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. the link for the target lamp pops up as invalid! such a bummer because i’m in the market for just that kind of a lamp.

    … as always this “living room” is lovely. simply lovely.

    • Sarah

      You can go in store or search the site. It is indeed at target. I just saw it.

      • Sarah

        I’m stalking the comments in hopes Emily may w/b about my rug pad question…but while I’m here, thought I’d mention I was BACK at Target again and the lamps are 30% off ($15) and there were very few left.
        You may want to hussle over there! :)

  2. Bab

    Love this look. I want to move in.

  3. Julie

    I am in love with this room!

    I am in the process of planning a gallery wall for my home (you’ve inspired me) and I’d love it if you could give additional information about framing. For example, where did you get the frames, when do you decide to do custom framing, choosing to use mats or not, etc. Perhaps this could be a post you write now and post after your son is born (although I’d hate to wait that long). :)

    Thanks for the inspiration!

    • Sarah

      She did a amazing post on framing! You should check it out. :)

      • Julie


        Thank you, I don’t know how I missed it.

  4. Sarah

    Where did you get all of the frames for the prints?

  5. Emily, I hope that I’m going to give you the ultimate compliment. If I saw this room on TV or in a magazine, I would know that you did it! The grouping is brilliant and I understand why you need to have the walls either white or grey. I’m actually getting it! I am a lot older than you, but my decorating has become young inspried by you! Thank you for being you and keep these pictures coming!

    • Sarah

      I completely agree with your compliment!

  6. Erma

    This is so freaking awesome!!

  7. kim basinger

    How wonderfully wow! It’s inspiring and happy (JUST like its designer!). Tissue please… I’m drooling over that sofa color! Art is just right– plenty of color and they have a light airy quality too. I should have just said this… I’m speechless! Wholehearted thanks!

  8. For the longest time, I thought I had to paint my walls a color because I love color. Then I started painting them white and everything started feeling calmer and less crazy chaotic. You make the perfect point that maybe color lovers need white walls!

  9. So very bold, bright & beautiful x

  10. Ava

    Can I just say that the art in this room is fantastic! I love, love, love, color and I will definitely be pinning these pictures for future reference. I have been reading your blog for a long time, and I have to say that I think this is going to be one of my favorite reveals. I have something to look forward to the rest of the week now! Thanks for bringing some “Joy” to my day. :)

  11. Those sofas are AMAZING! The vibrancy and colours in this space are so happy – love the use of neutral frames on the wall. So well balanced, your style is so recognisable :)

  12. Hannah

    I read both this blog and Joy’s – so fun to see such an awesome studio!

  13. Sarah

    Amazing as always!
    And oddly, I was putting down my daughters new rug with my Home Depot rug pad lady night thinking, “I wonder what rug pad em henderson uses…” And you have spoken!!!
    Wud you share WHICH one you like no- muv?
    I want to get it totally EmHenderson approved right! :)

    • Sarah

      And and the rug I am putting down is the “teen room” rug from Land of Nod.
      Note to sponsors: we buy what Emiky recommends.

  14. You are so stinking talented! I freaking LOVE this space and wish I could have one just like it of my very own!!

  15. shandy

    Looks so amazing.

  16. Eagle Eye

    Bright and sunny and happy as always! Love!

  17. Heather

    So perfect it hurts.

  18. This is definitely my favorite nook of the whole space. The color, the gallery wall, the furniture…it’s just so dang inspiring! Such a beautiful job and congrats to you and your team, Emily!

  19. Benny

    Dear Emily,
    I have been following your blog since January and I love it. Your home decor style is really inspiring and you sound like an interesting and fun person as well.
    And it is exactly for this reason that I feel like telling you something that I find really disappointing.
    I am Italian and, as you know better than me, Italy is the home to the world most famous design houses (Cassina, Alias, Poltrona Frau, Kartell… just to mention a few) and some of the world most famous designers. For this reasons the majority of Italians actually own a design piece in their house. Most of the times without even being aware of it!
    We all love our country and feel the need to protect its treasures, one of them being its incredible design history. All this, just to say that I do not understand why in almost all your posts you use imitations of great designer pieces, instead of the real pieces. If I’m not mistaken, you used the imitation to Alias Tagliatelle armchair/armrest in your new post. Why not the real piece? I also remember you saying (typing) Saarinen-like table. Why not the real Eero Saarinen table by Knoll?
    Design is an art we all need to protect, in order for more designers to grow up and be willing to invest their time to create incredible pieces we could all enjoy. I believe that an interior designer/home decorator should be the first to do so! What do you think?


  20. Michelle H

    Best gallery wall I’ve ever seen. Ever. LOVE!

  21. This is gorgeous!!! You are a master of the mix! I have been slowly trying to collect pieces for a gallery wall so your inspiration of various pictures, size, etc. Always leave me amazed at how awesome the result looks!

  22. Emily

    Agree with the question on frames! Why is it so hard to find basic, neutral, picture frames!

  23. I am obsessed with your design! You’re simply amazing. We just moved to a new house and I am super inspired. Would you ever come to NJ and help me with my house??? Fantastic job! Good luck with your first baby! Congratulations. :)

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  25. The link to your Target lamp doesn’t work :( any chance you can put the link up in the comments?

  26. All kinds of lovely!!! You are awesome!!! Love, love, love, your work!!!! YEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!

  27. Love this … a dynamic duo!

  28. Alexis

    All that colour! I DIE! I would be happy moving into any space you design, I wouldn’t change a thing, even if it means sleeping on desks instead of beds ;)

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  30. Carly

    Hi Emily, this is a beautiful room–one I just saw pinned by Anthropologie and thought, hmmm, that looks familiar. So I just thought I would let you know that this photo is on Apartment34.com and being pinned by Anthro without any apparent credit to you or Oh Joy.

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  32. Heather Bateman

    rug, blanket, who cares/// MUST HAVE! Fantastic use of color. You rock – AGAIN.

  33. Sabrina

    Love it! The couch, the chairs, the lamp… It’s too bad I bought a nice grey couch a couple years ago, because otherwise I’d be getting a badass green sofa.

    Question about Samantha Gluck – I saw in her portfolio a picture of your pick for the nightstand styling competition. Did you work with her before that competition, or is that how you found out about her?

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  35. katie liz

    where is that white pillow with colorful tassles from? to die for! all of it!
    xo, k

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

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  52. 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!

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  56. 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!!!

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