A Modern Glam Nursery Makeover

2012 was a big year. Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattison broke up, Ghangam style took over the world, we started saying ‘YOLO’, and I designed my best friend’s nursery. It was very busy, indeed.

Much like a lot of people Corbett (my best friend in LA) has great taste and she knew what she wanted but was having a pretty hard time pulling it together. I came in to rescue probably because I like nothing more than shopping with her and forcing her to spend money, so it became our project. Plus I’m really good at pulling triggers, especially really beautiful, really expensive triggers. You got a trigger? I’ll pull it.

Here is how her nursery looked before (on a messy day).

Modern Glam Nursery 1

It was just the guest room and typically it was pulled together nicely, but those pics were the only ones we could find that showed how it was before (this was before I obsessively took photos of every moment of the design process and install). Her husband has a serious DVD and Blu Ray collection addiction so it was just piled up on the side of the wall which made Corbett super happy. They already had the roman shades and a rug left over from the living room, but otherwise we were starting with a blank slate.

Click through for the full nursery tour with resources and a GIF!! With babies! A baby gif!!! The internet EXPLODES!!!!


The Ban.do Studio House; the design process

The ban.do project, is alive and well. As a recap its a home-grown design house that my friend, Jen Gotch, founded 6 years ago. And its booming, y’all. We are redesigning their new space in LA and its been very fun. Read on:

When I first met Jen, she was all ‘I don’t want to prop-style anymore and instead i’m going to design really pretty things for your hair’. I thought that was an interesting choice but somehow I trusted her. Because she is the kinda person that you trust. Then she blew up. Fast. And after a few years, their design studio and headquarters (with lots of employees) looked like this:


When I first visited 4 years ago, it was clean and ‘party ready’.But by the way, its always ‘PARTY READY’. It could be transplanted into the middle of a garage sale in Delaware on the Sunday after New Years and you’d still feel compelled to have your second mimosa and your toe would inevitably tap to the ‘Its All About The Bass’ that would be playing. Ban.do just makes you want to party.

But on a day to day basis it was WAY too small to fit this booming company.


The final big kitchen makeover post

For those that read the blog often (THANK YOU VERY, VERY MUCH) you have kinda seen the ‘before‘, ‘process’ and some of the ‘afters‘ of the kitchen in various posts. But since its been 9 months since we started the process I wanted to do one big epic ‘THE KITCHEN MAKEOVER’ post so it’s all in one place. I find that when I’m reading makeover blogs I like to be reminded of the before and other posts often so I don’t have to click all over the internet to get the full story. So let’s get into it (briefly, don’t worry):

Here is what our kitchen looked like after we moved in.

Yes we had a toaster over that we baked almost all of our food in because the oven didn’t work. Also, does anyone need a toaster oven?



The formica countertops were bad (although EXTREMELY durable) that flooring had already been replaced (I actually can’t remember what was in there – linoleum or bad wood flooring maybe? The cabinets were simple and nice – just needed refinishing and new hardware (which sounds easy and of course wasn’t … keep reading).  Plus all new appliances, faucet and sink. No knocking out walls or any major reconfiguration. Easy peasy, right?


We started with the demo. We had dudes to do it, don’t get me wrong, but Brian and I kinda got our hands dirty on this one because we thought it would be fun. The blue taped up mountainscape is a failed backsplash design you can see here so just ignore that.


Also demo-ing is pretty satisfying. and strangely easy – well if you are as strong as us – VERY. Of course the removal of it is annoying (which is why demo-ing can be kinda expensive, hauling and dumping ain’t cheap, folks). Next up was installing the new countertops.

kitchen_new counters

In case you haven’t done this before here is how it goes: A granite/marble dude comes in and measures, then gives you a quote (I believe mine were around 3k for the materials and installation. OUCH) and they make a template out of paper. Then they cut, glue (the sides to the top) and polish them at the shop and then bring them in three pieces to install and cut holes for the sink and stove. Look how instantly different the kitchen looks.


My affordable white kitchen appliances

You all know I love almost anything vintage. My rules are to skip anything used or vintage that goes in your mouth or touches your private parts. Seems pretty reasonable, right? But then again I love and own mid-century flatware and glassware and I’ve been known to buy pin-up style vintage one piece bathing suits (much to Brian’s sadness), but generally its a good guide.

Oh but, wait, there is another category I stay away from – vintage tech. Any vintage machines, tech and certainly appliances.

As you can see the appliances in our kitchen were original to the house (yeah!! right?), so they were ‘vintage’, but totally busted. And I mean that in the ‘that chick is BUSTED!’ kinda way, not just broken.


The cooktop only had 1 burner that worked and it probably leaked gas constantly regardless. The oven literally shocked you if you touched it, so it was totally unusable since the day we moved in (yes we went 6 months without an oven). And the dishwasher and refrigerator were 1980’s or 1990’s upgrades that functioned but they were ugly and gross. Wait, now that I’m remembering the fridge came from our old rental house, I think we owned it, lucky us.


This is what it looked like when we moved in, as you probably know. The plan with the kitchen was to keep basically the same layout and just paint the cabinets and upgrade everything, which is what we did. But that meant that we had to work with the dimensions that were already there to avoid any demo and rebuilding of the cabinetry. Sometimes that isn’t a big deal but sometimes the little easy things end up being big things and weird nit-picky headaches and I just wasn’t interested in that. I figured I’d try to find appliances that fit the specs that we had, and then if we couldn’t then I would consider some sort of boring task-y reconfiguration. Yes, this is the stylist in me, not the designer. I’m sure this kitchen could be demo’d out and rebuilt to be more functional but I wasn’t interested in spending the dough. I wanted to upgrade, not invest.


Luckily most of the appliances were standard sizes. Well, almost – the oven hole was VERY narrow and the fridge was shallow and on the narrow-er side, too. The dishwasher, cooktop and hood were all standard so those were pretty easy.


Shopping for appliances can be intimidating – you must have priorities because you aren’t going to get fast, cheap, good quality, the right size and really pretty. You just aren’t. So my priorities were pretty (white) and inexpensive while still being durable and high quality enough that it would be good for resale and of course the right size so we could just pop them in.

There are some appliances out there that have crazy tech, wifi controlled, triple burning flux capacitor time travel abilities. If I were some sort of super wealthy crazy master chef I would want that, but I’m not so I decided to put my splurge money into the bookcase and the string art piece and get affordable white appliances.

As we started shopping we realized that all the appliances that we were going to buy were by Maytag. I liked some at Ikea but they didn’t have the exact sizes that we needed and Whirpool had some good options, too, but I kept coming back to Maytag. So, like any good/resourceful blogger, I called up their PR team to see if we could get a press discount since it would surely be on the blog and in Domino. They offered to gift them to me (I guess it’s easier logistically for them to do that rather than offer a discount). Rejecting their offer and saying ‘No thanks, I prefer to pay’ seemed insane, especially since we were purging money on the house. This was not a case of ‘well, guys, we have to choose Maytag because they are the only company that offered’ – I chose all the pieces from them before I emailed them. So yes, I received our appliances for free and I realize I’m a very lucky person. Every job has its perks and this is a big perk that I’m very grateful for and I try to be really honest about. Don’t hate me, pleeeeeeeeese.

So this is what we chose and why;


Emily House_Kitchen Appliances Options_her picks

1. Range Hood: $139 | 2. Cooktop (this product is discontinued but you can get a similar here) | 3. Microwave $249 | 4. Dishwasher $599 | 5. Wall Oven: $1,349 | 6. Refrigerator: $1,599

Click through to see them installed in the kitchen.


The Full Living Room Tour

Our living room has been made over, all ‘Hollywood Style’. Well, less like Renee Zellwegger, more like Kim Kardashian –  total improvement in every way, but still recognizable. We didn’t reconfigure the house, no major walls were knocked out, but everything got a ‘face lift’. Lets take a little trip down memory lane before we jump into the ‘after’ shots of our living room, shall we?

When we bought the house (one year ago) it looked like this:

emily henderson house

Lots changed immediately before we moved in: the carpet was ripped up, the false low ceiling was demo’d out,  the rounded stairs were demo’d and the tint on the windows was removed.

emily henderson house

Just lifting up the ceiling made it look and feel soo much better. The walls were skim coated (they had an insane texture) and painted white, the ceiling was painted white, the iron-work was painted white, the new stairs were built, the fireplace bench was painted white. My 8 moth belly was painted white. We painted a lot of things white, apparently. And its wonderful.

December 2nd of last year (2014) we moved in and it was magical. As you can see (below) I was 38 weeks pregnant and it really just represented such a new fresh life for us. I didn’t care that the kitchen, bathrooms and exterior were in their 1960’s state – that living room with that light and the fresh new walls and floors made everything feel so fresh and full of possibility.

emily henderson house

Even looking these photos makes me tear up. So much has happened in a year, and I’m not just talking about the living room. I remember crawling into bed that night with such an intense excitement – the fact that we were 34 and finally buying our first house, that we were about to have our first baby, that I had purged and sold everything I didn’t want or need so I was stylistically starting fresh. I don’t want to go back because it means that I wouldn’t have that baby, but I’m so nostalgic for when we first moved in. So much possibility, so many projects and it was before I really knew how much it was going to cost or the fact that we had mold, virtually all the sliding doors need to be replaced, that we need to replace the central air, fix the fireplace, and all the other boring/stressful stuff of home ownership. We are making dents in all of them, but the not knowing about them beforehand was just wonderful.

We slowly made progress – I bought a temporary indoor/outdoor rug, we arranged all the furniture, (well, I arranged and re-arranged and re-arranged every day), and while I couldn’t commit to hanging art, I loved just having it all lean for a while. I kinda love that shot on the lower left (above) and we should reshoot  that angle now – it’s just so nice to see the whole room. Meanwhile yes, I miss my sofa. An avid reader purchased it and I needed the dough because I was spending an insane amount before we shot it, and I had already bought a new sofa, so turning down the offer of $3k was too hard. I know she reads this, so dear sofa purchaser, you are so lucky. And yes, I kinda regret selling it now.

Four months ago we shot the house for Domino Magazine (as surely you must know by now). One of my best friends, Scott, teased me for months about how it was if  ‘The Domino Shoot‘ was a major milestone in my life – like birth, high school graduation, college graduation, marriage, birth of first child, The Domino shoot, retirement, death, etc….  I talked about it SOOOO much. It was this looming deadline and it forced me to do some things I wouldn’t have otherwise (in a good way) and to do somethings fast that might have needed more thinking, too.

So here’s how the living room looked, four months ago, featured in the September issue of Domino:


Here’s the deal – a house only gets one feature in a print magazine. And especially for me, who has been documenting/hyping it up on the blog for months I knew that I couldn’t just sit back and have it be mediocre or even just pretty. So we worked hard, we spent money, we splurged, we BOUGHT A 14′ TREE, and we were still painting walls and hanging art the night before.

For this spread we were ‘airing on the side of elegance’ so it was a little more pulled back than I usually am. And that’s cool. In this photo you don’t really understand the impact of that Nek Buddha tree (one of the splurges) and you don’t see the view, but you get the idea – a mid-century Scandinavian inspired space that feels happy and yet quiet – or at least that’s how I see it.

When we shot this Charlie wasn’t crawling yet, so it didn’t need to be quite so family friendly, but as he has become more mobile I realized that I needed to shift some furniture. The coffee table was fine (and don’t worry, I’ve kept it) but Charlie kept almost crashing into the corner which was ruining my morning quiet coffee/play time. So we stored that and instead I stole this large pouf from Joy’s house.

So here is where we are now, as of 3 weeks ago:

Emily Henderson Living Room Blue Pink Mid Century Modern Tree

And I think it looks sooooo much more like us and more inviting. Of course now I look at this photo and I’m like WHY THE HECK DID WE NOT JUST PULL BACK THE SOFA 7 INCHES!!!!  It looks crowded in the room. But at least you can see the leather strapping on the back of the sofa which is ridiculous. Yes, those are leather arms, too. Check out this post for the full sofa post.

How do we actually use the room? Well certainly not with a tray with flowers on that pouf. I didn’t go out of my way to actually style these photos – instead I cleaned the house and arranged things as if my friends we coming over and then asked Tessa to photograph it like that. The toy trunk is in the corner, Charlie’s piano is out. It’s definitely more pulled together than it is on a daily basis but no, we don’t really have things on surfaces.

Emily Henderson LIving Room Playing Charlie

This is where we hang out and play every morning. Charlie has a toy trunk near the window that has enough toys to keep him occupied for our play sessions. Sure, it’s not normally this clean (and normally there are a few plastic standing toys/walkers), but photographing the mess seemed a little too try-hard in a way.

I love the Wegner style saddle chairs in the Domino shots, and I’ve kept them, but I missed the comfort of these safari chairs. I thought that they would be too matchy with the strapping on the sofa, but they aren’t. And they are just so unbelievable comfortable and so kid-friendly. The second they came back the room became wildly more comfortable.

Emily Henderson Living Room Charlie Emily

I love the shot below so much because it gives you a sense of how the house works so much.


That is the entrance on the left and the stairs on the second level go up to the bedrooms. Also please  note our extremely child friendly stairs going down into the living room. The stairs used to be rounded and carpeted and they took up WAYYY too much real estate in the room. So we replaced them with modern stairs and it was fine before Charlie started crawling and now, clearly, it’s a problem. Just yesterday Brian called again about getting a quote to add a banister (which visually I don’t want to do, obviously). Meanwhile we are adding a baby gate at the bottom. Man baby proofing is a massive bummer.

Sofa: Vintage from Amsterdam Modern| Blue Blanket: Vintage | Floral Pillow: Vintage | Pink Pillow: Ikea | Blue Velvet Bench: Target | Teal Tray: Target| Side Table: Vintage | Tree: Nek Buddah from Tropics Inc. | Entry Chandelier: Park Studio Collective LA

Emily Henderson Mid Century Modern Leather Blue String Art

We moved the collection of pottery on the hearth for obvious reasons – old ‘wrecking ball Charlie Henderson’ would break them all, but also I wanted to add more pillows – again, I just wanted more warmth and more layers. Shocking, I know. That credenza above needs to be replaced because it is bowing REALLY bad (read this post about that).

Rug: Loloi Byron | Blue Velvet Bench: Target | White Pouf: Lulu and Georgia | Teal Tray: Target | Safari Chair: Vintage | String Art: Nike Schroeder | Dining Room Chairs: MidCentury LA | Dining Room Chandelier: Park Studio Collective LA

See, you can see it bowing here pretty bad.

Emily Henderson Mid Century Modern Nike Schroeder String Art Bench

Lets talk bench cushions. Scott had this old piece of vintage indigo that he had been hoarding and I had a much large piece of vintage indigo that I got in Laos years ago that I had been hoarding, so while they didn’t match, I didn’t care because they are both beautiful. I took them to my upholsterer, gave him the dimensions and he sewed us up these little cushions. Definitely something you could do yourself, but we were out of time. I think they were $120 total to sew.

Emily Henderson Mid Century Modern Bench Windows

For this shot we moved the toy trunk because it, well, ruined the shot. Not because its ugly but because you couldn’t tell what it was, and it confused your eye and I hate it when my eye gets all confused. Most morning I’m sitting up there or leaning against the bench, playing with little guy. Adding more pillows actually made a HUGE difference in the space. It doesn’t feel busier, it just feels more inviting.

The blimp painting has a lot of sentimental feelings for me. So much so that I wrote a whole post about how/where/how much I purchased it for and the whole framing process. Check it out HERE. 

Emily Henderson Mid Century Modern Leather Bench Seat Pillows

Art: Vintage, framed by Curve Line Space | Cream Pillow: Target | Cream and Gold Metallic Chevron Pillow: Target |Pink Pillow: Vintage | Grey Pillow: West Elm| Floral Pillow: Vintage | Pink Pillow: Ikea | Blue Triangle Blanket: Happy Habitat | Brass Floor Lamp: Vintage

Emily Henderson Mid Century Modern Blue Relaxed Bench

Cream Pillow: Target | Floral Pillow: Vintage | Geometric Blue Pillow: Steven Allen for West Elm (no longer available) 

Emily Henderson Mid Century Modern Leather Blue

Art: Vintage, framed by Curve Line Space | Cream Pillow: Target | Cream and Gold Metallic Chevron Pillow: Target |Pink Pillow: Vintage | Grey Pillow: West Elm| Floral Pillow: Vintage | Pink Pillow: Ikea | Blue Triangle Blanket: Happy Habitat | Rug: Loloi Byron 

Emily Henderson Mid Century Modern Blue White


Emily Henderson Living Room Poof Couch Tree

Here’s what we do when we set up a shot – we find the angle we like then we make sure that every thing looks good – this takes sometimes an hour to tweak. Every time you tweak you take a new picture (because its hooked up to a laptop and you can see it better on the bigger screen). So we took some of the photos/progress and turned it into a gif for you:

Emily Living Room GIF

You might notice yes, some people i it, a bunch of stuff in the dining room, a black box (I think it’s the doorbell box) up on the wall on the second floor, and then yes, we brightened it in post. The magic of shooting and styling a space, right?

This one, below, was more about tweaking everything:

Emily Henderson GIF Living Room Sofa

We started with the blue pillows on the sofa and the empty tray on the coffee table and gradually tweaked and tweaked until the pink floral pillow was on the sofa and the pink flowers on the pouf.

This one shows you how we started, how we style it when guests are over, fully styled out and then how we have it every day (in other words with nothing on any surfaces):

Emily Henderson GIF Living Room

So that’s our living room all madeover. As of right now I want to change a few things (the white bowing piece needs to be replaced) and I’m still grappling with the fireplace surround (which is another post coming up), but I pretty much love being in it. Its feels good in there and while I’m sure I’ll change it, the morning play/coffee time with Charlie and the sunset occasional happy hour is pretty wonderful.

For related posts check out the story behind the string art piece, the blimp art piece, the sofa (and its white stain-resistant fabric), and the design of the bookcase. 

We put together a ‘get the look’ board, but a lot of the pieces are vintage so we did our best to find replicas:

get the look living room


1. Brass Chandelier: Park Studio Collective LA | 2. Blue Triangle Blanket: Happy Habitat| 3. Wood Hand Chair | 4. Blue Velvet Bench: Target  |  5. Woven Textile Art: Jane Denton | 6. Glass Agate Tray: Target | 7: Safari Chair: Anthropologie | 8. Wire Table: Target | 9.  Pink Pillow: Ikea | 10: Blue and Purple Wool Blanket | 11. Blue and Green Floral Pillow: Etsy | 12. Hand Sculpture | 13.  White Pouf: Lulu and Georgia | 14. Byron Rug: Loloi | 15. Gold Foil Pillow: Target  | 16. Copper Barware: Target

Photos (except the Domino magazine shoot which was by Brittany Ambridge) by Tessa Neustadt. Thank you Tessa!

Just joining and curious about the other rooms? Check out the family room, kitchen, nursery (final not posted yet), the built-in bookcase, our guest room, our master bedroom (new update coming soon), the deck, and the unfinished bathrooms.