Hello dear readers, it’s a super excited Mel typing to you. Everyone wanted the day off so I volunteered to take over the blog, just kidding, that’s not true but it makes me feel like a nice person. In actuality I’m here to reveal my living room makeover! I can’t believe the day is finally here. If you need a refresher on the space you can find all the details in my introductory post. If you want to see all the other beautiful makeover takeover reveals take a peek at Ginny and Brady’s Living Rooms and Sara’s Bedroom.
If you remember, my name is Melanie Burstin, I’ve been on the design team here at Emily Henderson for a little over a year and my boyfriend and I live in an apartment in Silverlake with a large open living room and a gorgeous view of the reservoir. In my introduction post you’ll see how nervous I was to share the before photos. I mean I’m an interior designer so it was hard to admit that I hadn’t had the chance to pull together my own home. Blake (my boyfriend and amazing part time potter whose pots you are about to see over and over and over again in this post) recently started working from home a few days a week so we had to introduce his office set up into the space. Losing the commute was great for his psyche but ‘ugh’ for the way the living room was laid out. We were also afraid of disappointing our landlord and kept a strange piece of plastic over our windows, which was better than the horizontal blinds but man did we need drapes. The floors in our home are also so dark that some of our mid-century furniture started to feel really heavy too. Honestly, it was time for a revamp!
The other side of the room needed some hand-holding too. I loved all of these pieces individually but together they drove me mad since the day we moved in. There was just too much metal and wood and we never even got around to having more than two chairs. I wanted the whole room to be sophisticated, inviting, simple and warm. Four qualities that perfectly contradict each other and yet, I think I got there!
Here is the new back wall! I switched out the dark mid century furniture for a custom bookcase from Hedge House that is truly straight out of my dreams. I combined two of their pieces into one and now I’ve filled it with so much pottery, neutral books and all the treasures we found on our recent trip to Japan. The coffee table remained the same; we designed it and had my metalsmith make it for us years ago for our first apartment together. As much as I loved our old chairs I was really excited to replace them with these gorgeous light and airy leather sling chairs designed by Fenton & Fenton. The chairs are so lovely and yet manage to feel casual. The owner of the company Lucy asked me about comparable stores in the US since she was considering a far in the future move and I was like none, none, please come here pleaaassee! (Fun fact, we hid the ties because some cats who shall remain nameless loved them). Lastly in this vignette you’ll see the cutest little speaker by Vifa. There was a moment in my life where I realized that the people I knew who I felt were the most put together, always had music playing when you went to their house. They had ambience taken care of on all levels. I decided I wanted to be a real person like them and then went on the hunt for an attractive speaker and landed on this Helsinki which sounds just as good as it looks.
Our sofa was custom made by Cladhome and is perfect for us cat keepers. The little friskies can’t attack the sides and we can flip the cushions over and over and over. I styled the sofa out with big squishy pillows I found at the Rose Bowl flea market and my favorite pillows from Block Shop (keep your eyes peeled for them in some future projects we have coming out soon too). Pillows on the sofa can often be a great opportunity to add pops of color to a space but I chose to stay neutral and instead I brought in a big tree from the flower market for color. I use plants, flowers and greenery for color, texture and life throughout the space.
If you can recall, the art we had behind the sofa was truly the wrong scale, this sofa is heavy and needs something large and in charge to balance it. The piece we have now was created by The Fourth Artist in our home with our assistance! Jackie Leishman and Patrice Dworkin make art together and invite guest collaborations to inspire their work which is centered on women and the issues that are important to them. Patrice was my LA mom when I first moved across the country so I was so excited to be a part of her work. This large canvas is a part of their Make Your Mark series. They asked Blake and I to make the first marks on the canvas to catapult their creative process. The only instruction we had was to have our marks be conscious and filled with feeling. They then used a mix of mediums (including hand sewn thread into the canvas) and made our marks gorgeous. Money saving hack; Blake and I then went to home depot after reading through Orlando’s DIY frame post and framed the piece for under $20.
A common living room feature is a functional side table. Instead I opted for a very cute low table that wouldn’t muddle the view of my fancy ‘Life Size Jenga’. Before we lived together Blake and I went to a BBQ that had a ‘Life Size Jenga’ in the garden (just like the ‘Life Size Barbie’ all the cool girls had when I was younger, it’s not life size, just large, and yet the name sticks). After the BBQ we decided we needed to make our own and it’s been a huge hit at all of our parties since. If you ask me I will say we made it together, but I think Blake will probably roll his eyes since my wrist started to hurt and he did 90% of the sanding… he’s a keeper y’all!
I think this bookcase may be the piece de resistance no? I have so much stuff that needs showing off and this does it just right! As you’ll notice, Blake’s desk is no longer on this wall, or in the room at all. I tried my hardest but it just wasn’t working. We spent an hour or so tidying up the cords and taping them to the back of the desk which was an improvement but still there were two black computer screens in the center of our living room. When we moved in we decided against having the TV in here as it would take away from the view. We were right all along, so we reverted to a screenless living space and the desk was moved to the other room. I’m so much happier with the space now and he still has a place to call his own for work.
I love the print on the left because it’s minimal but brings a little color to my otherwise neutral space. The photograph next to it is from a phase of my life where I stalked photographers on Instagram trying to find unknown works I loved. I then begged photographers to let me buy prints, I was sometimes ignored but most of the time it worked! I direct messaged Matthias and had this car print in my mailbox a few weeks later. The candlesticks layered in front are a product of our recent trip to Japan and perhaps my favorite things I’ve ever purchased. While in Kyoto, we found this amazing store where I tried to buy everything (including the display elements not for sale), I was so happy to have had the foresight to bring an empty suitcase! As you can see I have not been exaggerating when I say we have SO MUCH pottery. With the exception of the double cone, all of these pieces are by my main squeeze Blake. He’s incredibly humble about it but don’t you think his stuff is amazing? He’s been throwing a little over a year and I’ve become the kind of person who insists that everything he brings home is mine and that no one else is allowed to have it. I’m working on it, especially since Ginny seems to be his biggest collector and this way I know it’s all going to a good home.
The morning of my shoot I had a panic attack that a piece of art I hung was horrible and bringing down the entire space. (Have you noticed how dramatic I can be?) So I ran to the studio to raid the flea and came back with this illustration you see here. It turns out it was made by Emily’s grandmother! I guess by accident I raided some boxes I wasn’t meant to. But how cute is it, style clearly runs in her family! The piece next to it is from a recent solo show Patrice had a few months ago. It’s part of a 100 day series and of course Blake and I fell in love with day 1. The stool is from a thrift store in Tokyo that yes, I stuffed in our suitcase all the way home. The fish is one of the nicest presents I’ve ever received. It’s a studio Lagardo Tackett, something I loved and then Blake surprised me with it for my birthday a few years ago. (seriously he’s a good one). As I’m sure you’ve noticed, I love pottery (should I not be allowed to say ‘pottery’ again for the rest of the post?) so this lamp was a no brainer. It’s handmade in LA by an amazing potter named Victoria Morris. I want to switch out every lamp I have for something made by her.
I moved the litter box to a nook away from the windows and now it takes up this wall really nicely. If you remember from my introduction, I do not like litter so I’ve hid it in a vintage piece of furniture! There is a small circle on the side that the kitties enter and exit through. I’ve styled out the top as well to make the piece even more inconspicuous. Again, the art is from my time being a creep on Instagram. I use another Victoria Morris lamp here and of course more of Blake’s pottery (I know, you’re not surprised). Since two different types of pottery is definitely not enough for one piece of furniture I’m also using a Modernica Table Top Bowl with Stand here. I love the way the dark wood looks on this piece of furniture. The planter and vases sit on a wood tray from Japan. A few days into our trip I was thinking out loud to Blake about what styling items we need to bring home for this shoot and I was like ‘oh, we could use some wood trays’ man did that guy catch on. We came home with 12 wood trays. We killed this shopping trip!
Across from the litterbox is our entrance area. I set up this super cute bench that has an additional side piece for plants and accessories (a stylists dream). The rug was a steal from Zara and the pelt another no brainer from Ikea. The leather pillow is by the amazing people of Fenton & Fenton who made my leather sling chairs and in very exciting news they’ve decided to do a giveaway of this pillow in honor of my reveal! All you need to do is visit their site and enter the contest. Good luck trying to not buy everything else you see! Okay, now I’m going to tell you another cute story about Blake and I. Before we lived together, when I was deep in my Intstagram stalking of artists phase, I found this LA painter named Jake Longstreth. Blake and I fell in love with his work and went to visit his studio downtown. We put together this triptych of paintings from his Particulate Matter series and then were like ‘oh, neither of us can afford all three of these…but we both want them…’ So I purchased one and Blake the other two. We quietly (maybe not even out loud) hinted at the idea that they would one day hang together but then we freaked out and decided not to mention living together again for two years. When we moved in together the first thing we did was hang them. Well after spending hours deciding what order looked best.
I love the way the dining space worked out. These amazing dining chairs from Finnish Design Shop are so gorgeous from every angle. The contrast of the vintage table with the new chairs is just so great. I added a Noguchi Pendant and some art and it all came together. The print is also by The Fourth Artist and is currently being sold in a limited print series at Saatchi. It may be a print but it manages to keep the texture and depth of the original.
A tonal bowl with lightly colored fruit and (you guessed it!) more pottery pull the eating area together.
When I removed the mid century hutch we suddenly had no closed storage for all of our unread mail and paperwork. I trolled craigslist for this mini sideboard and then set up a simple bar on top to make it not feel random next to the dining table.
I love this print above the sideboard as it’s so neutral but really stunning in the details. Again I used my favorite trick of pottery by Blake and neutral books to style a surface with layers and texture. The copper and glass cups are vintage and that fabric coaster is from Japan.
These drapes are from Zara and the amazingly long curtain rod is from Wayfair. I love the look of plants so much that if I had a massive glass house I’d just have cacti everywhere. But for the time being I’ve stocked up on indoor plants that are durable and gorgeous large scale planters. Our planters are either vintage David Cresseys, some other mid century architectural pottery or they’re from Modernica. This large white planter on a wood stand is so cute, I thought I’d be quirky and add a tall tree to mimic it’s shape a little.
We’ll there you have it folks! I hope you’re as pleased with it as I am and perhaps I’ve turned you all into neutral color hating monsters like me. That was a joke, I love color! Just maybe not in my own home. Check out a how-to on styling a neutral collection like mine and then peep the get the look below for even more. Thanks for reading!
1. Pewter Linen Pillow | 2. Leather Pillow | 3. Blockshop Pillow | 4. Woven Throw | 5. Ascent, Photograph | 6. Custom Sofa | 7. Coffee Table | 8. Rug | 9. Curtain Rod | 10. Curtains | 11. Sling Chairs 12. Table Top Bowl w/ Stand | 13. Small Bowl w/ Stand | 14. Large Bowl w/ Stand | 15. Magazine Holder | 16. Floor Lamp | 17. Leaf Me Print | 18. Artwork No. 7 | 19. Table Lamp | 20. Speaker | 21. Bookcase | 22. Low Table | 23. Shirt Vase | 24. Footed Vase | 25. Hanging Lamp | 26. Dining Table | 27. Loop Vase | 28. Dining Chair | 29. Wood Pedestals | 30. Painting | 31. Giant Jenga | 32. Wood Parat Bowl | 33. White Vase | 34. Extended Bench | 35. Rug | 36. Sheepskin Rug
**Photography by Tessa Neustadt
*Emily here. Due to the recent request for even more transparency it should be known that many of the furniture brands gift to my employees for the Makeover Takeover with the assurance that their pieces will be seen by our large audience, shown in a stunning, well -designed room, and photographed professionally (like seen here by Tessa). Thanks to all those who help make my team feel so proud of their homes – way more proud than I ever did in my 20’s 🙂