My Epic Blimp Artwork Story

Let me tell you about the first large-scale important (to me) piece of art that I ever purchased.

I was 25, living in New York, bar-tending, dog-walking, working retail at Jonathan Adler and paying $1200 a month for rent which left me approximately $600 for other expenses. Art, or any large purchases, weren’t really an option. I was buying underwear at the dollar store and taking the subway home by myself at 4am after shifts because that $35 cab ride was expensive (remind me to never let my single blonde daughter live in New York when she is 24 – I mean, I was fine, but looking back, I was a bit “independent”  – read ‘reckless’). Maybe I was assistant styling at that point, I’m not sure. All I know is that $400 wasn’t something I could swing for a piece of art, but I saw this weird painting and wanted it so hard:

blimp-emily

It’s not for everyone, I realize. But it made me so happy and engaged. Its whimsical with a pulled back color palette. It’s roughly 30″x50″ – so its pretty big and I knew it could be ‘that piece’. The dealer told me that it was painted by soldiers around the Vietnam war, presumably on acid as this is clearly some sort of Beatles ‘Yellow Submarine’ homage.

I loved everything about it – the story, the scale, the composition, how it was graphic and yet handmade at the same time. It had so much nuance and energy. Plus there is that amazing eyeball. The whole thing was and is totally fantastic. But $400 wasn’t doable. So I left the flea market and didn’t stop thinking about it for weeks. I went back 3 weeks later and it was still there. The fact that someone hadn’t gobbled it up is insane to me because let me tell you something about art – good, original, large-scale art is EXPENSIVE. It’s a struggle with every client – it’s the hardest thing to find. But I wanted it so bad, so I offered $200 or $250 (I don’t remember) and the dealer said yes.

Here’s a tip for anyone looking to barter at the flea market – just show them how much you LOVE the piece, and that you’ll give it a good home and you’ll get a better deal. No dealer wants a dick to own something that they shopped for, purchased, carefully packed up, and schlepped around every sunday just to schlep it back home if the right buyer wasn’t there. I think the dealer could tell that the painting would make me happier than it would make most people, so while $250 was a big reduction, I like to think that he is proud of what he did. Hardcore flea market barterers annoy the hell out of me. Its uncomfortable and insulting for everyone involved.

Of course I had to schlep it home on the subway, which was a teensy bit dramatic since it was so big, but I got it home and it was mine. At the time it had no glass or plexi and it had a really broken wooden frame. Convinced I could fix the frame (and knowing that I couldn’t afford to have it properly framed) I decided to at least buy it some plexiglass to help elevate it ($80, I think). It didn’t work. It warped forward and fell out of the frame since it and the frame were so thin.

Then as we were planning on leaving New York and moving to LA and I debated selling it at our garage sale but it still really spoke to me and I still loved it. Every time I looked at it I got happy and I could picture its success in a space. I just didn’t have that space yet. So I packed it up and shipped it with the very few things I kept. It was probably like $100 to ship cross-country in that oversized box. Whoops. Man, it’s adding up.

emily-henderson-bedroom

photo by Teri Lyn Fisher

So, we get to LA and I found a spot in our tiny one room studio/guest house in Santa Monica that we rented from friends. I put it up (that’s the original frame, above) and shot it for a test shoot with Terilyn Fisher. Sorry, its blurry because I had to search on google for like 5 hours for this and finally I did, but it was low res. P.S. Can you believe how long I’ve had that vintage floral pillow? Since 2005!!! Thats insane. I still love it as much as I did the day that I sewed it from vintage yardage.

But then we realized that you don’t HAVE to live two people to a 1 room studio in LA, no matter how charming it was, so we packed up and moved – bringing Sir. Blimp, of course. Meanwhile 2 years later I ended up making over that studio in an episode of my show (RIP) Secrets From a Stylist. (Please ignore the lack of photo formatting – it was 2 blog platforms ago and it gets pretty ugly that long ago).

Anyway, we moved to Los Feliz and I attempted to ‘Blimp’ again. Broken frame and all – you just can’t tell in the photos. So here is was, 5 years post purchase:

blimp-drawing

Photo by Teri Lyn Fisher

It was fine, but kinda meh on that wall color and in that space. I mean, that whole space is ‘meh’. Then I left for DesignStar and when I returned, I insisted on painting all walls a CRAZY POP OF COLOR – COLOR! COLOR! COLOR!!!!!!

Most of you haven’t been on a design reality show I’m presuming but upon your return you are kinda messed up – unable to relate to anyone, life feels soooo boring, and every wall simply must be donned with a BRIGHT SATURATED COLOR!!!!! Read that post if you want to really make fun of me.

turquoise dining room2

I appreciate my risk taking, but I could also use an advil just looking at it. Or a Zanex. Or a blindfold. Truth is it was actually kinda awesome in a way, but we had a small space and it was so jarring that I think I painted over it a couple of weeks weeks. Calm down, blue wall. Shhhhhh.

The saga continues: still awake?

In our next rental house I decided not to ‘Blimp’. We didn’t really have the large wall space and it started looking really dirty to me. When we moved into this house, 9 months ago, I kinda felt the same way. I remember thinking ‘maybe I can get an artist to trace it on pretty white paper’ because it was so dingy and brown.

When it came to design the living room in the new house I realized that I didn’t want a gallery wall in there – I wanted it to feel more quiet, simple and intentional; remember this was the art direction. I wanted a few well-appointed, large-scale pieces of art in the living room, then I’d do the gallery in the dining and family rooms. So I pulled the blimp out of storage and reassessed my love for it.

emily

Thats me, actively assessing said love. It’s important that when one is assessing something that you wear no makeup and purse your lips in a way that makes you look like you wear dentures. I tried to blur out my face in photoshop as if I were a background person in a reality show that hadn’t signed the release forms, but alas I have no idea how to do that. Maybe that is something a fancy graphic designer could do (or literally anyone who graduated from college post 2005).

Here’s what I told myself – you either commit and invest, or its time to donate. Its been 10 years and it was a big hoard. Time to pony up or go home. I was torn, but Scott, Brady and Ginny reminded me of my love for it and we decided to give this weirdo the wall space (and importance) it deserved.

So, I took it to Tim at Curve Line Space in Eagle Rock. There are a lot of good framers out there, but Tim is good to me – he has good taste, can turn art around fast (don’t tell him I told you that, he might just do that for frequent shoppers) and if you are someone who frames pieces often with him, he’ll give you a good price. Plus he’s in the neighborhood and he’s not a big old chain full of poorly trained framers. He cares.

blimp-painting

Here were the things I had to think about when framing Sir. Blimp:

1. Did I want him to try to restore it (which would be WAY more money)? I decided that I wanted it to look like a relic – that it was found. So while he did put a piece of cream paper behind that big rip, we didn’t try to get the tape marks out or anything. Why try to make it look new when it just isn’t?

2. Did I want it matted like a window where the art is behind the mat, or floating on top of the mat?  I wanted to see the ripped/water marked edges so I chose the float. Also just generally floating is always more fun.

3. How many inches of matting? I wanted big, like 5″ all the way around. Tim was on the fence about that, but he agreed and then agreed that it looks really good when he was finished. I just figured that I had this huge wall to fill so I may as well make sure it feels proportioned to the wall. So we added 12″ in width and height (including the frame) so it ended up being like 72″ x 50″. HUGE.

4. Obviously I had to choose style and profile, but I wanted it to be a. cheap (It wasn’t, but you know, not Charlie’s freshmen college tuition) and b. simple and modern. Many people would have chosen a black frame to help bring out the black in the painting, but I wanted the painting to pop out on its own and not have a big black box distracting my eye. My eye gets VERY distracted VERY easily.

mid-century-scandinvian-living-room

Photo by Brittany Ambridge, C/O Domino Magazine

So there he is, folks – commanding that wall, teasing me with his fantastical whimsy. Being perfect all the way around. (Of course now we’ve changed the living room a lot, but check out this post for resources and stay tuned for the new updated living room).

Ready for your close-up Mr. Blimpy?

Emily Henderson Mid Century Modern Leather Bench Seat Pillows

The framing ended up being $800, which ain’t nothing, but frankly you have VERY few inexpensive options when framing something so big. You could DIY it, like Orlando and I did for this piece of art – but that was a canvas that didn’t really even need a frame. Blimpy was a thin piece of paper that had been spray mounted on a thin piece of foam core (by me – big mistake). So it needed a proper frame. Ready to do the math? (#killme). The piece was $250 (or $200), bad plexi was $80, shipping was $100 and reframing was $800 = $1230. Part of me is nauseous and part of me knows that clearly its a piece I care about. It reminds me of my 20’s in New York. It reminds me of some dudes, hopefully having fun painting it while in or recovering from Vietnam. It reminds me that sometimes my obsessions are deserved.

Emily Henderson Mid Century Modern Bench Windows

I LOVE LOVE LOVE it. Whats the lesson here – spend $800 framing a $200 piece of art? Nay. I guess the lesson is (need there be a lesson?) that sometimes it takes years to properly invest and appreciate something you love, but when you love something so much, when you bring them with you as you move 5 times, then you shouldn’t feel guilty about splurging. Easier said than, done, I know. But in this case doing a cheap framing job would have been criminal. Remember the Oregon poster that I did in my guest room? Well that one was a print (many people have it) at $54, so it wasn’t something I wanted to spend too much on. GRANTED, I spent $300 on the framing, but I wouldn’t have spent $800. That wouldn’t have made sense.

But Sir. Chancellor Blimpy Von Henderson … now he deserves to be on that wall, looking like that.

Geez. That turned into quite the personal epic story. Thanks Tessa Neustadt for taking those pretty ‘after’ photos.

Do you approve? What is the most you spent on framing? Do you have a piece that you are really sentimental about? Do dish …

The home tour/feature in Domino

Oh, I know. It only took me about a month to post these photos from the Domino feature. First off, thank you so much Robert and Brittany (and all of Domino) for the lovely photos/press/time/drinks, etc. These two are seriously good at their jobs and their jobs are HUGE by the way. They kill it.

Secondly, we are shooting more shots of the living room and kitchen today strictly for the blog so you’ll get details, tons of angles, pulled back shots … plus, the living room and kitchen have already change. I know. I’m insane.  But, I wanted to go ahead and publish the feature and all the shopping resources and then the rest of the tour will follow.

string-sculpture

domino-living-room

AHHH!!!! There is just so much to talk about but I’m going to wait til I have all the photos to reference to really explain how it went down. But, I’ve been inundated with emails about where I got everything so for all the pieces that are purchase-able, so here you go:

Living Room:

Rug | Sofa reupholstered in Sunbrella Fabric | Coffee Table | Target Agate Tray | Target Teal Coasters | Target Metallic Mug | Chairs: Vintage | Tree: Nek Budda | Target Cream and Gold Metallic Chevron PillowTeal Stripe Pillow | Pink Pillow: Custom | Floor Lamp: Vintage | Bertoia Wire Diamond Chair: Vintage | String Art Sculpture by Nike Schroder | Brass Task Lamp, Target | Copper Barware from Target | Buffet: Ikea with vintage legs | Oil Cloud Painting: Penine Hart | String Art Piece | Faux Fur Stool Nate Berkus for Target| Gold and Cream Throw | Turquoise Lamp: Vintage | Wood Tray

Abstract Circle PaintingGold and Cement Vases | Blue Agate Bookends | Girl Waving Painting | Wire Sculpture: Vintage | Ink Sketch of Boy by Orlando Soria | Modern Blue VaseWood Tray |

domino-kitchen

I love that kitchen and that baby even more. Shooting it again today to get more details details of the backsplash. I promise that post is almost ready to go, I just need a few more photos.

Dining Room:

Brass Chandelier: Custom | Table | Chairs: Vintage | Cabinet: Vintage from Chairish| Brass Shelves from SchoolHouse Electric| Table Lamp: Vintage | Agate Tray | Warehouse Oil Painting: Vintage | Lady Portrait: Vintage | Orchard with Snow Photograph | Food Polaroid | Peacock Painting: Vintage | Cat Collage | Oregon Map |

Kitchen:

Woven Rope BasketHanging Lamps | Cabinet Pulls | Countertop | Roman Shades | Gold Spotted Vase | Round Wall Clock Wood Bowl | Watercolor Art 

domino-nursery

I can’t wait to tell you about the wallpaper in that room. It’s a hilarious/heart-wrenching story that will make you really wish you weren’t me. There is a whole post about it.

Charlies Nursery:

Wallpaper | Crib | Rug | Pouf | Shelving | Baskets | Bear Embroidered Art | Tree Art | Quilted Throw | Circus Tent: customized with vintage fabric

Bedroom:

Wallpaper: Custom Designed | Headboard: Vintage | Side Table: Crate and Barrel (from two years ago

| Wood Table Lamp | Duvet and Shams | Wood Hanging Mobile | Gold and White Bowl | White and Gold Stem Vase |

Now for the patio which I had no idea we were shooting or I would have changed a bunch. I mean, I LOVE this shot, but I was planning on reupholstering the sofa in a gray or blue (duh) sunbrella fabric because I don’t do brown.

They took a bunch of shots of Charlie and I in this scenario which I want to get my hands on. I love these kinda entertaining shots especially if there are people involved.

bohemian-outdoor

Outdoor Area:

Rugs: Vintage | Slab Table | Pillows: Fringe Pillow, Tassel Pillow , Teal Pillow | Outdoor Sectional | Basketweave Throw . The rugs are normally inside, obviously because they are pretty incredible vintage rugs – and no, i don’t condone putting them outside permanently, but man they look good in this shot!

So much to talk about. So much to tell you. And I know this post had so little information (except hours worth of resources) but I wanted to get it out the process started. I’ll break it all down, I promise.

Meanwhile if you didn’t see this video (of the house in action) here you go:

Photos by Brittany Ambridge for Domino. Scott horne helped me style it, and Ginny, Brady and Emily were just extremely helpful. Stay tuned for a full tour, folks. Meanwhile, TGIF!!!!!!!

My Guest Room Makeover

Alright. This is a dooooooooziiie of a design post, including ‘before’ shots, the process, an EPIC FAIL, the remedy, the ‘after’ photos, resources, ‘get the looks’ and a VIDEO. Tell your boss that you ate bad salmon and that you and that you need to go to the hospital for an emergency surgery, possibly even a C section or kidney removal. Something that could take hours. Then go home, grab a cup of coffee, diet coke or wine (I like to give you options) and settle in to read the epic guest room make-over post.

Here goes: The guest room is FINISHED thanks to a partnership with DutchBoy paint. Dunzo. Like President Obama and Michelle could randomly show up at my door for the weekend and all we’d have to do is add some flowers. I mean, for them of course we’d have to get REALLY beautiful flowers, probably open garden roses flown in from Holland, watered by the tears of angels, but other than that, this room is good to go. Finally.

But before I show you the ‘after’ you must suffer through the process. Because I had to (and because the process is what this blog is all about).

We moved into this house 9 months ago and started fixing up this bad boy. BEFORE we moved in the room looked like this and I blogged about its needs HERE:

Guest-Bedroom-02

To recap: disgusting pee carpet, gross painted ceiling, lovely ‘vintage’ ceiling fan, etc. Oh and you can’t tell but there is an insane texture on the walls – as if it was a gothic cathedral in Prague in the 1700’s. Like serious texture.

Guest-Bedroom-03

Guest-Bedroom-01

So we skim-coated, painted the walls, put down new beautiful hard-wood flooring and it started looking way better.

Guest-Bedroom-07

TA DA!!!!! Isn’t it beautiful, you guys? It only took 9 months, 2 design assistants and 3K to do that.

Kidding. This is what it looked like after we moved in and unpacked and it clearly wasn’t designed or even thought about. It was good enough for the parents to come and sleep in for the holidays but needed some serious considering.

Guest-Bedroom-06

Guest-Bedroom-05

We lived with it like that for about 6 months while we worked on the rest of the house.

I’ve gone back and forth about whether I like that brick wall thing ever since we bought it. But dry-walling it sounded annoying and expensive, so I wanted to try to work with it and it seemed like a good opportunity to use the grid of bricks in an interesting way.  So one night, 3 nights before the Domino shoot I decided to grab some beer, put on Season 3 of the OC, grab 18 different colors of paint and see what the beer tells me to do, because that’s how real designers design.

In my defense I will say that this idea was endorsed by Ginny, Brady and Scott and we all picked out the colors together. It was kinda thought out, but we all had our doubts.

all paints_evening

What I did to that wall was a G.D. masterpiece. I’ve since decided to quit styling and dedicate myself to my true passion – tipsy public performance painting. How do I create such beauty, you ask? Well, how did Mozart compose such melody, or how does Sara Silverman think of a joke?

You can’t explain it, the genius is the true miracle.

Also I did have some inspiration pics/references to work off of, these weird 80’s color blocked buildings, but sadly the wall never really came to resemble them at all.

color inspiration

I started with just a few colors and kept them looking more ‘water-color-y’ without hard edges (especially since there aren’t any hard edges – the bricks were rough). Then I was all, MORE, I NEED MORE NOW AND COLOR MORE COLOR FAST HURRY I’M SOBERING UP!!!

wall paint treatment steps

But then that looked like a drunk monkey took over painting the wall with those crazy pops of color. So I decided to have it be more tonal and just do these kinda weird pastels together (the last photo). And then it looked like Easter threw up on my wall. It was terrible and incredible all at once. I hated it in an aggressive sort of way where it actually made me angry. It’s probably because the rest of the house is open and white/bright so all of a sudden when you caught this through the doorway your eyes were bombarded with these annoying colors, challenging your controlled temper, making you want to do violent things to helpless animals. It was that bad.

Click through to see the afters …

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Our New Kitchen reveal, plus we cook now

Most of you know that I don’t cook and topping my excuse list has always been that I’ve hated my kitchens and as a ‘visual person’ its just always bummed me out to be in there. They’ve always been rentals, and either tiny (in New York), run down (two houses ago), or both (our last house).

To prove my ‘ugly kitchen’ situation I give you exhibit A and B:

gross-kitchen

See?? You might be wondering what we ate then, right? Well it was a combo of take-out, going-out (pre-charlie) or most likely ‘making food’ which is normally a salad or a microwaveable meal. I’m not really a foodie (clearly), but Brian is very emotionally invested in EACH AND EVERY MEAL and literally every night from 7 – 7:30 is the ‘what are we going to do for dinner’ debate. I say, ‘I don’t really care, I’ll eat anything’ and then he spends the next 30 minutes torturing himself trying to figure out what he wants and debating the not so endless possibilities.  It’s literally groundhog day every night. Our biggest issue is that we never have food in the fridge and if we do, it doesn’t really create an easy meal – or one good enough to actually put effort into.

Anyway … Our new kitchen (that is not a rental) was pretty ugly but fairly doable (see the before photos and what the plan was here). We started cooking a bit more (mainly because I can watch TV while I make my one weekly chicken soup), but I mostly still ‘made food’. Then we updated it and it looked like this for a while (which is what is in Domino) and all of a sudden I liked being in it:

emily-henderson-kitchen

Photo by Brittany Ambridge for Domino Magazine

Wildly better, obviously. I love the white, the hardware, the brass “grout” (which I’ll tell you about once I get some detail shots), the pendants, the faucet, the appliances and that baby. I love that adorable baby. I love all of it EXCEPT for the refinished lower cabinetry that looked even more retro than before, and besides those beautiful schoolhouse electric handles just didn’t pop off of them.

Ok, this is not ‘The Kitchen makeover post’. Nay. I’m working on that post (trying to get more photos of what was in Domino, fishing through my library for the ones I’ve taken and then probably taking more photos of details for ya) but I figured I’d may as well show you a sneak peek of the kitchen because we changed it even after the Domino shoot. Because i’m crazy. 

Yes, you heard me. We have painted that kitchen since that shoot. 

Around that same time, Blue Apron emailed and asked me if I wanted to try out their product – delivered meal plans, with all ingredients, ready for you to cook, always different, and delicious meals. I figured I’d celebrate my new kitchen with a photo shoot (who doesn’t?) of me proving to the world (you) that I now cook. And yes, this is a sponsored post but since i’m not a food blogger I figured clearly a reveal of my new kitchen would make it even more fun, no?

ingredients

Here’s the deal: Blue Apron allows you to create delicious, chef-designed recipes at home and takes all the guess-work out of it as they send all the farm-fresh ingredients you need, right to your doorstep, in exactly the right proportions. No trips to the grocery store and no waste from unused ingredients. Its wonderful, and completely dummy proof.

Blue Apron will send you three meals per week – for two, four, or six people. The meals are $9.99 per person with free shipping and in case you are worried about all those fresh ingredients spoiling they are one step ahead of you and everything arrives in a refrigerated box so ingredients will stay fresh even if you’re not at home when your package arrives.

fridge instructions

When I first started getting Blue Apron I put it in the fridge. Five days later we hadn’t made any of them. I was like, ‘whoops, guess I’m going to have to cancel that sponsored post’. But then that night I was like, just make one and see. I turned on the tv, poured a glass of wine and started cooking. After about 10 minutes I texted Ginny and Brady with a ‘I’m blue apron-ing it and I kinda love it‘. And then I ate the meal and I was even more psyched (I think that one was beef stuffed poblano chili).

neustadt-11

Here’s what I liken it to – it’s like a personal trainer for cooking. Sure, i can cook on my own, but I don’t. Technically I know how to do the basics but I don’t know how to do anything interesting so I never try the new stuff and therefore I’m never super excited about what I’ve spent my time on. Like a personal trainer you are kinda taught how to do the more innovative things, and are in a way forced to do it (because it’s staring at you in the fridge) and then afterwards you are just so proud of yourself because you are good at it. Click through to see more photos (even a few pulled back ones) of the new painted kitchen.

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Sneak Peek of house; A Domino Mag Video

Hey y’all.

I’m working on the house posts (you’ll see a peek into the kitchen tomorrow :)) meanwhile I wanted  to show you the video that domino magazine made of the shoot, which gives you a pretty good overview of a lot of the rooms, live in action.  Plus I’m wearing lashes and there is a very cute baby.

Photo produced by Domino, directed by Krissy Tiglas

Wardrobe Styling by Jordan Rudd

Hair and Makeup by Laura Peyer

And thanks Target for putting it all together. xx

Happy Hump Day, y’all. What do you think?