Oh Joy’s Studio: the ‘living room’

green-velvet sofa

I’m so jealous of this studio it’s stupid. It’s making me decide to either rent a studio or wear Joy’s skin as a coat. It’s just so happy, inspiring, colorful, but still feels so bright and airy with enough negative space to not let your little brain go insane …

Resources (Left to right) Furniture: Vintage hot pink chairs; Anthropologie yellow velvet pillow; Vintage black standing lamp/side table; Room & Board sofa; vintage coffee table; Jonathan Adler for JCP striped vase; Anthropologie throw pillows (also here); Marimekko fabric custom pillow cover; Target lamp; Design Within Reach Saarinen side table; Vintage rug from the flea market.

When I first met this corner of the room it looked like this:


Decidedly less exciting, but it was a total blank canvas. It seemed like the natural ‘foyer’ or ‘lobby’ so to speak — the perfect area for a comfortable living area at the entrance of the space. Now those of you who are super astute might have noticed that you are walking into the back of one of the hot pink chairs, but before you call the layout police on me I’ll just let you in on the behind the scenes fact that the right chair normally lives in the corner with a side table/lamp. We moved it for the photo because it just looked SOOOO much better being symmetrical in the shot. But don’t worry, it fits just perfectly in the corner, indeed.

The general design direction of the space was to be bright, happy, airy, fun, and young. Joy needed the space to function as a design studio, blog studio, photo studio, and meeting area for clients … which means it needed to be divided up, but left open. Broken up, but in a really open way with just implied separation of space.

For this project I brought on a designated Sr. Designer Samantha Gluck who was responsible for SOOOOO much, and she did an incredible job (hire her!!!). After the first meeting where we hashed out all the needs, wants, and Joy’s general studio desires, she came back with this rendering:


A lot normally changes from the first rendering, but this gave Joy a really good visual of where we were heading, what elements we planned on bringing in, and where we were going to put everything. I believe Sam did this in Auto-Cad and then did a transparent sheet on top where she colored it in just for the sake of impressing Joy, which it totally did, naturally.

hot pink velvet chair

But back to the living room …

Joy loves color. I love color. So therefore we paint the walls white. This goes against your instinct, I know, and I’ve learned this lesson the hard way. But basically if you are someone who loves color then you are going to tend to buy things that are colorful, right? So if you paint your walls a bright color and you are buying colorful furniture it can go ‘Willy Wonka’ or ‘SpongeBob’ really fast. So my rule is: if you love a ton of bright colors and patterns then paint your background totally neutral, either a white or gray. This is what I’ve done in my house, Bri’s, the Studio City house, and probably 15 others. I’m not saying you can’t do both, but it’s just harder to pull off and it makes a space look busier, smaller, and just generally ‘crazy person.’ So I either bring in color on the walls OR in the furniture/accessories, but rarely both.

velvet sofa

So we started with the Murphy sofa from Room and Board, which is pretty dope for the price, I have to say. They were smart and finally did a readymade sofa in a saturated color. Normally most big box stores’ no-lead time sofas are in like a sophisticated tweed — something safe and pretty, and you have to wait for these custom colors, but not this time. And it’s shape is just so cute. It was our ‘jumping off point’ so to speak and helped start the color palette.

The coffee table was Joy’s from her house (remember when I did her house for the show and then baby-proofed it?). The table has these sharp maniacal corners just waiting to poke out one of Ruby’s soft little pupils, so she hoarded it in her garage and now it’s made its return here at the office. The hot pink chairs were flea market finds that we reupholstered in this amazing saturated hot pink velvet from Home Fabrics in the fabric district.

The rug was a flea market find (yes, for $100). I actually think it’s a really thick wool blanket, but we put it on a serious rug pad (my favorite are no-muv) and while it may not last in high trafficked areas, a thick wool blanket as a rug totally works for somewhere like this. Plus clearly it’s just so rad. I’m dying to reproduce it.


And then the art wall. I decided with this art wall that I wanted to do floor to ceiling, wall to wall. It’s my new favorite tactic that gets away from the dinky collection in the middle of a wall and really makes it look intentional and designed. Joy has a lot of friends that are artists and she wanted to be around their work — to be inspired by it and to feature it. Per usual we had intentions of laying it out on the ground, but ultimately just went for it.

OK, here’s the master resource list, folks:

Resources (Left to right) Art Prints: Ashley Percival panda print; Studio Legohead cat print; Bonnie Tsang floral custom print; Animal Print Shop baby giraffe print; Jen Gotch paper cups print; Jenny Vorwaller abstract painting; Ruby sketch by Casey Brodley;Lulie Wallace floral painting; Bonnie Tsang pool custom print; Paul Octavious kite hill print; Jen Gotch glasses custom print; Cali print by Rocket Ink;Joel Penkman popsicle print; Jenny Vorwaller abstract painting; Geronimo x Jennifer Young custom photo; Ruby oil painting by Casey Brodley;Max Wanger custom print; Ashley Percival cool deer print; Studio Legohead floral print; Marion Barraud fish print.

Resources (Left to right) Furniture: Vintage hot pink chairs; Anthropologie yellow velvet pillow; Vintage black standing lamp/side table; Room & Board sofa; vintage coffee table; Jonathan Adler for JCP striped vase; Anthropologie throw pillows (also here); Marimekko fabric custom pillow cover; Target lamp; Design Within Reach Saarinen side table; Vintage rug from the flea market.

And of course we did a video about this space, to see it in motion. (Thank you Tessa Neustadt.)

Studio Design/styling by me and Samantha Gluck

Photography by Zeke Ruelas

Video by Tessa Neustadt

  1. Any tips for finding all of the lovely frames for the artwork? I love the really thin gold and wooden ones best!

  2. Angel Li

    Hey Emily!

    I was just wondering… how do you choose frames. I’ve seen… all the same frames, all white, all black and a mix of different colors, mattes etc. I’m trying to get going on my house but I feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to begin framing photos, art etc. You’d love my place… big beautiful bright apartment in Beijing right in the city center. I wish you could come and help me! Congrats on your beautiful baby boy :) what a joy!

  3. Joann

    Glad to see this ‘gallery wall’ back!
    I did something similar in my first few houses in the 1980s. Just because I wanted to see everything!!!

  4. Can anybody acquire it from a bookstore?

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  43. Looks so amazing. The living room is wonderful. I like wall paintings :)

  44. Wow, I love this room! Especially the gallery wall, the white walls, the awesome rug (yes, please, Emily, make rugs that look like this, because I want one!), the throw pillow with the colorful tassels, and the black and white vase. It would be helpful if you could post how much this room cost to furnish.

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  50. Gloria

    Hi Emily, Fantastic your designs. What can I do to know which is my style? I’m from Argentina andI’m going to start to redecorate my house but I need some advice and I admire your ideas and designs.

  51. WOW.. I LOVE those hot pink chairs, everything goes so well – great balance of color. Well done!

  52. i like the frames and would love to know where you sourced them. thank you Dawn Ford

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