Introducing our house and our newest client – ME.

Oooooh, its happening. I’ve been really busy as you know (the move, baby, christmas, THE BACHELOR – happy Juan-uary, by the way) so I don’t think I properly introduced you to my newest client: MYSELF (and Brian and Charlie). This year i’ll be blogging about the design of the house (room by room) telling you all the problems, how we are fixing them, with mood boards, how-to’s, process shots and sneak peek into the finals (which will hopefully be in a magazine – hey Domino or Elle Decor? Need a house to feature in a year?). You’ll get ample information, trust me. I mean, have you met me? This girl can talk/write ….

In short: this house has GREAT bones, architecture, light, flow, view and space, but all the finishes (carpet/flooring, orange peel on the walls, tile, paint, etc) need to be replaced or updated. We  replaced the carpet with beautiful flooring (post coming next week), skim coated the walls and did a couple of things that were structural, but really its more of a big old decoration job rather than a renovation this time.


The house was built-in 1964 up on the hills in Glendale and has great mid-century lines. It also has mid-century carpet, dust and age, so there is a lot of freshening up to do as well as finishing. It also had lots of vintage Polaroid pics of hookers giving lap dances hidden in the walls with, get this, CRACK PIPES. Actual crack pipes from what seems like the early 80′s, although we didn’t test their vintage quality. There was also a ‘bonus’ room in the basement that was clearly used for some S and M activity – although definitely NOT 50 shades of gray kinda of quality, which is now being transformed into my office. It has some history, for sure, but so does every house and Brian and I aren’t easily creeped out so we actually think its hilarious.



So pretending i’m the client here, I have to do what I always do when meeting a client: ask the million dollar question: how do you want your home to feel? Not look – that can get too complicated with vocabulary confusing the real question. But how do you want it to FEEL? When you walk in the door what feeling do you want to come over you?

For me, it’s these three words/feelings: HAPPY, CALM and SURPRISING. I want it to be a place that feels joyful and whimsical, like happy people really live here and have a lot of fun here. But I also really need it to feel calm and quiet – a lot less busy than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. This is probably because of the baby and my ensuing hectic life, or maybe its the fact that the architecture of this house is so good that I don’t need to decorate the hell out of it to ‘help’ it so to speak. I realize that this is a common mistake (that I’ve absolutely guilty of) – when you don’t like the house you try to fill it with exciting things to distract you from the house itself. So now that I love this house (the light, the space, THE VIEWS!!!) I want way less ‘stuff’ because I don’t want to distract or detract from what I love about it.

So here is my inspiration for what ‘calm’ looks like:


See? Fairly tonal and quiet, full of whites, woods, natural materials like wicker and rattan, leathers and some pops of color. It says, ‘oh hey guys, come on in and relax, read a magazine, spread out and cuddle’. Remember the more contrast in your space the more ‘energetic it feels so the line between quiet and boring is fine and one that I’m going to have to dance carefully.

But then of course there is a side of me (and Brian) that wants unpredictability, the unexpected, the surprising and most importantly, the weird. We can’t live in a white world. NO! We are much too loud and boisterous (did I just call us ‘boisterous’?) to live totally minimally. Instead, every room needs something to throw it off – some color to shake it up, and some energy and life.


So that is another fine line to dance on – energetic without being busy. (Over the course of the redo i’ll show you how to do this, by the way).

So, that’s where i’m starting – mixing those two worlds: quiet and calm with unexpected and weird – but always ALWAYS happy. Brian and I are total extroverts and we have very rowdy friends (did i just call our friends ‘rowdy’? What are they frat boys?) that require an unbreakable house. I want Charlie (and child #2) to look around and without knowing why, feel like this is a place that they can have fun. So yes, it will be INCREDIBLY kid friendly – well as kid-friendly as a house on a cliff with cement stairs can be :). I’m way too much of a ‘yes’ person to have to tell my child ‘no’ all the time … plus I’m simply too lazy to discipline that much … and i hate rules in general. So I will be passing up any furniture that can either be damaged easily by a child, or easily damage a child – that’s the only rule I really want to keep for myself – er…. my “client”.

So far I’m liking my client – while a bit demanding, she and I have very similar styles and she has the cutest baby I’ve ever seen so that doesn’t hurt. And while what she wants is far beyond what she can really afford, I’ll remind  her constantly that a house with everything that is high-end and expensive is a. not really her and b. less interesting. It’s the hunt, the random Craigslist, the mixing of less expensive big box stores with more unique pieces that actually reflects her families personality more. I’ll let her splurge on some things as she works VERY hard and deserves some treasures, but I’ll constantly remind her that she of all people can do a lot with flea markets and some sweat.

God, I hope she listens to me.

So, friends, pretend like you just hired a designer and they asked you ‘how do you want your space to feel?’ What three words immediately pop into your head?  I’m curious if there are some universal consistencies … Let er rip …

  1. comfortable, collected, and loved. I guess collected is vague enough to allow some weirdness here and there.

  2. Fiona

    Oh my God. Crack pipes and hookers. My husband and I joked that the guy we bought our first apartment from had been a swinger in the 70s. (Built-in seating, navy shag carpet on EVERYTHING, etc) It did creep me out a little until we pulled out the shag to show a beautiful wood floor.

    But that aside, love your house. The light is great, and you and your team will work magic!

    My three words? Probably light, warm (maybe because it’s five degrees here) and spacious (even though I actually like small homes–but I also like illusion).

  3. Joanna

    I would say airy, fun, sophisticated. I like a little quirk in there, but I can’t totally handle a huge amount of color/texture, so “sophisticated” seemed like the right word. Maybe. :)

  4. karen l

    light fun welcoming

    We want our home to be the place everybody wants to gather. We love being the party house, so we’re into reupholstering estate sale stuff, vintage treasures, leather furniture (can’t mess it up) mixed with a little ikea.

  5. Rosie

    Your inspiration pictures have me very inspired.

    And that’s the one word I would choose to describe what I want my house to be…inspired. Or rather, INSPIRING. The other two: Eye-pleasing (two words?) and warm.

    Really looking forward to your transformation, Emily!

  6. Deb

    Whimsy, colorful and calm are the three words that pop up when I think of my little apt home…….I think you’ve got whimsy already oozing from the walls, judging by what you found inside them!!! And I have no doubt your personalities will shine in this new light-filled space. May I recommend a leather couch somewhere? When my two sons were little, I splurged on a navy leather couch with matching chair and ottoman (75% off cuz someone broke up the set by purchasing the loveseat). It withstood two pairs of busy little hands, umpteen friends, and my younger son now has these pieces in his bachelor pad. Soft, rounded corners, easy to clean, and perfect for Charlie and companions of all ages. Carry on! Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  7. Jess

    Your house is so swoon-worthy already! I mean, come on… those STAIRS! how dare they be so fabulous? I’d be making grand entrances down them every day, even if i was just wearing pajamas.

    My three words for home are probably something along the lines of… fun, inviting, and to steal from you – surprising! I love unexpected things, nooks and crannies filled with weird trinkets, and little dashes of kitsch popping out here and there.

  8. This redesign is going to be major. I can feel it. So helpful to see the before and after, and I can’t wait to see more! Congrats!

  9. Wendy

    My 3 words–

    “Cozy, comfortable and artsy”

    We’re below zero right now in Jersey City so that could be influencing the first word…
    The thing is I LOVE your style and I want to recreate it but I have a small Victorian house and I’ve lived with what my mother called antique white with white trim for several years and I feel like I’m missing the details from the plaster cove molding so I’m about to paint the living room Chelsea Gray which is pretty dark..Hopefully,it will be elegant in a Ralph Lauren way and then I’ll go crazy in the kitchen with your signature style…white floors and bright blue Smeg fridge!

  10. Robyn

    I love the serenity of the white inspiration board. I feel calm just looking at the pictures. But alas, I’m a spiller and I would get wine on everything. So I’d go with cozy, unique and colorful. And durable. And cat and dog hair resistant.

  11. Michelle

    Great post to inspire for the new year. We we have five cats (all adorable, quirky rescues), and I have a messy but lovable partner. My first feeling is put together, which for me is a combination of organized, clean, and uncluttered. And what I mean by that is, I want my home to feel like those three things even when it’s not. I want to be able to dim the lights and not see that the baseboards need dusting, for example. My second feeling is un-precious. I don’t want anyone to worry about picking up my stuff and looking at it, or spilling something on it. The third feeling is interesting. I want to be able to look around my house and be remembered of the people, places, events, and trips that I love. I also want it to feel stylish and visually pleasing, but that’s a given or I wouldn’t be a fan of Style by EH or Houzz or Lonny, etc. Thanks for asking!

    • Michelle

      Sorry, *reminded of.

  12. jody

    comforting (like warm and cozy but dark), storied (like has meaning, is well used/crafted), exciting (like has something unexpected/unique/interesting/interactive about it that demands a response).

  13. Samantha

    comfortable, clean, calm.

    i’m definitely an obsessive neat freak on the edge of OCD…but i still want my friends to feel comfortable in my house. since i live in an 800 sq ft apartment, clean/calm go hand-in-hand. any extra clutter and/or stuff eliminates the calm.

  14. Jen

    Probably the location of those “special movies” that are famous for being filmed in the Valley ;) Gotta love the SFV!! It’s going to be spectacular!

  15. Betsy

    What exciting finds! I was excited to find an All-Clad grill pan and a set of iron vintage patio furniture in our house when we moved in. Unfortunately, they also left urns that contained 2of their dogs remains in the spice cabinet… The stuff that was left in your house is SO much better!

  16. michaela

    Clean. Bright. Happy.

    I am a bit of a minimalist who loves her rooms to have lots of white with pops of all different, vibrant colors. I change the pops depending upon the season and my mood. It flows from lots of white to lots of colors.

    Cheers to your new home!

  17. Tara

    Hmm… warm, inviting, and joyful. I want everyone– friends and strangers– to feel welcome and warm in our cottage.

    I can’t wait to see what you do with this! Even though our styles are rather different, I always find inspiration in your work! Thanks for blogging!

  18. sarah

    This is so me right now. we just moved into a new house with a living room that is 20.3 feet long. It is empty because I want it to be calm and inviting but also fun and I am having a hard time finding a good balance! can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  19. Sandy

    easy going, happy, fun
    I like a place where you feel that it’s okay to put your feet on the furniture. I also firmly believe that one of the best sounds you can fill your home with is laughter. I love lots of color and definitely think decor should include touches of humor here and there to keep things light. Life has enough troubles, I don’t want my home to be so stiff and formal that I can’t relax and just enjoy being there. You need a place you can retreat to from the world where you can unwind, be comfortable, and be yourself. Oh, and it has to be dog friendly!

  20. Emily

    Cozy, inviting and intriguing. So excited to see this house come along!

  21. Suzi

    clean, organized, interesting

  22. Amber

    Simple. Serene. Beautiful. Please go for the white simple neutral! I love your color style-that’s what pulled me to your blog. BUT… my colors are neutral, and I’d like to see what you would do with them.

  23. Kari

    Inviting, loved, relaxing. I want everyone who comes in to feel at home, but not because my house is full of overstuffed furniture. I want people to see that this is a space that we love (made up of pieces that we love) and that we are relaxed to be/have others in.

  24. Megan

    Calm, inviting and clean. I can’t wait to see what you do! I loved reading your explanations about the feeling you are looking for. I can’t figure out my space at all. I like a lot of styles but then I tend to get tired of it quickly. I’ve repainted our house three times already and am testing out going to white. Maybe it will stick? Can’t wait to see what you do! Q

  25. Jodie

    My words would be clean, light, and rustic. Can’t wait to see what you create in your home (and what you find! Oh la la!).

  26. I love your inspiration! Looks like you’ve got a great interesting space to work with, and I know it will turn out great… Can’t wait to see the finished product (:

  27. I just moved into a new place, so this post is totally going to help me be my own client in the new space! My three are…. classic, whimsical, and relaxed.

    p.s. I know you put a lot of time into each of your posts and I just wanted you to know out of the several dozen blogs I follow from fashion to food, I always take the time and read every one of your posts! Your writing is funny, conversational and just plain enjoyable!

  28. Hrm, I really have to think about this one. We’re in the midst of moving into a new home, too. I’d say my three words are bright, playful and cozy.

  29. Susan

    sophisticated ( in an artsy way), zen, interesting…

    We found 70′s p0rn in the drop ceiling of our OR house-along with empty booze/beer bottles. Obviously, someone had quite the party going on in the basement, LOL. Houses have such interesting back stories!

  30. Ashley

    Cozy, clean, and energizing

    I don’t know if cozy and energizing are possible to have together but this is just for fun right?!

    • Emily

      Totally possible :)

  31. Love that you’re doing away with the crack pipes and hookers and adding in some comfy and cozy. ;) Your inspiration pics are awesome! Can’t wait to see what you do!

    Angela @ Number Fifty-Three

  32. Tamara

    Cozy. Bright. Welcoming.

  33. inviting, cozy, HIP

    cozy is dominating these comments!

    • Emily

      I know, right? Not sure if its a weather thing, but clearly everyone wants a cozy house – now i wish i had put it as one of my three, too – but the huge ceilings and massive windows make ‘cozy’ a bit hard …

  34. Raven

    Ugh, I’m totally trying to fill my ugly apartment with cool things that I love because I came from a beautiful little house with tons of light and now live in a cave with orange (yes, orange!) walls and they won’t let me paint. Shoot me now. Or I’ll just keep distracting myself with pretty things.

    I’d like my home to feel: Swanky, Comfortable, Airy

    • Rebecca

      For Raven who can’t paint her orange walls: I saw on a design show once how you can glue fabric to your walls when you can’t paint to change the look. It then peels off very easily when you move or want to change it. I’m sure you could google that technique, or maybe Emily knows the specifics. Just thought I would mention that (as I couldn’t stand to live with orange walls……)

  35. Kate

    Adventurous sailing meets Hawaiian Tropic chapstick- worldly, warm, and light.

  36. Ashlyn

    Enveloping, cosmopolitan, natural. But also clean, organized, and clever. There are two of us living here, so we get six words, right? ;)

  37. S

    Collected. Cohesive. Fresh.

    Collected- a home that develops over time and includes silly momentous from travels, traditions and my kids’ art…also furnature of many different time periods
    Cohesive- I hate when each room as a totally different feel/personality
    Fresh- I’m in a not so naturally lit rancher…without that light, I feel like I want freshness to lighten up the house…some mcm clean lines, cool colors, with woods/plants ???

  38. Beautiful home! Thanks for sharing, I look forward to seeing your progress.

  39. Ellie

    As always, you crack me up! I can’t believe you ended up in a house full of crack pipes in the walls haha. I can’t wait to see how the house turns out.

    I’ve lived in my first post-grad apartment for 2.5 years now (and I’m on my 3rd roommate, so that has certainly changed things) and I’m trying to pull everything together once and for all. I think the three words I would focus on are: inviting, vibrant, and clean.

  40. Meg

    You’ve got such great bones to work with! My boyfriend and I just bought our first house, and figuring out how to make it ours is daunting! Warm and inviting are definitely words I’d use! Your pictures are inspirational!

    Our house has some fun history, too. An evangelical pastor owned it for 20 years and lived here with his wife and kids until he came out of the closet, wife moved out, and his 20-something lover moved in. We learned from the neighbors that the lover called him Daddy. The wife then took over the house with the kids, and they were three generations of drug addicts – 10 people in the house! Depressing! But I think we’ve banished all of the energy they left behind!

    • Emily

      OH, thats a very good story. Lots of drama with probably way less crack involved. :)

  41. CRMason

    Collected. Layered. Cozy.

  42. Amelia

    My husband and I are pretty sure that drug dealers used to live in our house, based on stories from the neighbours and a GIANT homemade pipe that our inspector found in the basement. I am so, so, so excited to follow along and see what you do with this place – it’s going to be amazing!

  43. Christa Mae

    I have four words…is that allowed?

    Clean, Inviting, Cozy, and Whimsical.

    Our house is usually clean (cluttered, but clean)… unfortunately, the old carpet is completely hopeless and makes our house constantly look DIRTY. It’s gotta go. A lot of the old finishes in our 1970′s house are pretty dingy, too…so I desperately just want to freshen the whole place up and make it FEEL clean all the damn time.
    The other 3 words are pretty self-explanatory. We have company practically every-other night, and I just want our friends/family to feel completely welcome and relaxed and able to have fun in our house!!

    • Emily

      Get rid of the carpet as soon as you can. You will feel soooooo much better and you won’t believe why you waited so long. Thats happened to me before where i’ve put something off because of money (and the fact that i was renting) but then once i did it i was like ‘WHY??????’
      But easier said than done obviously. xx

  44. I want my space to feel inviting and homey and airy. I want my bedroom to be calm and my living spaces to be interesting and my kitchen to be functional. But mostly I want people (including me) to come in and feel like they can sit down and LIVE in the space.

    I’ve got two small children and a dog and I would caution you against too much white on the soft surfaces that aren’t washable. Patterns are your friend. Our living room has white curtains but we went oriental with the rug and dark gray microvelvet with the sofa.

  45. Elizabeth

    I cannot WAIT to see what you decide to do with the wood ceilings, since we have very similar ones in our home and are at odds as to what to do with them! (I want to whitewash them, my husband wants to leave them as-is, wood-colored).

  46. Rae Ann

    What an AHA moment, as Oprah would say, about filling up space to distract from the house. I am slowly teaching myself that blank wall space is a good thing.
    My three musts: inviting, cozy, unique

    I am looking forward to seeing how your client mixes white with pops of color.

  47. hahaha!!! You’re house already has party cred!

    I am so excited to follow along I know my jaw is going to drop!

    My house needs refreshing but I’ve been so bogged down by our lack of budget. WHEN I can spruce it up, I want to it feel calming,peaceful and cozy

  48. Hannah

    Bright. Comfortable. Clean

  49. whimsical, welcoming, loved

  50. Emily

    I am so excited to watch the process.
    Cozy, elegant, modern

  51. Alison

    I’m sad to hear that you won’t be showing full-fledged final reveal pictures around your house. : ( One of the things I’ve always ADORED most about this blog is the way you’ve shared so many beautiful, wide-angle images of completed projects. I understand your reasoning and obviously you know what’s best for yourself professionally. But, having seen other design bloggers go this route, I know that as a blog reader it’s just not the same to follow along with someone’s projects and then not really see the final outcome.

  52. Amy h

    You have a great space to work with. I can’t wait to see how it comes along.

    My words: calm, clean, expressive (of our interests/tastes)

  53. Emily

    This house has so much in common with the house I grew up in in the Valley! The mid-century design, big windows, the view, makes me want to inherit my mom’s home right now so I can redo it! (Sorry, mom, love you, mean it).

    I want my house to be comforting, lovely and bright.

  54. Nicki S.

    Comfortable, organized, fun!

  55. Annalee

    I am beside myself excited for your impending posts!

    My three words are neutral, cozy, and inviting.. but they will most likely change in three minutes. I want guests to feel like they can grab a blanket or take a book off the shelf without getting their hand slapped away.


  56. Kimberly Morris

    I think I’d have to go with cozy, interesting and layered.
    The previous owners left us a bed pan and a used male urinal bottle in a closet in our bathroom. How thoughtful!

  57. Sally Cannon

    Emily — Good bones.
    When I finally get into my dream home which I picked out 20 years ago but it may take me another 10 to get here — you’re hired ;) even before I see “the after”.

  58. I’d say cozy, inviting and collected. And I’d say you have a really nice house and I can’t wait to see everything unfold. Happy New year !

  59. I would say Open, Easy and Clean. I have a hard time with this because in the winter (right now) my open and airy feeling doesn’t lend itself as much to cozy snow days. But I’m trying to find temporary ways to do that since I LIVE for spring/summer/fall. Moving to Utah has not been easy for this CA girl.

  60. I’ve been being midcentury modern pieces and following along since I purchased our home 2.5 yrs. Ago. My husband loved the prices of my finds but would roll his eyes till I’d show him one / several of your rooms. I’ve mainly painted white with brown walls. Added dressers for anchors to the tv. Dining room behind couches. Still need art. Macrome and plants. Im 55 but love your bright midcentury modern.

  61. Becky

    Love you, love your show/blog. I think about how I want my home to feel a lot. My husband and our two small boys just moved into what is probably our forever house from a cramped townhouse. For the first month or two, I was pretty unhappy. It just didn’t feel like “home”. When the holidays came I found myself decorating my new fireplace mantel and little spots throughout the house to create a backdrop for memories for my boys. Soon I started to fall in love. Although it is not my dream house, it has the square footage and perks that make it a real catch. (like a bonus room above the garage that is an extension of the master closet that we refer to as “super closet”!) So I guess I will wrap it up by saying: Comforting, Warm and Collected (collections of objects, art and furniture as well as family memories). Do I win the longest comment award??

  62. Crack pipes?! Classy.

    Our 1914 Craftsman house was full of weird surprises, which included cold air returns all filled with empty liquor bottles and porn, as well as a Bakelite handled umbrella that was shoved so far into a heating grate that it took redoing the heating system to find it! Which handily explained why the downstairs bedroom was always so freaking cold. (The heated air would open and catch any warmth before it could reach the room.)

    We also had bullet holes in the walls.

    Needless to say, the neighbors loved us as it was an easy act to follow.

    I am super looking forward to reading and following along with your house transformation!

    • Emily

      Thats hilarious and weird. Bullet holes, eh? Very impressive.

  63. Danielle

    Cozy, comfortable, and clean. I want my house to be a respite from the world, a place to relax with the people in it.

  64. Caroline

    1.) obsessed with your design eye. Have been since HGTV (Design) Star!!
    2.) happy one-month to Charlie!! congrats beautiful mama!!
    3.) my three words: casual, relaxed, refreshing

  65. Kate

    Inviting, quirky, and lived-in. Does lived-in count? It’s two words, hyphenated, I know.
    I guess I want my home to reflect my style, which is a little eclectic, but I also want friends to know that they are welcome here and they can feel comfortable and that I live here, too!

  66. Nancy

    I adore your new home and love seeing what you are putting in it. I LOVE the white backdrop. You have great light and features, yes, you as well as your home! 3 words? JUST LIKE ME. I hope it reflects me all around. Of course there are some rooms that are more like my husband, but IM working on those! xo Nancy

  67. Happy, cozy, quirky, would be my three words for how I would like my house to feel. I am so excited to see the amazing transformations that I know are soon to come. Good luck, and it sounds like you landed yourself a dream client!

  68. Vica

    Cozy, energizing, bright and low maintenance. Plus, comfortable and kid friend.

    I am so excited to see what you do with your house. I love your style.

  69. Moriya

    First of all – I’m obsessed with all of this. I’ve been reading your blog for awhile, and you’re definitely my #1 source for inspiration. So, thank you for that!! Second of all, I just wanted to ask you if you’re saving your images for web? (Like, literally, in photoshop, using “Save for Web”) Your images always load a little slow on my mac book, and as a designer, I feel compelled to check with you. I’m sure you already are, but if not, it can make your file sizes much smaller and will make them load quicker!

    • Emily

      Oh, that is a very good question and a good point. I will DEFINITELY check. Do other blogs load faster? If so then i might have an issue. I’ll check with Ginny, she uploads them. But thank you so much for asking – thats the kind of stuff that can go on for years if nobody tells you and i’m definitely not the best with these kinds of things … xx


      I have the same problem loading photos as you do Moriya :(

  70. Anthony Amiewalan

    Colorfully-Bright Urban dweller :)

  71. Cindy

    Centered, intentional, calming.

    (Crack pipes: ha!)

  72. Lyndsey

    fun, comfortable and collected (i.e., eclectic, weird, interesting… a good way!) Can’t wait to see what you have in store for your home!

  73. jen

    ha you’re hilarious!

    okay for me it’s calm, neutral and not precious.

    • Emily

      Not precious. THat is a VERY good one.

  74. Julie

    Peaceful, jewel-toned, uncluttered. :)

  75. Michelle (aka mybelle101)

    Comfortable, open, and collected (I’ve got two boys, so comfortable is a must, but definitely not sloppy. Hence the “open”…clean, spacious, room to play and party. And collected, I want it to be unique, to walk in and it be OUR house, because who else would have X, Y, and Z all together?)

    I cannot wait to see how things progress with you and your client ;)

  76. Those bones are big and sexy baby!!! Love the modern lines and details– cant wait to see it come together!

  77. Stephanie

    Comfortable, warm and welcoming. My husband and I are both drawn to color, particularly in artwork and accessories, and I have to work hard to make sure things don’t get crazy. We moved last year, and I actually managed to create a guest room in the new house that is relatively neutral and that I actually like. Of course, it still includes blue and orange. I also just realized that, after some editing to accommodate holiday decorations, our living room has toned down a bit and I’m liking it. I’m working on the adjoining dining room to see if I can do the same thing in there. I’ll never give up color, but I’m trying to learn to do it better.

  78. Marianne

    So excited to see what you do with the place! I know what you mean about letting the good qualities of the house speak for itself. I have fallen victim to filling up my mediocre boring architectural home with too much stuff to cover it up. So the last few months have been spent minimizing stuff and keeping only what I love.

    Clean, bright/light, cozy.

  79. Sarah

    I love the white walls, woods and leathers in your inspiration pics. I’ve been wanting to go this direction a long time but I’m scared of white walls… with two little kiddos and one on the way. Should I be scared? Do you have any suggestions of how I can make it work, keep it clean? Also, I don’t have awesome architecture… just a ranch style. :) Thanks!

    • Emily

      Don’t be scared. you can buy the paint that is eggshell and totally wipeable. So yes, you have to take that white eraser thing every now and again but its worth it!

  80. Laura

    Your house is so great! Crack pipes and all. My house is Comfortable, Interesting, and Easy (like, not trying too hard, relaxed). That’s too many words. I’m no good with rules either. Parenting tip: My kids have only two rules, Safety and Respect. They cover EVERYTHING. Can’t wait to see you do your magic!!

  81. Melanie Price

    Oh Emily. I follow your blog religiously and I must say I am CRAZY excited about this series!! I think you need to listen to the inner YOU and seek out the specials finds!! Your house is AWESOMESAUCE and does not need too many ‘bos store-everyone has this in their house’ furniture.
    You will rock this design…I know it. I cannot wait for the after pics!! Cheers!

  82. I’m so excited to see your house journey! I think my words would be cozy, comfy, and collected. And yes, I think I am being influences by NYC’s arctic temperatures today with my desire for a “cozy” home.

    Speaking of, I would love to know if you think designing a home in different seasons changes your approach!

  83. clean, homey, happy
    happy equals pretty colors here and there and fun photos of family and friends but clean to me equals not too much clutter and too much to look at at once. homey means comfy – deep couch, soft blankets, big pillows, pretty rugs – I want it to look like someone snuggles up on that couch and loves living there :)

  84. Fresh, cool, and unexpected. I want my house to feel like a breath of fresh air, but with quirks and twists that say, “Here is something this girl loves.”

  85. Anita

    YESSSS! so excited for this redo. I’m a long time reader, but this is my first time to comment. I’ve not so secretly dreamed that I could have you come make my home WELCOMING, CALM, QUIRKY. And by the way….loved your post about your goals, I found it very inspiring and makes me want to get into goal setting again! So thanks :)

  86. Abby

    woo-hoo! excited for decoration/renovation posts for your house! bring a lot of ‘em on.

  87. Jade

    Comfortable, airy, surprising

    Love your inspiration board, I’m looking forward to see what you do :)

  88. GumTreeGirl

    I want my home to be inviting, fresh and magical. Think Harry Potter in Brisbane.

    I’m VERY excited to see how you decorate your own home as I think that you have always done a good job at injecting your clients personality into their home instead of just sticking in your own style.

    • Emily

      Magical GOOD ONE!

  89. Joanne

    Such a beautiful home! There is an “Ice Storm” element to it which I LOVE. Can’t wait to see you make it happy, calm, and surprising. It’s taken me years to realize that what I envy in other homes is not always what I want/need in my own space to be comfortable and happy. I think Airy, Peaceful, and Personal for me.

  90. Suzy

    calm, happy, story-telling. i love the idea of friends coming over and, when one asks about something in the room, i have a story to offer about the object that expands beyond “i got it from ikea/etsy”. now, here’s hoping those items are cute, as well ;)

  91. LadyLara

    Calm, welcoming, happy. I think that is what it has become…. a lot of white and gray for the basics then pops of color and fun little surprises on top.

  92. Great house. Also great baby!! What a cutie. And could stop looking so pretty since you just gave birth? ;) So, when little Charlie starts moving around what do you plan to do about the railing? It looks like they are not standard width and thus perfect size for little heads and bodies to go through. Just curious because we are trying to figure out a work around for this issue too.

    • Emily

      Very good question. Not sure, but i’ll definitely be addressing it. We may have to kid proof it with temporary acrylic OR hopefully i’ll come up with something more genius than that. Unfortunately I think that baby gates will be my best friend.

  93. Angela

    Ordered. Vintage. Interesting.

    Our 100 year old house in Long Beach belonged to a meth dealer in a rock band before us–really wish our neighbors would stop reminding us of that!

    Congrats on your new home!

  94. Kali

    I’m so delighted to come across your blog. I’ve followed your success for a couple years now and look up to you in so many ways. I am a young interior design nerd and have always felt that we express the same style. And now I have this beautiful blog to follow!! I’m so delighted to see what’s in store for your home. Best wishes!

  95. Khinpgh

    I want my house to feel…
    Fresh… Clean… Joyful. My taste is a lot like yours.

    Btw, I love the layout of your kitchen. So much counter space. Not crazy about the surfaces but I’m sure you will address that.

  96. Kelli

    I am so excited to see your house redo! I live in a small farmhouse in upstate New York so I always want my home to feel welcoming – warm/cozy – and a tad funky(because I love vintage shopping!! :) Whatever happened to your show? Will you ever have another one? It was the best thing on HGTV!! :)

  97. Joy

    Eclectic, comfortable, bright.

    I’ve just moved into an apartment in Fullerton and wonder if you could recommend some good house plants? I have a toddler so they have to be in smaller pots on shelves or up high.


    p/s just found you from cup of Jo.

  98. Stassja

    With two young kids (my baby girl is a week older than your boy), right now the first word has to be “durable”. As in I actually don’t want nice things I have to worry about. We went from a typical DINK lifestyle to this and my last house had all hardwoods. I was constantly worried about scratches. Now I watch my two year old drive his trucks on the tile in our new house without any fears. Hopefully I get to change that in…10 years.
    Next word would be “welcoming” like come in, have a seat. I like to entertain, though kids put a damper on that but it’s important people feel comfortable here.
    Last but not least, “clean”. I don’t have time to clean all the time so I can’t have a cluttered house too. Only accents that have meaning or a story, simple injection of color through pillows etc.

  99. Wendy

    comfortable-modern ,calm, and fun.
    Loveyour hooker/crack story! I hope that in my next house we find hidden treasures of the unexpected kind in our wall or closets. Can’t wait to see the transformation begin!

  100. Debbie C

    I have kids, so mine would be HAPPY, CALM, COMFORTABLE (I had to steal a couple of yours). :) But one day when the kids are older, I’d like LIGHT, BEAUTIFUL, and REFINED.

  101. Jacy

    Sophisticated, cozy, colorful.

  102. Erin

    I can not wait to see what you do with your home! It has so much potential and your work is amazing. Funny about the crack pipes and polaroids! My mother-in-law found 2 bottles of Hennessy in the walls of the house she bought a while back! Just finished the last one on New Years!

  103. Jac

    I don’t think I’ve ever been this excited for a home redesign EVER.

  104. Jac

    And incorporating the polaroids into the redesign would definitely take care of that “surprise” element ;)

  105. Mar

    This house project is my favorite thing on the entire internets right now. I really appreciate the fact that your blog has actual content that is original and inspirational.

    As for my 3 words: spunky, relaxing, and storied.

    I am curious to see whether you will break the design rule of no personal photos in the living room. That is one rule, as a mom, that I simply do not understand. Of course, there are limits, in terms of size and quantity, but every home featured in any respectable magazine does not have any family photos. I think I may have seen 1 dog photo.

  106. Kate

    Ecological : it should feel like nature, so plants are required. Natural materials, light
    Uplifting : is probably your happy
    Personal: it should reflect some of my personality. Goes well with the thrifted stuff. People should ask ‘where did you find that ‘. :)

    Looking forward to the following blogs. I feel like all the elements in my house are good but still it doesn’t look pulled together.

  107. Kate

    Ecological : it should feel like nature, so plants are required. Natural materials, light
    Uplifting : is probably your happy
    Personal: it should reflect some of my personality. Goes well with the thrifted stuff. People should ask ‘where did you find that ‘. :)

    Looking forward to the following blogs. I feel like all the elements in my house are good but still it doesn’t look pulled together.

    PS. i found a tulip planter in the garden, which was nice.

  108. Amanda

    My 3 words would be relaxing, clean, and welcoming.

  109. Megan

    What – no photo of the bonus room? Our house has a scary room with 3 feet ceiling… which was buried behind our pantry – very scary.
    My 3 words would be crisp, familiar, clean. Maybe the clean part because my twin toddlers (or the twinados as I call them) manage to make a mess of everything!

  110. “lots of vintage Polaroid pics of hookers giving lap dances hidden in the walls with, get this, CRACK PIPES” – ahhhhh I just died laughing, CAN. NOT. IMAGINE. how weird that was to come across. love the house, can’t wait to see what you guys do with it! congrats on the house, the baby, all of it!

  111. Bek W

    Ohhh I am VERY inspired by your house (as I always am by your designs ☺️)… We will actually be buying & renovating our VERY OWN place this year (weeeeeee!!) so these posts are very timely! Hmmmm….. I love everyone’s ‘three words’ – I think I would have to say calm, warm and interesting…
    Ohhhh 2014 is going to be a good year!

  112. Rosie

    Wow – your place really does have fantastic bones! I love it.

    3 words to describe my place, if I got it how I want it. A challenge, given our ‘house’ is a 40foot bus, with a campoervan fitout. I guess, if it was possible, I’d like to keep it fairly light (the original carpet, on walls and ceilings, is a light grey, I’d go a lighter shade again, probably a really light dove grey. Floors, I’d do in board, rather than black rubber. The cupboards we have are white, and the benchtop a marbled dark grey, so I’d keep that in mind.

    Light, pretend-spacious, storage. Those are my words :)

  113. Victoria

    Inviting, Relaxed and Multifaceted would be my 3 words.
    I would have thought the very last owner of your new home was an elderly woman with a lively step to get around. If there hasn’t been other owners, how interesting to sit and hear the stories.
    I’ve been looking forward to your home posts and your mood boards are just so much!

  114. Sarah

    crazy, creative, like another world :-)

  115. Colleen

    I can’t wait to see what you do with your new home, whatever it is, I know it is going to be amazing. So exciting!!!
    Congratulations on everything and thanks for sharing your journey.

  116. Rae

    Joyful, organized, warm (which might be influenced by the current Polar Vortex)

  117. AB

    I want to see those pictures! Come on, you’re holding out on us Em!

    Btw love the new direction of the blog

  118. Emily

    Dude. I just have to tell you – I am so excited about your blog in 2014. I’ve been visiting it intermittently ever since watching you on Design Star like 6 months after it aired. (By the way, yours is the only season I’ve watched. I haven’t had cable in 8 years so I just happened to get hooked on it online for a while.) Anyway, you infuse every space you touch with the most inspiring, fun, happy style, and I can always count on you for witty, honest writing. PLUS now you’ve gone and given birth to an adorable little nugget, AND you’re gonna be writing about him, and motherhood, all the time now, too. ANDDD you’re going to be diving in deep to the decorating process as you furnish your new (gorgeous) home. Seriously this place is like winning the blog lottery.

    Just wanted to let you know you’ve got a fan. I’ll go back to creepin’ on Bearcat on Instagram, now.

  119. Pearl

    Your new house looks amazing – hello dream home! I can’t wait to see it all done. My three words would probably be cozy, happy and interesting. I also like the idea of a space that screams ‘cocktails’! -)

  120. Dominika

    Love your blog Emily (just started following you). I can really identify with the “i really can’t afford everything I want for my house” sentiment – I think I read too much Architectural Digest…Looking forward to going on a “interior design” journey with you.

    Calm. Cozy. Eclectic.

  121. This is a fun way to think! I’ve always thought about how I want things to look, but not necessarily how I want people to feel. Comfortable, natural, inquisitive. The bones of our home are rather traditional yet comfortable, but I have a lot of plants – nature- and a lot of quirky objects. Whether it be an interesting painting I found at a thrift store, a family heirloom, or a 200 year old clock my dad restored for me…I want to have objects that get people thinking and questioning.

    I look so forward to following you this year! It’s sure to be exciting and beautiful. And I just have to say, you must REALLY be enjoying motherhood if you’re already talking about baby #2. :)

  122. I love stuff like this (I also like completing surveys and doing personality tests . . . weird?). My words are fresh, fun and colorful.
    Love your house by the way.

  123. Paula

    The three words my husband and I have designed around are comfortable, clean(uncluttered) and fun. It’s going to be great to watch you design your house!

  124. scott

    im just commenting to see if you’ll reply to my comment…..

  125. Melissa

    inviting, warm, & functional.

    Also, Emily I miss you being on t.v. I haven’t read your blog in a while and today when I read through your blog posts it made me really miss you on HGTV. :/

    BUT I am sooooooooooooooooooooo excited for your blog this year. I love your style and one of my favorite things to do is to see how people put their space together. So, you are taking my favorite things and putting them together!!! So, thanks!!

    ❥ Melissa
    ps Congrats on Charlie, and he is so cute!!

  126. Safe, happy, healthy (light, plants, natural materials).

  127. Hillary

    CLEAN! For sure, CLEAN. I have two littles and not a great housekeeper, so if it could feeeel clean without actually beeeeeing clean, that would be awesome. :)

  128. Vanessa

    Relaxed, creative, and natural. Also, can you talk a little bit more about skim coating a wall. Typically, how much more expensive is it to do that compared to hiring a painter? I have orange peel walls as well, which I detest, but skim coating sounds expensive and elaborate. Is it?

  129. Miranda

    Emily…you’re just so dang clever. I love LOVE reading your posts. Okay…my words are Comfortable, Curated, Livable. I’m not sure if those words make sense to anyone but me.

    So. I have a question. You said something about orange peel walls? Is that the bumpy texture that is in approximately every single house everywhere? So what is the alternative? What do you do to change it?

  130. Tanya

    Warm. Artistic. Laid-back. I love this exercise.

  131. I’m with you on the calm and element of suprise. Happy is good too. I need to add that. My third pick was classic. I belive I achieved this with my paint colors. We have a dinning room that is opened to the liven room and from the liven room you can see a lot of the kitchen (not the appliences) We used toast for the center wall and hall way(s) and almond for the rest of the wall. With pure white for the higher cellens and doors. I painted our enclosed entertainment center sun shine yellow and have a metal garden sun shine hanging over our fire place. We have twin four year olds.

  132. Tess

    restorative, welcoming, calm. As an introvert I love human interaction (in the right situations) but being out in the big wide world is so draining! I need my home to nurture me, be a place to recharge in peace and calm, so that I can go out and do it all again tomorrow!

  133. Love these long posts. Look forward to many more. Cheers from Maine.

  134. patty blaettler

    Someone suggested you get a leather sofa for kid/durability’s sake. It reminded me that my daughter (who was a complete imp) spent her tv watching time in a big ole’ oxblood leather wing chair. Lots of juice, cheerios, crumbs were left behind. And if you look at that chair now, there is no trace of it….

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  136. sara

    I want my house to feel like Vampire Weekend sounds. I need to find a way to describe that, that isn’t quite so vauge.

    • Amy

      Sara – That’s awesome. I love that feeling.

  137. Nicki

    Cozy, Warm and Bright

  138. BridgetG

    Serene / Comfortable / Organized / Eclectic
    If it’s organized, then I am serene. A miscellaneous mix of furnishings and nothing too precious equals comfortable. I’m getting there . . . .

  139. Oh, if walls could talk…

    The first set of inspiration images really surprised me. :)

    Only two words come to mind quickly: Luxe and Cozy.

  140. Annie

    I love this house! I grew up in that area on the corner of Downey and Glencoe Way and my best friend lived in a house that looked just like your house…in fact, it could be the same house. Does this mean Charlie will go to John C. Freemont Elemetary ? Man, those were the good old days roller skating around, picking out books with my Mom in Montrose at the Once Upon A Time children’s bookstore. You’re lucky!

  141. Laura

    So fun and exciting! My husband and I are looking for our first house right now, so I am especially interested to see what you do in your place. Definitely trying to get an idea of how a place can be transformed as long as the bones are good! :)

  142. Melanie

    YES! Can’t wait to see all the progress! I’ll have to think on my 3 words…I think that’s such a great idea that should help with some new ideas I have for this year. Right now (with 3 little kids and a nasty cold) my words would be real exciting like “clean, de-cluttered and germ-free.”

  143. Cindy

    “Emily, Emily, Emily” that is how I want to my house to feel! I love your style, and find myself saying” Emily would like this.” Ha
    Seriously though….I’m going for ” fun, well traveled, creative”

    Can wait to see your house come together

  144. I want my house to feel calm, elegant and relaxing. I want people to feel comfortable sitting down in the couches, but also feel like it’s more elevated than your garden variety family room with leather chairs.

  145. Liz

    Bright, simple, intentional

    Runners up are welcoming, clean, and fun :)

  146. Karen

    I can’t wait to see how it all comes together. I love your house and your style. Enjoy every moment!

  147. Inviting + Clever + Refreshing. Can’t wait to see what you do!

  148. Interesting, whimsical and squishy! If that makes any sense. So excited to see what you do with this place. We are just finishing building our first home so I feel your excitement of being able to decorate your own place!

  149. Jolene

    I am so excited to see this process too! I also hope Brian loves it. What are his three words? To not be a hypocrite, I asked my husband what his were, and he said at-ease, comfortable, and home (as in familiar and nothing that wasn’t bought 10-20 year ago!) lol! Mine would be casual, natural (sunshine, wood, plants) and cheerful. With all your “happenings” your blog got bumped back to the top of the list for “first to check”! Thanks for keepin’ it up!

  150. Welcome to the MCM club where the owners enjoy beautiful telescopic open beam ceilings and tall-tall ladders to reach the cobwebs :) We have one too and LOVE it!

    My three words? Glamorous, Modern and Curated. But if I had to define my dream style it would be Alexis Carrington meets the Jetsons on vacation someplace tropical ;) A girl can dream right? Perhaps even as big and as high as our ceilings…

  151. gvs

    I would have to say my 3 words would be ;collected, eclectic and ‘lived” in, no furniture showroom spaces in my house (unfortunately!)

  152. Jennie Johnstone

    This is a fun game! I already know my style (Classic -furniture and architecture styles, Earthy -colors and textures, and a Little Bit Funky -I’m a creative person) and my husband’s (Warm, Traditional, Comfortable), but most of these aren’t emotional words. So I thought hard and came up with Inviting, Nourishing, and Soothing. Inviting covers aesthetics, comfort, lighting, furniture arrangement, and flow. Nourishing of the body and mind includes good food, music, books and movies, art, and conversation. Soothing is a safe retreat.

    It’s interesting that so many people’s words seem contradictory on the surface. I guess this covers our multifaceted personalities and the many functions of a home. I’m looking forward to seeing how you combine the calm with the vibrant in your spaces. I can’t wait to see how it all turns out! Enjoy the process!

  153. Johanna

    Cozy, fun, organized are my feeling words. With two young boys running around, it’s got to be fun and organized! Love the history in your house, if the walls could talk!? Great post, can’t wait to see what you do…

  154. I’m pretty much at the same stage you are in the home transformation. That’s a great question! I want my space to feel relaxing, comfortable, and inspiring.

  155. I am like you in that I ask the very same thing first, how do you want to feel in this room (and also in our bipolar tastes of decor). For decorating my own space though, it depends on which room we’re talking about. I’ve found that I need my bedroom to feel light, airy, and serene… my office to feel motivating, colorful, and energetic… my living room to feel intriguing, comfy, and earthy.

  156. Meagan

    I love everything you decorate, so I really think you can’t go wrong. I find it really difficult sometimes to mix seemingly opposite things (calm and energetic, etc.). I wonder if you have any pointers? My husband and I are redoing our decor in a way that will bring in more of what we both like, a la Secrets from a Stylist. Problem is I’m trying to figure out how to mix “Hollywood regency” with “midcentury farmhouse” and make that look cohesive. Any suggestions? And good luck on your space!

  157. Kelly

    i love your white inspiration pictures but with kids, i would tend to have things that are a little more forgiving of the odd bit of imperfection. I don’t want to be uptight about stuff getting wrecked, I want to be relaxed so I never have anything too precious or expensive. Period, end of story for me. In fact, that is one of my own personal style descriptions: forgiving. Forgiving of me spilling a few drops of coffee on the sofa while i read the morning paper. Forgiving of me changing my mind and bringing in something I totally lose my mind in lust over. If there is a word for happy and pretty but still calm and airy, I’d like to know. And prosaic as it sounds, functional is #1. Needs to work for how I live, how I cook, how I iron/fold laundry etc.

  158. Emily Klug

    inspiring, inviting, and easy

  159. Laura

    Inviting, comfortable, and fun.

  160. Mine would be..
    Happy, Clean, and Bright
    We are currently in an apartment as we are between homes right now. I think it has given me some much-needed time to think about what I want my next home to feel like. The main thing I have realized is that we just had too much ‘stuff.’ It overwhelmed me and made me feel like I could never keep it all clean. I hope to find a home with great bones and natural light and be veeeeerrrrry selective about what I put in it. I hope to keep it simple and bright and decorate with things that make me happy.

  161. Pingback: Our living Room Progress | Emily Henderson

  162. Cristin

    Such a dream home. Congratulations! I’m curious how you go about choosing whites? Do you use different whites for different walls, trim or rooms? Or do you have one “go to white”? I hadn’t realized there were so many whites to choose from and I’m overwhelmed trying to figure out which one will be best. Seems silly but it’s true!

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  164. Lisa

    Happy, bright, and comfortable–which works perfectly with my plan to fill my walls with my own artwork…and my son’s apparent decision to do exactly the same thing with his art projects. Kids are fun, so they deserve a fun home, too!

    BTW: Have you posted pictures of your home’s exterior yet? I love mid-century modern architecture, so I am very curious.

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