‘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’. 

  1. Lucrecia

    Emily you are my inspiration , i study interior design and i dream to be like you some day ha ha! this makeover is incredible !
    Thank you for your work. !

    Lucrecia from Argentina :)

  2. Robyn

    We have Spring Mint in our master bath! I had zero idea we were on trend. ;)

  3. Sarah

    My family and I are staying this week at a cottage beach house in Ventura. You’ve got my husband and I thinking of (seriously!) contacting the owner to see of he’s thinking if selling…plus we found a vintage mahi mahi at a thrift store downtown (in the spirit of the shark in the bedroom), so I’m thinking its a sign! :)
    Thank you for sharing so much background. It really helps us readers, learning from THE BEST (I do miss your styling in the photos tho-even if this NY team is fabulous!
    As for next week, may I request more Craigslist trolling!!!??? :) perhaps, SF Bay?
    Thanks again!

    • raya

      Sarah I live in Ventura and have been in some of the beach houses…they have so much potential don’t they? Hope you’re enjoying the town (minus the fog)…we do have some good thrift stores :)

  4. Ann Frederick

    I want to see some Los Angeles Craigslist trolling PLEASE!!! It’s such a beautiful space. I feel like you could only be happy when living in this house! I also LOVE the tile in the bathroom. Yesterday I bought my first fig tree and it really changes my room. I pretty much kill every plant so hopefully it will survive! (this is why I don’t have any plants) I spent my evening after the kids were in bed, spray painting a pot white. I was thinking about how you have mentioned that there are no really great planters, you should definitely start a line of them! I was at Home Depot and didn’t want to spend a lot of money or run around town with child so I decided on spray paint. Thanks again for the inspiration.

  5. Wonderful curating of color, texture, and shapes. Everything works together really well. And I like the white-painted ceiling, so fresh!

  6. Laurielulu

    Hello Dear Emily, I am also curious about the sources for the lighting! Love this space!

    • Sandy

      I too, want to know about lighting. Particularly the tripod lamp in the front corner. Thanks!

      • Emily

        OOh, sorry. The lighting is vintage. I think that the floorlamp was from Aero Studios, the others from the Flea market!

  7. katherynn

    GORGEOUS!! The hammock is genius and balances out the space perfectly. **now wishing for my very own stylish hammock**

  8. Becky

    Loveeeeeeeeeee this room.

  9. MamaChilanga


    Ha! That explains the hammock!

    Gotcha! ;-)

  10. raya

    I have enjoyed these posts so much, Emily. The house and whole story in CL are so great – it’s cool to see that you went in a slightly different direction than the style you’re known for and it was extremely successful. Now I want a beach house! xoxo

  11. I’m still scared to paint over my wood and brick, Emily, but your encouragement and your work like this makes it less intimidating. (I just hate the idea of how much more work it’d be if I ever decided to unearth everything, you know?) I just might paint my brick fireplace after all!

  12. Wendy

    This is the way you fuse all styles! This was for Country Living Magazine and yet it doesn’t really feel all that “country” to me. It is restful, cheerful, comfortable, and I would be happy living in that space.
    I will buy this mag becuase Emily Henderson is in it.

  13. Eliza

    I too would love to know the source on the floor lamp?

  14. My favorite room in the house for sure! I mean a hammock in the living room? How can you beat that?

  15. The color is very similar to what I have in my living areas! I love how light and bright it is, yet it still has energy. It also goes with just about everything!

  16. elena

    I love following all your designs and makeovers. One thing you’ve convinced me of is a need for real life in rooms- i.e.- plants! I’ve started to bring the rooms in my own apartment to life with plants, but I feel that there is more of an art to using plants than I understand. I’d love to see you post sometime about how to use plants, which spaces need which dimension of plant life, and what plants work well in certain kinds of light. Plus, I love the trees you use and would love to find some for my place!

    • Sarah

      She did this. You’ll have to sewrchvthruvold posts. It was shortly after Bri’s house.

  17. I DID THIS TOO!!!! I wanted a craayyyzzeee bathroom and tried painting the trim, it looked horrific. My poor husband painted them all thinking I’d love it (but he hated it as well), I felt terrible having to paint over them but he agreed (horrible).

  18. Renae

    Love, love, love this! Hoping to channel this vibe into our next place! This totally helped clarify my vision! You guys did an ah-maz-ing job! Love everything! xoxo Renae

  19. Tiffany

    That hammock is yummy. Get in my house, Mr. hammock.

  20. Pingback: Deep Thoughts: New decor option + Instagram fun + Louisville Bloggers workshop | The Em Dash

  21. Pingback: Apartment Living: Part 4 (Main Living Spaces) | Ariela Designs

  22. Pingback: Apartment Living: Part 4 (Main Living Spaces) | Ariela Designs

  23. Pingback: ‘House of the Year’ Living Room Makeover + Perch Counter Stools from West Elm + more! | Front & Main

  24. I had a total friend crush on you from day one of your design star debut. You are just too adorable and everything you touch becomes lovely. Thank you for being an inspiration! xo

  25. Wow, this is stunning. I love the white ceiling.


  26. Silvana

    Hello Emily and thanks for shring your absolutely awesome good taste with us readers
    I am writing from a small town near Rome, Italy and renowating my housi am really curios about wich kind of wood you used for the floors in this project, can you tell me?

  27. Pingback: Introducing "Bookmarked" | PAPER/PLATES

  28. Pingback: Capella Kincheloe Interior Design: PAINT GUIDE: BEST PASTELS

  29. Pingback: My favorite Makeovers of the year; a roundup | Emily Henderson

Leave a Comment

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>