DIY wooden dowel Coatrack in Redbook

DIY Redbook_Coatrack_ Emily Henderson MidCentury Modern

It’s another Redbook DIY today where we made a pretty adorable coatrack with some wooden dowels, paint and rope.  We saw this DIY and loved its simplicity and how sculptural it is. So we did our take on it and whipped this bad boy right up.



DIY Redbook_Coatrack_ Emily Henderson MidCentury Modern_ingredients

Items Needed:

Wood Poles: We purchased ours from Home Depot. They can be sourced for around 1.50 per foot and then you cut them down to the size you want. Each of our poles was 6ft in length.

Rope: You will use this to tie the legs together (you could also use, leather, wire, or some sort of decorative trim; whatever you like to hold it all together)

Spray Paint: We used metallic gold spray paint to paint the bottom foot of our poles to give it a fun look (you could also use a different shade of the color you paint the pole or even a different color metallic).

Paint: We used four different paint colors, one for each leg of the coatrack, but obviously it could all be the same color. We liked the idea of just white and gold, but it wasn’t going to pop off the page so we decided to paint it a color.

Painters Tape: You will use this to tape of the bottom of your legs when you spray paint them.


DIY Redbook_Coatrack_ Emily Henderson MidCentury Modern_painting

Step 1:

Paint each pole using the colors you have picked out for them. Once each of the poles dry then you can tape off the bottom foot of each pole and spray paint it with the gold.


DIY Redbook_Coatrack_ Emily Henderson MidCentury Modern_tying together

Step 2:

Wrap the poles together using the rope and then prop it up, spread the legs apart and you are good to go.

The one warning I will give is that this coatrack has a pretty big foot print, meaning that it’s not this vertical little thing you can shove in the corner. In order for it to function it has to be splayed out pretty wide, so just make sure you have the space for it.


*All photos by David Tsay with Styling by Scott Horne, art direction by Me. All those clothing/purse accessories are from Target. 

To see more from my Redbook DIY column go here. 

DIY ModPodge Chair Hack in Redbook


Its another Redbook DIY, folks. Its surprisingly easy (although don’t make our mistakes … read on). This one was inspired by the queen of DIY, Jenny Komenda from this post – and by inspired I pretty much mean REALLY INSPIRED, if you know what I mean. Thanks, Jenny (and congrats on your new baby).

Redbook DIY_Chair ModPodge Desk Midcentury Modern Eames Hack_ingredients

Items Needed:

Chair: Any solid piece chair will work, but after doing the DIY on this chair we realized that it would have been much easier to Modpodge the fabric to a chair that didn’t have SO many curves and lips. Maybe something a little simpler or without arms would have been a better choice. Trust me. This chair is adorable but it was way more of a challenge to get rid of the bubbles (and there were some that never went away) because of the curve.

Modpodge: There are all different kinds depending on if you want it to be shiny, satin, flat, or if you are using fabric with the modpodge vs. paper. Get the kind that works best for your specific chair. We used the general purpose Matte finish, which seemed to work well for us.

Foam Paint Brush: foam is always easier than a traditional paint brush for something like this, and buying a cheap one at the store means that you can toss it in the garbage when you finish the project rather than spending the time to clean it.

Fabric: our fabric was sourced from The Fabric Store which is a local fabric store here in LA. But we decided to go with something that didn’t have too big of a pattern and that was also a bit abstract, just in case we made mistakes. Our fabric was also very thin which made it very easy to get it to stick to the chair with the modpodge.

Razor: you will use this to trim away the excess fabric once the chair and fabric have adhered to one another.

Redbook DIY_Chair ModPodge Desk Midcentury Modern Eames Hack_modpodge

Step 1:

Take the legs off of your chair (if possible) and lay the chair upside down. Lay your fabric over the chair to make sure that you will have enough and that it is positioned correctly. Then begin to apply the modpodge to the chair. The more you use the easier it will be to adjust the fabric and get it to stick to the chair. You can’t really use too much with a project like this, but DO make sure that you work in small areas so that your modpodge doesn’t dry before you lay the fabric down on top of it. Once you have painted a small patch of modpodge lay the fabric over on top of it and press it down. Continue doing this until you have adhered the entire piece of fabric to the chair.

Step 2:

This is definitely an optional step but we decided to do it just to prolong the life of the chair. Once the fabric has adhered to the chair, apply an even coat of modpodge to the entire fabric area. It will not appear to go on clear but will dry that way so don’t get worried if it looks like you are ruining your new piece of fabric with modpodge. This last layer will help to seal the fabric to the chair and prevent it from getting dirt, moisture, or anything else on it. It also prevents the fabric from fraying and makes it very easy to clean up when you spill something on it.

Redbook DIY_Chair ModPodge Desk Midcentury Modern Eames Hack_trimming

Step 3:

Once your chair is all dry, carefully trim away all of the excess fabric around the edges. You can also go over the edges once again with a layer of modpodge if any of the fabric starts to peel up while you are trimming.

Step 4:

Reattach legs, sit on chair and stare at your awesome vintage pencil collection (Vintage, from Nickey Kehoe).

Redbook DIY_Chair ModPodge Desk Midcentury Modern Eames Hack

Resources: vintage desk from MidcenturyLA | vintage pencil collection from Nickey Kehoe | knock off Eiffel chairs from random source, but you can buy them here. 

All photos by David Tsay with Styling by Scott horne, art direction by Me.

Oh Joy Nursery/Office Makeover: the mountain wall mural

For Joy’s new nursery we wanted it to be really fun and reflect their happy personalities but since it was also their home office we couldn’t go ‘full crazy’. Wallpaper would have been fun but over the budget, but just painting the walls seemed boring. I thought about doing an overall pattern but then I met up with my friend, Pinterest, for inspiration and found some:

Mountain Scape

Many of you might remember how I wanted to do a mountain-scape backsplash in our kitchen, but I couldn’t seem to figure out how to make it work with tile – at least not in a way that would look good. But here it was not only doable but so easy. It would be near the crib area – making that area feel more happy and kid-like, while helping to delineated the two spaces.  We did some renderings to show them what we were thinking.

This first rendering is a simpler version, and it could work, but it didn’t quite feel right:   mountain

The second rendering had way more impact, felt more dynamic and allowed us to bring in multiple colors.  mountain

Oh an I haven’t talked about it yet, but we wanted to paint the bottom half of the room (where there was no mural) a color; almost like a horizon. The room was white already, but it was dingy and creamy and needed to be freshened up, anyway.

Bob requested more neutral colors and they both love grey and blue – clearly i’m no stranger to those colors, either. As far as picking the colors we brought all our paint decks and chose 7 or 8 that we liked. We got sample pots of all of them and then just went for it and sampled them on the walls. Ultimately we liked the strong blue has a ‘POW’ and then flanked it with a medium gray ad a more icy gray.

Joy Nursery_Emily Henderson_Wall Landscape Mural

Click through to see the rest of the project:


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?


The guide to a well hung gallery wall

Gallery walls are hard. Heck, art in general is VERY hard. I find it to be the most personal, most difficult and therefore most fraught decision with my clients. Often I give them my favorite sources and make them narrow it down to what they like, and then with our approval we pull the trigger because if I shop for them they will end up being billed for hours and hours of my time to maybe find a print they might like. This is why I wish there were art dealers who specialize in more moderate art consulting for residential homes – someone who knows the market better than myself, but isn’t going to try to sell us $10k paintings when our budget is $1k. Know anyone? (I’m working on an updated version of ‘best online art‘ right now – stay tuned).

Anyway, once you have finally bought some pieces of art that you love then its time to curate them into a gallery wall (unless they are huge and can stand on their own). Just like we did in the January issue of Family Circle.


So what really makes a good gallery wall???

Well, before I get in to the steps I want to preface it by saying something that might be perceived as discouraging – your gallery wall is only as good as the art you have in it. A really good gallery wall, like a really good living room, either takes a lot of money (art can be VERY expensive) or a lot of time scouring and collecting from different resources. It absolutely doesn’t need to be expensive – I’m a MASSIVE fan of thrift store and flea market art as well as prints of originals, but it takes a while to curate that.

So if you have some random pieces lying around and you attempt a gallery wall, it may not work. Be patient. The art below is a mix of my friends art, prints that I like, originals that I borrowed, some splurges and flea market art. But it did take me a while to curate it and I’m a designer and a shopaholic. This is not to discourage you – but instead to encourage you that it just takes a bit of time to curate the right collection, so have some patience and don’t just throw a bunch of random pieces on the wall.

Emily Henderson Gallery Wall Family Circle

Art (L to R): Oil Landscape with Clouds: Vintage | Abstract Neon Painting by Kate Smithson| Tree Collage: Vintage | Polaroid Collage by Jen Gotch| Flower Photograph by Jen Gotch| Blue Circle Sun Print: DIY | Pink Abstract Drip Painting Jamie Derringer| Beach Photograph by Max Wanger| Huge abstract Green and Blue Painting: Vintage | Abstract Shapes Sketch by Ken Horne| Pen Ink Drawing: Vintage | Pink and Purple Abstract by Kate Smithson| Man Portrait: Vintage | Blue and Purple Abstract  by Kate Smithson

OK, so the first step is to anchor the collection with a larger piece. Like so:

Emily Henderson Gallery Wall Instructions1

If you have one million smaller pieces it will look bitsy and messy. You need at least 1 piece that feels commanding to start the collection.

Emily Henderson Gallery Wall Instructions2

Vary the sizes and orientation of the art – You need both horizontal, vertical and if you can, square, to make it feel balanced. I bought that skinny tree collage 2 years ago at an antique store for $125  after eyeing it for 2 years. It was kinda expensive which is why it took me 2 years to commit. But I think it does something interesting to the collection – it throws it off in a good way. So if you see pieces that you like that are oddly shaped or sized, don’t skip those. That is a very good thing.

And while you want a big pieces to anchor, smaller pieces are really nice to fill in and keep your eye bouncing around. So big, small, vertical and horizontal.

Next – keep your rivers kinda even (they definitely don’t have to be exactly the same) – just make sure they aren’t too close (looking crammed) or floating too far away from each other (looking accidental).

Emily Henderson Gallery Wall Instructions4

What about frames, you ask?

Emily Henderson Gallery Wall Instructions4_

If your art is INCREDIBLE then don’t worry about your frames – just collect and hoard and it will most likely look rad because ‘pretty always looks good next to pretty’. Frame for the piece not the space, as they say.

BUT, one way to help make a collection look cohesive and still high-end is to curate the frames and keep them in your color palette. Here we used white and light wood tones. Had there been a black frame in here it would have been jarring. Of course if you had many black frames in here, and tied it in with the pillows and perhaps a rug, then that would look great and intentional. But I promise that a more refined curation of frames will elevate the entire collection. We used all Target frames except for the vintage pieces or the pieces that were already custom framed. I love the white or light wood ones from the Room Essentials line; they are super simple and their mats are surprisingly high-end looking.

Frames: Wood Frame with White | 2 Opening Frame (similar, that one was custom framed when we bought it) | White Gallery Frame Large | White Gallery Frame Small: Target | All Other Frames: Vintage or custom framed.

Other tips that are fairly crucial –

Make sure to have a consistent color palette BUT don’t get OCD about it – give yourself some room to bring in small hits of other colors so you don’t look like a crazy uptight person.  We started with blues, pinks and whites but there are a lot of oranges, greens, purples, etc – it’s really just a smattering of colors but they all feel light and happy.

The more different mediums of art, the better. I this one we have abstract paintings, an oil painting, original photography, prints (the Ken Horne piece is a collage but we just have a print of it), abstract drawing, pen drawings, Polaroids and collages. Clearly you don’t need ALL of those, but a collection of just prints might look a little junior, and to help elevate it to looking more grown up grab yourself a painting or two from the flea market.

Pepper around the heavier pieces evenly on the wall – in other words don’t hang all the visually heavy (dark) pieces together.


I mean, I could watch that GIF all day. So fun.

Lastly lets talk about how to actually hang it up there. You either need a lot of patience or a lot of guts. If you are ‘anti-random accidental holes in your wall’ then you should go to the trouble of making templates of the frames and taping them up to make sure you like the composition. This takes patience and time but delivers a solid no-fail result. A lot of those frames actually have a template inside them (on the white backing paper) that tell you where the nail hole is which is very handy.

I don’t have the patience for templates. If I think its going to be a complicated job then I will lay it out on the floor in front of the wall with a rough idea of where its going to go, but most of the time I simple just go for it and if I have to patch a hole, then I patch the hole (lets face it I RARELY care enough to patch a hole). Most of the smaller pieces just need a tiny nail so the hole is really small and frankly usually get covered up by the art anyway.  The larger pieces might have a bigger hole or two holes but if you start with them and if you are intentional about where they go, you won’t need to move them.

gallery wall

And there I am, looking very satisfied with my art wall (and kinda snarky!) in the magazine.

Couch: Amsterdam Modern (vintage) | Blue Throw: Vintage | Side Table: Vintage | Ceramic Table Lamp | Brass Cup: Vintage | Pink Box

*Family circle photography by Daniel Hennessy. Hair and makeup by Danielle Walch, with extra styling help from Scott Horne and Brady.

In case you aren’t satsfied by ‘Gallery Wall Porn’ yet, here are a few others that I’ve done that have a bit of a different look, but you’ll notice the same tips still apply:


Cup of Jo home makeover Shot By Ryan Liebe.  The art helps take the focus away from the TV.


The Curbly family dining room makeover. Shot by Melissa Oholendt. A more modern family photo ‘grid’ where the entire collection fills a the shape of a square instead of an organic shape.

gallery wall

Oh Joy studio art wall (click for link/resources). Shot by Zeke Ruelas.  A wild smattering of fun art – floor to ceiling, wall to wall.


And this one was in Orlando’s house (he designed it, I just helped style it and featured it on my blog).  Shot by Zeke Ruelas. This one is a more masculine art wall, again from sofa to ceiling and wall to wall. Watch this video we did about it.

There you have it. Keys to a good gallery wall. Any questions, folks?