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Style Through The Years

Deciding The Style For The New House

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People ask me all the time how we begin the design of a house – what really dictates the look and feel and the answer is two things: 1. The personality of the clients and 2. The architecture of the house. When we bought this mid-century house it was 2013 and we didn’t have kids at the time. Now that we are moving from it into a 1920’s English Tudor/cottage with plaster walls and two small kids, I’m trying to figure out how that style will change from house to house. So, let’s do a quick recap of my style the last couple years and then I’ll show you where we are headed.

Above and below are photos we took 6 months after we moved in (from the Domino shoot). It’s decidedly mid-century with lots of bright California colors.

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It’s eclectic, happy and fun. Sometimes in person it felt like too much color but man, looking back at the photos makes me really love it again.

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We changed some things around to make it more kid-friendly when Charlie started walking (see how we made our house kid-friendly, here), so we put in that huge pouf and those comfortable Safari loungers.

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Back in 2013 I asked myself how I wanted the house to feel/look and the answer was bright, airy, and fresh. And it really was.

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Then a year later we did a refresh for fall and it was shot for Good Housekeeping and it became WAY more neutral and moody.

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Strangely in these photos the whites aren’t popping as much as they did in person, but I really love how it got more refined, warm, and cozy.

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I’m actually in the process of putting the blue covers back on the benches because I’m missing the color lately.

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Now, lets chat about the new house. I think that the new house is a going to be a combination of both – maybe less pinks, more blacks, but with a lot of bright whites, grays, and blues. I’m sure I’ll do what I do now which is cozier colors in fall and brighter colors in spring.

Here are some images (mostly of my past work) that are inspiring the mood:

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But none of those really nail it, either. Here are the words that I’m sticking with whilst designing our new/old house: classic, casual, comfortable, inviting, and yes, always happy with a more older-world feel than I’ve had before with some classic midcentury pieces in the mix. I’ve only made a couple craigslist purchases so far (although check my pinboard for everything that I’m thinking about). To help me make some decisions I pulled together a living room mood board – stuff I already have and some new pieces I’m thinking about. Let me be very clear – this is not my “design plan” its just a quick look and feel to help me make some more major decisions.

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There is a lot to talk about here which I’ll get into later (how do you choose a kid-friendly rug and am I really going to buy a white sofa?? – eh, no). But the real reason I’m doing this is because tomorrow we are posting an “Ask the Audience” that I really, really need help with and you’ll need to know roughly what style and vibe we are going for to help us answer the burning question. Tune back in tomorrow, and be sure to let me know how you are feeling on tomorrows post.

Check out some more updates with my new home: Our New Home!,  Home Inspiration – Devol Kitchen, Layout For The New Living Room, Ask The Audience.

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      1. We love our white couch with kids and a dog because you can just throw the slipcover in the wash and it’s beautiful and bright all over again. our Pottery Barn one probably isn’t the style you’re going for but i can’t recommend it enough.

        1. Second the white slipcovered couch! You actually know when it’s dirty (after getting one I realized my old couch must have been gross) and I wash the cushions every month and a half or so and the main section a couple times a year and never worry about spills because I can bleach anything out.

  1. I’d love to see more emerald green pulled in as well with your blues. I feel that greys are a bit modern and you will do better with a palette of creams, blacks, greens, and blues (read:navy) to achieve that cozy look. But maybe that’s because it’s fall and I’m all about the cozy!!

    Actually you might not like the term, but if you type “modern farmhouse interior” into Houzz.com, that’s the look I can see happening in your Tudor home. I just did that look for a client and it’s just right for giving a bit of modern eclectic that fits right into that era!!

  2. Really nice to see how your style evolved over the year.
    I’m decorating my first house, and I can’t wait in like 20 years to see the road I’ll have walked on !
    (And I’m really in love with that green floral chair !!!!!!!)

  3. I always love your content, so I don’t mean to b a complainer, but….
    Each morning I hope to open to the promised Flea new pieces.
    Is it soon??

  4. I’ve definitely been wanting to hear more about how your style is evolving. Do you find that you are more drawn to english cottage vibes now or is it more that thats the house and you’re adapting to it?

    I’m definitely going to miss seeing the bright happy stuff – there’s something about it thats quintessentially california. And I’m glad to hear you’ll keep some mid century, I couldn’t live without it!!

    Also…are you having a yard sale?!?!?!?! Or are you posting things on craigslist? Would really love to see if you are!!!

    I just bought that dash and albert rug for my living room and am loving it.

  5. One of my favorite things on your mood board is that green upholstered chair. I love that! I also love the brown leather bench/sofa.
    But I can just give you my two cents about one thing? I haven’t said anything before because I was trying to be polite and I was hoping that It Too Would Pass. I really do NOT like that flag. To me it looks shabby, and not in a good way. Didn’t you used to have a Red Cross flag (or was it a Swiss flag)? I liked that one. My theory is you sold it, regretted that you sold it, and wanted another flag to recapture your *Past Flag Glory*. I just shudder when I see that spotty, wrinkledy old blue flag. I’m sure ten other people will rush to its defense and claim that they love it–that’s fine, whatever. I just had to speak my mind about it.
    As I looked at the pics of your soon-to-be-old house, another thing struck me. I myself have never owned a house, so my feelings of love and pride are more strongly tied to my furniture than to a house. I understand your moving and thus having to let certain items go, but for me that’s a hard one. I’d rather store them and hope to use to them when I actually do get a house (if ever I do).

    1. Ha yes I am one of those people that loves that flag! I wish there was a way to replicate it via diy but I know any attempt would not be the same as the real thing. It would be like antiqued shabby chic painted furniture versus the real deal paint chips that have aged with time. The character of that flag just can’t be beat

      1. HA. I love that flag too. It was cheap and its not the most amazing thing ever but for the impact and size It makes me happy. I like it better than the cross, too!! But it might just live in CHarlie’s room …

    2. *cringe* I am fellow non-flag lover! I’m all for non-traditional home accents but this to me falls short. It feels more “Brooklyn loft/warehouse” than English Tudor to me. I feel like, especially with the vibe of this new home, you would be so much better served by adding a beautiful classic piece of art. Just my two cents! 🙂 Love the chair and daybed and can’t wait to see the finished product!

  6. Your new design plan is pretty…not as traditional as I was expecting though. The only thing I don’t love is the rug. Wish you’d put in a beautiful already worn vintage rug! Either neautral or in a variety of rich warm colors. Love everything else!

    1. We are looking for one, actually. In my dream world I would do a big worn persian but we need big, like 12 x17 so until I find it I’m going to purchase this (10×14) so we aren’t rug-less for years. Finding the right vintage persian rug can take so long (and cost so much) but I want the house liveable for as long as possible.

  7. Emily,
    Can you PLEASE do a post about hanging atypical “art” like the blue and white piece you have here? and your previous hanging of the Hopewell blanket?
    Thank yoU!!

  8. please tell me you are not losing the camel lounger chairs with the buckles! and if you are, I want to buy them. they are epic. I think the camel leather would look amazing with a moody grey sofa/sectional and the blue rug. perfect backdrop for a classic ralph lauren fall/winter AND pastel/airy California spring/summer.

    1. I’m on the fence. One is pretty damaged and we can’t get a leather person to fix it, so we might just have one and I might put it in the living room or den …. I don’t think I can part with them but they may not be as big of a player as they are in my current house.

      1. You should totes get rid of them… by selling them to me!!! Seriously, if you are selling them lmk.

        I don’t agree with the commenters on white slipcovers – I had some fabulous tailored ones and they were awesome, however, I know what kids can do! While the slipcovers are washable it is a PITA and not something you want to do every week. You could only do it if you kept a throw over the cushions most of the time.

        Leather is the best practical choice for small children and unruly pets. The only downside is that it can be cold, but in California it’s not a big deal.

        I love the green leafy chair, and the dark woods. I think I’m over your use of Navy at this point. Or maybe it’s everyone else’s use of navy. Definitely DONE with gray.

  9. Love that Flag!!!! If you do the perennial fabric in white it is fine with kids… actually amazing. I think you are going to need to adds some brightness to the design….love the look!

  10. love everything about your color scheme, especially the blues since I’m obsessed with the shade as well. can you tell me where that denim-looking quilt / comforter is from? thanks! xo

  11. Personally, I love the neutrals, which to me are greys, black, etc.. with your layering of textures, and amazing sense of style, it not only feels lush and looks beautiful, but inviting and cozy as well. For me, Ive also incorporated more neutrals and less bright colours.. Mostly due to wanting to feel more calm, less busy visually, which is relaxing and definitely helps with my creative process. Love seeing your style evolve, as it is beautiful and as always inspiring!

  12. Can’t wait to see what you do in your tudor cottage! I live in Richmond, VA with a lot of colonials, and tudors as well, most done in a very traditional style (and not always in good/fresh way, although that is changing in more recent years with some amazing interiors). We built a traditional tudor and in an old neighborhood and I’ve been loving the combo of traditional architecture with some modern/mid-century furniture to keep things exciting…So I’m excited to see a fresh, new, cozy, approachable traditional in your house!

  13. If you do white washable slipcovers on your sofa(s) they are very kid-friendly (and pet-friendly.) Don’t be afraid to try them. PB has that English roll arm sofa Brady chose with washable slipcovers. I chose white denim and it looks like new after washing. The slipcovers don’t go all the way to the floor so it saves it from looking too granny.

    Also, I’m a huge fan of wool rugs. They wear like iron and are really cushy under foot. They’re going to be much more comfortable on your hardwood floors in your living room. On our rare cold days in Southern California, you’ll be glad you have them since it’s hard to keep shoes on the kids feet at home. I’m all about comfort. And my layered rugs over cheap poop brown synthetic carpet really elevate the look and comfort of my studio apartment.

    I’m still trying to get my first look in place in my living room so except for a few pillows and bringing out the wool throws, I’m a long way from changing out my look seasonally.

  14. So so beautiful…where is the hanging colorful art piece from (shown originally in the living room)…and what material is it made of? Its so uniqe and gorgeous!

  15. Hi Emily! I love the blog and I think anything you pick will be lovely :). I just wanted to mention that the images on the posts recently have been wider than the column width. I’m not sure if this is intentional or not, but it looks like the figure elements have a width of 1000px, which is causing this to happen. If you like it this way, then just ignore me. If not, you might want to call up your developer. It should be a quick fix.

  16. My favorite part in this mood board is the back of the armchair, where the granny-chic Emily waves at us! I believe that this was the most fearless aspect of your style, and I hope the new home gives you an opportunity to go back to it.

  17. Hi Emily,
    Congrats on 10th anniversary – should you be replying to comments on your vacay???
    Ok, so I’m no pro but I do know what I like – and I LOVE your style (though plaid takes me to a dark ‘place’ – no clue why, childhood traumatic incident with a plaid blanket? And I Do have a phobia re rocking chairs…) Anyway,
    I have a really lame pinterest board (i’m the ‘Idle’ pinner and parent – but so far the later is working for us – 2 thumbs (Kimmy Schmidt style).
    To the point, I have a board titled ‘love entire house’ – of course one of them is your Spanish style home, and the other two are ‘SIA’s stunning LA home’ (she is so fracking awesome) from refinery.com and the other is ‘Reese Witherspoon’s Ojai home’ – anyway, thought of your new home and wasn’t sure if these would offer you more inspiration (you’ve probably already seen them) – but if not, great excuse to check out more pins (or whatever they are called).
    Wishing you tons of fun on your holiday and with your new home.
    Best,
    Gretchen

  18. I’m also digging this leather bench and the green floral wingback. And I love rag rugs – I have 3 of them!

    It will be fun to follow along with how you “repurpose” some of your existing pieces. It’s a more real-world scenario; we get emotional attachments to things, and not many people have the luxury of tossing everything they own and starting new when they move.

  19. Ugh. How, I wonder, is Emily going to avoid what I call YHL syndrome? The grind of fending off dozens of criticisms when you’re trying to work a creative job. It’s a killer. IMO the exact moment YHL was doomed was when they revealed their office and the crowds disapproved of their stationery supplies and demanded to see what was kept in the office drawers – AND THEY SHOWED THEM. If it were me I’d say “seriously you weirdos? none of your business” (which I guess is what they did do eventually, in a big way). Man it must be so tempting to just disable comments sometimes … I can’t imagine having to defend my personal choices over and over to randoms online every day and I really wonder how sustainable it is.

  20. To me it looks exactly like your old house, in terms of overall style, so though nice, isn’t what I was expecting. I’m really not a fan of the rug, sorry, looks way too dominating.

    Are you not tempted by the neutral layered ‘pale greys’ look? And I do mean PALE. Very classic, relaxed and/or formal and works brilliantly with character houses.

  21. Not sure if this one has been asked but where is the balloon print from, I love it! I’m based in Sydney and would love to order one if they’re available online somewhere. Thanks!

    1. Hi Christa, I remember from a previous post this was a flea market or second hand find of hers in NYC a long time ago. She did a post on finally getting it framed a while back.

  22. Also, when you say “English”, we say “chintz”!

    “English”
    “CHINTZ”
    “English”
    “CHINTZ”

    k, I’m done. Whatever you do it will look fabulous.

  23. I love the ceramic tiles. How long have they been on the design radar? I am thinking about incorporating them in my home but want to make sure they have staying power. Sometimes I have been surprised by what’s new but is really old–like saturated paint colors that are in New England homes.

  24. I’d go with a vintage Persian or Afghan rug. They are classic, timeless and super kid friendly since there’s so much detail and different colors, it hides stains pretty well.

  25. Where did you get your large indigo blue throw pillows on the living room bench?? I’ve seen similar options but that texture looks so unique!

  26. Please do not paint the beams black. It is too dramatic and does not go with the architecture of your house..#5 is the best of the choices. I have done many houses and built some. You will not like living with those dark beams. You want to feel open and happy in the room.

  27. Hi Emily, I love the mood board. With regard to the rug, I have two littles – 4 and 2. If the concern is stains, anything mostly dark is great, navy, charcoal, with a little pattern. However, our rug is very light now and we just have a firm rule there is not eating in the living room. Makes it easier for everyone!