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.

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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 room and master bedroom, too!

Pop of Gold! A girl’s room makeover

Welcome to a special guest post by my dear friend Orlando Soria, the creative director of the L.A. Homepolish team and the founder of Hommemaker blog. We don’t work together every day anymore but our addiction to each other hasn’t waned. So, every now and again we simply must collaborate even if its just a guest post by him here on the blog. Take it away, Landy.

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Dear Emily,

One of my favorite projects to date has been the glamortransformation of my La Habra clients’ gorgeous Spanish revival home. I love these clients and was sad when I finished designing their home. (Sidenote: These clients wish to remain nameless because they are way too humble to brag about their home online. I’m going to refer to their daughter as Brenda Walsh, for simplicity’s sake and because I love the 90z TV program ‘90210’). Luckily, in addition to being totally sweet, they’re also insane and have been continually renovating their home since I met them, so there’s always a new space to decorate and I get to see them all the time.

Most recently, I worked on a makeover for their nine year old daughter, Brenda Walsh, who is an awesome little girl who loves design and wanted to be part of the process. She’s such a cool person and it was fun asking her questions about what she wanted to see in her space.

Before I came in, Brenda’s room was still in little kid mode, with a bright pink bedspread and a matching black bedroom set (we’d moved in her new and awesome brass bed when we took these shots). She was kind of over her pink phase, so she wanted to update her color palette and give her room a bit more pizazz. An important sidenote is that children LOVE pizazz, so if you’re decorating a child’s room, add pizazz wherever possible. Also, the more you repeat the word “pizazz” the more you realize it’s the most important word ever. PIZAZZ.

bedroom before

Click through to see the full makeover …


Oh Joy’s Nursery/Office official reveal

Well folks, as you know, a couple of months ago we made-over Joy’s nursery/home office.  David Tsay shot it for American Baby Magazine and now it’s time for the big reveal. It’s time to show America where Baby Coco Cho is putting her adorable little face. America wants to know and it’s our job to answer. You probably already saw the ‘make0ver plan‘ and yesterday’s ‘mountain mural‘ post and if not, feel free to read it before you proceed. Or just jump right into it if you’re that kind of lady (or man).

Welcome to Joy’s gender neutral, multi-functional, home office and nursery for America’s own Coco Cho. I mean, Coco Cho. That girl will grow up to be either a comedian or a Politican. Coco Cho for Congress, 2024!!


Click through to see the whole makeover


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:


Oh Joy’s Nursery/Office makeover plan

Five years ago I wrote this email to my now good friend, Joy:

Hi Joy,

long time reader, first time emailer.  big fan.  you have good taste, and you aren’t cheesy, which is like finding gold in the lifestyle blogging world.

i’m a prop stylist and I would love for you to take a look at my new blog. i’m sure you get many-a ‘look at my blog’  requests, but I would love to get your opinion. 


Emily Henderson

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Photo by Zeke Ruelas

Man, those five years feel like 10 years in a lot of ways – both of us have changed/grown up so much. She responded to that email and I think even gave me a shout out on her blog (which was only 2 years old then – so crazy!!). The next year she moved to LA, auditioned to be ‘made over’ on my show at the time (Secrets From A Stylist) and I designed their living room. We totally hit it off. We talked shop, kids and the bachelor constantly (and yet not enough). Since then I’ve RE-designed their living room (to be more kid-friendly), designed her studio and now her new nursery.