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Brian’s Favorite Pieces We’ve Ever Had In Our Homes and What It Says About His Style – The Truth Comes Out.

Iron Man. Falcon. Black Widow. The Hulk. They all have their strengths and their special powers. They’ve got distinct backgrounds and fighting styles. They’re various sizes, genders, ages, and colors. Taken separately, it’s hard to see any unifying thread that runs through them. But once you put them together, they form The Avengers. Well, in my ongoing struggle to define my design style, I’m going to try a new approach. I’m putting together a team of all my favorite pieces and aspects from all the different “Emily Henderson-Designed” homes I’ve lived in throughout the years, and maybe… just maybe, they will form some sort of super team, and I’ll finally be able to define my style. So I can stop writing about it.


I’m Nick Fury and I’m putting together my team. But it’s actually much harder than you’d think for me to be the Nick Fury of our past furniture because we’ve had so many pieces rotate in and out over the years! I have a hard time remembering what was there. Or like, what was temporarily there for just a photoshoot. So I’ve started going through the projects on this site to look through everything. Which is a totally normal thing. For a person to have to check a website to see what furniture he’s had in his house.

First Member of the Team: The Natural Wood Coffee Table

photo by tessa neustadt | from: how we styled our living room to sell

Super Powers: Brings in raw wood, which makes me feel manly. Has a cool, unique shape which makes me feel special. Thick and chunky, which again, manly. 

Weaknesses: It kinda wobbles. Not great to put your feet on, or if you have a small child who wants to lean on it. I do wonder if I’d like it more if it had four legs. Probably.

Next Up: Duck Man

Super Powers: I mean, do I have to point them out? Look at him! He’s vintage, he’s hilarious, he’s holding a duck and a ticket to something? What’s that ticket to? Doesn’t matter because he’s so happy! He brings in an old-timey vibe while reminding us that there were drunk weirdos even back then too. I love this guy.

Weaknesses: I guess if I had to nitpick, I’d say he could use a little more color, but that’s coming later.

The Big Guy: Our Mountain House Kitchen

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: the reveal of the mountain house kitchen

Super Powers: So this isn’t so much a “piece” but it’s one of my favorite rooms ever so I’m using it as a big guy like the Hulk. I love the integration of the wood from the floor into the cabinets. I thought it was gonna be too much wood but I love it (Hat tip to Ross and Georgie over at Ross Alan). It’s cozy and warm without feeling stuffy. I think the angles help with that. If it was rounded edges I don’t know that I’d like it as much. I also love the big black island. If that hadn’t been painted it would have been too sterile for me. The pendant over the island is like my favorite light we’ve ever had. It is very hard to beat that one. It’s got leather, manly, and a really unique shape. I love it.

Weaknesses: Risk of splinters.

Sleeper: Mountain House Bed

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: our calm scandinavian master bedroom

Super Powers: Low to the ground, sturdy. Not too fussy with little spindly rods or dainty little details like some of our other beds. This one is wide and comfy, with a simple fabric headboard that is calming and anchoring. I like how it looks like one piece.

Weaknesses: If you spill some morning coffee on the fabric, you’re kinda screwed.

Silver Surfer: The Vintage Mirror from LA

photo by tessa neustadt | from: my powder room reveal

Super Powers: It’s old and a little run down, like me. I love the shape and the details in the frame. I like that it’s messed up, like wavy and spotted, but still functional enough to see yourself after you pee and wash your hands.

Weaknesses: You may walk out of the bathroom with something on your face, it’s not a perfect mirror.

Brass Stuff in Bathroom Man

photo by tessa neustadt | from: our classic modern master bathroom reveal

Super Powers: I feel very fancy when I use aged brass faucets. I like them a lot, because I like to feel fancy. But they’re not too fancy. Like, they have a certain strength to them. And I think adding brass pulls to drawers is cool. This vanity wouldn’t be as cool without all the brass.

Weaknesses: You have to actually clean them. Ugh.

The Weirdo: Little Side Table from Glendale

photo by tessa neustadt | from: how we styled our family room and kitchen to sell

Super Powers: I have no idea. I just like it. It’s not functional, you can only put three little things on it, but I like the shape and how it’s odd.

Weaknesses: I may end up hating it the more I think about it.

V is for Vignette: Glendale Flag and Dresser

photo by tessa neustadt | from: how we styled our living room to sell

Super Powers: Striking color, blue, which I love. It goes really well with the vintage dresser. I really like the unique handles of the dresser. The light blue pieces are much more fun than if it was all just white.

Weaknesses: I couldn’t handle this all over the house, just in one statement somewhere. We’ve lived in both splashy and conservative homes, and I prefer the latter, but I think there’s room for “little pops of color” like HGTV would say.

Fly Guy: The Blimp

photo by tessa neustadt | from: my house tour from good housekeeping

Super Powers: Vintage, simple, trippy. I feel like one of my fellow Deadheads came out of a show in like ’71 and drew their experience. It’s such an awesome piece. It’s enormous, so it definitely makes a statement, but the fact that it’s just black and white makes it easy on the eyes.

Weaknesses: It will drive you insane trying to make heads or tails out of all its meanings.

Abstract Man: Painting from Commonwealth

photo by zeke ruelas | from: introducing my living room

Super Powers: This abstract is one of my favorites. Bold colors but not overwhelming, calming yet interesting. The little hits of yellow make it really amazing. It can put up a fight with any piece of art it’s up against and win.

Weaknesses: May feel a little aggressive depending on what room it’s in.

Comfy On Toes Man: Rug from LA

from: trying out reader suggestions for what to do with my living room (no shelves? new layout?)

Super Powers: Neutral tone, keeps me feeling calm. Super soft, great for laying and wrestling. Thick pile but tight, good for bare feet but not shedding.

Weaknesses: We put a huge rug pad under to make it even softer. Not sure how it would feel without it.

Trio of Terror: LA Chairs and Trunk

photo by tessa neustadt | from: our modern english tudor living room

Super Powers: Those chairs were by far my favorite out of the twenty thousand that cycled into that spot of our living room. The design was cool, nothing fancy but definitely not boring. And they were actually comfortable! Imagine that! Having chairs that you actually enjoy sitting in! And the trunk is dope. It’s a great vintage touch for a table.

Weaknesses: The chairs are kind of tied with the darker vintage version below, I could be swayed either way. I like the angles and color of the dark chairs and they were comfy. I guess they’ll have to get locked in a room and fight it out to see which set gets to join the team!

Trim: Mountain House Wood

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: the dining room built-in dilemma (+ the 3 mistakes we made)

Super Powers: The thin wood trim around the windows and doors at the mountain house are modern and rustic at the same time. Ooooh, I think that’s a close version of what my style is – modern rustic. I like how unfussy they are, but how grainy and natural they feel. This picture in general is pretty great, the mix of leather and wood is nice. Maybe a little heavy.

Weaknesses: I just wrote it, a little heavy. Also maybe could use a little color?

Power Twins: LA Paintings

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: our updated living room

Super Powers: This photo has my two favorite pieces of art in our past living room. The blue abstract is just messy enough to be engaging without going too crazy. It’s a dark blue, that is soothing, and you can see the brushstrokes which make it one of a kind. The black and white graphic piece is a mind-bender – it seems very simple at first glance, but it’s a trip, and very striking.

Weaknesses: Size. I wish they were both a bit bigger.

Wild Card: The Sofa should be like the Captain America of the team – the leader, the anchor, the one who takes charge and gives the orders…

Unfortunately, I’m not sure there’s been one true Captain yet. We’ve had lots, and they all had their pros and cons, but I’m not comfortable awarding a top slot to anyone. Here are a few of my top contenders. 

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: our updated living room

Powers: Color and scale. Traditional shape.

Weaknesses: The legs are too frilly, and it wasn’t that comfy.

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: our light-filled neutral & textural living room

Powers: Dope shape. Vintage and has attitude. I like the look of no legs and how low it is.

Weakness: Not the most functional, the backs move on you and the components move too.

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: a quick update: the changes i’ve made to my la living room

Powers: Good shape and color, low to the ground. Sectional for lounging. Simple.

Weakness: Could be more of a statement.

photo by zeke ruelas | from: introducing my living room

Powers: Love the shape and style. The color. The mix of wood in there.

Weaknesses: Not robust enough (Emily is considering trying to buy it back).

Ok. Phew. I think that was the longest I’ve ever spent looking at furniture online. I don’t know how you guys do it. I think maybe there’s a pattern starting to form? Not totally sure. I’ll leave that to the expert. We’re planning on doing an old-school Style Diagnostic on me this weekend so I’ll keep you posted. Until then, keep your eyes out for the new elite fighting team on the block – The Style Squad. Oh, and stick around for my post-credits scene, featuring the main villain… 

Opening Image Credit: From: Trying Out Reader Suggestions For What To Do With My Living Room (No Shelves? New Layout?)


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50 thoughts on “Brian’s Favorite Pieces We’ve Ever Had In Our Homes and What It Says About His Style – The Truth Comes Out.

  1. Wow! I forgot about a lot of those spaces!
    The weaknesses are hilarious. Thanks for the wit and walk down memory land

  2. Just sitting over here hoping Brian becomes/stays a regular contributor… 🙂 love your tone of voice and also 100% relate to your level of experience re design etc.!

  3. I loved the style diagnostics on secrets of a stylist. My dream is for Emily to do one for me. In the meantime, having Brian go through the process is fun!

    1. Ooooh, wouldn’t that be a cool prize that anyone, anywhere in the world (hint, hint), could win!

    2. I second. this! would l ove to know what. I really gravitate towards, which may. or may not be “in”!!

  4. Always entertaining to hear from Brian. I miss the Style Diagnostic! Looking forward to that.

  5. I hope you do buy that last sofa back! It screams Portland retro modern coolness! I’d build the living room around that and a beautiful rug! And keep writing Brian! Always so fun to read!

  6. Haha! Love your commentary! I love the mountain house kitchen, too! And the blimp. All good choices. (Of course- living with Emily, anything you pick would have to be a great choice!) I can’t wait to see the diagnosis.

  7. Best way to identify a style ever. I feel like I know Brian in a non corporeal furniture kind of way now. Wonder what my husband would pick. He usually says totally unhelpful things like “I like everything you do”. And we both know that isn’t true. He thinks I over pillow.

  8. “For a person to have to check a website to see what furniture he’s had in his house.”😹😹😹

    It’s a good way to check back on what you vibed with! I can’t imagine gaving a pretty constant flow of furniture through my house. It could be like walking in and thinking “Whoa! Wrong house?!?”

    It’s pretty clear. You like:
    -Raw wood.
    -Old, worn things with some history.
    -Blue (that’s lucky, ha!)
    -Bold, unique art, especially if it’s big!
    -Simple lines, not fussy.
    -Low furniture (bed, sofa).

    Looking forward to seeing your diagnosis! 😊

  9. I really want a list like this of Brian’s LEAST favorite pieces over the years! I’m sure there are many 🤣 so curious to read.

  10. I’ve never related to anything more than “I may end up hating it the more I think about it.” Ha!!!

  11. best article about desgin ever!! I lol-ed especially hard at the superhero names 😀 Love the Style Squad! May the make all our homes more beautiful and comfy!!

    1. My personal favourite just name-wise was probably the Trio of Terror and I would love what the comic world would make of The Abstract Man XD

  12. Fun post! And I guess this is the Infinity War of EHD since we have to wait for the next one for a satisfying conclusion!

  13. Brian is so creative. Who thinks to assign superhero names to furniture? Brilliant. Thanks for the fun read!

  14. Don Draper and Mr. Darcy drop acid and design a room together. That’s your style!

  15. Love this! SBEH and Marvel is the mash-up I didn’t know I needed. Now to get Emily’s opinion on the WandaVision set – so cool to see the interior move through the decades.

  16. It’s very cringey the amount of times he used “manly” as a compliment. Manly doesn’t mean good, bad, likeable, or unlikable. It’s 2021, move on.

    1. Unemployed dude supported by a wife with a totally chaotic business model. Figures

      1. Very ugly and unnecessary comment. If that’s how you feel then I encourage you to spend your time elsewhere on the internet.

    2. I disagree! Both “manly” and “womanly” are words with positive connotations.
      I appreciate things that make me feel womanly; that’s how I want to feel.
      If someone wants to feel manly, then they’ll appreciate the things that make them feel so and it’s great that they are brave and honest about their feelings. 😊

    3. I’m confused. Why can’t manly be a positive description? Do you have a problem with “masculine” as an adjective?

    4. Agreed, I think Brian could’ve dug deeper to see what the word meant to him, and gone with whatever that terminology is (mid century modern? natural elements? an unfinished quality? minimalism?) instead of relying so much on the term “manly.” What does that even mean? It also made me cringe.

  17. Brian, you’re absolutely right about that coffee table needing four legs. Every time I saw a picture of it, I wondered if it was unstable; and you’ve confirmed it.

    Are you a do-it-yourselfer? Could you cut the “trunk” into four equal parts and attach them to the top?

  18. All of you have such a GREAT writing style but you, Brian, are by far my favorite! Keep them coming!

  19. So funny!
    I would say: clear scandinavian style (natural, modern, simple, functional) of somebody with great taste and strong appreciation of soul of things. Maybe 🙂

  20. My favorite reads are when Brian chimes in. Brian, you are hysterical!

  21. I am so thrilled that he loves our Ellis Light in the mountain house kitchen. “It is very hard to beat that one.” What a huge compliment!

    1. Omgosh Katy Skelton reads EHD! So cool! My husband (and I) really likes that light too!

  22. L-O-V-E that we’ve heard from Brian more often lately. I so enjoy his writing style and sense of humor. “Trio of Terror: Those chairs were by far my favorite out of the twenty thousand that cycled into that spot of our living room.” — I once commented after Em changed up the living room sofa for the ten thousandth time, “God bless, Brian. The man has the patience of a saint.” And, in doing so, got ripped a new one by a reader wound way too tight. 😂

    Anyhow, I vote Mr. Henderson becomes a regular contributor on the blog. 👍🏻 Wow, I had forgotten about so many of these fab pieces. Would love to hear Em’s top picks, too!

  23. Loved seeing these current and past rooms through Brian’s eyes! It seems like there’s a lot of overlap with Emily’s style, but with a real preference for things to be *sturdy* in some way. Once things get too light, airy, or spindly, we lose Brian Henderson. The Mountain House bed and couch, the need for the wooden coffee table to have more legs, even the dark kitchen island all speak to the idea of sturdiness or weight. Gravity exists and our furniture must interact with it! (I also think this might be a more accurate/less gendered way to get at the “manly” qualities Brian was describing.)
    For future blog posts, I wonder how these past rooms compare to fashion/clothing posts from the same time. Common themes? Times where Emily was more experimental or more certain of things or going back to comfortable basics? An EHD senior thesis waiting to happen!

  24. I really enjoy that you sometimes just like pieces because they’re weird or make you laugh. I think we’re all losing our joy of kitsch these days because it’s not Instagram-y enough. Long live quirk and kitsch!

  25. Blues, brass, natural wood, abstract art with movement, comfortable but not sloppy furniture. Sounds perfect!

  26. I’m redoing primary bedroom and that article bed is about to be bought! I just can’t tell if the clay taupe or glaze gray is the color I want. I’ve always admired it in the mountain house bedroom … which color is that one? The link always goes to clay taupe, but in the bedroom pics it looks more like the glaze gray…. Anybody know? Thanks!

  27. So many mentions of “manly.” Hmm. A Freudian would have a heyday with it.

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