Reader Question: Objective Advice on Living Room

Oh sure, I LOVE being objective. Just remember, you asked :)
This weeks READER QUESTION is more like a few questions, but here we go. (‘Reader’ is in green, i’m in black)

I’m hoping for a little objective advice on my living room… I’m attaching some not-so-great iPhone photos, and hope ya’ll can get an idea of my space + stuff.

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I’m not sure how to describe my style….comfortable modern, a little minimalist? I love mid-century stuff, but more importantly I like a mix, and I’m worried that this room is getting too mid-centuryish.  We use this room a lot-kids practice piano here, we read in here, play board games on the floor.  

QUESTIONS:
Fabric for sofa reupholstery? bluish tealish from the rug? keep in mind out 100+ pound dog and two elementary aged kids and that I hate being careful with things all the time.
First off – you are in VERY good shape, here. You have awesome furniture and I don’t feel sorry for you at all. But choosing a sofa fabric can be scary – especially kid-friendly. I would know, i just did it. I really like the idea of pulling the teal or a dark green out of your rug – its kid friendly and it’ll work with the room and contrast nicely with the teak chairs with the light upholstery. I secretly like that plaid, but I know it’s probably dated in person – that sofa is just so awesome. I recently redid my new sofa in Sunbrella fabric (outdoor) and they had a pretty big range of colors. It’s not as soft as most fabrics, but its crazy durable, has a decent weave that kinda looks like linen and you don’t really have to worry about it. A good polyester velvet or linen that has a lot of polyester in it will hold up nicely, too. But that sofa is a gem. It reminds me of an Adrian Persall or my former sofa  - I can’t say ex-sofa, I just can’t … it was sooo hard to part with it!!! I’m still mourning its loss (but sooo loving my new sofa).

What should I do for pillows?
The shape of this sofa is super beautiful – you could probably get away with just a couple of pillows and a throw and nothing too big or bulky. Maybe this is where you can bring in some other styles that you like to help it not feel too midcentury (your words, not mine, I love how midcentury it is).

pillow-roundup

(Clockwise from top left: Etsy pillow, Target chunky knit throw, West Elm Pillow, Target chevron pillow)

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I’m thinking about redoing the plycraft chair in caramel leather…it’s seems like there is too much fabric in the room now with the non leather sofa. Or I can redo it in any other fabric-so easy and I’ve done a bunch of them so it only takes a couple hours!
Um, what are you? Some sort of upholstery wizard? You can just reupholster a plycraft chair in a couple of hours? Amazing. Move to LA. I’ll board you, and you can just be my personal upholsterer.

I totally agree with you about the leather. I don’t mind all the fabric necessarily but I think the upholstery on the Plycraft should be more classic and caramel or black leather is just so fitting for this chair. This chair is like Kim K – it doesn’t need a lot of bells and whistles, It already has a lot going on, so its best when its simple and you just show off those pretty lines.

Should I get rid of one or both of the ottomans and get a coffee table?
I do think you could use a coffee table – I could see one of these in your space:

coffee table roundup

If you don’t want to commit to a whole table I really like those little gold stools from Crate and Barrel (or you could get two). The midcentury oval table (top right) would be totally appropriate and seamless. The raffia wrapped Serena and Lily table is pretty amazing and i’ve wanted it for a few projects (although its $1200 price tag is hard for clients). The bentwood table would ground the seating area nicely and add some heft to all the leggy chairs. And the mid-century inspired Target bench is a super affordable option ($150) that is simple, pretty and would work seamlessly in there as well (and you wouldn’t have to be so precious around it).

I have pretty thick skin, so all critiques welcome, too!
The only thing I will say (and I hate unsolicited criticism although you did email me :)) is that in these shots it seems like you could lose a chair. I LOVE your chairs, but the mid-century chair next to your sofa seems a bit crowded. You could either face both mid-century chairs opposite your sofa or put one in another room and pair the other with the eames chair. Again, I love them all but I wonder if that would still provide a lot of seating and help open up the space. Also maybe try putting the fig tree in the corner (to help draw your eye to the corners which makes your room appear bigger) and then put the money tree where the fig tree is.

I hope I answered all your questions (well, I know I didn’t answer a couple, but I kinda ran out of time so I deleted them. Sorry!)

GOOD LUCK!!!!!

I have approximately 400 of these to answer, but if you want yours to make it to a post be sure to take good big pulled back photos (of different angles), ask very specific questions (not just ‘how can i make it look better?’ but more, ‘what color should I paint my wall and should I burn that ugly chair or recover it?’. And original questions that I haven’t addressed before are better – like since I’ve done ‘how to style a mantel’ video, I probably won’t do another post on that.

But bring ‘em on.

To submit your reader questions, email them to brady@emilyhendersondesign.com

We be thriftin’ – our newest finds

When we were shooting the show we would shop with clients in mind but also we would just buy whatever was awesome because we needed so much for styling every week. So every pretty box, vase, vessel, piece of art, sculpture, etc we would hoard. But I’ve had to curb that joy and be more discerning I would end up spending way too much money, hoarding too much and not needing enough of it – it’s just too wasteful … even though it fed the addiction.

Well now that I’m shooting the book and have gone through my inventory I’m back into that mode for the next month and it’s terribly exciting. So last night after we got finished shooting we stopped by a thrift store and CLEANED UP!!! Here’s what we got (some pieces I bought over the weekend, too), with rough prices.

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This thrift store isn’t cheap, it’s actually kinda over priced. But it’s still cheaper than new pieces and mostly more unique.

wicker vase $15, painting (that is actually from ShopClass that I purchased over the weekend, it was $90 but I LOVE it), black/brass horn $10, woven placemat $8, wood pedestal $16, basket trio $4, the camera bag was actually a gift from my best friend.

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Large paper mache camel $50  - this came in VERY handy today where we happened to need a large whimsical global object – as you do. so WHAM, we had it.

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Footed pedestal thing (from ShopClass), tray $12, pot $3, roll of hand-dyed fabric $60 – from the flea market and its about 12 yards, wooden bowl $10, green napkins $8, basket $15, little wicker basket $2.

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Little pottery tray $7, white and blue stripe bowl $15, brass lamp $30, little vase $5, tall white vase $18, huge blue vase $40, vintage blue/gray/striped patchworked fabric is from the flea market and was $110, same dude/dealer as my new pink runner. Expensive, i know, but they come sooo in handy as a tapestry on the wall, tablecloth, throw or rug in a shot. So when its pretty, i just buy right now.

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White lamp $40 (overpriced, but such a good unique shape), wood vessel $12, ceramic pitcher $18 (way too much, but again it came in handy today), wood/brass boxed $5, pottery vessel $18 (overpriced), little ceramic bud vase $7, hand colored photograph of ship, $15.

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Brass lamp $40 (we got them down from $60), painting $160 (total splurge from Shopclass but I love it and i’ll keep it after), 3 bowls $6 each, little blue vase $12, white vessel $8, weird wooden hammer $5.

So there you have it. My hoarding for you blog reading pleasure. We shot these with our iphone on set yesterday while we were shooting the book. Double timing it over here. And the only way that we can afford to purchase so much for the book is knowing that we are gonna have a massive garage sale at the end. Get prepared, folks. I’ll keep you updated on the deets.

So which is your favorite? Which one do you wish that you had scored?

Styling with matching pieces of furniture

Well folks, when we asked for reader questions we got them – over 400 to be exact. We received questions that ranged from how should i arrange my flowers, to should i paint my bathtub, to how can i incorporate my old dorm room furniture into my existing space without it feeling like a dorm. So to say that it took a little while for us to sort through them is a bit of an understatement. I have tried to gather a few of the most common questions that I feel could help anyone improve their space.

A question that came up a few times is:

How do I Incorporate my matching furniture set into my living room so that it does not look like a showroom? Its ironic because I also get the question “how do I make disparate styles work together in a room to make it look cohesive?” which has a different answer obviously, but I know that so many people are in the same boat – they bought a set on sale, and now it doesn’t really represent their personality and are struggling to make the room look as interesting, fun and full of personality as they are.

matching living room furniture

These photos are from readers’ homes (Molly, Jessica and Tiff) struggling with matching furniture. Let me first say that having some matching furniture is not a bad thing. Do you want your sofa, loveseat, side chairs, tables and coffee table to all match? Nay, but some of them could and it can help make a space feel cohesive.

living room matching

I mean, I don’t necessarily feel that bad for this house below, clearly they have some awesome stuff (sofa/coffee table, etc).

living room with sofa

Unfortunately we do not all have unlimited budgets (myself included) to go out and buy all different pieces that juxtapose but work together to form the perfect little family of eclectic furniture in our living rooms. A lot of you wrote in and said that you bought a matching chair, couch and ottoman set, while your local furniture store was having its semi-annual sale or have had the same set for years that matches and now don’t know how to make it look fun and eclectic. Thanks to Molly, Jessica, and Tiff for sending in your questions as well as some pictures.

There are a few things to mix it up and make it feel fresh that can easily be done on any budget.

Step 1: Coordinate pillows so that they look good together (on both pieces), but contrast off the sofa.

Most furniture sets come with pillows these days but for the most part they aren’t awesome so chuck those loose pillows and grab a few solids, coordinating patterns and smatter them around the room evenly. My rule is usually 3-4 pillows per couch (1 or 2 in each corner) I also try to get a couple of solids mixed in with a stripe or a pattern to add depth/texture and interest to the space.

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for more pictures of our makeover with Cup of Joe click HERE

mismatch pillows

 for more pictures of this living room makeover click HERE

Step 2: Add throws to break up the monotony of the sofas.

Its such a good trick. You can really transform a couch by adding a throw, blanket or tapestry fabric to the back of the couch. You can drape it over one side, you can fold it up and lay it nicely, or you can even open it up and spread it across the entire back of the couch so that it covers the majority of the cushions.

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 for more images of this living room click HERE

You don’t want to necessarily try to fool people, or hide the sofa by throwing the blanket over the whole sofa, but it can really break up the solid back or cushion of the sofa. Just make sure to bring the color of the throw onto the other matching piece.

couch tapestry

 for more images of our makeover with Oh Joy! click HERE

At Joy’s house (above) I put one on the bottom (mainly to be kid friendly) but something like that could totally work to break up a set. And the throw that I used below was a vintage camping blanket which added a lot of interest to the long simple sectional.

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for more images of this living room click HERE

Step 3: Add something weird/vintage.

So you have your matching larger pieces of furniture and now its time to bring in some vintage/eclectic/weird pieces to help shake it up. Add in a vintage side table, a crazy piece of art, some weird lighting, etc.  Your side tables can match each other, but they shouldn’t also match your coffee table. Make sure the scale works – if you have a large set of leather sofas like the middle reader pic then get larger scale tables, too so your big matching pieces are dwarfing everything else and making them even more glaring.

Below you can see how I added some ‘weird’ pieces which always throw off furniture, in a good way. Its like, ‘oh so you thought I was all predictable?’ Well, boom, that vintage painting of the worst president ever definitely shakes things up.

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for more images of this living room click HERE

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for more images of this living room click HERE

A gallery of eclectic/vintage art definitely draws attention away from any boring furniture and makes the room look instantly interesting. Also I realize that these rooms have awesome furniture as well, but you get my point.

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for more images of this living room makeover click HERE

Now its tricky  because you don’t want a piece to be jarringly different to where it looks like an accident or worse, really ‘try-hard’, but keep the color palette consistent, keep the pieces in scale and follow those tips and your matching set will just look cohesive and meanwhile all your pretty pillows, throws and accessories will make the space look interesting.

I think next reader question i’ll try to address one particular readers problems with pictures attached and pretty much redesign the space, so send your questions with as many pics as possible to brady@emilyhendersondesign.com

Styling your entrance and some more organizing products …

Hey guys, for my second post with 3M I played around with the Home Collection and styled up my studio entryway with the product and of course some of my vintage props that i’ve been hoarding, just waiting for their blog debut. The whole idea is to clean off your surfaces and get things up on the wall – visible and yet accessible. For me (being the worst at anything organizational) I have to be able to see it to deal with it because this brain be SCATTERED, and I need all the help I can get.  (See my first post about getting things off my desk, here)

So here’s what you need to style your entry/exit perfectly: 

1. A beautiful vintage modern brass hat and scarf holder. Duh.  (From the flea market and I’m obsessed with it). But seriously, something to hang your hat on – literally. Especially since hats are back. I thought it was just me because i’m a but mom now and doing my hair is a fete reserved for special occasions like when Chris HArrison invites me and my friends to Men Tell All – BECAUSE ITS GOING TO HAPPEN THIS YEAR, I PROMISE!!!!! Meanwhile, until that night i’m seriously wearing a lot of hats these days and having somewhere to put them keeps with my ‘off the surfaces onto the wall’ rule. Also if you aren’t into hats, jackets apply. And if you aren’t into hats or jackets then you could hang your judgement about people that wear hats and jackets here.

Entryway

2. An adorable little console or piece of furniture to put your pretty books and flowers on (we like that Target piece from the Room Essentials line).  Ideally its something with storage because you’ll need somewhere to shove the one million lip glosses and catalogs that you can’t throw away because you haven’t properly combed them yet, but you can’t really leave them on the coffee table because they are catalogs and not magazines and you don’t want to look like a hoarder that just keeps every piece of mail you get (you are, me too, its fine).

3. A lamp that is the perfect height to turn on/off as you are sneaking in or out to meet your secret boyfriend. I’m actually installing an outlet in my entrance (in my house not the studio) because I want to be able to put a pretty lamp there. Its just so nice to walk in and throw on a lamp instead of a huge overhead light and that way you can leave it on for anybody that has yet to come home.

Cute lamp

3. Something that smells nice like candles or a perfect $80 Tom Dixon brass encased candle (it was a gift! do you think I would buy a 90$ candle? … but MY GOD it smells amazing). But seriously, something that smells nice is never a bad idea to have greet you as you come home from work or to mask the smell of kids and cats that you may or may not have. (I do)

4. The most adorable little tray to hold your assistant Brady’s most amazing steam-punk inspired glasses.  Shame on you for having such boring glasses, world. A tray will also hold such things as coins, keys, and general garbage that you will undoubtedly accumulate. You know how I feel about trays – we all need them A LOT. They are the character actor in our blockbuster – under-rated but relied upon greatly. That metaphor might have been a stretch but I live in LA, so what can you expect?

3m home collection

5. Some things to make your chaotic life a little easier. This could include items that help you remember to take the mail with you, like this Post-it Dry Erase Grip Tile or the Reminder Tile, or shopping list/reminders, etc. Now this is sponsored content, clearly, but these things are STRANGELY useful. I suggest you use it in your back door/mudroom not your front door because they are very utilitarian, but having something right by the door that I can shove things into is extremely useful. I actually put things for Brian in here – mainly mail that needs to get dropped off and it works. Again, its off the surfaces and onto the walls – and the less I have on my surfaces, the less chaotic my life feels.

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This little lucite holder can hold one million things – not at a time, clearly, but it could hold your keys and phone, that lip gloss that you are constantly looking for, or in this case dry erase markers for the reminder tile. 

entry console

 

flowers

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One more thing.

Now these things below are called the View and Go Pockets and basically they are pockets that are adhesive on the back so that you can constantly see what you need to deal with – its in your face. For me this is best for invoices, bills, or things that I need to deal with – like canceling a credit card or transferring health insurance.

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You can put these on front of your cabinets if you really need them to be in your face, but I do like them on the inside so i’m forced to see them often but not all the time.  Kinda like your relatives that live an hour away – its good to have them close by but you don’t want Aunt Flossie checking up on Charlie in the middle of the Bachelorette. No you don’t.

Alright folks, the items featured in the post are the Post-it Reminder Tile, Dry Erase Grip Tile, View and Go Pockets, and more  and check out Post-it.com/home for the rest of the Home Collection by Post-it Brand, Scotch Brand and Command Brand.

*This post was in partnership with the Home Collection but all the words, pictures, and ideas are mine. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep me/us creating original content. 

Photos by the always lovely and talented Zeke Ruelas, styled by me. 

Time to get organized, folks …

If I could ask a magic genie for one trait it would be to be more organized … well that and the ability to tan. Not really dark, just a light golden glow that would cover all my bruising, veins and make me look a little less like Sissy Spacek in Carrie and a little more like Cate Blanchett.

Anyway, amongst many other new years resolutions (that I didn’t exactly succeed at) I resolved to put my business credit card in a slot in my wallet after using it. My little sausage fingers LOVE nothing more, apparently, than shoving it in the side pocket of my purse, throwing it in the vortex that is my diaper bag, sliding it in my back pocket or even just leaving it on the counter of the store. The amount of avoidable stress it causes me is insane (it gets lost, I have to cancel and relink all of my accounts all the time), and its such a small  easy thing to do – just put it back! You have your wallet out, just put it back!!!!

Point being organizing isn’t my thing so any sort of elaborate organizing system would be lost on me. It would be like a fast food eating child all of a sudden being asked to go paleo; It might last a day or two but ultimately its not the right fit. I’m actually WAY more organized when it comes to business stuff (well, I have Ginny and Brady to help) then with home stuff (like paying bills, dealing with mail, parking tickets, etc) so clients out there, don’t worry. I got you. I just need help on the home front.

blue waterfall desk

So, when 3m showed me their new Home Collection (by Post-it® Brand, Scotch® Brand and Command™ Brands) I was interested but skeptical; The design is simple, sure, including gray and blue colored products (amongst other options) which I appreciate, obviously. What I found out later was that it is based off of a ton of consumer (mostly mom) testing about what they needed and what they felt wasn’t out there. Well, I’m a mom, and kinda a messy/scattered one at that so any help I can get I’ll take.

 

post-it home collection

So, I started playing with the pieces (namely the Display Rail and the Grip Board) and I was surprised how smart they were. I’ve realized that in order for me to keep my every day (and timely) paperwork (bills, invitations, parking tickets) from getting lost (and then me getting sent to collections) I need to be able to see it and access it really easily. Previously I had just piles of paperwork on my dining table but the pieces on the bottom were really never to be seen again.

For the shoot we set up this desk scenario  in the living room (I actually deal with all of this stuff in the studio, but its a TOTAL disaster right now as we are shooting like 9 things down there right now).

blue lacquer desk

I had been hoarding this desk for a while (for sale soon, via Chairish, probably $375) and have wanted to shoot it for the blog before I sell it – you know, so I can hoard the photo of it instead. Its an 80′s waterfall style table and we had it lacquered this awesome blue. So we set up a cute little desk scenario for the post and started playing with the Home Collection (from Post-it® Brand, Scotch® Brand and Command™ Brands).

3m display

At first I thought, “why would you use this Grip Board instead of a bulletin board?” and then I realized that a. I always put things NEAR my bulletin board, but they rarely get actually pinned to them because inevitably I don’t have any extra push pins and b. these take up way less space so you can have them in more accessible areas – while still making everything visible. The Grip Board is soooo easy, guys, you just shove any paperwork in there and it sticks, without a puncture or getting lost on your board. You could have one near your door and then put your outgoing mail or shopping lists there, or on your fridge or even a few in your office area, you could do one per kid or divide it up on subject – like one for social things (invites), kids stuff, home and bills.

3m home collection

The idea is to get things off of your surfaces and in view – to not pile paperwork on top of each other because everything gets lost – namely business cards, tickets, parking tickets, checks that need to be deposited, bills, dr. reminders, etc. The Post-it Grip Board and the Display Rail (again, my two favorites that I found to be extremely smart) are just so easy to throw things into and keep them visible and accessible.

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Next to the Grip Board is a pad of Post-it Full Adhesive Notes that you can write things like: ‘Don’t kill your plants’ or ‘Put on eye cream!!!!!’, two things that I consistently forget to do.

3m office

You can shove things on the bottom of the Display Rail, too, so that items can be displayed on the top and the bottom. And by things I mean your vintage stamps, polaroids, Gerard postcards and perfectly collected business cards – you know, your ephemera that you’ve been hoarding for years from every flea market you go to. Duh. If you want to create a collage of a few items, you can use the Post-it® Display Cards (above) and slip them in the Scotch® Display Rail. Either option works.

desk organizing

And that, folks is The Home Collection by Post-it® Brand, Scotch® Brand and Command™ Brands, check out the whole collection here. May we all stay a little more organized this summer – and therefore a little more sane. xx

Photos: Zeke Ruelas, Styled by me. Thanks Amsterdam Modern for letting me borrow that amazing office chair for the day.

*This post was in partnership with 3M, but all content ideas, creation and words are mine. Thank you very much for supporting the brands/posts that keep us creating original content.