Emily Henderson

Home Sweet Home (well almost)

Projects In My Own Home

Good_Housekeeping_Emily_Living_Room

Brian and I recently talked about selling our house. It’s upsetting, I know. We always knew this house wasn’t our forever home – there isn’t a yard (just a dope deck) and we are backyard people (I prefer the yard to be backed up to 100 acres of Pacific Northwest forest, actually). Every time we talk about selling it I say, “well, we can’t sell it ’til I finish the . . .” and then I list off all the things that need to be done. But we, even more recently, reversed this decision, and realized that we LOVE this house, and we aren’t quite ready to think about leaving it.

Then I realized how stupid it was that we weren’t doing those things anyway. If we are eventually going to move, then why not fix all those problems NOW, so we can actually enjoy them for the few years we stay here? Why not be super proud of every room, and not have those “apology” areas. At first the reason was money, obviously. We did a lot to the house at the beginning, so we put off the exterior, and all the below projects until we were ready financially to get back into the improvements. But, it’s time to jump back into these projects, and turn this house into a real portfolio piece. No more apology rooms. No more “please don’t open your eyes while you are in the guest bathroom” requests. It’s getting done this year. Here are the major projects:

The Laundry Room:

emily_henderson_house_before_laundry_room

Just some minor tweaking, eh? This is in the middle of the house, and it’s absolutely shameful. But I just pulled the trigger on a washer and dryer from LG (I’m even getting the sidekick, which is a mini-washer underneath the major washer, for very small loads). My contractor has already measured to replace the custom doors (so annoying), and fix the wall behind it. I may even wallpaper in there. I’m thinking this paper because it is classic and happy, and has a “washing your clothes is fun” vibe. Power of positive thinking right?!

Fireplace:

Emily_Henderson_Livingroom_Fireplace

I’ve never been 100% happy with the fireplace. If it went all the way to the ceiling then I’d probably keep it as is, because I do like that it’s warm, authentic and original. But it stops at such a weird point. More importantly, this fireplace could be a serious FEATURE. It could be something that makes this room sing. I don’t know if that means we give it a facade in wood, stone, tile, slab or maybe some sort of combination. I’ve been stumped since day1, but I’m ready to tackle it. What would you do?

Guest Bathroom:

Emily_Henderson_Guest_Bathroom_Project

To be fair, it’s all white now, but it’s still hideous. We’ve already purchased 80% of the finishes for this room, I’ve just been putting it off because renovating with a baby (and toddler) is just extremely disruptive to nap-time, which directly effects our sanity. But, our family is headed out of town for two weeks, in a couple months, so it’s all going to be done then (and yes, I’m lucky enough to have a couple of people who are going to manage the project while I am away). I have dreams of coming back from Australia to a brand new bathroom, and while maybe it won’t be finished completely, hopefully the noisy part will be.

Playroom Area:

Good_Housekeeping_Emily_Playroom

This is a super easy fix, but one that will bring us much pleasure. Our playroom area is a disaster everyday because Charlie’s interest/toys/books have exploded and we just don’t have enough storage. But finding the right piece here was a huge challenge. We don’t really have room for cabinet doors to open, but something open like a bookshelf or even bins could look so messy – especially since this is shared space with the family room. The baskets worked for a while, but we need something more major. I finally found this piece from West Elm and it’s the right size, style and function for the space. And then I ordered this bookshelf from Container Store which I previously didn’t love, but functionally it’s what needs to happen in that room. We’ll have to rearrange a bit, but its going to be a much better room to stare at every day.

The Exterior (otherwise known as “the area of the home that Brian and I have debated for two years”):

Emily_Henderson_House_Before

That’s what it looked like when we bought the house. It’s cheap vinyl siding, and the closer you get to it, the worse it looks. Due to trying to keep some semblance of privacy around here on the blog, we didn’t want to show the front of the house, but trust me that it looks cheap. The architecture of the house is cool and could be amazing, but it was band-aided over with this cheap stuff 20 years ago, and just hasn’t held up. Over the last two years I’ve had contractors come to give estimates, but somehow no one has followed up. No one wants the job! The reason is that a.) the economy is back in LA and contractors are hard to nail down (yes, that pun was intended), and b.) it’s an extremely vertical house, so refacing it is a BEAST. It’s three stories on the front, and one on the back – all on a sloping hill in two directions. The contractor (an amazing man whose name I’m happy to give out) that finally agreed to do it had THREE different scaffolding companies come over to bid on the job, and two of them said “no, thanks.” Is this the most boring story you’ve ever read in your life?????

ANYWAY. It started YESTERDAY! The scaffolding is up, we can barely get into our house, but it’s ok. I can’t tell you how excited I am. It’s expensive, laborious, stressful and time consuming, but in 2 months I will park my car in front of my house with PRIDE. I am just so excited.

Oh, since that photo above, we did do the updates on the deck – we painted the woodwork and the brick, and it’s a pleasant place to be. But just wait ’til it’s done . . .

emily_house_Siding

Master Bedroom:

emily_henderson_Bright_Vintage_master_bedroom

As some of you so aptly put it when I posted my master bedroom UPDATE (Yes, it was just an update and not a “final”), “this isn’t your best work.” I agreed, and we were right. After another year of living unsatisfied I’ve decided to tackle it (do most people say the work “tackle” so much? Are these my Mormon roots with parents from Wyoming coming through???).

So what is changing?

1. I’m taking down the wallpaper (which is now literally GLUED to the wall, and is going to, I’m sure, rip up chunks of wall, which is going to take days to repair/paint/sand/fill/sand/prime/paint).

2. New bed. I know! I love that headboard, but I don’t like that it doesn’t match the base. I’ve designed a custom bed that is being made, which (CROSS YOUR MOTHER LOVING FINGERS) is exactly what this room needs. Don’t worry, I’ll blog about it as soon as we have some sort of update photo on it’s birth.

3. New lamps/art. Those lamps (which you can actually buy here) are too tall for the room, and I haven’t had them there for months. I may get sconces, who knows. The new headboard is lower and I have a couple pieces of art already to hang above there (by my lovely friend, Jane Denton).

Those window treatments and rug are staying. Sometimes I want a new rug, now that quilted hide rugs are everywhere. But ultimately this room gets a TON of traffic to the deck outside, so unless I chose a dark rug we need this rug in our life (and I ain’t getting a dark rug in here).

emily_henderson_nuetral_clean_master_bedroom

Downstairs Guest Suite Progress:

Emily_Henderson_Guest_Bedroom_Update

You may remember that this room used to be where we worked, when it was just me and Ginny. We then added Brady to the mix and quickly outgrew the space so we moved into a studio and the room was used as storage for months, and now it’s being turned into a full guest suite and home office for Brian’s business. These are just random photos that I took a couple months ago, and it has changed a lot since then. We decided to drywall the ceiling to help it feel less like a garage, and more like a room. This was a controversial decision and an argument that I “lost”, but ultimately, once it was done, I realized that Brian was right. I’ll talk more about that when we reveal it. We also have painted it and I have a new rug, new lamps, new cushions, and really pretty drapery from Loom. I was going to replace the bed with one that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, but lately I’ve been thinking that maybe this is good enough. Not sure. We are custom designing/making a big marble (green and black!!) desk, and we added some sconces over the desk area. Oh, and we already added a tiny cute bathroom. It’s all happening. We are shooting the update this Friday (it’s not done, but I want to give more of a sneak peek since we are all dying for some original design content).

So, those are the major things being done. It’s beastly but it is time, and I have help to execute properly due to the fact that I now have 4 talented designers that work for me. I’m EXCITED, FOLKS. I’m going to make this house exactly what it should be and then if/when we do want to sell it we are going to have the biggest open house ever. Wish us luck. xx

***First photo, and photo of the playroom from my Good Housekeeping Home Tour, shot by Mike Garten | Photo of the living room and the deck by Tessa Neustadt | Photos of my bedroom by Jessica Isaac

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  1. Super exciting! I can’t wait to see how everything turns out. And I can totally relate. There are too many projects left to do in our house and I JUST NEED TO DO THEM! We should spend more time living in and enjoying our homes then thinking about all the things we want to change, no?

  2. Just a warning- not sure if the Sapien bookcase is the same as the one I had, but the shelves are not attached to the “spine”. I got rid of it since a resourceful toddler could pull them out and they are HEAVY, like potentially break a little toe heavy.

      1. Hope it works out – I noticed the same thing. Does the CB2 version come in white? It seems to be way sturdier and is attached at the spine if I remember correctly.

  3. I loved this post so very much!! So many fun things happening in your neck of the woods!! Can’t wait for the reveals in the future!

  4. Totally with you on making the laundry closet more “happy.” We painted our sad, dark laundry room a sunny yellow a few years ago, and now it’s one of the happiest rooms in the house. Lots of luck on all of the projects!

  5. OMG! I applaud you for being so real with the stuff you don’t like about your house!! I am not the only one!! A home is constant work and it is not easy with kids and work…You will get it done and I can’t wait to see your brand new home!!! new “home”= new memories.
    Good luck!!!! xox

  6. I love the posts about your home updates, they’re my favorites! My husband and I are about to close on our second home (we sold our first a month ago) and this new home is a fixer upper from the 70’s. We decided to renovate the inside first and renovate the outside next year. It needs new siding and windows (BLEH). Renovations are time consuming and annoying, but there’s no better feeling than living in a home that you designed yourself :) Good luck on all your projects! I know they will all be beautiful!

  7. Can’t wait to see all the changes as you “tackle” them! I think a wood façade going up to the ceiling and maybe even onto the ceiling a little bit above the fireplace would be cool with the vibe you already have going on in the room. I’m sure whatever you guys do is going to look awesome!

  8. oh emily you could make any space gorgeous. what a fun read! please please share with me the paint color you used for the brick in the back play area. im thinking of painting the exterior brick of my house and im stumped on all the colors! i mean why are there 79 shades of white?!! shoot me. i remember you said you would do a post on paint but i think brick is a different beast? esp if its the front of your house? any suggestions would help. thanks emily!!!

    1. I think our painter just brought an exterior white paint that was a true white. I don’t remember even picking it out, but it probably matched our benjamin moore super white. xx

  9. This is a perfect post. I loved hearing about the quirks of your house and your thought process on fixing them. We gutted our basement in our old house and updated it just to sell it. It was lame to never enjoy it after all of that hard work (my husband did most of it, ripping down lath & plaster, redoing the electrical, plumbing, mudding and sanding the drywall ect.) So I totally agree with updating it for yourselves, and not just to sell it.

  10. I’ve recently become fascinated with 3D tile on fireplaces, it makes them really bold and can accent verticality which would be awesome in your space.

  11. I would not touch the fireplace! I seriously love it, even if it comes up short. I think its been such a bold reassuring move that you’ve kept it. When we are house hunting soon, if I see a house with that 70s stone fireplace I will be excited because I know a super awesome designer rocked it! Its original and it works with that great bench. Doing something new might feel a little static and contemporary. You’ve got so much going on, leave it for the next owner to love or hate.

    1. I agree! Especially with all the other renovations I’d just leave it alone for now (and if you haven’t see if there’s any way to find matching material to extend it to the ceiling). On the other hand it’s not my house and I completely get being bothered by something that seems fine to everyone else.

    2. I love your fireplace. What I think would be neat and I haven’t seen done before with such a fireplace is to put a very chunky wood or metal trim around the stone on three sides sort of like you’re framing it. Some of the options you’re considering seem much more generic. I do love your leather chairs in the room. They’re perfect for the home we plan to build. It’s a rustic home in the woods with some modern and industrial touch such as a curved floating wood and wire staircase. Where can I find similar chairs?

  12. It’s funny – the moment I saw the pictures of the guest room/office I thought “that would look better with a finished ceiling.” Sometimes we look at something a thousand times and don’t really see it, but looking at it in a photograph makes needed changes suddenly obvious.

    I can’t wait to see all these changes. We have just as many issues in our home that are on the ‘list.’

  13. Hi Emily,
    I adore you! and your beautiful house/kids/family/life lol. You are so blessed and happy all the time, what i would give to be a fly on wall in your house. (that isnt creepy at all, right?) Sorry!! Just wanted to comment and ask where you purchased the rug in your master bedroom?
    Thanks!
    (not creepy, i promise)
    -Lauren from Ohio

    1. Hi Lauren. I think Luluandgeorgia.com used to carry a patchwork cowhide but I don’t see it there now. ABC home.com carries one.

        1. Chris,
          Thanks for the link but that rug is $5,000.00! Can we get a blog post “the look for less” on Emily’s beautiful rugs? There’s no way I could justify or afford that on a rug so I’ll dream about it in the meantime!

  14. Soooo excited!
    Please add more to the flea. :)
    I don’t have a use for your beautiful teak lamps, but I love seeing the pieces used. Like after I received your book I went back to buy more pieces from the flea because I saw them in the book (but alas they were sold already)

  15. Love seeing the elliptical in the guest suite pictures, and I’m really curious to know what you will do with it when you make over that room. We have the same issue in our basement–it’s a nice guest space and a comfy hang-out room, but there’s also a treadmill in there–how can that coexist in a stylish way? Can it?

  16. emily – i love updates on your house and can’t wait to see the follow-up posts. hopefully you can post the before/after of the exterior as i desperately need help in that area!

  17. Looking forward to the updates! These are my favorite posts. My suggestion for the fireplace is to keep the stone (compliments your warm colors and natural elements already in the living room) but add to the height. I think it would be difficult to replicate the stone (but maybe not?) so instead do something in a beautiful wood and either taper it all the way to the ceiling or go flush with the stone. Either way I’m really looking forward to the final result! Your living room is one of my favorite rooms on the internet these days!

      1. Instead of matching it could you tear it down and use another stone mixed in with the original. Lot of work but wouldn’t need to match the stone and you wouldn’t need that much extra so save on materials.

    1. This is what I was going to suggest as a possibility, too! I kinda like the original, lodge-y, vintage, rustic feel of the stone, especially with how you style the rest of the room, and wonder if you could get an artisan to take the same look all the way to the ceiling. :)
      P.S. I hate that people said “not your best work” about your bedroom. Sheesh!

    2. The stone is so great in your space. The natural shapes of the stones are a nice complement/contrast to the wall of glass, the clean-lined bench, and other straight lines and planes. Love Sara’s idea to frame upwards with an interesting wood.

  18. I love this post. Looking at people’s perfect styled homes on the internet makes me feel so happy and then so inferior all in the same breath. It’s nice to see that even someone who has all the talent and means to (theoretically) have the perfect home still has unfinished and unsightly areas. It makes me feel empowered to keep making my own home beautiful, even if I can’t do it all at once!

  19. Thanks for sharing! It’s great to see that even the best of us (interior design professionals) have a to-do list and things they want to change in their homes.

  20. This post reminded me of our last house before we relocated for a job. There were several rooms that never got done because I couldn’t afford to do what I wanted or couldn’t commit to a final design so we lived with subpar spaces until forced to do something when we sold the house. The lesson I learned was that no interior decorating is ever permanent anyway so why not go ahead with simple/inexpensive fixes that refresh a room and infuse it with a bit of personality until you can figure out what your dream design will be? Even a fresh coat of paint, some new hardware, and an accent piece or two will dress up a tired bathroom until you can tackle (I get the nitty-gritty truth of the word) a full-on reno. I applied that lesson to our new home and at least none of the rooms now need an apology (except for the fugitive dust bunnies). With everything livable, I can plan new projects without a sense of urgency or that dreaded “deer in the headlights” feeling when faced with a whole house makeover. Good luck with all your remodeling. I look forward to seeing the results.

  21. I love that you shared pictures of the ‘ugly’ parts of your house. My husband and I bought a fixer upper two years ago and have fixed a lot of things but there is still plenty of ugly – notice no air quotes were necessary this time. Sometimes it feels as if everyone’s house but mine is finished and polished so it is very refreshing to see that such a talented designer has areas of their house that also need work. Thank you!

  22. Hi Emily! I love your posts and look forward to them everyday! Can you please tell me where you got the play kitchen-it is too cute!

  23. Oh I CAN’T WAIT to see how you deal with the fireplace. I like it as well but the potential for a jaw dropping statement is huge in that room. It could change the whole feel. I’m in the process of redoing my own fireplace, and also have a chance to make a statement. I’ve done two bathrooms where I had no problem choosing materials and yet for the fireplace I’m completely stumped. Can’t choose between stone/tile and should it be a ceramic/cement field tile or a more basic tile? I’m loving Tabarka studio tile right now. ANYWAY the point is I’m looking forward to seeing what you do!

  24. I know this is uncool of me but I hate that stone and am thrilled you’re changing it! My sister’s 70s house had miles of it. It’s phony, dusty, cob-webby and it’s always got smoke stains above the fireplace. Blech.

  25. I love that you are showing the not-so-glamorous parts of your house! Of course most of us reading the blog have seen the beautiful parts and love them but I am extremely happy that you are a real person too. Most of us have those parts of our home we are not so proud of so this is very encouraging as someone who has projects that need to be done as well! I really don’t believe that anyone’s home is ever perfect and there are always ways to improve.

    Well done! Cannot wait to see the updates!

  26. Maybe terrazzo for the fireplace? That’s midcentury-looking but doesn’t seem as dated as some of the midcentury brick fireplaces. Perhaps you could even design some custom terrazo like you did with the stained glass a while back.

  27. Oh! I know the perfect fireplace. Go To Nick Olsen’s website and check out his portfolio, I think the fifth home has the perfect mid-century fireplace, a big chunk of beautiful marble framed out and it also includes a bench. That would look dreamy in your pad. http://www.nickolsenstyle.com

  28. Another note about the Sapien. I have so many (too many) books and a small home and love the number of books I can get in a very small space with a Sapien. BUT: toddlers and preschoolers look at the Sapien and see a ladder for climbing. We had to put ours away for a couple of years. We didn’t have any issues with shelves coming out, more with the whole thing toppling over. It’s heavy!

  29. I am obsessed with the idea of you potentially doing a Barcelona Pavilion style warm colored marble on the fireplace (the interior wall of the pavilion where the pattern is mirrored). I think this would look so timeless and elegant, it wouldn’t be trendy like encaustic or 3D tile seems to be right now. You don’t talk about architecture much but I think your house would fit with a little Mies Van Der Rohe touch!

  30. With as many of those stone fireplaces that get ripped out of modern mid-century LA houses wouldn’t an experienced stonemason be able to find a match? Become best friends with one by bribing him or her with pie and a pile of cash. Get the word out that you are looking for more of that stone.

    Now obviously I don’t know what the chimney is doing on the outside of the house but is there an area outside where you can steal some stone, make it look intentional, and then patch in the stone build-out inside up to the ceiling? You might even be able to cut the stones in half and apply them as a veneer (if it’s not already). You’ll need half as many then.

    I’d hate to see that fireplace go. I love the patina of old stone and brick stained by decades of fires.

    If it’s not feasible then someone above suggested terrazzo which gets my 2nd place vote. 3rd place would be to somehow tie a wood surround somehow, maybe on the sides and up to the ceiling, keeping much of the stone visible, and still looking original.

    Tricky tricky for sure.

  31. Hey Emily!
    I loved reading about your home projects for the year. You have big plans, for sure! As far as the fireplace…I think it does feel heavy (ha, they are rocks afterall) cold, and large-and-in-charge. The tree you have in the room does offer some balance to the space, but I think if you created a smooth surface with clean lines using stone, the fireplace would come to life a bit more.
    Can’t wait to see what you end up doing!

  32. That fireplace is beyond ugly. My sister had the same stone and eventually got so sick of it, she just started chipping it off … got it all down and then called her contractor to come fix the hole.
    Make it go away. Please.

    1. I was going to go back and suggest heath tile. I think it’d be the only acceptable replacement (whether it’s their dimensional tile or just plain field tile). It at least fits with a MCM house unlike marble or some super slick tile. If either of those choices were picked it would ruin the feel of the space.

  33. I’m loving everything you have planned and cannot wait to see what you do with the fireplace. I’m a little worried (that’s a strong word, as that would be weird to waste my worry time on YOUR house)…but…the wallpaper in the laundry. Not sure that will hold up in such a small space with moisture and heat…we wouldn’t want another master bedroom wallpaper debacle on your hands!

  34. The fireplace is always photographed in ways that you cannot tell where it stops abruptly but I can imagine living with it daily would set you into an eye-twitch tailspin. That being said – I vote for something dark/warm for the fireplace treatment, all the way to the ceiling! I think, despite the awkward stoppage point, that the darkness of the fireplace really cozies up the room and otherwise provides a contrast to all the white and bright. The thickness of the current treatment also works well with the long, tall wall.

    Is it also just me or is it hard to visualize where Charlie playroom is and where/how you get down to the guest bedroom? I realize we obviously haven’t seen every nook and cranny of your house but it would be cool to see a floor plan! I’ve been reading the blog forever and I only just realized how the dining room is straight ahead when you walk in the front door.

  35. As someone contemplating a move from a rental, I love this post. We bought a house back in Scottsdale, move in ready and fixed up the rest, like put in double pane windows, and then moved out in a year. We rent out that house now and are renting a different house on the East coast.

    As a mom with two kids, I want to create a forever home, and knowing that our rental is not that, I sometimes feel like it’s just not worth loving as much because of it. I have to remember it’s in my kids’ memories regardless and give it the love it deserves–even if the house and I are going to break up eventually!

    xo Analog House
    http://theanaloghouse.blogspot.com/

  36. The fireplace: probably no way to match what you have and extend it all the way up to the ceiling? if there were a way to add the same stuff and it not look like you did, that’s what I would do.

  37. Since you asked. I wouldn’t do anything to the fireplace. It’s not as bad as you think it is, at least in pictures. It adds some charm because it’s original to the house. The fireplace is large, the room is large. I wouldn’t worry about it. It’s just what it is. If I built a new one, then I would built it in large stone tile, and in a more grayish or white marble color. But if you want to move someday it won’t be a good investement, at least in my eyes. When it comes to the 2nd bath, why not do a simpler design in less expensive ceramic or porcelain tile? Use the same toilet and hardware as in the master bath, do a shower instead of a bathtub, and tile just the shower. I bet it will be as beautiful as your masterbath, but half the price.

    1. By the way, if you end up doing anything to the fireplace, change the insert as well. If you’re using the fireplace, the closed system will give you more efficiency, and more safety.

    2. It might be cheaper but it would reduce the value of the house and the pool of potential buyers. People with little kids (or who might have little kids) want a tub in the second bath and will pass over houses that don’t have one. If there’s another bathroom with a tub that’s convenient to the bedrooms that’s one thing but otherwise getting rid of the tub is a huge mistake.

  38. Hi hi! We were thinking of getting one of those tall bookshelves like the one you linked to for the playroom, but we were concerned about it being totally not baby/toddler-proof. We actually have friends who have a couple from their pre-baby days and said they never would have gotten one now. Do you have creative ideas for baby-proofing one of those? It would have fit perfectly in our space, but safety is obviously the number one concern.

  39. I’m so glad to know that I’m not the only one with a long list of home projects that I just can’t seem to get done!!
    Can’t wait to see your results!

  40. You have a lot going on, but can you please leave the fireplace as it. If you’re going to sell it further down the line, you want to leave as much of the original features so buyers of mid century get as much of the original architecture as possible. That fireplace is (in my opinion) the best feature in your lounge and really sets the tone for your mid century pieces. Sharon

  41. I can’t wait to see everything when it is done! It’s good you didn’t end up wallpapering your whole bedroom last year! It would have been horrendous to take it off all the walls.

  42. Great post, love reading about up coming projects, especially on your place. We sold our first home recently and had been there over ten years and didn’t really finish everything until just before we listed it. It sold in three weeks and had a short settlement so only had the enjoyment of finishing for couple of months. After looking at things for a good part of the previous ten years thinking we should really finish that (that being a multiple that, many many little things) it was an awesome feeling to live not looking at a to do list, as most design loving people tend to go straight to the areas that need doing.
    We made a decision in our new house to actually finish and enjoy. We are working on it as much as time and money will allow but there is no way it will be ten years again!

    PS You’re coming to Australia! Harassing Brady now for details :)

  43. LEAVE, LEAVE, LEAVE the fireplace! It IS a feature already, and a gorgeous one at that. If you put in stone it becomes just another modern fireplace. Boring, been done a million times. Your current one has character, and that is by far harder to achieve.

  44. So exiting to have so many projects planned for your own home! Honestly, I am the most excited for the laundry room. Its a functional closet (aka not exciting) but its going to change your life to have it done. Visual improvements are great, but having a functional space is on a whole another level in my book.
    Since you asked for opinions about the fireplace, I love the existing one and would direct design energy towards how to fix the height issue without re-skinning it. First of all, it is already a statement piece and it’s age appropriate for the home. And honestly its stellar. its beautiful. its a little groovy, and natural, and mod, and I’m hella jealous. Maybe you can extend the height while adding built-ins to the surrounding wall or wood veneer paneling…something to extend the “fireplace object” without looking like it’s wearing a hat.

  45. We made a hills change from suburbia to the country about 4 years ago and after a few hiccups in the beginning we are finally starting more of the exciting/gutsier (is that a word?) reno’s. I have been following your blog & have your book for the inspiration & just when I am starting to feel a bit over it all, you have another exciting post to keep me going. We are renovating our house with 3 little children and it definitely adds to the challenge! I have to admit that I was slightly distracted when I read that you are coming down to little old Australia! Anyway, love your feed & thanks for your always cheery and positive posts – keep it coming! Xx

  46. Loved this post (and the comments). It’s always interesting to see how people handle tricky design situations- especially if it’s not a “forever” home. My thoughts on the fireplace: in addition to the floor-to-ceiling eye line cut off, the stone feels too clunky for the room. You might be able to lean the fireplace out by cutting the sides of the fireplace – and using the cut stones to add to the top – extension the stone line to the ceiling. The result being a taller, slimmer floor-to-ceiling fireplace. I’d also probably wash the stones- and lighten them up with paint. Then, I think you’re left with a much bigger canvas for the room overall – where you could essentially decorate on the fireplace as well as around it. (I.e.: hang a piece of art on the fireplace). 2nd idea- do a floating shelf above the fireplace that shows more cut logs (similar to what’s at the bottom). Basically, the wood (cut logs /flush with the top of the stone) could act as “book ends,” helping to extend the line from floor to ceiling. Those are my ideas! If you go with the floating shelf / log idea- maybe try birch logs & still keep the white motif with white-washed stone.

  47. I love all of the plans! Your living room is stunning and makes me feel homesick for my southern California childhood. I adore those mid-century style homes with big sliding doors and windows. That fireplace is wonderful but does stop weirdly. I am not sure how to fix it…. something unique, clean and fresh to match the rest of your home.

  48. Thank you for being so honest about your house. We just moved to a 100 year old tudor outside of NYC and it has so much that I love and so much that I want to rip my hair out about but…budgets and time constraints and budgets and two tiny people who live with us…and budgets:) I always feel like it’s a mess and I wish my kitchen counters and family room looked like my pinterest boards but how is that even possible?!

    I love your fireplace and wish you could keep it but I see what you’re saying about the stone. What if you could continue the stone up to the ceiling or paint the wall and hang some amazing art large format art on either side. If you rip all those stones out it would be great to repurpose them. They look so beautiful.

  49. I too loved this post and can’t wait to see photos! I’m pretty new to your blog and love your fun, unpretentious attitude.

    You might already know this, but the Japanese woodblock inspired wallpaper you’re considering for the laundry room is a depiction of a tsunami! I agree that it’s really pretty, but maybe not the happy life- and-laundry affirming vibe you’re going for. :) (Wikipedia corrects me: not a tsunami, a “rogue wave” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Great_Wave_off_Kanagawa)

  50. I’m so happy to see this post! Looking forward to all the little updates! Also dying to see that little girl’s nursery :)

  51. When I saw the fireplace on Facebook, the photo was cropped so I thought the fireplace kept going up. Now that I see it stops partway up, I get it! Even though I understand your concerns about the fireplace (and I know it’s probably not ideal to build a fireplace around your furniture), I think the warm brown tones of the stonework look so beautiful with your brown furniture and they help to balance the room colorwise. But since you are leaving in a couple of years, I guess you have to decide whether to make it work with what you have, or with what you think your future buyers will most appreciate. Good luck! I’m sure it’ll be lovely either way!

  52. wow! you’ve got great bones there to work with, for sure. I would echo the fireplace idea~sourcing the same rock and bringing it up to the ceiling. it’s a “statement” piece and although some other raw material might be awesome-er, it would be hard to replicate the cool factor of the stone.
    Or, you could have a carpenter build a facade over the whole thing and extend that to the ceiling? It wouldn’t take much to find some interesting wood, frame it horizontally and cover the whole thing? right? ; )

  53. OMG! OMG! OMG! you’re coming to Australia? Are you holidaying? Working? Coming to my house to give me some design advice??? Please say you’re coming to Melbourne. Melbourne has the best shopping.
    I was lapping up every word of this great post but had to stop at the coming to Australia bit to fangirl so hard, obvs.
    Love your work.

  54. Only because you asked, I would see if there was anyway to match the stone on fireplace and bring it up to ceiling. Staying original to the house design.

  55. Seems the stone is WAY too heavy for this light airy room. I would use whitewashed planks (horizontally)…and a “beefy”chunk of wood (also whitewashed) as a mantel. Good Luck…whatever you do will be beautiful.

  56. Love this post (and love your style & beautiful home)! I vote to raze the fireplace stone facade. ;( Yes, original details are lovely- but I think if you’re not crazy about it and it’s not out-of-this-world spectacular or made from amazing materials then why not do something totally new ESPECIALLY IF YOU ARE A DESIGN GENIUS.

    I like the idea of something like stacked stone going all the way up to the ceiling- and the grey would contrast nicely with all the warm tones in the room. Also Heath tiles in one of their 3d options would be b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l. Or wide, white, with the focus on the tile or stone you use inside the firebox- maybe white and gold! Sorta like this “party on the inside” example: http://thesetingstaketime.com/post/77746694546

    Cannot wait to see what you do-of course it will be amazing!

  57. Hi Emily,

    We sold our beloved timberloft, because we outgrew it after baby #1.

    We’re renting a townhouse, and would be drowning in kiddie clutter. Ikea’s Trofast has saved my sanity. The system is modular, giving lots of options as to how they’re arranged. Instead of drawers or baskets, you can select plastic bins of varying depths. My now 4yr old loves it!

    Also, plain old fashioned low and wide book cases are great as they get older to store not only books, but puzzles, board games, etc.

    I’m also crushing on their Kallax system, formerly Expedit. I just don’t have the space for it. I’ve seen so many ways that people use this bookcase.

    Best of luck in this last reno hurdle. Can’t wait for the final reveals.

  58. Have you considered lighting mounted in the space above the fireplace? I see something either thin & minimal (maybe 3 “picture lights”) that arc out from wall; sculptural during the day and at night, would accent stone–Or, a series of sconces that push light down fireplace face.

  59. Sorry about the bedroom wallpaper – I know it was expensive and has been an ordeal from the get-go. It is oddly reassuring to see that even the professionals sometimes make mistakes, but I do wish it wasn’t so costly for you! Excited to see the rest of the projects unfold!

  60. Excited to see more! One recommendation? If you have any garage space or somewhere else to store toys and kid books, start rotating them. This helped my space look better but also has encouraged my kid to play longer with his toys. And it takes 5 min instead of 20 to clean up at the end of the night.

  61. I love this post for so many reasons! It’s so real and relatable; we all have projects we know we have to do – and that would make us so much happier – but just can’t start.
    Also, I’m incredibly excited to see everything on the blog, HA!
    Good job, Emily!
    ps: I am very intrigued/curious to see what you do to that fireplace…
    xxxx

  62. No idea what I’d do about the fireplace, but I’m super-excited to see what you will come up with, surely it will be genius and something totally unique and surprising. Probably because we don’t really have these in Europe, I find it pretty menacing with those heavy stones. Though I get it from the comments, that they are quite commonplace there, and homely for many. Thanks for the great post, really looking forward for all these projects!

  63. I am so excited to see what you do with the fireplace. I actually kind of like its vintage warmth, but I see what you are saying about the stopping point. Still, as a major character feature, it is going to be interesting to see what you do with it. (No pressure!)

  64. It’s so interesting to know that even a professional doesn’t have 100% perfect home. Yet. ;) It gives me hope that I will be able to get a nicer home even when it takes a long, long time. I look forward to seeing these projects to finish. :)

  65. I’m really looking forward to seeing all the projects you’ve got on the go. Very exciting to see new things going on in your house (I would kill to own it!)

    My only comment is about the fireplace. I love the rock and it’s nice to have such a classic MCM fireplace even if it stops short of the ceilings (though I’ve never even noticed the height difference). If you choose to redo the fireplace please, please, please go with something that would suit MCM. If you got too modern or do intricate looking it’ll ruin the whole feel of the living room. I’m sure whatever you pick would be nice but I’m always sad to see beautiful mid century home losing the character that makes them so great.

  66. I made the exact same decision about a year ago – if I was going to have to fix the house up to sell it why not just fix it up to live in:). It’s been really, really fun, especially because this way I’m in no terrible hurry.

  67. Just a quick comment about the fireplace. I think it brings a cool tension to the room. The one imperfect element that makes a room human and awesome. Kinda like Jennifer Grey’s (old) nose, or Lauren Hutton’s teeth or Cindy Crawford’s mole. It brings that extra personality in. Totally get it though if it is the one thing that bugs you…

  68. How many of us FINALLY fix up our houses when we sell them…..99.9% of us! I must admit it made my day to see your pix of your utility room and bathroom…Why? Because it made you just like us! Who would have ever guessed that you – an awesome designer – lives with “sore spots” in her house, too! About the fireplace: I have never liked your fireplace – sorry…. It is too overpowering for all of the other great elements of your room. I know focal points are important – but it needs to be a good focal point. Fixer Upper just did the most awesome reclaimed wood fireplace for a bachelor. It was really stunning (and warm…..). You could watch that episode just for some inspiration :) Although it is nice to have a yard when you have kids, there are also really great parks to take your kids to! Besides all of the great playground equipment/green space to play on, you don’t have to mow grass – a perk! It is also a great excuse to stop for ice cream afterwards. You have worked so hard on your house, I think it’s great that you will finish things and enjoy it!! Can’t wait to see it when it’s all done!!

  69. Love the post! And I am so happy that I am not the only person with embarrassing rooms in my house. I thought everyone else had loads of money and perfect homes. At least online. ?

  70. Loved this post!! I didn’t seem you mention putting your headboard on the flea…? I have loved it for years and would probably gobble it up if given the opportunity…?

  71. Re: Fireplace — that stone is just to beautiful to cover up; find someone to make a modern bas relief sculpture panel the same depth/width as the fireplace to fill the space to the ceiling. Something in a compatible color and medium, maybe reclaimed wood or driftwood. Ceramic would be gorgeous but it would also cost the moon.

  72. Love the authenticity of your posts. You could so easily be all “I am perfect and my life is perfect and there are no chinks in the armor ” . Of course, you are having fun and life is good! And you have the good sense to see that, and the generosity to share it in a grounded, authentic way. Thanks!

    As for what is and isn’t your best work, I am an artist and I try to see it this way: everything is and is not my best work simultaneously! It is all what I needed to do in that moment, to get me to the next step.

  73. Instead of removing glued on wallpaper, maybe you should resurface the wall with 1/4 inch drywall. Might be easier and if not cheaper, not a lot more expensive than patching holes et al.

  74. Can’t wait to see the results! Your work on your own home is my favourite content on the blog.

    For what it’s worth:

    I say rip out the fireplace–it is just OK, and would remain just OK even if it went all the way to the ceiling, whereas I’m sure you will come up with something completely amazing.

    I love the laundry room wallpaper.

    Replacing your interior doorknobs and trim would be a simple (boring) change with big impact.

    Please show us the baby’s nursery! I check several time’s a week hoping today will be the day!

  75. So exciting! I can’t wait to see all of these changes! One question, when are we going to get to see Elliot’s nursery finished? I feel like I never saw a final reveal!

  76. This is not a knock on anyone in the comments or on the blog – it’s somewhat humorous to me that we all think we have a say in this! And yes, even I have opinions – Emily and team – you guys are crazy gracious to share so much with us all chiming in about it.

    My whole house is still a before, and I think a lot of us live in that constant state due to finances or things like your toddler situation.

    I’m always excited to see your work, and look forward to afters. There is something to be said for sticking around a house and really fulfilling all its potential before moving on. The laundry closet is the space I’m most looking forward too. And I LOVED your contractor spiel. It’s not boring. In my limited experience, contractors don’t seem to like working all that much. My projects are always too small, or I get quotes, and then the contractor never shows. Go figure.

  77. We have LG washer and dryers and love it. Just a word of advice I wish someone had told me when we got ours. Do not overdo the soap or use the measuring cup that comes with the detergent. 1 Tablespoon for small loads, 2 Tbsp for regular loads and 3 Tbsp for really large or really dirty loads. I know it doesn’t sound like much but it’s definitely enough. If you use too much soap, the *outer* drum will develop a film and your machine will develop a moldy that’s almost impossible to remove. You can’t get to the outer drum without taking apart the entire washer. My sister in law had to throw her new ones away because of the smell! A repairman also told me to use powder detergent because the liquid has a surfactant that also causes buildup. That’s all. I hope you love it.

  78. OMG don’t you Rob that fireplace of its history. Run it all the way up if you want. Spend the money on that. Frankly, thanks to the white paint and light in the room, I never noticed it stopped midway anyway. It’s lovely. Don’t turn it into a 2016 trend.

  79. I really appreciate your home posts especially when you post pictures of before like the laundry area- it’s relatable to know that everyone has that part of their home that is on their to do list. I’m slowly conquering my boyfriend’s bachelor pad that we now both share and your book has been a great help. So I just wanted to say thank you!
    Portland Oregon 4eva!

  80. I also had to stop at the Australia comment!! Yay, hopefully you are heading to Sydney and running a workshop or seminar or something?!!
    Totally understand about the getting the house perfect just as you leave. Currently 1 week into a massive ‘get ready for sale’ revamp of my 105 year old cottage. Its never looked so good but it is a little disappointing we will not get to enjoy it!
    And totes disappointed I wont have a house for you to come and consult at when you are here!

  81. Can’t help but comment on the fireplace – have you thought about LAMINAM? Slim porcelain tile with a fiberglass backing out of Italy. Here in Canada the budget price for designers is around $15/sf CAD.

    I could see an amazing Staturario Marble on that fireplace that would look stunning with everything else going on in that area. Porcelain would do well with the heat/cool of the fireplace, is wipe-cleanable, and would be a functional piece of art within the main space.

    I’ve spec’d this at a restaurant and it is absolutely stunning.

    Link: http://www.stone-tile.com/collection/laminam/i-naturali

  82. After all the issues with it (and that it’s harder to appreciate in more pulled back photos) I’m not surprised you want to get rid of the bedroom wallpaper, but oh, it’s so pretty! I’m not usually very “girly” in my decor tastes, but my princess room would be that wallpaper with the other three walls painted a very muted rose gold. I don’t think the paint I’m envisioning actually exists, but I will sigh at the paper going anyway.

  83. Hi! I love your home. Could you share what kind of plant/dried branches you are using in the black vase in front of your fireplace?

    Thanks!
    Marina

  84. Wow…lots on your plate! I’ve got the same fireplace BUT, mine goes to the ceiling AND our home is up in the mountains of Lake Arrowhead, so it works for us (I wish hubby would let me paint the wood ceiling white but I’ve lost that one). Anyway, I think your fireplace would be amazing done in board pressed concrete (check out Jenni Kayne’s home in LA…images in AD). I would love to have a fireplace like hers…heck, I’d love to have a house like hers! As far as the vinyl siding, we have the same problem. We almost didn’t buy the house because of the cheap siding, but alas…it’s ours. We’re on a downslope (three levels like yours), so I imagine we’re also going to have a hard time finding a contractor when we’re ready. I’m anxious to see your new facade in a couple of months, and would be grateful if you’d share your contractor…just not sure he’d travel up to Lake Arrowhead/Big Bear area. Good luck!