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Emily Henderson

Style Play Every day
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by Emily Henderson

I’m preparing like a crazy person for this speaking engagement next week at Americasmart in Atlanta next week (I speak on thursday, 1 hour, ‘Styling, the final layer’….oh and then Alt Summit, btdubs, although different presentation) and I need some help from y’all.  

I’m trying to figure out what information one would want from specifically ‘me’ as opposed to other designers. Obviously its going to be more about styling and less about layout and drywall, but i’m terrified of being condesending.  I have my list of styling rules and go-to’s with pics, my list of pet peeves with pics and a ton of examples of good things styled badly and bad things made to look awesome with good styling.  For instance: 


Good thing, bad styling.  This table from is awesome, but the styling of it is what is really amazing. I mean, I read Danielle Steel, gurl you know i did.  Reading her books gave me my first ‘funny feeling’ in my belly that i had NO idea what it was except i knew I liked it. But i’m not sure she’s really selling this nightstand so well.   With the clock? and the grapes? 

And then there is this Flor carpet tile  – previously known as the least sexy thing in the world, its called ‘CARPET TILE’ for eff sake, but it got a facelift when the stylist Robyn Glaser came on board and did stuff like this:

These tiles are totally tasteful, functional, affordable, etc – but its the styling (the amazing chair, lamp, painting, portrait, branches and personal items) that makes me want to be that person and buy the product.  

But what i want to show beyond this are designers spaces that are beautiful, but where the styling really detracted from the space. I’m using some of mine of course (because sadly while i design the spaces for the show completely, i’m never there when they are shot and there are of course things i would change).  But naturally i don’t want to just pull from random designers portfolio and pick them apart – clearly that would be cruel.  So if any of you are designers and have photos of your work that you wouldn’t mind getting analyzed (you know me, i  would never ever be cruel in any way, its more of a ‘this room is great – i love the sofa, those chairs are rad, but the coffee table styling is telling a different story and totally detracts from the overall design’).  Basically if you want to volunteer photos, great.  If not, i’m going to shoot some more ‘bad’ and ‘good’ in the next week. 

For instance remember this room from the first episode of SFAS with my friend Ian (still one of my top 3)?:

I actually still like this room a lot, but this photo and the styling of it make me want to do painful things to myself.  That angle, oh that angle.  The lamps, the pillows, the phone on a strict diagonal, the duvet being neither really neat nor beautifully relaxed.  It needs a lot of help.  

Or this one:

 What? Sure, i put everything where it was, but the information you are getting from this photo is weird and confusing. We got chairs behind chairs, massive blossoms in the foreground and a lonely desk lamp. The angle totally sucks.  (This was the set photographer who specializes in people, not spaces so he’s not to be blamed – and he knows how i feel, which is why i always hired someone else after this episode).  

Point being – styling is obviously a very important part of selling your work and being blogged and pinned, and i need bad examples of this – the good ones are easy to find through magazines and blogs, but i don’t want to pick on people that don’t volunteer for the bad examples.  


1. Who has work they are proud of, except for the styling and photography that would want to send a link through the contact form?  It could definitely be anonymous, i just want permission. My worst nightmare would be using a random photo and then having the designer be in the audience.  Kill me.  

2. As designers what would you want to hear from a stylist that you don’t already know?

3. Is giving away resources to a group of designers annoying to other designers (that might use that resource as well) or overall just helpful? (aka, where i get things framed, what web-sites are strangely good that people don’t know about, etc).  I’ve gotten people mad at me before, so i want to be as respectful as possible while still imparting interesting and useful information.

Bring it.

And come to Americasmart 

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