV.  

So the challenge is to design a ‘fantasy bedroom’ in a Yurt.  These yurts aren’t exactly beautiful – which they aren’t meant to be so i feel like they were definietely set up for a challenge. There is no natural light, there are no corners or natural shape of a ‘room’ and there are really no ‘walls’.  I still think the glass house is where its at.  

Britany went with a mid-century beach theme, with her handyman Joel (who is on Casey’s show ‘Design on a Dime’, and he’s adorable.)  

I really wish they took these photos during the day, with normal lenses. This room looked good on-screen because the ‘beauties’ were shot nice, but this shot makes it look super weird.  

Ultimately i think this was a successful room. She built this huge headboard wall which could rotate to reveal a closet on the other side, which is super smart.  

Her photography broke up the wall nicely, and i’m glad that she didn’t use 6 different photos or it would have gotten super busy on that wall. Even though i’m not a massive fan of the nature photos specifically, i do like that they felt like windows and brought the outside in a bit.  Smart.  

Ultimately a good space.  Britany’s camera challenges were again good – she seemed nervous, but way better than a ton of hosts that are super hosty. She did seem more comfortable.  

Here we have Danielle. Danielle was an early pick and i’m so happy that she is still in the game.  

No red flags as at. Great layering of rugs, interesting eclectic vibe, weird big plant. I wish she had done a king bed, for sure.  That bed looks tiny and proportionately weird and so chunky (which she admitted).  

Her hosting was like Britany’s – good, getting better each episode and totally likeable in general.  

Ah, Hilary.  I’m sad just thinking about it.  

I loved that bed she put in there.  

But i didn’t love this color of silk. Its purple and purple silk so it can go gaudy really fast.   

I like the seating area enough.  The colors are a bit cuckoo, but i’m not altogether opposed to it. It looks pulled together and visually pleasing, but there is something a little ‘Pier 1′ that i’m not digging.   

Nope. Not into the orchids being hung like this. Orchids are hard sell for me anyways.  

I like the idea of what she did to the door. In fact I love the screens that she made that she didn’t end up using.  

So yeah, spoiler alert.  

Hilary went home, which i didn’t agree with.  Her personality was the most addictive for me.   But i like the other two and am eager to see them in the final challenge where they do a mini version of their own show.  Very curious.  

Yes, i am being diplomatic, obviously. I’m going to end up hanging out and most likely forming a friendship with whoever wins so no, i don’t want to be critical.  I’m sure you all figured that out, which made me not even want to do the recap this week. But i did.  Barely.   

So i’m predicting Danielle.  How are you guys feeling?

Styling 101. How to style your mantel.

Alright, folks. Welcome to the beginning of the video styling series that will address all your styling needs. Remember the post where I asked for content suggestions from you? Well, we’ve been compiling them and shooting videos of them (and stills).  We have the first two ready to go.

Styling tip #1 … How to style your mantel:  3 different ways to style your mantel that I guarantee will be beautiful.

How to Style Your Mantle from Modshift.

This video was produced/written and styled by me, Emily Von Henderson, and directed and edited by Arian from ModShift.

Show us (by sharing) some love if you like it. These things cost money and time and if you guys are all “meh,” then I’ll focus my money and time more on other blog adventures. Or on more “Real Housewives.” Or googling “Kittens wearing mittens,” which is truly a rewarding pastime. It’s amazing how many times in a row I can say, “Oh my god, so cute,” and genuinely mean it.

Check out my newest video ‘How to mix Patterns’ and not look like a crazy person.

Easy and stylish Flower Arranging

10 do’s and don’ts to flowers.

Stylists aren’t florists.

Nay. So while i have arranged or styled 100′s and 100′s of flowers i don’t pretend to be amazing at it, and i certainly don’t know all the names of flowers that a florist does.

But i am pretty good and I do know the do’s and don’ts to easy, affordable and STYLISH flower arrangements. It’s actually WAY easier than you think it is and the more you try to look like a florist and stress over it, the less pretty it often is.

It’s like putting makeup and a Hannah Montana midrift on Joan Rivers – She ain’t getting any younger, so trying hard for perfection will only result in tackiness.

#flower arrangement

1.  If you wouldn’t wear the colors together then don’t arrange them together.  Stick to a consistent color palette that is in fashion and they will most likely look great together. Choose 3 colors for an easy combination (think two main colors and 1 accent color).   Or do many shades of the same color and keep it tonal.

Because this is not working:

Chances are that you wouldn’t wear orange, yellow, dark green, chartreuse, purple, coral and red together, so don’t arrange them together.  Color trends actually last a lot longer than style trends, so don’t worry about it being out of fashion in a couple years – you have 10-12 years before your flower photos will look dated and at that point your fashion will possibly look dated anyway so don’t even worry about it.

peonies with a beautiful background

That’s in fashion. And that’s a great arrangement. Hot pink, white, small hits of yellow and green.

From a wedding i 'art directed'.  Garden roses, dahlias and berries. And yes, i said 'art directed' because i didn't actually do the labor, just conceptualized it and over saw it.

And that’s a wedding (my best friend’s) that i art directed (and Chelsea from Frolic did the flowers) while Lisa Waringer took the photos.

2. Do buy larger quantities of a 1-3 different flowers (or different colors of the same flowers, or the same color of different flowers) instead of a 5 stems of 10 different flowers UNLESS you know what you are doing.

A florist can arrange flowers (sometimes), but in general if you don’t know what you are doing it can look either super messy or really forced.

When in doubt think quantity, you can’t go wrong with multiples of the same thing.  Keep it simple.

3. Do mix textures, sizes and shapes WITHIN that color palette.  The less contrast you have the less natural it looks (think how cheesy bright red closed roses can look).  Flowers (like people) don’t grow all the same size and shape  so you need a variety of ‘finishes’ in order for it to look organic.


tonal pink colors


This is slightly more advanced, so when in doubt just stick to this next rule:

4. Do buy open AND closed flowers. Open flowers are more beautiful clearly, because they have more shape and texture, but an ‘only open’ arrangement can look fake.

As much as i love this room, those flowers don’t look real because there is no greenery, they are all the same shape and size and they are crammed in there.

Peonies, but all the same shape and size

I just want to grab them and shake them to mess them up a bit.

Apple Box Boutique Inc.: Well Arranged (styling by Selina Lake)

Instead mix in some closed flowers so it looks more natural.

via design sponge.  different sizes and variations of flowers together.

I had a client before (at the beginning of my career) that said ‘wow are those real? they are so beautiful’ and that’s not a good thing.

5. Do create an organic shape.

Flower arrangement

Don’t create a dome.

Flowers don’t grow in dome like shapes. A happy flower grows organically and wild so why would you then FORCE them into (robot voice) perfect shapes that have no variation or interest.  You want the whole arrangement to be balanced but not perfectly symmetrical.

Now on to the ‘what to buy that’s cheap and easy‘ section.

6. DO buy weeds/wildflowers:  Queen Annes Lace and, Bouganvillea for instance, are by far the cheapest and easiest things to buy – OR CLIP.

weedy and pretty


A bucket full of Queen annes lace can be around $10.  And its just so beautiful. Whereas a buck full of closed red roses (again never buy unless they are garden roses) can be $100.  Don’t be a snob – wild flowers are totally beautiful (although they don’t last long – just a few days at most) and so cheap so don’t forget about them just because they are everywhere.

7. DO clip branches from your back yard. Branches are even cheaper and easier than weeds and they last a lot longer.  Your trees need pruning anyway.  So go outside with your clippers and clip away. They can make massive impact on a very small budget.

magnolia branches

huge branches

statement branches

8. Do buy some deli/supermarket flowers but be careful.  When i’m in a pinch i have my go-to’s that i know i can ask assistants to buy at the closest store.  Bells of Ireland, Casablanca lilies, tulips and OPEN white or pink roses.

Bells of Ireland:


French pink tulips

via SFgirlbybay

Casablanca lilies:

Are they my favorite flowers? Nope. But for supermarket flowers they are good, cheap, easy to style and smell great.  So when you are desperate, get these instead of roses.

9. AVOID buying gerbera daisies unless its for a little girls party, or closed red roses unless you are ‘The most interesting man in America’, because i’m pretty sure he could pull it off, but no one else can. These two flowers have become so mass market and unnatural that it would be like catering your party with McDonalds Restaurant – could be fun in an ironic way but most likely its gonna look trashy.

10. Ask florists for their ‘discounted’ flowers. These are the ones they can’t sell at full price because they will only last a couple days because yes, they are old.  But for a  photo shoot or a day-of party? they are perfect.  They normally have them in the back, but be tactful how you ask for them. Tell them you were hoping for open flowers (for a party) and wondered if they had any – don’t ask for the cheap flowers they have behind the desk.

Other good secrets:

- if you want to open flowers faster (say, for a shoot) use a hair dryer on low and point at the buds, and then put them in warm water.

- if you love roses but don’t want them to look generic, then order ‘garden roses’ because they are way more ‘petal-y’ than normal long stem roses. I’m actually a fan of spray roses mixed in with garden roses (those are the really small roses, normally a few on each stem).  Garden roses can be more beautiful than even peonies or renunculus, but they are only in season a few months out of the year (spring in Oregon).

- Don’t cover up the stems in the vases with big leaves. This looks totally forced and weird. If you hate stems that much then don’t use glass vessels, but otherwise stems are part of the flowers, too. Just remove all leaves below the water level so they don’t rot and smell.

- Don’t put flowers in marbles, rocks or anything that acts like that UNLESS you can’t see them because the vase isn’t clear.

- Orchids are only pretty when they are blooming. I personally like them the best in a kitchen or bathroom. They can get super ubiquitous really fast so don’t go overboard.  (they are also mass manufactured so look for more unique ones).

- Baby’s breath is only cheesy when mixed with red roses (or other cheesy flowers). Have you seen baby’s breath up close? ITS MINIATURE ROSES!!!!! sooooo cute. Baby’s breath in huge quantities is beautiful and airy and chic.  A la:

babys breath

Baby Breath poufs.

I could go on and on and on.  But ultimately here’s what you should remember – flowers are like beautiful people – the more you try and make them perfect the less beautiful they actually are. You want them to look natural. You want them to look like they just came from a field and were all naturally just growing and kicking it together.

If you force perfection you risk the chance of ruining them.  If you take off their leaves, their shriveling edges and cover up their stems then you might as well airbrush Anna Paquin’s spaced front teeth together, tan Kate Winslet’s skin and straighten Katie Holmes crooked smile.

But that is so less interesting.


Affordable (almost) ART ROUND-UP

Artwork is like the hairdo of home decor – your outfit can be the perfect mix of trendy and classic, your makeup can be totally beautiful yet natural, but if your hair looks like the hair on a poodles stomach, then you are not only not pulling off the look, but you’ve just dummed everything else down.  Plus you are not getting laid with that hairdo, unless its by a poodle…and if thats who you want to attract then keep it up. 

I actually think that not having something on your walls is soooo much better than having hotel looking art from a mass market store….in the 90′s.  You know what i’m talking about. The only thing that its saying about you is that you one time bought art at a store – and that’s not terribly interesting.  

There are a ton of new options out there – between the typography craze and Etsy, you don’t have to be a rockefeller to have beautiful art, and you don’t have to live in a major city, be friends with high top wearing hipsters to have art that looks young, fresh and well, ‘hip’. 

So here are some very happy favorites of mine that i’ve been loving lately.  

 Saturated for summmer time.  And so warm and happy.  


1.Michelle Armas 2.Laura Trevey  3.Nancy Ramirez 4.Christopher Wool  5.Yangyang Pan


 But for those of you who can’t handle huge hits of magentas and fuscias in your life, these cooler toned pieces above might take the edge off.  

1.Michelle Armas 2.Clare Esaesser 3.Yellena James 4.Lindsay Cowles 5.Yolanda Sanchez


1.R.Castle  2.Jen Gotch 3.Tchmo 4.Alexandra Valenti 5.The Lepolas

I love all of these and have actually bought the ‘bronze pop’ and the ‘smile’ before for me and a client, so you’ll have real life proof that they are 100% endorced by me.  

I just finished a weekend in Atlantic City for a bachelorette party and my brain is far less creative and on point than usual, but so i’ll just focus on the pretty pictures for now.  

Oh and a big thank you to my new assitant Bonnie for pulling this together. She just took BlogShop last weekend and learned a lot of new skills that are going to make my blog look less like a high school project and more like the coolest thing thats ever happened to the internet.  She promised.  

Everything you need to know about reupholstering vintage pieces

I’m addicted to it.  I see a great shape for cheap and all i can picture is its potential and how good i’ll feel styling it in a home.  I don’t know the last time that i bought a new piece of upholstered furniture. My thought is why when you can have a more unique piece, faster and often cheaper if not the same price.

Right now i’m gearing up for my ONE KINGS LANE sale in SEPTEMBER where i’m reupholstering 19 amazing vintage items and counting…  There will be a ton of teasers because i need to sell this stuff so i want everyone prepped and ready for the three day flash sale.

There are two things that i don’t do myself – upholster furniture and wallpaper walls.  You need experts to do this or else you could potentially waste the material, as well as your money and time. I know that upholstering can be daunting, even terrifying. There is a lot of effort and money at stake.

So here is EVERYTHING you need to know to help you through the process.   I have a ton of tips, nay secrets, to make sure that you get a timeless piece that won’t cost you a fortune, will make your house WAY more interesting and will last for years and years.


1. HOW TO CHOOSE THE RIGHT PIECE.  Here’s the best rule of thumb, you have to love the shape and style then don’t worry about the finish. You can almost always change the finish of things but you can rarely change the shape. So if you find something that has a great shape and good bones, then that is what you invest it.  But its more complicated then just that.

Second rule is either go for something super cheap that is a no-brainer, or splurge on something that is a standout piece that will make a room.

For instance this weekend i found this chair for $45:


It’s hideous. But in a charcoal gray linen its going to be gorgeous. I picked this piece because a. i like the 70′s style, b. it was $45 and c. you only need 4 yards to recover it.  It’s a very sellable chair because the style is very ‘in’ and the comfort level is extreme, yet i don’t have to invest in it too much to get what i want.

If it were $500 originally i wouldn’t have chosen it because its not a make or break chair, its just really good.

BUT, then there are times when the shape and style of a piece is soooo good that you have to splurge on it.  It will command a whole room, it will scream ‘i’m interesting’ and it will be 100% worth it.

Like this sofa i just bought at the rose bowl:


This is my instagram pic where i saturated the color, but its actually a pretty bad faded pink and needs new upholstery. The piece was originally $750 but after four hours of not selling at the flea market i offered $500 cash and got it.

But thats a decent amount of dough to start, right? Way more than i would spend on just any sofa.  But it will be worth it because its a show-stopper and will be eventually worth $2500 at least.  Stay tuned for after pictures in about a month.

So, love the shape and style and go for either really cheap (or a piece you already have) and easy or really interesting and a splurge.  Reupholstering a $300 standard mid-century chair in a simple fabric just isn’t worth it (unless you already have the chair).


HOW TO FIND THE RIGHT UPHOLSTERER.  A recomendation from a designer is best, but designers guard these secrets as if it were an apocalypse and their upholsterer had the last ten cans of beans.

Annoying, i know.

But here’s why:  Once a good name/price gets out they get busy and then you don’t get things that you want fast enough and the prices go up. It takes time and effort to find the right guy, and once you find them your life gets really easy, unless they get super busy. Don’t get me wrong, i tell my friends who want one piece, but if i were to announce it on the blog then myself, as well as all the other designers that go to them, would suffer.   We get the best prices because we give them a massive amount of business so don’t expect the prices that I quote. Bummer, i know.

I told my upholsterer that he he promises to hire help and expand i’ll give his name away, but until he does i just can’t because i need him in my life.

So what do you do? Walk in and ask for pictures, prices and how many years of experience.  In LA the best cheapest guys are in the smallest darkest stores, and the more you go out of the way (to cheaper commercial spaces in the valley for instance) the cheaper it gets.  Right now i found a new guy that is around 45 minutes a way and its worth it because his prices are soooo good and his quality is high, plus he picks up and delivers for the cost of gas.

That being said, i’ve made mistakes before and definitely gotten what i’ve paid for – cheap work for a cheap price, so mistakes can be made.


The best tip i can say is that the little hole-in-the-wall upholsterers are usually doing all the designers fancy pieces and have the most experience. Its the fancier places (like the design centers) that are frankly much more pleasant to be in that charge a lot more. Don’t be scared of the hole in the wall, you’d be shocked at who hires them.  But if you have the money go to the nicer places, too, we don’t want them going out of business (although sometimes i’m convinced that they actually are just farming out to the hole in the wall places anyway….regardless everyone’s gotta make a buck so i get it)

Speaking of a buck…..



Here’s a rough guide to how much things should cost, the lower number is what you can get at a VERY cheap place where you are taking risks (or its around what designers pay when we upholster in bulk). The higher number is what an established, high quality place would be:

Simple dining chair – $80-$200, 1 1/2 – 2 yards each.  (dining chair seats are really the only things you can do yourself, especially when you have six of them the cost adds up).

A simple mid-century chair, $150-$500 – 4-5 yards

A wingback, $300-$500, 6 – 7 yards:

a loveseat – $600-$1000, 10 yards.

a Sofa – $700-$1800 , 12 – 18 yards.  I know, that is a massive gap. I usually budget around $1000 for a large sofa, but my guys do it for around $700.

That being said if you work with a designer EXPECT it to be upcharged, that’s how we/they make our VERY hard earned money and cover costs of delivery/labor, etc.   I know that must be frustrating to not have a better guide, but it really does vary on location, experience, type of establishment, experience and amount of business you do with them.  If you bring in three pieces you are likely to get a way better deal than just one.


WHATS THE BEST FABRIC?  My go-to’s are linen, linen-blend and cotton velvet, or cotton blend.

This is linen:


This is cotton velvet:

cotton-velvet-vintage cotton-velvet-wingback

I know i need to branch out, but i just love these two types of fabrics a lot.  They are soft and sophisticated and always in style.  Within those fabrics make sure that you get them thick enough, they must be upholstery weight.  If you want something that has more stain resistance and durabiltiy get a linen or cotton blend has a lot of polyester in it.  If you want it to be completely stain resistant you can opt for micro-suede or ultra-suede but they look cheaper and leave butt marks. They are EXTREMELY durable. I just don’t like the look.

Cotton Velvets range from $12 – $30 and i usually stay in the $25 – $18 range unless i need to find the perfect color that is more expensive.  Linens range from $10 – $1 million, but i usually stay in the $10-$30 range.  There are a ton of beautiful belgium linens out there that are $50 a yard that look very similar to the ones that are $15 a yard and the difference is when they were dyed. The belgium linen yarn was dyed before it was woven and the cheaper linens were dyed after they were woven into fabric, therefore the color of the belgium is often more beautiful (and textural) and probably stays true longer. But its a huge price difference if you are talking a whole sofa.  Plus belgiium linen is exported from Europe whereas most other linen comes from the middle-east which is way cheaper.

Most darker colors will fade in time if they are made from natural fibers (like linen or cotton), its pretty hard to avoid unless you get that kind of fabric. You can treat it afterwards or treat your windows to block the uv rays, but its hard to guarantee that a dark navy fabric won’t fade. Again, the more poly or rayon the better for that.  A lot of stores (like Room and Board, Crate and Barrel) have fade resistant fabrics but they can’t guarantee it either.

MAN THIS IS A LOT OF INFORMATION I HOPE THAT YOU AREN’T ASLEEP AT YOUR DESK.  Please tell me you are still reading this….



Easier said than done, but here are my tips for making the pieces even more unique, or not making style mistakes:

1. Use larger scale patterns only on larger pieces of furniture.  Smaller scale can be on any size, but a large scale looks weird on a small chair.

It just looks crammed on there, right? i’ve seen it work, but as a general rule, be careful.

2. When in doubt, keep it classic on larger pieces of furniture.  It’s a splurge so maybe don’t do an ikat pattern on main living room sofa unless you have a lot of money to reupholster in a few years.  Pillows are a lot easier to customize a space and play with trends than a huge pattern on your biggest pieces. I feel so boring saying that but you could easily regret it.  I love polka dots right now, but i’m not going to do a sofa in it, maybe a side chair or a bench for the guest room, but be wary of pattern trends dating your furniture.

3. The style of the piece should work well with the style of the pattern.  There are obviously exceptions and there are times when i really like mixing up the styles, BUT this can go super trendy and make the piece dated really fast.  So if you don’t like taking risks, then keep the styles similar.  For instance don’t put a retro pattern on a more classic wing-back.

It looks forced and will get dated really fast.  Update a classic pattern with a fresh color palette, but don’t put a batik on a french settee unless you want to reupholster it when you are sick of it.  Just a suggestion, i know it can work at times, but its a good rule of thumb.  I experiment a lot with colors, less with patterns on large pieces of furniture.

4. Add piping, tufting and nailheads.  This will cost more, but it is such an easy way to customize and upgrade a simple chair and in general it doesn’t cost too much more.

This is diamond tufting:


This is regular button tufting:

In general diamond tufting looks better on more classic/traditional/english/french kinda furniture and button tufting on mid-century or modern furniture.

Piping and welting.  I still don’t know what the difference is, but ‘self-welting’ means that instead of just a seam, its that piping look (above) in the same fabric.  ’Alternate piping (or welting)’ means using a different color for the piping. like so:

You can do high contrast (like black and white) or just a slight contrast like the sofa above where i did a navy piping/tufting on the medium blue sofa.  It makes it look more tailored but also busier.  When i feel like the lines are getting lost i definitely add welting and when i want to make it more formal i enhance the lines with a different color of piping.

Other things of note:

foam/batting/feathers, etc.

The sofa above is a two-twin sofa bed which are normally VERY hard and uncomfortable, but this was for a family room so comfort was key. So i had my guy use a ton of down feathers instead of foam and that’s why its kinda poufy… its crazy comfortable but i did have to sacrifice the look of the sofa for it. I don’t regret it, because once you sit on it you are VERY happy, but the lines got compromised.

Most upholsterers will add all new batting and foam, but if this is the first time that you are getting something upholstered make sure you specify that – they have been known to cheat and you can’t really tell unless you are sensitive to it.  New foam will be less comfortable that’s why most big box stores do ‘foam wrapped in feathers’ so it has the structure of foam but the comfort of feathers.  Don’t do that on like a tight back setee, and seriously listen to the upholsterers recomendation as what you choose can change the look, but at the same time really hard foam is a bummer.

Lastly lead time can be anywhere from a week to a month.  If you need it fast, just ask, because if you don’t then they’ll obviously not rush it.

Meanwhile check out all the beauties i’m getting reupholstered right now:

vintage chair piping

Sofa (sofa bed actually, all new mattress being made too) and two chairs. Still deciding on fabric. I got the threesome for $35 (but i had to deliver from the valley for $60). i’m thinking light grey with charcoal piping, but i’m open to suggestions.

Two of these guys, $4 each.

Make sure to follow me on twitter and instagram to watch all my finds and in-process upholstery shots.  I have 15 more items being restored, refinished and reupholstered for my sale.  And they are all pieces that i totally love and want to hoard.

Any other questions?  Did i cover all the basics of upholstering?  If you like this post retweet it please, ’cause if i’m going to relenquish the secrets then i may as well have them actually read, right?