1 Dresser styled 4 different Ways

Much like my love for Fresca, Vietnamese food, marathon-ing tv shows (strangely into The Arrow and The Affair right now) and thrifting, my love for mixing all styles together never wanes. Sure, there are times when one style get more attention, or a new style captures my eye, but ultimately as long as its good, I don’t care what style it is. Of course mixing them together does get tricky at times (which is one of the biggest chapters in my upcoming book), but it can be done.

Welcome to 1 dresser, styled four different ways:


Click through to break down these style and vote for your favorite!


Rustic California Home – Reading Nook

Have you ever dreamt of having a cozy little reading nook in the middle of your house? Have you ever dreamt of curling up in it and reading Sydney Shelton books back to back whilst pretending that your screaming children are tended to in the next room? Backtrack question: Have you ever even read a Sydney Shelton book? Fun fact about me: I have read EVERY SINGLE ONE that was written by the time I was 18. And Danielle Steele. And V.C. Andrews. In fact,  I know in my heart and brain that I will someday write a romance novel. It’s actually not a joke; I’ve talked about it for 15 years now. Ironically, I got my degree in English. As in literature. Kill me.

When I’m done with my novel, I will knock on this house’s door and invite myself to sit in this reading nook and read said novel. Where else should one read an epic love triangle/forbidden love story?

Until then, I’ll keep on designing and shooting makeovers. So lets get on with it:

Reading Nook Before

When we started this house it was under construction, which made my job easier (read the back story here). All the contractors were in place and the schedule was dictated. This room was particularily easy as far as construction – the built-ins were happening, then we’d paint and refinish the floor (which we did, throughout the house).

Reading Nook Before 1

We painted it my favorite blue – Hague Blue from Farrow and Ball. Those sconces were temporary. We had to have sconces in for inspections but our sconces hadn’t arrived yet so I picked up these piece of garbage sconces for like $12 from Home Depot. The electrician put white plates on the outlets, when they still need to be traded out for darker ones.

Then it was time to play with furniture.

Reading Nook Progress 1

I really like the theater seats that they bought in there because its an appropriate space for them – its a hallway, and these seats were more sculptural than functional. They just kinda fit. That little green dresser in there was so cute, for sure (and now lives in the dining room), but once they decided they wanted it to be a reading nook/library we changed it up and put that leather chair in there.

Emily Henderson_Hague Blue Reading Nook_Leather Chair_Gallery Wall_Bookshelves

Here she is now. They switched out the leather chairs. They sold me back my vintage 70’s leather one because they already had this bad boy that was originally downstairs and it looked pretty good up here. So to save some dough we switched it out. And no, I don’t make it a habit of ‘buying things back from clients’, but I actually LOVED that chair and knew I could sell it. I think I bought it originally for $350 from a vintage store, sold it to them for $800 (I sell things based on how much its worth not any formula from purchase price) and then I sold it for $1200 at the end (I think the OKL sale). Not a bad profit. Although I secretly still wish I had it.

Anyway, thats how it looks now, and its just this jewel of a room in the middle of the house. This room opens to the kitchen, master bedroom, nursery, dining room and the guest bathroom. So its the perfect pass through with that awesome navy blue. They have tones of this going throughout the house so its not jarring, its just kinda wonderful.

Emily Henderson_Hague Blue Reading Nook_Leather Chair_Gallery Wall_Bookshelves1

Emily Henderson_Hague Blue Reading Nook_Leather Chair_Gallery Wall_Bookshelves2

Emily Henderson_Hague Blue Reading Nook_Leather Chair_Gallery Wall_Bookshelves3

Emily Henderson_Hague Blue Reading Nook_Leather Chair_Gallery Wall_Bookshelves4

Yes, that is my side table up there that I’d had for years, but it just looked really good here so I sold it to them. I forget how much I charged them but probably around $200 because I’m a terrible business person and when I want a project to look good I somehow come down in price at the last minute.

Emily Henderson_Hague Blue Reading Nook_Leather Chair_Gallery Wall_Bookshelves5

I wish I could take credit for that family photo wall, but she actually did it without me. I told you she had good taste. We moved some around so it felt more balanced. She used a variety of frame finishes and colors, but all white, black or wood, so it looks cohesive and totally home-y, homey.

The shots above are from a couple weeks ago. We reshot it because Country Living only shot/published one photo, and that didn’t seem like a complete makeover for the blog (magazines tend to run few photos because of page space). But this is how they shot it (below), not too different but so fun to see:


You might be thinking that they de-saturated the colors in the rug (or that we saturated them) but i’m pretty sure they just used the rug from the living room. It’s hard to tell. I like the other rug more here because, as you know, I love color. Since they wanted to shoot from that angle they moved the side table which makes sense for the shot, but less sense for the space (because it ended up being basically in front of the chair).

Reading nook

Wall color – Farrow & Ball Hague Blue

For those of you who want to recreate this look, get to it:

Get the Look Reading Nook_Combined

Get the Look:

1. Wall Sconce | 2. Leather Club Chair  | 3. Side Table | 4. Black and White Art | 5. Rug | 6. Decorative Books | 7. Wood Object | 8. Woven Basket | 9. Blue Throw

Get the Look for Less:

1. Wall Sconce |2. Leather Club Chair | 3.  Side Table | 4. Black and White Art | 5. Rug | 6. Decorative Books | 7. Wood Object | 8. Woven Basket | 9. Blue Throw

We shot a video in there over a year ago (I think I was 3 months pregnant here) so you can see the space, although the propping is way different. xx

Reading Nook Before_after

All before photos by my terrible iphone, the Country Living photo by Max Kim Bee, and all my after photos by Tessa Neustadt.  Video by Sharkpig. 

Check out the Living Room, Guest Bedroom, Master Bedroom, Dining Nook, Kitchen, Nursery, and Master Bathroom (coming soon)!

Bookcase update

Remember that time I spent a lot of money and time designing and building the built-in bookcase? (See this post for that whole process.) Well, we’ve shot it now what feels like 19 times, although I think it’s just been four – Domino, the book, my living room tour, for the holidays, and again last week (for this post). I was never totally happy with it. Why? Because styling a huge open bookcase in the middle of your house is hard. You want it to be full of fun stuff, but not so busy that it just looks messy (because it makes the whole house feel messy if its messy).

But first, enter memory lane … Here is the wall where we decided to put the bookcase:


And here is a little video of the building of it:


I wish it were only that simple. So many wonky angles in the house that made their EXTREMELY precise measurements kinda a disaster.  So there was a lot of troubleshooting, but Gabriel, our dude is seriously meticulous and did an amazing job. Click through to see how its styled now.


Old world meets modern; The Master Bedroom

There are bedrooms and then there are MASTER bedrooms. This is one of those. Maybe its the size, the amount of windows/light or maybe its the beauty of each antique piece – I don’t know. Maybe its the fact that once it’s obsessively styled and beautifully shot it is forever clean and just so perfect in my mind. I’m sure they don’t style the bed each morning and they probably have clothes laying on the bench at times, etc, but in my mind this bedroom always just feels like a pretty boutique hotel room in the South of France. And I want to go to there.

Shana, my client, has great taste and already had some pretty amazing pieces to work with. We just helped with the execution and pulled it all together (check out their living room and guest room)

When we met this room it looked like this:

shauna feste 1

Could be worse, obviously, but it was just big, blue and intense like 1997 prom dress, with less cleavage. We didn’t have to do anything structural to it – it needed to be painted, the floors need to be refinished and that was pretty much it.

shauna fest bedroom

We painted the walls ‘Swiss Coffee’ (a pretty warm white, that goes beige if you aren’t careful), and we painted the window frames that dark gray called ‘Deep Space’ (by Benjamin Moore). You might be surprised that I did that because generally I’m more of a fan of white frames and often painting window frames just creates big squares in the room. but these frames and mullions were wood and metal, and there were other dark wrought iron accents in the house (namely the living room and the upcoming dining nook) that simply wanted to be dark gray. I actually love how it broke up the space, accentuated the architecture and added drama.

We started decorating, by bringing in the pieces that she already had and supplementing with some new pieces. She makes me look VERY good because in this room in particular she had a lot of these pieces already. The bed is from Restoration hardware, and it is big and soft and jut so incredibly inviting, and the rug is a huge sisal that honestly I don’t remember where we purchased (maybe she already had it?). But everything else here is vintage or antique. So we started playing and playing.

shauna fest bedroom

Ready for a really sunny, bright new master bedroom? I rarely gush about my own work, but we just shot this last friday and going back into that room gave me a such a rush of calmness and pride. It’s just so big, warm, high-end and yet totally comfortable and laid back. It’s not the current style in my house but man, there is a huge part of me that wants to buy an old Hollywood Spanish-style house and get my old world on. Next house. Next house.

Click through to see the after …


3 new (to me) hybrid Design/DIY blogs

I’ve been reading blogs FOREVER, like 10 years (yes, I love the irony in that) and there are times when I know i’m just checking them because I always have. But lately (as in the last year) I’ve found some new ones (new to me) that you all should know and they are doing a lot of things really, really right.

These blogs bridge the gap between DIY blogs (which can be smart and resourceful, with lots of information and process shots but often not the best styling or inspiring photographs) and Interiors blogs or web-sites (which can have pretty photographs but often not a lot of information or process). To find blogs that have great ideas, information and pretty styling and photography is super rare.

And from one blogger to another trust me that creating this content takes so much time, effort, money and brain cells. It’s a legit JOB, and these guys are killing it at their careers.

Rosa Beltran Design. She is an LA based designer (Silverlake in fact) that just does really beautiful attainable room makeovers. I found her during the ‘One Room Challenge’ thing that produced a lot of good work (and a lot of mediocre, as well, but that’s kinda the fun of it). This is what she did:


It was a modern Parisian theme, for her sister and the amount of DIY’s in here are actually hard to spot because they don’t look like they could possibly be DIY’d. Just so pretty taste and not all mid-century so it’s just so refreshing to see (especially in LA, and yes, I’m talking to myself right now). Nice job, Rosa. Please continue to kill it.

Next is Design Confidential. Rayan creates these crazy smart build plans for tons of pretty and simple furniture. She includes materials needed, costs, step by steps with tons of really intricate measurements that are VERY impressive. You would think that she had an architectural background but I’m pretty sure she is just really smart and good at things. These are some of my favorites:




But it’s not all renderings, nay. She does normal design/style posts with some secrets and lots of resources.

People make her projects and share them on her blog. I think that these two shots are of hers. If I were ever to be someone who builds furniture (which is exactly what I wanted to do 12 years ago) I would be so psyched that Rayan exists to do the heavy thinking.


All done with a real, engaging, down to earth voice.  Please check out Design Confidential.

Last up is Vintage Revival. Many of you probably know Mandi, but honestly I didn’t til last year so clearly not all of us are trolling new sites as often as we should be. Mandi does awesome makeovers, styled and shot beautifully. They are ambitious, smart and just so well done, with mistakes and all. Take The Nugget – a vintage airstream that was disgusting but now is this really amazing, beautiful little gem of a space. This is what she did to the kitchen area:


Ridiculous. And in that after photo you can barely even see the flooring which is one of the most spectacular things i’ve seen on a blog in a long time. I might steal that pattern for my bathroom surround. Check out Mandi’s blog, now.

There was a lot of hub bub 2 months ago about the death of the design blog (after YHL called it quits, sadly). The critics said that people (namely first generation bloggers who now have kids) were getting burned out, unable to keep up the projects and creating the content they did in their 20’s, and eventually closing their doors. Not only was there ‘blogger burnout’ conversation but many people claimed that people were leaving blogs and just trolling Pinterest. And some people have, and some blogs have suffered.

But Pinterest doesn’t show design process or personality, only blogs can do that. And these ladies are proving that as long as they remain a destination full of information, process, resources and personality with beautiful shots, they’ll grow and grow and become even more of a destination. But creating that content is insanely time-consuming and exhausting, so hopefully they’ll do what I wished YHL did, and hire help before said ‘burnout’ takes full force.

So my two questions are:

1. What are the other good design/decor/diy blogs that you guys can recommend? Especially the lesser known ones …

2. I realized that all three of these blogs use watermarks (logos in the corner of pictures). I’ve been on the fence for a while about that: it’s so great that the credit doesn’t get lost and where the idea originated is ALWAYS remembered (and therefore you get more traffic). But I also fear that it keeps larger websites from reposting photos (Lonny, Domaine, Domino, etc tend to stay away from Watermarked photos) and that people will pin them less, which is a huge source of traffic. But these watermarks don’t bug me at all and if a larger site wants to post your photos they should ask you for a high res photo and credit in the copy anyway, right? What are your thoughts on watermark? Does it make you pin it less? Or do you really care?

Check out Rosa Beltran Design, Design Confidential and Vintage Revival for good DIY and Design blogs.

Oh and be sure to check out Amber Interiors and Justina Blakeney who are less DIY (which is why they aren’t in the list above) but are  two really awesome inspiring interior design and styling blogs with great personality and photography.