My five favorite secrets to good styling and full decorating.

Trays, footed things, books, stools and benches.  

I bet you thought i was going to tell you my favorite thrifts stores in the valley, right? And what, have EVERY Designer in Los Angeles tar and feather me? Nope.  

Instead…..

There are some random things that make a huge difference in styling. It’s like the ‘belt’ in fashion – you forget about it until you NEED it to really make the outfit pop, but it isn’t the most fun things to buy. They are the things you don’t think about and you don’t know you need, but then you look at your space and you can’t figure out why you aren’t satisfied.

They may not be the amazing sofa or chandelier, but these things are what makes your house (and photo) look so full of life, layered, collected and personal.

1. TRAYS.  Sounds so boring i know. Like what do you think i am, a butler? Is this a 1910 English Tudor? Am I Mr. Bates during teatime serving Mary and Matthew Crowley? 

Ah, but trays are a secret problem solver.  They are good for every surface; coffee tables, consoles, nightstands, vanities, barcarts, buffets, entrance tables, etc, etc, etc…. 

And I simply can’t get enough of them. 

Not every surface needs a tray. But every surface likes a tray, every surface can USE a tray.

Here’s what trays do:

1. They corral many things into a single pretty. simple shape, making something that could be messy now visually neat. 

2. They create seperation between surfaces and objects which adds texture and depth.  Sometimes just objects on a table (especially if they are similar in finishes and colors) need a layer in between to create some contrast.  

3. They function as mini tables or large coasters.  A tray on a pouf? Boom, thats a table.  A large tray on an ottoman? Boom thats a table.  

On a nightstand? Yes.   

Nightstands are full of a lot of little things – necklaces, glasses of water, alarm clocks, etc, and these things need a home.  

 

Sure. Even on your VERY well and possibly over-styled toilet.  But she looks good….

2. Footed Things.  WHY? Why things that are footed? They are the perfect curvy answer to all the square or rectangular like books, boxes and yes, trays on coffee tables, shelfs or consoles.  

Footed things add feminine curvy shape to counteract all the squareness of those oh-so-masculine shapes.  Just when your eye is all tired of looking at squares, you give it a curve.  It’s the perfect contrast. 

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Footed things (vessels, bowls, vases or compotes) add vertical space as well as horizontal.  Very technical, i know. But its not just a tall vase or candlesticks – its visually more well-rounded and does two jobs at the same time, whilst still letting the eye be guided slowly instead of quick jerks.  (i should write style porn, i know).  Count how many footed things are in my shelves above. Lots.  

3. Books  Oh you think its weird to buy books for styling and in a way it is. But every client i have shows me interiors of fully styled rooms and one of the reasons they feel so personal and so finished is because they often have really pretty books. I’m not saying to go out and spend $1000 on art books, but when you see them, like them and can afford them, BUY THEM.  It will only make your house more interesting and more full. You’ll notice that catalogues rarely have books and thats one of the reasons that they don’t necessarily look like someone lives there.  Books make a space look lived in. So just start collecting and don’t stop. You’ll never have too many beautiful big art books, i promise. 

a brave little mix

.pretty nook

4. Stools.  There is always a place for a stool.  They can act as cocktail tables as well as extra seating and can be placed a lot of different places or strewn around to look effortless. 

Under consoles – often this space can look really empty, so stick some stools under there.

Extra tables next to seating:

Next to a vertical piece to guide the eye up.  Often the space next to larger pieces is empty and can feel lonely, so by sticking a stool there with maybe a stack of books on top, the transition from the floor to the top of the larger piece is smoother, your eye isn’t forced to make this big jump.  

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5. Benches.  I’m ALWAYS looking for benches. It’s become a thing where if they are vintage and attractive i buy them no matter what because we ALWAYS find a place for them and they only stay in storage for a few days. What’s good about them is that they are narrow so in general they don’t take up a lot of actual space, but they do occupy a lot of visual space.  All those empty areas that you feel unfinished can be easily filled with a bench with some books on top.  boom. 

Here’s where i put them:

Under a wall of art.  Art can hold a wall on its own sometimes, but a bench underneath the art fills that low horizontal space that is empty as well as giving the art a visual platform or pedestal:

Jean Louis Deniot's Apartment in Elle Decor; art, gold bench, marble

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At the foot of a bed, duh. A bench, two x-benches or two chairs at the end of the bed means luxury.  In New York we would never have been able to fit it, so to me having actual furniture in your bedroom means that you’ve made it….or left New York.  

 

No one likes the end of the bed on its own (unless its a beautiful bed). It’s like walking into the back of a sofa – sure, it can be pretty but in general you want to distract from it with a prettier piece of furniture – like a bench. 

In front of a fireplace.  I love a low bench in front of a fireplace, especially if its a non-functionaing fireplace.  

Or even more importantly across from a fireplace.  In general the fireplace is the focal point of the living room so when you walk into the space you want to actually see it and often when we put a huge chair across from it it obscures the view of it. So a low bench is the perfect piece of furniture to be placed opposite the fireplace, while still provide seating.  

Sometimes the best secrets aren’t the ones that are juicy or shocking, but instead its the things you don’t think about, that can be actually very inexpensive and simple yet make the biggest difference.  Don’t think you need a new sofa to fix all your problems, add layers, texture and depth with my five secret ingredients: trays, footed things, pretty books, stools and benches. 

This post was in partnership with smartwater

smartwater, simplicity is delicious.

One Kings Lane Tastemaker Sale. TODAY. 6pm PST

My One Kings Lane Tastemaker Sale starts tonight. AHHHH.  In case you don’t know what it is, its a 3 day flash sale of vintage pieces curated by a designer, and this time that designer is me.  If you aren’t on One Kings Lane yet, you can sign up HERE. 

I’ve always wondered how these One Kings Lane sales work. Who buys all this stuff? How is it shot? WHERE IS IT STORED? Etc.

So One Kings Lane and I have been in contact and finally i told them ‘i think i’m ready to purge my hoard.’ They said, ‘Great you need at least 120 items to make a proper tastemaker sale.’ And since i have the patience of a hungry two year old i said, no problem, let’s schedule the shoot for in a month from now, which means the sale goes live in 3 months. So this thing has been in the works for over 3 months. So crazy.

For the next few weeks i ravaged the desert thrift stores, pillaged the valley Goodwills and trolled on Craigslist for secret steals. Sure, i bought a decent amount at the flea market, but you really have to find great pieces for really cheap in order to mark them up so OKL gets their cut and you actually make money, let alone cut even.  

The shoot day fast arrived and i had 126 pieces of vintage furniture and accessories to shoot.  One Kings Lane makes it very easy.  They send a great photographer, assistant, and big white roll of paper to shoot everything on.  

The day of the shoot:

OH. It was like Christmas.  Orlando came with the truck that carried 19 major pieces of furniture from the upholsterer and refinisher.  I had purchased all the pieces and bought all the fabric, but otherwise it was in the hands of my dudes who were great, but there was a language barrier so i was praying that everything was right and there wasn’t much confusion. These guys live far away so i couldn’t really check on them (although i did once).  And for the most part it was pretty great.  I can’t tell you where they are out of respect for other designers that work with them, but if you see me on the street i will tell individuals.  Sorry. :(  

Then we started shooting each piece, one by one.

We had to measure the HELL out of everything and document all the flaws, cracks, etc.  The photographers went crazy fast, and it was super hard to catch up, let alone stay on top of it.  

I had 3 assistants – Orlando, naturally, Bonnie (who is my new amazing full-timer who has made my life so much easier) and her sister, Mary, who was crazy adorable and so helpful.  

We had pieces ‘on deck’ and then stations where we put things we just shot but needed measuring.  It was a crazy amount of work, and insane amount of organization and manual labor, but totally fun. 

Then we had to store every piece for 6 weeks which is an additional cost, obviously – trucking and storage fees. So as the ‘tastemaker’ you cover all your costs (purchasing, assistants, storage, delivery, packing supplies and packing labor) so you really have to make sure that you are charging enough for each item not to not lose money.  One Kings Lane makes everything very simple and easy, they’ve been a total joy to work with, but no matter what the work has to get done and things just cost money.  I have such a new respect for vintage store owners and unless things are wildly overpriced, i’ll really try to never ask for discounts again.  So much work goes into each piece – creative brain time as well as physical time and energy, so i now really empathize with them and want them to get properly paid.  

Needless to say, i’m crazy excited for 6pm today to see how it goes. The sale stays live til Sunday at 6pm. 

The crazy hoarder inside me already wants to buy some stuff back, but that’s ridiculous.  I’m relinquishing it, opening it to the universe, letting it be loved and cherished by some other crazy person.  

But i would seriously love if you guys took photos of the stuff in your space and sent them to me emily-at-stylebyemilyhenderson.com

Oh and if you have any questions that seem unanswered in all the descriptions feel free to email me and i’ll do my best to answer.  Click here for the sale, and you can even click a ‘remind me’ where they’ll email you the second it starts.  

To see all the sneak peeks of furniture pieces go HERE, HERE, HERE and HERE

Click here to sign yourself up….I think you get $15 of credit by doing so.  

Vintage Furniture Redo – Before and After

Nothing makes me happier than a proper before and after.  I even love those diet pill commercials where people purposefully slouch in schlubby ill-fitting clothes for the ‘befores’ just so they can stand with normal posture, fake tans and makeup for the  ’afters.’  I’m always convinced.  It simply MUST be a good product.  I mean, did ya SEE the before and after? Miracle!

Finding something everyone else thinks is hideous and seeing its potential and then seeing it 2 weeks later completely redone is as satisfying as watching your shy bullied child get a better job and hotter chick than your neighbors ‘Ken-doll-wannabe’, doucher, athletic kid that always dated ‘Push up bra Pamela’.  You always knew they had potential and just needed some confidence and a little cosmetic uplifting, but everyone else doubted them.

Except me.

So here are a few good old fashioned before and afters, all pieces being sold tomorrow at 6pm on my One Kings Lane Tastemakers Sale

It’s vinyl. It’s ugly, but only because of the finish, aka, the fabric. The bones are good and the proportions are great.  It’s not a huge ottoman, but more like an ottoman that is the size of a coffee table – 46″ x 28″ 14″, which is strangely hard to find and a really, really good size.

And now, he is a she, and SHE is HOT in hot pink linen:

Oh she is much prettier, and only $599.  The top of the upholstery is imperfect – some of the diamond tufts are looser than others.  But it was originally supposed to be $1000, so you are getting a deal either way and its not really noticeable.  And i want everything to be out in the open, plus i don’t mind keeping this bad boy. It could easily go at the end of a bed and my guest room is begging for it.  

Next up were TWO Identical  vintage dining table that have great lines, but were in rough shape.  

I actually like them in black, but they are super scratched up and look dirty.  I chose to give them a flat light gray paint finish.  I could have done high gloss, but that felt a bit too ‘Z Gallery’ so doing them in a flat gray felt more sophisticated and more unique than just white.  

Calling all office buildings – these two tables are perfect conference tables.  They are unique and chic, but totally big and functional. And at $1200 they are a really good price for something custom and so huge. The glass on top has some scratches but nothing too noticeable.  88L x 43D x31H  

If one of these doesn’t sell then i’m in luck and will keep it, oh yes i will.  I’ve been meaning to having a dinner party for about 33 years now, so keeping this table may motivate me to actually cook for my friends.  God help them. 

Below is this walnut or teak coffee table that was AWESOME….in theory.  Someone carved and painted an homage to America on the top, and as much as i love the creativity and passion behind it, it also sat in my garage for a year because i couldn’t convince anybody to buy it.  

But the lines are sooo good, and the scale is amazing. It’s big and wide and low.  Brian actually really wants this in our living room because we fostered it for a while and it is really easy to put your feet on and to eat off of – Brian’s two requisites for coffee tables,  but we have that awesome huge brass trunk-y thing now that has dominated my heart for a while, so my heart wins and Brian loses.

I had him refinished (the table, not Brian) completely to look like this:

It’s restored to the original parquet top, in an almost- matte finish that is still protective.  It’s 60″L x31″W x 13.25″H for $799, which is crazy because it cost $300 just to refinish it, not including the original purchase price of $60 and the delivery to and from the refinisher.  See? I told you i’m not good at this up-charging thing. Someone best buy and appreciate this beautiful table.  

The piece below is hard to see but its a 70′s chrome sling chair and ottoman, in weird tan fabric.  

But not no more.  Nu uh. 

Now he is VERY, VERY handsome, not to mention comfortable.  Its upholstered in a dark gray linen, tufted properly (whereas the piece before had weird stitching where the tufts should be) and is crazy comfortable.  It’s the perfect combo of stylish and comfortable, me and Brian.   $949

For other sneak peeks into the sale and more before and afters, click HERE, HERE and HERE. Also, for the official OKL Preview, complete with styling tips, check this out.

You’ll see more sneaks tomorrow (thursday) with even more before and after’s. Because they are just so satisfying to see.

Its A ‘One-kings-lane-a-palooza’.  Or more like ‘One-kings-lane-affair’, except less Sara MacClaughlin and more Milo Baughman.  That was the first, last and worst Lillithfaire reference I’ve ever used. 

Awesome. Now ‘Your love, is better than ice cream’ is now stuck in my head. 

And now yours. You are welcome.  

Gold Etsy Finds

I troll on Craigslist and Etsy most nights while i watch TV, always gotta be multi-tasking.  I have the excuse of looking for pieces for clients or my new online vintage store that i’m opening, but mostly its due to the addiction – you know, all the ‘what if’s?’ that are associated with vintage shopping. 

So, here’s a roundup of my favorite vintage gold and white pieces on Etsy right now that one of you should buy.  I’m EXTREMELY tempted by all of them but only might splurge on a couple – unless you beat me to it.  

1. Gold and white doll head mug $75 for 2.  I’ve wanted these for a while, handmade and so beautiful.

2. Gold Vintage French Canisters $44 I have 3 sets of empty canisters so i don’t need these, just love.

3. Vintage gold Ice bucket $18 

4. Gold Swimmer, $65 It’s awesome, totally worth the splure.  

5. Gold and blue striped glasses $50

6. Gold pendants $148 If this wasn’t $75 to ship i would probably splurge on them.  But its still a good price.

7. Gold and white platter $18 On your nightstand, for your jewelry. Or in your bathroom.

 8. Gold hangers $25 Sure, expensive for hangers, but what if you put your pretty turkish towels on them in your bathroom?

9. Gold bird barware $42 So chic and playful. 

10. Gold tiger $21.99 I haven’t seen a brass tiger before, so i kinda want to jump on this. 

11. Custom brass letters $50 Just when i thought i was over letters this company makes really chic and modern ones.  Any letters any size.  

12. Gold Deco Bavarian Vase $25 You had me at ‘Deco’.

13. Gold and white striped painting $33.56 Very simple, but so pretty for a quiet wall that needs some bling.

14. Gold Porcelain Cloud $58 I’m obsessed with these as wall art.  

15. Gold heart Jewerly Box. Such a pretty sweet gift.  

What other roundups from Etsy or online do you want me to do? Sometimes i’m absolutely out of ideas and i just stare at the computer. I’ll ask Brian and he’ll say, like ‘Rockets or something’.  Not helpful, but cute, which is probably what he’s going for anyway.  

I’ve done pillows, art, lighting, leather furniture….what else can i use my tv time to obsessively troll?  What are those things that you are constantly looking for?

One Kings Lane Sneak Peek

My one kings lane sale is finally upon us this week, folks.  First off the date has changed to September 20th (at 6pm) instead of the 18th, Sorry, i was wrong. So you have a few more days to save your pennies, get your friends opinions, sell your pets. etc.  I was looking at the prices today and am kinda worried that i underpriced things, but that’s good for all of you guys.  Don’t get me wrong, i’m not giving it away but there are a lot of affordable things to buy and i probably didn’t mark things up enough. I have SUCH respect now for store owners. It’s all such a risk, but i think it will be worth it.  

So here are some more sneak peeks of some of my favorite pieces.  

And some lampage. I’m dying to keep that first top left brass lamp, i am.  It’s just so good.  But the chrome dome? Stop it.  And that yellow mid-century lamp is awesome. Oh and so is that thin brass squared off piece.  ALL. OF. THEM.

I want everything.  EVERYTHING.  Please help me and my hoarding problem…..

You have no idea how hard it is to give up those brass trunk side tables and the green freshly upholstered sofa.   Plus that amazing blue velvet 1970′s sofa.  I tried and tried to convince Brian to trade out this sofa for ours, but he strangely loves ours (and i do, too) so no go on that end. The burl coffee table is from my studio and it will always be nastalgic for me.  So hard to let go.  Wood beaded curtains….stop. 

I kinda want to interview each person before they buy to make sure that these are truly appreciated. Perhaps you could all send me photos of these pieces in your house after you buy and recieve them? Oh yes, i can frame them, create a photo album of them and these pieces will forever be immortalized.  

Unless i decide to track you down, camp outside your house and stalk the pieces, making sure you appreciate them as they should be appreciated.