Family Room Update

The family room – the room that we hang out, probably SIXTY PERCENT OF THE TIME, is strangely the last to get finished (well, that and the landscaping and bathrooms). It’s a ‘cobblers kids with no shoes’ situation. But there is an update for you and it has gotten a lot better. So let’s go all ‘time travel’ on the situation and recap to where we were 1 year ago, before we moved in.

Family Room 07

Beautiful. Mauve. Dark. Stupid.

We wanted to make some obvious changes: paint the walls, ceiling, replace the floor and add WONDERFUL INVITING-NESS EVERYWHERE. I loved that it shared the space with the kitchen but that it wasn’t our formal living room so that we could make this super kid friendly and comfortable.

Family room Before

Family room Before

Family room Before

I have dreams of Charlie playing on the ground with beautiful scandinavian-style toys, wearing all organic dye-free, blood-free, diamond-free clothes, while I make a vegan roast, wearing a hand-stitched apron, nude underneath. This is how it should go down on an average Wednesday in our family room. And it does.

But after 3 months it still looked like this – mismatched chairs, stupid everything. Bad, Bad, Bad. But I had just had a baby, and was busy weeping out of happiness or sadness, so I get a pass.

Family room Progress

Family room Progress

So now, as of November 2014, we are better but not done. I’m working on it but the progress is S.L.O.W.

emily family room blue grey 1

We have an awesome, very comfortable sofa (in the best configuration possible). The ottoman is rad and insanely kid friendly but it doesn’t work with the sofa, stylistically. The rug is awesome (a CL find 5 years ago for $75) but it’s too flat for the chunky sofa – although it does hide dirt, etc, really well. There is no art on the walls, but a family photo wall is planned. Its going to be a wonderful room, it’s just not there yet.

The gold chest of drawers is from a vintage store, and its rad. The standing lamp is from Chairish and its weird and wonderful. Oh and that weird white laptop table is GENIUS because when I was breastfeeding I could put my water on it without reaching forward towards the coffee table. Its kinda ugly but totally great (it slips under your sofa and acts as a very convenient side table).

Things are fine but not awesome.

Blue Rug: Vintage | White Floor Lamp: Vintage from Chairish | White “C” Table: Container Store | Blue Blanket: Target | Grey Couch: | Tan and Cream Pillows: Vintage | Blue Striped Pillow: The Citizenry | Leather Ottoman: Vintage from Amsterdam Modern | Brass Side Table: Vintage | Table Lamp: Schoolhouse Electric | Shades: DecorView

Its great that we have a room that is open to the kitchen, indeed, but its a little awkwardly shaped.

emily family room blue grey 2

Pendant Lights: Vintage from Shopclass LA | Blue Rug: Vintage | White Floor Lamp: Vintage from Chairish |White “C” Table: Container Store  | Blue Blanket:Target  | Grey Couch:  | Tan and Cream Pillows: Vintage | Blue Striped Pillow: The Citizenry | Leather Ottoman: Vintage from Amsterdam Modern | Shades and Drapes: DecorView

Meanwhile on the other side of the room we have this:

emily family room blue grey_kitchen copy

The TV and the pack ‘n play. Charlie actually likes being in that pack ‘n play. Its not like he’s dying to go in it, but once he’s there its big enough that he plays for like 15 minutes at a time. Thats not bad, friends. I can pretend to cook or check my instagram, while he’s in there sticking a spatula in his mouth.

The TV feels kinda small that far enough away from the sofa. We have a projector that we could use there and just get rid of the TV but you can’t watch projectors during the day, which is kinda fine because how often do we actually watch tv during the day, right? But Brian is a massive college football fan so at least for these few months there is some daytime watching to be had. So our options are a. get a larger TV, b. use the projector screen and c. mount the tv to the wall opposite the sofa (on the far right) that you can see in this picture:

emily family room blue grey 1

Then it would be a really cozy TV area, but I wouldn’t be able to watch TV while I cook and I am actually cooking at least 3 nights a week now, plus making Charlie’s food, etc. But I could always just watch on my laptop or get a little counter tv. I feel like i’ve been talking about my tv situation for like 3 paragraphs. Geez. But its important and it just doesn’t feel right yet.

Blue Rug: Vintage | High Chair Seat: Stokke | Pack and Play: 4moms | Barstools: Vintage | TV Console: Vintage |Pendant Lights: Vintage from Shopclass LA  | Abstract Painting: Vintage | Wood Bowl: Target | Black and White Tray: Target

So, when we shot for Domino we quickly set up this room even though it wasn’t on the shot list, and I think none of us were that psyched about it (which is why it didn’t run in the magazine). The thing about these kinds of sofas is that you shouldn’t try to make them look ‘hip’. They are crazy comfortable, inviting and pretty but not cool. So in this photo I think we tried to make it look cool and instead its a little over-styled. I like everything in this shot and I like how the photographer took it, but I don’t like how we styled it to the camera. There is just a little too much stuff and the styling makes the sofa look suburban when it really just needs to look simple, comfy and cozy.

Emily Henderson Family Room Gallery Wall

I think it actually works best when pretty neutral pillows are thrown on in and it looks super casual and flop-on-able.

So that’s the family room update. My questions to you guys are: A. should I do a wallpaper in here? (I mean, I know what you are going to say, ‘YES!!!”), or just do a massive family photo wall? OR do both, if I choose a more subtle patterned wallpaper? I could do one similar to the one in the bedroom – just a simple metallic texture (posting soon, I promise).  Maybe that’s what I’ll do. But I also don’t want it to get super busy because this area is a bit cramped and there are often a ton of toys and computers laying everywhere.


Thoughts on what to do on the walls and what kind of ottoman/coffee table (remember it has to be kid-friendly) I should do are very welcome … Weigh in, folks.

Thanks to Tessa Neudstadt for the ‘pre-after’ photos and Brittney Ambridge from Domino for the photo that never ran.

Brass and Marble Backsplash

emily henderson brass and gold backsplash_circle

Ok, friends. Welcome to the backsplash post. A lot of y’all have been asking, it just took a while to collate all the info.

For those of you just joining (welcome), here is what our kitchen looked like when we moved in. Workable, but not awesome.

Emily Kitchen Before copy

I knew I wanted to upgrade the cabinet finish, put in a backsplash, new appliances, new counter, etc, but not demo it out because the configuration was pretty good. Most of the decisions were fairly easy to make – Caesarstone countertops, pretty white appliances (post coming) but the backsplash? I sprouted four new gray hairs trying to come up with a backsplash that was both simple but interesting; not using crazy expensive materials, but not boring. Also it needs to always be good for resale, but at the same time ‘pinnable’ for now. Its hard. At first I tried this insane mountain scape idea that I still think could work with the right materials, but it also could have looked like amateur garbage.

I love carrara marble (I’m not alone right now in that, clearly) but I’m too irresponsible to have it as my countertop. It looks good aged in a more traditonal style house but ours is midcentury. Besides, I knew that if we had one get together with red wine it would be over. So I wanted to figure out how to bring it into the kitchen and obviously the backsplash is a good opportunity to do that. You can buy it in bricks, squares or in larger tiles that are wildly less expensive that slabs. So I opted for the 12×24 tiles which are roughly $5.50 a square foot and cost us $451 to do the whole lot – we bought 20% overage since we were cutting them (and when you cut you get some casualties) and that price included tax and shipping (shipping is strangely expensive at $80).

brass and marble backsplash details


But the brass? Yeah, thats not a normal backsplash component. It’s typically used at a ‘floor junction’ in between carpeting and tile – like at the threshold between the kitchen and living room, or bathroom and hallway. Its solid brass and slides underneath the tile – but you get 1/8″ brass strip in between the tile, looking like brass grout. The tile guy thought we were nuts (not for putting it in a backsplash but for opting for brass at all). That side with the holes goes UNDER the tile and the larger brass side (the profile) is butted up against the next tile, so what you see is the top side that is 1/8th inch.

The brass edge trim was by Schluter Schiene from Westside Tile and Stone at a cost of $32.00 per 8′ length.  I believe we ordered 12 8′ lengths and had 3 left over. We didn’t really know how many we needed since we were doing a weird pattern (oh and we ordered like 2 days before install and it came from the East Coast so yes, we ordered extra just in case). One of our concerns was the potential of the brass tarnishing but the manufacturer thought it would be ok and said we could polish it as long as we avoided getting the polish on the marble which could potentially damage the surface and take the shine away. So far so good.

We thought about ordering a slab of carrara so that we didn’t have any joint seams and also to try to save on money and material waste but the slab would have been too thick for this application. Our installer ordered the tiles from Discount Tile Center on Venice.

carrara tile

The one on the left is the way the trim is supposed to be installed, but its only 1/8th an inch, which is pretty narrow. The one on the right is flipped, which looked WAY better (1/2″) but we would have had to cut each piece vertically and the install would have been a nightmare. So we installed it properly, but I do regret it not being bigger.

Meanwhile I didn’t want to just use the tiles as is, I wanted to do stripes with them with varying widths. First we tried more of a brick pattern:

Kitchen Tile

I like it but we thought it would have looked too busy. Now I don’t think so and I think it could look awesome because the brass trim is so subtle. It would have been more expensive to install (because way more cuts) but looking back it might have been a better option. We also had the stripes vary in size from 2, 4, 6, 8″ which would mean that every single one of them would have to be cut down from the 12″. Again, more cuts = more expensive install.  Kitchen Tile

So we opted for the above pattern, which were just simple stripes, at 4″, 8″, 12″ widths. It was a challenge conveying what we wanted so we drew it on the wall itself:


Click through to see the reveal.


Target Styling Chapter #4; 3 Easy Centerpiece Ideas

The fourth Target Video is up, folks, and its all about really easy centerpiece ideas, co-hosted by my side-braid that I’ve been trying to recreate for 6 weeks now (thanks to Danielle Walch). This video is meaty – with three different ideas, color palettes and styles but they are all super easy, I promise.

About centerpieces – we aren’t really talking about what you do for a dinner party, nay. You can always have flowers and candles for that but these ideas are more about composing simple, affordable things in ways that look fun, pulled together and inviting in between dinners. It doesn’t always have to be a bowl of fruit – or if it is maybe its a more interesting way to display said bowl of fruit.

gold and wood centerpiece

What did we do on this table? Well, just watch the video and then keep reading for some tips, photos and some more gratuitous shots of my side-braid.

We came up with three centerpiece ideas: 1. Earthy and Seasonal. 2. Neutrals and Organic 3. Whites with Greenery…. All using just Target product (or some pieces you might already have)  and some flowers/plants and fruit.


Custom neon sign; Girls, Girls, Girls

We all know neon signs are trending right now – the 80’s are back, neon colors are still hot (in moderation), and neon signs make every room feel like a party. Since this project is actually called ‘The Party House’ it was more than obvious that I wouldn’t have done my job without a custom neon sign.

Two years ago I wanted to do one in my house – a big white cloud to go over my then unborn baby’s crib. Such a hilarious idea and only a fantasy that a mom without children would have because clearly no baby would sleep with it on and the thing about neon signs is that they are actually not so pretty when they are turned off. The magic happens when they are on.


Last year I designed one for the Moby Airbnb pop-up house (up there on the left) so it gave us a little bit of experience on how to do that. Moby gave me that drawing and I gave it to Cosmo’s sign company. It’s actually way more simple than I thought it would be. You give them a drawing with dimensions and color and they give you a price with a mockup of how it will look, etc. The turn around for that one was a week, but we live in LA where turn around time is fast because of the entertainment industry (aka, set designers and production designers rarely design months out so companies are used to it).

For the party house Jen (the founder/creative director) wanted one that felt simple and modern but, you know, with a bit of wink to it. She watched the movie, “Neighbors” and saw the neon sign that Zac Efron had in the house, which was just ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ and she thought it was perfect. Totally classic and iconic (old-school seedy strip clubs) but with a new modern twist in this new ultra-feminine women’s accessory design house full of a bunch of hot girly girls. It’s all about the double entendre – she also liked ‘Get Out’ which is both bad ass and kinda hilarious in a valley girl kinda way, too, but ‘Girls, Girls, Girls’ won out.

girls girls girls

At first we wanted it to be big because we thought it would go in the hallway, so we sent Los Angeles Sign Co our reference image with the dimensions that each letter is 8″ and the overall is 32″ x 34″. Below is our back and forth with the mockups. The first one they sent back was way too chunky and clunky. We decided to go smaller and thinner.

girls girls girls girls girls girls girls girls girls girls girls girls

The last one is the one that we finally settled on. We wanted the G to be more round, like the reference photo on the right so we had to have a custom font (no font to match, they just matched the reference photo) and then that says ‘no acrylic backing’ but we did have it mounted on acrylic after all. The final price was $627, and it would have been $750 for hard wire, but didn’t want to pay an electrician to put in a J box.

We put it in the bar area and it’s just totally magical. We need to still figure out what to do with the cord  – we might wrap it, hide it in a conduit cover, paint it or change it out for a gold cord (which sounds more simple than it is). But either way it’s VERY exciting.




It makes the entire room hot pink, which is undeniably a fantastic thing. Ginny and Brady installed it and sent me these photos afterwards.


Basically you can make any design into a neon sign. It could be a drawing, graphic or words and the price depends on the size. They can also mount it on wood like we did for Moby’s or acrylic like we did for It can be hard-wired or with a chord like ours. And they can do any neon color. Clearly lots of options. We used Los Angeles Sign Co, but most cities have a few different places that make signage for stores/restaurants, etc. Don’t be intimidated. It’s not like they teach you how custom neon signs work in design school – you just call and ask exactly how it works and they’ll walk you through it. Just make sure you ask about every option. This place didn’t have cord options or chain options, but I’m sure if I had brought in a gold cord and gold chain they might have done that for a fee – meanwhile we’ll just address it on our end now. If you don’t want to see the black part in between the letters then you need to mount it like we did for Moby – on a solid surface where that part is hidden behind the wood and all you see is the design. We have a lot of black in the house so it strangely doesn’t bother us at all. Probably because we are too distracted to how wonderful it is.

We are waiting to show you the real ‘afters’ til its shot for a magazine, (pitching out this week!) so stay tuned there.  Happy Monday and Veterans day, y’all.

Click here to read about the beginning of the party house design and here for a sneak peek into the final project.

Any other questions? Do you also have neon sign fantasies?

*Last photo by Kelsey Tucker for EHD.

The magic of photo editing

Lately we’ve shot a lot of projects twice – once for a magazine or book, and another for the blog. First, my house, shot now three times – once for Domino, once for the book (those photos can’t be shown yet) and then since we needed more photos that could be shown we shot it once again recently just for the blog. Stuff always changes – the styling, the furniture (if you are me) and the photo editing. So, I thought it would be fun to show you one vignette, shot two different ways.

Take this vignette, for instance. The shot on the left is from Domino and the shot on the right was more of a ‘real’ house tour shot by Tessa Neustadt. I specifically asked Tessa not to Photoshop things because I wanted to show how it actually is. I cleaned it before she came, but otherwise its true to life.


Here is the difference:

1. The styling on top of the white piece – I actually love the styling of the credenza on the left more – that lamp was at the studio the day we shot the living room again, so I put that collection of pottery on top of the white piece, but I think that the lamp is WAY stronger and the top looks a bit messy and cluttered. How I usually style it is with the lamp, books and plant (its dead now) on the left, the two hand sculptures in the middle and the bar tray. Now that I’m staring at these photos i’m definitely going back to that.

2. The shot on the left was photoshopped so that the white piece of furniture  a. didn’t bow, and b. didn’t have the shelf. Interesting, right? It’s definitely cleaner.

3. I think for Domino we brought the rug closer to both the bench and the white piece of furniture. It does look better, but in reality it would have had to be a MASSIVE rug to be that close and still underneath the . We do this all the time – shift rugs to make sure they cover what they need to cover in each shot. Cheats, I know.

4. With Domino we shot Nike Schroeder’s art piece moving in the wind and with Tessa we shot it just laying down. I like both, actually.

5. The pillows changed, but I think I prefer the arrangement on the right.

6. Domino photoshopped out the AC underneath the white piece. Obviously better. May we never ever have ACs or heat grates or chords or wrinkles. I know its fake but it just looks so much better.

7. The colors on the left look more saturated, right? Again, I like both. One is brighter and more fun and the other is calmer and more true.

Meanwhile for both shots we removed the foreground furniture so you could get more of a clean shot on that vignette. In the context of the room it looks like this.

Emily Henderson Mid Century Modern Leather Blue String Art

I love how Domino made that piece not bow – it drives me NUTS. But I love how this shots shows so much of the space. I just want to crawl under there, on all fours, and hold it up with my back. Here’s the deal: I bought it from Ikea, but I don’t remember what the legs were – probably something chrome and shorter. I had these brass legs that I had been hoarding for a while so I got the brilliant idea of attaching them to it. It looked SOOO good until we thought it should be our media unit and that we should rest our TV on top of it. Within 10 minutes it bowed. We instantly mounted the tv, but it didn’t matter – the damage was done. So now I need to find a new piece – I’m just slowing shopping trying to find the new right piece (wood? white? brass? a painted color?).

Meanwhile, I’m totally on the fence as far as which picture I prefer. The one on the left is more aspirational (as that is what a magazines job – to inspire us) whereas its always refreshing to see imperfections. I guess it depends on what mood i’m in – am I trolling the internet for inspiration? If so then I don’t want to see AC grates. But if I want a peek inside someones house then yes, show me everything and don’t try to fool me. I had a jokey argument with a photographer the other day that wanted to get rid of the diaper pail in the shot and I was like ‘BUT WHERE WOULD I PUT MY POOPY DIAPERS??? in a pretty basket? Nay’. So we did it with and without – the one without the pail looked so much better.

In short its the magazine industry’s job to inspire us with beautiful spaces shot perfectly. and its sites like Apartment Therapy job to show us real homes of real people.  I love both in different ways and need both in my life.

Do you have a preference? Not in the photos above (please don’t), but in the ‘inspirational’ versus the ‘real’?

Photo on the left by Brittany Ambridge, care of Domino. Photo on the right (and bottom photo) by Tessa Neustadt

Rug: Loloi Byron | Blue Velvet Bench: Target | White Pouf: Lulu and Georgia | Teal Tray: Target | Safari Chair: Vintage | String Art: Nike Schroeder | Dining Room Chairs: MidCentury LA | Dining Room Chandelier: Park Studio Collective LA