Nothing wrong with loving cats.

I woke up sad. and then this happened:

It’s by stylist Emily Chalmers. And i love her. like a lot. She was the first trendsetter that gave me permission to display my crazy hoarding collection of vintage floral and fauna. I had been collecting from 14-26, secretly obviously…sure i would put a few out here and there, test the waters, but in general it was just my own little treasure. As long as it was bright, feminine and one of a kind I hoarded anything i could. But it was considered weird, my friends just thought it was random, and when I saw Emily’s apartment in Elle Decor like 5 years ago, it gave me permission to own my love of baubles. Sometimes, especially when you are young, you feel like you need ‘permission’ from somebody you admire to really love what you already love. (of course this is just in your head and you don’t actually need permission) And in this case, it was Emily.

Remember when Vern Yip told me on the glass house challenge that i was ‘one whisker away from being a crazy cat lady’? I remember thinking, ‘its not for everyone, but it is for me, and Emily Chalmers would get it’. Also, WHAT IS WRONG WITH LOVING CATS??? Cats are dope little creatures and i hate that you have to apologize for having them. Which i never do, btdubs.

You know what i think about this person? She probably drinks champagne in bed. And reads teen love trilogies, and watches Sound of Music, and wears vintage 60’s turbans around the house.

She probably wears bright lipstick, throws impromtu dance parties, listens to Sara Barrealis, celebrates the weekend like its the last weekend in her life. She goes to brunch in her pajamas or a maxi-gown, depending on her mood, she buys what she feels like is too many magazines, and only allows herself to watch her favorite movie twice a year so she doesn’t get sick of it. And she rarely takes herself seriously, and when she does she regrets it immediately. Oh, and she has a sh*t ton of fun.

Some people might consider this style messy and unrefined, but all i know is the person that lives there is rad. I have no proof of that, i’ve never met Emily, but based on her style we would be best friends.

(full disclosure, all those hobbies described above might be mine (or my fantasy version of me), but you get the idea).

Here’s my general philosophy: Your house should be an amplification of your favorite feeling. I know i sound like i’m 6, and i’m all ‘mrs. johnson my favorite feeling is ‘happy’, but whether you want it more calm and comforting or loud and engaging, it should be a strong version of that.

For me its totally ‘happy, with a little bit of the crazy’.

And yes, probably weird and at times not totally sophisticated.

But if Emily Chalmers can do it, so can we, right?

So, friends, what is your ‘favorite feeling’? That’s the most ridiculous question i’ve ever written, i sound like a little kid pretending to be a psychiatrist, but you know what i mean….

Also did you love anything secretly until you got permission to come out with it?

  1. I LOVE Emily Chalmers too! I keep her book on my workdesk (I refer to it constantly!) – I adore the messy, effortless looks she achieves. My favorite feeling has to be happy with a touch of a global/travel feel – since traveling is what makes me happy :) I'm always trying to find ways to reflect my travels in my home! And oh, I collect SO MANY things secretly – scissors, vases, glass cloches. I never know what to do with them…they just make me so happy :)

  2. friendlypigeon

    Yes! love it! And I love cats, thank you!!! p.s. love you on TV :)

  3. Jen

    It's finny because this post could totally have written by me if you replaced Chalmers with Henderson (with a few tweaks to the fantasy version of myself). I remember seeing your glass box challenge and being like ohmygod thatswhatIlikeandit'sok!!! I've been pumped to display my random treasures in any way that makes me feel good ever sense. So here's a bashful thank you from a random tv watcher who you helped embolden.

    Also, I am now going to obsess about the feeling words…. I know that I feel amazing in my apartment, but I can't think of the words yet… There will be fun musings today!

  4. Michelle

    Actually, Emily — I got permission to love antiquing from you! I grew up with a mom and grandma who loved antiques, but so much so that they overan the house, so strayed toward only new modern items. Seriously, one of my first memories is waking up with the sun in my eyes at a flea market at the Yonkers racetrack just staring at the rows and rows of STUFF. But, now, don't tell my family, but you've unlocked a secret desire for vintage and antiques — things with character. Thankfully, all I have to do is go "shop" at my grandma and mom's house to fill the void.

  5. Jessi

    this post makes me happy too! Thanks for curing the Monday blahs for me! :)

  6. Karla

    Thanks… I love "happy" in a more calm serene sort of way with a little "made ya look, made ya stare…"

  7. Jenn

    This is a good challenge, to put how you want to feel in your space into words! I love it. I think my favorite feeling is getting a big bear hug from my husband, and I want my space to feel like that. Warm, cozy, relaxed, & familiar.

  8. Wendy

    This is why i love your show! you take people's idiosyncrosies(is that a word?) and put them together to make the raddest rooms! I love it! you dont design the "popular" you take some of them and put it in the room. you rock, Emily Henderson. I just watched polynesian kitsch and LOVED the banquette. WOW!! Again, i must say, get rid of the announcer woman. i guess I could live with it at the beginning but i HATE it during the show. it breaks it up too much. Why not use your voice? I dont want that announcer chic telling me what to think about it all.

    I still love your show and your blog.

    -Wendy :)

  9. Alison

    Controlled silliness is probably the best description of my apartment. I've got this papier mache narwhal that makes me laugh every time. One day, when I'm allowed to drill into my walls, I plan to mount him like any other animal bust. I'll need to put him up pretty high though cause this guy could poke someone's eye out. Also, I've been using this massive pencil for grad work lately. "My first Ticonderoga" is etched along it. So while perhaps I wasn't the buyer they had in mind, it makes tedious research a little more joyful.

  10. Jen

    I'm pretty sure "Sunshiny" is the feeling that fuels me. I was born in San Diego and lived the last 5 years in Alaska, missing my blue skies and sunshine. Now I'm back (yessss!) and my desire for everything to be SUPER bright and cheery is a bit overwhelming. I just scored the most awesome color popping, shock your socks off, woven oval rug at an estate sale this weekend. $35. Feeling sunshiny today!

  11. Super cute post! This does sound like you, to a T! What IS my style? Lord knows, it kind of changes every day! Comfortable? Classic? Super awesome? Yeah, probably just a whole lot of the last ; )

  12. Gwen

    thank you for writing this! I so relate! I got permission a few years ago when I discovered DOMINO. When I saw all those "not big box store designs" i went nuts! there are other people like me who like it crazy! thanks for being you!!

  13. I love her too. Like, LOVE. HER. Her eye for pattern is impeccable and her style and design have such great character. I'm terrified of florals for some reason but everytime I see one of her spaces, it makes me want to give them another go.

    Also, cats are great. Especially since you can google them doing just about anything. Like cat burrito. Or cat driving car. My girlfriends and I try to post a random pic of a cat doing something mentioned in the chain. So far, we haven't been stumped for finding one yet.

    Keep up the great posts – I adore your style as well and look forward to hearing your thoughts and point of view!

  14. Kat

    I think my condo is tailored/minimal with sophisticated use of color. It's very calm. Now if only I can figure out how to dress my plus sized body just like that I'd be a happy girl.

  15. Love, love, loved this post. Thanks for the reminder that its ok to be yourself in your own decor. OH, and I agree, there is nothing wrong with loving cats. They are the BEST!

  16. jo

    i love these pictures. whenever spaces are really organized and clean and no knick-knacks about, it makes me depressed and bored. i think the feeling i'm going for in my house is "cheerful." i want my house to be a place that cheers me up, not brings me down.

  17. Um…I know this doesn't have much to do with your post, but I feel like Vern Yip judging Design star is like Jennifer Lopez judging American Idol… You know…because many of the contestants are all like a hundred times more talented and sophisticated than the judge. At any rate…I know everyone has the right to their own aesthetic, but I'd take crazy cat lady any day of the week over being bored to tears by Vern.

  18. Wiggs

    My favorite feeling is "billionaire" so…it might be a little hard to pull off in my house.

    I kid, I think actually I love feeling bright and breezy and I like to think that's how my digs appear.

    I hope whatever made you sad when you woke up has corrected itself. :)

  19. sarah

    My favorite feeling is calm mixed with lived in forever feeling.

    I think I need to have permission to mix so many different tastes. I want someone to tell me my love of color and eclectic is ok with minimal middle eastern style. I want someone to say yes, your love of 70's mod can look lovely with something from a cozy granny kitchen.

    I want someone to say that some fake flowers are ok. Aren't they? Just some? In certain situations? I'm not asking for fake ivy.

    By the way, I could never live in Vern inspired setting. I'd feel too prepped for surgery. I could easily live in any room you've styled – cat's and all.

  20. Cheryl B

    I love to feel funny and happy. I love to have something whimsical in my house that peopel look at and talk about. Maybe it even makes them chuckle a little. If my husband would let me, I would have a lot more things like this around the house. One of my favorite items right now is a ceramic fish, with it's mouth open sitting on the shelf in my kitchen, when I look at it it makes me smile. Bright colors make me happy as well.

  21. I loved this post before I even got to the text. Yes, there is nothing wrong with loving cats and crazy cat ladies are some of the coolest people I know! Also nothing wrong with testing the scratchability of furniture in store and deciding not to buy it if you think you cat will ruin it in 2 days… :)

  22. Lisa

    the internet has opened up a while design bent for me…I see the beauty in collecting and displaying old globes (although, this also means so do many, many other people! drat!) Love, love, love your style.

  23. My favorite feeling is LOVE! Nothing makes my heart happier! I love feeling love and being surrounded by it. I think it fills our home and our living room :) (Contemporary Romance – woop woop!).

    I guess I secretly loved Disney songs until I realized that I was not alone in this. My favorite are songs by the princesses (I heart the Little Mermaid) and Simba (the Lion King) I still do love them only now I have someone to share my love for them with (age 6:)

    Love this post and your style! xo.

  24. Thanks for this post. I can relate to what you're saying about having permission to love what you love. I have many things that I love and finding ways to combine those different tastes and styles has always been a challenge for me. I think if I focused more on the mood I want to have in my home, I'd find a happy balance.
    Vern's taste is perfect for those who look to have their homes serve as a form of sedation.

  25. Sheila

    This post is one of the reasons I love you and your show so much.

  26. Sarah

    YES! YES! YES! No one says we have to grow up from our 6 year old selves! You rock everyone of those hobbies for as long as you want! And PS Emily Chalmers is magical (like unicorns and sprinkles)

  27. sarah

    Awesome post.

    Not sure how I would sum my (fantasy) style…I haven't really gotten down in my house yet but I think I long for peaceful with a smidge of funky.

  28. Nicole

    Love this post and we are soul mates (in a non-creepy blog stalker sort of way). My favorite feeling is when I am driving down PCH with all the windows down on a perfect sunny day with music blarring on the radio while I sing every word. I feel happy, calm and content. It makes me realize how big the world is and that I am just a small part of it. It reminds me to not sweat the small stuff and gain perspective. Vintage treasures (clothing, jewelry, chairs, artwork, etc.) also give me the same feeling. I love to imagine where it has been and where it will end up some day.

    P.S. my secret love….Celine Dion!

  29. Susan

    True confessions – my favorite feeling changes from day to day, just like my must-have style. Most days I'm striving to be happy, serene, and in touch with my sense of humor. Humor is definitely a saving grace.

    I like lots of neutrals, dirty whites, blues, grays, taupes, and greens, mostly, but every now and then I'll find something fabulous, like a vintage Louis XVI chair with a round caned back, caned seat, and armrests and a seat cushion upholstered in this fabulous old silky velvet in a pinky red the color of cranberry glass, and I'll have to have it. That shot of color adds the happy. And I love, love, love quirky/whimsical objects with a sense of humor. For the last few years, it's been animals, but big ones. A 2' tall wood cat that looks like it was carved with chain saw, but well carved and well painted. An elegant leather horse, that looks like it belongs on a race track, but it's only 2' tall by 3' long. I bring my new little friends home and my family rolls their eyes. I don't care. My new friends add the whimsy and humor to our home.

    You are so right, there is nothing wrong with loving cats. Why am I embarrassed to say that we have five? Why do I rush to say that we were a reasonable two cat household until a stray cat came our way and had kittens? Giving away two of those babies and keeping just two here with us was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Why do I think that people look at me and think "cat lady in training?" Especially after they visit our home, with our Bowsers Replus Cool Hues Cat Tower that is so chic and sculptural that I bought two, not just one. I'm going to remind myself everyday that Emily says "there is nothing wrong with loving cats."

  30. My secret love=Office Supplies. I've been going to Staples and fingering all the paper clip goods for years. Its my de-stressing place. Like how some people must feel about the library or the outdoors or the gym. Its probably why I like my administrative job. Because I have a key to the supplies closet and when people make me crazy I go in there and just sit. There, I said it, on the internet. You're right, that does feel good.

  31. No wonder I love you and your show so much. Happy with a bit of crazy is a wonderful place to live. I have shelves crammed with books, blue-dyed alabaster vases, wire camels, a phrenology head wearing a necklace and a palm reading hand. makes me smile every time. And yes, I happen to have four cats.

  32. Jennifer

    Oh Emily, I love you. You're so honest and real and I really appreciate it. I, too, like Emily Chalmers and I like Debi Treolar, too. And Mary Randolph Carter. Her American Junk and Garden Junk and Big City Junk gave me permission to love the collection of deteriorating objects that I own. It makes me feel like I'm normal to read her books.

    Hm. My favorite feeling? That's hard. But I know what I like in my space-a combination of utilitarian and vintage and cozy. Objects need to look like they've had a life already and are therefore "pre-disastered." I don't like feeling like I have to sit carefully on things. I have to be able to feel cozy. I want to feel comfortable-not just my body, but my psyche. That sounds nuts. But, just imagine spaces that make humans and cats and dogs feel ready for a nap in a stylish way, and the lamp for reading is within reach.

  33. Perfidia

    Gosh, this is such a fun blog. My favorite feeling is going on a trip to a new place, of not knowing what I'm going to see next; things out of context, both the new and the old. For design, that means I like a room that looks like it evolved over a long period. I like functional and funky; if William Morris and Lilly Pulitzer lived in a Neutra house, that would be my house. I know that sounds crazy, and Vern would for sure disapprove. In the interest of full disclosure, I might be a crazy cat lady, but I think Vern does rooms that my mother would live in..they're very conventional and they look "designed," as if the decor was obviously imposed upon the room. They look like ads, almost. They're inoffensive verging on commercial, but not quite as bad as that hotel lobby guy whose name escapes me. I grew up in a house like that – where furniture and decor was replaced every ten years, where there was hardly any trace of the past. Maybe I'm rebelling?

  34. Robin

    Loved this post…and the discussion about "unconventional" approaches to styling one's space. I definitely agree with the philosophy that there are NO RULES IN DECORATING! If more people would just work on filling their spaces with things they loved, there would be far fewer houses that left the homeowners on a never-ending quest for that perfect piece of furniture, lamp, rug or object for the mantle that "matches" the style or color of everything else they own!! I grew up in a house where Early American prevailed and if it wasn't hobnail or didn't have a ruffle on the bottom of it, it didn't make the cut! As an adult, I'm a free spirit that loves a bohemian approach to everything…the more color and quirkiness an object has, the more I like it! My home is full of inspiration and it never fails to make me (or anyone that enters it) smile. It's such a relief to not ever have to worry about something matching or fitting in. Emily, love your style and really enjoy watching you pull a room together!

  35. Kelly

    Great post. I'm embarrassed by how often I still feel the need for "permission" to let myself love stuff. Thanks to blogs and the internet I've gotten much better…but it's still a process.

    Also, my favorite feeling is something like, "glamorous relaxation." Or maybe "cozy yet chic," as we move into fall. If that makes any sense.

  36. shawna palomino

    I secretly loved the Little House on the Prairie books FOREVER. My grandma even took me to visit Laura and Almanzo's house in Missouri. I'm 33 now and it wasn't until a few years ago that I fully embraced my love for the stories. Thanks for giving me permission to love my cats as well. Cats just make life more idyllic and have you ever noticed that cool crafty people usually have cats? I used to faithfully watch the show That's Clever on HGTV and there was almost always a cat lolling about on someone's craft table in each episode. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if I saw a cat casually stroll through your design studio during your style diagnostic:)

  37. "She probably wears bright lipstick, throws impromtu dance parties, listens to Sara Barrealis, celebrates the weekend like its the last weekend in her life. She goes to brunch in her pajamas or a maxi-gown, depending on her mood, she buys what she feels like is too many magazines, and only allows herself to watch her favorite movie twice a year so she doesn't get sick of it. And she rarely takes herself seriously, and when she does she regrets it immediately. Oh, and she has a sh*t ton of fun." You have just described me. Will be wearing the most kick-ass 70's jumpsuit ever this weekend and dancing up a storm. Let me know should you ever find yourself in Toronto!

  38. lexi

    love this post – emily chalmers' flea market style and modern vintage style both sit on my coffee table! loving your show & blog too!!

  39. I love this post! I had to evacuate recently for Hurricane Irene and packing my "valuables" was challenging. Besides the computer, I grabbed a couple of my recent coffee table book purchases, prized quilts, and a random assortment of household items I couldn't live without. This all made me question whether I should simplify my house – as I'm an organized hoarder. Curator of interesting objects is what I like to tell myself. But all my little vignettes bring me such joy, I can't bare to part with them. The feeling I desire in my kitchen is "sitting at the table while Grandma finishes baking a cake." Weird, but true. And for the rest of the house, just a little feast for the eyes wherever they roam. You have given me permission :)

  40. Andie

    I like your style, LIKE LOVE it! The way I want my style to feel is Lovely, pretty, comfortable. Thanks for giving me "permission" to let it all be just the way I want it to be. I LOVE my cats. Don't get why so many people hate on them so much. Cause they are the coolest. I can totally relate to you and just about everything you say…Thank god you blog because I don't have cable. Keep it up, you are awesome!

  41. Kate

    I am totally referring to my cat (and my housemate's cat) as "dope little creatures" from now on. This whole post made me happy, from the cat-love to the amazing, fun, personal style! You might not know it, but you just gave me permission, like Emily Chalmers did to you.

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