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Styling A Dark Eclectic Bedroom + Shop The Look

Despite being part of the lifestyle mafia, Mike Andrews from Inheritance and his partner Paul don’t necessarily keep their surfaces perfectly styled 24 hours a day. They are a disgusting excuse for a fashionable gay couple, I know (that was a joke, friends). This bedroom had a lot of great elements, certainly, so when we photographed this space for the book we pulled them together to make the nightstand, bed, and even the floor tell a story, to illustrate some styling ideas for the readers. While you don’t need to keep your house styled all the time, there are times when you want things to feel/look prettier than normal, either for yourself or your guests. That’s what we do here.

Their bedroom, of course, has a lot of super interesting elements – a huge canopy bed that dominates the space, with a map hung on the headboard, all on a brick wall, with some navy paint on a few walls. It’s weird, off-beat, and totally interesting. The space was tight so they had a smaller nightstand, and while I’m sure they do sleep with pillows, the before shot had none.


What we did: We steamed the bed to give it the perfect “I just crawled out of it” soft and cozy look, and added the following – a rug, pillows, books underneath the bed, a piece of art to help break up the lines, and accessories for the nightstand. You can see it all in action:



I know what many of you have going through your heads right now, so I’m just going to address it now rather than have a comment battle – “there is NO space on the nightstand for anything you actually need.” True. Styling for editorial photographs is meant to tell a story about a person. For real life I would just put flowers on the nightstand, with maybe a ring dish, but to create a narrative of the people that live here (imaginary or not), we wanted it to be more engaging full of “moments, ” and sometimes these moments overshadow function. Sometimes I agree with editorial styling, I want to see an aspirational story with a perfectly lived in/styled room. And sometimes I’m on the opposite where I’m like “there is no way that those people live like that, so just stop.” On this blog we do try to do a healthy dose of both. On Sara’s post yesterday you saw her free-standing closet, and yes, that was so perfectly styled with the right colored purses and jackets, everything draped in a lovely way, and even I was like “I’ve got to get one of those in my room” despite the fact that I KNOW that it wouldn’t look like that in real life after 10 minutes.

In the case of the “too crowded nightstand” I think it’s up for debate, and I’m on both sides. I love how this overall picture looks but I’m annoyed that I have no place to put one of my 15 glasses of water that I need every night. I styled that shot by the way (I think Scott and I were both there that day, so I don’t remember who exactly did that dirty deed).

Thoughts? Are you down for editorial storytelling or do you get annoyed by stylists tricks? Or like me, BOTH?

Meanwhile get that look:

Emily Henderson Nightstand Styling Get The Look


1. Pull Down Wall Map | 2. Side Table | 3. Blue Chenille Rug | 4. Linen Pillow Sham | 5. Male Life Study Painting | 6. Porcelain Box | 7. Vintage Books | 8. Kilim Pillow | 9. Belgium Linen Sheet Set | 10. Indigo Quilt | 11. Glass Decanter | 12. Denim Quilt

For more about the book, behind the scenes, and a few more peeks inside the pages look here: Book Title And Cover Options | The Real Book Cover | Behind The Book – Styling The Perfect Shot | Styled On Shelves Now | Styling the Perfect Window Shot | How To Add Personality To A White Kitchen

***Photography by David Tsay, Styling by Scott Horne and Me

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7 years ago

You could always just toss out the flowers and drink the vase water if you get thirsty 🙂

Mary Beth
7 years ago
Reply to  Colleen Welsch

Thanks Colleen – your comment provided me with my first good laugh of the day!

7 years ago

I think I fall in the both category. Sometimes the editorial styling can make me feel like my house will never be nice because there is no way I could keep such-and-such perfect, but other times I just love how it looks. And styling every flat space does mean there is nowhere to just plop mail and leave it for three months…

7 years ago

The fact that you photographed a diaper genie in your daughter’s bedroom speaks volumes, so if you care to dream a dream every once in a while with a dose of reality mixed in, more power to you! I am in the “both” camp, and it’s nice that a stylist with a killer blog is also in that camp!

7 years ago

Fresh flowers and plants are always welcome for me, but other than that I definitely fall into the “fewer decorative objects on surfaces” camp, even in terms of how things photograph. I just find don’t find the more cluttered spaces that beautiful even if the individual objects are appealing.
For the room above, I might break up the red/brown with a different kind of nightstand rather than more stuff on a red nightstand. I totally get that the books on the floor break up a dark shadowy space, but the practical panda in me is like ‘ugh, who wants a dusty pile of books to stub their toes on and block the vacuum cleaner.’ I still really appreciate your eye for proportion and balance, though.

7 years ago

I was so sad to see that their shop closed. One could always find something amazing there!

7 years ago

I love this room but I hate that there is so much design world speak out there about “masculine” and “feminine” rooms. All that does is perpetuate the stereotype that men like things dark and simple while the ladies like pastels and frills.

I’d love to see designers and bloggers start using language that describes the room itself rather than the gender stereotype it evokes. This room is about natural materials, neutral tones, and cool old stuff, not necessarily about being masculine.

7 years ago
Reply to  Heather

Here here! Don’t get me started on gendered baby clothes…

Susie Q.
7 years ago
Reply to  Heather

How right you are!

7 years ago
Reply to  Heather

YES TO THIS. Let’s start a style-speak revolution!

7 years ago

Now that I know rooms are styled sometimes to within an inch of their life I like it both ways…..those dreams you instill are more likely and easier to achieve than the ‘styled’ humans we’re bombarded with on a daily basis.
BTW, yesterday in an AT post your book popped up in one of the photos. I’m sure it has been in many but in this one it was front and center so I was very excited for EHD.

7 years ago

Check this site out, they do snarky commentary on the overstyled spaces:

My personal pet peeve is the “artichoke/pear/two cherries on a plate” styling. Not real food that people eat, but something that looks pretty.

7 years ago
Reply to  Lilli

I am in the office and just laughed out loud at that site! I work for a fashion company and after every show we are given a rolled up poster of the campaign image. I have no idea what to do with them so they are now in a heap under my bed. They do not look like the styled props you see in photos… They look like a mess and my partner wants to throw them out!

7 years ago

I like styling/photos that are in between- that include things rooms need to have (outlets, diaper genies, TVs etc) but are otherwise more styled than “real life”. Kinda like how your house would look if you were throwing a party.

7 years ago
Reply to  Lara


7 years ago

Love these gif posts! So fun to see how a shot comes together.

7 years ago

I love these BTS posts on how you style things out. I agree that there is a happy medium between the too styled and the too realistic, but I LOVE how you show both and the transparency that you speak with on the blog. Keep it up. Also, I want to jump in that bed right now.

7 years ago

That bedding looks SO cozy. Well done!

7 years ago

Simple, Comfortable and lived in. Speaks to me, and I am into it.
ps… thanks for taking out that remote. Although I am sure they sit in there every night and flip on the tele there are a few things that I can’t stand to see in pictures (remotes being one of them) even if they are realistic and make it feel less styled.

7 years ago

Can’t wait to see this room come together! It’s got great bones!


7 years ago

Having seen about a million MLS interior photos that truly suck (open toilet lids in virtually every bathroom shot, for example), I’m good with whatever!

7 years ago

I fall in love in between the two. I love to gaze at a beautifully styled room and appreciate the artistry but other times it’s like, come on, no one lives this way. Thes are the times when the perfect styling makes me feel like a loser in my home. The one
Total exception is bathrooms – please, please style them pretty. Not realistic in any way. How does one photograph a bathroom with the toilet seat up? I have seen this and I can’t fathom it. Also a bathroom should only be seen through the door of a bedroom, never any other room in the house. Like for example, seeing into an open bathroom door from a living room. Just unappealing to me.

Susie Q.
7 years ago

Well, since you asked….
My night stand is extremely sturdy–the little table in that picture looks like it could topple at any moment. I feel the same about night stands where the top is an enormous unwieldy tray balanced on spindly little legs. NOPE. I picture my hand groping across the table in the dark–so long flower vase, precious little breakable box w breakable lid. On my night stand are lots of books, tissue, the remote, my glasses, my cellphone, maybe a (plastic!) bottle of water with the cap screwed on tightly! Precious fancy-schmancy night stands do annoy me. If I did have people over to my house, I would not style my night stand for their benefit. They better stay the heck out of my room.
Also, books under the bed is just whack-a-do. If you’re in bed, you can’t reach them, plus they’ll be covered in dust in no time.

7 years ago

I just don’t understand the nightstand situation from either sense- its too small and useless to make you think anything but ‘Why?!?’ It seems like it would make more sense if you are going to show us an ‘imaginary’ nightstand to just borrow a piece from somewhere else that is the right size and style that.

On websites and in magazines, I always factor in that it’s styled to look it’s best, not to look realistically lived-in. If I went to someone’s house and it looked like that, I wonder question if they really actually slept or drank water. Like, is this the Cullens from Twilight?

7 years ago

I personally like both – actual lived-in and editorial. If I’m surfing the internet for 5 minutes with a coffee, I want those few minutes to be a bit of fantasy mixed in with the real. There are some elements that would be hard to replicate for everyday maintenance, like the books under the bed, but not everything has to have a literal reapplication and at times just to open up your mind on how to do something creatively – personally I saw those books and it helped imagine how a space can be utilized in a way that you just won’t typically see it being used. I’d take the concept and reapply it in my way. Loved it.

7 years ago

I like both! You have a great balance of showing the more artistic editorial side of design, and the more realistic keep-the-diaper-pail in the photo side of design. You know what… just keep doing YOU, and I’ll keep coming back.

7 years ago

I really enjoy seeing the stylist tricks. It’s fun to see how I could trick out a tabletop or closet. It’s the photoshop tricks that can drive me crazy (how can so many lamps not have cords?!?)

7 years ago
Reply to  Liss

The Case of the Vanishing Lamp Cord (or outlet) drives me nuts. I’m all for prettying things up for a photo, but that’s such an unachievable tease. (I loved when you left the diaper pail in the nursery shot, too.)

7 years ago

I would much rather see things styled than not; of course, I love posts about how to style surfaces or how to style around ugly things (like TV, etc.). But, I really like blogs for inspiration, not for perfect depictions of reality. If I want to see water cups, I can look at my own nightstand 🙂

Susie Q.
7 years ago

I’m gonna comment again bc I felt my last comment was a trifle harsh. In general, I look at photos for inspiration. I look for general principles of design that I can extrapolate and carry out in my own house. Simply put, I might see a picture of a night stand and do something similar w my coffee table if that example suits me. I’m not esp interested in following instructions to the letter because yeah, it’s my house and my house is different from your house. But I always like seeing what you do. Keep up the good work 🙂

7 years ago

Fresh flowers and plants are always welcomed