Behind the scenes: We mainly just stare at screens

written by Brady Tolbert

Yes people, we at EH Designs love to stare at screens and play with pretty things. That is pretty much all that makes up our day. We wake up, look at screens whilst playing with pretty things then when we can no longer keep our pretty eyes open to look at pretty things we go to bed to rest our eyes, hands and bodies. Then we wake up the next morning to do the same thing. I mean life is all about pretty things and staring right?!

OK, OK, there is much more that happens in the lives of Emily, Ginny and Brady and especially here at the job. But, judging by the below pictures it may look like all we do is take a picture, look at our computer screens, move things around, take a picture, and then do it all over again in a different location.

Please see Exhibit A:
emily david screen

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emily david laughing

I’m pretty sure during this last one either David or Emily passed some major gas, I mean what else would be that funny as to make them both bust up laughing from one frame to the next.

I digress … Last time you heard from me, we were in the midst of shooting the book, well we can officially say that for the most part all of the shooting has been completed and you better get your gift cards ready folks because we have some beautiful spaces in store for you in that book. Unfortunately I can’t show you too much as we want to actually have a book to show to you but here is an idea of what goes into getting a book put together.

Here’s what we’ve been up to:

1. Props, Props and more Props:

This last month we tore apart our new studio time after time to create 15 different style-specific vignettes, and 4 different full living room shots amongst other things. In order to accomplish all of it, our office pretty much looked like this on a daily basis. Ginny was a total badass and tore the internet apart and rented just about every chair, light, and accessory known to man! She killed it with the props she found and the images definitely show it.

props office bts

2. Midnight runs to all of our favorite retailers:

Emily loves her options (I learned this lesson my first week on the job) and when you have to style out so many different rooms you really DO need options. My cart was filled to the brim time and time again. This image represents just one of the many separate trips we all took to different retailers. While I did “shop til you drop” at one large scandinavian retailer, Emily did the same thing at Target, and Ginny conquered the West side shops.

ikea shopping cart

3. Stuffing things in places where they don’t belong:

There was no corner or empty floor space that was safe. Basically we had to always have one clean area of the studio where we were shooting the current shot. In order to do that everything was shoved to one side of the room or the other. It was like a fun furniture tetris game, or an episode of “Hoarders”. I’ll let you make the final call on that.

props in studio

Our cars were also not safe from the “hoarding”. On one occasion I had to run out to pick up a chair after we had finished at the office and lets just say that my results were not so successful. When I spoke the the gentleman on the phone he told me the box was around 2 ft x 2 ft so I assumed like any normal human being that the box would in fact be 2′x2′. When I arrived I found that the box was a tad larger than that.

chair in car

I had to unpack to the box in a very busy parking lot during shopping rush hour to find that to my dismay the chair was completely assembled. It took some moving around… and when I say “some” I really mean A LOT. I mean can we all please notice that the sun was up when I got there and the sun was down when the chair finally found its final resting place in my car. Tick Tock, Tick Tock, oh the woe’s of gathering props!

4. One very happy mother with child in tow:

The book would not be possible with out Emily and Emily would not be as happy as she is without Charles.

emily charlie couch

We’ve got lots more in the works people and don’t worry it involves much more than staring a screens and pretty objects so come on back to see what we are making a mess of next.

TGIF. Now back to staring …

Our New Kitchen reveal, plus we cook now

Most of you know that I don’t cook and topping my excuse list has always been that I’ve hated my kitchens and as a ‘visual person’ its just always bummed me out to be in there. They’ve always been rentals, and either tiny (in New York), run down (two houses ago), or both (our last house).

To prove my ‘ugly kitchen’ situation I give you exhibit A and B:

gross-kitchen

See?? You might be wondering what we ate then, right? Well it was a combo of take-out, going-out (pre-charlie) or most likely ‘making food’ which is normally a salad or a microwaveable meal. I’m not really a foodie (clearly), but Brian is very emotionally invested in EACH AND EVERY MEAL and literally every night from 7 – 7:30 is the ‘what are we going to do for dinner’ debate. I say, ‘I don’t really care, I’ll eat anything’ and then he spends the next 30 minutes torturing himself trying to figure out what he wants and debating the not so endless possibilities.  It’s literally groundhog day every night. Our biggest issue is that we never have food in the fridge and if we do, it doesn’t really create an easy meal – or one good enough to actually put effort into.

Anyway … Our new kitchen (that is not a rental) was pretty ugly but fairly doable (see the before photos and what the plan was here). We started cooking a bit more (mainly because I can watch TV while I make my one weekly chicken soup), but I mostly still ‘made food’. Then we updated it and it looked like this for a while (which is what is in Domino) and all of a sudden I liked being in it:

emily-henderson-kitchen

Photo by Brittany Ambridge for Domino Magazine

Wildly better, obviously. I love the white, the hardware, the brass “grout” (which I’ll tell you about once I get some detail shots), the pendants, the faucet, the appliances and that baby. I love that adorable baby. I love all of it EXCEPT for the refinished lower cabinetry that looked even more retro than before, and besides those beautiful schoolhouse electric handles just didn’t pop off of them.

Ok, this is not ‘The Kitchen makeover post’. Nay. I’m working on that post (trying to get more photos of what was in Domino, fishing through my library for the ones I’ve taken and then probably taking more photos of details for ya) but I figured I’d may as well show you a sneak peek of the kitchen because we changed it even after the Domino shoot. Because i’m crazy. 

Yes, you heard me. We have painted that kitchen since that shoot. 

Around that same time, Blue Apron emailed and asked me if I wanted to try out their product – delivered meal plans, with all ingredients, ready for you to cook, always different, and delicious meals. I figured I’d celebrate my new kitchen with a photo shoot (who doesn’t?) of me proving to the world (you) that I now cook. And yes, this is a sponsored post but since i’m not a food blogger I figured clearly a reveal of my new kitchen would make it even more fun, no?

ingredients

Here’s the deal: Blue Apron allows you to create delicious, chef-designed recipes at home and takes all the guess-work out of it as they send all the farm-fresh ingredients you need, right to your doorstep, in exactly the right proportions. No trips to the grocery store and no waste from unused ingredients. Its wonderful, and completely dummy proof.

Blue Apron will send you three meals per week – for two, four, or six people. The meals are $9.99 per person with free shipping and in case you are worried about all those fresh ingredients spoiling they are one step ahead of you and everything arrives in a refrigerated box so ingredients will stay fresh even if you’re not at home when your package arrives.

fridge instructions

When I first started getting Blue Apron I put it in the fridge. Five days later we hadn’t made any of them. I was like, ‘whoops, guess I’m going to have to cancel that sponsored post’. But then that night I was like, just make one and see. I turned on the tv, poured a glass of wine and started cooking. After about 10 minutes I texted Ginny and Brady with a ‘I’m blue apron-ing it and I kinda love it‘. And then I ate the meal and I was even more psyched (I think that one was beef stuffed poblano chili).

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Here’s what I liken it to – it’s like a personal trainer for cooking. Sure, i can cook on my own, but I don’t. Technically I know how to do the basics but I don’t know how to do anything interesting so I never try the new stuff and therefore I’m never super excited about what I’ve spent my time on. Like a personal trainer you are kinda taught how to do the more innovative things, and are in a way forced to do it (because it’s staring at you in the fridge) and then afterwards you are just so proud of yourself because you are good at it. Click through to see more photos (even a few pulled back ones) of the new painted kitchen.

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Sneak Peek of house; A Domino Mag Video

Hey y’all.

I’m working on the house posts (you’ll see a peek into the kitchen tomorrow :)) meanwhile I wanted  to show you the video that domino magazine made of the shoot, which gives you a pretty good overview of a lot of the rooms, live in action.  Plus I’m wearing lashes and there is a very cute baby.

Photo produced by Domino, directed by Krissy Tiglas

Wardrobe Styling by Jordan Rudd

Hair and Makeup by Laura Peyer

And thanks Target for putting it all together. xx

Happy Hump Day, y’all. What do you think?

Oprah Magazine Weekend Makeover

One time Oprah called and asked if I would do a budget weekend makeover for her magazine, and I was like, ‘Opes, for you … anything.’ The job/challenge was to show their readers what they can actually do in a weekend, with a limited budget. It’s not ‘just buy a new sofa’ or ‘wallpaper your ceiling’, its easy upgrades, simple solutions, etc, that you can really do to improve your space in 2-3 days. Having those parameters was VERY fun, indeed, and has inspired another big makeover post (and possible series) that I’m launching with Target soon.

The budget for decor was $1800, which isn’t nothing and certainly isn’t what a lot of people have just lying around but it still goes really fast. Trust me.

Oprah Makeover_Omagazine

It’s out now in the September issue, but let’s go back in time and check out what it looked like when we found it:

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The apartment itself is beautiful – big, white, open with pretty, classic architecture. Her pieces were simple and easy to style on top of, which was good since we didn’t have the budget to buy a new sofa, etc. And OH YEAH, SHE ALREADY HAD TWO PLATNER STOOLS. She inherited them from her mom and I was VERY jealous.

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Things were just kinda mismatched, without a specific point of view and it just didn’t reflect her personality.

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There was something very classic and Victorian about the space so we felt like we could go for a more feminine, almost regal color. And since she lived by herself and didn’t necessarily need to take in her boyfriend’s opinion so much we wanted to go a little bit girly.

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Reader Question: How to I make my dark Tudor feel modern?

Hi Emily,
We’re a bit stuck. My husband and I moved from a sun drenched apartment in Brooklyn to a dark Tudor in Queens the name of more space for our newborn. The house is charming but dated, and we don’t know how to freshen it up without making it feel like a boho home in a Tudor body.

Our main issue is with the living/dining room combo area (below). It’s dark and uninviting (that’s 1930′s wood paneling covering the dining room walls) and the corner fireplace has completely stumped us in terms of furniture placement.

I often wonder what you would do to the house if it were your own. 

Help! We want to love our new home but feel trapped by its darkness and awkward layout. It’s making us feel old and boring. Thanks so much for any help and design vibes you can send our way.

Best,
Susan, Bryce and Baby Jack

OK. So this  is a really good/bad predicament. They have an adorable house that doesn’t feel like them. It feels like a dark, sexy boarding school scene from Gossip Girl (the architecture, I mean). I do have issues with Tudors for their lack of light and their heavy feel, but then I love how charming they are. Its WONDERFUL during the winter, so cozy and warm, but in the spring and summer, it can be hard.

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So here is what I would do … but wait. Ahem. Dear architectural purists, reach for your kleenex now, grab and grip that stress ball, put your mouth guard quickly into your mouth because guess what? I think that this lovely family should paint their beautiful paneling. Not white, but a medium gray or a color. That wood is DARK as hell and stylistically very heavy. It’s perfect for a lodge, a Mason council meeting room, a ‘Eyes Wide Shut’ kinda vibe. Great, if you are into that. But based on your furniture, you enjoy a more modern, light aesthetic that is fighting the dark wood on the walls. Sure, in a photo shoot we could make it look cool, but in an everyday situation, it’s going to feel like a battle every time you walk through that door.

If you wanted to still work with the architecture (which is a good idea) I would grab one of the colors in the stained glass. Maybe a muted blue or green or gray. Don’t get rid of the paneling, just paint it a pretty matte color (or eggshell which is more practical with kids). If you want to be a bit safe think about a medium gray. I think going too light will feel disjointed with the house, but a pretty heather gray will feel warm, inviting, masculine, old world but totally more modern and fresh. If you milk paint it or just wash it then you can still see the grain in the wood = a good thing. I can’t tell from the pics but you could also keep it chair rail height and then add a moulding and get rid of the what is above that. So it’s around 5′ high and then just paint, so it’s no so wood-paneling heavy.

Also if you are in the same boat as this reader with your paneling, my answer is this – if your room is small-ish (like a 300 square foot room or less) then paint it to make it feel so much bigger. You’ll be so happy you did. I know its hard. I know it feels dishonest in a way. But dark and heavy is hard to pull off these days (and by these days I mean the last 30 years.) This goes for Craftsmen houses as well (unless you love that dark and cozy feeling). So if you have a huge mansion, ski cabin or country cabin full of dark stained wood, moulding and paneling, then keep it because it’s actually awesome. It’s like a teeny tiny bikini on a woman – you either have that body type or you don’t, but not everyone needs to wear it just because you bought it, so don’t force it.

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As far as the beams go … if they are painted brown then you have my permission to paint them white or gray. If those beams are stained wood then I would paint the paneling in your living room and then see how you feel. about the darkness on the ceiling. Your flooring is wood so if you have wood beams it would still look cohesive.

Also I would quickly embrace some old world feeling pieces. Get some crystal or iron chandeliers. Think about some more traditional rugs. Maybe your sofa is modern but you have two leather spanish sling chairs. Maybe your dining table is modern, but you have a crystal chandelier above it. The more you can mix modern with old world, the faster your architecture will embrace your modern pieces and they will stop fighting. Just bringing modern pieces into a beautiful historic house like this is tricky. But with some mixing of styles it will look like a super hip Tudor, full of young interesting people. Don’t reject the architecture, embrace it and create a style totally unique to the space. That sounded like an afterschool special for designers anonymous. You know what I mean. :)

To submit your reader questions, email them to brady@emilyhendersondesign.com