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?

DIY Tomato Cage Holiday Card Holder in Redbook

Alrighty folks, so there are DIY’s like the dresser we repurposed in last month’s Redbook (complicated), and then there are “you don’t have to know the difference between a flathead and a phillips” DIY’s, like this one. You know how much I love a really simple project that is not only cheap but high impact. So with that said and drumroll please… I present to you ladies and gentlemen – the Holiday Card Tomato Cage Display. Get to it.

I love holiday cards (I’ve GOT to get on them!!) for the same reason we all love facebook – the ‘Ooh, I wonder what they are up to?’ syndrome, and we are just getting of the age where people actually send them to us. So this is a simple, fun, and totally useful project that you can make with your family. All you need is a few simple tools, some trim, and all of those cute christmas cards that you are already starting to receive in the mail. Is it just me or are they coming earlier and earlier this year? When do you all have the time????


So, here is how its done:

Redbook Emily Henderson DIY Holiday Card Holder Tomato Cage 2

Items Needed:

Tomato Cage – (we picked ours up from Lowes, but they can be sourced in many different sizes both online and at your local hardware store)

Spray Paint – (choose whatever color you want to go with your home decor – we used white)

Clothes Pins – (you can find mini ones at Michael’s, Target or JoAnn’s Fabrics – in lots of different colors, too)

Pom Pom – (we made ours use some yarn and one of the many tutorials that you can find online or you can purchase one here)

Ball Trim Fringe – (this could be substituted out for rope, twine, ribbon, fringe or any other decorative element that you want to add to your tree, we ended up using about 2 yards for our tree)

Hot Glue Gun


Redbook Emily Henderson DIY Holiday Card Holder Tomato Cage 4

1. Spray Paint: we spray painted our tomato cage white so that it would go with my holiday theme this year, but you can paint yours any color that you want so that it goes with your other decorations.

2. Wrap and Glue Trim: using a hot glue gun you will attach the ball fringe to the supports of the tomato cage. When you get back around to the beginning of where you started you can trim the excess with some good scissors, glue it down and move onto the next part of the tree.

Redbook Emily Henderson DIY Holiday Card Holder Tomato Cage 5

3. Attach Pom: We used one of the many online tutorials to make our the pom-pom that decorated the top of our tree. You could also use a bow, a tree topper, or anything else to hold the three open wires of the tree together.

4. Decorate with your Cards: now its time to actually have fun (as if you havent been having a ball already) and decorate out your new holiday card holder with all of your holiday cards. You could also pin-up photos, ornaments, or anything else to get this tree looking festive.  Redbook Emily Henderson DIY Holiday Card Holder Tomato Cage

Resources: White and Gold Pillar Candle Holder: Target | White and Gold Tree: Target | White Vase: Target | Wood and Brass Console: Vintage | Cards on Tree: Green White and Brown: Tiny Prints (no longer available) | Blue Stripe | Black and White Joy | Black and White Noel | New Years: | all others are custom

And just so you can see how much we obsess over every little detail in the pic we created a fun little GIF so that you can see our process.


One of our favorite things is when the issue finally comes out and we get to see all the photoshop changes that the editors decided to make after we sent them our final images. Here you can see some of those changes. I mean who knew that when you flip through the pages of a magazine even professionally styled and photographed images are then altered even further to fit the page, layout, and magazine better.

Redbook_Emily Henderson tomato cage side by side

This is what we noticed:

Pom Pom changed from gold to pink, ball trim changed from silvery lavender to pink, extra holiday cards added and saturated, wall color changed to blue, entire card holder made skinner! What did you catch that we might have missed?


Thanks to David Tsay for the beautiful after photography, and don’t forget to check out all of our other DIY projects below:

Side Table Ikea HackDIY Towel Ladder Embossed Velvet Heart PillowOffice Wall PocketsDIY Tree Slab Table, DIY Basket Pendant, Table Runner


Custom neon sign; Girls, Girls, Girls

We all know neon signs are trending right now – the 80’s are back, neon colors are still hot (in moderation), and neon signs make every room feel like a party. Since this project is actually called ‘The Party House’ it was more than obvious that I wouldn’t have done my job without a custom neon sign.

Two years ago I wanted to do one in my house – a big white cloud to go over my then unborn baby’s crib. Such a hilarious idea and only a fantasy that a mom without children would have because clearly no baby would sleep with it on and the thing about neon signs is that they are actually not so pretty when they are turned off. The magic happens when they are on.


Last year I designed one for the Moby Airbnb pop-up house (up there on the left) so it gave us a little bit of experience on how to do that. Moby gave me that drawing and I gave it to Cosmo’s sign company. It’s actually way more simple than I thought it would be. You give them a drawing with dimensions and color and they give you a price with a mockup of how it will look, etc. The turn around for that one was a week, but we live in LA where turn around time is fast because of the entertainment industry (aka, set designers and production designers rarely design months out so companies are used to it).

For the party house Jen (the founder/creative director) wanted one that felt simple and modern but, you know, with a bit of wink to it. She watched the movie, “Neighbors” and saw the neon sign that Zac Efron had in the house, which was just ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ and she thought it was perfect. Totally classic and iconic (old-school seedy strip clubs) but with a new modern twist in this new ultra-feminine women’s accessory design house full of a bunch of hot girly girls. It’s all about the double entendre – she also liked ‘Get Out’ which is both bad ass and kinda hilarious in a valley girl kinda way, too, but ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ won out.

girls girls girls

At first we wanted it to be big because we thought it would go in the hallway, so we sent Los Angeles Sign Co our reference image with the dimensions that each letter is 8″ and the overall is 32″ x 34″. Below is our back and forth with the mockups. The first one they sent back was way too chunky and clunky. We decided to go smaller and thinner.

girls girls girls girls girls girls girls girls girls girls girls girls

The last one is the one that we finally settled on. We wanted the G to be more round, like the reference photo on the right so we had to have a custom font (no font to match, they just matched the reference photo) and then that says ‘no acrylic backing’ but we did have it mounted on acrylic after all. The final price was $627, and it would have been $750 for hard wire, but didn’t want to pay an electrician to put in a J box.

We put it in the bar area and it’s just totally magical. We need to still figure out what to do with the cord  – we might wrap it, hide it in a conduit cover, paint it or change it out for a gold cord (which sounds more simple than it is). But either way it’s VERY exciting.




It makes the entire room hot pink, which is undeniably a fantastic thing. Ginny and Brady installed it and sent me these photos afterwards.


Basically you can make any design into a neon sign. It could be a drawing, graphic or words and the price depends on the size. They can also mount it on wood like we did for Moby’s or acrylic like we did for It can be hard-wired or with a chord like ours. And they can do any neon color. Clearly lots of options. We used Los Angeles Sign Co, but most cities have a few different places that make signage for stores/restaurants, etc. Don’t be intimidated. It’s not like they teach you how custom neon signs work in design school – you just call and ask exactly how it works and they’ll walk you through it. Just make sure you ask about every option. This place didn’t have cord options or chain options, but I’m sure if I had brought in a gold cord and gold chain they might have done that for a fee – meanwhile we’ll just address it on our end now. If you don’t want to see the black part in between the letters then you need to mount it like we did for Moby – on a solid surface where that part is hidden behind the wood and all you see is the design. We have a lot of black in the house so it strangely doesn’t bother us at all. Probably because we are too distracted to how wonderful it is.

We are waiting to show you the real ‘afters’ til its shot for a magazine, (pitching out this week!) so stay tuned there.  Happy Monday and Veterans day, y’all.

Click here to read about the beginning of the party house design and here for a sneak peek into the final project.

Any other questions? Do you also have neon sign fantasies?

*Last photo by Kelsey Tucker for EHD.

DIY Dresser Kitchen Island Cart in Redbook

Some DIYs are crazy easy (like thess: crate shelf, slab table, table runner and ladder towel holder), and some are a little more complicated. This one is one is more on the latter side, but all the individual ideas are simple. Check it out:

Redbook DIY Dresser Kitchen Island


I’m actually only into Ikea hacks if they are really simple, cheap and fast because it doesn’t make sense to me to put hours (or days) of work into a piece of furniture that may not last too long. So when we started this project we thought that it was super simple and cheap, but full disclosure, it was kinda a lot of work and took more time, money (and troubleshooting) than we thought. I actually LOVE every idea here and I really like how it turned out but if I were to do it again I would use a vintage dresser, something more unique, or something that I already had because there are a lot of kitchen carts out there that cost less than this one ended up being. At the same time sometimes these DIY’s are more about the ideas that you get from them and less about actually following this exact recipe with these exact ingredients. I just don’t want you guys to think that ‘this is a fast, cheap dresser turned kitchen cart’ because it kinda wasn’t. But had it been an awesome vintage dresser that wasn’t being used, that was higher quality, I would totally do this. At the same time for readers sake (of the magazine as well as the blog) we wanted everything to be easily sourced and to choose something really simple to start with, so this Ikea dresser worked well for this purpose.

Here is what you will need:

2_DIY Kitchen Island Dresser Ikea Hack_Ingredients

-Organization Accessories: Towel Bar, Paper Towel Holder, Spice Racks (we ended up painting all of ours to look like brass with some gold spray paint). But just buy the simplest ones.

-Leather Belts: We used some large mens leather belts which can be purchased from your local goodwill or anywhere that sells cheap leather belts. I think we bought from H and M, go thrifting, folks.

-Brass Nuts and Bolts: You will use these to fasten the leather handles to the dressers

-Brass Casters – We bought like 10 options and of course went with these which were the most expensive castors at 11 a piece (we got them from Koontz Hardware in LA).

-Leather Hole Punch

-Drill and Drill Bit

-Screwdriver and Screws: to attach the accessories to the side of the unit


1. Prep a Dresser:

First of all you can either start with the Koppang 3 drawer dresser that we did from Ikea for $99.00 or source your own vintage dresser or reuse an old piece that you have. It is totally up to how large you want it to be, where you want to use it, and the style of dresser that you want to use. It’s just important that it is roughly waist-high so that you can use it as a work top if you want.

1_DIY Kitchen Island Dresser Ikea Hack_Dresser


2. Replace the Handles:

We reused the pre drilled holes that were already in the dresser and swapped the knobs out for a leather pull that we made out of common brass nuts and bolts that can be found at your hardware store and an old mens leather belt. Here is how we did it:

Measure the distance between the two holes and then add a few inches onto that length. That will determine how long your total handle is. Once you have that number you will then add a couple more inches to each end of that length so that you can fold the belt over itself to create the clean edge at each end of the handle. Then using a hole punch you will pierce the ends of those belts where the holes will go.

We then used brass nuts and bolts to fasten the leather belt to the drawer front. We threaded the bolt through the drawer first then through the belt and then used a ball nut rather than a traditional nut so that we would have a clean rounded edge on the outside of the drawer. Ball nuts are the tits.

3_DIY Kitchen Island Dresser Ikea Hack_Leather Handles

3. Add Casters

We wanted to add casters to this to make it completely mobile. Then you can pull it into your dining room when you need an extra bar, or you can roll it into your kitchen if you need some extra prep space.

We found our casters at our local hardware store for around $12.00 a piece, but the type that we used is made by Bassick and can be sourced online.

Do secure the caster to the dresser you will flip it over then drill a hole into each of the legs that is the same size as the T-nut (which is the hollow sleeve that the caster slides into) then you slide and snap each caster into place.

4_DIY Kitchen Dresser Island Ikea Hack_Brass Castors

4. Add Accessories

You can go as mild or as wild as you want with the accessories for the side of your unit. We decided to get a few accessories for each side that made the piece a lot more useful. We got a couple small spice racks, a towel bar, and a paper towel holder. We grabbed all of these at our local hardware store as well. We didn’t really pay attention to color as we ended up spray painting everything with gold spray paint so that it looked uniform (and I mean you already know my love of all things brass)

5_DIY Kitchen Island Dresser Ikea Hack Brass Accessories

DIY Kitchen Island Dresser Ikea Hack Accessories


We love this guy so much we actually use it in our studio kitchen and everyone comments on it.

And then you have to style it out for a shoot which takes 2 stylist, 2 assistants, a photographer and 2 photo assistant. Please enjoy my gif about it.

DIY Redbook Dresser Island GIF

Meanwhile this is what the room around it looked like:

We were shooting both the crate shelf and this one at the same time and it was crazy.

redbook DIY

Also yes, we laid down a roll of linoleum so it would look like a kitchen. Fakey-fakey.

So, here’s a finished shot.

DIY Kitchen Dresser Ikea Hack Emily Henderson

Photos by David Tsay, styling by Scott Horne. Thanks, Brady for putting this bad boy together.

Meanwhile check out all the other Redbook DIYS here: Side Table Ikea HackDIY Towel Ladder Embossed Velvet Heart PillowOffice Wall PocketsDIY Tree Slab Table, DIY Basket Pendant, Table Runner.