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

DIY Dresser Kitchen Island Cart in Redbook

Some DIYs are crazy easy (like thess: crate shelf, slab table, table runner and ladder towel holder), and some are a little more complicated. This one is one is more on the latter side, but all the individual ideas are simple. Check it out:

Redbook DIY Dresser Kitchen Island


I’m actually only into Ikea hacks if they are really simple, cheap and fast because it doesn’t make sense to me to put hours (or days) of work into a piece of furniture that may not last too long. So when we started this project we thought that it was super simple and cheap, but full disclosure, it was kinda a lot of work and took more time, money (and troubleshooting) than we thought. I actually LOVE every idea here and I really like how it turned out but if I were to do it again I would use a vintage dresser, something more unique, or something that I already had because there are a lot of kitchen carts out there that cost less than this one ended up being. At the same time sometimes these DIY’s are more about the ideas that you get from them and less about actually following this exact recipe with these exact ingredients. I just don’t want you guys to think that ‘this is a fast, cheap dresser turned kitchen cart’ because it kinda wasn’t. But had it been an awesome vintage dresser that wasn’t being used, that was higher quality, I would totally do this. At the same time for readers sake (of the magazine as well as the blog) we wanted everything to be easily sourced and to choose something really simple to start with, so this Ikea dresser worked well for this purpose.

Here is what you will need:

2_DIY Kitchen Island Dresser Ikea Hack_Ingredients

-Organization Accessories: Towel Bar, Paper Towel Holder, Spice Racks (we ended up painting all of ours to look like brass with some gold spray paint). But just buy the simplest ones.

-Leather Belts: We used some large mens leather belts which can be purchased from your local goodwill or anywhere that sells cheap leather belts. I think we bought from H and M, go thrifting, folks.

-Brass Nuts and Bolts: You will use these to fasten the leather handles to the dressers

-Brass Casters – We bought like 10 options and of course went with these which were the most expensive castors at 11 a piece (we got them from Koontz Hardware in LA).

-Leather Hole Punch

-Drill and Drill Bit

-Screwdriver and Screws: to attach the accessories to the side of the unit


1. Prep a Dresser:

First of all you can either start with the Koppang 3 drawer dresser that we did from Ikea for $99.00 or source your own vintage dresser or reuse an old piece that you have. It is totally up to how large you want it to be, where you want to use it, and the style of dresser that you want to use. It’s just important that it is roughly waist-high so that you can use it as a work top if you want.

1_DIY Kitchen Island Dresser Ikea Hack_Dresser


2. Replace the Handles:

We reused the pre drilled holes that were already in the dresser and swapped the knobs out for a leather pull that we made out of common brass nuts and bolts that can be found at your hardware store and an old mens leather belt. Here is how we did it:

Measure the distance between the two holes and then add a few inches onto that length. That will determine how long your total handle is. Once you have that number you will then add a couple more inches to each end of that length so that you can fold the belt over itself to create the clean edge at each end of the handle. Then using a hole punch you will pierce the ends of those belts where the holes will go.

We then used brass nuts and bolts to fasten the leather belt to the drawer front. We threaded the bolt through the drawer first then through the belt and then used a ball nut rather than a traditional nut so that we would have a clean rounded edge on the outside of the drawer. Ball nuts are the tits.

3_DIY Kitchen Island Dresser Ikea Hack_Leather Handles

3. Add Casters

We wanted to add casters to this to make it completely mobile. Then you can pull it into your dining room when you need an extra bar, or you can roll it into your kitchen if you need some extra prep space.

We found our casters at our local hardware store for around $12.00 a piece, but the type that we used is made by Bassick and can be sourced online.

Do secure the caster to the dresser you will flip it over then drill a hole into each of the legs that is the same size as the T-nut (which is the hollow sleeve that the caster slides into) then you slide and snap each caster into place.

4_DIY Kitchen Dresser Island Ikea Hack_Brass Castors

4. Add Accessories

You can go as mild or as wild as you want with the accessories for the side of your unit. We decided to get a few accessories for each side that made the piece a lot more useful. We got a couple small spice racks, a towel bar, and a paper towel holder. We grabbed all of these at our local hardware store as well. We didn’t really pay attention to color as we ended up spray painting everything with gold spray paint so that it looked uniform (and I mean you already know my love of all things brass)

5_DIY Kitchen Island Dresser Ikea Hack Brass Accessories

DIY Kitchen Island Dresser Ikea Hack Accessories


We love this guy so much we actually use it in our studio kitchen and everyone comments on it.

And then you have to style it out for a shoot which takes 2 stylist, 2 assistants, a photographer and 2 photo assistant. Please enjoy my gif about it.

DIY Redbook Dresser Island GIF

Meanwhile this is what the room around it looked like:

We were shooting both the crate shelf and this one at the same time and it was crazy.

redbook DIY

Also yes, we laid down a roll of linoleum so it would look like a kitchen. Fakey-fakey.

So, here’s a finished shot.

DIY Kitchen Dresser Ikea Hack Emily Henderson

Photos by David Tsay, styling by Scott Horne. Thanks, Brady for putting this bad boy together.

Meanwhile check out all the other Redbook DIYS here: Side Table Ikea HackDIY Towel Ladder Embossed Velvet Heart PillowOffice Wall PocketsDIY Tree Slab Table, DIY Basket Pendant, Table Runner.

How to Make the Hanging Wallpaper Panels

As you might have read for the new studio we decided to not paint the walls or do anything permanent to anything, partly because of my commitment issues, partly because we had 2 weeks to finish and there was NO way I was going to be able to decide the perfect wallpaper in that short of time, but mainly because we wanted the flexibility of white walls for shoots. So for the party I wanted it to be really exciting and colorful – with lots of wild patterns – for real life I think we are going to pair back to just a few of the colors/patterns to keep it a bit quieter.

Anyway, so we hung a ton of wallpaper panels on gator boards and hung them on different levels from the ceiling. Now this isn’t normally something that you’d do at your home, but enough of you asked how we did it that we figured a post about it couldn’t hurt.



Panels_wallpaper-wall emily henderson studio

Here is a breakdown of how to make those wallpaper panels. To see them in action you can check them out in the studio tour that Domaine did, or at our Tiny Prints party!

DIY Wallaper Panels_header

The ingredients:

DIY Wallpaper Panels Ingredients

1. Hammer

2. Grommet Kit: We picked ours up from JoAnn’s Fabric but they can be picked up at any craft store or online. Ours were brass (obviously) and 7/16″ in size.

3. Hooks: These are just standard ceiling hooks that we picked up from Home Depot, again we went with brass color.

4. S-Hooks: We looked for these in brass as well but could not find them, but as they hang behind the panel you don’t see much of the silver color.

5. Drill Bit: You will need a drill bit that is slightly smaller than your grommet kit so we used a 3/8″ drill bit.

6.  Chain: We picked up our brass chain from a local hardware store, but it is also sold at larger home improvement stores and even some craft stores.

7. Drill

8. Wallpaper: This is the most important and funnest part of it all. We used a bunch of different patterns and colors and then mixed them around to see what we loved best next to each other. You can also use fabric, contact paper, veneer, or whatever else you come up with!

9. Gatorboard: (this is what everything is sitting on in the above picture) Basically it is the same as foam core but much more rigid and more strong (and more expensive). We decided to go with Gatorboard because it does not warp as much as foam core would and it is still very light. We sourced ours online but it can be picked up in large sheets from your local craft or arts store.

Now that you know what you need, here is how its done. Once you have adhered your wallpaper, contact paper, fabric, or veneer to your panels here is how you will attach grommets, chain and hang them to the ceiling.

DIY Wallpaper Panel Template

Make Template: Trust me when I say that making this cheap little template will save you tons of time measuring. You can use any scrap piece of paper or cardboard and then measure in 1″ from both the top corner and the side corner, then cut out a hole approximately the size of your drill bit. Once you have made the template you can use it for each corner and just flip it over when you use it for the opposite corner. It saves you time from measuring out each hole and makes things much quicker if you are doing lots of panels like we did.

DIY Wallpaper Panel_Template Mark

Trace Template Hole: Just make sure that you line up the corner of your template with the corner of your panel and then trace the hole. When you go to trace the other corner of the panel just flip over the template and repeat the same process. Its not rocket science but you’ll be glad you did it.

DIY Wallpaper Panel_Drill

Drill Hole: Using the right size drill bit, drill right through the gatorboard. It will drill through very easy so don’t apply too much pressure and then end up drilling right through your floor, or finger, or leg. (PS. don’t every use your leg to prop up the gatorboard – it won’t be a pretty picture)

DIY Wallpaper Panel_Grommet Ingredients

Assemble Grommet Kit: When you buy your grommets you have two options: 1. A grommet kit, or 2. grommets. You will only need to purchase one grommet kit which includes the tools you see above for attaching the grommets together. You can then purchase the rest of the amount of grommets you need and use the grommet kit to attach them together.

DIY Wallpaper Panel_Hammer Grommet

Hammer Pieces Together: There are very easy instructions on the back of your kit but basically you will sandwich your gatorboard between the anvil, eyelet, washer, setter, and hammer. (and yes I did have to look on the back of the box to give you all those fancy names in the correct order. Once they are all lined up you have to give it a few good strikes and then your grommet will attach itself to the gatorboard and you are good to go.

DIY Wallpaper Panel_Attach Chain Combined

Attach Chain:

Once you have your pretty brass grommets in all of the corners of your panels, you will attach an S-hook to each of the corners and then whatever length of chain you need to each of those S-hooks.

The last and final step is attaching your panels to the ceiling. You will do this by screwing in your ceiling hooks and then attaching each of the panels up in whatever order you want. We decided to overlap our panels, and hang them at different heights and depths from the wall and ceiling.


Oh, and while I rarely recommend wallpapering things yourself in this case it’s actually pretty easy because its such a simple surface and a lot of these wallpapers came wide enough that we only had to lay them flat and not even worry about matching the pattern. You lay them flat, paint the paste on the gator board, get a friend to help (it’s easier with two people), and then roll out/lay the paper or fabric on top and then smooth it out. You can even use decopauge.

Other options – maybe you want to paint chalkboard paint or magnetic paint onto a panel and hang it on the wall in your family room – less commitment than painting on the wall. And this works with fabric as well – not wood, I don’t think but fabric, cardboard, foam core and gator board.

Any questions, folks?

‘After’ photos by Chris Patey C/O Domaine, all instructional photos by Jayme Burrows.

Stain-resistant white upholstery fabric

Here was my challenge: I wanted a kid-friendly WHITE sofa. IMPOSSIBLE!!!!. I know. But that’s really what I wanted to make the living room feel as bright and big as possible. I just had to prove to myself, Brian and the rest of America that I could find a white fabric that could withstand some grubby little mitts all over them.

First, the sofa: I found this vintage sofa at Amsterdam Modern in LA and immediately fell in love with it. Hard. It retailed for $2500, which wasn’t cheap but it was exactly what I wanted and is around the price of most good quality home retail stores. Plus it was WAYYY more unique, obviously.

leather sofa in warehouse

The fabric it had on it was actually kinda awesome and I kept the slip covers just in case I wanted them later, but as you can imagine it just wasn’t going to work in this house, so it needed to change.

What happened to my old sofa you ask? Ugh. I had that vintage blue sofa for 5 years (below). Not that long in normal people time but it had been in like 4 magazines and all over the interwebs and I was just ready for a change so when I was offered $3k for it, I took the deal. It was probably worth more as we think its Adrian Persall, but the timing was right and I couldn’t say no to that check because I felt like I was just purging money, buying everything for the house. Plus it was going to be shot for Domino and I just wanted to have something that looked different.

Are there days when I regret not having it? Absolutely. I loved everything about it. It was extremely deep and comfortable and actually had a ton of sentimental value to me because it was one of my first big purchases ($700, I believe) after DesignStar. I kinda wish that I had just hoarded it but honestly that $3k was needed to help pay for the new sofa and the string art, etc. And at some point you have to let go of things.


photo by Zeke Ruelas

There she is. I just got so sad again. It also just photographed sooooo well. The only thing that gives me peace of mind is that I know that the new family LOVES it very much. I’m just glad it has a good home.

On to the new sofa!

leather sofa mid century_before


What I love about this new vintage sofa is practically everything, but especially the leather arms and the strapping on the back. Its low, simple and modern and pretty much goes with any style, but it definitely has a point of view. I bought it from Amsterdam Modern (and no, there are no others that I know of).

At this point in the living room design I knew that the rug was going to be that beautiful blue rug from Loloi so my options for the sofa fabric were as follows: white/cream, navy, gray or a pattern. I didn’t want a warm color because I wanted to contrast with the caramel leather. I was obviously very tempted by the idea of navy, but I was really trying to stick to my original mantra of ‘bright, airy, light’ so I decided against it. Don’t be shocked if someday I go back to having a navy sofa – I do kinda miss that big block of color in there. There really wasn’t any pattern that I could commit to because then it limits the patterns on the pillows, etc, and well, I just didn’t want a pattern. I thought about a simple pin-stripe, but didn’t find one fast enough so I gave up. Gray is always a good option but white is really what I wanted, I just needed to figure out how to make it kid friendly.

The three best options for stain resistant white fabric are leather (too expensive and could be kinda cheesy), ultrasuede (a good option but I kinda hate the butt marks) and outdoor fabric, in this case Sunbrella, which was a big contender for sure. There are some performance velvets out there that work, too, but we didn’t test them because I didn’t want a velvet on this sofa. And they are hard to find in yardage, although I think that West Elm sells some. So it was down to high quality linen (which I knew wouldn’t really work but I wanted to see how it withstood the stains), ultrasuede and outdoor fabric.

To make sure that I wasn’t making a massive mistake we decided to do a stain test with the three fabrics and many stain culprits.

Sunbrella Fabric Stain Test

We used some of the most commonly spilled items and those that are consistently difficult to remove from fabric: chocolate, baby food, red wine, mustard, tomato pasta sauce, permanent marker. Then we went to town on the fabric.

Sunbrella Fabric Stain Test_Pouring Wine


Sunbrella Fabric Stain Test_with food

There you have it – three fabrics with the same 6 stains on them. Can you even wait to see what happened? I was so excited.

Click through to see the winner.  (more…)