Five years ago I wrote this email to my now good friend, Joy:
long time reader, first time emailer. big fan. you have good taste, and you aren’t cheesy, which is like finding gold in the lifestyle blogging world.
i’m a prop stylist and I would love for you to take a look at my new blog. i’m sure you get many-a ‘look at my blog’ requests, but I would love to get your opinion. www.thebrasspetal.com
Emily HendersonPhoto by Zeke Ruelas
Man, those five years feel like 10 years in a lot of ways – both of us have changed/grown up so much. She responded to that email and I think even gave me a shout out on her blog (which was only 2 years old then – so crazy!!). The next year she moved to LA, auditioned to be ‘made over’ on my show at the time (Secrets From A Stylist) and I designed their living room. We totally hit it off. We talked shop, kids and the bachelor constantly (and yet not enough). Since then I’ve RE-designed their living room (to be more kid-friendly), designed her studio and now her new nursery.
And then her studio:
Some collaborations work and some don’t. This one WORKS. I don’t want to gush, because that can be annoying, but in case you are wondering if Joy is a secret weird sociopath, the answer is ‘NO’. Sure, she edits herself more than I do (as does everyone on the interweb), but she is the very lovely and wonderful person she portrays herself to be – even funnier. Our chemistry is so good, and when it comes to designer/client relationship trust me that good chemistry is very important.
So when Joy was pregnant with her second baby, Coco, she needed her office redesigned to be an office/nursery. We both work with Target – she has a wonderful line there and I’m their spokesperson, and they brought the idea to us. Honestly I would have done it regardless. The pitch was that I would design their office/nursery and in exchange I would get 44, 320 hugs from Coco and Ruby – each. It was a tricky contractual situation, but my agent was tough and made that number happen – he’s pretty much Arie Gold. He tried to secure ‘Emily’ as Coco’s first word but Joy felt that she couldn’t guarantee that so she didn’t want to be contractually obligated.
In actuality it was a partnership with Target, and it just totally made sense.
So here was the room when they were cleaning it out to make room for Coco. It’s not a true ‘before’ because it wasn’t really how they used the space, but you get the idea; they worked in there, and it was an extra storage room.
It needed to still function as a home office for both Bob and Joy, so it needed to be gender neutral. I actually think that gender specific nurseries are only necessary if the parents really want them, but the babies are happy no matter what. I think our association with colors as ‘feminine’ or ‘masculine’ is totally societal and often doesn’t really make sense. For instance did you know that centuries ago hot pink was the color that men wore because it was bold and displayed wealth because the vegetable dye was so expensive? Yeah, things have changed and my thinking is to not give a flying fish about it. Charlie wears every color – blue, pink, white, black, green, yellow, red, etc. Sure we still associate certain colors as ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ and that’s fine to keep in the cultural vernacular so that we can communicate about colors and themes, but we should make sure that ‘feminine’ and ‘masculine’ don’t really mean ‘girl’ and ‘boy’. Yes, ‘charcoal’ can be described as a more ‘masculine’ color because that’s how we associate it, and we need a vocabulary in order to describe it, but women love and relate to charcoal as much as men do.
So here was our inspiration board for the new office/nursery:
It actually is way more colorful than that now, but that was the inspiration. We wanted neutrals with big pops of yellow, pink and blue.
Then we created a rough product board – which were mostly ideas, but helped us curate the room:
Not all of that ended up happening, but I love reliving the process.
Then Ginny did some renderings of the floor plan. This first one is how it was used before:
We knew that the corner desk situation was wasting a ton of space, so we wanted to move all the desks to the opposite side of the room. All the existing books in the bookcase were either relocated or donated.
We showed them this floor plan below just to give them another option even though we knew it wasn’t ideal or even good. We’ve found that just presenting options, good or bad, progresses decisions and helps them feel good about the choices they made. Its sounds manipulative, but its successful. It shows that we exhausted all options and that our expertise recommends another alternative. We try to be in their brains and to answer all their questions before they have them. So we show a lot of options to really open up the debate and negate all the bad options. This floorplan below gave them more storage for books, but clearly the desks took up a lot of the space in the middle.
Meanwhile on the desk side we drew this up to show them how we were going to use the space:
While I hate teasing you with the process without showing you the’ afters’ there was simply WAYYY too much info to do in one post. So come back tomorrow to see the DIY of the mountainscape on the nursery walls and Wednesday for the full reveal; Oh Joy’s nursery 2.0; naked and uncut.
But here are a few sneak peeks anyway:
That’s Charlie, not Coco. He’s warming up her crib for her. He’s a really good person.
That’s me, trying to make Joy feel better about the fact that she has a HUGE disgusting gut, so I put a pouf in front of my belly. She was literally 8 1/2 months pregnant here and I was approximately 0 months pregnant. (although I feel like i’ve had a first trimester belly for 13 months now).
Come back tomorrow for the mountain-scape wall DIY and the full reveal on Wednesday. Happy Martin Luther King, Jr day. xx
*Pretty ‘after’ Photos by David Tsay, hair and makeup by Danielle Walch.