Design Mistake #1: The Generic Sofa

I get this question all the time in interviews: What is the #1 mistake that people make when designing (or shopping for) their home? After doing so many makeovers over the last 5 years of real people, I’ve found some consistent solid mistakes to avoid. So, I started writing a post about it and that post was like 15 pages long. I figured that obviously this could be a series.

Biggest Design Mistakes_buying generic furniture_roundup_emily henderson_expert advice

I’m not sure there is a #1 mistake, but buying cheap generic furniture is up there. So often I come into a house and the people have good taste, but they already had a sofa that we had to work with, and that sofa was bad. They didn’t want to replace it because it wasn’t that old and they didn’t mind it. I’ve had to break the news to them over and over, that with this sofa they will never get the room they want. Sure, we have worked with said sofa, and done the best we could, but trust me that a big bad sofa in your room is a bummer (and I’ve never even really blogged about those projects).

But just saying ‘don’t buy cheap generic furniture’ is kinda a dick thing to say. I’m not saying buy expensive sofas (at all) nor am I suggesting to buy super stylized sofas. No one loves a simple sofa more than me because they are so easy to style. But there are some sofas that transcend bad in a way that is hard to come back from; bad fabric, bad shape, weird curved legs or winged arms, multiple fabrics and just what I like to all ‘try-hard’ details. Those are the details that are screaming at you, saying ‘HEY!!! I’M FANCY! LOOK AT ALL MY TUFTS AND NAILHEADS AND CONTRASTING SEAMS, AND SHINY FABRIC, ETC’. Its like putting a hideous, yellow, 80’s bad prom dress on your screaming pet hyena. You are already embarrassed that you have a hyena as a pet, so you don’t really need to attract more attention to it, right?

Here are sofa shapes/styles that you should avoid. If you need more examples simply google image search ‘couch’. It ain’t pretty out there.

Sofas to avoid_roundup_emily henderson

Some of the things on that list could be fine, by the way. I really like this winged sofa, this winged sofa and I don’t mind this vintage two-toned sofa, so if your sofa fits into any of those categories and now you are crying, know that I’m speaking in generalities and it still depends on the sofa (and if you actually own one of these, I’m sorry!!).  Also some of those could be fine if the fabric was different, or if the legs were updated (see me backtracking?? I feel bad already).

I started to think about why people buy generic/bad sofas and I think its two different reasons: cost and availability. These are sofas that are generally inexpensive, and don’t have a long lead time – you can get them in under a week, not the usual 8- 10 weeks that even Pottery Barn and Room and Board have. They tend to be from those ‘furniture liquidation’ or ‘Dave’s Furniture’ stores that are in every town. You can actually go in and sit on them, make the decision together, get it within a week, etc. I get it. I can’t really solve that last problem – those stores just need to start carrying better furniture.

But, until stores across America start selling better furniture, I wanted to present to you some other super inexpensive options that you can buy online and have shipped to you. These sofas are all under $600. That, my friends, is crazy.

Best Sofas under $600_budget sofa_modern_midcentury_affordable_roundup_emily henderson

1. Target Grey Convertable Sofa | 2. Roscoe Grey Sofa | 3. Zuo White Sofa  | 4. Everett Sofa Grey | 5. UO Grey Convertable Sofa |6. Brown Leather Sofa | 7. Navy Convertable Sofa | 8. Grey Tufted Sofa | 9. Retro Chestnut Sofa | 10. Bradley Grey Linen | 11. Tufted White Sofa | 12. Light Blue Sofa | 13. Sienna Futon Grey | 14. Black Leather Couch

You can’t argue with those prices.

Have I personally sat on them? Can I vouch for their quality, comfort and the conditions of where/how they were produced? NO. But are they such better options than your average $500 sofa? YES. Plus, they are all available for purchase online with no lead time (besides delivery, obviously).

For those of you who can spend a bit more ($600 – $1000) I’d like to introduce you to some SURPRISINGLY good inexpensive sofas. Some are from fine retailers that you know (Cb2, West Elm, Target, Urban Outfitters, etc) and some are from surprising retailers that happen to have pretty good inexpensive sofas (Lamps Plus, for instance).

Best Sofas under $1000_budget sofa_modern_midcentury_affordable_roundup_emily henderson_revised1

 

1.Grey and Wood Tufted Sofa | 2. Grey Haze Sofa| 3. Cherie Teal Sofa | 4. Larson Grey Sofa | 5. Tufted Tan Velvet Sofa | 6. Pink Rue Sofa | 7. Albion Sofa | 8. Rachel Slipcover Cream | 9. Grey Wool Tufted | 10. Tufted Highback Blue | 11. Black Leather Sofa | 12. Grey Sofa Bed | 13. Tufted Grey Chesterfield | 14. Midcentury Modern Grey and Wood |

Of course my best recommendation for buying inexpensive but better quality furniture is to go the used/vintage route (Craigslist, KrrbLA, flea market) plus it’s better for the earth. A $399 sofa does provoke the question ‘How is that possible???‘ and I’m really scared of the answer.

But you know what always irritates me is when rich pretentious fashion editors advise us that we should simply save and ‘invest’ in that perfect $600 blazer or $1200 pair of boots that will last for 6 generations, Its like obviously, that is a good idea, if you have that kinda cash lying around in your walk-in LisaVanderpump closet. I remember being so broke in my 20’s that every time I read that in a magazine I would scream, YOU ARE RICH AND YOU PROBABLY GOT THOSE BEAUTIFUL ‘INVESTMENT’ CHLOE BOOTS FOR FREE!!!!! For us normal people when its Friday afternoon and you have fun plans to go out that night and you have $450 in your bank account, a trip to Forever 21 to buy a fun top whose hem will probably rip out within weeks, just makes you so happy. Same with your home – when you don’t have an extra $2 -$4k to drop on that awesome sofa, sometimes just having a new, simple, inexpensive one will make you so much happier when you walk through that door.  Then when you get rich you can buy this one (for me).

Mixing pillows and patterns; 7 different ways

Today we are mixing a bunch of pillows (and patterns) and then you are going to vote for your favorite pillow combo (using our fancy voting poll widget at the bottom). The winning pillow combination will win a helicopter ride to Aruba, and then a chance at one-on-one hot tub date with Prince Farming. They are so excited and have been tanning and highlighting their hair for WEEKS, so please be sure to weigh each combo properly and vote with your heart.

Here’s how it went down: when I was MANIACALLY organizing and cleaning our house over the break I realized that I had approximately 47 decorative pillows, just hanging out in closets, on furniture, etc. That doesn’t even include what is at the studio. So, before I took them all over to the studio (some to keep for future projects, some for our EPIC garage sale that is coming soon) I figured I’d shoot a little pillow post.

We started with two solid 24″x24″ white linen pillows on both sides and just changed out all the smaller pillows. We didn’t have any big solid pillows to help anchor the corners (which is what you need on a bench like this) – but for most sofas you are fine with 20″x20″ or 16″x16″ even, as long as the other pillows vary in sizes.

Lets get into it:

Pillows_ Bench Midcentury Modern Emily Henderson_Blue and Green

This first one is the ‘Grey Gardens meets Steven Alan, with a side of subtle’. Hilariously enough, this might be the most masculine. And by masculine I mean, like Adam Levine, totally muscular but he would rock a floral shirt. And women across America would faint.

Cream Ruffle: vintage | Blue Floral: vintage | Grey and Yellow Geometric (no longer available) | Teal Blue Yellow Striped | Grey and Yellow Cross | Cream Linen

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Reader Question: Picking A Rug for My Space

Its been too long since I’ve tackled a reader question – so here goes. This one is from Kate in Stockholm:
This living room of mine in Stockholm needs a rug. Here is the question: Do I go dark to draw the space together, or lighter? Fluffy or patterned?
I have a mixture of earthy yet clean style but I love midcentury-mod and want to bring more of that in. Any thoughts overall for this living room?

 

photo 1msd

Ok, you are off to a good start – great gallery wall (I appreciate that it isn’t just a dinky collection right above the sofa) and your sofa/coffee table are really simple and easy to style with.

photo 2

So you have a few choices and it really depends on a few questions/answers:

1. How energetic do you want the space to feel? Right now there are no patterns, which is absolutely fine because you do have a lot going on the walls. But if you want the space full of energy then bringing in color/pattern would definitely achieve that. But if you want it to feel less energetic, more calm, then keep to a solid.

2. How low maintenance are you? I love a light rug, truly, but I’m not, well, clean enough to deal with them. Lighter rugs definitely make a room feel bigger, and this room doesn’t look that big to me so it could help. But going even more medium toned will be so much easier to care for. I have a white rug in my guest room that is BEAUTIFUL and far away from outdoor spaces, and isn’t used often, so its fine. And then in my master bedroom, where I REALLY wanted a light-colored rug I bought this quilted hide because cowhides are pretty much indestructible. You just wipe them off with a wet towel. They are also not terribly cozy, as you can imagine, but they reflect the light in such a pretty way and allow you to have white without the maintenance of white.

So here are some that I like that could look really nice in your place – some more affordable than others. Again, if you like a big high contrast pattern then these might not be the right selection, but I think that in a small space with all the art on the walls that a big high contrast pattern would make the space look small and busy.

The first group is soft texture without much pattern (so easy to hide dirt/stains, but not busy:

Solid

1. Safavieh Denim Jute, $199- $299 | 2. Vines Wool Rug, $169 – $999 | 3. Pencil Stripe Rug $195 – $895 4. Harper Denim Rug $195 – $945

Then if you can handle a bit more pattern, I’m pretty into these guys. Again, not toooo busy but busy enough that it adds more energy into the space:

Pattern

5. Threshold Criss Cross rug $74.99 – $249.99 | 6. Painters Rug $595 – $1595  7. Beaded Rug $149 – $289 | 8. Loloi Rugs, Anzio $139.00 – $539.00 | 9. Scallop Rug, $99 – $199 | 10. Multi Pixel Rug $249 – $999.

Finally, if you want to splurge on a white cowhide, I love these guys very much:

Hide

11. Natural Hide Rug  $695 – $1900 | 12. Scallop cowhide $495 – $2950 |  Bristol Cowhide $713 | 14. Jasmine Cowhide $549 – $976

There you go, Kate! Hopefully you still read this blog because I can’t seem to find your original email. If anyone knows Kate from Stockholm tell her that I’ve finally answered her reader question.

To submit your reader questions, email them to brady@emilyhendersondesign.com  (also, hint, the better the photo and the more specific the question the easier/most likely it will be to get picked!)

Bloggers loving Target – A roundup

Today is like my wedding + christmas, but for my career. Well, that might be a bit superlative but its a big week, folks. I am shooting a bunch of styling videos with Target the next six days with some of the most creative, smart and generally just lovely people from Target and their Ad agency, Partners and Spade. When I saw the set on Saturday (which i can’t wait to show you – its BEAUTIFUL) I had kinda the same feeling/nerves that I had when I thought about walking down the isle – all those people are going to be looking at me? But it was quickly followed by, total excitement – not because they are looking but despite it. Its going to be super fun.

Obviously you’ll hear all about it and I’ll be instagramming all week some behind the scenes, but I figured it was a good time to share with you some things that some of my favorite blogs have been doing with Target as well. Target challenged the best design/diy blogs to use one Room Essentials piece, and style it out three different ways in their space. I’m only posting one way so this post isn’t like 15 pages long, but click on the link to see how else they used the piece. I have a decent amount of the Room Essential line pieces at my house because they are just super simple, sleek and modern looking and yes, flexible pieces – you can kinda use them anywhere which is what all these bloggers demonstrated so well. Nice job, friends. Take a gander.

Amerrymisshap_14557165549_8359a0ca3e_o

A Merry Mishap I mean, that desk is very chic.

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Oh Happy Day – Naturally Jordan Ferney killed it. And that coat rack is ridiculously cute, too.

View More: http://morganashleyphotography.pass.us/target-room-essentials-high-res

Darling Magazine, these accent tables are so versatile

Design Confidential_Blue-Artsy-550

The Design Confidential – I have two of those standing lamps. So good. (Nesting Table | Standing Lamp | Mug)

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Justina Blakeney My friend, Justina, never disappoints.

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Little Green Notebook Duh. What can’t Jenny do? P.S. did you see her house in Domino? So lovely, but I want to see more!!!!!

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Smitten Studio What a hideous bathroom. #opposite. (ottoman)

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Studio DIY Curious is those are temporary or permanent ice cream handles. Either way, very cute. (Kitchen Cart)

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SF Girl by Bay Victoria used hers as a barcart, too. There is something so utilitarian and simple about that cart. (Kitchen Cart)

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Making It Lovely Always lovely. That wall color is awesome. (Desk)

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Design Mom Gabrielle knows anything that has to do with kids, as she should with 6 of them. (Metal Cart)

Nice job, ladies. And good job, Target. You guys are going to freak out at some of the fall and holiday stuff that is coming out that I’m styling with this week. It’s AWESOME. Stay tuned and happy monday!

Lisa’s House: The Bedroom Makeover

Welcome to the last post of Lisa’s house. I’ve blogged about the living room, dining room and office already, so here’s the bedroom.

Lisa had just moved in and the only thing she did was have the walls painted with this texture – well, and the chandelier, but otherwise it was just kinda left over furniture from her old house/life. She wanted it to feel calm, feminine, pretty, french country but updated. Not to mention, cohesive and finished.

Designers are constantly asked what room people should prioritize – what room to start with and I don’t really know the answer. I used to say wherever you spend the most time – which is usually the living room (or family room) – that’s the room people are going to see, where you spend most of your (awake) time entertaining. No one really sees your bedroom but you. But at the end of the day walking into a pulled together and inviting room is such a luxury and really does make you feel more special and grown up.

Before_Bedroom

Click through to see the afters …

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