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The “FDR Chic” House Just Sold And The 12 Pieces That I Still Love After 12 Years

As someone who loves to get sentimentally drunk, it is hard for me to see this house belong to someone else. This is our house. Mine and Ian’s. Bought in 2010. This was the house for the pilot episode of Secrets from A Stylist. And this is a story that I never told you.

In 2004 Brian and Ian Brennan met as actors in an off-off broadway play in New York and became overnight life-long great friends. It’s what you call a “Showmance”. We hung out frequently, enjoying the hell out of our 20s as broke artists in New York until Ian mysteriously moved to LA. We moved to LA in 2008 and within weeks ran into him at a party. We had no real friends there and it was an instant reunion. We moved to Los Feliz and created a friend group that was inseparable all through our 30s. Ian and I would have dinner without Brian if he were out of town, the three of us were very close and still are. Meanwhile, Ian wrote a screenplay for a dark movie, set in a high school called Glee. He gave it to someone, who gave it to someone, who gave it to Ryan Murphy in a steam room of Equinox in Weho (some of this might be urban legend at this point but I’m not going to fact-check it because I like this version). Ryan turned the screenplay into the series Glee, and Ian’s career took off immediately (after years and years and years of working hard, writing so many failed scripts). It’s a true Hollywood story and he remains still one of, if not the, hardest working people in Hollywood.

Around that same time, I won DesignStar and the producers of my show, Secrets From a Stylist, asked me if I knew of a house we could makeover for the pilot – but it had to be a secret (it would be months until it was announced I won). Back in the day, whoever won DesignStar would have already produced their pilot that would run immediately after the final episode aired. Then based on how well it did was how many episodes they would order. Ian was looking to buy a house, so I told him if he bought one fast enough we’d furnish it completely for the pilot. So yes, it was HIS house, but we went house hunting together knowing that it couldn’t be a massive renovation and he found the sweetest bungalow in Beachwood Canyon. It happened so fast and I always feared that I forced him into buying his first house, but he’s doing just fine now so even if I did I think he’s over it 🙂

It remained a time capsule of the show makeover for years. A few years later he met his now wife, Trilby, who became a dear friend of mine and brought her own style into the house, as one does. It was always a joke amongst our friends that when she redecorated or moved things around that I would passive-aggressively move it back, or comment in an “oh, well isn’t that different”. I did have a very strong sentimental attachment to the house and still loved how we did it for Secrets, but obviously knew that things would change, because they always do. But it was still funny. 🙂

Ian and Trilby and their two kids are still very close with us, and now they’ve upgraded to a STUNNING house I can’t wait to show you someday, but meanwhile, I thought it would be fun for those who have been following since 2010 to say goodbye to this house and call out what I still loved about the original decor, almost 13 years later.

FDR Chic – 12 Years Ago

Y’all. I still really really like that room! I think it was because it’s just eclectic and full of vintage so it’s hard for it to feel dated (those bookshelves and all the windows don’t hurt). Ian and I actually secretly shopped together for some of the pieces to make sure that he would love them. I thought it would be fun “shop” the room and circle all the things that I would want right now.

That’s a lot I know. I actually still love the Moroccan pendants, but since I know we could get those again (they were black and we spray painted them) they are less of a steal for me.

How It Was Staged To Sell

It’s always fun to see how they stage things for real estate. I think they were likely trying to make it feel bigger and like there was more space, so they reduced the “stuff”. I can’t believe that sofa made it 12 years – it was super faded after 2 years from the sun.

My Design

I still love that chair, rug, and that painting. Fun fact about the painting – it was a movie prop that I bought at Tini (a vintage store during my heyday of shopping in LA) and it’s of William Henry Harrison – a president that got a cold the night he was inaugurated and died from it 32 days later. It’s not funny of course, but its also pretty funny to have this super serious portrait of likely the most ineffective president ever. I hope SO BADLY that they kept it (I’m too scared to ask because if they didn’t I’ll be bummed and I don’t really have the right to be bummed).

Staged To Sell

My Design

I love a good toile, and I still love those chairs. They were little and rickety then and I’m sure not any better now, but still cute.

Staged To Sell

We always meant to redo their kitchen, but it’s not so simple to just “redo” a kitchen so we didn’t. He was a bachelor and it was certainly good enough.

My Design – The Family Room

I really like how back in the day, when I had no idea what I was doing, I found these two gooseneck desk lamps and decided to wire them to be sconces. They never really lined up perfectly, but I still like the idea.

Also, I think this is the first and last time I did grasscloth and I really need to do it again. I’m trying to convince Brian to let me do this linen wallcovering from Ashley Stark that is so incredibly stunning somewhere in the farm.

Staged To Sell

Staged To Sell – The Kid’s Room I Helped With But Never Shot

When I helped with this room it was a nursery, 6 years ago and I never shot it (but meant to).

My Design…Kinda Of – The Guest Room Turned Daughter’s Room

This room was only barely designed, I think we just took leftover vintage furniture that we shopped for and decorated it in here. It was cute, for sure, but wasn’t totally dialed in.

Staged To Sell

A few years ago they had their daughter and Trilby put up this adorable wallpaper, which I love. They staged it as a guest room of course.

My Design – The Primary Bedroom

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I made that headboard, btw. Not my best work but it lasted 12 years. And there we go again with the desk lamp as sconce move. I have no idea if that is legal, by the way.

That’s a lot of stuff on a dresser 🙂 Trilby bought this desk a few years later when we actually shot some of these rooms and I really loved it. I miss that wall clock – so cute.

Staged To Sell

Not a lot changed! Even that lady portrait made it in there.

For a while, they considered keeping it as a rental property which gave me some hope that I’d be able to properly say goodbye (this all happened during lockdown after we moved to Arrowhead and then Portland). Someday I want to shoot their current house, which I didn’t design because I wouldn’t have been able to do the job since they needed a full-time, full-service team, but trust me it’s really beautiful and special. And if you have been here since that first episode – thank you, thank you, thank you. xx

* “My Design” Photos by Bethany Nauert

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3 months ago

Beautiful. Especially this lamp ideas are amazing.

3 months ago

I do remember when you won design star and your pilot episode! I can’t believe it’s only been 12 years. For some reason it feels longer but still . . . a sign of a good design is that this house looks just as good today as it did 12 years ago.

3 months ago

Thoroughly enjoyed this trip down memory lane! I can’t say I actually remember your first episode, but I rooted for your Design Star win and I know I watched your entire show. So impressed how great your original designs still look. My mom told me once that the life span of interior decor is about ten years but you have totally proven her wrong! Also love that portrait of Harrison and the hilarious irony behind it.

3 months ago

It’s amazing how forward thinking you were and how timeless this design feels. I feel like bed sconces only starting taking off a handful of years ago and here u were doing it a decade + ago! So many things are just so beautiful. Just so amazing to see, how your vision for spaces was always there and all you’ve done in the years since! Congrats!

3 months ago

This was pure joy with a dose of design intrigue…(12 years..great story). Thanks!

Katherine Randall
3 months ago

Been here since design star! As a early 20-something i was sooo into interior design on my first house and DIY everything, you and vintage revivals were my go-tos! Such a fun trip down memory lane and I’m so impressed with how much was saved!

3 months ago

That spool cabinet is to die for.

Roberta Davis
3 months ago

I watched as you won Design Star and saw the first show or two. I can’t remember why I didn’t see more- and I found you again as you were working on the mountain house, Still love your designs here!

Stephanie Brockway
3 months ago

I was a big design star fan!, and remember you won, I remember you kept your cool and had fun everyone else seem so stressed out 😉Ives been following ever since. (I even got to tour your Portland house/ open house! It’s fun to see how the design didn’t seem dated . It seems when you stick with the classics it holds up! Naturally I just wanted a farm update today you must be exhausted but this was so fun!!

3 months ago

So hard to believe it’s been so long since you did this! I remember this episode right after your Design Star season. It was so exciting to watch and I have to say that I’ve referred back to this room many times over the years. It’s truly timeless! The staged to sell version definitely feels more generic and loses some of the magic, but I always think that’s the point. It makes some one want to add their stuff to make it better. lol. Thanks for sharing!

3 months ago

What a great story about how you, Brian and Ian met, and how your friendship grew.
I remember Ian’s house on the blog, even the story about the President Harrison portrait! I especially loved the living room, the windows, the bookcases and how beautifully decorated it was!

Sadly, I didn’t have cable so I never saw any episodes of Design Star or your show Secrets of a Stylist, I just happened upon your blog one day, enjoyed it, and have followed along ever since! 🙂 Thank you Emily!

3 months ago

I miss your show so much! I barely even watch HGTV anymore. There are NO design shows any more. This house was always one of my favs. So many lovely windows and interesting rooms. I could have moved in with no problems at all. I hope they still have the Harrison portrait, too!

3 months ago

Yes, I have been here since that episode. My then young daughters and I were rooting for you.

3 months ago

P.S. My sister is ALWAYS commenting on how much she misses your “style diagnostic” and how more people should do something like that!

3 months ago

Emily is so talented and it’s always fun to see how things changed and I especially enjoy seeing how the stagers edited the rooms. I do have to say, the staging designers are very talented as well.

3 months ago

Beautiful then and now! Do you recall where the pendant/ceiling light fixture in the living room came from?

3 months ago
Reply to  Beverly

Mentioned above: “I actually still love the Moroccan pendants, but since I know we could get those again (they were black and we spray painted them) they are less of a steal for me.” Maybe try searching “moroccan hanging round lamp” or “moroccan hanging dome lamp”?

3 months ago

That portrait makes me twitch with envy! My den wall NEEDS it! I miss your show so much! What did happen to design shows on HGTV? Not everyone is doing house flips (esp these days) or renos!

Patti Schultz
3 months ago

I’ve been a fan of yours since you were on Design Star! I was so happy when you won and I loved Secret’s from a Stylist. I think it says so much when a design that is almost 13 years old is still beautiful and relevant.

3 months ago

I love this blast from the past and how timeless it is! You are the original design star and it shows all these years later! Wish you had another show or podcast and with Or-lawn-do but I know that’s a dream and I am excited to see where your new design chapter in life takes you, especially souping, Salading and homesteading!

Trilby Glover
3 months ago

We loved what you did. Such a wonderful house and so beautifully

3 months ago

That top photo has always been inspiration for me- perfectly encompassing a lot of my style! Looking at it again today I realized that I too now have a black bench under a window surrounded by built ins 😊. Thanks for what you do Em!

3 months ago

Still love it! And it’s fun to see the evolution. Bring up more projects from the past!

🥰 Rusty
3 months ago

I’ve always loved that room! When you did your LA Tudor house, I felt like you leaned into what you did there as you designed it. Similar vibes.
I could live in that house a heartbeat!!!💞

I have a similar clock to the one in the pic, though a bit smaller. It ticks reallllllly loudly and one of my friends can’t stand it because of the TICK!, but I find it comforting.😊

Emily, gosh you were a baby back then! Time has flown soooo fast!
You have middle-sized kids now!
I have my freedom!


3 months ago

I’ve been here since DesignStar – and I really loved that show! Thanks for sharing this

3 months ago

I “found” you on Design Star and rooted for you. I loved your work on Ian’s house then and still love it now. So beautiful and live -able.

3 months ago

OG fan and this house is one of my favorites ever, but I somehow never knew (or totally forgot?) that the kitchen/toile scene and living room were the SAME room this whole time??? I gasped. Such a great post and the original designs are still insanely good

3 months ago

Am I remembering correctly, you did 3 quite different versions of styling out the living room for the show? I remember thinking how much work and how exhausting that must have been!

2 months ago

I loved seeing you win DS and Secrets from a Stylist and Color Splash are far and away the best of the Design Star Shows. I loved how you would come up with these great names for a couple’s combined style. That naming convention inspired the style of my last house “1970’s Laurel Canyon bohemian Rockstar Luxxe” :). And now, here I am, back in Portland, redoing a 100 year old home in Laurelhurst!