Lisa’s House: Living Room

Last week I blogged about this chair ‘before and after’ and today I’m showing the entire before and after of the whole living room. Lets get into it.

When Lisa approached me it seemed like a different/good challenge, which is what drew me to the project. It’s so easy for all of your work to look the same because all of your clients want the same thing (white, blue, pops of bright color, brass, mid century … which I love, obviously), so the fact that she wanted something different made this project extremely appealing. Her budget wasn’t huge, but decent, and the space was really interesting. My problem is that once you get me into a space where I can see the transformation its hard for me to say no – It was such a pretty house and Lisa was so lovely so it just seemed like, yeah, let’s get our ‘french country’ on. 

Here was the before:

Before_Living Room

It was a two bedroom ranch style in studio city. She moved in a few months before she called, after a divorce and just really wanted a place that made her happy to come home to – and somewhere to make her friends, daughter and family happy to visit. After she moved in she had the walls textured with that buttery marble paint – which is not inexpensive. One of the first things I asked her was ‘can we change that?’ and she hesitated (because she had just done it and it was expensive!!!) and said, ‘If you think its necessary’. Thank god for that, Lisa – thank you for being so open. It was a deal breaker for me, so I said yes and she agreed. Lisa was cool like that.

Before_Living Room Dining

So we came up with a plan – After we chatted for a while: french country meets hollywood regency. How very feminine, and so wonderful.

We painted the walls in ‘Elephants Breath’ from Farrow and Ball. I mean, who names a pretty paint color elephants breath? It sounds hot and sweaty and thick … but at the same time I do kinda get it. It’s a really warm color that goes gray/taupe/brown/and almost purple at times because it has a hint of red in it (but just a hint).


The only thing that Lisa wanted to keep was the beautiful Oushak rug, which obviously I was happy to do.

I’m sorry I’m skipping all the design process. Here’s a lesson to you all – use a document/photo sharing server. This project was 3 years ago and we didn’t have one in place so once those pics (from my old computer) were gone, they were gone. And then even the design plan is somehow lost somewhere in the netherworld. So i’m going from memory here.

We pulled colors from the rug – ochre, blues and grays with some taupes and creams of course. We wanted it to be warm and inviting, but a little bit of bling, too.

We got the sofa custom-made from Room Service in a beautiful linen.


We brought it in and started playing around. Everything else you see there was antique or from vintage stores, so sorry that there are no real resources (stay tuned below for a ‘get the look’).

We played with the layout as we do. In the original plan/drawings the sofa was opposite the fireplace and the chairs flanked it, but the room was pretty long and narrow and the sofa was huge so it felt like the chairs were way too far away from each other.


It looked ok in these pics, but in person it wasn’t working.

Click on through for the ‘afters':

EH Sherman Oaks Shoot 1-16-140

Alright, let’s get into it: We added the chandelier because that beautiful wood ceiling was rather heavy and dark, but we didn’t want to paint it because it was so pretty. Adding something reflective and sparkly, as opposed to an iron chandelier lightened it up so much. We hung it in the center, over the coffee table, where the bottom of it was around 7 ‘ 1/2″ high. Plus she already had that crystal chandelier in the dining room so the two speak to each other.

Living Room_Blue Chesterfield

She had these incredible old world style paintings already and while in the wrong context they can look garish, with the sofa and more of the more modern accessories they looked really rad. We were shocked at how well they worked (specifically the one in the dining room.

The gold velvet and blue linen pillows were custom-made – I think $60 each, not including the fabric which was probably $30 – $40 a yard. That amazing blue blanket that has horses on it is from Loopy Mango in New York and I’m pretty sad to see it here and not in my house.

Everything on the coffee table is vintage except for the coasters with the gold on the outside which we got at plantation (but stay tuned for some at Target in a month).

EH Sherman Oaks Shoot 1-16-125

Where to put the TV … always a challenge. Lisa, like me, loves to watch TV at night and it wouldn’t fit above the fireplace. So we put it opposite the sofa, but then the challenge was to make sure to get chairs that were low enough that you could see the tv over them. And then what else do we put on the TV wall to not give it a whole wall of importance? We flanked it with these shelving units.

Living Room_Chair Coffee Table Shelf Chandelier

I really loved how that worked and even did it in my old living room. I can’t tell if it needs art above the TV or if it looks good as is. And yes, we put flowers there to detract from the TV for the shot, but it normally looks like this;



We styled the shelves all out with vintage everything – I’m kinda obsessed with the helmet with horns thing and that weird man portrait. I owned that for a while but it was just not looking good anywhere.


For the vignette below we added that photo/print thing, because when you get closer in the shot you often have to add more to it or it looks a little flat and empty.




Living Room_ Bench Mirror

Living Room_ Chandelier Blue Chesterfield



Living Room_ Fireplace

EH Sherman Oaks Shoot 1-16-142

My new thing is doing gif’s of the styling process. You’ll be getting A LOT of this soon. By doing this you can totally see the obsession to placement and get inside the process (at least that’s the intent).


And here’s what we ended up with. We like how the bowl balanced out the lamp on the other side of the sofa and filled that empty spot on the sofa. A trick is that you want things to intersect other things either completely or not at all, which is why the white box, for instance, didn’t work. It came up to the edge of the sofa seat but not going over it.
Living Room_Detail

I’m obsessed with that bowl and I wish It was mine so bad – I think I got it at the flea market.

Living Room_Dining Room

My favorite thing? Its hard … I’m pretty into that side table and lamp situation. And I love everything on the shelves. A lot of it was things that I’d been hoarding for a while waiting for their french country debut.

EH Sherman Oaks Shoot 1-16-117

Literally everything in this room is vintage except the sofa and the shelving. So we did a get the look for you for the rest of the pieces in case you, too, wanted to get your french country on.

Lisa's House Get the Look

Furniture & Lighting: Shelving Unit | Chandelier | Linen Club Chair | Blue Chesterfield | Coffee Table

Accessories: Wooden Bowl | Brass Sculpture | Hourglass | Ceramic Bust | Mirror | Woven Basket

Textiles: Throw Blanket | Blue Pillow | Gold Pillow | Rug

Photos by: Bethany Nauert

Well, thats Lisa’s living room. Stay tuned for the dining room, office and bedroom. Does this make you want to get your french country on? Do you hope that I never use the phrase ‘get your french country on?’ …. too bad.

  1. Love the wacky accessories in those shelving units, and those hourglasses are fantastic!

  2. Amber

    I really appreciate: Get the Look! Thank you! As always- beautiful!

  3. J. Bagley

    Absolutely stunning!
    The before and after … just … wow!
    I am not at all surprised. Your talent is elegant and fresh.
    Not sure I’ve ever posted before – but I enjoy your work and your website.

  4. kelly

    It’s funny because if I saw this room in a magazine, I would never thought you designed it…but then when I look at it again and again, I can totally tell you designed it. Does that sound weird? Oh man, that gold viking helmet is killing me. If its brass I’m just going to die, don’t tell me.

    • Emily

      Its brass. it was hard to give it up. i want it back. xx

      • kelly

        brass!! nooooooooooooooooooo. :-)

  5. Victoria

    I love seeing your work/magic in this room. You’ve made me appreciate mid-century but not to live with it again…..I’m old enough to have grown up with mid-century and I didn’t appreciate then.

  6. Sarah W

    I love it so much! I would never think of myself as a Frech country lover but I love this! I have some antique pieces that I love but haven’t known how to fit in to my more modern decor. This is definitely giving me inspiration! Is there anything you can’t do? I can’t wait to see the other rooms!

    • Emily

      Ah, thank you! After writing this i’m all of a sudden wishing for more rustic in my life xx

  7. really like that you did a ‘get the look’ portion at the end of this. do you have a source or similar look for the side table next to the bookshelves? love that.

  8. Chelsea

    I like how it turned out, but I think her beloved wall treatment totally could have worked just as well with this final design, you should have given it more of a chance. Also, great gold velvet pillow source right now would be pier 1 imports.

    • Emily

      I wish I could agree with you, but we all knew that it was best to change. thanks for commenting,though. xx

  9. This is so good Emily, and it’s fun to see you step outside of what you specialize in. The chandelier against the wood ceiling is just beautiful, and I love that you still see hints of Emily though out. You’re right, the classical art is just perfect and I wouldn’t have guessed it to work either. Thanks for sharing something a bit different!

    • Emily

      THANK YOU!!!!

  10. kate

    freaking gorgeous emily! lovvved seeing your take on french country, definitely a little bit different than your usual work but you killed it. would love to see more of your past projects like this on the blog – the ones that are a little bit outside of your comfort zone – it’s neat to get inspiration from seeing how you meld so many different styles.

    the mantel-bunnies are amazing.

  11. Wendy

    Really beautiful. I love all of it. I wish the gif was a little slower. I am a studier, and I cannot gain any difference in each styling picture. Maybe my brain doesn’t work that fast, but I wish I could see the differences you were trying to show.

  12. Melody

    So lovely! I want that gorgeous bowl, but the link is to the coffee table. HELP!! ;)

  13. Sara

    Love it! Great Job Emily! I cringed as soon as I saw the texture on the walls… that took BALLZ to ask her to change it….but I agree, it was a deal breaker. Love how you are sharing the styling process with the new gif. Hope I can learn from your mad skills. =)

  14. Zoe Royall

    How completely fab is this post?!?!? Just the before and after is 1 post worthy, and then you add the GIFS (love) and then the Shop The Look? I mean, tons of work for you guys and I love it all! The big mirror with the bench thing all styled up with ceramic and flowers is like magic, and is definitely my favorite. That and the slab of wood on the glass coffee table. GENIUS. LOVE. Stealing that idea for sure.

  15. Totally different than your usual look but thats why you are so good. you got into her head and figured out what SHE wanted while still making it your design. amazing! I also really appreciate the styling tricks – putting an extra print in the photograph for balance etc. LOVE the GIF – definitely can’t wait to see more of these :-)

  16. Lena

    This is so cool! Like someone above said, not really your style… but then it is when I look closely. Well done.

    I have a Q… When you style the room for a client to actually live in, versus for a photograph, how does that differ? I’d be interesting to see what doesn’t last/gets moved after the photoshoot is done.

    • Emily

      Ha. That is exactly what we are going to start doing. A ‘before’, ‘everyday’ and ‘editorial’. That way you can see the difference (because there is one and normally the editorial is the best, just often less livable).
      I actually don’t remember what she changed if anything … now that I think about it.

      • Lena

        Yay! Thanks, I look forward to this feature!

  17. Lori

    Thank you for that GIF at the end. My husband seems amazed that I never just bring in a few accessories and nail it on the first try — “Like they do on TV.” I’ve tried to tell him that behind those beautiful rooms on TV are 2-3 other rooms full of stuff they tried, but that had to go back to where it came from — not sure that he believes me! This GIF is good ammunition for me. The room here is AMAZING. Great work!!!!

  18. melissa

    Her gold wall treatment would have worked with her new furnishings. It’s not my thing (or your thing) but it would have made the walls feel less flat. Sorry but the cheap clips on the drapery are really distracting.

  19. Dona

    Wonderful! Thank you. Please do more makeovers that are not your traditional style (not that we don’t love that!), but by showing us your skills and tricks in different styles, they become clearer and easier to understand (if that make sense). Essentially, I’m saying that your genius really shines when you apply it to non-traditional (for you) challenges. I hope you enjoyed doing this as much as I enjoyed reading it.

    • Emily

      Will do :)

  20. S

    Like the idea if the GIF but it needs to be slowed down if possible!

    • Emily

      Ok, noted. will do. :)

  21. marianne

    I really like the room and appreciate your refreshingly honest acknowledgement of the use of TVs in most American homes. That said, I find myself balking at all the silly sculptural nothings in the room—hourglasses, decorative keys, empty bowls, helmets, and flea market finds. Yes, these items add needed depth, color, and whimsy. They are fun and cute! The idea of having two bookcases, a sofa table, and a bench filled almost entirely with quirky oddities, however, seems far from my real life. A challenge for you: I would love to see how you would style a bookcase primarily with stuff that people actually use.
    I pose this challenge for you because I just purchased a new étagère for my dining room. I am looking for advice as to have it look good, but I need at least half of the space to be used for items that I use regularly. Consider addressing this question sometime in your blog. (And, if you need a house for the challenge, you could use mine!)

    Here’s a link to my étagère

    • Emily

      She had a lot of them before – things that meant something to her, and the rest we picked out together.

  22. Rebecca

    Since the client had just paid big bucks to redo her walls, I would have done the redesign FIRST using the existing wall color/treatment before painting over it. Then if you really thought it looked bad with your design AND the client agreed you could have painted. Yes – a real pain to paint AFTER designing the room, but worth it to at least try it first……. As far as the TV, I think it looks as if it needs something above it because it looks too low in comparison to the 2 shelves. if you put the TV on something a little higher I think it would look better. Doing so would also draw your eye up the awesome ceiling. I do love the room, though. That chandelier is to DIE for!!!!! I also really love the sofa table and content! Only you could reupholster those vintage chairs to look so fantastic!! Great to see you step outside of your box :)

  23. Lisa

    Wow this really shows your range! I love how it looks grown up but not “fusty” if you know what I mean…

    • Emily

      Thanks :)

  24. Joanna

    Emily I have never posted before, but stalk you like it’s my job. I love your posts and portfolio, but this is your best work. I love the fact that Hollywood Reency isn’t your norm, but you killed it. I can feel your hand and your restraint all at the same time and it is awesome! Congrats!

    • Emily

      THANK YOU. and thanks for commenting. It honestly means a lot. PLEASE keep commenting. xx

  25. Rae Ann

    Love the shelve units, no pic needed above tv. I am curious about the white bust on the top shelf. I always think of heavier pieces being in the center of a shelf. What was your thinking on putting it on the top?

    The room is fabulous. Want to sit down in it with a cup of tea.

    • Emily

      I think I wanted everything balanced, colorwise and even though its heavy its also visually lighter than, say if it were an iron statue. right?

  26. Sarah J

    You hit it out of the park with this one. Nice work! Like others said I would not think this was my style but damn, the way you did it, I really want it!

    I think elephants breath is now the colour of the nursery I’m gonna do. That paint name is too creepy not to have accompany your sleeping infant!

    • Ashley

      You are amazing. If you come to Seattle please take me shopping with you. For serious.

  27. Nora

    Damn – you’re versatile! This room is really beautiful, and the light in the photographs adds some major magic.

  28. Louise

    Really like the elegant TV solution, flanking it with those shelves. Great idea that I think I will steal for my next living room! Great post Emily, thanks.

    • Emily


  29. Stunner.
    I Flipping love the .gif placement idea! Its could turn out to be your online styling class.
    Hope you are well.
    Tiffany B.

    • Emily

      If only you knew. its all just starting, actually :) expect WAY more of these.

  30. bridget dorney

    gorgeous. this is definitely getting saved for when we get to our “forever house.”

  31. Txell

    oh I miss the dog(the white poodle) in the “after” pictures !!
    ¿Wher is it??

  32. It’s so fun to see you do something slightly different than your usual style. I love it! (Not that I don’t love your usual style…)

    I’m curious, how does your husband feel about you having the chairs in front of the TV like that, since you said you did it in your own home too? I just know that mine would definitely not go for that room arrangement, especially during football season when the game/TV must be the primary focus of the room!

    • Emily

      We sit on the sofa, and its awesome. When people come over we don’t even think about the tv. When we all want to watch tv we rotate the chairs. NBD. it actually works so much better than you think.

  33. i love that horned helmut too. This tiny antique shop just opened at the top of my block on the upper east side, and i’m dying to go in and support them. it’s all gold things, old books, and little curios.

  34. Molly

    The curved bench + styling + large mirror is my favorite part. Really love how you played with scale there.

    Your blog’s been killing it lately. Thank you!

    • Emily

      thank you. we’ve been working hard, so thank you:)

  35. Katy

    I love all of it! Also, for these places you’ve done a few years back, I’d love to see a “where are they now” feature… if your clients were ever willing.

    • Emily

      ha. that would be awesome

  36. Very nice. It’s interesting to see the results of a project for a client whose aesthetic is a little different than what you typically do. It definitely has your touch, but it’s clearly a reflection of the client’s style. I know how tricky that can be – so well done!

  37. Amanda

    The curved bench with the mirror over it is genius.

  38. Sarah

    I love seeing the EH look in another style! I know that you’re so well known (and so good!) for your mid-century, poppy style but it would be fun as a blog reader to see you experiment with others!

    (Although, I guess that was kind of your show?) oh well, I really like the the “get the look” section!

    Thanks, inspiring as always!

    • Emily

      Many more to come. and also I need a call for more styles, clearly. because my clients have wanted a certain style they get a certain style but I LOVE this style so much. xx

  39. Nancy

    Another fabulous makeover! Youre the best! xo Nancy

  40. Alison

    Love these before and afters, what a fun post! Keep them coming.

  41. Oooh… this is awesome. I’m always so impressed to see designers totally step out of their comfort zone, yet excel completely! I’m a graphic designer, and when I get projects that are 100% not “me” I kind of freak out, but then get myself together and realize that I loved the process after it’s said and done (even though every step of the way you second-guess yourself). It shows how flexible you can be and that you’re not stuck in your ways. Bravo!

  42. tammyCA

    This is just really lovely! I’m more of an “ecletic, lots of color” person but really love many styles and this one definitely has a “feel good” vibe. I think you hit the nail on the head with the balance of elegance with homey rustic French Country…honestly, if I saw it in a magazine I’d first think it was in France. I especially love those beamed ceilings and thank god they are not painted…that crystal chandelier is genius with the raw wood. I think I’ll keep coming back to view this one and “sigh” in a good way.

  43. Lauren

    Lovely! It’s definitely fun to see a different style project. The only problem is that it makes me really miss Secrets from a Stylist!

  44. Emily,
    You probably don’t remember; we met many years ago at a NYC Brizo blog trip–you had a turban on and of course stick in my memory.
    I clicked on this on Pinterest, curious to see who designed this layered, eclectic space. Congrats on a gorgeous job that looks organic, elegant, chic and funky all at once—it is a home run.
    All with no pattern, very hard to do. Great job.

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  46. Jolene

    Like others have said, we LOVE your signature MC style, but your talent truly shines when you apply it to other styles. Like the old adage: variety is the spice of life! For me, this completely ups the content quality of your blog! Keep up the great work!

    And, as an aside –> I hope you are loving your new studio space! Congrats!

  47. As many people have mentioned above, thank you for actually designing around the TV! One of my biggest pet peeves is when designers place the TV in a corner that’s can’t bee seen from the couch, or place the couches so that anyone would have to turn their necks to watch.

    And that couch is to die for! I love the “get the look” one too. Your custom-made one looks large enough that someone can sleep on it, is that the case?

  48. Um, john doe

    Love it all Emily, especially the chandy and the fireplace. By the craftsmanship I can tell they were probably done by that hunky, uber talented, underappreciated contractor for SFAS.

  49. erin marie

    dying over those wood curtain rods & rings! where can i find something like that??

  50. Laurel

    this is awesome. bravo, well done.
    question: i’ve been looking everywhere for a cloche. where do you find them??

  51. maggie

    I really love it, which I can’t believe I’m saying because my style is much more mid-century, clean lines mixed with ethnic. That said, the composition, colors, layout and placement of objects is just perfect. It has such a nice, calm, homey vibe. I’m going to mentally store some of these lessons away in my head!

  52. I’m speechless over this room. Thanks for your continual inspiration Emily. Love.

  53. Rhonda

    Beautiful ideas in this living room. I especially love the white flower bowl on the coffee table. It has reappeared in today’s post of the bedroom. It’s sitting on the nightstand, but it looks like it’s a smaller size. Are these vintage?

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