I decked my halls: The Hendersons go Holiday

White Christmas, California style. Check out the feature on The Glitter Guide for even more info and pictures.

I done did it. I got this idea in my head on Thanksgiving that the Hendersons are grown up enough to throw a proper Christmas party, and party we will. And then I thought a proper one will probably take a lot of effort, time, and money for me to do it well so I may as style the hell out of it, shoot it, and make it one big old branding situation. I’m an opportunist like that. So on December 1st, I forced a few friends to come over for our first holiday party, but not before David Tsay came over and shot the hell out of it.

Here she is, transformed for the holidays:  

The goal: To make it feel totally festive and a little bit over the top without it looking nutso, junky, or creepy. The best way you can do that is to stick to a consistent color palette throughout your whole space, and keep the same decorating theme everywhere. I had a ton of hot pink ornaments left over from the Christmas special, so I knew I wanted to incorporate them. Meanwhile, navy is obviously my color du decade so I wanted to to work with that. Therefore, my palette became navy, hot pink, gold, and white. I know it’s predictable, but it just works so well and makes me so happy.  

For the tree, I grabbed ornaments that were different textures and sizes and colors, but again all within that palette. I think that over time we will probably have more that are sentimental to us that will be harder to mix in, but this is kinda our first Christmas so we are starting from scratch. (Cut to me in five years wondering if it’s bad parenting to take all the ugly colored markers or crayons away.)

 

You might be wondering where the TV is, and the answer is we don’t have a TV, we choose to read “books” and listen to “our stories” on the radio instead.

In opposite world. For the party, we moved the much beloved TV into the other room, and instead I put a huge stack of wrapped presents in the shape of a tree. It doesn’t entertain me nearly as much, yet somehow it makes me happier. I hand painted all the blue stripe/plaid and watercolor-y ones, and used gold contact paper on white paper on the other ones, and of course mixed in some solids and stripes. It would have been really inexpensive except for the fact that I did buy really expensive papers and ribbons, etc, to play with. But you could even do all white butcher paper with different colored bows (or all the same bows and make them super monochromatic.) You could wrap them all the same white and then paint on the boxes (which is what I did — don’t try and paint the paper and then wrap). I used acrylic paint or tempura paint from the craft store, but I think you could use any paint, just go for it. I didn’t tape any patterns off, but you definitely could.  

Oh, the mantel! The centerpiece and the focal point of the room! Not decorating your mantel is like going to work without your pants on; It doesn’t matter how nice of a shirt you have or how pretty your hair is, it kinda ruins everything … unless you work at an underwear factory and are wearing the underwear that they design and have really nice legs, in which case you’ll probably get a promotion.  


I decked my mantel out, but in a super easy way. For stockings i found these navy blue classic guys at Moskatels in downtown LA for $3.99 each. I love how classic they are but in an updated, less traditional color. They aren’t terribly high quality and I’m sure will only last if we don’t use them. Poor Brian is getting bubble wrap and empty boxes in his stockings since that is what we styled in them. But hell, he loves bubble wrap! I mean, the unexpected yet totally expected pop really gets you every time. For my mantel styling tips watch this video.

I brought in cotton for snow (again, it’s kind my thing this year) because I love how it keeps things so light and airy BUT still softens all the lines. And it’s WAY less messy than the pine needles that the Bear loves to eat and puke and then eat the puke, then puke.  I also like how the cotton creates a bed for all the pretty ornaments up there. At the last minute, we painted the inside of the non-functional fireplace navy blue to make it pop. It was white before, which I liked, but I actually love this. It’s “Loyal Blue” from Sherwin Williams, the same as my office. I threw some cotton in there (snow) and a brass deer head, naturally.

In the front window, I created a holiday tablescape that you can see from the street. I found this lucite console at the flea market recently for $100 with extremely straight modern lines, which I don’t find very often.  I got all the glass domes at Moskatels and other weird wholesale craft/party supply stores downtown (I would imagine Michaels has them) for $5 – $25, depending on the size. Then naturally I filled them with miniature trees.

I added these gold sequin ball ornaments to give it some bling, and some tea lights to bring light and reflection over there at night. I love that it still is consistent with the rest of the space, but it’s kinda quiet and peaceful, too. AND IT’S A MINIATURE FOREST! I‘m assuming there are very, very small little squirrels and polar bears up there, doing adorable things with their teeny, tiny little hands …

On the new coffee table — sorry you can’t see those amazing brass legs — I added a tray that corrals some candles and flowers, threw some more of those awesome gold ball ornaments, and then a brass tangle light under a dome. When we had the party, we just removed the ornaments, and there was plenty of space to put down drinks, etc. The painting in the back was what we used in the holiday special to write “on Dasher, on Dancer,” but this time it reads “Ho Ho Ho, Ho.” Get it? Oh, aren’t we very edgy …

And in case you are thinking to yourself, “Is that a mother loving macramé hanging cat bed in the corner?!” the answer is, “Yes, yes it is.”  I bought it as a hanging table, but Brian (who is slightly more obsessed with our cats than I am) put a pillow on it and Bear immediately claimed it. She loves it so much that we don’t have the heart to take it away from her and instead we are “those people.” Thank God I’m already married. The tour of the house on a first date ending with the Queen of Sheba over there on her $200 cat bed might turn him off faster than the high-waisted jeans (that he didn’t notice yet) that I was wearing. 

The rug is vintage Chinese deco from the flea market for $300. The coffee table is from the flea for $100, the sofa I purchased in Portland at The Good Mod (vintage), the Italian wood hand chair is from Roundtop Flea Market outside Austin, the blue and white pillow is Land’s End, gold pillow is West Elm, and other pillow I sewed myself. The art behind the cat bed is from Jen Gotch through my opensky store. The standing lamp I got in Portland recently, and brass trunk I’ve hoarded for a while.

But, what did we eat at that party you ask?

Only the most delicious food from HeirloomLA.

But first, the wreath. I’m going to do a proper post about it, but basically it was just floral foam wreath form (say that 15 times) that I soaked in water for a while and shoved ferns, peonies, garden roses, and other greenery in. I didn’t have an exact vision for it. I just knew I wanted it to have an organic flow and feel kinda wild. Again, I’ll post about that hopefully tomorrow or Saturday. It was WAYYY easier than I thought it would be, the trick is choosing the right flowers (aka, make them special, full, contrast in size and color, and when in doubt, choose peonies and garden roses). Again, more on that later.

Back to our delicious spread:

 

 

CROSTINI STATION: House-cured meats, cheeses, roasted veggies, seasonal fruits , marinated olives, pickled veggies, etc. And yes, that is on a vintage blue and white marble chess board, why not?
ARANCINI with saffron aioli. Sooo delicious.
GARDEN SALAD: homegrown greens and apples with a lemon vinaigrette
Shepherd’s PIE: Braised short rib, whipped yams, and cinnamon marshmallow
HOME GROWN PEPPERS STUFFED WITH RICOTTA + SHORT RIBS. These were insane.
SHRIMP CEVICHE TOSTADAS Uh huh. So good.
PANNA COTTA with apricot glaze and molasses dust.
It was all so delicious you have no idea. I was freaking out.
For the party the next day we had all of the above, PLUS, lettuce wraps that were pretty amazing.
LASAGNA CUPCAKES: various flavors included house made pasta with Sage Brown Butter Pumpkin with Smoked Mozzarella, Wild Boar Bologonese with Fresh Mozzarella, Confit Baby Artichoke with Fresh Mozzarella, Osso Buco with Saffron and Parmesan.  

Thank you so much, HEIRLOOMLA, you make me look VERY cool to my friends.
A huge thanks to Danielle Walch for my hair and makeup (you’ll see those pics tomorrow, with Brian, Bear and Mimi. Who is Mimi you ask? Yes, she’s the “Other Cat” as my friends call her). Danielle is a massive pro at making sometone look ten times prettier without making them look done up. You have no idea how difficult that is.
 
Everything was shot by David Tsay (who I’ve worked with for years, and blogged about HERE) and he did a pretty amazing job at making my house look like somewhere I really, really want to live in.  A total pro in every way.
Also this handsome man below (along with Beth and Kristen) helped a lot and deserves a huge shout out. His name is Orlando and he’s my other lover, except mainly we hug and talk about lampshades and the difference between Kilim and Persian style rugs.  

 

Happy Holidays, friends. From our very styled house to yours.

What do you think?

  1. Kimberly

    Oh Wow! So stylish and very fun. Makes me want to celebrate the season. I spy a garland light (which is on my Christmas list for the hubby). I love the trees under the dome. It looks like a mini eco-system. I stole your 'Joy to the World' and now today I'm running out to get some mini trees so I can steal your dome idea. Love it!

  2. Oh my gosh! I'm blown away. It looks amazing. Can I come back as you in my next life? Now I'm really hungry and feel the need to go decorate some more. Thanks for sharing. – Brandy

  3. Mandolyn

    You have become one of my favorite blogs to read—you're hilarious. And this entire post is gorgeous.
    The I read the line "You might be wondering where the tv is, and the answer is we don't have a TV, we choose to read 'books' and listen to 'our stories' on the radio instead" about four times in disbelief, felt very lazy and wasteful of my time, and then read your next line. Whew.

  4. Jessi

    snarfed coffee over the mother loving macrame cat bed. love it!

    Been waiting for these pics! Gorgeous!

  5. Terri

    It looks great! I LOVE that wreath. I can't wait for the post about how you did it but I'm sure mine wouldn't turn out as well as yours did. And the little forest under the glass domes is so cute. That I could do, but never think of myself. Thanks for all the inspiration! I check your blog every day and always come away with a bunch of new ideas. I recently redecorated my family and living rooms and tried to channel Emily Henderson while doing it! I really like the way they turned out. Thanks so much! P.S. When is Secrets From a Stylist coming back??

  6. Carrie

    The dalmatian loves Orlando too!

  7. Robyn O.

    You need to design and sell those cat beds somewhere! I'd buy one in a second!!!

  8. Where on earth did you find peonies at this time of year?

  9. Suz

    Unbelievable! Love every single thing you did, but especially the wreath and the window display. And, how pretty are you with your big bow???

  10. vicky

    emily, amazing! i love it. and i love reading your blog posts too…you crack me up! lots of love!! and bear is so lucky to have that bed…smart of her to stake her claim.

  11. I LOVE everything that you did! So gorgeous! I actually stole a bunch of cotton fill from our workshop (I guess it isn’t really stealing since it’s my workshop) so that I can have snow in my living room after watching what you did with Cheryl Burk’s place on Celebrity Holiday Homes (I didn’t think my husband would go for the pink trees, but he was all into the snow idea). I’m also seriously digging the packages in the shape of a Christmas tree. Great job, as usual!

  12. Emily

    Emily, legit, I'm actually so jealous of this room that I could voms. This is INSANE in its magnitude of awesomeness. I want all of it. Can you come to the East Coast so I can steal you and carry you around in my pocket forever? That's not too creepy, is it?

  13. Merry Christmas, Emily! I love how Bearcat on his macrame cat bed got into one of your pictures. So cute!

  14. Cindy

    I kinda love your hanging cat bed, I'd want to put my little dog on it but she'd freak. I also love your love of navy–which inspired me to paint a navy background for some shortbread stars I made.

    PS, I just read your Martha and Mormons post, sent the link to a friend with the caption "I KNEW IT!" , because OF COURSE… and, then, totally started singing "I am a child of God…" like a creep at my husband.

  15. amber

    I love everything in this wrong! It's so gorgeous! And that is probably the prettiest wreath I have ever seen.

  16. Beautiful details and colors! Love the mother loving macramé hanging cat bed in the corner! You gotta love a designer that decorates for her pets.

  17. Kat

    Oh my goodness, it's gorgeous! My faves: the wreath (HOW is it so pretty?!) and the tiny forrest. The tiny forrest in bell jars is going to happen in my house posthaste! Thanks for your awesome blog and your awesome show (when does the new season start?) and your awesome pinnings. I enjoy it all very much.

  18. sarah

    so beautiful! awesome job

  19. Ange

    This is awesome! My favourite parts are the floral arrangement on the gold tray, that wreath (!!!) and the window display. And the chess board idea is amazing too, plus I want to eat all of the food. I really enjoyed the cat bed and the opposite world comment, ha. Honestly, I wasn't super excited about the pink celebrity party scheme, but I am totally on board with the addition of navy in your own home. It's so good!

  20. Andrea U

    Is that dalmation statue from the old "Wheel of Fortune" shows?

  21. Elise

    You had me at "…. the pine needles that the Bear loves to eat and puke and then eat the puke, then puke." Truly, you are a goddess.

  22. beautiful! my favorite is the lucite console with glass domes. what a great find!

  23. Kim

    I hope the picture of the two of you is your Christmas card, so hip. I love it (and the cat bed too btw, our cat would DIE for it)! Love the space, your design (esp the mini trees). Rock on!

  24. Kim

    I hope the picture of the two of you is your Christmas card, so hip. I love it (and the cat bed too btw, our cat would DIE for it)! Love the space, your design (esp the mini trees). Rock on!

  25. Marina

    Stunning. The house, you, the whole shebang.

  26. Marina

    Stunning. The house, you, the whole shebang.

  27. This looks soooo awesome. I really love it. I actually bought a house a few months back in the LA area with a similar living room layout as this. I have been racking my brain on how to do the layout so we could include our TV too and not block the front window or front door area. And this is perfect. We also have a large rounded window. Is your curtain rod slightly taller than the ones on the other windows? So many awesome ideas. Thanks Emily. When we get back from our cross country trip and move into the house, I will be stalking your site :)

  28. This looks soooo awesome. I really love it. I actually bought a house a few months back in the LA area with a similar living room layout as this. I have been racking my brain on how to do the layout so we could include our TV too and not block the front window or front door area. And this is perfect. We also have a large rounded window. Is your curtain rod slightly taller than the ones on the other windows? So many awesome ideas. Thanks Emily. When we get back from our cross country trip and move into the house, I will be stalking your site :)

  29. Darlene

    Today i stopped following 8 blogs on bloglovin basically because they were getting stale and redundant! i don't believe that will ever happen to you! i love your sense of humor and honesty. Also, nice matching your outfit to your decor!

  30. Darlene

    Today i stopped following 8 blogs on bloglovin basically because they were getting stale and redundant! i don't believe that will ever happen to you! i love your sense of humor and honesty. Also, nice matching your outfit to your decor!

  31. shandra

    You are a girl I would love to hang with Emily. Loved you on HGTV but you are even funnier and I'm sure able to more irreverant on your blog. Beautiful decorated home and the Christmas decorations are stellar. Merry Christmas to you, yours, and the cat!

  32. shandra

    You are a girl I would love to hang with Emily. Loved you on HGTV but you are even funnier and I'm sure able to more irreverant on your blog. Beautiful decorated home and the Christmas decorations are stellar. Merry Christmas to you, yours, and the cat!

  33. OMG. So excited about how great this turned out! I'm seriously all about a non traditional colored christmas! That wreath turned out absolutely beautiful.

  34. OMG. So excited about how great this turned out! I'm seriously all about a non traditional colored christmas! That wreath turned out absolutely beautiful.

  35. Wow, I want to be invited to that kind of Christmas party! So, so pretty!

  36. Wow, I want to be invited to that kind of Christmas party! So, so pretty!

  37. Robin

    Beautiful! I always love the non-conventional color pallette. If that awesome brass tray goes missing, don't come looking over here:)! Actually I have been stalking you on Open Sky hoping for that exact thing and whoop, there it is!. Have a vintage Asian tea service that needs a tray like that!

  38. Robin

    Beautiful! I always love the non-conventional color pallette. If that awesome brass tray goes missing, don't come looking over here:)! Actually I have been stalking you on Open Sky hoping for that exact thing and whoop, there it is!. Have a vintage Asian tea service that needs a tray like that!

  39. cloud19th

    the food sounds fine but I don't know if I could've stopped gazing at that beautiful, beautiful wreath long enough to eat. Well, unless one of the cats was within arm's reach.

  40. cloud19th

    the food sounds fine but I don't know if I could've stopped gazing at that beautiful, beautiful wreath long enough to eat. Well, unless one of the cats was within arm's reach.

  41. Megan

    I love the macramé cat bed! I looks wonderful and stylish and now I will be in search of one for my spoiled kitties. Your home looks lovely and I really enjoy reading your posts.

  42. Megan

    I love the macramé cat bed! I looks wonderful and stylish and now I will be in search of one for my spoiled kitties. Your home looks lovely and I really enjoy reading your posts.

  43. amy h

    It looks gorgeous. And, yes, I was wondering about the cat throne. :) And lasagna cupcakes?? I need lasagna cupcakes.

  44. amy h

    It looks gorgeous. And, yes, I was wondering about the cat throne. :) And lasagna cupcakes?? I need lasagna cupcakes.

  45. Emily, this post and your portrait session are my favorite Christmas blog posts I've read this year! The house is beautiful, liveable and so well styled. The portraits are adorable!! Merry Christmas.

  46. Emily, this post and your portrait session are my favorite Christmas blog posts I've read this year! The house is beautiful, liveable and so well styled. The portraits are adorable!! Merry Christmas.

  47. Saw your previous post about the hanging macrame thingy. I am obsessed with it being a hangout (no pun intended) spot for Bearcat. Awesome.

  48. Saw your previous post about the hanging macrame thingy. I am obsessed with it being a hangout (no pun intended) spot for Bearcat. Awesome.

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