I’ve made a very important personal style and career change decision after a couple weeks of reflection, a change that you won’t hear ’til the end because you need to experience my style evolution to form your own opinion. It’s been almost 10 years of showing my style to the world and, sure, things have changed, and yet kinda stayed the same. I guess that goes for personalities and all of life: if you haven’t changed in a decade then something might be wrong, but if you are unrecognizable then where did YOU go? I suppose growing up means that your tastes, circumstances and budgets change and thus it affects your choices (and trends obviously play a part). It’s made me wonder how things have changed, stylistically for me, why they have changed and more importantly, is this change good? Let’s walk you down EHD memory lane and show you a lot of the former spaces in my homes past and present.
The above photo was my living room prior to Design Star, nine years ago. It’s the first real photo of my house I ever took and it actually helped me get on DS. And I kinda see why. It’s eclectic, happy, clean, bright and fun. The rug was purchased on Craigslist for $75, the sofa is from IKEA and everything else was thrifted or vintage. I’m very happy to say I still have and love three pieces of that art, my vintage fabric floral pillow that I sewed and boy do I wish I had that coffee table because it’s just so simple and classic. In a lot of ways, that room is still me, just a younger version of me.
I was 29, broke, kid-less and had so much time to play in my apartment.
I’d set up vignette after vignette and work with a professional photographer (Teri Lyn Fisher) to shoot it (even then I knew that professional photography was the key to any sort of blog success).
I didn’t have specific goals, I just bought weird, cool stuff and put them in a vignette—and while some of these colors aren’t what I’d gravitate toward now, I love so much of what I see in these.
I mean, that above is a hot mess, but I still love everything in there. Just not ALL of it together.
I had fun, shot constantly and put a lot of brass and/or ceramic animals places. After Design Star, I decided it was time to purchase my first grown-up vintage sofa, from The Good Mod in Portland, for $700, below. It was the biggest purchase of my life up until that point.
That was 2010. That version of the living room went a bit more Victorian-country-midcentury-boho but you know I can go there. Perhaps that’s even who I really am. I DIYed the flag on some wood to frame it and again, everything else was vintage except maybe the white pillow. That is still me.
I still have most of that art except the portrait of the man. Why, for the love of god, would I have sold that? The sins of our past…
Apparently, I thought I was missing some BOLD pattern and glam in my life. Thus, entered the below (side-by-side with the previous photo so you can see the changes quickly).
Now, if I could go back in time, I’d love to see that room (the one with me in it) with a solid rug or something more subtle like a vintage Tabriz. I still love the sofa, the safari chair (RIP) the flag, the coffee table, leather pouf (which I gave to a friend, but still visit) painting and even that white bird lamp. It’s just the rug, the 300-pound cement dog, the granny pink roses on the side table and the letter A on the mantel that I would change.
Basically, I like it but now would have way less stuff. Is that because being “crazy eclectic” is out now? Is it because being more minimalistic is “in” or is it simply that I want less stuff because I have too much chaos with two kids in my life already? Maybe all of the above.
Meanwhile, I was shooting the show and while we don’t have a lot of great photography from it, I still love Ian’s house:
The sofa needs a refresh, and of course they have changed a few things (his now wife, my friend, Trilby moved in and obviously had her style to incorporate) and yet I still love this space, nine years later. Being proud of your design choices a decade later is something to celebrate. And I suppose it’s because it’s layered, eclectic, full of vintage pieces and in a color palette that does not date.
Around the same time, I was REALLY starting to express myself. These are what we refer internally as my “Commonwealth” years (where we lived in a generic bungalow on Commonwealth Street). Here, I became even more eclectic and glam and like a kindergartener, I really “explored my colors.”
Hot pink was having a moment, clearly, and I was its brand ambassador. I FLIPPED OUT when I found those hanging lights and I still love them in a way, for sure. Everything was vintage. The navy tufted headboard, lights, rug and paintings are probably a bit much and there is certainly something Liberace about it all, but it’s still kinda exciting to look at. I still have that painting and blanket. (I think my pants were vintage, too and boy I think I look strangely older than I do now?)
This is also when vintage campaign furniture (those nightstands) hit the market hard. I bought those on Craigslist and refinished them myself. Oh to have that kind of time. And that Deco rug was from Bette Midler’s house (via CL).
Our living room at the time (2013) looked like this:
I’d like to quote a former commenter now when he wrote, “This living room looks like SpongeBob Square Pants threw up. Everywhere.”
I get it. There are A LOT of strong moments and it’s kinda wacky. We honestly still laugh about that quote. But I still love the sofa, coffee table, side table, wooden hand (which just got returned to me last week—Orlando was holding it hostage) and a lot of the accessories. I would just take down the tapestry, and switch out the pillows for something more neutral. Also, girlfriend loved some accessories on the mantle of which I would reduce now. But I still like the room, guys, and it’s still “me”, for better or worse.
Then we moved into our first purchased home and had our first baby. I sold the navy sofa (I still regret this) and went with a more muted color palette of lighter blues and blushes. I think we can safely say this was the beginning of the “blush and blue” era, that frankly still reigns supreme. If you haven’t noticed, I’ve been in a blue and pink place basically since Day 1. It’s just the shades that change. I love that sofa in the above shot, but I think I should have kept my other sofa forever. It’s also just so sentimental to me…if you bought that sofa and are looking to sell it back, I’ll pay more than I sold it for just to have it.
Here, we have a lot of teals and brighter pinks. This was also when I was designing the ban.do house and using crazy bright colors that informed my decisions at home.
I truly love that room, even though the colors are a bit too bright for me right now in my life.
I still have so much of that pottery and art, but it’s not in my living room anymore. I still love this vignette and I would double tap on Instagram.
For the book, I got back into my SpongeBob costume and admittedly, that dining room above is hilarious. It’s like I was trying to prove to the world what quirky meant. More on that later.
For a Good Housekeeping feature (which was at least a year later), we switched somethings out and I LOVE how it looks, still.
That table (from Jayson Home) is so pretty and I do miss those chairs, although MidCenturyLA still has more that we could reupholster, so there’s hope.
We tweaked things a bit for the Darling Magazine feature, which I still liked a lot and has a little less color.
Then a shift happened, where I wanted to go a bit more muted and sophisticated. To be fair, it was fall. I think bright, saturated colors had had a larger moment and the blush and powder blue moment that infiltrated design was starting to take over the brighter tones. I fell victim to this zeitgeist for better or worse. I also was pregnant with another kid and could sense the impending chaos.
The above shot was taken by Tessa and the below was for the Good Housekeeping fall story, and while I think that there is too much stuff in the above, I love it.
Then we staged it to sell, and I may have been the happiest yet with it.
That was almost two years ago and it’s by far my favorite version of the room, visually at least. I currently super regret giving my friend my coffee table for her 40th birthday, but the truth is that it’s so heavy to move and we do move our coffee table all the time for wrestling matches or fort making so it’s not really the right coffee table for us right now anyway.
In my opinion, that room is hard to argue with and was a good lesson to me, which was to stick with more neutrals and layer on lighter colors. But there is still a lot of vintage and it’s pulled back and simple.
I didn’t exactly do that in our old bedroom, as I really went for it on that custom bed, but I do still love it. It’s risky. It’s bold. It tells a story with high impact, but the rest of the room was quieter.
If I could go back in time, I probably would have reduced the scale of the headboard and the footboard. But I still have that rug, nightstand and bench.
Birdie’s nursery was finished and blogged about around the same time, and honestly, there is NOTHING I would change. I almost wish that I had used that same wallpaper in her current nursery instead of the pink one, just because it pops so much more (although her current room is tiny so we wanted to keep it feeling as big as possible).
There was this mix of bold paper, solid rug and that amazing vintage daybed. Sadly, I’m actually looking for another one of those for Birdie’s new room because the kids want to share a bunk bed in Charlie’s, so I may get a napping room/home office!!
Then we moved into a 100-year-old english Tudor. Before I “decorated it,” I brought the furniture we had from the other house:
While I actually love (and kinda miss) that room visually, the sofa wasn’t terribly comfortable. I do wish I had kept those chairs and we still have that coffee table and the other comfy chair up at the cabin. When I found this image online (while Googling myself, of course) I was like “Woah, that’s an awesome room.” But at the time, I thought it was too mid-century for the 100-year-old house. Some of you called me out on it, saying “I think you are getting too into this ‘100-year-old style’ and forgetting who you are.”
Because as you are about to see, there was a pretty big shift:
The reasons for the shift?
- I moved from mid-century to “English Tudor” and frankly was ready for a new style, creatively.
- I wanted every single room and every single piece of furniture in that room to be extremely comfortable. Not just a place to sit, but a desirable one. That awesome vintage leather strapped sofa in the first image was just not comfortable. Generally speaking the more beautiful a piece of furniture, the less comfortable (like shoes).
- I had two kids and needed everything to be kid-friendly and not precious.
Despite how much I love that room (and rug) in the photos, in person, it was too much stuff and too chaotic for me mentally while living in it. I just wanted the whole house to be tonal, quieter, less bright red and pink and more blues and grays.
Replacing the rug was the big shift and it worked. It quieted the room down A TON.
And while it all looks good in a photo, for sure, the room itself is less interesting than I want it to be.
We obviously don’t live with that much stuff on our coffee or side tables (kids, etc).
When I walk into this room, it feels less young and quirky. It feels safer. It is safer. I showed this evolution to a new architect friend the other day who didn’t know anything about me or my style and he said, “It looks like you’ve gotten less eclectic and more practical.” Indeed. But is that what I want??
So why the shift? What drove it and who is to blame? After much thinking in recent weeks, here is what I’ve come up with:
- The original shift happened after the SpongeBob comment. Sure, we laugh about it, but I saw it, too, and I remember thinking “oh boy, that person does look silly.” I remember a fairly famous person came into my house around that time who didn’t know me and said “Oh I get it. Your style is ‘thrift.’ That’s cool” and it wasn’t meant as a neg, but I remember thinking, I have a design show, shouldn’t my house be more elevated, more “designed” than that? So I made a shift to look more “pulled together.” More sophisticated. More high-end.
- Having kids meant being more practical. Practicality can kill creativity and having two kids can really bury it deep. Comfortable furniture is not as beautiful as sculptural furniture. Kid-friendly fabric is not as textured or beautiful as what I want to put on my chairs. Splurging on expensive furniture feels stupid and anything too refined will quickly get destroyed. I could still take risks on art, accessories, but the main pieces needed to be more practical.
- Having kids also meant WAY LESS TIME. They say it takes either a lot of time or a lot of money to have a stylish home. Before kids, I had more of the former, less of the latter, but now it’s all shifted and time is the one commodity that you can’t buy (although I’m trying by hiring so many people so I can have more of it). How does time have anything to do with it? Well, I used to go to the flea market religiously and buy cool vintage stuff. I used to thrift in the valley on Saturdays and buy garbage to redo. I used to DIY, play, not care, experiment because I had so much time and I didn’t mind upheaving my house to see if a credenza would work in that corner. IT WAS FUN. Lack of money meant I had to be more resourceful, and excess of time meant I could dedicate hours to that resourcefulness. And where practicality kills creativity, resourcefulness ignites it. This is not to be misconstrued as “poor Emily can’t have fun because she’s so busy but can just buy stuff instead.” It’s really just the truth for ANYONE.
- Less time meant that I was buying new, online way more from my laptop at 9 pm on Friday nights. I also get a lot of new pieces gifted, where vintage never is, so when a company with awesome chairs is gifting them, it’s hard to say no when I don’t have the time to go shop for some vintage alternatives. I’m just being honest.
- Also, many of you commented along the way that vintage is less relatable because you guys can’t easily “recreate” the look and I was getting a lot of feedback about that. So opting for something that could be purchased by the masses was good for you guys. I liked that you could recreate what we were doing and SO many of you have.
- Age. We take more risks in our youth in every way and I suppose design is no exception. We don’t mind messing up, we aren’t embarrassed by it because that is what you are supposed to do. But once you are “established,” the expectations for yourself and from others change. When you have two kids and limited time, staying “safe” seems “smart.” But the evolution of creativity will always need risk-taking.
- There has also been this resistance to me changing things around my house, which I don’t understand but I have previously tried to respect. When enough of you think that me switching out a rug or repainting a room is wasteful, then I resist doing it at times or even do it in secret. But that is what stylists do and if a fashion stylist only wore an awesome pair of shoes twice a year and then sold it on consignment, people wouldn’t balk because they would understand that that is how she/he expresses their creativity and practicality is often not part of it. I really try to balance it, mixing affordability with pieces with longevity, comfort with style and I really TRY to not change things too much for no reason. But I’m DYING TO. My dining room is a good example of where practicality won out over creativity and it’s bumming me out.
As much as I really like everything in that room, there is nothing risky here. Not one thing. I want to play around with replacing some pieces, either the table, chairs or light but every time I think about it, I know I’ll get shamed by many of you. But why? It’s not like I’ll throw the table away or burn the chairs. I’ll either paint/redo, donate it to charity, or sell it to try to recoup some of the cost.
Spending my time and money redecorating my house is not wasteful; it’s an act of creativity and self-expression. Styling my house is my hobby. Yes, I worked hard enough and was lucky enough to turn my hobby into my career, but that doesn’t mean the joy has to be sucked out of it.
I miss being a stylist.
My tagline used to be “Perfection is boring, let’s get weird” but when was the last time I ACTUALLY GOT WEIRD? And then my tagline was “Style. Play. Every Day” but I feel so much pressure to get it perfect the first time and not change things, which is exactly what “playing” means. I’ve taken playing out of the process because I don’t want to be “wasteful” or have things out of scale or not 100% perfect. It’s like it should say “Style. Be careful. Don’t mess up. Everyone is watching. Do it once and never touch it again.”
So where does that leave us? How am I changing?
I’M BACK. I’m a stylist, again.
What I learned from the Portland house is that no matter how many mistakes I made and had to fix, when we decorated that house, it SUNG. I looked around and remembered thinking, oh, this is what I’m good at. For the mountain house, now is the time where I get to go shopping. Buy what screams out at me even if I don’t know where it’s going to go. I’m far more experienced now than I was before so I have a much better sense of what will work and the risk-taking will be far less stressful. I like shopping and styling, not making 1,285 permanent decisions while I’m also trying to be a great mom, be on camera, produce videos, pitch books, write every day, run a company, blah blah.
Does this mean that we won’t do renovations? NOPE. It means that I’ll have a team of people (the lovely design team) who are focused just on the interior architecture and renovation portion of this job and frankly they are better at it than I am. I’ll be more like their client, almost like I have been with the closet design, upstairs bath and powder room. I’ll be involved, but not stressed, although they likely will be. 🙂
I’ll focus on creating interesting spaces, full of personality, warmth and comfort…and yes, with A LOT OF VINTAGE. Sure, this time around the vintage pieces will likely be more special with surely some investment pieces by designers whom I have loved for my entire life. But that will take time. And by the way, there is a reason that so many houses designed by interior designers don’t drip with personality and instead, are all starting to look the same and that’s because sourcing vintage takes too much time, while pushing “place order” takes far less. I get it. I’ve been there and it’s one of the reasons we stopped working with clients. It takes so much time or an endless budget to create a home that represents your personality (assuming your personality is interesting :)). But I’m not going to put a deadline on this house…I have the time. I’m going to let myself have SO MUCH FUN designing it.
I’m so excited to get back to expressing myself creatively and I do that by buying weird stuff, trying to put it in a space, assessing whether it works or not, and then recognizing the mistake or celebrating its success. I’ll do this in a more mature way, with more cohesion, experience and practicality. But if and when I want to put a tassel on a doorknob for no reason, I will. If I want to string vintage beads over the back of a chair, I will. That’s what stylists do. We buy something that brings us joy even if it doesn’t have a use, and we put it where we can see it even if that place makes no sense. We lean art when we could hang because we like the flexibility of life. We have unnecessary collections of vintage fabrics because it brings us hope that we will turn one into that perfect pillow. We hoard beautiful things like a writer jots down ideas on cocktail napkins. We don’t know where they are going to go but we know that someday they will make a room. We source, curate and create vignettes for no other purpose than to extract a compelling emotion in the unused corner of a room.
This time around, I’ll care more about function and practicality, sure, because I have two kids and I also REALLY love to be comfortable. I’ll buy an awesome ’60s wingback and recover it in vintage deadstock fabric…or a flag…or a quilt…or vintage denim—WHO KNOWS. Maybe I’ll recover it a few times. I’m not sure. It’ll be whatever I feel like doing because it’s my house, and my house is my laboratory for creativity and my blog is where I document it all for those of you interested.
And for those of you who aren’t interested in this more eclectic, vintage, style experimentation OG EHD, don’t worry. I’m not the only person here and not everyone on the EHD team shares my enthusiasm for experimenting (in a good way). Velinda, Julie and Grace are MUCH more precise and, intentional in their designs. This year, you’ll see their homes, along with Sara’s new house, Jess’ apartment, Arlyn’s first LA home, Emily B’s place and I’m sure Brady will shake things up (he is a changer, like me). Not all of them are as nuts as I am but they are all talented and have interesting and creative design perspectives.
So there you go. That’s the face of a woman who can’t wait to start moving things around/swapping things/shifting things ALL OVER HER HOUSE and, well, getting weird. If I still know how to. Stay tuned.
I have never commented before, but this post moved me to. YOU GO EMILY!! I’ve always loved that eclectic, weird, colorful style that you, and only you have. You made me realise that my home can be designed, and still not look the same as other ‘designed’ homes. LOVE THIS Emily, please do you and run with it!!
I agree! Emily was a huge inspiration for me to start shopping vintage, and my house had never looked better!
Thank you 🙂
yes yes yes! never commented either but it’s yet another reason why i love reading your blog (and i really dont read many and def not consistantly anymore except for yours). and it’s even more inspiring preceisely because ive always loved you being you – here is you being you and being ‘hey i want to be more me again’….yayayayayayy cant wait to read and see and thanks for modeling this!
Yes! I comepletely agree with this comment! I’ve also never commented before, but I wanted to add another positive and supportive voice to contrast those that might have caused you to feel creatively suppressed in the past. I can’t wait to see what you do (and hopefully pick up even more valuable tricks along the way)! All the best.
thanks, guys! xx
Yay! Be yourself!
hallelujah! i am so happy to read this and look forward to what’s to come!
I CANNOT WAIT!
SHE’S BAAAAAACK!!!! Yes, girl, yes. Listened to (Hillary Kerr’s) Second Life podcast and thought I heard a renewed sense of you in your voice…I was hoping and waiting for it to reveal itself on your blog, and here we are. Yes, yes, yes.
Ha. Interesting. I should listen to it. Yes it was a couple months ago that I was like ‘what am I doing? I’m not having any fun because I’m too stressed out’. I can’t imagine starting out doing this again now that social media is what it is, before my brain was fully developed. The stress of being creative in front of an audience is high enough, but the trolls and their meanness really make you want to throw in the hand towel. THanks for all of your support.
I love your renewed sense of self, and really hope you can tune out the mean people, because I (and I’m sure most readers here) are so glad you are back!!! I have been a fan for years and remember you posting the first few photos. The SpongeBob room is still one of my favorites ever -if might too much at times, but every piece is so special and different, I can’t not love it.
You have inspired me since a young age to not be afraid to let my weirdness come through in my decor no matter how different the style from other people’s, and no matter how much they let me know so.
So I hope you hear all your support so you can keep at it. Every one says that one is lucky to turn what they love into what they do, but no one ever mentions how painful it is when the “work” takes over the “love” part and it ends up not being fun anymore. So I’m glad for the change. I can’t wait!
Welcome back Emily! I’ll admit that I’ve not opened a blogpost of yours in months because I guess I was missing the old Emily. Looking forward to seeing where you go from here.
I have been reading the post headline…sometimes scrolling it….I used to devour every single word and picture (usually twice)….and since Brass Petal. I wasn’t sure if I was just getting too old for blogs/my house was already “done”
Or what……I think I was just missing the stylist EmHendo!
I’m so excited!!!!
very well framed
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Me too. This is the first post I’ve opened to read probably this year? When I used to read daily.
I miss you and your stuff, you’re great at styling stuff.
I hope Mountain House has more personality than Portland. THats not a criticism, that house was purposed to sell. But Mountain House is to be a home of adventures and memories.
It’s time to be yourself again. Apparently I’m not the only one who’s missed the old Emily design aesthetic.
So happy and ready to be inspired by Emily again.
Honestly I was feeling a little left behind by the fact that you’d taken the design road away from where I wanted to be and what drew me to your non-style style initially.
So happy and excited to see what’s next!!
Same! Maybe longer than months…
So excited to see where this goes!
Ditto to the above comments and YAY! so glad to have the “old” Emily return.
Same here!! I’ve definitely missed the old Emily– those happy, quirky, eclectic, thrifted design impulses almost always inspired me in my own home. I don’t have a huge budget, but I , too, love to experiment and changes things up. Your thoughtful use of quirky vintage pieces mixed into spaces (in the past) showed me that great design and style could be available to me as well, despite my small budget. Past Emily helped me develop a more discerning eye– and more confidence in my choices! I’ve missed that inspiration… excited to see your next evolution!!
Same here! I went from reading your blog nearly every day to checking it out every few months and hardly ever reading it.
Same here. Anyway, the faux Tudor thing really felt staid to me, it’s very Homes and Gardens (British interiors magazine for the preppy crowd), so I stopped reading. I can’t get any of the same furniture as you because I’m in the UK plus I don’t have the money, so I’ve always treated the blog as style inspiration rather than a shopping list and skipped the posts on getting the look, so when the fun went out of the style I drifted away. I’m so glad you’re going to have fun with it again!
Me too! I didn’t know why I had lost interest, but you basically summed it up, Emily. There will always be haters, but ignore them and you be you. It’s your life, and you don’t owe them anything. Greatness means making A LOT of mistakes. They’re part of the process. This is a good reminder to all of us.
Thanks, guys. But remember I still don’t have the time to write every post – 2-3 max a week is all that I can do. But hopefully I can do more. xx
Superb, substantial post Emily. I’ve followed your career for quite a few years, and though I’ve never had negative notions towards you like some there haters out there ( I have three kids and no time for that) I’ve often wondered how you DO IT ALL!?!?
I’m 41 and beginning a major home renovation and this has been an inspiration. Super brave post about fearlessly styling:)
Fantastic post. And I’m thrilled you and SpongeBob are getting back together, so to speak. 😉 Vintage and weird, with a sense of mature, confident style makes for a VERY interesting home. Looking forward to seeing the results.
And thanks for a consistently great blog.
Emily + SpongeBob 4eva 😉
Reunited and it feels so goood
This… “I’M BACK. I’m a stylist, again,” made me smile. Good for you AND good for all of us who love and missed this part of what makes you extra special
Emily! I’m so excited for you! I’ve followed your blog for a long time and looooove your quirky vintage style. The SpongeBob lounge room is actually what drew me to your work. Don’t get me wrong, everything since then has been great, but I like the weird! I’ve missed the weird! I can’t wait to see what comes of your experimenting and playing ❤️❤️❤️
Me TOOO!!! When I saw that room, it was magic!! (But, I literally loved watching Spong-Bob as a teenager, so…there’s that.)
I think you are amazing as a person and as a designer! You have obviously worked very hard and I’m so glad you are putting the fun back into your job! And I’m glad you’re realizing you can’t make everyone happy!!
Such a fun read! I’ve follwed along since the brass petal days and have always loved you no matter what. Excited to see more you coming out. And love the confidence behind the decision. Hope you get the navy sofa back 🙂 And personally ambso inspired by the vintage finds. Looking forward to it all!!
Yay! Lets get weird! i am a mover too. Before kids my husband joked that he was a mover on the weekends bc I always was moving furniture around. its been a long time since my creativity has been stoked, but I think YOU just stoked it!
ha. yes I have actually always said that I wanted to be a mover. Its physical (which I like) but so satisfying. But i’ve never phrased it like that – being a ‘mover’ xx
Huzzah!!! Get weird girlfriend!
Yay! I really miss your old thrifting/flea market/vintage finds posts. Yes, finds like that are hard to recreate, but they give me courage to pull the trigger when I find offbeat things. And most of the time, buying vintage is the opposite of wasteful! Not only is it already “out there”, but it’s often better quality than new, cheaper and you can almost always sell it if it doesn’t work out! I think lots of folks don’t understand that. So excited to see what you find and how you use it!
Tracy said it perfectly. Who wants to perfectly recreate all the things you (Emily) have? I think that’s weird, not your style. Lol. I love seeing fun found stuff. It’s like you encourage me to try and be different and not have a home that looks like everyone’s else’s. No grey or white walls in my house.
I’ll pin and double tap the pretty just like anyone else, but what I always really appreciated about your content was the breakdown of why something does or doesn’t work. It’s like the explainer for those of us who love beautiful spaces but don’t get it when most “artistic” types talk about going with their gut, or whatever. Simple rules-of-thumb, how to incorporate weird finds to get personality into a place, and curations of widely available and accessible but well-designed items is where it’s at from this blog for me. I feel like the voices in the blog are good about being aware of practical concerns too, so even if most families wouldn’t be restyling their spaces as frequently, it’s more like your home is an experimental lab to tease out what works and what doesn’t and why, so that the rest of us can learn and apply it ourselves.
If you feel like renovations aren’t your strength though, can you talk any more about what your second book is going to be about??? We’re house hunting currently and I was going to take seriously the note to wait to renovate until 2020 for book 2!!!
“What I always really appreciated about your content was the breakdown of why something does or doesn’t work.”
Yes! This x1000. Not that you don’t do that anymore, but in the earlier days and during SFAS (rip- still so so sad that I lost my old DVR’d episodes), I enjoyed learning about the mixing of styles, and I guess overall maybe I just enjoy the whys of styling more than the whys of design/renovations.
Thank you, Emily, for all the content you create!
Also loved hearing your thoughts about time/practicality winning out depending on the season of life – so relatable.
Interesting. I suppose the whys of styling are maybe more of a mystery because design is more formulaic? I also felt that ‘styling’ was a buzz word that people were getting sick of and it could feel forced and not natural. Like the perfectly styled coffee table that nobody really could live with on a daily basis, but maybe its still inspirational regardless of whether it stays like that all the time?
And @KWU it IS going to be more about renovation than styling. Its basically everything that I wish I had in one book while I was renovating both houses, but in a pretty ‘styled’ type of way. Room by room, beautiful infographics in a sort of vintage text book style. Its a lot about helping you know the rules (which I had to learn) so that you feel confidant in your decisions that way when you break them you are making a choice not a mistake. But its like a year and a half out 🙂
Yessssss book 2 sounds like exactly the education that I need! As always, thank you Emily for experimenting in your own life and then teaching us what to do <3 I think we might need to pick flooring, non-master bathroom reno, taking down the wall between the family room and the eat-in kitchen, and making a decision on the "original to 1975 but also dark and oppressive looking" giant fireplace hearth/knotty wood paneling feature wall in the family room…but I will try to hold off on everything else 🙂 Re: the whys of styling, 1. Is design formulaic? Design is also a mystery to me. It's like what you said about the book, there are rules but I don't think I know them and so it's not intentional when I break one. 2. Yeah, I can see the internet ankle biters carping on styling as a buzz word and how the styled coffee table isn't how anyone would actually live. But I felt like the EHD voice has always and continues to be real about all that and would be the first to point out the lengths that were gone to in order to achieve the beautiful photo. It's definitely… Read more »
FANTASTIC!! On a much smaller scale, I am the same way. Love playing and testing and changing (and also am a housewife with 3 busy kids, so practicality has to reign also!) My husband on the other hand is like the logical/serious commenters who are like, “Wait. You had that there and it was fine why did you move it, why are we changing it and why can’t we leave it for the rest of our lives?.” But I read somewhere one time that no one tells a musician to stop writing music. No one tells an author to stop with one best seller. No one tells an artist that they should be satisfied after one masterpiece! Creatives need to create. Soooo….keep on creating!
I love this post b/c it has fire! 🙂
ha. thank you. I couldn’t agree with you more. And my editors had to even tone down the fire. I think I was like ‘LET ME BE ME’ in a way that they were ‘like, ok calm it down, we don’t want to start a riot’ …. 🙂
Thank you for your post Emily! What you have said is so relatable to what many of us mothers go through, even if we’re not in the design business. “This is what I used to love! Who am I and what am I doing?!” Good for you for being so keenley aware of your situation and making a change. That is so hard to do. Enjoy your journey girl, I’m cheering for you!!
Yes yes yes! Like Meg Ryan in the diner YES! Here for this. This to me is relatable. Taking time finding pieces to love and playing with different layouts arrangements and configurations. Go OG EHD!
You go Emily! Be the best version of yourself. Looking forward to your new direction.
I’ve been a long time reader, and have noticed how the comments have gotten cattier and more judgemental as you’ve become more successful. You’ve been so gracious throughout, and I hate that you had to write a blog post defending yourself and your right to experiment and change things up. This is your blog! Your life! You are so awesome for letting us tag along, and I’m so excited to see more of the OG weird Emily.
TOTALLY. Your comment paired with Emily’s post made me realize why the heck I’ve been feeling like a judgmental blog reader….it’s because I miss Emily being OG WEIRD EMILY! She was and IS so good with finding the quirky vintage pieces, styling it all together, and telling all of us why it does or doesn’t work. When something didn’t work, she swapped it out later and told us why. It felt cool, evolving, more temporary, and something we could do in our own homes.
With all of the renovations, it has felt less like Emily. She’s been making more “permanent” decisions and when those get changed, I hate to say it but I have definitely felt more judgmental. For example, somehow swapping out a sofa that cost $8000 and rearranging a living room feels more relatable than redoing a ceiling for $8000. I could rearrange my sofa and not buy a new one but I can’t redo my ceiling. It hasn’t been the Emily that got me hooked on this blog.
And Emily, I’m so happy that you’re back in your stylin’ shoes!!! I can’t wait to see what’s to come!
It’s sad to hear that you felt so constrained by judgements of others for a while but I’m glad you’re feeling freer again now. FWIW I enjoy both sides of your styles, the really considered, careful stuff and the go with your gut stuff but I’d rather see whatever feels most authentic to the creator. I hope you find the next phase more fulfilling creatively! I’ll be reading along regardless x
THIS. I’ve read all kinds of negative comments here that I immediately recognized were referenced in the text of this post. I really hope that everyone praising this decision now recognizes that there’s nothing more creativity-killing than receiving support of the change initially but the same old ‘support’ post-change…
I get the judgement, I do. And believe me, nobody wants to make less permanent “mistakes” than I do (imagine doing it in front of so many people?’ but I need to be able to at least admit them and call myself out so that we can all learn from something. xx
Making mistakes is how we learn! How can we teach our children to take risks and to love learning and to experiment when we’re not willing to do the same!
Thank you for sharing that window into your style and how it’s evolved. I learn so much when I read about the process that other designers go through and it helps me reflect on my own methods and choices as I work through a project or piece. I’m super inspired to look through the catalogue of my own work to see how I’ve evolved through the years and perhaps question if I like where I’ve been and where I’m headed. Thank you so much!
YES! Get it girl! I am here for it.
You’re WAY too young to recognize this but as Ricky Nelson sang a million years ago, “You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself “. Along with all the child, spouse, business stuff you try to juggle, attempting to please even a portion of the people who post critiques of your work is guaranteed crazy making. Do what YOU do. There may be some shake out of people who don’t like it and stop following you but that will just leave an opening for other people to find you who seek out the road less traveled in design choices or life. Most people value integrity even in quirky design choices so be yourself.
It actually used to be one of my mottos “I don’t know the key to success but I know the key to failure is trying to please everyone’. It actually got me through years of negative comments. But sadly it was originated by Bill Cosby so it lost its, uh, positive angle … but the point is that. I mean, its just so easy so show a generic version of yourself online after days and days of editing any personality out of anything because it could be perceived as something someone won’t like.
I wrote a draft years ago that was titled ‘Negative comments are making us all generic’ and it wasn’t just about me. Trying to not offend anyone, and still be yourself is extremely hard to do when you write like I do (stream of conciousness). Anyway I never published it for that exact same reason, but I wish that trollers knew that all they were doing is making the content they read less interesting. xx
This is great. Good to refocus sometimes. Also, I grew up with an artist who moved the furniture every other week and was always buying and selling stuff even when we didn’t have any money. So this totally makes sense to me!
As a mom, I find that I’m able to shift back/forward as my kids do. Developmentally, they reach a phase where I’m able to look up and go, “Oh right?! I remember doing/being/wanting that!” It’s time. Go for it. Have a blast.
I’m super excited! Can’t wait to follow along. I was just looking at my LR last week and thinking why is it no longer a place where people could comfortably lounge around in that is a collection of my eccentricities but now is (trying) to look like a magazine cover.
Yes! Great post! Look forward to watching you play.
This blog has helped wake up the creative in me- a working mom with 2 kids, married to a man I adore, with a homeful of pets and projects to tend to… Your re-working of L.A. client projects (one job where you brought in maybe 10-12 sofas to experiment with) or your musing over your kitchen a year later…proved to be so helpful/practical and very inspiring to me: I got that even as a fab stylist/designer, you didn’t know what would work immediately, so why would I have that perfectionistic expectation for myself as we finally start to renovate and style our house, 10 years into being homeowners, now that we have the time and money? Inspiration can happen strangest of ways, and it’s key to have that easy commitment to mixing it up to see what emerges- as the result could be way better in the most unanticipated of ways. Case in point: My dining room has been bothering me, and while I knew- from your Dining room rules- that the rug was too small, I thought I’d just keep it there till I figured what to do with the whole room re-design. Well- the dog was sick and… Read more »
Thank you Beth. What a lovely, thoughtful comment. Yes, there is a bravery that i’ve lost because I didn’t want to mess it up. Glad you love your dining room floor now 🙂
Yes!!! I miss stylist Emily who takes risks and has fun! Can’t wait to see what you come up with next 🙂
Whoop whoop! Super excited for you (and us!)!
You used to comb Craigslist and post vintage steals from different cities, which I totally loved, and would fit in with this new/old direction super well!
We’ve got to do this again. It’s not hard its just a bit time consuming. I’m going to get on it, asap. xx
OMG I remember those posts! One time you found my identical dresser and said “Nothing special but for this price it’s definitely worth it.” I still laugh and (let’s face it – beam with pride) at my dresser choice that EmHendo once called Nothing Special!
Excited for the changes Emily. I too miss the old you.
I’ve missed this, as well. Do Salt Lake for me, pretty please? ☺️
I also feel like I’ve lost myself a bit stylewise in the same way. I used to be so colorful and quirky and now I’m pretty minimalist in clothes and home decor. I think it’s for all of the same reasons you said, kids, trends, chaos. I have no idea how to get back so I’m looking forward to watching you lead!
I don’t know either. I know that I want more vintage, but otherwise I fear that I just have gotten more conservative stylistically. I think for me it starts at the flea market or thrifting. OK FINE I’LL DO IT. XX
This is awesome! this is exactly how I feel when I started doing graphic design again for me, for my clients, and I’m gonna have fun! No more of the boss who’s like you’re not good enough.
I’m glad you’re feeling good about this shift. It’s been really amazing to see you grow, evolve all these years ever since Design star! I rooted for you on design star, and this growth is awesome!
So very inspiring to read, and exactly what I needed to hear! I am an interior designer, with a very young business – I have read your blog since conception and have always admired the beautiful spaces you design, this gives me optimism that better days are coming. Wishing you all the best for your next chapter.
This makes my heart happy. An artist creates to create from their own heart, not to please the masses. Bring on the SpongeBob!
Yes!! I love this. It’s hard to do your thing when you have all the voices on the internet telling you to play it safe, don’t be wasteful, what are you doing! Yet, your style is amazing and original and needs to be shared. I love the fact that you use vintage and it doesn’t mean that people can’t use it too, it just means they are going to have to look for it. Plus, we need to be taught/given permission to play.
So happy you are back. I missed YOU in your work. It was starting to feel like anyone could style your rooms.
Just adding one more comment saying I’m IN, I love it and can’t wait to watch!! Been following for about 3 years now and watched the evolution since then and I love it. I respect and look up to you (I’m 24) and SO excited to see OG EHD!!!!
I can’t believe that some of your readers have told you, a professional interior designer, that! Crazy! I don’t care about round ups and that kind of posts, but the post about your personal style and changes in your own space are the most interesting to me. They get me inspired in my own home and make me re-think and evolve my own style.
Right now I feel kind of mad to those commenters that made you think you shouldn’t make changes and continue to experiment and be creative in your own space. It’s your job after all and there are many people interested to see what you do with your decoration.
I’m very excited about this CHANGE in the blog and in you Emily! Be you. Be brave, creative and quirky! Can’t wait to see what you are going to do ?
Yay!! I’m excited to see you incorporate more vintage stuff again! Seeing how you used your vintage items in the past helped me figure out how to use mine- it’s even helped me appreciate what I already have. I find that content very relatable, even if I may not have the exact piece you do.
Good to know. Thank you!
Hooray for you! I have been a daily reader for YEARS and adore you in all your incarnations. I applaud you expressing yourself with your design however you see fit! You inspire me with your design and with your authenticity and life choices. You GO GIRL!!!!!! xo
SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS! The renovations are fun, but your styling (even with an emphasis on vintage pieces that don’t have a link at the bottom) is much more relatable and transferable to our lives! Can’t wait to see where this goes.
Amen, sister!!!!!! I’m ready for the OG EHD to make a come back! I’ve been a reader for years and years, and I really miss your eclectic, vintage-inspired style. You do you!
Looking forward to it!
Bravo! I so respect your soul searching, vulnerability and growth process — your willingness to say, “This is who I am.” As a creative myself, this is incredibly inspiring and helps me breathe, too. Thank you. Can’t wait to see a little more “weird Emily” back on the blog.
My partner dubs the change in our apartment ‘The Churn’ because things turn over so regularly. Bless his love and acceptance of my styling hobby! I was initially drawn to your blog because it would give me fresh eyes towards my own creative possibilities. Your style example helped hone mine towards a purer, more distilled version of my own style while still embracing my love of quirk. I MISSED let’s-get-weird-Emily 🙂 Your style in all of its incarnations is beautiful, intelligent, and insightful. Looking forward to the next edition!
Yeeeeeessss!!!! I have been following you since the beginning. Your blog is my first stop every morning. Those first photos are the ones that made me fall in love with you. I remember counting down the days until that HGTV magazine spread came out. I have poured over and studied your work and you have helped me realize my own style and how to reflect it in my home. I loved the “spongebob” living room and every space since. I come here to hear what you have to say.. whether it be about design, fashion, home life, or politics (gasp). I love seeing your process and hearing the ins and outs why you do what you do and think what you think. I want you to feel free to be the you-est you and to not be apologetic about it. I know it can be hard to live your life so publicly.. so thank you for letting us in on it ♥️
THANK YOU, Nissa for following along for so long. I can’t tell you how much that means to me. Thank you thank you. xx
I can’t wait! Your blog from the beginning has made me care about the style of the home I live in and has taught me to mix high and low styles. I learn so much just by seeing how you approach a room. Your SpongeBob living room is what called me to your blog – I personally thought his throw-up was totally awesome!! SpongeBob vomitus for life!
LOVE this!! Can’t wait to see what you come up with. So inspiring.
I saw your post on IG this weekend with the Obama image/photoshop. I read the horrible comments and your calm/modulated responses. And I thought…shots fired by Emily Henderson she is really putting herself out there and I like it. But I wondered why now? Where is THIS coming from? It’s a big move for a Saturday night IG post.
Today reading this piece I’m realizing you are coming into your own. You are using your voice, your platform, and your joyful spirit to be authentically yourself. You are older, wiser, and stronger. And you aren’t gonna be safe anymore. I love it. I’m not sure I’ll love all the sponge bob design but I will love the heart of a powerful social media presence and design aficionado doing the damn thing HER way. Welcome to the world baby girl…your gonna love it and we’re gonna love you! ???
Yah, that could have been better timed and it sure gave me anxiety all the next day because I lost 4k followers (thus why I finally archived it). I got 2k of them back (I suppose they were trying to make a point). If I had time I would write every single post on social and the blog so I’m just figuring out how to do that. xx
Wow. 4K followers. Yikes. On other hand the amount of vitriol and negativity of those comments makes me wonder how much you want to keep those followers. But that’s a big ask for you to be comfortable loosing that amount of followers. But I liked that you said something. I wish more social media mavens would take a stand…but I certainly understand the troll/loose followers risk. Either way. I’m super proud and excited to see how you move forward. Take the risk. Live your life. It will be grand.
The comments on the IG post bothered me all weekend. I’ve always found the political discussions on your blog so constructive. I think because a design blog, and especially Emily’s with her happy attitude, is a largely positive, and largely female, space – unlike basically the entire rest of the internet. Instead of just a bunch of name-calling, in the past (why did you vote for Trump, why are you okay with guns? posts), I’ve legitimately learned a lot about the ‘other side.’ But your IG post felt totally different – immediate threats to unfollow, but scariest of all, a lot of folks of both stripes describing the ‘other side’ as “violent,” as well as claims that you “can’t trust the media”, or that whatever the midterm election results are, it’s rigged. When we start seeing those we’re opposed to politically as violent crazies, any action against them can be justified. We need a critical eye when looking at news in the internet age, but ultimately they are the fourth wall – the only ones investigating those in power. And you need to have a critical eye on your own opinions, always. Seeing these perspectives, which I had previously thought… Read more »
Welcome back! I’ve loved you since the Brass Petal!