Emily Henderson

'House of the Year' Living Room Makeover


It’s the final post of this transformation, folks. Whatever will I write about next week?? Probably Instagrams of my child-filled belly, or lots of updates on The Fig House project, which is coming right along. You’ve seen the picture before but you didn’t get all the resources and back story, plus some detail shots. In case you are just joining us, I (with a team of awesome designers: Isabella, Jami and Natalie from Country Living Magazine) redesigned a house in Breezy Point, Queens that had gotten destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. It looked like that little disaster above, but had loads and loads of potential, obviously.

And now:

country modern house

It’s hard to understand from a photo how inviting a space is. So trust me, this space is just so inviting. It’s open, airy, bright, full of light with pops of color, but mainly just really calming. It makes me want to have an English roll arm sofa, sisal rugs, and OBVIOUSLY a hammock in my living room. I mean, you know that’s my favorite moment.

When you are in this room you just feel calm and quiet … the perfect respite for our New Yorker homeowner. So here’s what we did to keep it all soft and quiet:

1. We painted the ceiling white.  Here’s the thing about painting wood: It seems sacrilegious but once it’s done you NEVER think about the fact that it could be a dark stain. There are so many old houses that have dark wood window casings and doors, and while YES, it’s beautiful, and if you can handle that kind of contrast and dark tones then keep it. But don’t feel bad about painting them white. White is just as classic and timeless; It’s just WHITE instead. Same with brick. You are scared, but you won’t regret it.

2. We painted the walls ‘Spring Mint’ by Benjamin Moore. The color in the above photo is a bit enhanced. Not to say that it’s wrong, it’s just not as saturated in person. It’s more like the photos below, soft and minty. This color is AWESOME. 100 percent my new favorite mint/aqua tone. It’s soft, pretty and calm, and yet totally on trend. hammock indoors 3. We divided up the room into two seating areas — the sofa/living area and the inviting hammock corner (near the bar cart so you can get all sauced and swing dangerously into those windows). All the areas of the room speak to each other; sisal talks to sisal, blue talks to blue, with hits of black and corals all the way around to make it look cohesive. cozy living room All in all it was a really awesome project to work on. The design team at Country Living Magazine KILLED it. Jami and Isabella, you guys are amazing and I’d like to offer you jobs in Los Angeles doing all the work for me, while I take most of the credit. Please. Thank you so much for all your help, SERIOUSLY. xx

Thank you Cindy Diprima for styling these photos. A few of you asked if it was weird that I didn’t style them, and of course I considered doing it, but I’m not in New York anymore. I don’t have a messenger service, car rental, assistants, storage, etc., so while I could have done it, I knew that Cindy would do it MUCH better. I was VERY particular, though, and I said that if Cindy or Scott couldn’t do it then I would want to. I worked for Cindy for five years — she’s an incredible stylist — plus I was on set so I got to feel like I was there helping without actually having to schlep too much. I was in my first trimester so you know, falling asleep standing up basically, so it just made so much more sense for someone I trusted to do a better job than me. Thank you, Cindy :)

Alec Hemer took all the photos. Some of the above are blurry and that’s because I had to find them on the Internet. They weren’t in the magazine spread. So obviously Alec, who is amazing, would not have sent them like that. :)

Resources: Window shades, JCPenney. Wood floors, $14 sq foot, Shawfloors.com. Sofa, $2050, sofa.com. Country Living by Surya rug, $449 8×10’6″. Canvas chair/rattan chair, Serena and Lily. Hammock, $145, Overstock.com. Pouf, $199, westelm.com. Wall paint, Benjamin Moore ‘Spring Mint’. 

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