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How We Redecorated the Culligan Dollhouse for The Holidays

When I tell people that I’m essentially a spokesperson for water, it gets a good laugh. It’s funny. But it’s true, and honestly, I don’t know a better representative for the Culligan Whole Home system than myself because I LOVE COLD DELICIOUS WATER more than anyone I know. Ask Brian or my entire team. Heck, my agent even knows—he once jokingly asked me if I’d like anything in particular onset and “really cold water” was the only thing I could think of; therefore, it’s in my rider. But the correlation between water and design is a hard one to make. That’s why this partnership is honestly one of the most creative we’ve ever worked on, and frankly, we here at EHD are VERY proud of it.

For one of our last posts with Culligan, we’re styling the Culligan Home, a miniature house built to showcase the Culligan Whole Home Water System. They’ve been following me for years and know my deep love for the world of miniatures, so when they asked “do you want to redecorate and then style out our dollhouse for the holidays?” my giant mouth screamed, “I’D LIKE TO DO NOTHING MORE IN MY WHOLE LIFE.” They shipped it, we assembled it, and our collective creativity was lit on fire by the big possibilities.

I couldn’t do it alone, so my design team (Brady and Emily B.) took this house and DIYed or sourced almost every piece of furniture, a bevy of accessories, window treatments, EVEN MINIATURE MAGAZINES, to create my dream dollhouse. THEY WALLPAPERED, REUPHOLSTERED PILLOWS, AND EVEN MADE AN ACCURATE SOUPING AREA FOR ME IN THE KITCHEN. I can’t with the creativity. I just can’t. My only regret in life right now is that I had to even have the help because I would have loved to have done all of this myself.

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softener

To top it off, last year my friends at Barbie made an Emily Henderson Barbie doll, so when this post came along, we reached out to see if they would send it over for us to shoot in the house and there she is, casually lounging in her Barbie-sized porch. This is my favorite thing that has ever happened (besides this week’s flash makeover). So let’s get into a tour of the house, where I’ll show you what my brilliant team did and how, of course, water can affect your WHOLE home. Read every word, unless you don’t want to know how or why we made a real leather slipcovered headboard with miniature leather ties!!!! We have been DYING to show you, and today is the day.

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softener

Here’s what it looked like before we got our giant hands on it. It was more contemporary than is our style, but Culligan didn’t ask me to weigh in on the initial design, so we got to work EHD-ifying it.

But first, for anyone who’s like “why did a water company even build a mini home in the first place?” let’s chat about it. The water running through your faucets and plumbing can have negative and positive effects on your home: what you wash your skin and hair with, what your dishwasher uses to wash your dishes, what your washer cleans your clothes with, not to mention what is building up and coming out of your plumbing and faucets. We’ve talked about it throughout the year (in this post and this one).

The Culligan Whole Home System touches almost every part of your home through the water that it filters and softens, so creating a miniature model of this was a perfect and insanely creative way (if I do say so myself) to showcase how important the quality of your water and how you treat it is.

I love water. I love dollhouses. IT’S AN OBVIOUS BRAND CONNECTION.

Every room was decorated and filled with furniture, but we wanted to take it and make it our own. On top of that, we were allowed to deck it out for the holidays and thought it’d be SO MUCH FUN to walk you through what we did in each and every room and how we did it.

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softener

Let’s start with the living room.

We moved quite a bit of the furniture around from the original layout and obviously we had to include a Christmas tree (and fireplace) in here to fully prep this home out for the holidays.

Tree: This was a craft store find probably for train hobbyists or the Christmas aficionado that is into mini-trees.

Ornaments: We deconstructed beaded bracelets, then hand-strung them with wire hooks.

Presents: Jewelry boxes and square craft foam were wrapped to give us the selection of sizes that we needed to feel authentic. Just like in our own life-sized living room set up, we curated a collection of patterns and colors so that it didn’t feel too chaotic or crazy. Everything was tied up with bakers twine (again, in our color palette—obviously).

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softener

Look how helpful Charlie is with decorating the tree and NOT opening up all of the perfectly wrapped prop presents underneath it. Such a well-behaved 5-year-old (just like in real life).

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softener

Skis and wagon: These were Christmas ornaments that just happened to be the perfect 1:12 dollhouse scale. Brian loves skiing!! The kids love wagons—a perfect fit.

Moving over to the fireplace area.

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softener

Fireplace: This was one that we didn’t want to attempt a DIY on so it was sourced online and then we decorated it to fit with the rest of the theme.

Stocking holders and stockings: We handmade the stockings out of knit fabric and foil tape to help them keep their shape and then used small push pins to hold them in place. The fireplace logs were created with just a few found sticks (bleached wood, of course). We dressed the top of the mantel with some very, very tiny wood houses that were handmade by Jennifer Urquhart who was one of the artists that we collaborated with for the Portland project.

Tiny trees and wreath: These also came from the craft store in the Christmas section and the wreath is actually a gift topper that we tore apart to create the wreath form.

Curtains and pillows: The original gray curtains weren’t enough pattern for us, so we used a ticking stripe fabric and foil tape to make these curtains. We adhered the foil tape to the back of each flat panel and the rigid tape allows you to bend the curtains into any shape that you want. In our case, the perfectly pleated panel. While we were at it with the custom draperies, we decided to create some custom pillows for the couch. Obviously keeping within our color palette of grays, blues, greens, and patterned black and white. Brady and Emily B. must know me very well if they know that I wanted a mini circular pillow to adorn that couch.

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softener

Custom art: Above the couch, we had a big (err small) wall to fill and needed some beautiful art for above the sofa. So Jennifer Urquhart who made those tiny little houses on the mantel also custom carved, stained and painted these three tiny little pieces. In case you want to see what her pieces look like in full scale, click through to the Portland living room reveal where we used her piece behind the green velvet chair in the Portland house.

Rug: In case you were wondering where we got that gorgeous flokati rug from…oh, it’s just some fleece from the fabric store. We bought a half yard and cut it to size (you know…this might not look half bad IRL in a room…no? Too ambitious/delusional?).

The major pieces of furniture (sectional, coffee table, club chairs, and ottomans) were in the original house and we just moved them around into different rooms until we created the perfect arrangement that you see in the living room.

On to the powder bathroom.

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softener

Using my strict “only design blue powder rooms” policy, this became our “jewel box.”

Wallpaper and floors: We used Tempapers Burlap peel-and-stick wallpaper on the walls and then we also had them custom print a scaled down version of their Hexagon paper which we used on the floors.

Mirrors and lighting: We covered the existing mirror with a circular craft mirror to give it a little bit of a modern edge and then also recovered the existing sconces with striped paper so that it looked like they were fabric covered shades for betting lighting (they were chrome before).

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softener

Bathmat: On the floor, we create a little bath mat out of a larger scale strip to tie in the lampshades and also add some interest on the floor. Man…maybe we should just design mini homes. The rules are the same and yet the work is so much easier and faster. Look at that tiny little faucet that would deliver tiny little Culligan filtered and softened droplets of water to tiny little Emily hands.

Time to talk kitchen and dining room.

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softener

When we got the house, all of the main elements were already in the kitchen and dining room, but we wanted to make it feel a little more lived-in. Since it’s the holidays, the dining table became the present wrapping station, complete with tiny pencils and tiny brass scissors (of course) that magically are safe for children of all ages.

Wrapping paper: We made wrapping paper rolls by cutting down patterned paper and then twisting it around itself to look like half unrolled paper.

Bows: The silver and gold bows were actually earrings that we ripped apart so that we could use the individual charms on the presents. You can see them a bit more in the living room shots, but they were so cute and perfect on each little present.

Rug: Under the dining table, we used a scrap of the Acadia Stripe fabric from Kufri. The larger scale stripe works with the striped curtains in the rest of the house and also helps ground the space. I secretly want this rug in real life size.

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softener

Over in the kitchen, I requested an area in which to “soup” properly. They pulled it off with miniature sized cutting boards, mini veggies and a big pot of soup on the stove. Post-soup, Brian washes our dishes with soft water coming from our Culligan Whole Home System, which prevents hard water spots from forming on glasses and stops film from gathering on your soup bowls—no one wants a spotted soup bowl. Properly functioning elbows not necessary!

Bedroom time.

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softener

This is one of my favorite rooms in the home. It truly looks like it could have been from one of our projects.

Bench: We repurposed a media unit that came with the house and turned it into a bench for the foot of the bed. Perfect place for me to pose.

Bed: The existing bed was “reupholstered” with a scrap of leather and Brady and Emily B. even went to the lengths of adding tiny little leather ties on each side of the bed just like it would have in real life. Insane, and yet so perfect.

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softener

Nightstands: Over on the nightstands (which came with the house), we styled it out with a few tiny issues of some of my favorite magazines, a water carafe and a drinking glass (obviously filled with Culligan’s delicious drinking water). Everyone wants some cold refreshing water to grab in the middle of the night, including (and most especially) this lady. The parallels between Culligan Home Emily and Real Emily are uncanny.

Fiddle-leaf fig tree: The handmade fiddle leaf fig tree…I was floored. The pot was made out of a sake cup and then the leaves and branches were made from artificial branches that we cut the shape of to resemble the leaves of a tree in real life.

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softener

Wallpaper and Art: We scaled down and printed out a Serena and Lily wallpaper, and for the art we took photos of my actual art and they scaled it down. The blue abstract piece you see here on the right side of the dresser was hanging over my real life living room fireplace most recently, and the black and white floral pieces on the right side of the bed are from Juniper Print Shop, which we actually used in the Portland House guest bedroom (reveal coming soon).

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softener

Bedding, pillows and shades: These were all hand-sewn, along with the Roman shades, again with the foil tape to give it some structure.

Come on into the bathroom.

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softener

A clean bathroom starts with clean and softened Culligan water. You aren’t gonna get that crystal clear door in that shower you see up there without having the softest water come through your pipes. It’s also easier on your “dollhouse” soft hair and skin.

Hot tip: Simultaneously cleaning with a mini-version of yourself in a mini-house is twice as fast and twice as fun.

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softener

Window treatments: The windows needed some new treatments, so we made these Roman shades. We used the same method of foil tape + fabric and then carefully folded the fabric over itself to create the perfect looking pleat.

Rug: The vintage-inspired flatweave rug was made out of scrap fabric from Kufri which we had at the office (it also was the same fabric we used for the bedroom shades).

Art: The walls also got a little bit of life with some small prints from Juniper Print Shop we scaled down and placed in frames above the toilet.

Moving on to the laundry room.

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softener


Wallpaper: The laundry room got some new wallpaper on the walls which is the Acadia Stripe pattern from Serena and Lily. Just like we did in the master bedroom, we scaled down the pattern to the size of the house, printed it and cut it to fit the walls.

Appliances: The washing machine and dryer came with the house already, but Culligan went to the lengths of even including water in the machines so that they looked real. Obviously, they filled it with Culligan softened water (wink) and let me tell you when those doll clothes come out of the washer, they are going to be softer than ever. Their attention to detail was insane and yet so inspiring and is why I love this post so much.

Towels: We cut down a few microfiber cleaning cloths to create the “terry cloth” looking towels that we folded on the top of the countertop.
Roman shades: Same method as before and we used some extra scraps from the downstairs curtains to create these.

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softener

Readying this house for the holidays could not have been a more fun project for us here at EHD. Look how happy we both are down there.

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softener

Here is how the full house looked with everything in it after we finished all of our decorations and changes:

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softener

The entire project was insanely fun, topped off by Brian’s favorite video to date.

I’ve never heard Brian laugh so hard producing a video. YOU HAVE TO WATCH IT. We are honestly just so proud of it.

The project and house took over my office for a month, but I happily shared it. It actually inspired a ton of creativity over here and we are looking at different ways to create and share content next year.

A huge thanks to Culligan for A. pumping softened and filtered water through my house (I ordered and installed the whole system before this partnership came about, and I can honestly say that I love it so much) B. coming up with such a creative concept and C. letting me keep this house to execute all my miniature design fantasies (JK, they want it back, sadly).

Emily Henderson Culligan Water Softener

Happy (almost) holiday folks from the Culligan (Holiday) Home to yours. Be sure to come back soon and grab a fresh homemade cookie on your way out.

Let us know if you have any questions about anything in the house or how it came together. We tried to cover it all but I am sure you have a few questions for us. A huge thanks to Brady and Emily B. for their weeks of hard work and creativity pulling this together.

Emily Henderson Culligan Dollhouse Get The Look

1. Painting by Jennifer Urquhart | 2. Painting by Jennifer Urquhart | 3. Painting by Jennifer Urquhart | 4. Green Pine Tree | 5. Cream Pine Tree | 6. Mini Garland | 7.  Fairy Lights  | 8. White Brick Fireplace | 9. Custom Tiny House Sculptures by Jennifer Urquhart | 10. Pine Tree | 11. Wooden Beads | 12. Black and White Twine | 13. Metallic Bakers Twine | 14. Silver Gift Wrap | 15. Polka Dot Cardstock | 16. Striped Cardstock | 17. Miniature Pencils (Set of 4) | 18. Boxwood Garland | 19. Pillow Fabric | 20. Pillow Fabric | 21. Wooden Sled | 22. Red Wagon | 23. Poppies Print | 24. Hyacinth Print | 25. Miniature Coffee | 26. Cutting Board | 27. Vegetables | 28. Silverware Set | 29. Cookies in Glass Jar | 30. Plate of Cookies | 31. Bowls | 32. Lyrata Ficus Tree | 33. Pillow Fabric | 34. Stripe Wallpaper | 35. Stack of Books (similar) | 36. Acadia Stripe Wallpaper | 37. Hexagon Tile | 38. Miniature Kinfolk Magazines | 39. Botanical II Print | 40. Blue Wallpaper | 41. Botanical I Print

*Photography by Sara Tramp for EHD, art direction by me, styling by Brady and Emily B., and video by Propeller Digital Content

**This post is in partnership with Culligan Water but all words, designs and selections are our own. Thanks for supporting the brands we love that support the blog.


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82 thoughts on “How We Redecorated the Culligan Dollhouse for The Holidays

    1. Same question!!! You had them on in the post about the flash makeover as well. If you say thrifted vintage I’ll be so sad!

      1. You guys. thank you. they are very very good. they are by Moussy Vintage, but I don’t think they are vintage. I bought them at a store in pasadena that had a lot of different ones and they are obscenely expensive. but they exist online so I’m like – maybe they aren’t vintage? i don’t know. I believe the process in making them the perfect amount of ‘messed up’ with that cut is laborious. Thus the price. i wear them every day …. here’s a link to some on shopbop

  1. When I first saw this post I though “ug, what??? another sponsored post?” but then as I started reading I remembered how much you liked your water system and that in our old house I’d just had to soak our faucets and shower heads in CLR to remove the mineral buildup and I was like “What! Why haven’t I installed this in our new house yet?” and then I sent a text to remind my husband I wanted to do this and he said “What? with what money?” and I thought “What? Are we broke? What???” and then I went back to reading this post until I saw those amazing little houses and thought “WHAT. ARE. THEY?” and then saw the beautiful art and seriously, out loud, said “What? So gorgeous? What?”

    And somehow all of it came out as an “Amber says What” tribute in amazement at this tiny dollhouse design work and water post. My apologies to Amber!

  2. Really the cutest thing ever!
    I love my Culligan soft water system too! I recommend Culligan to everyone.

  3. I am dying; this is my FAVORITE POST YOU HAVE EVER DONE.

    Props to the Culligan marketing team for thinking so outside the box!

    *runs to check Craigslist for a dollhouse*

    1. Follow up: I still randomly think about how you and Orlando never finished your dollhouses, so this project brings me great satisfaction! Also, I need to get a life.

      1. Oh Jordan, that ‘I am a Giant’ contest is still something I feel AWFUL About. Seriously. Orlando and I laugh about it STILL, but then i’m riddled with guilt. Had I known how much went into it I wouldn’t have promised the world. But now, with more help, and clearly more experience maybe we should rehash the dollhouse contest!! ??

        1. I wouldn’t say No to that idea (of course) but I feel like you already killed the dollhouse game with this post; no need to do it again. I mean, maybe Orlando should be the next one to decorate this dollhouse and then I would be REALLY happy, but still – this post gives me some closure from the first dollhouse contest!

    2. I am also dying. This is so ridiculous and fun and inspirational. The semi-destroyed (it was really really hard) and now neglected dollhouse belonging to my just about grown children had better watch out.

  4. Too cute! Mini anything is fun! I was always enamored with any friends who had really intricate dollhouses. Now, I have only sons, so I doubt I’ll have the occasion to live out dollhouse decor dreams.

    The mini paintings! wow! And I agree – I would take this decor for my own home.

    Having a whole house water system would be nice. We recently put in a tank under the sink (that we use for cooking and drinking). The taste of the water is so different. (And our system re-mineralizes the water as the last step to put back in the good stuff.) I really like it. Of course, now, I’m wishing we had a whole-house system for all the other benefits.

  5. I had ZERO idea that designing a dollhouse was on my design bucket list but it totally is. Such a fun project for you and your team!

  6. This whole set up is RIDICULOUS! (as in ridiculously GOOD lol ^^) – you have arrived Emily – your OWN BARBIE!!! 🙂

  7. This dollhouse is amazing! Your team did such a great job!

    I have been considering getting a water softener system, but I am concerned about how much (if any?) water is wasted in the process. There seems to be differing views, so I am curious if anyone can shed any light on this? Environmental impact is my top consideration when making decisions (big and small) these days, and I hope it can be an increased topic of conversation (on this blog and everywhere) going forward.

  8. I’m dying laughing at that video. Your creativity makes even a sponsored post about water fun to read. Thank you!

  9. They didn’t let you keep it??? Rats!

    Love this. We had Culligan soft water when I was a kid, because Culver City had the hardest water ever. I always have fond thoughts about them.

    The video was totally killer. I think I hurt something laughing.

  10. That was hilarious. Thank you. Loved it. If I were reading this as a 7 year old I would be freaking out, determined to build my own 9 foot Barbie house (but you know what you guys should do? Decorate the Barbie Dream House A-frame from the 70s-90s! We didn’t know what we had…)

    I laughed so hard seeing Brian Barbie when I scrolled. Magic. (Also, I thought soft water was the one that left you feeling slimy and had a sulfur smell??)

  11. YOU are hilarious, Emily. The video is so well done and I’m sure you are bringing a whole new way of marketing to Culligan. More old-school companies need to have a forward-thinking, do-it with-fun spokesperson! And your namesake Barbie is the cutest. Happy Holidays to you, your family, and all your team for all the wonderful content all year long. Thank you!

  12. I’m meant to be wrapping my perfecrly wrapped presents, instead I am laughing so hard at the video… it was one of the funniest spoofs about “perfection”. So thank you, and Merry Christmas to the entire Henderson family.

    1. Oh my gosh I totally agree!! I was cry laughing (silently, because my 5 yr old is sleeping next to me). For some reason I didn’t expect any humor in the video so it truly cracked me up.

  13. OMG!!!! This is the BEST! I love how you decorated the doll house and the video is HYSTERICAL!!!! And your own freaking Barbie?????? That is probably the BEST kudos you could receive! Well played!

  14. So fun! Love and appreciate the creative partnership and of course the amazing design, as always. And that video! My daughters and I laughed so hard…the veggie chopping scene was our fave!

  15. Shut up! You all have the funnest job on the planet!! So now that we’ve seen the water house please share Birdie’s Magnolia masterpiece. Please!!

  16. This was truly a perfect post. I was in actual tears laughing at miniature Emily cutting cucumbers and rearranging water/books on the bedside table!!! This shows off your creativity and youthful/fun spirit so perfectly. I loved it!!! Such a magical, unique way to do a sponsored partnership as well. Loved it!!!!!!

  17. This was so fun! I just did a dollhouse with my kids for our almost 3 year old—I’m obsessed! So fun. The video was hilarious. The food chopping was the best. ?

  18. Love everything about this post! We actually had Culligan Install their system in our home after reading your first post in collab with them. I did a lot of research prior to seeeing your post after previously buying a different system that simply could not get our water soft. We have very hard water in Temecula. I didn’t look at culligan when researching originally only because I assumed they were the most expensive because they are known to be the best and are the original water company (at least the only one I remember from childhood). I was pleasantly surprised to learn their system was actually much less than my 2 top choices from my research. I clearly need to get better at researching! I sent an email on their website at like 2am requesting a demonstration and they Callender me the next am and we scheduled it… so easy and to say we love having soft water is an understatement. My husband always forgot to buy salt with the system we bought first(probably one reason it never worked for us) so he was all about it when he heard culligan tell me they deliver the salt for you every few months. Anyway, I sound like a blogger promo but I’m just another girl who loves your blog and now loves culligan after reading your first post and taking the plunge on the purchase. Thank you and thank you culligan for all the love you give our water and home!

  19. O.M.G. Is it WRONG of me to want to live in this house??? It is so creative, gorgeous, and so YOU. I love it!! When I saw the post, I thought it would be so lame, but this is definitely in my top 10 of the posts you have done in the last 5 years!! Happy Holidays to all of you!!!

  20. Love this so much!! I’m obsessed with things that are out of scale— so anything tiny or extra huge makes me laugh!

  21. Okay I scrolled back up to watch the video after reading the comments and I’m dying laughing! You win the internet with that one. Hilarious

  22. This is one of my Favorite posts Ever!. I’m Realllllly hoping we can get another round of culligan Doll house in the future ? ha! Amazing?❤️

  23. SO FUNNY! The veggie chopping and the ironing was hilarious. And the 5400 thread count sheets…dying! Fun post and we love our Culligan as well!!

  24. I laughed so much during the video! The doll’s grace is everything! I hope Emily’s Barbie includes a cool brim hat and a pair of tan suede mules with built-in bunions 🙂 Must go back and watch the video another 8 times!

  25. Hi Emily!
    This is adorable! The house is beautiful and the video is awesome. Congratulations!
    Merry Christmas!
    One note: palette, as in color palette, is incorrectly spelled in your video.

  26. I love this so much!! Every little girl fantasy come true!!!!! Now I want a dollhouse to decorate! And the video!!! So, so good!

  27. So creative. So funny. I laughed out loud watching it. I haven’t really been a fan of dollhouses until yours.

  28. Truth- I never watch the videos. But I watched this one and laughed out loud…with my 6 and 9 year old daughters. Hilarious! The vegetable chopping….baaahahhaha! Thanks Brian!!

  29. How have I not seen this till now? My Christmas dreams are complete now that I’ve read this post. And the video … Barbie Emily can act! I only wish I’d been a part of the team putting this together.

    I lived out my miniature house dreams by building a New England style summer beach home complete with shingled walls, white painted trim and lobster pots and floats on the front porch. It’s now hiding at my sister’s house until my granddaughter is old enough to not destroy it (she’s pretty much Godzilla disguised as a cute six year old).

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