sneak peek: emily henson


living in 700- square foot bungalow in northeast los angeles, prop stylist and decorator emily henson has had to be particularly clever to create a space that can accommodate all 8 bodies who call it home: emily and husband erick, a tv editor; 2 little people – johnny, 7 and ella, 10; 2 french bulldogs – gracie and steve; and 2 cats – betty and cub. emily’s planning on adding to their ranks – soon there will be laying hens in the backyard! a big believer in the importance of personal touches, nearly every inch of the home has seen emily’s paintbrush or been customized in someway. emily’s motto is “creativity before consumption” – and it’s a philosophy she extends to her professional work with clients. working to find ways to use paint or reupholstering before hitting the shops. when it is time to shop, emily prefers thrift store and flea market finds – nothing too precious though. after all in this home, there are two dogs and two cats! and occasionally, the kids will strap on roller-skates and sail through the house! (for more of emily’s house, check out the flickr set!) {thanks emily and family – both human and furry! and thanks to john vicent talay for the photos!} –amy a.

[photo above: I used to work as a Display Coordinator for Anthropologie. For a window display I spent about two weeks hand-making these birdhouses – cutting cardboard, painting them, and gluing fabric on about 100 of them. I was reluctant to throw them away when the display came down so, with permission, I took them home. I am not a painter! But I gave it a shot with this tree just so the birdhouses could have a home. The colors in the room are drawn from the bedding, which I made from a vintage sheet and the pillows from an Ikea sheet. The bed itself is a mini-bunk made by my brilliant husband from good old 2’ x 4’ ‘s and plywood! They started as side-by-side beds, then after a few months we made them into bunks to get a bit of floor space back.]


[photo above left: My son is a prolific artist and is literally always making something from morning to night. He occasionally sits at this desk (although mostly we trip over his projects all around the house). I borrowed the idea of books in a birdcage from my very creative mother-in-law. I was going to hang it from the ceiling, but for now it sits on a stool with the current favorites inside. photo above right: My kids love to collect stuff, so it gathers on this dresser. I’m a fan of a bit of kid clutter if it’s sort of orderly. Johnny collects tiny buildings for his vast family of imaginary friends to live in (Apparently there are hundreds of them and they all have names). Ella and I thought it was funny to put the dolls in the birdcage. Sensitive Johnny is not so amused, because they have feelings you know. And of course, more birdhouses!]


[Photo above: our living room changed dramatically about 6 months ago when I painted my wood floors white. Some people think it’s crazy, but for me it’s a million times better than our ebony stained floors before. Yes, they never look perfect, but the amount of light that is reflected throughout is so uplifting, I don’t care about scuffs here and there. The sofa is from Urban Outfitters found on craigslist, the mirror is from Revival, this great vintage place in LA. In the course of a week, I found the trash can (to hold magazines), tissue box, tray, and flower candle holders at different thrift stores – they all look like they were meant to be together!]


[Photo above: the kitchen was the first room we worked on when we bought the house and it was pretty grotty. A very tight budget meant getting creative. Someone gave us the subway tile (you can see we still have some finishing to do!), the butcher block countertop was Ikea, the cabinet doors came off and everything got a coat of paint. I like to collect interesting glassware and dishes so the open cabinets serve as display as well as storage. We’ve got some molding to replace around the door, but I actually like the way it looks unfinished.]

CLICK HERE for the rest of Emily’s sneak peek after the jump!

[Photo above: Our living room and kitchen/dining area is open-plan and is not very big. Three sets of French doors make it seem bigger. We have to use every little nook. This old dresser (found on the side of the road) now holds DVD’s, photo albums and other miscellaneous junk inside and serves as a bar on top. Artwork by my brother, Duncan Simpson.]

[Photo above: What to do when your massive TV threatens to dominate the room? Surround it by frames and hope it blends in! A lot of the artwork is by my brother, Duncan Simpson (he’s since swapped painting for photography). Some kids’ art is mixed in as well as some of my own Stitch Art portraits. Small space means no room for a piano – my kids both play, so the keyboard is our solution. Plop down on a pillow and play!]


[Photo above: there isn’t a dining room, so we eat at this table in the kitchen. We also store books under it. I’m a big believer in books everywhere! The floors are my favorite part of the kitchen. I almost chickened out and went with “safer” more traditional colors, but settled on the green and blue – 4 years on and we still love it. It’s the epitome of cheap and cheerful! I brought the garden chairs in from outside and wrapped some fabric on the seats. The fabric changes when we want to mix it up. The chalkboard started as a small rectangle of black a few years ago and it just looked silly on the white wall. So I kept going and covered the entire wall. Fun and very practical.]


[Photo above: this is the prop stylist in me let loose! More is more when it comes to a tabletop! There’s a supermarket near me that has the best selection of colorful product packaging! There are so many amazing food labels, coffee tins, water bottles. I love that stuff!]


[Photo above: A year ago we had our dingy garage converted into an office/art studio. I painted the previously white trim dark green and the doors this insane magenta. It transformed the house! Like the kitchen floors I almost went safe with the colors, but I’m so glad I didn’t. It’s not for everyone, but we love it. The plastic rug hides a bumpy driveway. In a year from now, the climbing jasmine will frame the doors.]


[Photo above: It’s amazing how a mere 150 square feet can dramatically change lives! There aren’t any extra rooms in the house so there was no way to have time away from each other or to work on a project. This studio is our answer! We put in inexpensive Ikea laminate flooring and Erick built the back bed/sofa and my work-table to the right. Our desks are three colorful file cabinets topped with wood and glass. Behind the curtain in the loft area is where we hide all our “stuff”. Remember, we lost our garage/storage area.]

[Photo above: At the back of the office Erick built a simple platform that serves as a couch for the kids to hang out when we’re working or even a spare bed for houseguests. He designed it so that we could fit 8 large rubber bins under it for extra storage. I made the large pillows from these lovely fabric squares I buy downtown for a few dollars each. The mirror is a junk shop piece I painted neon green.]


[Photo above: I used some old wallpaper samples as a temporary inspiration board above our computer desk and it ended up staying. I don’t like the way mouse pads look, so I use fabric scraps instead. The nice thing about the wood and glass desktop is you can slide things between the two – photos, inspiring images, kids drawings. Mine got a bit chaotic so I’m keeping it simple for now.]


[Photo above: This is to the right of the computer desk – it’s one long desktop resting on file cabinets. Let me say that it never looks this tidy! Sometimes my husband’s laptop sits there with all the cables and gear that go with it. I got the shelves with the brackets already attached at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Pasadena for next to nothing. I love that place!]


[Photo above: This dresser sits beside my sewing table and holds fabric scraps and other odds and ends. I’m thinking of starting a collection of these little suitcases – I see them everywhere! This one holds yarn. The photos are of my mum and dad.]

  1. Sue says:

    are those real, they are all beautiful, wish i have house like this

  2. Katharine says:

    Anybody know where they got the red shelf under the TV?

  3. Susan says:

    I’m also interested in knowing where we can find the red rolling unit!

  4. Natalie says:

    Makes me want an icecream cone! I like the flavors!

  5. julie says:

    can you come to north carolina and help me with my house?! my favorite is the tree in the kids’ room with all of the bird houses hung from it.

  6. Lene Simpson says:

    Hi Emily
    What an amazing place you have. You are a gifted decorator. Just terrific.
    From Bob and Lene XXXX
    PS: Bob thinks he took the photos of your mum and dad!

  7. Sara says:

    Love the chalkboard wall and also the study desk! Great ideas for the home!

  8. AbbySt says:

    This reminds me why I am NOT a minimalist. Beautiful. I’m especially in love with your pillows made from “lovely fabric squares” bought downtown for cheap.

  9. Diana says:

    That tree mural bunk bed is so amazing, I had to post it too! Thanks for the tip!

  10. kim says:

    Ooh that Tree Art is just divine.

  11. Kris says:

    Looove the sofa!

  12. Masami says:

    Where can I find those bottom up curtains in kid’s room?

  13. Lily says:

    Oh so beautiful! You had my dream job! How does one go about getting that kind of job? I have always, always wanted to do storefronts for Anthro.

  14. Cris-cuadro infantil says:

    I love the idea of using birdhouses as wall decor. Lovely and fun!!!

  15. Robert says:

    Lots of white combined with so many other bright colours makes your home so warm and wellcoming. I just love it.

  16. Udenie says:

    I have read Emily’s house tour on Apartment therapy last year (not exactly sure the month),and I was thinking about it for months. During last couple of days I literally browsed design sponge and apartment therapy websites for hours (I couldn’t recall her name, so it was just crazy!) to find Emily’s house just because I wanted to see it again! I am a DIY person and people always find my style inspiring, and I have to thank people like Emily because I also believe in “creativity before consumption” for sure…so thank you Emily.
    love you design sponge :O)

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