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Our Updated Living Room + Shop The Look

You’ve seen it on the insta-stories and you knew it was coming. I was vocal about how I was never happy with my living room, but some of you needed more convincing that getting rid of the red Persian rug was the right thing to do. So today is the day that I show you the living room, styled out in a way that is closer to what I really want.

When we first shot this room in May of last year (almost a year ago) I really liked it, but as you know I was extremely conflicted about the amount of color and of how busy it felt.

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This looks beautiful in the shot, don’t get me wrong, but on a day to day basis it was a jolt of color and pattern that my brain didn’t want. My brain needed less to process, visually. That rug was so kid-friendly and beautiful but I wanted more calm, more neutral tones, less boldness.

Emily Henderson Modern English Cottage Tudor Living Room Reveal11

Like menopause, we all knew that the change would happen, yet some of you were upset regardless. I made it clear that I wanted more neutrals in my life and I wasn’t going to stop until I made that room more seamless (color-wise) in the house.

So I tested that theory during Halloween, which is when I bought the new rug.

Emily Henderson Target Halloween 20179

It INSTANTLY changed the vibe of the room and then by turning the books around it felt even more calm, even though there were spider webs and plastic bugs everywhere. Black, white, navy, gray and leather/wood is my jam. It’s what I’m comfortable looking around and being engulfed in, on a day to day basis.

Emily Henderson Target Halloween 201711

But I didn’t know how to actually make that vibe as interesting as the red rug. This color palette is less adventuresome, less editorial, less pinnable. But it’s what I want. And as I said before, finding a 10′ x 14′ or 12′ x 15′ rug in blues and grays that was kid friendly, soft, but not one million dollars was almost impossible. Retailers need to make more 10’x14′ rugs, full stop.

Emily Henderson Christmas 2017 Neutral Winter Wonderland 21

For Christmas, I tried to do the same calm color palette but some of you thought it was boring. I didn’t. Living in it felt very full and beautiful, but admittedly it wasn’t over the top and some expectations weren’t met and that’s ok. I wasn’t offended at all, I knew that being happy living in it was more important than the reader reaction. When I styled it for the party I added a ton of darker copper and rust tones and it helped add another layer, but we didn’t shoot it again. Besides, I canceled the party because I had an emotional breakdown – MERRY CHRISTMAS! (see more about that breakdown here)

So then I thought, maybe they think it’s boring because it’s styled for Christmas so we’ll shoot it again and see what they think about a more everyday type of styling. Let me be clear – this is my favorite thing to do – tweak a space, shoot it and open it up for discussion. I’m not trying to ‘prove’ anything, it’s literally my favorite thing to do that is also good for traffic. WIN WIN. I had bought that new piece of art and I really wanted it to go a tad more modern, so why wouldn’t I show you?

Emily Henderson Living Room Update 2

I was out of town (the perfect time to shoot so your family isn’t disrupted) so Brady and Sara shot the living room. I told them to style and shoot it more for everyday – not a magazine. Don’t overdo it with the styling or props, I said and they listened.

Emily Henderson Living Room Update 1

They did a great job and I loved it. But there was so much feedback about the art – that it was jarring, that it took all the attention. And there were a couple comments that stung – that the room wasn’t ‘inspirational’. One of you even dropped the G word (generic) and while I don’t agree it did make me think. Sometimes it’s hard to analyze a space that you live in every day, so I stared at the photos and I said to myself – if you could do anything to this room, what would you do? I decided to make some changes. Maybe you were right. Maybe I was being more of a ‘mom’, and less of a ‘stylist’.

Emily Henderson Living Room Update 9

I thought how we lived was great (and I don’t negate that) but I asked myself if it could be better.

I realized it needed even more ‘punching up’ – That’s editorial-speak for – more ‘contrast’, ‘edge’ and perhaps more ‘lifestyle moments’. So we went to a few of our favorite stores in LA (Lawson Fenning and Consort) and borrowed and bought some extra beautiful pieces to style it out.

Bright English Tudor Modern Living Room Brick Fireplace

Juggling being a ‘designer’, ‘mom’ and ‘content creator’ is challenging but extremely rewarding when I actually let all those roles win equally. I’m not saying I did it here (there is always room for improvement), but the drive to merge the three has made me a better designer.  It makes me consider the function, comfort and opportunity of the room first (mom), the beautiful furniture and fixtures second (designer), and the ability to tell that story via a photograph third (content creator).

Modern Traditional Living Room Vintage Steamer Trunk As Table

I honestly LOVE IT. We kept all the same furniture but added edge and interest through the accessories and art. I resurrected that amazing painting (from the garage) above the fireplace which all of a sudden tied the room together. Plus it made me feel happy.

Bright English Tudor Modern Living Room Brick Fireplace

I eliminated all the orange, red and pink books so that the shelves were only full of blues, whites, grays, and blacks. If you are a novelist please consider the bookshelf color trend of the season before you publish. I’m joking … but only kinda. Here’s a secret, I never liked the spine of my book because it was too shiny gold – and therefore impossible to photograph. Every now and again I get a friend’s coffee table book and I’m like, ‘oh, girlfriend designed this spine to be photographed in shelfies and she did it right’. It’s along the same lines as designing for ‘likes’. You want to do something with integrity and authenticity, but also something with commercial/social success. HA. GOOD LUCK TO ALL OF US.

That’s all to say that we stored the penguin books and any others that we loved, and then donated any that we would never read again to the rummage sale.

Living Room Gallery Wall Article Credenza Modern Art

Back to the changes – I decided to add some edge through some lighting. I borrowed that lamp from Lawson Fenning with every intention of not buying it. But man, it looks AMAZING in my living room. It brought something really bold and yet simple to the space. It created an energy that I knew I would miss. I also love that vase from Sheldon Ceramics – fill it full of anemones and call the priest because I’m getting married.

Bar Tray Credenza Living Room

That art is from a local artist Kirill Bergart (the left two) and Lisa Golightly (top right). Man, I love that vignette now. You pushed me harder to make it better and I thank you.

The credenza is from Article and I love it, with the tray being from CB2 (but not longer available).

I’d like to interrupt this program for a lecture about trays.

Dear major retailers – we need more trays like this tray. It is wide without being too deep, thus fitting on multiple surfaces (keep them around 12-16″ to fit on the most). The wide-but-not-too-deep size is crucial to surface flexibility. Also, give the tray some sort of lip or exterior interest like what you see above. A straight up parsons tray does little for visual interest. This bevel makes it look expensive and custom. A beautiful handle takes it out of ‘basic – B’ world.  I think this was $60 but it’s strangely valuable to me because of how great it looks in my house on multiple surfaces. Also, we have enough white, wood and gold trays out there and all three of those finishes have less flexibility because I often have white and wood surfaces. Having something with a pattern (marble or herringbone) or black makes it pop off the table (gold doesn’t look good on wood or vice versa, by the way). You want your finishes to contrast, so we need more trays in finishes that can pop off of wood, white or brass surfaces.

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We kept the pillows mostly the same but added that darker merlot color (are we supposed to say ‘burgundy’ now? wine?). That pouf was bought just for the shoot and returned – only because our cats would use it for a scratching post. I kept thinking that we need something by the fireplace so we tried a few options, but once I saw this one in person I thought – it’s GREAT, but our cats will destroy it (it’s looped wool).

We moved the graphic painting to this side of the room and I LOVE it. It feels important but doesn’t totally loom over the room like it did when on the mantel.

Los Angeles Historic Tudor Home Modern Living Room

If I were to redesign that sofa I would make the back a tiny bit lower and change the feet out to be castors (I thought we could switch them later, but they are actually built-in to the frame of the sofa). We still could but we’d have to cut off the legs and retrofit castors. I might do it someday but it’s not a high priority. Brian didn’t want castors because he thought it looked ‘try-hard’ but I regret not having beautiful vintage English style wood castors with brass wheels (you don’t place castors on all four, just the front two).

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Man, I love that piece of art up on the fireplace. I tried a few mirrors and a couple other pieces of art but this really tied the room together and brought a jolt of happiness – plus I had it stored in my garage so it was free!

Also, of all my design decisions last year, I’d say the perfect decision was choosing those sconces. They are just so simple and classic.

Modern Art In A Traditional Space

That mid-century sewing table just keeps on giving. I’m not mad at anything in that shot. I still love that coffee table while wishing it were a foot longer. The kids play on it all the time and the white lacquer finish is super durable.

Rebecca Atwood Accent Pillows Throw Blanket

Sheldon Ceramics Vintage Side Table Anemone Vignette

Over on the piano we put the schoolhouse lamp back but added a more sculptural one. People voted for no ‘double lamp’ on insta-story but it balances it out while not being identical. That lamp looks more like a sculpture (like a permanent flower arrangement because it has that pretty shape).

Mid Century Modern Arcosonic Spinet Baldwin Piano

Don’t worry, we KNOW that we need a piano bench (Charlie started lessons last week!) but just haven’t found one yet, probably because we aren’t looking. ‘Piano bench’ isn’t #1 on our list of to-do’s right now so it might be a while. Our Paul McCobb chair is holding court there right now and it’s just so beautiful. Yes, I’m allowed to drop Paul’s name. He’s PAUL MC-EFFING MCCOB and all I wanted my entire adult life was to own something by a modern genius.

The vase on the gray cabinet is from Lawson Fenning and it’s $1200 so we just borrowed it for the shoot, but man – if I were a billionaire I would buy that beautiful hand-thrown vase – with a strangely dramatic top. It’s worth every single penny, if you have 120,000 extra pennies.

So that’s the update. I’m happy. I love it. Do I think I could love it more? Probably – if I could buy my dream furniture, but my dream sofa is $15k, my dream 12’x15′ rug is $140,000.00 and my dream chairs are $4500 each. I’m going to create a mood board with them all so you can see what I would do if money or kids were not an object, but for now I LOVE THIS ROOM. It’s really pleasing and calming to my eye. It’s family friendly (and our cats have stopped scratching because we bought them something else to scratch on) and it’s extremely inviting and warm. We hang the heck out of here with our kids and our friends.

Look how proud I am here. 🙂

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That lady is PROUD.

If you like anything that we have above, here you go.

Emily Henderson Emilys House Modern English Tudor Living Room Reveal Get The Look Updated Look1

1. Painting | 2. Sofa | 3. Tripod Floor Lamp | 4. Arm Chair (similar) | 5. Rug | 6. Coffee Table | 7. Grey Textured Pillow | 8. Stripped Pillow | 9. Navy & Red Patterned Pillow | 10. Suede Lumbar Pillow | 11. White Shag Pillow | 12. Throw Blanket | 13. Large Black Vase | 14. Two-armed Sconce | 15. Mug | 16. Ceramic Tray | 17. Ceramic Bells | 18. Blue Vase | 19. Black Vase | 20. Lidded Marble Box (similar) | 21. Leather Tray | 22. Black Table Lamp | 23. Credenza | 24. Vintage Velvet Chaise Lounge | 25. Pouf | 26. Marble Based Lamp (similar) | 27. Wall Paint | 28. Herringbone Floor | 29. Sheepskin Rug | 30. Black Chair (similar) | 31. Table Lamp | 32. Modern Table Lamp | 33. Vintage Piano

The question becomes – do you like the changes? Do you think that it feels more young and modern and do you think that the ‘young and modern’ change is right in this space? Do you still miss the Persian rug?

As someone who genuinely loves to document, share and ask thousands of others their opinion about our home I’m opening it up to you. Weigh in, friends. I love the debate …

***Photos by Ryan Liebe

For more reveals from Emily’s Los Feliz Home: Powder Room | Jack and Jill Bathroom | Living Room Update | Charlie’s Big Boy Room | Master Bedroom | Master Bathroom | Living Room | Kitchen & Dining Room | Elliot’s Nursery | Backyard | Closets | Laundry Room | Elliot’s Nursery Update | Family Room Update | Kitchen 


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255 thoughts on “Our Updated Living Room + Shop The Look

  1. I love it so much! Love the new rug. I liked the painting above the mantle a lot but love it where it is now. And you look very cute on that picture.
    It is very inspirational to me!

  2. I love your blog. But I hate when people turn books around. Absolutely hate it. Sorry. Whenever I see books turned around, I get book rage. It’s like road rage, only with books. What is the point of having books on your shelves if you can’t see the titles and find the one you want.

    P.S. I love the new rug.

    1. Yes, yes, yes. Though, it does look like the updated version just includes color coordinated books, rather than books with their spines in.

      1. Ok, never mind. But why not? Maybe not everyone want to ‘share’ her reading preferences. 🙂

    2. Lol. I get book rage, too. Also when books are arranged by color instead of subject or author. To me it is like asking a beloved but ugly person to turn their back or cover their face when photos are taken.

    3. Yes, yes, I ranted about this (belatedly) on the last post, but she’s fixed this in the lastest iteration. So, yay!

    4. The books turned around drives me crazy too, but I don’t get why people are irritated when books are arranged by color. Most people don’t arrange their books at all, never mind by subject or author, which doesn’t seem to bother anyone. Why is it more annoying that they are arranged by color than not at all?

      1. That is a good freaking point! To go a step further, I love to read, and do so a ton, but mostly library/kindle or secondhand paperback books that I return, pass on or donate so, if I have any books on shelves AT ALL, they’re there for decoration! No hate!

      1. Hey guys, don’t worry I turned them back because I. too, think its totally weird to turn them around (of which I spoke about in the halloween post). it felt ok to do for halloween because it was spooky but no, I agree. Its weird for life to have your books turned around. we reduced the amount of color (which is also controversial) but kept them ‘spine out’. 🙂

    5. I am so glad someone else commented on the book thing. I also get book rage (love that expression, btw!). I see the books have been flipped back spines out, but, yes, I am sad to see that some books got edited out because they were the wrong colour 🙁 You can tell so much about a person by the books they display! My books on display are “me” and I love them so much, I can’t imagine having to store one because it doesn’t fit the colour scheme. The rest of the room I love, though, especially the opposite end of the room from the fireplace! (love those ceramic bells but the link doesn’t seem to work)

  3. Hi Emily,
    I loved all of the versions of this living room you have created so far. I do not think the issue has ever been your styling approach. It is this long shot that you have to, inevitably, take from the entrance of the room that instantly shows us “everything” to critique. I really do appreciate your transparency with your readers, but as we see everything in one point perspective, the room which has various stunning moments peppered throughout just turns into a linear collage. I have three reasons why I think you are not getting the love you deserve with this living room.
    1. Your lovely recovered beams, which I believe are physically 3-4′ apart, seem like they are very close together in these shots and overwhelm any picture you take from that angle as they fill the top half of the picture with a lot of strong brown.
    2. There is a recurrence of the conical lamp shade in every light fixture we see from this angle. The standing lamp, the black lamp over the credenza and your 4 light fixtures (total 8 conical shades) are overpowering that space at the back with the same geometrical shape. I hope you do consider sleek library picture lights in brass over the bookshelves, if you ever decide to make any changes.
    3. The bookshelves are amazingly styled but they are always a background to your furniture in these pictures and either seem very distracting or hardly clear enough to appreciate them. I think you could try to use boxes/ woven baskets to give some punctuation and let the eye rest a bit or maybe consider covering the bottom two shelves like your previous home.

    1. Yes, exactly this. To live in I imagine the room is lovely and comfortable and beautiful.. But as a full room shot, there are few “groupings” to help the eye travel – it’s more like the eye just jumps around from point to point. The beams, the hinges on the windows, and the sconces all have the same visual weight as your styling details, and therefore, for me, the photos of the room don’t give me that visual “ping” of a great photo. The red rug at least was also a busy piece, and richer in color, which balanced out the sconce/hinge/beam/wall detailing.

      The coffee table midroom and equidistant chairs and sofa just compound the problem.

      That said, this is a very good example then of how decorating (and dressing for that matter) for photos affects your livable life. The best way I’ve heard it described is that screens are lower resolution than real light – if we design for screens it’s often too high resolution for day to day.

      1. I think both of you are spot on!

        For me, this room tends to feel more attainable than aspirational – not a bad thing, but not the ooo, I need to Pinterest this. I think it’s because it feels like a energy releaser (ahhh, I’m home, calm) vs a delight giver, like your last living room (yayyy, I’m home!).

        Most of the calming rooms That feel aspirational are spa bathrooms, quiet master bedrooms and Scandinavian neutrals. I just don’t see a lot of navy / true blue traditional calming spaces that hit the inspirational itch for me.

      2. INTERESTING. I think this calls for more video and a better 3-d experience. thanks so much for this feedback. Its fascinating and eye-opening. xx

    2. Agree! This comment is spot on – particularly as to numbers 2 and 3. I am a lover of bookshelves (including the current style of these!), but agree that they make the the room seem busy in the full room photos. I wonder whether spacing the shelves out a bit more (allowing for some larger styling pieces) and/or extending them higher would decrease some of the visual distraction.

      1. Adding on to my last comment: To me, the height of the bookshelves don’t match the grand scale of the room’s other architectural elements (e.g., windows, beams, ceiling height), and the discrepancy makes them feel out of place no matter how beautifully they are styled.

        1. This!! Those bookshelves have always looked a bit awkward to me within the room and I never really figured out why because they are styled beautifully. I think you need to get rid of them or make them taller or wider or something. They definitely don’t match the scale of the room or the beautiful architecture.

    3. YES! “I hope you do consider sleek library picture lights in brass over the bookshelves, if you ever decide to make any changes.” I feel like I’m seeing too many scones shades! They’re beautiful, but there are too many. Brass would be lovely.

      And I see that someone else commented about the bookcases looking better if they were taller. I agree. I also think that they should be packed with books. No “white space” and no vases. Just chock full of books, of all different spine colors. That’s what bookcases are for, and it’d be classic and impressive.

      1. Yes, I agree about this! I actually commented last time that it would be good to change the shape of the bookshelves so that they hug the contours of the fireplace, nearly to the top – making the most of a great architectural feature.
        Books rather than lots of accessories would work better, and, I believe, would look soothing as a whole, even with multi-coloured spines; and there would probably not be any need for art on the fireplace.
        The credenza, although beautiful, seems to block the right-hand bookshelf.
        The coffee table feels much more harmonious with this rug than with the first one.
        I am not sure about your choice of throws, nor about those stripy cushions… They seem to create busyness, rather than helping the sense of calm you are after…
        Several lovely vignettes… And I love the chaise (although the painted console table may be one thing too many), as well as the Cherner chair, the piano, the Paul McCobb chair, and the vintage cupboard…!
        Very challenging to present the way you actually live, Emily, up to the criticism of the public…!

        1. thanks, mary. I can tell you know what you are talking about so i seriously appreciate the compliments and suggestions. xx

      2. Love this suggestion about the bookcases. Because they’re built in and all the shelves are on the smaller side and uniform, a block of books on either side of the fireplace would look amazing.

    4. YES. Fully agree with this comment. Its not the styling, but the proportions of the room combined with the perspective of the shot. For photos of this room to really “pop” I think you would have to remove 7/8s of all the furniture, art, accessories, etc. But I bet you always get tons of oohs and aahs when people enter the room in person for the first time!

    5. Yes, agree! Normally I say you be you but since you are actually asking for our opinions and the debate I have to weigh in. There are some beautiful vignettes happening but as a whole it is way too much for the eye and I’m not even sure what the focal point is. I would love to see this room paired down as others have mentioned; bookcase full of just books, no art above fireplace, more simple one light sconces with no shades(though I agree those sconces are beautiful, I just don’t feel like they do anything for you in this room). I think less stuff would allow the beautiful beams and architecture of the room to really stand out. However, I absolutely adore that 9th photo down of the piano and sideboard shot. Something about those colors; wood tones, white, brass, gray, hints of blue that really speak to me. I appreciate all that you do and that you allow us to critique your space.

      1. this is so interesting. in person I PROMISE you its not busy. its calm and happy. I can’t handle busy anymore. I like texture but and some color variation but thats about it. so the fact that it still seems busy is actually mind blowing. but maybe i’m playing to too many audiencs. There are so many of you who want it to look like a magazine and others who want the more minimal approach. I’m interested in both but for this house I like the inviting elements of the bookshelves (so many photos of my family). anyway, i love this debate. keep it up. xx

    6. Yes to this >>> “sleek library picture lights in brass over the bookshelves, if you ever decide to make any changes.”

      I actually came back to this comment days after reading it because it’s all I can think about when I see this room now! The sconces are just a lot… They’re great by themselves, but they add a lot of ‘busyness’ that it seems you are trying to avoid.

      1. ha. this was my first choice for the shelves, but chickened out for some reason. I agree. picture lights here. i’ve always thought that 🙂

  4. Love love love all the changes. The room feels fresh and happy. The new rug is SO good. As a mom to little kids, I totally feel you on the NEED to create more calming spaces that aren’t so busy. It’s taken me 6 years to finally feel content with my family room for that very reason. Love your work SO much! And I admire you as a mom, designer, and content creator. ♥️ Cheers to not letting the nay-sayers win and making it the best scene with you and your family. I love it all so much!!!

  5. Emily, I really like your style and you are so inspiring. I don’t think pictures do your blue rug justice. It’s a great rug and I’m considering a similar one for our office but I was drawn to the warm colors in your first rug. I was so inspired by it that we bought a patterned 9 x 13 rug for our LR (smaller pattern and not wool) and yes, it’s a little busy but we love it and get lots of complements on it. I think your first rug added some soul to the space and that is what I miss in your room now. I like the changes you made with the art but I think the arm chairs would work better in your playroom or the mountain house. I like the basic style and bet they’re comfortable but I keep thinking that some chairs with a little more weight, maybe spool chairs, would look great. Seems to me that it’s easier to style someone else’s home than your own!

  6. Love all the changes and do understand that for day to day you need calm rooms to balance out the color of children. But as good as you are at styling shelves and in up close photos they look great they are busy and I now think you should have taken them out and done some furniture on either side of the fireplace. In your last house you didn’t really have to look at your book shelf when you were in the living room. Love your work

  7. I think the space looks wonderful, and what’s even better is that YOU’RE happy with it! I think it’s fun to have a room go through design “phases” – it’s part of the process. I wouldn’t be surprised if in another year it’s changed yet again.

    After our big reno, my mom’s friend (an interior designer) came over to give us some ideas on furniture placement (it’s an open-concept space, and I now know those can be tricky to design the furniture layout!). Well, the minute she walked in the door, she told me what would be best; we spent about an hour together talking about it. My husband came home and looked at her sketches, and we both unanimously negated it.
    Well, we lived in the space for about 4 months, with the layout we thought was best. After a few (well, quite a few – I was the post-reno hostess with the mostess) gatherings, I realized I didn’t like our layout because everyone ended up looking at a wall, away from the gorgeous kitchen; the designer’s layout kept it more open to the kitchen. And thus my journey of swaying my husband began (which, for the record took about 3 months…but I succeeded!). My point is (aside from having access to an design professional which was AWESOME, I can’t wait to send her pics once it’s decorated) that it took me time living in the space to know what was best, design-wise and flow-wise.

    Your comment on the sofa feet/castors is too funny – I bet you think about it every time you look at them (which isn’t a ton but often enough to ping the back of your brain), and some day – not now, but some day – you will change them (and maybe not even tell Brian, and when the casters are in, he won’t notice for like 6 months). Ha!

    1. I think she should get the casters that are mostly inside the furniture leg. The leg is just routered out a bit and the caster is inserted in the void and attached. It’s an older style, so it would go with the classical style Emily wanted more of. But they only show a little, so maybe Brian wouldn’t mind. Idk?

      1. I was thinking the same thing. Also lots of antiques have wood casters, which don’t have the same “pop” as brass casters. Brian might like wood casters better than brass casters.

  8. I think it’s beautiful. I’ve loved all of the versions but I think this is the best. A couple things: that gorgeous chaise just always seems to get lost. Maybe it’s just the pictures because there is a lot going on. I feel like this room just needs a bit more furniture given it’s size. Maybe a bench upholstered in a fun fabric sit on the side closest to the fireplace? All of the fabric on the furniture is so neutral, it just all kind of blends in – even with the layering of blankets and pillows. Just some ideas… honestly it’s beautiful and I love your work!

  9. I like this, but I still miss the Persian rug. I think it gave the room some much needed contrast. While I get (and support) the need for calming colors that work with the rest of your house, I’m craving some color in your spaces. Everything is pretty one note in your spaces in this house. On the one hand-this is your house- you should do you in your own house. On the other hand- I think you’ve missed the opportunity to take some risks with color/contrast. For example- your white windows are lovely, and they add to the serene vibe in your living room- but painting the mullions in your window a color (black, blue, gray) would be a way to add the contrast that you’re missing without the rug. It’d also be a way to showcase something different than the typical white on white on white that’s so common.

    1. I disagree on painting the mullions a different color. Why draw the eye to boring mullions in a room that’s already architecturally interesting with the overhead beams and the fireplace? No, no, no.

    2. I can understand your comment about wanting to show a little more of the architectural detail of the space but Emily did originally try painting the mullions black (and/or grey) and it was way too busy.

  10. Girl, I LOVE it! That painting above the fireplace is perfect. I’m glad you kept the modern linear art in the room, and it looks better on the wall as opposed to over the fireplace. I’ve never liked the coffee table- it looks like a white boat sailing in a blue rug sea, but I’m glad your kiddos enjoy it. Sometimes I think you put too much importance on the opinions of your readers. Like, it’s YOUR house and we’re all lucky enough that you let us get to see it, but your preferences as an individual, wife, and mother should always win out over the concern that readers may or may not like how you’ve changed out the rug. I can’t even imagine how difficult in must be in your line of work to balance personal preferences and reader feedback, but I vote for you doing you first every time. Because you’re amazing and admirable and brighten everyone’s days just by being you. ,

    1. I’ve never liked the coffee table either…i think it’s too small for the room and the wood tone, the legs, there’s something odd about it

  11. I love it and love your style! I do think the built-ins looks busy and could use pairing down or even rethought completely. Maybe adding doors to the bottom half on each side for closed storage with cool vintage hinges and latches? Also, the selves in them look like an after thought, not original. Maybe they could be made beefier (still white) with period mouldings? I’d prefer less items on the shelves than filled to the brim. I love photos 17 & 19 in this post for the calmness they have. I wish the fireplace side of the room had some moments like that.

    1. I agree about the shelves; they look good close up, but a little hectic when pulled back, and the fun chaise gets lost. Which I imagine is a tricky part about designing a large room with photography in mind— you want each individual vignette to look completely styled, but then when you pull back it can be tough for the eye to find a place to rest.

      I know this house is an English Tudor and you’ve used that as a jumping off point for your design, but do you know if the fireplace was original to the house? It leans more Spanish to me, so I wondered if it might have been a later addition.

      Thank you for sharing your home; it’s beautiful and definitely inspirational.

  12. I like the changes and new accessories a lot except turning the books — Sorry, but this is the silliest trend ever. I understand it reduces the color from book covers but it also makes room feel styled, not lived-in.

  13. I love all the ways you styled this room! I can’t believe how people critique. Wouldn’t you love to see their homes? Good job, as always. Melaine

  14. I’m happy you’re happy because that’s what matters. You are the one that lives there. Thanks for sharing your process. I just can’t get on board with the new living room version. The original version was so much more charming and fit the period of the house. It just made so much more sense versus someone who clearly loves mid-century but bought an almost 100 year old home. I think that works better in a victorian versus an english cottage. But again, that’s just my opinion and taste. I live in a 108 year old house and prefer natural, time worn, casual, original style in my home because I love it but it also looks the most effortless. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – that persian rug and the portrait above the fireplace MADE that house. I’ll gladly take the portrait and add it to the portrait wall in my kitchen 🙂

  15. I think it’s a wonderful room, Emily, but then I love everything you do. I dream about having you style my living room! It’s a small thing, but that soft merlot pillow you added is lovely. I think I need something similar… getting the right pillow combo challenges me. I enjoy hearing your thought process as you show your designs. Every designer/blogger is thinking about how something will photograph …why not say it? Enjoy your beautiful room. 🙂

  16. YES to the burgundy pillow. It’s warm and cool at the same time!?!? I actually would love a single tiny pop of mustard in there somewhere – like an easter egg hunt. It would barely show up in a photo, but in person you would do a little jig when you noticed it. Otherwise – this room is perfect to me!! (To be clear, I also liked all the other iterations but the first red rug – and I voted yes on two lamps on the piano!)

  17. I love the updated look, light and airy. Love the rug and painting over the mantle. The space would feel more balanced to me if you had a matching sofa across from the other one. It feels heavy on one side with the dark color of the sofa and chaise then too light on the other side of the room with light colored chairs. Just a thought. Love your style and thank you for sharing your home with us….they’re my favorite posts!!!

  18. I’ve never commented but I just had to say you NAILED THIS. I was silently sad at the loss of the Persian rug but adding some edge with these accessories and vignettes did it. I am won over. Neutral with edge = sighs of contentedness.

  19. Oh the joy of moving things around! I love doing that! The new rug is definitely better for the room.
    If it was my house, I would probably move the credenza that is blocking the shelves to some other place (maybe where the piano is?). That would, I think, make that right corner of the room look airy and less busy.
    Also, I love the art, especially everything that’s above the credenza!

  20. The new art over the fireplace is great—I love the colors and the composition.

    On the whole, though, I don’t see a huge difference between this version of the room and the most recent former version. I had to go back to the “everyday type of styling” post from Feb. 7 to compare, and it looked like a lamp and a vase that were both white were replaced with ones that are black. Without analyzing the photos super closely, I couldn’t tell much of a difference.

    To comment on what people are saying about styling photos and/or your house for likes and pins—from what I have observed, if you’re a designer or a blogger who has great style, you’re going to have people liking and pinning everything you do because they genuinely love your perspective and your interpretation of that style. It does feel forced to work that in reverse—to say, OK, I’m going to design this way because this is what attracts likes and pins. That seems like forcing yourself to conform to a mold instead of allowing your style (and your expression of it) to evolve organically.

    I appreciate that preferences change over time, and I fully understand that these decisions are business-related. I also appreciate your transparency on the subject. I just think doing your job for the likes and pins has caused you to throw the quirk and funk out the window in favor of creating these blandscapes of rooms that seem to need constant tweaking due to your dissatisfaction with them.

    I used to think your previously colorful, quirky, mid-century-loving style would have shown up in your house whether or not there was a blog and a photoshoot involved. If you took away the blog and the photoshoots now, what would you really do with these spaces?

    1. “I used to think your previously colorful, quirky, mid-century-loving style would have shown up in your house whether or not there was a blog and a photoshoot involved. If you took away the blog and the photoshoots now, what would you really do with these spaces?”

      This is an interesting question that has me wondering the same.

  21. I think the room looks wonderful, and I love the changes. While the Persian rug was great, I agree it was too overwhelming/busy in this room. My favorite touches in the room now are the artwork over the fireplace (and the modern piece is great, too – and I like it better where you have it now!), the black vase on the gray cabinet (ugh, $1200! So sad!), the bells over the piano (have always loved those!), and the Lisa Golightly artwork – big heart eyes for that!!!

    I’m glad your mainly designing for yourself, even with the constant tweaking. Keep in mind you will never be able to please anyone, so please disregard anyone who says the room isn’t “inspirational.” Inspiration is a very personal thing. And I know that when I am pinning images for inspiration, it is less because I find something beautiful, and more because I would love to recreate some aspect of the image in my own house. Your house’s architecture, particularly in that room, is a very specific style. There are few elements that would work well in my house (a traditional New England colonial). So I probably wouldn’t pin much from your room, but that doesn’t mean I don’t like it.

    A couple of thoughts came to mind for possible future tweaks, since I’m sure you’ll continue to evolve this and all the rooms of your house! I think it’s a little awkward to have identical sconces at two different heights kitty corner to each other (above the bookshelves and on the flanking walls). Have you considered replacing the sconces above the bookshelves with more architectural sconces that point downward, to be obviously/purposefully different from the flanking lights and to bring the heights a bit more level? Also, the room is so large and could fit multiple seating areas/conversational groups (especially without a TV in the room), but instead is really dominated by one main seating group. It would be great if you could break things up a little and find a way to better highlight the bay window that is hidden behind the couch.

    I love coming to your blog everyday, and am looking forward to seeing what you do with the mountain house and the Portland house!

  22. This is certainly the best version yet – the muted deeper color tones are awesome – the only pieces that make me cringe a teeny bit are the trunk turned vertical against the windows and the credenza up against the wall that blocks the view of the bookshelf. I’m sure both pieces are super useful so it’s hard to give up the space, but they seem so heavy, I can’t help but imagine the space every time with those gone and replaced with sleeker smaller pieces. Also – so many lampshades, wow! You have 11 lamps by the fireplace! Does it get super dark in there at night or something?! It just seems so visually weighted at the end of that room, and yet above the piano it’s super minimalistic. But! it does give off great chill / interesting vibes, it’s super challenging doing up your own space!

    1. I’d love to see this room with different lighting, fewer two-light sconces with these shades, more groupings. But that’s because I am looking at a photo!

    2. You make a good point about the credenza. Maybe a thinner (less deep) credenza, or a table placed there instead (so you could see through the bottom at least)… Alternatively, maybe one could rotate the credenza so that it’s actually in front of and blocking the lower half of the bookshelf? That would of course make the bottom half of the bookcase unusable, but I feel like part of it is sort of unusable now due to the current overlap. Or heck, even a drop-leaf wall-mounted folding table that could be down on normal days and raised up for entertaining and bar use? It’s hard to say because whatever goes there needs to be both functional and pin-worthy.

  23. I love this look best of all! I loved this room even with the Persian rug, but it just keeps getting better and better with every iteration that you do! Your coffee table is perfection and exactly what I have been looking for but unfortunately is not in the budget currently. Do you know of any dupes or coffee tables with a similar feel that happen to be a bit cheaper?

    I am currently in the process of moving into a new NYC (small) apartment with an open floor plan and would love a post about how to decorate a space like that without feeling too matchy-matchy. Since it is a small apartment you pretty much see the living room/kitchen/dining area all at once, so trying to make it look cohesive and styled yet thoughtfully put together and not from the same store is proving to be quite the challenge!

    Also, you asked recently about small space styling, I would also love a post of small space sofas. When I was shopping around, I was trying to find a small sofa (80 inches or under) that was a sectional and a sleeper sofa that I could test out in person before I bought it. It was pretty much impossible so I had to compromise and nix the sectional idea but would have loved this post while I was looking for one!

    1. On a similar track, I’d love to see how you’d decorate a modern PNW studio apartment, all from places like IKEA and Target, with a little Craigslist thrown in:).

  24. I actually really liked the Christmastime photo shoot / room styling. I also liked the Halloween one. With this room’s current iteration, I agree that what’s most important is that the family who actually lives here is happy (which is what I would’ve said about all previous iterations of it too). My eye loves the little pops of green (mug, Lisa Golightly artwork…).

    The only things I would do differently would be to make the bookshelves less busy (I know they’re challenging because the shelves are shallow, but the shelves seem like they’re suffering from too-many-small-things-itis), and to cut back on the sheer number of lights in this room or add more variety to the lighting. Assuming low-energy bulbs and only one bulb per shade, there are still eighteen bulbs in this room by my count, which to me seems like a lot of repetition / duplication to me. Maybe just some variation (adding some that cast light upwards, or some that feature bare bulbs, or some that have more of an arc, or some that have more of an ambient glow, or even some regular old candles) would help mix up the lighting situation. Not trying to fix something that isn’t broken – just trying to think about what I would tweak for the sake of experimentation. Then again, I think I’ve only ever seen photos of this room during daylight hours – no idea what it actually looks like or feels like at night.

  25. Love the changes! The graphic art on its own side wall is much better and the abstract above the fireplace provides the juxtaposition of modernity and antique that makes the room not only fresh, but suited to the 21st century and a young family. Can we talk bar carts/displays? I get the photo op they provide. But as a cocktail imbiber myself, I don’t get it from a pragmatic view. When we make cocktails, we need ice, water, a sink, tea towel, shaker, lemons/limes/olives/cherries/simple syrup/herbs from the fridge. So I have a spirits cupboard in my kitchen which is right next to all those things. I’m sure you add all of these things to your set-up when you have people over but why have it out all the time in between?

  26. The painting over the fireplace is exactly what the room needed! It’s perfect! It was already pretty, but now it’s amazing. The painting that almost went over the fireplace is so much better in it’s new spot. I didn’t like it at all when I saw it over the fireplace, but I think it’s great where you have it now. This room is now worthy of being next to the stunning patio tile! Good job.

    1. I completely agree with you re the two paintings! I also didn’t like the first modern painting when it was above the fireplace, but I really like it where it is now. Works much better there. And the new art above the fireplace looks terrific.

  27. Love the credenza corner. That lamp is to die for! Two thumbs up for the garage art…loving it there.

  28. Good for you Emily! This looks excellent! I’m not a fan of the art over the fireplace as much as the black and white and I think it could come down about four inches, but this is you, not me. Design for yourself and make yourself happy! We all love seeing your designs and you are very inspirational. Not just because it’s your design, but you seem like a super fun, cool person, and you’re everyone’s friend. Thank you. Love the new graphic pops. It’s a great balance!

      1. I am obsessed with that piece but I just want to reach it and move it down three inches. Glad I’m not the only whose eyes are playing tricks. Maybe it looks more appropriate in person?

        Love that you are finding the balance between real life and style heaven, Emily. It’s fun to watch you experiment–it makes me braver in taking my own risks!

  29. I like how your rooms evolve and seem to get better with (near-constant) tweaking. It’s fun to watch the progress/change.

    Today’s post made me wonder if you’ve ever made a design decision and spent far too much money on something that didn’t turn our right. But it was so much money that you couldn’t change it, had to live with it. What did you do then?

    I’m talking BIG decisions that didn’t turn out but you have to live with them because you sunk so much money into them that you can’t afford to change it. Like, maybe you refinished your floors over the entire house in a color that turns out to be hard to maintain and live with. Or you bought an enormous, very expensive rug that you thought would work out, but it doesn’t and you don’t have money to change it. Or you have the room with the 20-foot cathedral ceiling painted, and it looks awful after the sun goes down but you can’t afford all that scaffolding again.

    What to do when you have to live with a mistake?

  30. I love your updates. I love the art over the fireplace and I love the fireplace, but I think it would look better to leave the fireplace bare. It has a unique shape and the rectangular picture makes it look awkward and distracts from its beauty.

  31. I love the changes! I am loving these VERY-detailed posts. It is so interesting to read about your thought process and what you borrowed just for the shoot, etc. I totally agree with moving the black and white art to another part of the room – it looks great. Also, LOVE the rug – it feels like the absolute right ‘base’ for this room. I do have to say that I am not feeling the sewing table at all. I can appreciate the piece in the close-up image and can see the wood is beautiful and I do love the simplicity of the drawer and knobs. However, I think something more modern or ‘grounded’ (or softer?) here would be better. I am not exactly sure what it is, but just wanted to be honest that I am not feeling it. And the wheels on the legs are driving my OCD brain crazy. But that’s just me! Do you need to re-position this table a thousand times a day? I suppose my version of hell would be furniture on wheels that do not lock and I have to keep fixing their placement in a room. Anywhoo…I would also add a little something to the hearth? In any case, I really appreciate your blog and cannot agree more about the tray issue. LOVE that black tray.

  32. I think it’s lovely. I basically did the same thing in my home – got it all loaded up and was suddenly overwhelmed with busy and now it’s all changing again. My family is suffering from whiplash. I would like to make a suggestion on the bookshelves – more books, less stuff. My opinion is that styled bookshelves are only nice for tight shots. When I stopped trying to feature items on my bookshelves and simply filled them with books, the room got much more peaceful. Even if the bindings add more color than you are looking for, it has the effect of feeling “right” and triggering your mind to accept that the books are an invitation to quiet and introspection. So, I have an 80% books, 20% accents on bookshelves. It makes a big difference.

  33. Emily, we have totally opposite styles (the Persian rug and portrait painting is more my thing) BUT I visit your blog daily, and have done for quite some time, because I learn so much from you. Even though my tastes might not align, I appreciate seeing design from a fresh, well thought out perspective and I can incorporate certain details in our own home. I love that you share the process, the ups and downs, the mistakes and traumas as well as the successes. Thank you (and your team) for all your hard work!

  34. I really like the room update. The feeling of the art is way more you! However, I feel like you need a mantle. No matter what art you choose, it looks less pleasing to me floating and no having a horizontal surface. Just my opinion, but since you asked I thought I would let you know my thoughts.

  35. I’ve always liked your living room with each style change. But holy smokes, this design gets a YAS QUEEN!!!

    This living room is everything my soul needs. You’re killing it and I applaud you for taking reader comments (even the unnecessarily harsh ones) and using them to push yourself. Yas. Queen.

  36. Beautiful! I was one of the folks who thought the modern art piece was jarring over the fireplace. I love its new location and it totally makes sense in there now, and also LOVE the new art over the fireplace. Also, just FYI, I NEVER thought it wasn’t inspirational just because I didn’t agree with a few pieces. I’m inspired by your quest for calm, and the designs you and your team churn out are always inspirational. You go glen coco!

  37. Love the new rug and artwork over the fireplace! The only thing that’s throwing the room off for me is the lamp on the credenza. It looks beautiful when looking at the credenza head on but, in looking at it from the side the lamp is distracting in front of the bookshelves.

  38. YAAASSS I love the changes. Bravo! I was one of the people who was a little jarred by that modern painting above your fireplace. It’s perfect in the other spot, while this new/old painting fits the mantel better. *clapping*

    I also love the color-coded books. I’m a person who has all of her book spines turned around to quiet her space (which enrages some of your blog readers) but I keep my books for sentiment, not to reread. If I have time to read, I’m reading a new book. Therefore my books become props and it’s OK with me to spin them backward if I like it better! All that to say, my feeling is that your books are yours, and you can style them how you want.

  39. First, I LOVE, LOVE your new house! It is beautiful! However, I think your personal decorating style is better suited to your former house – which you slayed! It was the perfect marriage and everything from colors to furniture looked like it belonged in that house. I just think your current home and your style are a little mismatched. I see a different style for your home – maybe more traditional with a lot of neutral? Warm creams, antique furniture and tall plants/tree (since you have the height). Please take my comments as kind criticism. It’s like your decor is Angelina and your house is Brad – both insanely beautiful – just maybe not together.

  40. Honestly, it doesn’t look that much different, except for the art over the fireplace. LOVE!! Can you link it up?

    While I appreciate a post about changes in your house, I am DYING to hear about what’s happening on the Portland house reno. When will we see that? I hope we will get to see some of the updates as they are happening and not just shots of the completed project!!

  41. I love the sculptural, yet simplistic, addition of your Paul McCobb chair! My boyfriend is a McCobb collector.. like every single piece of furniture in his house is McCobb, so I had to send him this link and I said babe babe babe my favorite designer has an amazing McCobb chair!!!

  42. I think its stunning. Both inspirational and aspiration. But here is my question….tv?? What happened with the projector?
    Also random other question, what about the basement space in the house that got flooded around the time you moved in? Whatever happened there?

  43. The Persian rug was beautiful, but definitely busy. This design iteration is much more my style. The one thing I keep going back to though is the fireplace. I agree that this art is an improvement, however it still feels a little off to me. I can’t decide if resurfacing, painting, adding a mantle, etc would do the trick or not, but art here has never felt right.

    Also, I would really love to see your “money/kids are not an object” mood board, please 🙂

  44. Yes. Yes. Yes.
    I say something along these lines in every comment — you really have a way with art. This room is my ideal; classic and beautiful furniture and surfaces with wonderful, personality filled art and objects. This looks like a lived-in & loved home. (For what it is worth I think every version of this room has hit this high-bar as well. This version just feels even more considered than the others.)

  45. I think there’s too much furniture in it. Especially the credenza. It visually blocks the bookcases and I think removing that would do wonders, despite what a beautiful piece it is. I also think some of the visual busy-ness comes from the beams, maybe paint white? Your eyes don’t know where to land. Yes there is a fireplace focal point but there’s too much else going on. I’ve always been perplexed by this room and understood why it never felt fully right to you. I really think the issue is too much furniture.

    As always its still totally beautiful. Just giving some input.

    1. I agree! I keep saying remove the credenza!! It’s beautiful but not needed!! I also think the coffee table is too heavy/ the bottom looks like a cutting board. And if one or more items was edited from each table, it would be so much calmer feeling.

      1. I agree…the coffee table just doesn’t seem a good fit for the room. But overall, I feel the new space is much less frantic looking…..more calm and zen.

    2. I agree that it feels like there is too much furniture in this space. With that being said, I’m actually sad to hear that so many of your readers’ comments/opinions weigh on you so heavily. I’m happy to just sit back and watch the room grow/adjust/change with the needs of your family and life (and not to get more pins). You have mentioned in a few posts how this urge to generate traffic and pins contributes to the design process. I think that could be a very interesting, stand alone blog post! Thanks for always sharing and being so open (it’s definitely a lot more fun/interesting that way!).

    3. Hmm. I like the credenza and the chaise precisely where they are. This is a big room and without those 2 pieces, the space would look bare. There is a nice symmetry, too, in how the chaise and the credenza are positioned to block a small portion of each bookcase.

      And I also like the wood beams unpainted. The curves of the beams mirror the curves of the fireplace. Again symmetry calms things.

      But different strokes/folks.

  46. Love, love, love the changes. It’s now relatable yet aspirational all at once.

  47. Love them all. I’m very partial to Persian carpets and they are child friendly, although they also do a great job of camouflaging lego pieces until you step on them barefoot. The only thing that bothers me a tad in the room now is the bookcases. Weirdly I didn’t mind them with the Persian carpet and all the bright colored books., but now I find them a bit busy. I’m wondering if maybe they had doors covering them it could provide some texture, but not so many little bits.

    But what this whole discussion is making me think about is the difference between the lives we all live and the so-called ‘aspirational’ pictures that bombard us the internet. I’m beginning to redecorate my entry, which is large and has a big closet, but not big enough to deal with all the jackets and boots and sports clothes etc that people who live in 4 season climates have to deal with. And all the beautiful pictures I find on the internet show one or two jackets (not a bulky down jacket either) and a bag and maybe one or two pairs of shoes/ boots. And they are beautiful and I am sucked in until I remember that I have actual life to deal with, and about a billion coats and jackets and boots and snow pants etc.

    One of the main reasons I value this blog – You keep showing us how you make choices that are both practical and beautiful. So I’m very grateful to hear your discussions about the choices you are making and why.

    1. I had a similar problem to you – four-season climate and multiple items per person – what helped me was to only have the items for the current season in that entry closet, and only the everyday ones (e.g. no ski jackets). This winter, I put the other items (spring raincoats, formal coat, light jackets…) in a downstairs out-of-the-way closet. My closet is by no means aspirational, but it is a lot less jam-packed now than it was. But I totally know what you mean about entryway photos that are very pin-worthy but not liveable – this is my favorite photo of that genre that looks good to me but is completely unobtainable for my life style –

    2. Yes, exactly!
      “You keep showing us how you make choices that are both practical and beautiful.”

  48. I LOVE the new art! I’m also obsessed with blues so this room is hitting it all right for me! Also, very glad you didn’t go for the $140,000 rug since I would probably stop reading if your rug cost more than my combined household income for a year!

  49. I like is much better than the last version. While I’m still not a massive fan of the rug I think it fads better into the background and everything else now stands out. I thought the last version was bland but this one is a nice balance between calm, kid friendly and personality. Overall it’s nice and who doesn’t love that painting?

  50. I really like it! Thank you for moving that graphic art piece – I like it so much better in the new home. This feels balanced, and you, and organic, and gorgeous. I would live there (with my kids!) in a heartbeat. Enjoy it!

  51. I love this iteration — it is super beautiful, YOU, and family friendly (i.e. I can imagine that a family with small children actually lives here). I really miss the oriental rug, but I totally get it that, as a designer especially, what you need when you come home is CALM, not stimulation. I really like the new painting over the fireplace — it does, like you said, just pull the whole room together. Beautiful room!

  52. I love it; it looks great! Particularly love the art – and the black and white (which I didn’t really like over the fire place) looks good where it is now!

    As I said last time, I get the issue with the visual busy-ness of the rug. I keep think I want a patterned cement tile, but I’m afraid it will wear me out to look at it all the time (!)

    Looks lovely!

  53. I love the new painting above the fireplace. LOVE.

    Since you asked for opinions… I’m glad you love your new space. It is, objectively, gorgeous, and calming, and chic, and very California. 🙂

    If I was styling it for me to live in, I’d have kept the persian rug that’s remarkably similar to the one I just got on Wayfair (great source of wool rugs for reasonable prices in large sizes, FYI, for anyone looking), probably added more in the way of brass lamps, and definitely overall gone for darker accessories/dark wood/barrister bookcases kind of jam (aka: my current living room – think vaguely colonial library style), so I’m personally more keen on your first image, but different tastes and all that.

  54. I love that you keep tweaking this room to meet your and your family’s needs. I agree with some of the other commentators that the straight down the middle shot of the room is not the most flatter shot of the space. Part of this, as has been mentioned, is that there are so many lamp/sconce shades in that view. I love the sconces that you chose, but think that changing our the ones over the bookcases on the fireplace wall to sleeker picture lights would help simplify things. Maybe something like this in the same antique brass finish

    The two other things that always throw me off about the room are the coffee table, which I love on its own, but which never seems quite substantive enough to hold the space. (And, as you mentioned, it’s not quite long enough.) And the other is the chairs. I actually really like the chairs by themselves, but paired with the very traditional sofa and chaise, they just aren’t working for me. I think it’s the vaguely mid-century and traditional mash up that keeps throwing me off. Maybe the colour too? I don’t mean that you need a set of traditional chairs there – and in fact that would probably throw you into the land of too much traditional furniture overall – but maybe something more modern rather than mid-century?

    Looking forward to seeing how this space continues to evolve!

  55. I really love your style, that’s why I am here!! And the need for a calmer living room/lifestyle. I love the new rug and the Persian rug. You nailed it with the piano styling.

    I really feel if you want the room calmer each table should have at least one thing removed. I think the credenza doesn’t even need to be in there (only if you have to have it for storage). Take away some lamps. I think the fireplace is so beautiful and it’s beauty would stand out more with no painting at all. I feel calmer isn’t just about color but also about amount of stuff. You have beautiful furniture and accessories as well a house with good bones!!

  56. I really like where you ended up putting the super modern piece, fits so much better on wall and not on the mantle.

  57. I am really glad you like the room – I also think it is in it’s best iteration yet. A thought just occurred to me – do you say you love the comments/debate because the more there are of those, the better it looks to your sponsors? I bet you genuinely love the discussion and I love your transparency, but I guess there’s just this weird modern tension going on between what you like/what your readers like/what you think your readers will like… ha! It’s tricky.

    The blue/neutral vibe is just not my thing. I hope you will do some fun stuff with your other projects that involve other colors! I still pine for the days when you had hot pink bedside lamps hanging from the ceiling and projects like the Fig House. The Fig House is still my fave. But maybe I am too stuck in the past. I guess when you had clients, you also had a reason to do more varied things.

    I guess my final thought it that I hope you continue to do you. You’re pretty forward thinking and I bet people will like what you organically come to like, rather than what people are telling YOU looks good. If that makes sense?

  58. “That pouf was bought just for the shoot and returned”

    May I ask if this is usual practice for you? I do appreciate that vendors make it easy to return items, but it seems like it’s kind of unprofessional to use it as unpaid rentals of pieces you aren’t buying in good faith.

    1. My sense is that the pouf-vendors are probably happy it got a feature that they didn‘t have to pay for?

      1. So if the pouf vendors are happy about it, wouldn’t it be better to do it with their advance cooperation? It seems like if it’s such a plus for the vendor, it could be communicated with them and completed with their consent. It seems shady to buy and use items for commercial reasons and then return them as if you are a regular consumer sending back unused merchandise that you had bought in good faith. Consent is important.

    2. This is a similar scenario to buying a few potential dresses for an event, then trying them on again at home and deciding to take them back. I worked in retail for many years, don’t even get me started on the many highly unethical and illegal ways people take advantage of return policies! Taking photos of clothing or and item does not constitute wear and tear and make an item unsalable. The item didn’t work out and it was returned in new condition with tags attached. Normal and acceptable use of a return policy 🙂

    3. FYI – designers do this all the time for shoots. I suppose it would be one thing if the cats were all over it, or the kids spilled on it, but it’s literally there for the shoot and then it goes back. I’m guessing the vendor is happy for the free publicity, so long as the item isn’t messed up.

  59. Just changing the painting over the fireplace made a huge difference, and it is much better situated where you moved it. Love the new one….it ties the whole room together. Am I the only one who isn’t crazy about the chaise in the corner?? Odd color and style…….

    1. NO- you are not the only one! It seems depressing and almost like a prop from one of those booths at the amusement park where you get dressed up for Old West saloon-style photos printed in sepia. Or a fuzzy millipede.

  60. One of the best decisions you made was getting rid of the persian rug. It’s beautiful, but it never felt right in your space! I am much more for the serene. The space is so big that there’s so much packed in there (books, art, vases, lamps, scones, flowers, etc, etc) and the pattern of the rug added too much (and the color wasn’t soothing). I think this is the best version I’ve seen of your living room. It was smart to bring in more black and graphic stuff. The space needed a little more contrast for energy (the black helped that), and it has so many old and curved pieces, that it’s nice to have some modern and sharp-angled stuff in there. You needed to contrast the vintage inspired furniture and the old home with some mid century modern and new pieces to make it more interesting, and you did that! Glad you like it!

  61. Love the new changes. The contrast you built in this go around really ties it together for me.

  62. Aghhh. Emily. I must ask. How do you do this day in and day out…not the design or redesign but the tuning in to all the voices, opinions, advice, words!!! I applaude you for being able to find your true north or follow your own design heart in the midst of the word clutter of this blog and comments. I am not being critical to any of your readers or commenters. They are sharp and well thought out. More just in awe of how you do it without second guessing yourself around every turn. I started renovating and redecorating my home on a show string budget about 3 years ago. About a year ago I started illiciating opinions from some trusted friends, pinning some inspirational photos, and honing my ametuer design skills. What resulted…I got so overwhelmed with self doubt, so worries about being too boring, or not following the right rules that I stopped dead and haven’t been able to move forward since. I still have walls with 4 different paint samples on them. The noise and advice overwhlemed me.

    So just wanted to tell you good job. Keep finding things and ways to make your heart happy with the the work you do. I certainly applaude you. I simply couldn’t do what you do!!

  63. I love the new look, sorry, I never liked the original version, always read as too busy to me. I fell in love with your style back in your other house so this feels more like you to me, but what do I know ?. The only thing I dislike is the trunk between the two chairs. Oh and I loved the Christmas look.

  64. Yes, I still miss the Persian rug, but that makes sense since I have one at home. It’s my comfort level. Would you consider doing a textured grasscloth, maybe in a light grey, on the back of the builtins? It would add some nice dimension to that back wall without feeling jarring. Plus, less contrast with the objects in the bookcases could be a good thing.

    I really like the coffee table, but it’s always felt a little too small to me, as in too narrow, not too short. Once the kids are a little older, maybe 2 36″ square tables that can be pushed together or pulled apart?

    That said, keep doing you, lady. I think the answer is to keep focusing on projects outside of your own home so you don’t get stuck with things that look interesting but are hard to live with.

  65. As one of the few men who ever comment, and a former Mime, your room is quiet. Like I used to be. (Yes, you read that right.)

  66. Aesthetically, I think both rooms are beautiful. I think the updated version is more fresh, airy, and “young and modern,” to steal your words. Essentially, it’s more you, and that makes me love it.

    Thanks for reminding us that design is a process, and even beautiful rooms are allowed to evolve!

  67. Whenever I see your living room, I’m always so glad you refinished the beams instead of painting them black or white. They are beautiful. I do like the rug change. If you lived in a cold climate, you could put the Persian out in winter, and the blue and white in spring/summer. But, you don’t, so it’s okay. The whole arrangement is very smart, clean, and family friendly. I must say, you look mighty proud of yourself.

  68. I’m gonna do what I hate other readers doing, but could you post a link to a painting/picture similar to what’s above your fireplace? Affordable art is the hardest thing.

  69. Hi Emily,

    I have two thoughts for you:

    1. Thank you for sharing your home and life with me and the rest of the world. Your work is always stunning and I enjoy seeing you tackle new styles or redo areas in different ways. DesignSponge had an interesting article about trends that is somewhat relevant; you may enjoy reading it

    2. I imagine it’s hard to capture the feel of a room sometimes, especially if the goal is to be calm, quiet, and cozy. It reminds me of makeup – you apply makeup differently for video or photo shoots than you do for real life. What looks great on camera is often overwhelming in real life. You live and work in these two separate realities. What a challenge!

    Hope you can stay positive and true to yourself!

  70. I adore the shot of the sofa with the red door open in the background. It’s peace, its welcoming, its comfortable gorgeous home! In fact, I love everything about this room now except for one thing, which I’ve noticed in most of your living room shoots since last year. Every shot that includes the credenza seems too busy. The shots of the credenza alone aren’t bad, but it’d look a lot less tangled with fewer bottles/paraphernalia on the tray. I’m not a drinker myself so maybe I’m just not used to seeing this stuff on display?! The rest of your trays and table tops feel excellent, styled yet calm enough to live with on the daily, but not that one. All in all though, I think you nailed the mom/designer/creator mix!

  71. I love your living room! Feels peaceful, interesting, welcoming! The only comment I have is in the vignette you are standing next to, I would move the picture on top right a little to the left and down a smidge. It looks a bit separate from the others.

  72. Your home is gorgeous and your style is rad! Thank you for sharing the ins & outs of what goes in to styling a difficult space.

    For me, there’s still too much furniture in the room. How about removing the demilune table by the chaise and also the black tripod lamp? This would allow that area to breathe. I still struggle with the visual weight of the trunk…isn’t there another option for those chairs?

    However, it sounds like your family’s needs dictate that the space is perfect, as is, and that is awesome. Maybe this is the best version of this room, for now:)

  73. I LOVE all the changes, especially the rug and modern art… but I would take it another step further. I know you’ve been considering removing the bookcases since you bought the house, and I think it’s finally time 🙂 The shot from halloween with the spines turned around was sooo much more calming and all my favorite shots of this room are ones without the busy/distracting bookshelves. You have so much beautiful art, and original architectural accents that I think the bookshelves are just visually distracting. Your eye wants to go there… bc there is so much to look at… but there is nothing special there and it takes away from all the other VERY special things you’ve picked out around the room. Just do it. Get rid of them. You’ll never look back 😉

  74. OBSESSED! Gosh, it is all so good! Totally with you on needing to come home to a space that is more calming / less busy. What did you buy for your cats to scratch that has kept them from scratching everything else?? I feel like I have bought all the things and they still scratch door frames and the wooden legs of my (brand new) coffee table!

  75. I like the new layout. I also want to say I’ve noticed that every time you decorate a new living room, I miss the last one (in this case, the Glendale LR). But then by the time you move and create a new space, I’ve gotten attached (at which point the whole cycle starts again). When I look at pics of your earlier apartments/pre-baby houses, I can see how much your style has changed, from mid-century, colorful, and quirky, to serene and sophisticated. I love them all but it really is interesting to see how your style has evolved as your family has grown.

    Since you’ve invited commentary, I will say: the bones of this room are insane. The ceiling beams, that fireplace, the herringbone floors, those amazing sconces–all glorious. I like the fact that your new furniture was chosen in order to harmonize with the feel of this house, which is very different from your last. So: generally, the new jam is fabulous.

    I do wish that there were even more vintage pieces. I know there are vintage accessories here–side tables and smaller chairs. But usually when I think of your rooms I think of major pieces that are incredible vintage finds (the blue mid century sofa, the danish sofa, those incredible safari chairs). The original rug was like that–something beautiful, old, special, something no one else has. But I agree with you that it did feel busy. I still think your first design was beautiful, but it makes sense to me that you felt there was too much going on with the color palette.

    Full disclosure: you taught me everything I know about vintage furniture (LOVED those “Trolling Craigslist” posts). You’ve influenced my own style most profoundly in that way, and now my living room is almost exclusively made up of re-upholstered Craigslist finds. So, that’s my taste and my bias. In short: I pretty much love everything you do, and I also thank you for helping me to develop and define my own style. I hope you keep doing what you do!

  76. It’s funny, and I don’t know how you do it, because every time I think “NOW it’s perfect, hope she doesn’t change anything”… and yet, you change it, and it always look better!

  77. I absolutely LOVE it! It is so good Emily and team. I liked the graphic art above the fireplace (the piece is amazing) but I love it even more on the side. It feels like a nice surprise. You do beautiful work, and thank you as always flr sharing your process. It is the reason you are my favorite blogger.

  78. Love this so much more than the last version! That painting looks great over the fireplace. This room is much more interesting and fun now! Great job!

  79. I’ve always loved the rug since you’ve introduced it! I’m getting new floors this summer and want this rug for my living room when it’s done. I like the changes, and appreciate the balance you strive for.

  80. The styling in that shot of the Article credenza is absolute perfection. Please never ever change it and be sure to show photos here of it at least monthly so I can be reminded of it’s modern-yet-calm aesthetic. That is everything I strive for in my home, and yet rarely have the time and funds to fully achieve. So I rely on you to provide, and this did not disappoint!

    But what will you do when the Anemones are out of season???

  81. Love it!! I think it’s perfect. I love the grey cabinet. Where can I find something similar? On the hunt for my dining room! Thanks!

  82. Yes! This is my favourite version (so far, haha!) I am still in love with the blue lampshade and I’m on the hunt for bottle green shades for my own space, as I was so inspired by yours! I really like that you keep tweaking and modifying the space. Sometimes in my own decorating I feel like I have to make the perfect decision and live with it forever and that is paralyzing. I appreciate the concept of decor fluidity! It somehow gives me permission to change my mind or try something new. So, thanks!

  83. It’s beautiful! All of the versions were great:)
    Quick practical question: does your long black curtain rod sag at the extension points when you close the curtains? Mine does, and it drives me crazy! If yours doesn’t, where is it from?

  84. And proud you should be. It is perfect, has just the right doze of maturity and whimsy. It calm but still very interesting. Love it!!!!

  85. Love the art changes. I never saw anything wrong with the room before but your changes are visually pleasing.

  86. Still miss the red rug and the punch of color it gave this space… So here’s an idea: the left side of the room seems very visually heavy to me with those two big pieces of velvet furniture and the chaise is lost in the back corner. What about if you flipped the couch to face the fireplace and put the chaise in that beautiful bay window, thus accenting them. both? I also agree with the reader who said to take the 2 mid century white sidechairs to the mtn house along with the coffee table (or put it in the playroom) so its still accessible to the little ones and then get a couple of chairs to flank the fireplace. I’d love to see more curves and maybe the credenza could live where the chaise now resides…
    Just some food for thought. And btw you can never have too many books but I’ll never get this backwards facing thing! Maybe you could give each of the kiddos a bottom shelf on each side of the fireplace for their special treasures and see what they come up with?

    1. Wait! The kids already have their own rooms and now a huge playroom situation! Mom and Dad need to have some areas that are adult and designed just for their things! The entire house doesn’t have to be for the kids things in my opinion.

  87. Love it. I have a blue sofa, they’re the best. My one critique is the coffee table – it seems lonely in the middle of the room. Could it come closer to the sofa? I imagine someone sitting on the sofa and having to overreach to get anything on the coffee table. That said, the room is totally lovely!

  88. I love the room because it feels like you. If you’re living in it, your opinion is the only one that matters. The one thing that keeps pestering me though, is the coffee table. It’s a beautiful table but it looks way too small. Of course, that could be the photos playing tricks on my eyes. It just doesn’t feel substantial enough? But, at the end of the day, who cares? The room is comfortable, functional and pretty!

  89. I love the changes. I also loved the Persian rug. As I tell my clients, there is more than one way to skin a cat, which I would never do because it’s mean and I love cats. But especially a classic space like your living room can be styled in a number of ways. Keep on keeping on. Rooms are never really Done.

  90. Emily, you are phenomenally talented and I really hope the hate that can exist freely and without consequences on the Internet doesn’t get you too down. I’ve been a longtime reader – probably almost 10 years? – and I love to see you evolve. Don’t second guess so much. I’m glad you feel growth, but it sounds like you don’t need any more personal or professional pressure.

    I adore that rug and the unusual lighting!

  91. Who’s the designer (you-so many parenthesis in this post), who lives there (you), and who apparently loves it (you). I don’t think you are actually seeking approval from your readers but to create content you write like you do. Get back in the saddle and do what you do best, design and then show us. But no more books turned around. Too pretentious. Carry on, Emily!

  92. Hi Em! I think if you’re happy that’s all that matters for sure! It’s pretty and soft. I DO miss the rug. I think the rug goes with the style of the house and loved the color in there. I have a real problem with this trend of turning books around. It looks so fake and obviously you don’t like books if you do that. I know this is a major “Fixer Upper” trend to have books covered in parchment paper or turned around and she uses books that are old and have never been read by the people in the House. Skip the books if you have to do that stuff! Glad you turned yours back around!
    Where is your TV? You moved it out of the playroom and not in the living room either?
    Just curious!
    My 3 favorites in your house: back porch and back yard, laundry room, kids rooms.
    Your children have beautiful rooms not sure why you then need a separate playroom. That room with bay window feels like a family room for relaxing and tv and family and friends.
    Anyway that’s it! Thanks for sharing … fun to brainstorm!

  93. Hi Emily,

    I love how you keep changing up your space! The new painting in the middle of the room is GREAT.

    Question: what do you do with the light that’s on the trunk? Where do you plug it in?
    I am facing the same issue for my new condo – what do you do with lighting and plugs when your living room ‘floats’ between all the walls?

  94. It’s interesting without being too chaotic. And yes it’s modern with depth.

    PS- I’m currently throwing pots and I’ll tell you that vase is worth $1,200.00. What a physically and creatively difficult skill to learn.

  95. Love love love it the best now! I think the calmness, blues and modern art is amazing! I do prefer the old styling of the credenza (with the schoolhouse white with blue shade lamp on it) and I just cant get on board with the green chaise. But gosh the modern art with the vintage furniture pieces and blue rug is beautiful!

  96. Emily,
    I LOVE your blog and know that you love to change things up. The new rug is beautiful and the color is very
    soft and easy on the eyes. But my favorite is still the Persian antique rug. I loved the pop of color that it brought to the room and it is just “my opinion” but I feel it was more in the traditional English tudor style of your house.
    I hope that you did not sell the rug because it would be nice to bring it back out in a few years when you get the urge to change things up again! I know that your style leans a bit more “modern traditional” and what you have in your living room is more in style with what your family wants right now.

  97. I LOVE the changes! Seriously the best this room has ever looked! Don’t miss the Persian rug one bit!

  98. Really like the changes you made to the room. The artwork over the fireplace tried too hard to be something it wasn’t. but love the new/recycled piece. Rooms, like wardrobes (and hair colors) evolves over time with our interests, travels, and families.

    Like you, I tend to be drawn to more masculine furnishings and colors with feminine touches and appreciate how you work these into your work.

    And, while you are in Sacramento visiting Brian’s parents, you should visit some local artists to mix things up. I can think of a couple that you might be interested in.

  99. I’m so glad that you kept the graphic modern painting & I love it’s new spot! The art in accessories update help add a little edge and cohesion while still seeming home-y. Of course, I was one of the people who liked the new rug in the first place, so I was probably already on “team change.” I feel like the hearth could potentially use a plant or some sort of accessorizing, but I definitely think this version feels more you.

  100. Love the changes! I have a selfish request – can you do something, anything, about how to incorporate hand-me-down furniture into your design? I have a metric ton of furniture dropped on us by my in-laws – very traditional English type stuff, heavy dark woods, dark moody lighting, not my style at all (though a couple of gems – beautiful clocks and a couple drop dead gorgeous oriental rugs, so credit to them where credit would do!) – and would love to see ways to just incorporate stuff not your style into your room successfully – I have to imagine you deal with this a lot styling/designing for others, and would love tips!

  101. I love the “quieter” rug. Very fresh and calm! Also love that the ceramic bells came along to this house. Gorgeous room.

    I am wanting to see a color or mantel or something on the fireplace wall with book shelves. The art is fabulous. There needs to be more color brought up on that wall with such great shapes, even if it is the blue gray of the drapes.
    This might help bring attention away from the beams which are all alone and dark up there.

  102. Have you considered making the shelves further apart and thicker? That would reduce their number and simplify the wall visually. Now, the fireplace wall is a bit hectic to me.

  103. Hi Emily

    I think your living room looks lovely. Changing out the painting over the fireplace was a great decision. I love the new painting there. All of the blue in the painting pulls the room together. I was not fond of black and white painting but I think that relocating it makes a huge difference and I like it there. I really dislike the
    the modern lamp on the piano. I don’t think it works. Also, I would like to see your room without all of the borrowed pieces. I would much prefer to see the living room with items that you actually keep to see how it really looks.

    1. I think the very first styled living room was the prettiest. It had the feeling that you had collected things over time and decorated it. Really loved that fiddle fig tree too…perfect pop of greenery.

  104. Emily,

    Thank you for taking us through your process. It’s actually very helpful to see this room evolve and for you to be pulled at many needs at once-kid friendly, livable, beautiful. The credenza and vignette are really nice! I was looking at the pictures again and wonder whether the two matching armchairs are the elements that keeping this room from being as next level as it could be. They are attractive but somewhat mainstream MCM at this point.

  105. I am a fan of the blog and your style generally, but I’m sorry to say that this “refresh” looks exactly the same as it did before. It was a bit of a letdown since it had been built up on the blog and Instagram.

  106. I know you asked for feedback, but it would be so much easier to critique your designs if it wasn’t your house! It feels intrusive to critique your home. From a DESIGN standpoint, I felt the Persian rug was better. I agree that the modern painting was not working over the fireplace (this latest swap is much better), and fewer vignettes and accessories would better achieve the calm vibe you’re seeking. If I were visiting your home as a friend, I would love it because it is such a personal reflection of your taste. Of course you should have the rug you want, the color palette you want, and the accessories that make you happy! I guess I wish your homes didn’t have to reflect the business goals of how they photograph or provide content. It has been fun to read what others have suggested, but I’m hoping you won’t end up with hurt feelings. It must be a unique challenge as a blogger to have less separation between what is business and what is personal. I would be in tears if people were telling me what they didn’t like about my home! I am ready to see more of the spaces your are designing for your clients.

  107. Hey Emily, love the space and color palette. I have a suggestion. Why not get book covers? You know, the old school box covers that kids used to cover their school books. I think it would look very chic. I think I’ve send examples of people doing it too. It may be worth the investment.

  108. LOVE this, it’s my favourite look you have done in this room. It’s also the first time I haven’t thought you need to get rid of the built in shelves. Calm but interesting, I love every angle. 🙂 🙂 🙂
    PS Could you get a leather moroccan pouffe instead? It looks so good spatially having something there.

  109. While it didnt feel quite “right” last time, I could 100 percent tell where you were going. And now YOU’VE ARRIVED. It is just perfect and made my heart skip a beat when I saw it which is what all good design should do. Well done!! Love love love.

  110. Yep, this is my favorite! Feels calming but still has depth (which is I think what everybody liked about the Persian rug). I’ve liked all versions of this room but this one is the winner in my book. Gorgeous! Looks like such a lovely place to spend time.

    I’d be interested to see what this room looks like with a different coffee table? Don’t get me wrong, I love the table you have. But it’s on the modern side, so I’m curious what a more traditional table might look like with that sofa?

    Also, question about the coffee table being in the middle of the room… We have a very similar furniture layout in our living room and our coffee table is closer to the sofa than the chairs… but it feels off balance to me. But at the same time if it’s in the middle of the room, can you reach it from the sofa or chairs? How do you handle this?

    Also, please do a post about attractive pet accessories – scratching post options, etc. We have a cat and dog in a 1700 sw ft house and there is (almost) no place to hide pet stuff away, so having decent-looking stuff is a MUST. I’d love to see what you do for your cat!

    Ok, sorry this comment was all over the place!

  111. yes, improvements! AND, here’s how i’d like the room: credenza needs to leave, even though it is fabulously styled and a beautiful piece – feels too cluttered. move the demi-lune to that wall. ya don’t need it with the chaise. and, i will continue to hope you get a bigger, heavier-looking coffee table and that that table will live closer to the couch, not the middle of the room.
    here’s a solution to getting your wheels (on the couch): chop off the first ball (of the 2 balls on each foot of the COUCH ;~) & stick a wheel on it!
    you encourage opinions….. so ya got mine today! probably because i should be working on my taxes.

  112. Would love to see you do one more version with a two coloured pallette …. maybe taking inspiration from the painting adding green/ emerald…. or a burgundy…. keeping the basic furniture elements same and flipping the accessories

  113. Every iteration of this room just gets better, you have outdone yourself. That modern artwork lives and breathes fully in the new location, and such serendipity for a piece you already own to find a new home above the fireplace!

    I wonder how the chaise would function if it was pulled out from the bookcase to interact more with the rest of the furniture? So accessing the bookcase was from the back of the chaise rather than the side, or seated position? Or (potentially highly controversial) what if the chaise was moved to the kids playroom area? I suggested a real grownup chair in there as opposed to the beanbag seat…maybe this would serve the same purpose and fit the dramatic role that room calls for? Playrooms are excellent for furniture that can be a boat, or a place to have the vapors, or a good place for parents to “accidentally” take a short nap lol.

    Speaking as a maximalist (with a family, including pets) that desperately strives to be a minimalist, there is a push and pull in your space that is inevitable. Please don’t apologize for that. I was visiting someone’s home once, a family with three children. The father opened the door and said, “Don’t mind the mess, we live here”. I have never heard a more honest representation of a home before, Pinterest be damned! In my house, we all have projects, collections, donations, obsessions and legitimate needs constantly moving and growing organically through the space. I love and appreciate so many beautiful home design styles and objects that it’s hard to stay focused sometimes! Also, there are three litter boxes and dirty dishes and drying laundry. But there are books and art and blooming orchids, treasures to discover at every turn or behind a cupboard door. Regular purging is a must. You live in your house every day, and you really make an effort above and beyond most of us, while we see it occasionally and comment endlessly. We selfishly command you to fix and improve it to our taste, sometimes suggesting things that would cost a ridiculous amount of money that we would never spend if it were our own. Thanks for all you do in the name of design, honesty, and transparency. We are lucky to have you 🙂

  114. I think it is nice now. I think it was more interesting before…

    Whatever makes you happy is what you should do.

  115. I absolutely love it. And it’s YOURS, so no matter what, that’s the most important thing. But seriously, it’s wonderful and aspirational as well as inspirational…and I’m thrilled to see the styled shelves made a return!

  116. I know the wide angle shot doesn’t help, but something about this room just still isn’t doing it for me. I loved the Persian rug, but wish it could have been paired with that couch upholstered white. So the rug was the real emphasis.

    I don’t love how the coffee table works between the couch and chairs. And, unpopular opinion but I don’t really like that painting!!!! I’m sorry!!!!!!

    The room is so beautiful it has so much potential so it just keeps bugging me.

  117. Is the link for the first item, the modern print, to the correct artist? They seem wholly unrelated to each other… ?

  118. Love love love this version! The art above the fireplace is perfecto! I want that rug for our living room. I agree that the Persian wasn’t very calm. Plus, all Persian rugs tend to have those colours so I’m over them. Gorgeous space. ❤️

  119. Hi Emily. Looks good, a bit warmer than the initial ‘tone down’.
    I loved the faux taxidermy above the fireplace in the Christmas photo. Minus the tinsel, any sort of faux taxidermy in that spot would look amazing.
    I tried to purchase from faux white taxidermy in the US, but the postage to australia was ridiculous. The colours and choice of animal are amazing. I ended up having to settle with what was available down here and personalising it with a can of spray paint.

  120. Hi, first time commenting on your blog. Really like your work. Think this calmer version is nice, esp for practical living. the only thing that will improve it is if you style the shelves sparsely, only with books and some curios, remove art so as to streamline it. Right now it adds to visual clutter in the pictures.

  121. Bring back the old painting… Pleaaaassseee. He adds so much character and charm and with the now more modern calming elements in the room he isnt quite so overbearing and intense.

  122. I like a lot of this and the pieces you have added are lovely, for me it comes down to the coffee table – bigger and stronger to ground the room would be helpful – I understand you are working with what you have, can you pull the furniture in closer to the table if you can’t change the table? I also really liked the art of the guy above the fireplace. Perhaps different throw pillows and throws the design on these take away from your beautiful furniture. Sorry to be critical, your space is gorgeous and as others have said the shot is perhaps the issue, not your design. Keep it coming, checking this blog daily makes me happy!

  123. You do such wonderful work. I admire you for always pushing yourself and being honest with your readers. I really enjoy the content you create!

  124. You are so adorable! I totally get that it is hard to style a room for the masses, but actually have to LIVE in it and make it feel perfect for your family. That being said, I still would like to see those bookshelves FULL of books and less other stuff. From far away (in photos), I think it looks too knick knack-ish. That room looks like an English library, so shelves filled with books would be so fitting and calming… anywho, that’s my 2 cents worth!

  125. This is just a comment about why I stopped pinning directly from the site. The pin button doesn’t seem to work on my new phone for this site (Pixel 2). To pin anything, it takes several steps of saving the url and opening the pinterest app and adding a new pin. Also, the popup ads basically cover half the screen, so I tend to only check into your site on a computer where the ads aren’t covering everything and not while I’m idly pinning from blogs on my phone. This was also a problem on my iphone before I switched to the pixel, but I had an older iphone so I thought it was just my phone. Now I think it might be the mobile site. I totally understand having ads on websites, but for some reason the ones here now seem invasive. I still check your blog daily and always will, but it is harder to pin now that it was in the past.

  126. I love the changes you have made Emily! They feel so right. The only thing I sense that seems off is the shape of all the artwork you tried above fireplace. I think the wreath at Christmas seems better although the scale might not be right.

  127. I love the new look SO much better! I was never a fan of the rug or the old man oil painting above the fireplace. This feels like it fits you & your family’s vibe so much better. I actually liked the abstract art above the fireplace but the new painting works too. The blues look fantastic. Great job! Now about that chaise… 🙂

  128. I do still miss the Persian rug, but that’s because I love red Persian rugs and it was such a good one. The new rug and (especially!) the new art over the fireplace are excellent and I can see how it works better for you. I will always love that Persian rug and how it looked with the floor/beams/walls, but that doesn’t stop me from enjoying the changes you make.

  129. It looks so wonderful and inviting. I am sorry you have to listen to all that negative feedback. You do a great job of balancing it but in the end it’s your home! Thanks for being so transparent yet true to yourself!

  130. I love the architectural elements of this room and I’m beyond happy you refinished the beams instead of painting them. I just don’t feel the styling elevates the gorgeous bones of this room. I think it might be a scale issue, too many small pieces. I also agree with the comments about changing the sconces above the bookshelves to something different and down facing. And the coffee table is gorgeous, but I always thought it wasn’t cohesive with more traditional elements. I think this room will continue to evolve and hopefully you’re having fun with it.

  131. Regardless of which way I like the room most- watching you switch things around and futz until you love it…makes me feel inspired! I actually got excited as I read this to go move things around in my own house. Thanks for always being willing to experiment and put it out there, Emily!

  132. I presume you appreciate our opinions… here it goes…..
    This room seems to have lost its charm. I feel there is WAY too much going on.
    Too busy. The art above the fireplace seems out of place. I would put doors on the bookshelves to simplify the space. The chaise is beautiful but the color is too pastel. Maybe if you try taking everything out of the room and put the couch facing the fireplace. And then start bringing in your other pieces. Also a bar cart with toddlers seems odd to me. Maybe the liquor should be in a cabinet.

  133. love it! I don’t miss the red rug at all – it never felt right to me. and adding the pops of black here did it for me along with the new rug! looks great!

  134. Ugh, this room is just trying way too hard. Too many vignettes, too much styling, too much furniture. I didn’t even notice there was a chaise lounge lost in there till I read the comments. The bookshelves are cluttered and busy. In the pulled out room shot everything looks like room-dandruff. Get rid of the credenza, about half the lamps and the bookshelves. How do you put anything down on the coffee table when you’re sitting on the couch (or the chairs)? The Persian rug worked better because it was a strong counter balance to all the other little clutter.

  135. It’s wonderful! I could sit there easily – it’s comfortable yet classy. Great job!

  136. This is the best the living room has been yet. The bookshelves look as though you are not embarrassed by their presence or function. They are serving the intended purpose but not drawing too much attention from the rest of the room. You added more rounded-edges and unique sculptural pieces in the vases and lamps which balances out the large linear room and brings special interest to each surface. The extra little pops of color, on the principal artwork, gallery wall, pillow, bring more warmth to a very cool space. The variety of lightning and the matte blacks really tie the modern aspects to the more traditional elements. I am so glad that you kept the black and white artwork, especially now that you added more black to the room. I said before that the room needed more personal touches and it definitely feels more like that now. It’s getting closer to a naturally curated feeling, which takes time to develop. I look forward to seeing how it evolves further but am pretty inspired right now too. Bravo Emily!

  137. Use your imagination, creativity and guts without the distractions of traffic, content, likes, pinterest worthy pictures, comments…and other white noise.

    Just be, you!

  138. What I’ve ALWAYS wanted you to try in this room: Couch facing the fireplace, two chairs flanking the fireplace and facing inwards, creating a cozy place for conversation. Credenza behind the couch, facing the entry to the room. Chaise in the bay window. I assume you’re not wanting to do it because it’ll be difficult to photograph from the entry to the room (and will eliminate a little of that “open flow” you like), but I think it will make the room feel so much more FINISHED.

  139. It looks beautiful! I loved the Persian rug but the important thing is that you love your living room. I think it’s really admirable (and cool) that you listen to your readers and take advice. Thank you for sharing your life with us!

  140. I love this version. My vote (if you wanted to try something a bit different) would be two of the same sofas facing each other and a big, round, solid coffee table – like a modern mushroom shaped one. I think that would streamline the view of the whole room and make for a comfy hangout zone. I keep thinking of that rustic Spanish house that you designed with the two chesterfields facing one another. I am very interested to see the version that you’d put together if there was no budget involved, just for kicks 🙂

  141. this is your best living room in this space yet! love the styling and color palette, and the art. I’ve never understood that coffee table though and think it doesn’t anchor the space and also makes it feel busy. I feel like you need something more substantial there, but I’m sure you have a good reason for it!

  142. I love all the hits of black in this room! And you ARE SO RIGHT THAT THE BLACK AND WHITE ART LOOKS PERFECT WHERE IT IS NOW. I think you, Emily Henderson, are the modern day genius. So pretty.

  143. Love the changes! Love the new rug and it better anchors the room with it’s simplicity. I would love to see a bigger or more substantial coffee table and the vintage velvet chaise switched out for an Eames chair or something with and edge to tie in the mid century modern piano in the other room, otherwise the room is perfect! This new color pallet of cool colors is bomb! Love it!!

  144. What’s a good, less-expensive alternative to the “strong white” paint color? Love it, but can’t afford Farrow & Ball

  145. Hi Emily, this is my very first comment. Long time reader.

    Your living room is stunningly beautiful! I LOVE it! It seriously made me pause and brought tears to my eyes…for a number of reasons. The balance of calm, comfort, joy and beauty is one I have been trying to accomplish in my own home to reduce anxiety. Just today I posted all of my busy (yet beautiful) wool rugs for sale because they were to much. They were overwhelming my fireplace, my art, my furniture…and me. I’m also repainting my entire 1st floor a more calming color. I have to for my own happiness.

    Your work always amazes me, and makes me smile. This space is one of your best in my opinion because it speaks to you…and YOU (and your family) must always come first.

    Thank you for creating such beautiful spaces for us to learn from!

    All my best!

  146. Hi,

    I absolutely love the changes that you made to the space. Miss that Persian rug, of course, but you have to do what works for you and your family first.
    The art over the mantel is perfect as the modern piece did pull your eye to it rather than let the room speak.
    I love how you go into detail on your design process. Thanks as always for your inspiring pictures and insight into your process.

  147. I try to keep up with every blog entry, Instagram post and story because I love all of it BUT I’ve never understood any of the furniture placement in this room, especially the sofa in front of the bay window. All of the finishes are beautiful, but I feel like everything should come out and some fresh eyes should put it back in.

    1. I agree 100% with this. The small tweaks are doing nothing to address the major problem which is the layout.

  148. I am really liking the direction the room is moving! The simplified shelf styling is looking good! My favorite version so far!

    There are SO many comments, like you need any more feedback, so I’ll be short and sweet with my thoughts:

    -Delete credenza
    -Delete tripod lamp
    – I know you mocked up a million furniture arrangements, but I’d love to see you try, 1. Chairs facing fireplace as you come in (I think they’re visually light enough it would work), 2. Chaise on opposite side of room from sofa with a small drum table, 3. Half moon table on opposite side of fireplace from chaise.
    -*Maybe* a large tufted (leather?) ottoman for coffee table.

  149. I love the rug so much I just bought the same one for our living room. You mentioned in a previous post that you got a thicker pad for it. Can you please link to the rug pad? Thanks!

  150. Like you, I am a cool palette girl, with blues and greens as my faves. So I understand your decision to remove the red Persian rug, although I love that rug. I think that the red is more old world “madder” red than modern red, and it might just be a rug that I could live with, although in theory I never would buy a red rug.

    The pattern in the red rug is busy, but somehow it reads to me as seamless and even neutral. It worked as a beautiful, colorful foundation for your room. The new rug just doesn’t do that for me. In fact, the pattern in the new rug bothers my eyes. (Migraineur here.) So my vote is for the red rug.

    I would like to see you work more with the architecture of the room – that bay window behind the sofa just calls out for a round table and a couple of chairs – comfy chairs for reading or upright chairs for games or drinks. That beautiful, curvy fireplace needs other curves to keep it company. I don’t think that the strong, rectangular, black and white art does it justice. I might like to see it without art, or with an oval piece of art. And I think the bookcases need doors or curtains to block the view of the shelves, so that the gorgeous fireplace can shine.

    I think that you need chairs or a second sofa that match the scale of the blue sofa, which looks huge and out of balance with the chaise and Target chairs.

    I love your work, Emily. I’ve been a fan since Design Star. And I love your voice here on the blog. I don’t think that every wall and surface can be a star – it makes a room chaotic to my eyes. So while I enjoy your willingness to listen to all of our design input, I hope that you don’t feel compelled to make every wall and surface in your home “pop” for the sake of some of your readers. I like your rooms more when you balance the pop with negative space – and I think that you do, too, based on our comments on not wanting your space to feel too busy.

  151. Hi Emily,

    Loving the redo! I was wondering if you had ever done a “rug round up” or “couch count down” for where to shop? My partner and I are in the midst of selling my apartment and buying a new place together in NYC and I want to make it ours with new furniture we can both pick out!

    Thanks and loving all your style!


  152. Just when I thought the Henderson living room could not get any better…OMG, it did! Love it so much!!!! I agree with the more neutral colour scheme being more calming. I really like the simple black graphic art and the piece from the garage storage! They are both perfect in the space. I’ll be using this as inspiration for a big art piece (that my husband can make) above our living room credenza 🙂

  153. It’s a very beautiful living room. You need to do what you want, without regard for how many shares you get. It does fit your house. But I can tell you want’s missing. The living room just doesn’t pop. For it to pop you need more definition around the fireplace (one color), around the sofa (contrasting color, or at least contrasting with other decorations in the room), and side tables contrasting with the sofa. Perhaps fewer things, or more definite color choices of decorations. Darker woods, or lighter table tops. You’ve got too much mid-tone wood and wood colored things thrown around the room. It is very pretty, but it doesn’t pop. Then comes the style. I consider this style ‘new take on traditional’, but there’s little modern or contemporary in it. Something I’d love to see at my grandparents if they were still alive. I love your updated version of traditional or classic, but it is not what the younger crows living closer to city centers would pin. On the other hand, people in our age are more likely to decorate this way, but that may not give you as many likes as you want. I wouldn’t do this for others thought, I would decorate exactly how I want to for myself. Only then your living room will being interesting. Don’t worry, be bold. Whatever that means for you.

  154. I do like this version except I miss the Persian rug. My grandmother had one similar and so does my Mom, so it is probably more of a emotional connection than anything else.

  155. I love the new design, especially the blue rug and the calming tone it brings to the room. Can I ask a question about it? How does it hold up to kids and pets? Does it shed much? Are your kids covered in fibers after playing on it? I will probably have to get a sample but want to know how it is holding up.

  156. I love it too! I liked the more bubble lamp on the piano that was there before more a bit, but I overall I think it IS better! 🙂

  157. It looks like mid-century modern encroaching on a cozy modern English Tudor. It feels confused and cluttered.

  158. Absolutely lovely but I have to say, I miss the rug! It had so much more personality that I’m trying to replicate in my own home. If a calming atmosphere is what you’re going for, you nailed it!

  159. Gosh there are a lot of comment here, the one thing that stands out to me that I don’t like is the coffee table, I like the material mix but I don’t know it’s almost too modern for this space, I know you’ve struggled with the spacing here so you can still maintain a walking path and sight lines to the fireplace, the coffee table sticks out to me though. I like both the calm and Persian rug versions. 🙂

  160. The more eclectic look worked for me with the 1920s feel of the room. The more modern California thing feels like a mismatch of architecture to furnishings. I liked it much better when it had the happy Persian rug, but I think the color palette now wouldn’t bother me so much if the rug were really meaty and big. I think with the previous rug, you could have gotten away with the legs of the furniture being part on/part off, but with the monochromatic look, seeing the legs half on the wood and half on the rug is really jarring.

  161. I LOVE the new painting over the fireplace! It was created for that spot, I can’t believe that it was hiding it in your garage. The new rug is great it really calms down the room.

  162. I love the changes. It still overwhelms my eyes. Honestly I think if there was no furniture in front of the bookcases on either side (past the couch and the chairs) it would look symmetrical and clean. Somehow the desk and half moon console table and the fringe chaise look busy — at least to my eye. Typically you’re the queen of casual / clean and I’m so grateful you’re open to feedback about this space!! I also realize that you live in there so you might need the desk and the table and the chaise for daily life.

  163. Still think the room looks busy because changing the rug changed how your things work together which is throwing the room off balance.

    New Rug: Noticing too many colors in wood tones. The chaise doesn’t work because of color and style. If the bookcase is original to the house, not sure that changing the height would make any difference. Currently it’s styled with small vignettes making it look busy. Try styling with only books, maybe a couple of very small chotchkies. The reddish brick in the fireplace throws off the room so consider painting. The truck carries so much weight compared to your coffee table, also move coffee table closer to the sofa at least when styling. No green or red in that room. Agreed there are too many sconces and too many lamps.

    Red Rug: Saw a room this week with a red Persian rug with neutral, solid color fabric on the furniture. It needed very little else in the room and it was lovely. Overall your furniture and vignettes looked better because they were selected to work with the rug and the rug could handle the tones in those wood pieces. Thought the sofa being blue was too much color especially because the rug was dark enough for the room.

    Thanks for allowing our input!

  164. Ok, love it all! Really love the new fireplace painting! But my most urgent question is – what did you buy for your cat’s to scratch? Did you find something not hideous b/c all I can find is HIDEOUS, but my furniture is paying the price for not having gotten anything to replace the last hideous cat scratching post.

  165. Thank you for letting us into your home! I so appreciate reading your blog and it’s wonderful to be privy to your design thoughts–the struggles as well as the joy. I love that last picture so much! Also, I totally agree about the double lamps on the piano–it’s funky and balanced.

  166. Thumbs up on new rug. To me the busy thing only comes with that main view — looking deep to the fireplace.

    The side and end views are so much calmer. And just wonderful styled out credenzas and chests. Spot on.

    If it were my big living room — I’d so plaster right over those bookshelves right now.

    Distracting tiny brass lamps can also now go poof! The room then looks and feels just right – gorgeous but usable, calm, but still very interesting.

    I’m such a book and shelf girl, but I think they are just not right for this room. Tiny space, a little reading nook on a back corner? Shelves for special bits and things and easy to pull out books for kids on bottom.

    Then on those gorgeous tall white plaster walls, I’d put a cool, simple, more modern piece of art on either side of the fireplace. Same artist, same size, obviously different, like fraternal twins. The interesting lines of the fireplace then stand alone for what they are and don’t have something competing with them. And maybe pull that chaise out a bit?

  167. I miss your whimsy. I loved reading your early posts because you were so able to add whimsy and fun to your designs. This feels too grown up in a way. Bring back the fun and ease. I think you’re too hard on yourself and over thinking it. Ex. Loved your old guest room with hot pink headboard and “”lacquered” green walls + brass accents. So fun, whimsical, editorial, interacting! The current room is beautiful, but maybe lacking your fun personality!

  168. You speak to my soul every day with the navy + white + wood + grey + black
    I liked the change before, but this I LOVE. And as a momma, I would love to live in an identical space with my brood.

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