A direct quote from my mother in law, as if she would explode should keep her opinion from me for one more second, “I’m really sorry, but I have to tell you, I HATE the scallops”. I had no idea what she was talking about at first, the comment seemingly out of nowhere, then I laughed because A. I don’t take anything design-wise personally and B. I’m not even convinced of the scallops myself because I haven’t even been in that room since the canopy was installed. So I figured why not spend hours tweaking it to prove to her, you and myself that scallops are what we should be doing in this bedroom.? What a fun use of Julie’s time, no?? (I love you Julie and appreciate every set of university taught skills you have).
Listen, Suz (MIL) isn’t the only one full of doubt on this project, based on the comments in the controversial update post. I thought it would be fun to share some of the more critical comments, expressing an unbridled distaste for this room design.
“It feels dated and mismatched, and the canopy, oh the horror.” – Holly
“I guess my reaction is happy b/c I burst out laughing. I think I would LOVE to stay in that room on occasion, but I might twitch after a week. I love everything individually, but together I think I am experiencing some drug widely used in CA in the 60s-80s. ” – Christina
“Hmmm. I have never not LOVED anything you’ve done. But…this is incredibly perplexing to me and seems completely overthought for a kid’s room and oddly out of character for you. I’m actually shocked at what a visceral reaction I’m having. Almost nothing about this looks fun or whimsical or styled by the genius you are. It honestly feels kind of sad and dreary, I’m so confused.” – Kelly
“It feels very “prison bars” – Anonymous
“I adore you, love your family, colleagues, designs but…I want to whisper this to you as I would a friend who is wearing an unflattering dress…this is awful. I would start over. So sorry.” – Jill (this has made me seriously LOL every single time I’ve read it)
If you are cringing for me as you read them know that I, too, am a player in this game, having fun, and most of these made me laugh a lot – NONE of them offended me. I PROMISE. I asked for it, literally. There is no way I could be a blogger if I got offended by criticisms about my designs (now personal attacks are a different thing). Maybe I made some mistakes, or maybe it’s just not there yet – I can’t really tell having not been in the room. But no one will die, and the creative process is FUN and messy and full of mistakes. Listen as a designer you should never design the same room twice, so no matter WHAT, every single room is a first-time experiment. It’s my style laboratory and sometimes we have to clean up an explosion.
I also was/am ready to do something VERY risky. The mountain house was relatively easy to decorate and style. It’s not that I didn’t take risks, but it is neutral, minimal, and modern – and that is easier than mixing pattern, color, vintage, and whimsy. So I was just ready for a challenge and to “play” again, knowing that of course there is a chance I can “lose”.
I think that we have forgotten what “process” posts are because the blog world has changed so much that we only show the “messy dark befores” and “beautiful bright pinterest-worthy afters”. So admittedly even to me it’s weird and kinda anti-climactic to see a project, midway, where things aren’t working without great photography and bad lighting. I wish I could defend it even more but my reaction wasn’t positive either and I haven’t been in the room so I don’t know what my defense would be – I haven’t met “the criminal” in-person to get its testimony so I can’t even say “its great! we are innocent!” This room might be a fail right now that has to start over a bit. I DON’T KNOW.
But not all of the comments were bad, although most had an “I’m worried” vibe.
“My initial thought: SHE’S BACK! This has resonated with me more than anything in a while. It does feel very “Old Emily,” which I hate saying because YAY growth!! But this is weird and exciting and risky and thought-provoking and some people are going to HATE it, and that is Emily Henderson to me.” -Jade
“Thanks for sharing the process! This is the fun part I think and we often miss out and just see a finished shot with no back story.” – Kel
Okay, so I have a lot to love here, and it’s really not just about the design of the room. 1. I’ve been playing with the same design style in my house for the last year or so, so I LOVE seeing your take on it. 2. I love seeing you not get it totally right. Because, as you said, it’s a kind of off right now. But I know it will be so good! – Kelly
Thanks, guys. 🙂 There was a divided consensus as far as how I proceed in the design. 70% of you said, “pull back, it’s just too crazy. Too MUCH!!!” The other 30% said, “lean in harder with more whimsy. more fun!!” So then I thought what if I did both? What if I pulled back on the number of colors but then added even more whimsy and pattern in the reduced color palette?
Current Paint Color in Kid’s Shared Bedroom
So since Julie is staying at our house I had her take out the red quilt and rug. and take down the curtains (since those are changing anyway and were just so distracting) and snap a few photos. It’s definitely pulled back and maybe it “works” better but, meh, not sure. 🤔I think not having any side tables or lamps and just a big white bed isn’t helping. It really looks like we moved into a room that already had a canopy leftover from the previous owners so we are trying to make it work.
So here’s where we “PLAY”. Since Julie has fantastic skills, I asked her to photoshop some scallops on to the wall. She took most of the suggestions from the “Scallop Trend” post comments and spent some time playing around.
First up, let’s look at the scallop inspiration. I loved two different inspiration shots – one that was more uniform and one that was more handpainted.
Dark Blue & Gray in Uniform Scallops
First up – she pulled the navy blue from the canopy fabric and threw it up on the wall, but left the light gray that is above it. I THINK I like it, but honestly, I’m kinda confused about this whole room right now, full of a lot of self doubt (not in a negative way, more in a “have I actually lost it?” kind of way, which is OK because MAYBE I HAVE. Maybe we all have.
I think for this one we’d switch out the rug as it’s a lot of blue and I do miss that vintage red rug in here. The red is just so playful so I like having the mirror but it does feel rather red/white/blue which AGAIN goes very ’80s. I think it would be fun to paint the window and the door to match the scallops, but I get so nervous to paint those, and I have no idea why. But here’s what it would look like:
Dark Blue & White in Uniform Scallops
Here we have the same blue, but with WHITE on top. Remember that there will be woven organic shades on the windows, too. I’m still interested and think that the biggest problem here is the big white bed that looks weird. A few of you suggested it would be EITHER the canopy OR the headboards but not both. I don’t agree, but I am rethinking it all. I KNOW that the headboards would be cute, so maybe the canopy is the real problem, but I want to try to make it work before I give up and there is something here that IS working. I’d be interested in seeing the dark blue, white combo with the red vintage rug and see how that works.
One of you also mentioned that I should lower the lowest bar of the canopy to make it more sweeping and maybe you are right.
Dark Blue & White with Irregular Scallops
For each color, Julie was going to do one normal scallop and one that looked more handpainted or irregular. The irregular one looks more like bubbles and with the blue and white canopy there is something very nautical about it, which is not the intention but as some of you pointed out, maybe that’s the point – I don’t know my own intention.
So here is where we go through a variety of colors that you suggested with quick commentary on my initial thoughts. LET’S GO.
Dark Green & Gray with Uniform Scallops
This could work if the bed wasn’t so stark white, and if there were punches of black and maybe brass. I could lean into the “mood” but worried it’s not playful enough. I have NO idea what kind of bedding we’d want honestly but having a huge white bed is bumming me out. Maybe I find another vintage quilt in the green/blue tones instead OR we dye a quilt indigo.
There is something pretty “no no no” here. Is it the red mirror with the green? The blue rug with the green? Again the huge white bed? Or maybe we need white on top instead of the current gray?
Dark Green & White with Uniform Scallops
This reads more playful and fun, for sure. But a lot more contrast and less moody. And maybe we have darker tonal bedding with a big red velvet lumbar and red Persian rug? GUYS, SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN!
I keep taking my fingers and covering things to help visualize it. As much as I love that red mirror when I put my finger over it on the screen I like the space so much more (I’d love for you to picture that – me, an internet-famous designer literally holding up two fingers, and closing an eye to obscure a prop on my laptop in order to make design decisions). My secret methods are out there now. But seriously, try it! It looks better without the red mirror, right? Again I think we could use some black, brass, and wood to help edge it up. I kinda like how the bookshelf disappears. Nothing is a “hell yes” right now, but I’m seriously trying to figure out what I don’t like and why.
Update! After I wrote about my secret finger method, Julie did is all a favor and out the mirror. See SO much better…right??
Dark Green & White with Irregular Scallops
You know, I still think when done right, the irregularity of the scallops could look good. I think this is too “big, little, big, little” thus looking like a bubble pattern, but if it were more subtle it could really look sweet and playful.
What about a green and blue Persian rug instead? Oh, you know what you’ll never find in your life that I’ve been meaning to tell you? A vintage GREEN AND BLUE PERSIAN RUG. I would know as I’ve been looking for the right one for years for the living room. There are some newer options, sure, and maybe in a smaller size I could find what I wanted, but I searched for one for the living room in a 10×14 and never found one under like $15k.
Medium Blue & White in Uniform Scallops
Man, this takes a lot of “envisioning”. Now picture this blue but NOT the blue rug, maybe a blue/green Persian (see above) or just something light and neutral. Another pattern? Do you know what rug we WON’T use in here? The Stockholm rug from Ikea. Some of you are PISSED that people still like that black and white broken stripe (I just reread all the comments from the first post). SO, DON’T WORRY. I won’t use that, guys, as you said it’s not 2014 anymore. (But honestly, we think it’s a new classic).
I like the medium blue and the red. We’d change the bed, bench, and rug but that’s a playful happy blue, and with the white it feels youthful and still modern.
Medium Blue & White in Irregular Scallops
When I first saw the irregular scallops I was like “no” but maybe I’m starting to like the playfulness? Or is it the glass of wine talking that I had to pour myself in order to look at the same photo in different colors over and over and over and have insightful things to say about each one??? MAYBE.
Bright Red & White with Uniform Scallops
Charlie asked for a bright red version and Julie obliged. I do love red so much so I get it, Charlie. I think with the nautical canopy and the scallops all Julie and I could think of is an ocean of red blood. Risky! Daring! Whimsical?
It was a hard “no” until both Charlie and Elliot squealed in delight when I showed it to them on my laptop. When I asked “why?” they said, “because it matches the mirror,” which isn’t quite enough of a reason for me. BUT I just like that they were so passionate about the process.
Muted Red & White with Uniform Scallops
Maybe a darker red? NOPE.
Muted Pink & White in Uniform Scallops
Birdie asked for pink, OK FINE I ASKED FOR PINK. The problem with renderings is that the lighter the paint on the wall the more shadows you lose (as Julie pointed out) and it looks fake. So while I actually really like this pink (not with all the elements) it just doesn’t look good. Elliot screamed YES YES YES!!!! and Charlie screamed “NO”, so I think it’s a “no”, but hilarious how predictable those two are.
As I was writing this I asked Julie for a couple more options. She humored me, most likely because I’m her boss, but I appreciate the time spent regardless.
White & Gray with Uniform Scallops
Do we keep the gray on the top and do white on the bottom? Nope.
Gray & White with Uniform Scallops
How about white on the top and gray on the bottom? Nope.
Light Blue & White with Uniform Scallops
Oh no. Just no. Now before we get into the comments I wanted to show you two new options. 1. All white and 2. All navy. Maybe Suz was right. Maybe scallops are stupid and wrong? So much can happen with accessories that I hate to paint anything until I see it and spend some time in the room. Maybe we can divide up the headboards, add some side tables, lamp/s, different rug and try other things before we repaint this room for the FOURTH TIME.
All White with No Scallops
Well that looks dead and reminds me how it looked in person when it was white – DEAD. Lastly – all blue.
All Navy with No Scallops
Strangely the room looks the most balanced painted dark, which makes me realize that balance is the real problem. So I think it’s mostly the other elements that are lacking. I’ve got to get my hands on accessorizing in there. The shades go in soon. I have some cute accordion sconces to put in, and I’m not done with that red faded rug. The light fixture is changing, in fact, it’s been sitting there for months and it’s more modern. Lastly, in case you haven’t fully checked yourself into an insane asylum, I asked for one last tweak. The window frames felt so WHITE (which could still work – it ties in with the headboard obviously). So I asked Julie to “paint” the moldings and the baseboard.
Ok, Actually All Navy
Admittedly this looks a little nuts, but what if the bedding were darker and moodier? Painting that room dark is a BOLD move, there is nothing safe in doing that and there is something a little dark and depressing about a kid’s room being such a dark color. I just showed this to Brian and he was speechless until he laughed and walked away. Apparently he’s not my blog demographic that likes to see a room mocked up 19 different ways.
So that’s where we are – kinda nowhere. With no real conclusion or “YES THAT’S IT”. I suppose if I had to choose right now, without seeing it in person I’d choose… nothing. There is no way I could choose. I think I like the navy scallop the most, with the medium blue coming in second but maybe Suz is right. Maybe scallops are wrong, maybe the canopy is wrong.
The good news is that we are going to LA to get Birdie’s cast off on Monday so I’ll be able to see it in person, play around and make an actual informed decision. I can’t wait. This “designing without being in a room” is not how I like to do it and I really don’t think it gives the best results ever. It’s actually making me feel NUTS. Before we leave I think it’s only appropriate to round all of these options up, to give a visual to the inner madness.
WHAT SAY YOU?