Vintage club chairs; before and after

This was a house we (Orlando and I) designed 2 years ago (at least), but I had hoarded the content for my maternity leave. Ha. I can’t believe that I thought that I would have more time in my maternity leave to write long design posts. But since I’M BACK (in the figurative sense) it’s now time to start blogging about this house and showing you the ‘before and after’s.

One of the things I love about this makeover/transformation so much was how different it is than other projects I did that year. It wasn’t bright poppy colors. It wasn’t mid-century at all. There wasn’t anything hipster about it. Why did she hire me, you ask? Yea, that was my first question, too. Her daughter was a fan and they saw an episode of the show that was a hip french country and they reached out. Lisa wanted ‘French Country meets modern Hollywood’.  Basically rustic meets glam, with a bit of industrial. I’ll get more into the design next week as we are prepping all those posts now but I thought that I’d share the quick ‘before and after’ of these flea market chairs today as an appetizer.

before-chair We found these fugly chairs for I think $150 for the pair. What I loved about these chairs was the cute little lines of the arms, the piping that made them look all tailored and the price. When we saw them I thought that they could go more modern, and obviously a more sophisticated color. Remember (am I a broken record?) you can always change the finish of pieces but you can’t change the shape. The finish (fabric) was this gross gold boucle. But the shape? Adorbs. (@!@#$%^^^!!!!!) We also thought it would be a good opportunity to create two tones – do the back under the piping in one color and the front in another. So the wonderful Orlando (now creator director of HomePolish) did a couple of drawings, because he’s, like super talented like that. This is why you go to art school, folks.


We knew that we would get rid of the skirt, ASAP … like even before we got home from the flea market. And we also knew that we were working with cream/ivory and a navy blue. So the first drawing shows the cream on the back and the navy on the front. This looked really front heavy (like me) and just didn’t feel right. It felt off-balance. So he tried it the opposite way with the back/sides in the darker navy and the seats/tops in cream linen:

chair3 That felt much better to us – the back being a darker color grounded the chair, and the cream created a fresh contrast. Here were our fabric choices:


Of course without you knowing much about the fabrics this might seem just random of weird, but we wanted the space to be filled with pretty neutrals (no bright whites) to create a warm rustic feeling, and then some deeper tones to create contrast and depth. So it was ‘tonal’ but with some deeper hits of blue. Oh and as far as pricing goes I think that they were both probably $300 each to recover and the fabric was on the more expensive side at $30 a yard (since it was upholstery weight belgium linen). And here is how the chair turned out (and a sneak peek into the space).


I kinda love it. Especially for this house/style. Its polished, updated, feels high end, but since its linen it still has a casualness about it.

EH Sherman Oaks Shoot 1-16-146

I think that this chair is really elevated by the alternate welting. It really highlighted the lines of the chair. That weird circle was just the sun’s reflection on the camera, don’t worry.

For more upholstery ‘before and afters’ check out this vinyl chair, this velvet chair, these office chairs, and this pink sofa

Photographs by the lovely Bethany Nauert

The Lake House makeover – Kitchen edition

Ah, the lake house project. This project will always have a very special place in my heart and my career. It was an insane first year post-show and I was branching out into the “normal” design field.  I had very little experience on how to find the right clients, how to charge, how to pay employees, and generally how to not fail miserably. Some jobs were successes (like this one and a few others) and some were more ‘learning experiences’ as we like to call them (successful for the client – but we realized we weren’t charging enough to really profit – whoops). Either way I learned a ton, don’t regret a thing (isn), and can look back on this project with mostly fond and happy memories.

This client was kinda our dream client. They had good taste (she’s actually gone on to become an interior designer for HomePolish, ha!) and had a doable budget  - which will remain private because well, they aren’t me and actually have a sense of privacy, but just know that we still needed to be very budget friendly. Plus, they were fun to be around which is the key to really enjoying a job because you spend A LOT of time with them. Lastly, they were really trusting.

I chatted with them on the phone and liked them. Then we flew out to meet them and loved them. And then we looked at their house, saw the potential and committed to them.  The chemistry was just so right. Here are the pictures from Zillow that we saw before we visited:

lake house before

The space had soooo much potential. It was big, open, airy and led right out to the lake. In these photos the finishes don’t look that bad, but everything was cheap builder grade. It had been flipped 7 years before so we were dealing with a lot of post-flip problems. I know there are a lot of good flippers out there now, but man do those dudes do some ugly damage. Lets name them shall we? The ‘wood floor’ was laminate. The beams were painted chocolate-brown which is a huge ‘no no’ in my book. It’s either stained wood or painted white (or a color), but you, Mr. faux wood, are fooling no one.

I’m realizing that this post could potentially be 95 pages long, so I’m going to break it up and in this post talk just talk about the kitchen. The kitchen had like 6 different finishes; stone, tile, wood, other tile, accent tile, other stone, granite, bad wood, nickel – pretty much just whatever was left over from other jobs. There were 70′s heater boards everywhere, and the kitchen was abnormally huge and yet felt like a ton of wasted space. So first things first – design direction of the whole space:

lake house mood and feel

It’s so funny looking at these photos/mood board because it was almost 3 years ago – so all those pics above there were brand new on pinterest and now, well, they aren’t. But regardless you get the feel – bright, airy, fresh, fun, kid-friendly, warm. As far as styles they wanted a mix of “mid-century”, “japanese organic”, with a little bit of “edgy traditional” in there.  Yes. I just said ‘Edgy Traditional’ and I kinda want to burn off all my finger prints, change my name and move to Bakersfield. A similar feeling to when I uttered, ‘lifestyle moment’ the other day … but the thing is … you all know what I mean .. Oh and because it was their country house, just for weekends, we/they didn’t want to blow a ton of money on any one thing. This was not for luxury, it was just to make a nice, pretty, retreat from the city so all the finishes needed to be good quality, but simple and affordable. And here it is all blank, right before demo:

mahah 029-1

awkward kitchen

kitchen demo

Click through to see the renderings and my poorly photographed ‘after’ photos. (more…)

The Fort – Fig House’s VIP/man cave

A quick little makeover, y’all. The Fig House was finished, dunzo, opening party and all when Steve (the owner) told me that he had built a small groomsmen room on the property – a space that would be more masculine and really private where the dudes or just any VIP people could chill. Technically I wasn’t responsible for designing it but people would think that I did therefore if someone else designed it and I didn’t like it I would be bummed. I’m kinda annoying and controlling like that. So I was like, OK, lets do this real run and gun style – within two weeks and just a few thousand dollars. So we did.

Here was the empty space – it looked like a caboose – just long skinny and dark. It needed to house 10 dudes, give them a place to chill, drink, listen to music, drink, tie each others bowties and lounge. But it was a tricky space, y’all. It was just a long dark windowless box.

The Fort

So we came up with a quick rough plan:


We would do a built in bench the shape of an L, and do two small scale chairs opposite it, with some floating side tables. Then at the far end there would be a bar that comes out from the side, and a back bar behind it for glassware and booze. The built-in bench was the best way to maximize the seating because having  10 chairs in there seemed like obviously a terrible idea.

(Click through to see the after)  (more…)

Vintage furniture makeovers

Furniture ‘before and afters’ is what we like to call design porn, folks.  A lot of people do it, and somehow its still satisfying when done right – not porn, mind you, furniture makeovers. I was combing through old photos looking for Lake House ‘before’ and ‘progress’ photos (which I can’t find … sucks) when I found the ‘before’ version of two pieces of furniture that I redid. Exhibit A, this ugly gray waterfall 80′s desk. I think it was $60 or so at the thrift store and it was banged up. I bought this when I was doing those One Kings Lane sales where I needed to sell just a TON of furniture so I was buying and redoing furniture like crazy. The lines were simple but the finish was ugly. Remember – you can always change the finish, but you can’t change the shape. And this shape was hot.

lacquer table before

So I had him lacquered this beautiful blue (Galapagos Blue from Benjamin Moore). It cost $300 to lacquer (plus pickup/drop off). Rarely does anything cost less than $300 by the way. It seems crazy but lacquering is expensive because the materials are expensive and it is just really laborious and time consuming – needing lots of coats and sanding to do it properly.  So even if its something small its often $200 – $300. Anyway that ugly disgusting piece of garbage then became this beautiful statement desk:


Oh hey pretty. It was finally time to debut it. Its been in our guest room as Brian’s home office, but its too big for  in there so we are going to sell it, but before we did I wanted to at least shoot it. So we used it for the 3m Home Collection shoot.


Here’s the thing about lacquer – it looks pretty amazing when its in perfect condition, but its fragile. Its pretty easy to scratch and since its whole thing is that is EXTREMELY shiny you can see the scratches. I am selling this bad boy now, for $250 in LA (unless you want to coordinate shipping) so if anyone is interested let me know and you can come pick it up. Like I said, it has some scratches and some chipping on the bottom, but nothing crazy and ABSOLUTELY worth $250. Up next? Exhibit B: the retro vintage sofa that was once hideous.


This guy I splurged on because the shape was awesome and the scale is so good – its a small sofa, but bigger than a loveseat and packs a lot of punch with style. It was $400 from the flea market. The reason that is expensive is because the labor of recovering it was $600, the fabric was $12 a yard and we needed $10 yards.  Yes, this is cheap for fabric – i’m pretty sure its just thick pink canvas but it was so hard to find that color and that is what we wanted.


We used it for two magazine shoots (Redbook and Matchbook Mag) and so it was time to retire it from our portfolio. Around that time we started designing the creative offices and figured it was just perfect for them so we sold it to them for $700 (which yes, means that I lost money but I already got it in two shots so it kinda pays for itself in a way).

shopbandopink sofa

Here is Jen paying me for the sofa in pineapple pinatas – its the new on trend form of currency. Anyway, those are my two recent before and afters.

If you can’t get enough then check out this vinyl chairoh joy’s office chairs, and these now hot pink velvet chairs.  Happy monday, folks! xx office project – the beginning …

There’s a new project in the hizouse, y’all. It involves some risky colors, shimmery wallpaper, and general ‘over the top-ery’ … with restraint. You all may have heard of, the design house in LA that makes these kinda addictive (and often hilarious) gifts and accessories:


Well, they moved into a much larger office and Jen approached me about working with her to design it. When Jen says jump, you say ‘how high and also may we drink champagne while jumping?’.


So I wrote up our story to create a brief/deck to show potential press and partners (Jen’s team designed it):


ban-do pitch

Yup.  When I first moved here from New York I had no styling clients. I had followed Jen’s blog and reached out to her to get some insight on the styling world in LA. We hit it off immediately and she pretty much gave me a lot of clients and connections. I was VERY, VERY, VERY grateful, but not sure how to repay her … until now. Our resources are tight around here, but I REALLY wanted to do this project and I don’t say no to things that I really want.

So Ginny, Brady ad I are redesigning their new space and having a very good time at it, indeed. Here’s a moodboard that she sent me for inspiration:
ban-do moodboard

How does this translate into a functioning office?

Exactly … Therein lies my challenge. Luckily Jen is a total visionary and I speak visionary … well I understand when visionaries speak to me, anyway. Moving from stylist to designer (like I have) has its pros and cons – as a designer you get a tiny bit stuck on function/livability and your ‘process’ that you’ve honed really well. As a stylist your job is really just to make a space look really $%&*ing inspiring and then maybe also ‘well designed’ if you can fit it in the shot. Creating inspiration is what I used to care about and my first few home design clients kinda suffered because of it. I, Emily Henderson, do care a lot about comfort and function as much as style these days. So we are marrying our skills – she tells me to do something weird and I figure out how to turn that idea into something that makes sense for an office. I need a little bit of Jen in my life these days – someone to push me into worlds that I’m uncomfortable. And right now I’m comfortably uncomfortable.

Bando Partyhouse Yeah, of course – put that in a functioning office where 5 girls and one male CEO create 4 lines of fashion and accessories a year. Its like I get it, but I’m also befuddled.

So, here is what the space looked like before they moved in:


ban-do before

It’s a wonderful blank canvas. The walls are white, the floors are wood, the light is strong and the layout is open. Wonderful. Check , check, check, check and check.

So, we met, measured, brainstormed, shopped, pinned and began the redesign. Our goal was to make it feel like the mood boards up there, but more functional for the creative team that works in there 50 hours a week.

Bando Partyhouse

Naturally I started hoarding sets of vintage chairs from vintage stores and Craigslist. We have lucite and brass happening. Shocking, I know.

And then I brought their sofa over (yes, from the Matchbook shoot) and we went to sample fabrics for the different sets of chairs after we saw them all together. We’ve got pale and candy colored velvets and linens galore. Decisions were made, excitement is felt.  These chairs don’t even KNOW whats about to happen to them.

Bando Partyhouse

Not all of those fabrics made the cut, and you might be shocked at what is deemed as successful. How very cryptic, I know.

So that’s the new creative office project. We are trying to get done by mid-July and things are moving along. Wallpaper is chosen, fabric is chosen, desks/chairs are purchased, and the big concepts have been pounded out … with the help of some champagne brunches and flea market shopping.

It’s incredibly fun doing a creative studio space because you can take more risks, grab onto trends more, worry less about it livability and more about it being inspirational. There are no kids involved; there is not a comfy tv room that needs an overstuffed sectional. This project is all about 5 girls needing to be in a space that inspires them to create pieces and a brand that are going to bring them to the next level in the fashion/design world.

No pressure, right?