Emily Henderson

Blast From the Leggy Past

Analyzing My Past Work – Dresser Vignette 2012

Blue Tufted Chair

Have you ever stared at your bedroom dresser and thought “hey dresser, you know what you are missing? Vintage porcelain legs.” Listen. I was going through my “body part” phase. I live in a state of phase, after phase, after phase, and having this blog amplifies it because I see my own house all over the place. Which makes me want to try something different much faster than most of you. It forces me to take risks and be weird, and then I find myself in Pomona splurging on some Art Deco stocking/pantyhose department store display pieces.

When I stumbled upon this image the other day I was like “GAH!!!” It’s certainly cuckoo despite the fact that I like everything in it, including those legs. I actually love those legs.

Vintage 60s Painting Emily Henderson

But the legs weren’t the only thing that really kicked this vignette into crazy town. It was the fact that everything was decorative and nothing was simple in shape, style or color.

So, friends. Here is the lesson: If you want to do crazy (with body parts for instance) you absolutely should. I do all the time. But you need some non-crazy in there as well to round it out and keep it from looking like an insane person lives there. I think this vignette could have really been helped by a simple shaped lamp, a modern jewelry holder (like mine now) or even a really graphic piece of art (although I love that piece, and still own it which is saying a lot about it). Perhaps all these things could have survived if the color palette was more pulled back and sophisticated, but there are a lot of bright, saturated, and risky colors here – hot pinks, mustards, blues, greens, turquoise, etc., which add more contrast to the already busy vignette.

Emily Henderson Analyzing Past Work Credenza

What do you guys think? Are crazy legs truly only for a crazy person or would you have them in your own home? What would you keep and what would you say ‘no thanks’ to? In case you are craving more posts where I critique my own work head on over to, ‘the good bad and the oh my gosh‘, ‘three rooms I forgot I designed’.

*Photos by Laure Joliet

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  1. I like the legs! Then again, I’m one hundred percent obsessed with hands, so I get the whole “body parts” thing. I’ve only seen legs on Kelly Wearstler’s website (I think she sells a gold pair), whereas hands I see all the time, so this is even more unique. I think it would have looked crazy if there was just one leg, but with two it totally works!

  2. I love those legs! And, since you have great legs, Emily Henderson, it makes total sense. :-) But, I would ditch the lamp, put that vase in its place, and put a small figure or bowl on top of the books instead. And, ditch the jewelry holder.

  3. I just can’t get into the body part trend in decorating. I just don’t get it and do find it a little strange. :)

  4. Don’t know what it says about me, but I don’t think the legs are THAT crazy. I’m more omg over the elephant lamp. That’s a crazy lamp!

    1. I see the painting interacting with the legs. Particularly the dude with the sunglasses. “Not now, babe. Maybe next time.”

        1. I’ve got to learn to get my comments right the first time. I mean Yup to I love the painting interacting with the legs :-) I very much like how the legs overlap the painting a bit.

  5. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the painting, lamp & dresser, but not together! The legs definitely take it to crazy town, but I actually think that’s ok. I think every space needs some quirkiness of its owner.

  6. I actually really enjoy the vignette. I think you should decorate in a way that brings you joy, and if crazy legs and busy colors do it for you, then great! If we all followed the same rules with decorating, everything would be boring and formulaic. Plus, the legs are a great conversation starter!

  7. I really like the legs! The only thing I would change is the lamp. I think the base should be slimmer, in line with the legs and vase. And a little crazy never hurt anyone!

  8. I like the crazy town/random mix part. I think its just too much stuff. I’m a stuff lover but what feels off to me is the lack of interaction between the three tall items. If the legs replaced the vase I think this would settle down. or if there were no books and the legs and vase stood together. maybe even if the brass jewelry holder was gone and the legs were closer to the vase. I know its five things right now, but it feels too cluttered in my opinion.

  9. I love the legs! They reflect the same offbeat humor and sense of fun that comes through in your writing and that must be an important part of your personality. The only thing I would change is the lamp. I like it, but it is a little busy for this vignette.

    As far as color goes, calm is lovely, but sometimes I like vivid, too. I keep thinking of some cultures whose approach to color is very different from what is found in the U.S. – Mexico and India come to mind. How do they pull it off?

  10. The legs don’t bother me. I think it’s the lamp that takes it to crazy town. (On its own, however, it is a lovely lamp.)

  11. I love the whole thing. Noticing all the different blues. I would love to see a post on how blues can/do/do not work together in a space.

  12. “hey dresser, you know what you are missing? Vintage porcelain legs.”

    Ok, who else thought the dresser itself was going to get some vintage porcelain legs, as in holding it off the ground?! LOL

    1. me too! I was like how can porcelain legs support that dresser? I was looking at the bottom of all the pictures like an idiot. lol

  13. I loved it then, and I love it now! Calm minimalism is all fine and well, but I find that I can’t live with it in my own home – this is much more my speed! I like to feel energized and excited by my daily surroundings. When I want calm – I guess I do that through music. The first picture with the rug and the chair is my favorite. And if one thing had to go or be replaced, I think it would be the elephant lamp – which I love a bunch! – but it doesn’t blend with the other crazies. It’s a more traditional, sophisticated version of crazy. :)

  14. well, the legs ,no, but I have 2 hands on my dresser. Love the blue pedestal w/ feathers, have feather vases myself. I’d change the vase and lamp to something simpler, w/ solid color. and put something larger next to the feathers. I adore the art deco rug, I have a couple myself, but that is a beauty. Thanks for the practice, good idea getting us to try!

  15. This post really helped me. I think in my efforts of WWED (what would Emily do) makes me get some fun quirky stuff, but now I feel like my house looks/feels a little crazy. Must. Edit.

  16. I actually really like this when yet. If I want to be nitpicky I would say change the lamp- Something more geometric with less negative space. The elephant lamp used here is a tiny bit “try hard” as you like to say. But all in all that vignette is stylish and fun and I smile every time I see it. If there’s anywhere you can go a little crazy town it’s the bedroom right?

    1. Gah! That was supposed to say I really like “this vignette” not “when yet”. That’s what I get for trying to use voice to text.

  17. I see your points, but I love even this early work. Your designs just make me smile! The one thing I agree with is the lamp. I think a simple lamp would have spotlighted all the other fun elements better.

  18. I like the legs. This room actually continues to be one of my favorites despite, or maybe because of, the saturated colors. I will always love that painting and the pink lampshades especially. If I had to discard anything from the styling of this area it would probably be the blue traditional chair and the fuchsia petal/feather thing going on in that bowl.

  19. the mustard and the teal are *genius*. perhaps too piquant for a bedroom? i think your suggestions are spot on, much more whiteness in the vignette. i’d keep the painting, which is really good, and whiten everything on the dresser. lose the books, the blue and white lamp, teal pedestal vase, pink flowers, jewelry holder. keep the legs for sauce!!! so bedroom appropriate!!! and the white vase with the fab green buds. there’s also a lot going on with the grain of the dresser.
    oh it’s all good.

  20. When reflecting on your past work it is important to remember that just because your tastes are evolving doesn’t mean you got it “wrong” before. It’s perfectly normal when you are young and sans kids to seek excitement and novelty in your surroundings. Then when you have kids and your life is full of excitement and novelty ( noise and toys and general chaos) it’s natural to want your surroundings to be more visually serene. It’s just phases of life. The pendulum swings back. When your life becomes more manageable you’ll probably find you start inviting more excitement and quirk back into your decorating.
    I remember when I was a kid thinking my mother was a minimalist and then I was surprised when she started decorating with lots of “stuff” when we moved out. Then I found myself going through the minimal phase (I’m still in it) when my kids were/are young. It’s survival!

    1. This is said perfectly! I have three peeps and sometimes I need SOMETHING to be quiet. So I pack away some pretties and try to have less visual noise. I also cannot listen to the radio anymore. It all sounds like more noise on top of my noisy life. So I listed to quiet music on Spotify, and feel like I am geriatric before my time. Sigh.

  21. I wouldn’t change anything. Not even the jewelry holder. It’s busy, but softer than the current straight lined version.
    Maximalism to the max! Bring it on!

  22. I don’t think it’s the legs that make this vignette crazy. The brass branchy jewelry holder next to the 3D floral vase with yet more branches. I would just take those two things away and put the legs on top of the books.
    You mentioned lots of color going on here. I love lots of color. Would you do (or have you done) a post on using lots of color without looking like the circus came to town?

  23. I like the idea of having a white ceramic item on this dresser. I don’t care for the legs, but any type of white ceramic would work here. You have your body parts, other people have other crazy stuff. This vignette looks awesome.

  24. So funny….but I agree that some careful editing might be in order. The legs are OK if that is something you truly love but mixed with that lamp and the tray and the stack of books and the jewelry tree sort of overcomes the very interesting artwork and I also think there are just too many tall items. But we all learn and in the end my motto has always been, if you like it then it works.

  25. I wouldn’t have them but I’m more traditional/ world traveler style. Doesn’t mean you’ve bought the ticket to crazy town. You’ll do all sorts of things I wouldn’t and many of my choices would bore you to tears…

  26. I LOVE the legs and would absolutely have them in my home. Also, I get what you mean about the vignette being ‘crazy lady’ with all that flavor. BUT I still totally dig it…and that whole Emily Henderson era.

  27. I love the legs and think the only things wrong are the decorative vase it’s too busy and the jewlery stand for the same reason.

  28. I really like the original vignette! I love all the colors and the eclectic nature of it. Your current bedroom is a little too “pulled back” for me – although I can understand wanting the master bedroom to be the most serene room in the house.

  29. I saw the top photo on Pinterest forever ago, and it’s one I enjoy staring at often. I love the blue velvet chair. The vignette? Yeah, well, it was cool at the time. You rock, so who cares if your vignettes turn out a little crazy once in a while? We love you! XO, C

  30. Excited for the P-town (aka Pomona) shout out. Great thrifting and antique stores in these parts. I still kick myself for the time I passed up a pristine midcentury dining set from a local thrift store only to stumble upon it a few weeks later on Antique Row for a quadruple the price. The hazards of not following those gut reactions to good pieces!

  31. I really like the color palette, especially with that warm wood. The legs are too much for me personally, though. Like many people, I’m currently in my cool, gray, restrained Scandi phase. I love it.

  32. So funny–I started reading this post and when you said ‘what this dresser is missing are some vintage porcelain legs’ I definitely assumed you meant, like, dresser legs. I’ve never heard of porcelain dresser legs! But no–you meant actual legs and you know what, I love ’em. :)

    xx Hannah // http://www.HomemadeBanana.com

  33. Ummm. I don’t hate any of it. I kind of dig it. I think that’s because of a few things:
    1) It shows personality, which is oddly lacking in most homes.
    2) It is colorful and arresting and made me look closely at it all.
    3) It is a bit bonkers, and I love bonkers.

    1. THank you :) I’ve been scrolling through comments and so glad everyone is so supportive. Sometimes when you see 68 comments you get worried that there is some sort of comment war or you said something offensive but in this case everyone is just actually giving their opinion. yeah!!

      1. I actually bought the legs when you sold them on OKL and I love them … I was a little worried the comments would confirm I’m weird ?

  34. Normally “body parts” scare me. But I love these legs! Make me happy- like diving in a lake -summertime. It snowed in Denver yesterday, so that could be part of it ;)

  35. I like how your style has change a bit, it still you but I do like the not so crazy stage you are at. I think I’m with you. Before I wanted to try funky and almost anything sound it like a good idea to me. Now I’m more careful in my decisions of what to bring home. Maybe some of the comments about having kids, affects what you want in your house too.

  36. I loved the legs, but then I scrolled down and saw the elephant lamp. I would do very bad things for that elephant lamp.

  37. I’m so curious what happened to the drawer pulls on this dresser between 2012 and when it took up residence in Sara’s bedroom? Maybe these are different pieces?

    Also, just a general note of appreciation, LOVE each and every post. PLEASE don’t temper your opinions. I hate reading comments where people take offense at you calling out the ugly 90’s maple cabinets, for I fear you may stop giving your pointed opinions, or maybe water them down. I love hearing your unfiltered views, and I hope no one makes you second guess that. Besides, any wood with a colored undertone IS generally UGLY.