Lo and Sons – Whats in my bag?

I have ‘same place disorder’. Its up there with ‘inability to stop watching Bravo syndrome’ and ‘Instagram thumb’. Its nothing to be worried about and yet it actually causes me a lot of stress.  It’s a condition where you are unable to put something back in the same place. I have to consciously stop my hand, daily, from putting my credit card in my back pocket instead of its designated slot in my wallet after a purchase. When it comes to organization I’ll tell you this much – its VERY hard to be me. I’m about as organized in my personal life as Charlie is tan – not very at all. And yet it actually drives me nuts and I get so frustrated with myself constantly and it becomes a huge source of stress in my life.

Whats in my bag?

It’s in all aspects of my home life – my closet, my bills, my files and yes, my bag. I received this OMG (Overnight Medium Bag) from Lo and Sons 6 months ago and have been using it a ton (especially when traveling) because it’s so lightweight and it has pretty supreme packing and organizational abilities. Its been helping me combat my ‘same place disorder’, and it’s getting better. When I have a bag with just one big pouch, it could take me 15 minutes to find my keys – 15 minutes where I’m cursing myself, desperate to be someone else for just a day to see how the other half-lives.

I thought I’d show you what  I put in my bag (and how) because we are all secret voyeurs and all I want is in your bag. Oh and just to be clear, this is me on a good day – showing you my balled up napkins, wads of business cards that i’ll lose and 9,000 bobbie pins just doesn’t seem necessary. You guys get it. And just posting photos seemed boring so here’s a fun little gif/movie that really shows it in action.

It’s a lot of stuff that can turn into a total snow show inside my one big pouch purse, but if I’m good about combatting my ‘same place disorder’ then it makes my life easier.

Whats in my Bag Lo and Sons Emily

Here are all the features that I love about it:

lo and sons favorite features

But here is the real clincher – It slides onto your roller suitcase (and yes, this is the black one, which Ginny has so I could show you both). Since I travel a lot and now have been traveling with a kid you have no idea how much easier this makes it to get around. My purse or small carry-on doesn’t flip over or fall or I don’t have to hold onto two handles. I simply slide it on, and then grin with total satisfaction as it stays upright on its own.

lo and sons_suitcase feature

See? Look how satisfied I look. VERY. Oh and that’s the entrance of my home, which I know y’all haven’t seen them much of. I’m not 100% done with it – I want to change the lucite table to be something more solid, but its the perfect size/scale right now so I’m just waiting til that perfect piece pops up.

lo and sons emily door

lo and sons bags by door

There you have it – the Lo and Sons bag, OG and OMG bags. Right now they are 20% off, y’all. They aren’t cheap, but they are crazy practical because they are so lightweight, have lined pockets (that are coated so yes, it can be a dipaer bag, too), a shoe insert (for your disgusting gym shoes or your back up flip flops, and the sliding on the roller bag thing is a winner.

Now who’s got tips for healing my instagram thumb?

Target Styling Chapter #4; 3 Easy Centerpiece Ideas

The fourth Target Video is up, folks, and its all about really easy centerpiece ideas, co-hosted by my side-braid that I’ve been trying to recreate for 6 weeks now (thanks to Danielle Walch). This video is meaty – with three different ideas, color palettes and styles but they are all super easy, I promise.

About centerpieces – we aren’t really talking about what you do for a dinner party, nay. You can always have flowers and candles for that but these ideas are more about composing simple, affordable things in ways that look fun, pulled together and inviting in between dinners. It doesn’t always have to be a bowl of fruit – or if it is maybe its a more interesting way to display said bowl of fruit.

gold and wood centerpiece

What did we do on this table? Well, just watch the video and then keep reading for some tips, photos and some more gratuitous shots of my side-braid.

We came up with three centerpiece ideas: 1. Earthy and Seasonal. 2. Neutrals and Organic 3. Whites with Greenery…. All using just Target product (or some pieces you might already have)  and some flowers/plants and fruit.


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 Ban.do 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 Ban.do 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 Ban.do. 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 ban.do 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.

Stain-resistant white upholstery fabric

Here was my challenge: I wanted a kid-friendly WHITE sofa. IMPOSSIBLE!!!!. I know. But that’s really what I wanted to make the living room feel as bright and big as possible. I just had to prove to myself, Brian and the rest of America that I could find a white fabric that could withstand some grubby little mitts all over them.

First, the sofa: I found this vintage sofa at Amsterdam Modern in LA and immediately fell in love with it. Hard. It retailed for $2500, which wasn’t cheap but it was exactly what I wanted and is around the price of most good quality home retail stores. Plus it was WAYYY more unique, obviously.

leather sofa in warehouse

The fabric it had on it was actually kinda awesome and I kept the slip covers just in case I wanted them later, but as you can imagine it just wasn’t going to work in this house, so it needed to change.

What happened to my old sofa you ask? Ugh. I had that vintage blue sofa for 5 years (below). Not that long in normal people time but it had been in like 4 magazines and all over the interwebs and I was just ready for a change so when I was offered $3k for it, I took the deal. It was probably worth more as we think its Adrian Persall, but the timing was right and I couldn’t say no to that check because I felt like I was just purging money, buying everything for the house. Plus it was going to be shot for Domino and I just wanted to have something that looked different.

Are there days when I regret not having it? Absolutely. I loved everything about it. It was extremely deep and comfortable and actually had a ton of sentimental value to me because it was one of my first big purchases ($700, I believe) after DesignStar. I kinda wish that I had just hoarded it but honestly that $3k was needed to help pay for the new sofa and the string art, etc. And at some point you have to let go of things.


photo by Zeke Ruelas

There she is. I just got so sad again. It also just photographed sooooo well. The only thing that gives me peace of mind is that I know that the new family LOVES it very much. I’m just glad it has a good home.

On to the new sofa!

leather sofa mid century_before


What I love about this new vintage sofa is practically everything, but especially the leather arms and the strapping on the back. Its low, simple and modern and pretty much goes with any style, but it definitely has a point of view. I bought it from Amsterdam Modern (and no, there are no others that I know of).

At this point in the living room design I knew that the rug was going to be that beautiful blue rug from Loloi so my options for the sofa fabric were as follows: white/cream, navy, gray or a pattern. I didn’t want a warm color because I wanted to contrast with the caramel leather. I was obviously very tempted by the idea of navy, but I was really trying to stick to my original mantra of ‘bright, airy, light’ so I decided against it. Don’t be shocked if someday I go back to having a navy sofa – I do kinda miss that big block of color in there. There really wasn’t any pattern that I could commit to because then it limits the patterns on the pillows, etc, and well, I just didn’t want a pattern. I thought about a simple pin-stripe, but didn’t find one fast enough so I gave up. Gray is always a good option but white is really what I wanted, I just needed to figure out how to make it kid friendly.

The three best options for stain resistant white fabric are leather (too expensive and could be kinda cheesy), ultrasuede (a good option but I kinda hate the butt marks) and outdoor fabric, in this case Sunbrella, which was a big contender for sure. There are some performance velvets out there that work, too, but we didn’t test them because I didn’t want a velvet on this sofa. And they are hard to find in yardage, although I think that West Elm sells some. So it was down to high quality linen (which I knew wouldn’t really work but I wanted to see how it withstood the stains), ultrasuede and outdoor fabric.

To make sure that I wasn’t making a massive mistake we decided to do a stain test with the three fabrics and many stain culprits.

Sunbrella Fabric Stain Test

We used some of the most commonly spilled items and those that are consistently difficult to remove from fabric: chocolate, baby food, red wine, mustard, tomato pasta sauce, permanent marker. Then we went to town on the fabric.

Sunbrella Fabric Stain Test_Pouring Wine


Sunbrella Fabric Stain Test_with food

There you have it – three fabrics with the same 6 stains on them. Can you even wait to see what happened? I was so excited.

Click through to see the winner.  (more…)

Nike Schroeder String Art Piece

We moved into this house 10 months ago, which was probably one of the happiest days of my life, truly. I hate moving out  – the packing, the cleaning out of the fridge (do we take this 2/3rds jar of Soy Vey?), the admitting you are taking all your really skinny clothes to yet another house where they’ll just sit in your drawers, etc.


But, I love moving in. Everything feels so fresh and your possibilities seem endless.  You think to yourself – this is the house that I’m not going to do bad things to. This is the house where I’m finally going to make really deliberate design decisions. Let go of the crazy, embrace the sophisticated. This is that house, right?

The house felt quiet and simple and I was DESPERATE to keep it like that. But I knew me and I was terrified of me. You see, I like stuff. Too much stuff. My worst enemy was/is myself and at all times I had to say ‘pull it back, use restraint, put that collection of miniature shoes down and walk away‘.

living room-movein

But lets talk walls and art today. The wall space in this house was endless – there was just so much of it. Having a lot of wall space is like having big boobs – everybody thinks its such an awesome thing, but it comes with its own sets of problems. I had 1 million pieces of small to medium pieces of art, that all of a sudden felt bitsy (Don’t worry, I’m making good use of them in other rooms). And sure, I could have done gallery walls, but it could have/would have looked so busy on such big walls and I was desperate for a quiet house.

One of the many huge walls in question was this one, which faces the door as you walk in.


I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: really good, original, large-scale art is VERY expensive as it should be (read my post about how I finally framed my blimp painting).  You can buy awesome prints for cheaper, you can do some really good DIY pieces, for sure. But if you want someone else’s talent, experience, expertise and hard work on your walls, you are going to pay for it. As you should, frankly. But making sure you are buying the best piece can be very intimidating.

And I needed pieces of art.

One of my biggest regrets in life is not going to art school, not because I think I could have been an artist, but because I’m desperate to have met hundreds of artist friends that would have constantly been giving me beautiful large-scale pieces of original art. It would have been worth the tuition alone, for sure.


The space above is what is in question today (pics are from 6 months ago).

We needed bookshelves in the house (because where else am I going to display my crazy hoarding collection of things that I couldn’t part with?) and we thought about the space to the right, but figured it would compete too much with the fireplace and that wall would be too heavy. But that landing (the left) there seemed like it could be the perfect focal point so we decided to build it there (read this post about the complete bookcase design and installation). That meant that the space to the right needed to have really just one big piece that was somewhat quiet or else there would crazy  in front of crazy which equals total insanity.

Meanwhile Danielle, The Jealous Curator, introduced me to a wonderful artist named Nike Schroeder. I had used her work at The Fig House and loved it so much. It’s so intricate and compelling but at the same time quiet because the string pieces are just a beautiful texture.


One of the hanging string pieces seemed perfect for the space. It was 3 dimensional and kinda like a sculpture which is was perfect since the blimp is a flat piece of art. It has so much movement and makes a statement, and yet (again) it’s just so quiet and elegant.  I called Nike up and said, listen, I probably can’t afford you but are you interested in doing a collaboration with me? And she said ‘Come on down to the studio and lets chat’. Luckily she was in LA.


So I did. And chatting meant basically choosing my threads which was so exciting and daunting. She had hundreds of them and they all seemed so beautiful. Do I choose something safe and timeless? Do I choose the color palette of the house or do something different so it doesn’t look too curated/designed? Do I go with beautiful timeless colors or one that will frankly get more attention right now? Or do i just pick all my favorite colors together and see what she does with them? Yes. That sounds the most interesting, so that’s what I did.


Prettty blues/teals with a hit of acid yellow, hot pink/coral, some lighter pastels, golds and even a black in there to give it a bit of dimension. It was stressful but what I finally chose (she helped me, for sure) we were both so excited about. I felt 80% confident. Over the next couple weeks I would look at this picture and ask myself ‘Did you chose the right colors?’ and then reassure myself that I did. I let her completely choose the order of the colors. She’s the artist, I was just the buyer who commissioned it.

But there were times when I thought, maybe I should have done something more sophisticated like this (which was a backup):


I still love that SOOOOO much, but it doesn’t quite hit me in the ‘excitement gut’ like the other color palette. And I fear that it would have been so muted that it would have been hard to really mix with my other more saturated colors in the room. But its tempting, right?

Then came the day that it was delivered (3 days before the Domino shoot) and all my fears were dispelled. It was absolute perfection:

nike install

I was SOOOOOO excited. It made the room come alive, instantly. Also please note that I’m wearing a button up blouse on top and work out pants/shoes on bottom. That’s how we roll.

Oh and we measured the perfect size of piece for that wall, accounting for a credenza underneath, and therefore it was perfectly proportioned.


The house was still obviously a disaster at that point, but that piece? It was down right amazing. Its exciting and quiet, a statement without being busy, and it moves slightly while still having the structure of a rectangular shape.

We shot it for Domino, that you can see HERE, but since we reshot the house a couple of weeks ago (by Tessa Neustadt) with the updated furniture you get some new photos, here:

Emily Henderson Mid Century Modern Leather Blue String Art

There are other things to talk about (is that white piece of furniture bowing, you ask? Where did you get that massive white pouf) but I’ll get into that next week. This post is all about that piece of art.

Lets talk about splurging on things – I get this question all the time – Where do you splurge and where do you save? I say this: splurge on original, one of a kind, conversation pieces – whether it’s a sofa or a piece of art. Splurge on pieces that will make your house totally unique. You can piece everything else together from thrift stores, flea markets and retail chains, but you need a few statement pieces to make your space look like you.

Emily Henderson Mid Century Modern Nike Schroeder String Art Bench

There are a lot of people out there that poo poo expensive art (I couldn’t think of a better verb, sorry), but what they need to consider isn’t just the material or the labor costs (I could have done that, or, But that’s just string!). It’s the creative time it takes to conceptualize, prototype and practice that specific piece, let alone the years they spent training, learning and probably earning nothing from it. Its uncountable and unquantifiable. There are some pieces in the world that you wonder if it was just thrown together, sure, but this piece is sewn, thread by thread. And the best part is that you know intellectually the labor that went into it, but it’s so graceful that it just feels effortless.

Anyway. I reached out to Nike to ask if she was comfortable having me tell you how much it retails for and how much I purchased it for (because yes, she gave me a big press discount) but we things its best that you just contact her or her gallery (Walter Maciel Gallery). The retail price range for these (they are all custom) is $2500 – $8,000, depending on the size. Its a pretty penny, but its a pretty (nay beautiful) piece of art that I’ll treasure forever.

Domino Magazine - Emily Henderson House Tour

Some people like to splurge on expensive cars, fancy appliances or high-end sheets. Not me. I’ll take pretty, original art any day.

*After photos by Tessa Neustadt, except for this last one by Brittany Ambridge