We’re Hiring …

We're Hiring

 

With heavy hearts, we bid adieu and good luck to Becca, our graphic designer/blog assistant/office manager, as she moves back home to Austin. And while she’ll still be part of the team remotely, it means we’ve got an open desk at the EHD studio we need to fill ASAP, like 2 weeks ago, actually.

 

We’re looking to hire a full-time graphic designer/office manager (it’s one job, although mostly graphic design) as soon as possible. We’re looking for someone with Photoshop know-how (Illustrator and InDesign skills don’t hurt either), graphic design experience, and excellent administrative skills. Knowledge of WordPress and other social media platforms are a big plus. Must be a Los Angeles local, able to work full time in-studio, with a car.

 

Tasks include: Prepping blog posts, editing photos, creating graphics, responding to the general email, assisting with shoots, office management, and helping with anything and everything.

 

We are also looking for an e-commerce person – someone with experience buying and managing an online store. I haven’t been able to keep up with The Flea and I want to blow it out and make it a more curated store with maker collaborations and a lot of unique new pieces – think Food52 for interiors. So if you know anyone that has experience in this, please let them know and email.

 

Email your resume, website or portfolio, and social media links to jobs@emilyhendersondesign.com by next Friday. We’ll conduct interviews the week after that!

 

p.s. And as ever, we’re always looking to collaborate with local fashion stylists, carpenters, and photographers too, so don’t be shy.

 

The post We’re Hiring … appeared first on Emily Henderson.

Giving New Life To Our Old Wood Deck

Emily Henderson Oberlin Patio Wood Naturally Deck Stain 3

 

Our deck, the only real outdoor space we have is finally, completely done. I know you thought it was done last year, but I’d like to remind you of my “constantly-changing-perfectly-good-projects’ syndrome; a problem that has plagued this house (but created a lot of content). Seriously, this deck still could use some improvements and I wasn’t 100% satisfied with neither the design nor the finish of the wood. When the exterior was finally done (stay tuned) we realized that the decking, which I previously hadn’t minded, needed a refresh, too. With the help of Wood Naturally, we brought it back to life and now, it’s absolutely, completely, 100% finished (til I decide to put in a full outdoor kitchen…maybe …)

 

In case you are newer to the blog, let’s give you the full deck-bio. When we first moved in, 2 years ago, it looked like this:

 

Deck_Area_Before

 

The wrought iron was black, the brick was old and beige (and broken in places), and the pergola was painted brown. The wood was in good condition considering it was 50 years old, and while I knew it could use a freshen up, I didn’t quite know what to do with it.

 

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Right after we moved in Domino shot our house (remember that?) and they wanted to shoot the deck despite the fact that it was definitely not done, nor was I totally happy with it. But with some styling help it looked pretty lively in the photo:

 

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While I love that shot because it has so much energy and life, it was mostly styled for a shot and totally impractical. Almost all those pillows/throws were for indoor use only, the rugs were vintage and some of my favorites which would have gotten destroyed out there and the side table situation was fairly impractical. It looked cool, but not a way we could really live.

 

Deck_Area_After

 

A year later I finally had it looking really good (above, see full post here) and I really loved it. I chose at the time not to refinish the deck because I liked how the redwood looked well enough. It had pretty grain, and was a nice grayed out shade of wood. There were times when I wanted it to be more finished, but not enough to take the time to refinish it. I started pinning some of my ideas for not only the exterior, but the deck refresh HERE to give myself a jumping off point and see what it could potentially be.

 

As we were finishing up the exterior though, everything was so moved around outside with the old vinyl siding covering the deck, equipment everywhere, etc, so we couldn’t really use the deck anyway. Once the debris was all gone and the exterior was looking so pulled together, we finally decided to invest the 2 days and $600 to refinish it. We figured if/when we sell we would want the wood to look as beautiful as the new siding, with same elevated level of design.

 

Here you can kinda see how it looked post exterior, pre-refinish:

 

Emily Henderson Wood Naturally Deck Before 1

 

It was pretty, for sure, and I had no intentions of painting it or replacing it because I loved that it was warm wood but the good thing about real wood is that you can refinish multiple times throughout its life, making it essentially new again.

 

Emily Henderson Wood Naturally Deck Before 2

 

As you look closer you can tell, though, that it was time for a clean, sand and stain to bring out its natural color.

 

Emily Henderson Wood Naturally Deck Process 1

 

I had Remi to pull a bunch of stain options and she grabbed both transparent and semi-transparent. Exterior deck stains are not like interior or furniture stains because once applied it has to withstand so many more elements. So while I was used to having all these normal options (like teak) there are way less for decking. I personally love the transparent stain as opposed to the semi – which is the top row. Remi sampled all of those up there before the deck was sanded, which we thought didn’t give us the most accurate color. So I had it sanded so I could see what it really looked like:

 

Emily Henderson Wood Naturally Deck Process 2

 

Crazy, right? I don’t think that the deck had been refinished in decades. They had to use a hand-sander because the boards were slightly unlevel. The sanding took 4-6 hours by two guys.

 

We re-sampled, nixing the transparent paints. I toyed with the idea of giving it a gray wash, but ultimately decided that since the house was gray that it would be too cold and potentially look new and contemporary instead of mid-century.

 

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We chose the one on the far right, which was Natural by Behr, although I liked the the lighter one next to it, too. My advice would be to buy a bunch of sample pots and stain them on your wood so that you can really tell what they look like with your wood as every wood and color will be slightly different per application. For mine, I knew that the stain would lighten over time so we went with the darker tone, but I asked the guys to not do two crazy thick coats.

 

deck-process

 

Right after it was stained it was a tiny bit darker as it dried, but it already looked so fresh and the stain really pulled out the color of the grain. I actually really loved how the wood looked naturally and was super tempted to keep it, but it would need to be sealed and sealing it would change the color anyway. Plus again, our house is midcentury and I wanted to keep it that way.

 

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Now it’s done, and looking awesome, making me never, ever, ever want to sell this house.

 

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When Wood Naturally reached out to have me talk about wood I said, Wood? With pleasure. There are some wood alternatives out there or even some wood wannabes that are tempting all the previously wood-loving folk. And while they might have a certain function, I’m officially stating that I love the look/feel and warmth of the real thing. So much so that we actually clad our entire house in Douglas Fir, and had to fight the city to not have to use hardy-board (which is a fake-wood composite that is rather expensive and lacks the warmth of wood, although fire proof material).

 

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Let’s talk about the changes over here. While I liked the overall design of the deck last year, I wanted to add more contrast to help it pop more and yet I didn’t really want to add more color. Enter our deepest neutral – black. By adding it to the scheme it tied in better with the exterior as our sconces are black, and also just gave it more depth and texture.

 

The rug that we had was great but got ruined during the demo of the exterior so we had to throw it away. I put down this new one from Dash and Albert that I love – just enough texture and the perfect shade of denim-y blue that can hide dirt, but isn’t too dark.

 

Emily Henderson Oberlin Patio Wood Naturally Deck Stain 5

 

I replaced last year’s excellent outdoor Target chairs with this year’s favorites and handed those bad boys down. Everybody who sees or sits in these chairs wants them and they can’t believe it’s Target. They are excellent in every way and if you have a modern house could even definitely work inside (and they are both for $239 – crazy).

 

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I really tried to style this for everyday, not for a shoot but the stylist inside of me broke free and put a few indoor pillows (the black graphic and the stripe) and that striped throw out there. So this is how I would style it for guests, but technically I should keep those inside. Every other pillows, however, is from Target and is made for the outside.

 

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The wood, gray, blue white and black combo is my new jam both inside and out. And I picked up that adorable little side table from Potted in Atwater Village.

 

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In my quest to keep the deck a more usable space for the kids we moved the planted pots (that were mostly dead anyway) to another location. I just wanted more space and less things to take care of.

 

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I never really loved that wicker round table, functionally because you couldn’t put drinks directly on it, it was just what I had on hand last year. So when I saw the new outdoor teak midcentury line from DWR I knew what had to be done. Rarely, if ever do you find exterior teak that doesn’t have the slats in it and with that beautiful mid-century shape? Please. Also note the black bars on it, too. They are so amazing.

 

Ok, lets see what is happening on the other side of the deck:

 

Emily Henderson Oberlin Patio Wood Naturally Deck Stain 12

 

We used to have a dining table with chairs, but we found that we rarely used it and we wanted more space for Charlie to scoot around on his tricycle or kick around a ball. So I stacked those chairs and we were going to buy a folding table that would be easily stowed away after we did eat out there. We typically don’t have the umbrella hanging half way off the roof, but Brady lent a hand so that we could get some more shade for the final shots that Zeke took.

 

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So this side of the deck is a lot more empty now. I found that amazing bamboo chair and bench from Potted and borrowed them for the shoot. I would have bought them, as I loved them so much them, but they are on the splurgier side (they are still there for sale).

 

The BBQ is stored in the back now and we wheel it out when we use it. Charlie’s play area is basically the same so we didn’t shoot it. I added that outdoor barcart because we had no where to set the bbq tools when we are cooking out there. 

 
 

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The week after we shot this, I threw a sponsored party out there so I borrowed a dining table and chairs to properly entertain. The problem is that now it looks soooooo good that I’m tempted to keep them after all (you’ll see that on the blog next week). So while the intent was to open this space up, Brian and I are seriously reconsidering this table and these chairs (that fold) because they looked so good. I snapped a few photos of them the day after the party to give you an idea:

 

Emily Henderson Outdoor Summer Deck Makeover3

 

Emily Henderson Outdoor Summer Deck Makeover1

 

Stay tuned on our decision.

 

Meanwhile the entrance to the guest room/Brian’s office downstairs got a little makeover as well.

 

We put this entrance in last year and had that deck quickly built. The door + the deck cost $2000, by the way, including labor and materials. Here is what it looked like after the the door and exterior were finished.

 

deck-below

 

Now it looks pretty darn great, it just needed some furnishing to help it feel more inviting.

 

Emily Henderson Oberlin Patio Wood Naturally Deck Stain 7

 

It took everything inside of me not to put an outdoor rug there for the shot (besides, we are here to talk about wood) but man, my heart wants a rug there. We moved that spiky plant down from upstairs because every other adult in the world thought it was going to poke their child’s eyes out when their kids were over on play dates.

 

Emily Henderson Oberlin Patio Wood Naturally Deck Stain 10

 

I love love love the combination of materials here – the white wood paneling with the black sconces, the white glass pendant, and the warm wood. I even love that it’s built into the stone hillside. I don’t think I have photos of this area before because it didn’t really exist (it was just weeds without the deck or an entrance), so the value that we added by putting in this deck is huge.

 

Emily Henderson Oberlin Patio Wood Naturally Deck Stain 11

 

We added the chairs down there, too because we loved them so much. I didn’t think Brian would go for them, I thought that he would want just a bench or something simple as no one is really going to sit down there, but after I put them there he said that he would definitely pop out of his office and take calls out there. That table and the rug are both from Potted as well, the amazing-super-hard-to-find mid-century-inspired pendant is from Hip Haven, the pot is from West Elm, and the sconces are from Rejuvenation.

 

Emily Henderson Oberlin Patio Wood Naturally Deck Stain Details_141

 

When I had that deck and door put in I was out of town and I told my carpenter I wanted affordable decking (so he chose redwood to match the upstairs) and I didn’t specify the door. It’s actually a clear glass door that we put Gila film on for privacy and light (the frosted still lets in light which is what we wanted). I kinda wish I had done something really custom and midcentury, but this was a such a simple, cheap, and fast option.

 

Emily Henderson Oberlin Patio Wood Naturally Deck Stain Details_154

 

So that, folks, is how I refreshed my deck and made it great again. It’s 60 years old but it looks as new as my baby. For those of you about to embark on a building project, whether it’s building a house, re-siding one, or adding a deck – I strongly urge you to consider using real wood like pine, redwood, or cedar as opposed to a composite. I’m sure the composites can look good, but wood will ALWAYS look good. In a lot of ways I wish that I had not painted my exterior wood paneling  of the house and just used wood, but by the time I wished I had done that the siding had already been prepped for paint instead of stain – there was some patching that would have looked messy if stained and thousands of nail holes from it being clad to the house. But the look/feel and quality is there of wood that would have been totally absent if we had done hardy board or one of the other composite materials. What we used on the deck and exterior of the house is more affordable, available, classic, warm, and will never be dated whereas the alternative would have. And while I understand that vinyl siding is a very inexpensive option and can be really transformative, I’d warn you against it as ultimately it’s not the look that you probably want.

 

Emily Henderson Oberlin Patio Wood Naturally Deck Stain 1

 

Real wood, folks. You never tire of it, it never goes out of fashion, it’s always warm and easy to transform into different colors and finishes or stay totally natural if that’s your jam. This refresh took 2 days and all of it could have been DIY’d if we had the time. It’s not really a highly skilled situation, just man hours. So while it cost us $900, I seriously think that you could do it yourself or, if you got multiple quotes, you could have it done for cheaper. I, for one, will always be on the real wood always side of the life.

 

And for your viewing pleasure, we broke down step by step how to put together your patio for the summer:

 

 

Finally, if you’re into it, get that look:

 

patio

 

1. Wood | 2. Deck Stain | 3. Coffee Table | 4. Rug | 5. Globe Pendant | 6. Sconce | 7. Patio Chair | 8. Side Table | 9. Outdoor Pillow | 10. Black & White Textured Pillow | 11. Directors Style Chair | 12. Ceramic Planter | 13. Diamond Lumbar Pillow | 14. Dining Table | 15. Bar Cart | 16. Standing Planter | 17. Small Lantern | 18. Large Lantern

 

*This post is in partnership with Wood Naturally. Thank you for supporting the brands that help us create new content every day. 

 

*Photos by Zeke Reulas

 

The post Giving New Life To Our Old Wood Deck appeared first on Emily Henderson.

Orcondo: Bedrooms & Common Areas

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Hey Everyone! I’m back with my very last Orcondo post. And I have to say, I’m so sad about it. There’s nothing more fun than looking at ugly pictures of what this place used to look like and reminding my boyfriend that if it weren’t for me, he’d still be living in the depths of this 80’z despair. Today, we’re going to take a peek into some of my favorite spaces in the condo: the bedrooms, where I sleep every night, dreaming of staring at before and after pictures forever and the TV loft, where I force Edouard to watch stupid comedy shows every night even though he wants to watch serious documentaries or tv shows where everyone is murdering each other and it’s so scary.

 

MASTER BEDROOM

 

bedroom-before-after-1

 

The master bedroom is by far the darkest room in the otherwise bright and airy condo. Previously, it was a simple, nondescript box. The bedrooms were carpeted in the same dark industrial carpet that was in the living room, which defied the purpose of carpeting by being neither soft nor inviting. We did the same wood flooring in here as we did around the rest of the apartment and sourced a beautiful rug from Rugs USA to add some lusciousness.

 

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I wanted a nice cushy upholstered place to sleep, so I worked with the wonderful people at Empiric Studio to design my own dream bed. I wanted a bed that was both comfy and modern, so we decided to go with super simple lines and a warm oatmeal fabric. Is it just me or is “warm oatmeal” kind of a disgusting way to describe fabric? It makes me think of that feeling you have when you eat oatmeal and you’re both too full and still hungry and also it’s burning your mouth because it’s too hot. WHY DID I HAVE TO SAY OATMEAL???

 

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I’m obsessed with secret surprises, so I hung this amazing Anna Ullman graphic painting behind the door. Now, every time I close the door I squeal with delight at the surprise painting. Apparently I have a goldfish brain, because I forget it’s there every time and am constantly shocked by its presence.

 

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I found these wonderful side tables at Wertz Brothers and repainted them myself (previously, they had been a yellow, speckled mid-century finish). Emily and I found this seascape at a flea market a few years back and it still captures my heart on a daily basis. Those crazy sconces are from Empiric Studio.

 

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This framed print of Anjelica Huston is one of my most prized possessions. A few years ago Emily organized an influencer collab where I got to design a space in conjunction with Anjelica and it was literally my favorite thing ever. I got to meet her (she has TONS of design ideas btw) and her voice sounds like an angel singing. I’m guessing that’s why her name is Anjelica. I had the piece framed by Framebridge, who are basically the easiest, most convenient way to frame stuff without ever leaving your house.

 

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If you’re in the market for a delicious smelling candle you’ll want to stick your entire face into, I highly recommend my friend’s candle company, Scenthouse (my fave scent is “Gymnasia”). The coil sculpture is by another one of my friends, Ben Medansky.

 

bedroom-before-after-2

 

One of my favorite updates in the bedroom is the simple crown moulding. Originally, I’d wanted to do a very complicated and expensive paneling in the master bedroom. But once we’d priced it out we realized it was going to cost way too much (like $15,000) so we ended up landing on just adding a crown moulding. A lot of people think you can’t do crown moulding in a space this modern, but I think it adds a nice sense of formality to the room.

 

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The photograph that hangs over the dresser (also from Wertz Brothers) is an original by me. I grew up in Yosemite National Park and miss it a lot. So the last time I visited I took a series of photographs and had them enlarged and framed by Livestock Framing (they’ll print and frame your high-quality, large scale images for you AND THEN FRAME THEM AND SEND THEM TO YOUR HOUSE). Keeping with the personal theme of this room, I used a beautiful quilt my mother made as an accent blanket.

 

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The custom drapes from Decorview are another one of my favorite things in the room. They can be split in the middle or parted to one side, depending how much light you want to let into the room. The chandelier is by Robert Abbey and it can be styled with or without its lampshades (I left them off at first but recently added them back, because if I’ve learned one thing about romance it’s that you gotta keep your man guessing by constantly changing things around the house).

 

ENTRY

 

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Edouard had some vintage European posters lying around, and was feeling woefully underrepresented art-wise, so we had these framed and hung above a hallway bench. The bench itself is from Ikea, but they stopped making it. It’s a shame, because I think it’s super cute AND it has secret storage which is such a bonus. I feel like this happens to me all the time and it’s so frustrating. Like I’ll buy something at a store and by the time I show it to people so they can buy it the company has stopped making it. Like I get it that companies need to keep their inventory fresh, but it’s sad when something you love goes away. WHY DOES ANYTHING HAVE TO CHANGE EVER!?! (Says the man who just completely changed his whole house).

 

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The hallways were previously this parquet flooring, which I would have liked if it were A) less shiny and B) less orange. Adding the wood plank flooring in the entry made it much more peaceful. Also, a small detail you’ll barely notice is that we moved the entry into the guest bedroom. Before, the hallway was part of the bedroom. We pushed the door back to the room’s entry to create more common space and create a space to display art (I’m currently commissioning a piece from Anna Ullman for the space).

 

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My mother found this amazing Japanese scroll on a recent trip to Japan. I flanked it with small scale sconces to add some warm lighting to the entry way.

 

GUEST BEDROOM

 

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Guest bedroom? MORE LIKE DEPRESSED BEDROOM! At least it was before, when the most distinguishing feature was the miniblinds that hung above the bed. Also depressing: the grey carpet, the built-in side tables, those rugs sleeping together on that bed. I should probably win an award for most manipulatively ugly before pics, but seriously, it was bad in there.

 

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I transformed the room with one of my go-to paint colors, Sleigh Bells by Benjamin Moore. Pops of gold come from the amazing fixture by Park Studio, a gorgeous Japanese screen I found at the flea market, and a lovely circle mirror from AllModern.

 

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The luminous white bedding is from Parachute. I have the same bedding in my bedroom and it really makes me happy.

 

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Sometimes when I go into the guest bedroom I get sad that it’s not my bedroom. Because it’s so bright and happy and glimmering. Meanwhile, the master bedroom is dark and moody and romantic.

 

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One downside of the brightness of the guest bedroom is the early morning light, which will scald your little retinas the next time you stay with me. Our solution was glamorous designer roller shades from Decorview.

 

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I found these lamps at a vintage store in North Hollywood a few years ago. They are lumpy, aged, and bloated. Which is exactly how I’m feeling today after spending the weekend in Palm Springs with some friends, drinking around a pool for days on end, allowing the desert air to suck all the moisture from my skin. MY LIPS ARE SO DRY RIGHT NOW I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO.

 

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The side tables are from Wertz Brothers and I love their simple lines and open storage. Also, as a good host I always leave this carafe next to the bed, filled with fresh water. Just kidding, no one would drink that water. If my guests want water they’ll have to waddle into the kitchen and grab it themselves.

 

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This desk belonged to Edouard’s grandfather, so it’s a legit vintage piece. The circle mirror above the desk bounces light, making the bright room even brighter and increasing my sadness that this is not, alas, my bedroom.

 

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I like to stow extra pillows and bedding in a crate below the shelving so my guests know that they’ll be taken care of if they stay with me. Also, if anyone ever actually uses any of these things I become  enraged because that means I have to take everything out of the crate and refold and restyle the whole thing all over again. Soon I think I’ll just glue it all in place to keep resetting the guest bedroom easier.

 

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The pinecone lamp was a previous DIY project that I still love. I’m into anything piney. Like pine tree art. Pine tree candles. I think it’s because I grew up under a giant pine tree. Like it was so tall our crazy neighbor used to wear a helmet when she raked her yard to avoid getting bonked in the head with a high-speed pinecone.

 

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The TV loft upstairs was previously kind of a dumping ground for random furniture. It was sort of an office, sort of an entertainment space, sort of a guest bedroom. I wanted it to be fully dedicated to just hanging out and enjoying movie/cuddletimez so we added more cozy furniture and reoriented the room so that the television is on the largest wall.

 

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A large scale print by Jaime Derringer hangs over a vintage loveseat no one ever sits on (we both like the cozy blue sofa from West Elm so we fight over that).

 

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This space also used to serve as a guest bedroom, so it had room-darkening shades which made the space feel a lot smaller. We took those out and left the space open. We added custom drapery to soften up the sliding glass doors that lead outside and add another texture to the room.

 

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I used these cute little zigzag side tables throughout the house because I love concrete and wanted to bring in another finish. I’d originally wanted to do poured concrete floors in the bathrooms and around the fireplace but it proved to be too expensive/non-durable so we decided to bring it in with accessories and furnishings instead. LET THIS BE A LESSON TO ALL OF US THAT IF YOU CAN’T AFFORD SOMETHING YOU WANT, YOU CAN BRING IT IN WITH ACCESSORIES AND FURNISHINGS.

 

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This is where the magic really happens. And by “magic” I mean my boyfriend yelling “WHY DO YOU ALWAYS NEED TO FULLY LAY DOWN TO WATCH TV?” and me being like “I JUST WANT TO RELAX WHY WON’T YOU LET ME LIVE???” The cozy sofa is from West Elm, btw, and I’ve had it for about four years and I still love it. A pro-tip for those who love cuddling/laying down while watching TV is that you can throw the back cushions on the ground for more depth.

 

Now that I’ve told you that magical throwing-cushions-on-the-ground-for-more-depth trick, I think my work here is done. BUT DO NOT BE AFRAID. I’ll be back soon with more posts.

 

Love,

 
 

Orlando

 

 

*** Photography by Tessa Neustadt

 

The post Orcondo: Bedrooms & Common Areas appeared first on Emily Henderson.

A Modern Farmhouse Fireplace Update

Suburban Bitches Emily Henderson Design Agony Fireplace White Redesign Makeover Brick_77 edited

 

It’s Ginny here with another design agony question and this time we have some really fun after photos to share with you. Erin, co-founder of blog Suburban Bitches emailed asking for some help with her fireplace renovation.

 
 
 
 
 

I don’t know what to do with my fireplace and hearth. When we moved into the house the fireplace was covered in rock and the hearth is slabs of big, thick rock. We put a reclaimed wood wall in this room and now the fireplace looks too busy with the wall. We just took the rock off the fireplace and I don’t know what to do to add some interest but not too much interest. I’m also trying to figure out a way to make the hearth less rustic and more streamlined. I would like to add a mantel to the fireplace but other than that I’m open to all ideas. I feel like my fireplace is sort of like Emily’s in her new house and I know she’s been researching all sorts of ways to update hers so I figured she’d have all the answers to help me out.

 
 
 
 
 

Suburban Bitches Emily Henderson Design Agony Fireplace White Redesign Makeover Brick BEFORE

 

Danielle, one of our designers (who just started an online pillow shop) got to work on coming up with two design directions that Erin could work with.  For both design options we went with a modern/rustic theme that would work well with the existing vibe of the room.

 

Erin Hatzis Design Agony Emily Henderson White Wood Paneling Floating Mantle Inspiration Option 1

 

For design option #1 we kept the overall feel light and bright. We think the crisp white fireplace wall will contrast nicely with your existing wood panel wall. We recommend a floating wood mantel. We selected sconces for both designs to add some personality and interest.

 

Erin Hatzis Design Agony Emily Henderson White Wood Paneling Floating Mantle Inspiration Option 2

 

Design option #2 we recommend using a stone surround and mantel. We love the modern look of the one on the design board. We added your existing wood paneling to the top section of the fireplace. We love the repetition it creates and how it unifies the space.

 

Erin came back with two questions:

 

1. If I choose to get a more modern fireplace insert, would there be one of the options that you see working better than the other with the new insert? We agreed that she should get something that felt more modern but advised not to do anything that felt too contemporary. We also suggested that the new insert could be used for both of the options we suggested.

 

2. Would it be better just to gut the whole wall and start over? I’m not opposed to starting over if the results are better than trying to make what is already there work. We didn’t think that she needed to rip out the whole thing, especially if she was trying to do this on a budget. We always love opening shelving at EHD and since it was such a long wall.

 

Now with Erin having her own blog, she documented the whole process and even did some layout mock-ups that showcased what we has suggested with the shiplap and how she interpreted our ideas.

 
 
Erin Hatzis Design Agony Emily Henderson White Wood Paneling Floating Mantle MOCKUPS
 
 
 

The first mock-up focused on keeping the majority of the wall intact but replacing the stone with the horizontal white shiplap and adding a rustic wood mantel.  She also added the mirror and sconces like we suggested.   We pretty much agreed with everything she said in her blog post and whilst definitely helping to modernize the space this option felt off balance because of the lack of symmetry from the shelves. The location of the TV also felt kinda strange and got lost in that shelf nook.

 

The second option felt a lot cleaner with it’s symmetry and uniformity. And while I personally don’t love putting TVs over the top of fireplaces this did feel right to me.  I did however miss the shelves, and felt that a full wall of shiplap might start to feel too one note.  So I suggested to Erin that she could do two narrow shelves either side of the TV in a similar size to the one she had on the left. I also advised her to consider doing less drawers on the bottom and that way it would feel even cleaner.

 
Option-7_edited-2-1
 

For her final reveal post she did a mock-up showing some of the changes we’d discussed.  I think by adding the shelves it feels more considered and breaks up the back wall with some nice cohesion. And since there are only 6 shelves, they would be easy to style out so that they aren’t full of tchotchkes that I knew she didn’t want to end up with.  I also loved the idea of the sconces sitting above the little shelf nooks to help bring some three dimension to the wall.

 

Suburban Bitches Emily Henderson Design Agony Fireplace White Redesign Makeover Brick_67

 

And here is the end result! Pretty cute don’t you think? It just feels lighter, brighter, and overall just happier. I like that she went for a narrower fireplace and that way the wall isn’t governed by two larger black boxes and the TV has a good amount of breathing space around it so that it feels like it’s not taking over the wall.  I also love that she opted for a smooth wood mantel and shelves rather than a more rustic approach. Unless you can hunt down a really beautiful piece of live edge wood or have an awesome country barn, rustic mantels can start to feel heavy and dated.

 

Suburban Bitches Emily Henderson Design Agony Fireplace White Redesign Makeover Brick_73

 

Opting for the three drawers makes the hearth feel less busy and the shaker style fronts bring in some detail without feeling over done. These are also balanced out nicely with the simple black hardware and ties in with the sconces.

 

Suburban Bitches Emily Henderson Design Agony Fireplace White Redesign Makeover Brick_74

 

Erin Hatzis Design Agony Emily Henderson White Wood Paneling Floating Mantle Before and After

 
 

Because we’re pretty open about how much things cost over here, I cheekily asked Erin if she’d be willing to share how much she spent on the project.

 

I’m pretty open myself so I don’t mind sharing the cost with you. We spent around $10,000 on the wall. And typing that out makes me think, crap- how does one wall cost that much?!?! A little over $4K of that was spent on the fireplace insert and installation alone. Those things are super pricey. Another large chunk of money was spent on the carpenter who framed out the whole wall, built new drawers, cubbies floating shelves, and mantel, and custom made the ship lap. He is on the expensive end of carpenters, but his work is impeccable and he shows up everyday and sticks to a timeline. Qualities that are rare in contractors! The cement hearth and fireplace surround was pretty reasonable and came in right around $2K. Which is really not that much considering we had a hearth that was over 10 ft long. Doing any sort of natural stone or quartz would have cost much more. There were other small costs here and there like electrical, plumbing, and painting. And looking back the whole thing cost more than I expected when I first ripped down the rock and decided to re-do the wall. But that’s usually how home projects go.

 
 

“I really enjoyed working with Emily and her team. Being a fan for years of Emily’s work, it was a great opportunity to get some design advice from someone I admire. And Emily’s team did a great job responding to my questions and have even helped me with a few other little questions I had along the way of the project. Both of the design options presented were very much within my style and gave me new ideas to consider for the wall.” – Erin Hatzis

 

 

Sources:

 

Vintage Barn Angled Shade Sconce | Lucent Lightshop Chandelier | Kerouac Black Leather Chair | Fireplace Insert |

 

Thanks to Everyday Interior Design for sending along their after photos.

 

Photography by Kelli Kroneberger

 

Craving more Design Agony and E-Design posts? Check these out: Should We Paint Wood Panelling?, How To Layout A Narrow Living Room, Kitchen Nook Refresh, Cures For A Maple Orange Kitchen, Master Bedroom Refresh Plan, A Rustic Mid-Century Family Room, Neutral (Well Mostly) California Nursery.

 

The post A Modern Farmhouse Fireplace Update appeared first on Emily Henderson.

Pennsylvania Clearcut – Four Years Later

Some of you may remember the post back in 2012 in which I posted a video of me walking through a recent clearcut, talking to myself like an absent-minded professor about the species of plants and trees that were re-establishing themselves after the cut.

 
 

Well, I happened to stop at the same place for lunch again earlier this week, so I took the opportunity to once again walk the same portion of the property and shoot some follow-up video. I’ll post both videos below so you can watch them sequentially or simultaneously, if you care to. By a bit of luck, I noticed that if you start the videos at the same time, they sync up pretty nicely for a great comparison. You can mute either of the videos by clicking on the speaker icon in the lower left corner of the video…I muted the top one and enjoyed them that way.

 
 

First, in 2012…

 
 
 
 

Next, just this week, nearly four years later.

 
 
 
 
 

I think the videos speak for themselves, but I’ll reiterate the main points…

 
  1. This was a very large clearcut, in total probably 100 times larger than what is taught in forestry school as a “sustainable” clearcut.
  2. It was conducted on a very poor upland site,
  3. It has not been re-planted or managed in any way since the harvest.
  4. Basically, this is a “worst-case” clearcut from an environmentalist’s point-of-view.
  5. The site has regenerated itself naturally.
  6. Evidence of human impact, such as the densely-compacted log landing site and road, is slowly being erased by natural forces and the encroachment of the less-compacted surrounding forest.
  7. The biodiversity at this point, about ten years after the harvest, is extremely high, much higher than the remnant forest left across the road.
  8. The growth rate of this young forest is much higher than the adjacent mature forest, thereby making this large acreage a CO2-gobbling and oxygen-producing machine.
  9. The site is home, resting spot, and dinner table to a prolific number of wildlife species.
  10. The sawtimber and pulpwood that was produced from the site provided jobs and products for the benefit of mankind – and will do so again in about fifty years or so – unless it becomes “protected” by well-meaning but misguided environmental regulation.
Go Wood.

Laundry Closet Makeover

Laundry Room_Emily Henderson_Big Wave Wallpaper_Blue_LG_5

 

Well, it only took 2 1/2 years for me to redo what is the most disgusting room in our house. The rest of the house is virtually finished and this room just stared at me daily with a “WHAT. DON’T EVEN COME NEAR ME,” kind of aggression. It needed a major overhaul, and fast.

 

Laundry Room Before

 

I knew what was going to happen – I was going to wait to fix it ’til we needed to sell the house, and then I would regret every single second that this monster stared at me up until that point. So I got on it.

 

Laundry Room Progress 2

 

We fixed the doors (we tried two different accordion doors and they didn’t work for really boring reasons). Long story is that the frames aren’t square and the size isn’t standard, plus we ordered the doors before we ordered the washer/dryer, so I didn’t know that there wouldn’t be enough clearance on both sides to open the washer or dryer doors.  So we put on two standard doors and it looks a lot cleaner than the accordion, anyway.

 

Next, we wallpapered in the back with the most wonderful water inspired paper ever – Cole and Sons Frontier Wallpaper and now when you open it, along with the clean washer/dryer, it looks so happy and fun. But it needed some more storage and some styling love.

 

So without further ado, here is my new, beautiful, tiny but wonderful laundry closet.

 

Laundry Room_Emily Henderson_Big Wave Wallpaper_Blue_LG_3

 

Laundry Room_Emily Henderson_Big Wave Wallpaper_Blue_LG_1

 

Laundry Room_Emily Henderson_Big Wave Wallpaper_Blue_LG_Detail_4

 

I’m no longer apologizing. No longer embarrassed. No longer using 27 year old mismatching washer and dryer. I’m now proud and happy. I may even leave the doors open all day every day to show it off.

 

So let’s talk about the appliances. I partnered with LG on my closet and I couldn’t be happier with them. I love how they look and how they function. I’m officially a front-loader fan. Both washer and dryer are super easy to use, but have a lot of options when it comes to cycles, heat, speed, level of dirt, etc. They are so quiet and super fast. Our cleaning lady is obsessed with them too, which says a lot because she knows her way around a washer and dryer.

 

Laundry Room_Emily Henderson_Big Wave Wallpaper_Blue_LG_Detail_2

 

My new favorite thing in the world (appliance-wise) is the LG Sidekick – that additional mini washer underneath the main washer that doesn’t take up any additional room because it is directly under the washer. See below. Here’s how it works: you place normal laundry and larger loads into the front loader, but then save your delicates, gym clothes, fancy yoga pants, and all your intimates in the sidekick (although it can wash whatever you want). I use it for my workout clothes since I recycle the same 2 pants and often don’t want to do a whole load just for those three things. I also do it for onesies for Elliot as I’m trying to now buy too many clothes for her that she’ll grow out of, and instead wash her sweet potato riddled clothes every day. It’s way less wasteful than doing a small load of laundry in the normal washer, as it uses less water and energy.

 

Laundry Room_Emily Henderson_Big Wave Wallpaper_Blue_LG_Detail_6

 

You can add the sidekick to any LG washer purchased since 2009 – and you can do what I did which is use a pedestal drawer underneath the dryer and the sidekick under the washer. What it can do: The SideKick™ washer offers six distinct cycles, each offering a unique combination of wash motions, water temperatures, rinse cycles and spin speeds that are ideally suited for the different types of loads.

 

The SideKick™and the LG front-load washer can operate simultaneously or independently, so the user can wash one load in hot and one load in cold water at the same time. It’s wonderful.

 

Laundry Room_Emily Henderson_Big Wave Wallpaper_Blue_LG_4

 

We had to add some storage and organization, obviously because this laundry closet is small. So we put up those shelves and allowed room for laundry baskets on top. Genius. The shelves housed all the detergents and other cleaning supplies as well as the iron, dirt buster and anything that we needed to grab quickly.

 

Laundry Room_Emily Henderson_Big Wave Wallpaper_Blue_LG_Detail_7

 

We utlized both doors by hanging organizers on the interiors. On one side was a fold out clothes hanging line and the other was our mop and broom.

 

Laundry Room_Emily Henderson_Big Wave Wallpaper_Blue_LG_Detail_8

 

The drawer underneath the dryer held all of our cleaning rags and some other laundry supplies – dryer sheets, oxy clean, spot cleaner, etc. I’ve never felt so pulled together in my life.

 

Laundry Room_Emily Henderson_Big Wave Wallpaper_Blue_LG_Detail_9

 

On top we added a pre-cut ikea table top that fit pretty perfectly so we didn’t have to do anything custom.

 

Laundry Room_Emily Henderson_Big Wave Wallpaper_Blue_LG_Detail_5

 

We put a tray, jar and dish as catchalls for all the stuff that is inside your jeans – coins, business cards, reciepts, lipstick, etc. Last we added a tiny garbage for lint and other disgusting trash that I find in my jeans constantly, like pistachio shells (WHY WOULD I PUT THOSE IN MY POCKET???), gum wrappers, and clothing tags.

 

Laundry Room_Emily Henderson_Big Wave Wallpaper_Blue_LG_Detail_1Laundry Room_Emily Henderson_Big Wave Wallpaper_Blue_LG_Detail_3

 

The best news of all is that the laundry closet (in the middle of the house) is now invisible with the doors shut, and so pretty with the doors open:

 

Emily-Henderson-Design-LG-Washer-Laundry-Room-Sidekick-Doors-Opening-GIF    Laundry Room_Emily Henderson_Big Wave Wallpaper_Blue_LG_2

 

Having that closet done sends a surge of saratonin through my veins just thinking about it. It’s so wonderful. It’s functional, stylish and now that it’s organized has solved a lot of my random cleaning product problems.

 

So here’s the story, starting now through July 13th , LG is running a promotion in which consumers can purchase an LG Front-Load and LG SideKick pair starting at $999. Typically the washer is $799 and the sidekick is $699 so if you act now (through July 13th) you can have both starting at $999. Pretty darn good deal for 2 washers!

 

But if you are the “getting things for free” type then you are in luck because we have a giveaway: One of you will receive a free sidekick.

 

Here’s what you need to do:

 

Enter the giveaway by commenting on this blog post with what clothing you’d love to wash in a SideKick, and by entering below:

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 
 

https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

 

 

In case you were interested in seeing how I use said laundry closet, we have gone ahead and recorded it:

 

Emily-Henderson-Design-LG-Washer-Laundry-Room-Sidekick-Doing-Laundry-GIFSee how it works? That sidekick is pretty darn wonderful. I use it all the time for work out clothes, baby clothes, or tonight where I shoved in 10 stiff linen napkins to soften them for my shoot tomorrow. Not the most common use of it, but so convenient.

 

So there you have it. My laundry closet finally revealed, and in a way that I’m proud of.

 

Laundry Room_Emily Henderson_Big Wave Wallpaper_Blue_LG_5

 

Here you go if you want to get that look:

 

Laundry Room Get the Look

 

1. Wallpaper | 2. Wall Shelf | 3. Double Wall Sconce | 4. LG Dryer | 5. LG Capacity Washer | 6. LG Sidekick | 7. LG Pedestal Shelf/Drawer | 8. Leather Catchall | 9. Laundry Basket | 10. Tiny Dust Pan | 11. Runner | 12. Expandable Wall Mount Organizer | 13. Broom | 14. Dust Pan | 15. Tray Set | 16. Over Door Ironing Board

 

A big thanks to LG and all of our sponsors who allow us to bring you original content every day.

 

***You can find the Terms and Conditions for the LG SideKick Giveaway here

 

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An Oak for Renewal

As I type these words, I’m a couple of hours away from my annual physical that happens every three or four years without fail. I made it to sixty a couple of weeks ago, and surprisingly, still feel pretty good. And just as surprisingly, I’m also feeling pretty good about things, in general.

 
 

I know, I know, things are pretty bad out there right now. People ask me all the time about the economy, and I have to find the silver lining on the truth by saying that well, the companies that made it through the last ten or twenty years, are still hanging on, and although their business isn’t as great as it could be, or should be, at this time of year, at least there is some business to be done.

 
 

But best of all, I find encouragement in the attitudes of the survivors. Let’s face it, it’s been a long last decade or so, unless you’re in the position of finding a high level of joy in increased numbers of jobs in poverty-stricken countries. (Which is, in fact, a good thing.) But it’s hard to rejoice in the betterment of others on distant shores when companies and their employees are shutting down all around you. And it’s just not manufacturing…check out this list of retailers that shut down just in 2015. I don’t think it’s been this hard to find a job in the United States since the 1930’s.

 
 

Even so, the folks I work with every day have adjusted to the “new normal” and are making the best of it, and in the process, retaining and renewing a sense of hope.

 
 

Speaking of hope, I send out best wishes to our cousins in the UK who are beginning a whole new journey. I know a lot of our Go Wood readers are from the British Isles, and for all of you, whether you desired the Brexit from the EU or not, please know that we’re excited for what you are going to make of your great country.

 
 

And as sometimes happens, I ran across a passage in my reading last night that fits perfectly with the spirit of the times, at least for those looking for renewal. Once again, it’s a passage from our old friend Leo Tolstoy in his greatest of all novels, War and Peace.

 

At the edge of the wood stood an oak. Probably ten times the age of the birches that formed the forest, it was ten times as thick and twice as great as a man could embrace, and evidently long ago some of its branches had been broken off and its bark scarred. With its huge ungainly limbs sprawling unsymmetrically, and its gnarled hands and fingers, it stood an aged, stern, and scornful monster among the smiling birch trees. Only the dead-looking evergreen firs dotted about in the forest, and this oak, refused to yield to the charm of spring or notice either the spring or the sunshine.

“Spring, love, happiness!” this oak seemed to say. “Are you not weary of that stupid, meaningless, constantly repeated fraud? Always the same and always a fraud. There is no spring, no sun, no happiness! Look at those cramped dead firs, ever the same, and at me too, sticking out my broken and barked fingers just where they have grown, whether from my back or my sides: as they have grown so I stand, and I do not believe in your hopes and your lies.”

As he passed through the forest Prince Andrew turned several times to look at that oak, as if expecting something from it. Under the oak, too, were flowers and grass, but it stood among them scowling, rigid, misshapen, and grim as ever.

“Yes, the oak is right, a thousand times right,” thought Prince Andrew. “Let others – the young – yield afresh to that fraud, but we know life, our life is finished!”

A whole sequence of new thoughts, hopeless but mournfully pleasant, rose in his soul in connection with that tree. During his journey he, as it were, considered his life afresh and arrived at his old conclusion, restful in its hopelessness: that it was not for him to begin anything anew – but that he must live out his life, content to do no harm, and not disturbing himself or desiring anything.

So he concluded. But six weeks later, after spending time in the country around fresh young faces with dreams and hopes for the future, he passed the old oak again on the way home.

 

It was already the beginning of June when on his return journey he drove into the birch forest where the gnarled old oak had made so strange and memorable an impression on him. In the forest the harness bells sounded yet more muffled than they had done six weeks before, for now all was thick, shady, and dense, and the young firs dotted about in the forest did not jar on the general beauty but, lending themselves to the mood around, were delicately green with fluffy young shoots.

The whole day had been hot. Somewhere a storm was gathering, but only a small cloud had scattered some raindrops lightly, sprinkling in the road and the sappy leaves. The left side of the forest was dark in the shade, the right side glittered in the sunlight, wet and shiny and scarcely swayed by the breeze. Everything was in blossom, the nightingales trilled, and their voices reverberated now near, now far away.

“Yes, here in this forest was that oak with which I agreed,” thought Prince Andrew. “But where is it?” he again wondered, gazing at the left side of the road, and without recognizing it he looked with admiration at the very oak he sought. The old oak, quite transfigured, spreading out a canopy of sappy dark-green foliage, stood rapt and slightly trembling in the rays of the evening sun. Neither gnarled fingers nor old scars nor old doubts and sorrows were any of them in evidence now. Through the hard century-old bark, even where there were no twigs, leaves had sprouted such as one could hardly believe the old veteran could have produced.

 

“Yes, it is the same oak,” thought Prince Andrew, and all at once he was seized by an unreasoning springtime feeling of joy and renewal. All the best moments of his life suddenly rose to his memory. Austerlitz with the lofty heavens, his wife’s dead reproachful face, Pierre at the ferry, that girl thrilled by the beauty of the night, and that night itself and the moon, and…all this rushed suddenly to his mind.

“No, life is not over at thirty-one!” Prince Andrew finally decided finally and decisively. “It is not enough for me to know what I have in me – every one must know it: Pierre, and that young girl who wanted to fly away into the sky, everyone must know me, so that my life may not be lived for myself alone while others live so apart from it, but so that it may be reflected in them all, and they and I may live in harmony!” 

Well, good for Prince Andrew, good for the greatness of Great Britain, and good for you if you can sense the opportunity in the air. Life is sweet, and short, so enjoy it and share it while you can.

 
 
 

Swing Arm Sconce Roundup

bedroom_blush_pink_flos light_emily henderson
Source
 

Swing arm sconces are having a major moment right now and for a very good reason. They are functional, beautiful, and can be worked into every single type of room or decor. I’ve been desperate for a few of them myself, thus the impetus of this post. Think of them as the “lighting swag” of the design world. Just as too much swagger in your walk is a bad thing, you wouldn’t ever put a swing arm sconce on every wall or in every corner of your house. But when they are used correctly, in moderation, and in just the right place, they add just the right amount of swagger light to your space.

 

Brady Tolbert_Credenza_Moody Living Room_Swing Arm Sconce_Masculine_Modern_Grey Paint_Kendall Charcoal_Bust

 

Brady used one of our favorites from Rejuvenation in his Living Room refresh (above) and we have a pair of swing arms from Schoolhouse in our office over our whiteboard/to-do list which help for those very late night design/blog meetings. I am even currently picking out some new ones for my master bedroom to go on either side of our new bed, and have had some major anxiety picking out the right ones.

 

So, to help you (AND ME) on our quest to find just the right ones for every room in your house, we have roundup the ultimate collection of 95 swing arm sconces at every price point and in every style. Now get out there and add some swing arm swag into your life. You know you need it.

 

Emily Henderson Desing Swing Arm Sconce Roundup

 

1. Simon Wall Sconce | 2. Wyatt Swing | 3. Morgan Sconce | 4.  Anchored Orb | 5. Anglepoise | 6. Mid-Century Wooden | 7. Paulo | 8. Industrial Wall Lamp | 9. Slim-Line | 10. Mantis | 11. Regina-Andrew Arc | 12. Halfway | 13. Counterpoise Swing Arm| 14. RANARP | 15. French Library | 16. Stanley | 17. Swing Lamp | 18. Shaded Otis Light | 19. Koncept Gen 3 Z-Bar | 20. Cliff Wall | 21. Larabee Double Swing Arm | 22. 265 Wall Lamp | 23. Swing Arm Nickel Sconce | 24. I-Cono | 25. Architect’s Swing Arm | 26. Noho Double Yoke Torchiere | 27. RL ’67 Boom Arm | 28. Waldorf Wall | 29. Jones Single Sconce | 30. Nelson Ball Wall Sconce | 31. Boston Functional Library | 32. Kragero Swing Arm | 33. Stilnovo Koge | 34. Library Swing Arm | 35. Anchored Orb 2 Arm | 36. Bend Classic | 37. Brompton Extension | 38. Ford Mills Double | 39. Bruno | 40. Black Simple Iron | 41. Havana | 42. Enzo | 43. George Kovas Chrome | 44. Brass Wallace | 45. Prouve Potence Lamp | 46. Chic Mini Black Arc | 47. 1950’s Factory Scissor Sconce | 48. Antique Brass White Cylinder | 49. Tolomeo Classic | 50. Metal Hood Sconce | 51. Iris Dome | 52. 20th C. Torpedo | 53. Pelle Sconce Long Gooseneck | 54. Glendale | 55. Lampe Gras Model 214 | 56. Sonneman Orbiter | 57. Elise Adjustable | 58. Isaac Long Arm | 59. Plug In Zig Zag | 60. Mantis BS2 | 61. Osso Swing Arm | 62. St. Germain | 63. Bistro | 64. 1940s Architect’s Boom Sconce | 65. Envoy | 66. 3-Way | 67. Cypress Double | 68. 1900s Pharmacy | 69. Lynwood | 70. Cylinder | 71. Mid-Century Overarching | 72. Circa 1900 Train Station | 73. Albert | 74. Flynn | 75. Métier | 76. Frankfurt Articulating | 77. Jones Double Sconce | 78. Lite Source | 79. “Potence” Style Otis Light | 80. Warren Pulley | 81. Pelle Sconce – Asymmetrical | 82. Tolomeo Mega | 83. Copper Bronze Dixon | 84. Cigar Wall Sconce | 85. Crosby | 86. Cypress Articulating | 87. Hyde Park | 88. Brass Nook Pivoting Wall Sconce | 89. Mason | 90. Brushed Steel Dale Swing Arm | 91. Waldorf Wall Small | 92. Wonton | 93. Mid-Century Task | 94. Crown Point | 95. Charlton

 

***A big thanks to one of our new market researchers, Rayan from The Design Confidential for helping us pull this roundup together, art directed by yours truly, of course. 

 

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Snapshots from a Tour of Homes and Gardens around the World

 
If you follow my Instagram feed — LINK, you’ll know that I’ve been living out of a carry-on suitcase for a while, travelling around the world to photograph gardens, houses, and cities for several new books. I’m now home for a few weeks, and I have to say, after 11 countries and endless airports, being home has never made me so happy!  For those who aren’t on Instagram, here are some of the beautiful places and spaces I’ve been privileged to have visited. Many of them are open to the public (some every day; others only on a few days each month or year), and so if they pique your interest do bookmark their links. That’s the best thing about social media: discovering all these fantastic destinations. 
 
I’m back on the road in late July, so feel free to follow on Instagram. There’ll be more gardens, more flowers, more houses, a little glamour, a lot of glorious places, and some hidden gems too. Wishing you a wonderful week, wherever you may be. 
 
 
 
 
ITALY (LAKE COMO)
Confession: In between all the books and work, I’ve been trying to design a line of luggage. (!) I long for an elegant carry-on bag that demarcates toiletries from precious camera lens and also clothes (after I lost a favourite Armani jacket to a spill). Part of the R&D has been in Milan, where beautiful textiles and elegant bags are a way of life. These pix are from a research trip to Como, squeezed in between photo shoots in Milan, although the highlight of the day was not the textiles but a fleeting visit to the famous Villa del Balbianello. I wanted to do a formal shoot of this garden for a future book, but the rain was relentless, so it turned into a tourist visit — which is often the best way to see a place. In fact, rain makes you put down the camera and really see the landscape with your eyes.  
 
Unlike most of the other villas on Lake Como, Balbianello is set on a promontory, so its garden has been created from curving paths and magnificent views, rather than long, formal, Italian-style allées. There are no straight lines here; everything is a swirl of curves. The best way to reach is by ferry to the pretty village of Lenno, then a walk along the waterfront and through the villa’s private parkland (rear gate open Tues/Sat/Sun only). Alternatively, the water taxi, although pricey, offers magnificent views of the villa from the lake.  It’s one of the most famous villas in the world (and has been in countless films), and remains one of my all-time favourite gardens. Even in the rain.  www.villabalbianello.com
 
 
 
WHERE TO STAY: www.relaisvillavittoria.com, a romantic hotel at Laglio, right on Lake Como. Or its neighboring estate www.villareginateodolinda.com — just as beautiful.
 
WHAT TO READ: The just-published Gardens of the Italian Lakes (May 2016).
 
 
 
 
ITALY (PORTOFINO)
I’ve always wanted to visit Portofino after seeing the film ‘Enchanted April’. So we squeezed a weekend here for a romantic escape and this was the view (middle pic) that we opened our window to at 6AM, as the sun rose over the Italian Riviera.  Even though a posh wedding had pulled into town (the father of the bride had paid for an airline for the guests), the gentle port was still idyllic, especially on Sunday when the 200 wedding guests all wore white for the after-party in the village square! 
 
Leaving the partygoers, we hiked along the coast to the glorious monastery garden at Cervara Abbey (bottom right), which is open once a month, and then later walked the trails and terraces behind the castle to peek into the villagers’ veggie gardens. I don’t know which was more beautiful: the abbey’s parterre, or the tiny potagers planted up the mountain? If you’ve avoided Portofino so far, do see it. The romance clearly worked because it’s now my favourite place in the world.
 
WHERE TO STAY: The Hotel Piccolo is reasonably priced, and has its own cove for swimming. Try to time your visit for when Cervara Abbey is open ( www.cervara.it/en ); the garden (bottom right) is rated one of the best in Italy.
 
 
 
PARIS

A night’s stopover in Paris was just enough to race around and see the latest places. My favourite was Tory Burch’s new and much-talked-about flagship boutique on the Rue Saint-Honoré. It’s designed with a coolly sophisticated colour palette that cleverly references Paris’ famous architecture and sky. (Even the pale blues seem to match Paris’ famous doors.) Its designer Daniel Romualdez (who lives in Bill Blass’ former home — LINK) is adept at creating spaces that feel luxurious while still being understated, and his work has made this beautiful boutique a must-see for design fans, whether you buy anything TB or not.  412 Rue Saint Honoré, Paris.

 
 
WHERE TO STAY: The stylish new Hotel Providence, 90 Rue René Boulanger, www.hotelprovidenceparis.com Or the classically beautifully Hotel Castille, next to Chanel at 33-37 Rue Cambonwww.castille.com/en
 
 
 
PROVENCE
If you ever get the chance to see the South of France in late April, grab it, for there is nothing like Provence in spring. The light, the flowers, the fragrances, the flavours… I always feel fortunate when I come here, and the four days I spent in late April was no exception. I shot two remarkable gardens for forthcoming books: Le Louve in Bonnieux , and Pavilion de Galon in Curcuron.  The former garden was designed by Hermès’ former head of design Nicole de Vésian, and is a spectacular green and white garden designed to look like a tapestry. It’s still private but it’s open to the public, although you need to book a tour through the website – www.lalouve.eu (And if your French is rusty, like mine, just use Google Translate to convert your email before you send it; it’s courteous  to write in French.) 
 
 

La Pavilion de Galon, which is nearby, is a former hunting lodge that’s now an exquisite country garden done entirely in purples and blues created by noted French photographer Guy Hervais and his beautiful wife Bibi. You need to stay there to see it, but it’s worth it; wandering the enormous iris garden at first light is an experience I’ll never forget. The garden is best in either mid-spring, when it’s blanketed in irises and wisteria, or in summer, when all the salvias are out. The landscape in this part of Provence is truly extraordinary; gentle roads meandering through villages and around mountains, with views that make you want to stop the car at every turn. No wonder Peter Mayle has returned here to live.

 
 

WHERE TO STAY: Pavilion de Galon www.pavillondegalon.com

 
 
 
LONDON
For two brief few weeks in May and June each year, London erupts in flowers. Streets are garlanded with embroidered trims of pale pink and purple wisteria, front gardens explode with roses, and of course the huge Chelsea Flower Show pulls into town; like a giant scented circus. Some of the best places to see gardens, particularly the wisteria, are the little streets and mews lanes around Launceston Place, although Notting Hill and Chelsea are good wisteria-hunting grounds too.  
 
I have to admit I love wandering the streets of Chelsea, Pimlico and Kensington in May, where the flower-filled boutique windows are often just as good as anything you’d find at Chelsea.  Of course, the famous flower show is still a great insight into the newest horticultural trends, but it’s increasingly impossible to see (or shoot) the gardens with the crowds, and the ticket prices have skyrocketed to the point of ridiculous. A better option is to grab a map of all the entrants in either the Chelsea in Bloom or Belgravia in Bloom festivals (usually available from any store with flowers out front), and do your own free walking tour. Many streets, particularly those in Pimlico, are a veritable festival of petals. Furthermore, some boutiques offer fantastic classes.  This year, David Linley put on a willow weaving workshop (above), to match the giant willow displays that were in front of his store. You can see easily why these various fringe festivals (there are several others in London at this time beside the Bloom ones) are overtaking the Chelsea Flower Show in the popularity stakes.
 
WHERE TO STAY: My favourite London hotels are still The Pelham (Kit Kemp’s interior design without the Firmdale price), The Ampersand, and Blakes (opt for the Designer Double rooms),  which are all in South Kensington and thus close to the museums, parks, and bookstores and fabric shops of King’s Road. However, the newly renovated Flemings in Mayfair (above, with green banquettes), is a pretty and ideally located bolthole for those who want to be closer to the West End. www.flemings-mayfair.co.uk
 
 
THE COTSWOLDS
If you go to the Cotswolds a lot, you may think you’ve seen it all. But this trip I discovered several places I never knew existed. One was Chastleton House. Scene of the BBC series Wolf Hall, it’s a perfectly preserved Jacobean mansion filled with extraordinary period rooms, many featuring superb tapestries and furniture. But the most fascinating thing about Chastleton is its families. Each generation became poorer and poorer until the last owner lived in just one room. But the lack of modern updates meant that poverty actually preserved the house. (There’s a wonderful article here.) Some critics feel that it’s a bit too ‘lost in time’, and that perhaps a bit of furniture polish and some flowers wouldn’t go astray. But I saw only beauty and dignity and grace: a house that has lived a thousand lives and is still looking fine for her age. Just look at this tapestry, which covered a whole wall of the bedroom. Even the long walk to the house, through a pretty field, was part of the charm. Wonderful. Just wonderful. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/chastleton-house
 
WHERE TO STAY: The Wild Rabbit, a chic hideaway with a famous restaurant. www.thewildrabbit.co.uk Or The Wheatsheaf, an upmarket pub with luxurious rooms  at affordable prices. www.cotswoldswheatsheaf.com Temple Guiting is another swish place; a grand manor with a superb garden, but rates are high. (You have been warned.)
 
 
 
 
WILTSHIRE AND DORSET
If you saw last year’s film Far From The Madding Crowd, and loved the Dorset landscape in which it was filmed, then put this place on your To See List. Mapperton House (above) was the setting for Bathsheba’s farm although the best part, the garden, wasn’t featured in the film (I would have included it!), probably because Bathsheba’s farm was meant to be run down and this amazing garden may have cast doubt on that. Set in a deep valley behind the manor house, it’s a formal garden of topiaries and terraces that extends from a stunning conservatory (above) to a series of grand swimming pools (bottom left). I only had an hour here and wished I could have spent longer. It’s magnificent. Completely and utterly magnificent. Don’t miss the secret corners, including the two-story summer house. http://mapperton.com
 
WHERE TO STAY: We stayed in a tiny pub in a tinier fishing village called West Bay (where Broadchurch is filmed), but if we returned we’d try and stay at Lyme Regis, specifically Belmont House, which is one of the prettiest places in the south. LINK
 
 
NEW YORK
Manhattan is always magic in spring, and on this visit I made sure that I made time to see the New York Botanic Garden, which my friend Lee had said was a ‘must see’. Inside the gardens, the Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden was not only peaking, it was the best rose season they’d ever had. But the famous conservatory was enthralling too, especially the ‘Impressionist’ garden  that had been recreated as part of the American Impressionism exhibition. A fundraising ball was held the afternoon I was there, and this was just one of the arrangements. If you’re heading to New York, jump on a train at Grand Central and head here, before the roses fade. It’s a spectacular part of Manhattan than many tourists (myself included) miss. www.nybg.org
 
WHERE TO STAY: I usually love The Roger or The Nomad, but this time I stayed in a new and very cute boutique hotel called The Gregory, near Bryant Park. Themed around books and fashion, it’s  incredibly cheap, and has lovely staff and a superb restaurant next door that’s reminiscent of a historic old New York bistro — high ceilings, huge fireplace, timber panelling, crips white tablecloths.  The suites at the front are best. A truly gorgeous little Manhattan hideaway. www.thegregoryhotelnewyork.com
 
 
 
 
NANTUCKET
A quick flight from JFK takes you to Nantucket, a dazzling island off Cape Cod that’s becoming renowned for great design. This has long been one of my favourite places in the world. This gentleman above is Gary McBournie, a gorgeous designer I’ve known for years who has a weekender on Nantucket with his lovely partner Bill. (You may have seen their house in the May issue of House Beautiful). There is a lot of new construction going on all over the island, but the influx of money means there’s also a lot of beautiful new boutiques and hotels and bistros. Here are some of my favourite new places from the weekend:
 
 
 
WHERE TO STAY: 74 Main, a sophisticated boutique hotel with glamorous rooms www.76main.com Or The Roberts Collection, a recently renovated hotel with several buildings — I stayed in The Gatehouse — www.therobertscollection.com The former has better service and better rooms, but is more difficult to book because it’s so popular. The latter is cute but perhaps be patient with the ‘casual’ attitudes. 
 
WHERE TO EAT: I loved Met on Main (photos on right) for the beautiful wallpapers and banquettes, but the cutely named ‘Cru‘, a yacht-club-style hangout at the very end of the wharf, had a great vibe, gorgeous staff uniform, and of course that inimitable view that only Nantucket can do.
 
 
Then it was back to New York, flying low over the Hamptons, and a final meeting with my book editor at Rizzoli before heading back to Australia. 
 
More gardens and homes are scheduled for July and August, so do join Instagram if you’d like to follow. And — as always — email me for any travel tips — or just to say hello! janelle.mcculloch@bigpond.com
janelle(dot)mcculloch@bigpond.com