Emily Henderson Header Image Emily Henderson

I’ll Just Use Black Zip Ties

12 Annoying Things I Ignore Every Day


I once kept an egg roll in my fridge for over a year. And the only reason it is no longer in my fridge is because I moved, not because I reached in and threw it away. I was 22, living in New York, rarely ate at home and thus rarely opened the fridge. Every time I did, I thought I should throw that away, followed by Ooh there’s the ketchup!! Then I’d shut that door and eat my french fries with the ignorant bliss of an amnesic baby, until the next time I needed a condiment. To be fair, it was full of MSG and totally well-preserved.

Well, my house has one too many stylistic egg rolls. Let’s go through them.

It’s odd to be such a perfectionist in some ways (obsessing about the details, colors or finishes of things, painstakingly choosing each piece of furniture that practically breathes near me). But then behind closed doors, where people can’t see(or where it can be photoshopped), I let ugly things slide for years. Part of it might be because I’m busy, but most of it is my personality mixed with a little human nature. When I was a kid, I cleaned up my room by hiding clothes under my bed and pulling the blanket low enough to disguise the mess. I used to shove any clutter into the closest cupboard when ‘cleaning up’ until last year, when I had a kid and realized that putting my inhaler in the tupperware drawer was just weird and unbearably lazy. If it’s not in my direct eye-line on a daily basis, messing up my visual aesthetics, it doesn’t exist as a problem for me to solve. All pretty here!!!!!! Move along. OOh, Have you seen my pretty 15′ tree in my living room???? Yes it is real. WHY DO PEOPLE KEEP ASKING ME IF THAT OBVIOUSLY REAL TREE IS REAL?????? 

But every time someone new comes over, I find myself fumbling an apology and making excuses for these unsightly things, because all of a sudden I see these minor flaws through their eyes and I’m riddled with shame. I’m a designer. I should have a low tolerance for ugliness and prioritize aesthetics higher than my own health. And I really do!!! And yet, I clearly don’t all the time.

So I figured to help motivate myself to solve these problems I’d highlight the 12 most PROMINENT, ugly, and annoying things that I ignore everyday. These are the things I see and think ‘Ugh,  I really should …‘ but then I’m ripped out of that thought by the next one, which is ‘Ooh, I wonder if the shot of the seascape collection above the sectional will get more likes for my 7am or 7pm instagram?’ Life is full of distractions.

Here goes, my top 12:


That hanging sconce. We painted the house a year and a half ago and this is how they rigged the sconce to paint the wall and it was never re-installed. It still works, mind you, and we use it every single day, but we haven’t fixed it. It just dangles there by a thread while we floss our teeth and take our showers. As of this week we are remodeling that bathroom, which was my excuse the whole time – why spend time/money on something that you are going to completely rehaul later anyway?

The second one isn’t too bad and is actually kinda friendly. I’m just saying Merry Christmas!! … all year round. It was too high for me to easily clip off without, you know,  grabbing a step ladder. Brady has since removed it because he is a god-fearing, charitable person who donated 5 quick seconds to my cause. Check one off the list.

The laundry closet is a massive problem that actually does bother me a lot, and it is not going to be easy to solve. So many needs. I need a new washer/dryer and shelving/organization.  But the annoying part is that both doors are broken. They are strangely not a standard size so they would have to be custom ordered and therefore cost like $400. I don’t feel like spending $400 on an accordion, white, boring-ass door and I can’t seem to come up with another more stylish solution. But this area is in the center of our home, is such an insane eyesore, and visible from all rooms. I’ve got to invest in fixing it, but as most of you home owners know, there are just so many other fun ways to spend that money, especially when you can just photoshop it out like we did here:


See? Problem solved!!!!!!!!! I’m serious when I say this – after the deck and the bathrooms, the laundry room will get tackled. I just wish that the disgusting washer/dryer would break soon so I would have extra motivation. There is little excuse for that sconce above it, though – that is a CHEAP fix and one that should bring me pleasure. I think that since the whole area is ugly, I just walk by with blinders on. Keep moving.


When we installed the flooring we didn’t plan floor outlets – big mistake. So a few months later we installed them (it was $115 per outlet, just so you know). But the guy that did it installed the wrong ones. They aren’t recessed and they stick up, just begging you to trip over them and yes, creating a hump in the carpet. On an annoying scale from 1 – 10 it’s a 6. Why didn’t I have the electrician fix it? Well, as you’ll see in other areas of the house (see below) he was a less than incredible electrician (you guys, that is putting it so lightly) and our language barrier was high. By the time he was finished ruining a lot of easy, innocent projects, I just said thank you!, paid him and rushed him out. Sometimes you have to admit you hired the wrong person, cut your losses and move on, instead of creating a terrible situation for everyone involved. I swore I would fix it, but calling another electrician sounds incredibly boring. For the record, at first he just put in a standard wall outlet in the floor. Then I showed him a photo of a recessed one and he replaced them, but they should slide and the cord should go in even further. These are still wrong and it’s all so annoying. But totally fixable. I wonder who is going to fix it…

Just for reference here is where it is:


I think in that photo we photoshopped out the rug hump. Typically we have that table over it, closer to the sofa. Although that table is gone for now since it’s not terribly kid-friendly (top heavy and random pokey things coming out).

But more about that electrician:

He installed that beautiful under cabinet lighting that is perfectly up to code and doesn’t threaten the safety of my loved ones on a daily basis at all. I didn’t notice it at first – I used to be way too accommodating with my own house, not inspecting everything with an eagle eye, just excited the project was done. It fell down a few weeks later and that is how we live with it everyday.

What could be worse than that you ask? The garbage disposal button you see on the right. Our cheap kitchen contractor (you get what you pay for) told the electrician to install a new button instead of the light-switch that would be on the backsplash. Good idea, I thought. Then I came home to that. A F*&%$# lightswitch cut into my sink cabinets!!!! It was supposed to look like a doorbell on top of the caesarstone by the faucet.  This happened 2 days before the shoot of the house and I just threw up my arms and walked away, pretending that it didn’t exist. To fix it we would need to get someone to come out and first move the disposal button to the correct place (that is one dude), then get a piece of wood cut to match the not so perfect rectangle (someone that is very precise), then wood glue the new piece in there, sand it, and paint the whole drawer. That sounds like hours of my coordinating time for 4 inches of an annoyance that I can simply remove in photoshop.

Perfect!!! Problem solved!!!!

I’m going to fix it. I promise. Oh and yes, it’s perfect toddler height and it’s Charlie’s #1 favorite button to push. He prefers something like a fork to be down the drain for added percussion. It’s wonderful.

Now onto the bathrooms which are being redone soon (working on master bathroom now and guest bathroom in a month or so). My excuse for not doing anything in these rooms is obvious – why spend even a second of time/thought/money on something that would be totally moot as soon as we renovated? I still stand by this, but check out what I actually lived with:


Brian was wonderful enough to take out the big glass and metal sliding door structure so bathing Charlie would be easier, but it left our guests without a water barrier. So while I was at work, he bought this rod and shower curtain for his parents that were staying with us. He didn’t know that you had to buy rings. No problem!!! He thought. I’ll just use black zip ties!! I can’t say I was even bummed when I saw it because the bathroom was such a disaster anyway that it’s not like it made things worse. I think I was glad that he hadn’t wasted money on rings when we have perfectly good zip-ties in our tool box. When people come over it’s almost now even more obvious that I haven’t tried in the bathroom, which isn’t a bad thing. I don’t want people thinking that I have spent even one breath or thought polishing this turd. Also this might be why I don’t allow people whom I don’t fully trust emotionally to come into my house …


This guy.  Man. I stood under this for a year and a half every day to take a shower. My contractor told me it was grounds for a divorce because shower heads are very easy to change. But making that change takes a few steps on my part – shopping for the right shower head and then getting someone (even Brian) to install it. I could have just bought a $25 temporary shower head but I still didn’t do that. The truth is, while I should have changed it, sure, I knew that I eventually would this year. It didn’t annoy me as much as it would other people.  The masses were horrified, while I was just soaping up my loufa.

Here’s the truth: like every single other aspect of our lives  – we tend to put energy, time, thought, money and care into things we want to, and very little of those things into things we don’t. It’s why when we see some acquaintances or friends we say ‘God, I’ve just been so busy‘ and maybe we legitimately are and we do really want to hang out with them. But the truth is also that ‘I just want to spend time with other people a little bit more’. 

My avoidance of these problems is getting awkward in my house. It’s time to just make the coffee date already. Because while sometimes it seems like it’s going to be so painful, once it’s done you are always glad that you did it.

So what are you living with? What annoying thing do you see every day and walk right by them?

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  1. “Oh and yes, it’s perfect toddler height and it’s Charlie’s #1 favorite button to push. He prefers something like a fork to be down the drain for added percussion. It’s wonderful.” No kidding… we have a garbage disposal button which our toddler loves to push…

  2. Just an idea for the laundry….maybe a sliding door? More modern than the “barn door”, with hidden hardware? Cover it in art and call it a day!

  3. I just realized how many annoying/ugly things I lived with on a daily basis when we decided to sell our house last month and then finally took the time to fix them. It didn’t cost much and it made things SO much better that I was kicking myself for not doing it sooner and getting to enjoy the fixes!!

  4. It’s nice to know that Photoshop is helping things to look perfect! Makes me feel better about the dozens of things that are bugging me about this house.

  5. I can so relate to throwing my hands up and walking away from a contractor’s idea of what was acceptable… numerous times during my custom, forever-home build! Even after showing pictures worth a thousand words? Here’s just one example of many… my inspiration photo from houzz: https://goo.gl/photos/Cwh9C5pWhNjj2n3FA

    What the plumber did:

    Wow. It was a painstaking process to get my vision out of my head, onto build able plans, and then actually executed anywhere close to that vision. There are a few things I wish I could photoshop out of people’s vision as they walk through, but overall, it is a gorgeous, uniquely thoughtful, extremely comfortable HOME. And it’s mine 🙂

    1. woahahah, this should go under the hashtag #nailedit ! 🙂
      The pictures are so incredibly funny… but I totally relate with your frustration.
      Thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. For the folding door: if the sliding door someone suggested is too much of a hassle, maybe consider a curtain of some kind. At the very least it’ll hide the mess.

  7. Oh my goodness, I am in tears laughing about that shower head…

  8. This post makes me so happy! Thank you for sharing the warty bits of your house and all the ways you’ve been “forced” to toddler proof your home. My little guy is 2.5 and it’s always driven me a bit crazy to see photo-shoots with open bar carts everywhere and no acknowledgement that things like that are totally impractical if you have little people running around.

    I decided to reupholster 2 chairs using curtains from target. The one turned out fairly well, and it was my ambition to get the second finished by Christmas — that was 6 months ago and I haven’t touched it since; it’s sitting, half covered in my otherwise lovely bedroom and looks at me every time I go in there. . .

  9. I can so relate to this post! And I’m so glad there is another designer out there with their own dirty secrets 😉 We bought our house in 2008 and the first thing I did was rip out the white berber carpet (which would have held up for about 5 minutes with my 6 kids) and installed wood flooring. Halfway through putting up crown molding my husband broke his back and everything came to a halt. 6 (yes that is SIX!!) years later my crown molding is only half up and we haven’t put the baseboards back in my dining room. To make things even worse, our basement flooded a couple of months later and we had to tear out the carpet downstairs and replace it with laminate and those baseboards are still stacked in my storage room, along with all the basement doors which are leaning against the wall in my laundry room. Yes, I have no doors or baseboards and I pretend to be okay with that, although I’m really not and in the back of my mind is this constant nagging that something really needs to be about the mess downstairs, which just keeps getting worse as I avoid going downstairs until my kids are wearing mismatched socks and pajamas to school and I have to face the ugliness in my laundry room. I could tell you so much more but I will refrain.

    I don’t know how this would work for you but when we replaced the floors in my sons’ bedroom the mirrored closet doors got knocked over and broke (not a big loss, but….) I just bought a white linen tab top curtain and hung it from a shower curtain tension rod over the closet and it was actually an improvement. Took me five minutes and was a lot cheaper than new doors. Just an idea.

  10. Thank you for such a fabulous post! I’m sitting amidts chaos of way too many house projects 7 1/2 months pregnant. My poor boyfriend doesn’t understand how I can be so obsessed testing 10+ paint colors so I find the perfect color in every lighting condition but have no issue with other to-dos that would probably seem unlivable to some. Just what I needed to read!

  11. For the laundry room door, why not just take the door out and put an adjustable curtain rod and hang some pretty curtains or fabric from it?

  12. Shared your post with my three daughters. We loved it. As a somewhat particular (okay, OCD) person, I really can’t imagine living day to day with some of the issues you have with your home.
    Having said that, however, it’s funny how certain things can go undetected FOREVER, then one day you discover something amiss
    and you think, huh, how long has that been there? My daughters (and my) favorite “fixes” we’re the shower curtain ties and the switch plate in the cabinetry. Your husband gets creativity points; your electrician gets zapped (fired).

  13. Yes. They are really annoying

  14. very interesting emily

  15. Thanks for morning humour! Its fun to laugh at all this crap because I feel like I’m also ignoring ugly things around my house.

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