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Bold Styling With Safe Neutrals (and Target)

My love for color is only matched by my love for style. And sometimes you don’t need a lot of color to have a LOT of style – as displayed beautifully in this room. Welcome to the last fall Target style post (with video) that showcases how being safe with neutrals can still be pretty darn bold.

The room was not exactly hideous when we started, but it was bare and not exactly inviting. We actually painted that fireplace black before the shoot to add the drama, and then brought in the major pieces to show how a room can go from basic to layered and lived-in in a matter of accessories.


When I first saw the product there seemed to be a real black, white and neutral story popping out. Neutrals are always popular, but right now (probably because it’s fall) I think that they are outshining color a bit and rooms like this that are just as full and exciting as colorful rooms, and are really attractive to me right now.

Besides, all of these things can be mixed with virtually ANY color because they are neutral. You just made your life easier because season after season you can mix these together, or with other colors to reinvent your home over and over and over. Oh and I will, and do.

There are some tips and tricks to mixing neutrals together to make sure that it feels as happy as a colorful room.


Tip #1: Pattern is your friend – but texture is your lover. Now remember from this post that the more contrast you have in color, pattern, style and texture the more energy you project into the room. When working with neutrals you start a little safer because you have less color, sure, but black and white are high contrast so if you want to add a lot of energy then add some patterns, but if you want it to be more mellow then stick to adding texture instead of pattern. We added some pattern and lots of texture – in fact the pattern that we added was in the textiles.


The rug is a heavy dose of pattern, and we brought in a few more patterns on the pillows and artwork, but we stopped there – no patterned curtains or wallpaper to overwhelm the room.


Tip #2: Have both soft and hard furniture. I love all upholstered furniture, sure, because it’s VERY cozy, but you’ll see in this space how the chairs contrast really nicely with the sofa and create dimension, texture and edge.




Tip #3: Layer on the love. When you are playing it safer with neutrals bring in personal pieces to make sure that it feels like a home, and not a staged real estate house.


Good options are always artwork, books and of course pictures of Charlie Henderson. Feel free to download his photo for your perfectly styled shelves…if you are a total weirdo.

Let’s talk about those art shelves, real quick. Art shelves are the new gallery wall, folks. While I still love a really good gallery wall, the shelves add a bit of structure and provide more of a foolproof way to add objects and smaller pieces while still making it look pulled together and like one big piece. Just vary the heights, sizes and orientations of the pieces. If you want to get cute and crazy like we did, make some plaid mats out of wrapping paper (not sure if you have noticed, but Target is having an entirely wonderful plaid moment so this was implemented to carry that theme throughout).


Art shelves also allow for your pretty objects and some flowers, which helps shake up all the rectangular lines.


Now those shelves: The perfect combination of books, objects, personal items (framed photos and books) and life (plants). Some of the shelves aren’t even perfectly balanced or filled out properly but it works because they are all in a consistent color palette that makes it all feel intentional.



Tip #4: Get more eclectic with your artwork. I know it’s easier said than done because good artwork is extremely hard to find, but when you are working with all neutrals it’s easy to have it look/feel like a generic home, and artwork is the FASTEST way to make it look interesting. Here you can vary a bit from your color palette (but just a bit, don’t go nuts unless you are willing to bring those colors to other places in the room).


Tip #5: Feel free to mix metals. The trick to doing that is just peppering it around the room evenly so that it looks intentional and thought out. If you have all silver pieces and then just one brass piece it will look accidental and not so good. Copper, rose gold, brass, gold and silver can all be friends. More like an all girls band – they play, compete, perform and can knock ’em dead when done right.


Tip #6: Plants and flowers bring neutral rooms to life. They are little colorful sculptures that breathe air into any space, especially those on the safer, more neutral side (P.S. that black and white vase is one of my favorites of the whole collection and I suggest you buy it before they are sold out).

Now for your viewing pleasure, a vignette built right before your eyes:


This room is pretty much stunning, if I do say so myself. The foundational pieces are simple and good, and those accessories, textiles, art, personal items and plants/flowers make it a room that I absolutely want to be in.



1. Bookcase | 2. Silver Wing Dishes | 3. Frame | 4. Ram Head | 5. Watercolor Print | 6. Wood + Ceramic Vase | 7. Dove Taper Holder | 8. Task Lamp | 9. Quail Taper Holder | 10. Gold Vase | 11. Gazelle Head | 12. Triangle Pillow | 13. Upholstered Ottoman | 14. Taper Candle Holder | 15. Copper + Marble Table | 16. Diamond Pillow | 17. Faceted Candle Holder | 18. Gold Pillow | 19. Globe | 20. Black Candelabra | 21. Duck Trinket Dish | 22. Felt Basket | 23. Sofa | 24. 3 Globe Lamp | 25. Gold Sea Urchin | 26. Stoneware Vase | 27. Tray | 28. Coffee Table | 29. Area Rug | 30. Copper Candle Holder | 31. Plaid Table Lamp | 32. Ottoman | 33. Silver Votive | 34. Wood + Leather Chair | 35. Striped Throw | 36. Gold Knot Object | 37. Hexagon Accent Table | 38. Basket

All artwork except the two shown on the product board are one of a kind, purchased or rented for the shoot.

Want more Target Fall Style? Check out these posts: Let’s Get Cozy | Gather Around

And for more Target Style from every season look here: Blue and White Sunroom | Take It Outside – Patio Makeover | How to Throw A Stress Free Outdoor Party | Patio Makeover | Charlie’s Outdoor Play Area

*Photos by Tessa Neustadt for Target. Production Design by Scot Horne. Hair and Makeup by Danielle Walch, Wardrobe by Jordan Rudd.

Want more styling tips? BUY MY BOOK 🙂


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71 thoughts on “Bold Styling With Safe Neutrals (and Target)

    1. This is a timely post for me. I’ve been contemplating buying a new chair and I’m on the fence from lagoon blue to a stone wheat color. I’ve been leaning towards the neutral, so this must be a sign!

      I have awful cream wall to wall carpeting in my rental, so it’s already pretty bland in there, but one day I will have wood floors again, and I’ll want brighter lighter colors.

      Analog House

    1. I’m also curious about the art shelves with the gold brackets. Would you be willing to share the source? Also, the black and white neutral color scheme is such a nice departure from the traditional fall season colors- I’m loving it!

      1. We just used simple wood that was painted and then found gold brackets at the hardware store. xx

        1. Like so many others, I love those shelves. This may sound stupid-simple, but would you consider doing a quick DIY post for how your team put them together? I’m not handy AT ALL, but those shelves look doable with a few tips and instructions! I’d be most interested in figuring out ideal proportions (depth? width?) and estimating the weight-bearing load.

          1. Ditto!! I’m currently renting and it seems that this is an ideal solution that wouldn’t leave nail holes that are TOO big?

      1. thanks – it almost looks like it has a touch of blue in it ( on my screen, at least ) – love it!

  1. The black and white stoneware vase (gray and white) and the black candelabra seem like timeless pieces and easily combined in multiple settings and vignettes. I saw the candelabra in Target and it’s nice. The vase I ordered online (the large is no longer available online). Black is a great natural and dials it down–simple, serene, not fussy. Adding color is so easy in the vase and adds softness as well.

    what size of candels did you use, Emily, in the candelabra?

  2. So obsessed with your blog and especially these posts with all the fall neutrals from Target. I’m always so inspired by how you use color but I am a neutral girl at heart. Question about candleholders — what’s your rule of thumb to *with* candles (like the black candelabra #20) versus the individual candlesticks (#14) or the rose gold candle holder (#30) shown without candles? Thank you!!!

    1. Sorry — left out the word style in my question above. Shouldn’t comment before coffee!

      1. I go back and forth and I think it depends on the candlesticks. Some are pretty enough to be on their own (almost like how a handmade plant pot can be an object in itself) whereas some need the candles to make sense (like a terra cotta pot).

  3. I’m still having difficulty getting to your posts. Most of the time refresh works, but sometimes have to try other ways.

    1. UGH. I was just emailing my guy. Switching servers today and then a reader sent through something to help fix (her husband is an IT guy). The problem is that none of us are seeing the problem so even this morning he was all ‘whats the problem?’ What is the last post that you see?

      1. Hi Emily! I have this problem too–sometimes your latest post won’t appear for days on the “blog” tab. Right now I see yesterday’s post, but some times it will lag for three or four posts. Refreshing doesn’t work for me, but I’ve found I can see what the latest post is if I go to the “on the blog” feature on your home page. Hope that helps! Thanks!

      2. I’ve been having it the last two weeks or so (stuck on the Good Housekeeping home tour), but now it’s fixed! Hope it’s fixed for others, too 🙂

    2. I solve this problem by clearing my browser history every time before I come to Emily’s site. Not ideal but it works (and hopefully won’t be necessary much longer!).

      1. I do the same thing. If I clear my history, I can get it to work most times. Glad I am not the only one having this problem, I figured it was my computer!

        1. Ps – this is happening to me too… I assumed it was because I’m on Chrome, which brings you to remembered sites or sites you visit often, sometimes without updating unless the site automatically refreshes when you land. I have to refresh every time I visit the blog. It may be the Chrome thing, I’m not sure. Hope this is helpful!

    3. I had that problem too. It was frozen on the same post for several days. I just thought there weren’t any new posts until I saw on Instagram that there was a new post I hadn’t been able to see. So now I clear the cookies section in the browsing history and that does the trick for me.

    4. Also having the problem. It only updates for me if I turn ad blocker on or off (changing it from what it was on before). Out IT guys says its something to do with cookies.

      P.S. Love the styling 🙂 but so sad because Target in Australia has nothing like this.

  4. Just beautiful. I continue to be blown away by your Target Styling….Thank you for showing how a much more accessible store, to a reader such as myself, can achieve such a show stopping look.

  5. Pretty. But so much gold and black! I can’t imagine how summer would feel in that room. Also, as much as I love some of the Target pillows, if I can’t take the pillow cover off to wash it or put it over a down insert, I won’t buy it. Could you tell Target we want removable pillow covers please? 😉

    1. I second this request, Target! Target’s partnership with Emily actually works. I went to Target over the weekend to purchase some of the throw pillows Emily has used. Sadly, though, I couldn’t pull the trigger because the inserts in the pillows were so weak. Even $24.99 is too much money when the pillow will look like a pancake in a matter of weeks. I’d happily pay that same price for a pillow cover and use my own (much fuller) insert.

      Also, what does a girl have to do to find the Threshold woven felt basket in gray online or in stores? Why do you torture me, Target?!?

      1. About that basket – SERIOUSLY. They’re not online, only in the stores. I had an associate track one down in a different store for me (yep, I’m that customer). But then I was in the store a week later and there were 2! Just keep going back in, stuff changes weekly (which is how they’re hacking my life).

    2. A thousand times this. I refuse to have any pillows that aren’t down filled so if they either don’t come that way or don’t have a removable insert then I don’t buy. Pity too because I dig a lot of target’s pillows.

  6. Ok – this tree….what kind is it!? I have been trying to find an indoor tree for a while and struggling big time.

  7. Gaaah, this room is excellent. This Target collection is so versatile! So many pieces that can be used year round! Every time I go to the store (um, weekly) there’s always something new and fun in this section. Dammit, Target.

    I have art shelves behind my sofa, they’re SO fun b/c you can change things up without putting new holes in the wall! Probably PTSD from renting, but I’m paranoid about holes in the wall. I cannot WAIT to get your book in my grubby little hands!!!!! I want to know all the things! Keep on rockin’, mama!

  8. If I saw that Faux Fur Ottoman alone on the Target site, I would think Nate Berkus was high when he designed that. Seeing it styled in that vignette with the charcoal chair makes me all YASSS PLEASE I NEYD IT. You are worth every penny (and probably more) that Target is paying you! (Especially since you are making me so willing and happy to give all my pennies to Target!) #allbrasserrrything

  9. Target was brilliant to hire you. You make everything look effortless easy and the final look doesn’t look cheap. Great job!

    1. This is a great look.
      I also would love to know where the frayed fabric art on the console table is from.
      Love it!!

  10. Gah, I write this while weeping. I so So SO wish Target would never have peaced out of Canada like they did last year. I just moved into a new place with my husband (we live in Canada, obvs) and can’t believe I don’t have access to these beautiful, affordable, chic pieces. Nonetheless, this post is drool-worthy! You are a visionary, Emily, and your work never ceases to make me squeal and try to have your eye when working on my own place. Can’t wait for your book.


  11. Beautiful! Would you mind sharing the source for the orb above the bookshelf beside the globe?

  12. I didn’t know Texture was my lover. Thanks for letting me know.
    Ha! Very cool room, you killed it again!

  13. Where is that console table from? I’m thinking I could DIY something like that since my husband has access to marble tile, but would like to see the original first.

    1. I am also hoping for a source for that marble-topped console table with the legs that look like they’re made from pipes. I love it!

  14. Love this room! Unfortunately a number of the items that I want to buy (floor lamp, black vase and area rug) are not available in my area. I find this to be a common problem at Target. Either something I crave is not available online or at a store near me. Target really, really needs to work on this. Just saying…nicely styled items at good prices but for some reason extremely limited availability. Emily you are doing a bang up job for them but they need to come through for us and have everything stocked when you show it to us. Strike while the iron is hot as they used to say.

    1. I agree! But mainly…. GET THESE PIECES TO AUSTRALIA PLEASE TARGET!! Seriously we don’t have anything like the US range here! Why, Target, whyyyyyyy???

      1. Because they are not owned by the same company… Strange I know… I did the research!!

  15. This is amazing. I love all of you me styled shoots, and have always used you as my inspiration for my styling. I find myself always drawn to dark colors for my own rooms though, so this is amazing! I love black and brown mixed together and it’s so helpful to see how to do it right. Sometimes I feel like my room feels too heavy, so now I know I need to add in some more metallics. Thank you! Also, you said in a previous post that dark couches are making a comeback! As the owner of the most huge, comfortable leather couch in the world, I’d love to see how you style a dark brown leather couch!

  16. This is good advice, especially when starting out. Your look makes me imagine how the room can grow and change with the owner.

  17. LOVE the look of this room and would really like to buy a few of these pieces but most are out of stock at Target. They really need to stock up before you launch a blog post! You are their best sales person.

  18. Love this room. Love your style. Love your shoes. My first thought when I viewed the first picture of you in this post was, “everyone needs a good pair of picture hanging shoes>” They elevate you a bit and make you as sassy as your decor. Thanks for a new excuse to buy shoes!

  19. This is just the kind of in depth design post I come to your blog to read! Thanks and keep up the good work!

  20. The moment I saw that grey and white vase, I stopped reading and scrolled down to see if I could actually purchase it at target. Voila! Going to pick mine up this morning!

  21. Emily, Thank you for the great post. I was wondering if you have or would consider doing a post on how to coordinate rugs/textiles throughout the main floor living space – e.g. entry, living, dining, kitchen? I want to mix not match, but I also want the space to feel cohesive. I understand rug sizing (because of your great post), but not how coordinate the patterns/styles. We just bought our first house and I am starting from scratch on rugs and terribly stumped. Thanks!

  22. Love this room! Wish I could Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V this room to my house (can you tell I’m a computer nerd?). Question – Besides gallery wall/art shelf, what other ways can I display photos around the house? I’ve got a TON of super cute pictures of my kids that are begging to be displayed but short of having a continuous gallery wall around my whole house, I’m not sure of a design-friendly way to do it.

  23. Love all of these new options from Target!

    I wasn’t sure where the best place to leave this would be, but wanted to suggest linking your top blog image just like your title and read more links. Sometimes I roll through your blog and open each of your posts and linking the larger main image would make it so much easier than the smaller text links. Thanks for considering!!

  24. I would love to know, where is the armchair and side table from in that little vignette? I’m in the process of pulling together my living room and those pieces look perfect!!

  25. I’m must curious about that cool necklace you are wearing!! Details pretty please 😉

  26. I’m officially obsessed with that metal container that you are housing the firewood in. I MUST find something like that! I’ve goggled away and can’t seem to get anything remotely close. Any ideas on what it truly is so I can search for one? Help pretty please, or I can just buy that one… 😉

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