amy azzaritointerior designInteriorssneak peeks

sneak peek: emily henson

by Grace Bonney

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.]

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  • every photo is even more beautiful than the next!! I love the use of color, this is really inspiring!

  • This is such a great, lively, lived-in space! I love the redone garage. Having a separate office = living the dream.

  • oh wow, those white walls and floor are stunning! great for pictures and a clean backdrop. do the white floors get dirty pretty easily though??

  • Oh my this is all amazing. I actually really love the white stained floors! I love the birdhouses, the open cabinets, the bar stools are to die for and I’m obsessed with the couch!!

  • emily this is beautiful! i used to be a VM at one of the anthros in nyc and i remember making so many of those birdhouses! it was a beautiful display though and looks so lovely in a kid’s room.

  • I agree with Casey–so very whimsical. I love the colors and patterns everywhere, and how much they did with a small space.

  • You give me hope. We’re adding another little person to our 950 sq feet home which I also work out of. I know I can do it, but feel so much better when I see others doing it so well.

  • They need to stop working on the iPad and start working on teleporters so I can zap that beauty to Nashville. All of the snow we’ve had lately has made me want to paint everything white.

  • This place is so bright, colorful and stimulating. What a great place for kids, too.

  • I love the little bird houses in the kid’s room. I think I will run out and get some little one to paint and hang by my daughter’s little kitchen. Good inspiration.

  • Oh, I can absolutely see the Anthro influence! I love the how the tree continues onto the ceiling – and how the space is lovely but lived in. It makes me feel better about my own missing trim pieces!

  • I love how you tossed convention aside and designed for very personal taste. You’ve created a lovely haven (and I love all the repurposed items). Bravo!

  • Love the Ikea kitchen counter. I want to put it in my kitchen too but I wonder how long it will last when exposed to water and spillage. Are they coated with something to repel water? We was our dishes by hand and it can get really messy.

  • wow, I love Emily’s house – especially that gorgeous wood kitchen counter top. so light, bright and summery

  • Most of these images are indeed beautiful, but the living room doesn’t feel like a very livable space to me — it looks like a home for accessories, not people. Love the purple door, though!

  • Every bit of it is absolutely lovely. The colors, the use of every inch, I love it. Makes me want to downsize immediately!

  • totally inspiring and beautiful! love the colors and i’m very impressed that you fit all those people into such a tiny space. well done!!

  • I am totally in awe ….WOW……its absolutely gorgeous and I’m amazed……….FAB!!

  • LOVE this! So happy to see such a colorful eclectic space. I keep thinking that as I get older, my home should become more subtle. This inspires me to keep on being me!

  • in the kitchen, do you paint the inside of the cabinets a darker color?

    i have open cabinets and have thought about doing this….

    lovely house!

  • Love! I’m impressed with the way she uses so many bright colors and patterns, without it looking busy, by having it all set against a cohesive white backdrop.

  • This so great. As a small home dweller myself (800 sq. feet) I love seeing small spaces featured. I’d love to see a floorplan of the place. Also love the studio! That’s next up on our project list, this is great inspiration.

  • i wasn’t totally sure when i saw the kid’s room at the top…then i continued reading and everything made sense! i totally LOVE it! thank you for not making the ‘safe’ choices! BEAUTIFUL, memorable, insparational!!

  • So inspirational. I love this house. Emily Hensen has such a way with color – fun and crisp. I have a small home for my family of four (900 sq ft) and I love seeing other small homes. This one makes me want to run out to the hardware & fabric stores.

  • Wow, I am going to come here and scroll these photos every morning to try and trick myself that it’s mine.

  • i love this entire house.

    i’m really into the newspaper bag vase in the last photo. where from!?

  • This is a fantastic house, Emily! Great, great ideas on being resourceful, and imaginative yet on a budget. I’m so inspired. THANK YOU!

  • this is beautiful…i’m so in love with everything you’ve done. The blue and green floors are fab and I am also really inspired by the green and purple on the outside of the house. I feel gutsy enough to try something so fun and unconventional when I get ready to paint the exterior of mine!

  • Oh my word! Incredible! I am constantly praising the use of daring color in a home and this one nails it perfectly. Seriously, wowowowow! Love it so much, I’m going to link to it!

  • I literally squeeled with delight upon seeing that top photo of the child’s room

    sooooo cute

  • the neat-freak in me wants to tsk-tsk….but I can’t!! I love your home, but most of all, I love how much YOU love it! it was such a charming tour and so nice to read your descriptions. thanks for sharing!

  • I dislike copying people, and like it even less when people copy me, but I’m copying Emily. I can’t not use this color palette against the white backdrop in my own home. It’s what I’ve been seeking. Genius. Thanks.

  • I love the little details, the colors, flowers, and the guitars. There are many little things that add personality to this place =)

  • Inspiring! Sometimes I get discouraged with a small house and lack of space/budget! It is so nice to see Emily make the best of it! With a small space it can be scary to take a risk. She went for it and it looks like such a cozy, happy and creative place to live! Very nice!

  • What a cute little office space! I love the idea of having a shed/garage in which to “go to work.” It’s so nice to have a space away from the house.

  • This home is so beautiful! I love all the creative ways things have been used for storage. And I love the awareness of consumption and that with a little creativity you can make something new! Thank you for showing your wonderful home!

  • I’m blown away by all your incredibly kind comments. Thank you! It truly means a lot to me that I might have inspired someone out there.
    For Sandy: Yes the floors get dirty, but it’s worth it! They make me happy! High gloss makes them easier to clean. Donna: To keep the wood counters nice just oil them once in a while. Jon: I love to paint inside the cabinets a different color – mine are blue like the floor tiles. And Jessica: The newspaper bag vase is exactly that! A gift bag that’s been sitting around my office for ages. I put the flowers in there at the last minute for the photo. Thanks so much. X

  • This house is a dream! Every little detail is fabulous!! I’ve been a fan of Emily Henson for years! She is a true talent – everything she touches becomes beautiful and fun…

  • Emily! I worked with you all that time and had no idea you lived in paradise! A great use of the birdhouses from our Anthro windows! I donated some of mine to the sherman oaks library. I’ll have to send the librarian this!

  • Absolutely Refreshing. filled with love, character and completely unique. Doesn’t look like all the others – stiff corporate aren’t we dull kinda places.

  • This is my favourite sneak peak you have ever done. I LOVE it! It’s gorgeous. That bedroom at the top made me swoon

  • I love your living room make cover, one the color of that couch is amazing, and with the white the room just looks so bright and full of energy, yet somehow relaxing at the same time. good work

  • its always been a dream of mine to buy an old house and paint all the wood floors white…and then maybe add a greek key border around all the rooms in a light grey…..gorgeous house, I love the couch and the chalkboard wall, and you can just barely see the eraser lines that curve around the round mirror, I just love that. It is almost like decorative molding, those eraser lines.

    p.s just a few pieces of white corner round for under those cabinets around the tile would just take 10 minutes tops and add the finishing touch.

  • What a bright, cheery and personal home! I love it – and I really like the white floor in the living room.

  • Wonderful, whimsical space! I like so many of the details here, but I what I appreciate the most is that I could afford to do this myself. I haven’t scored these exact items in thrift stores or at Craigslist–but I’m inspired to try!

  • I love it! this is totally my style of interior decoration when it comes to my own place… unfortunately I am not quite done yet and our place does not look as cute… step by step…. but I guess once I am almost done it will be time to move country again!

  • my mouth dropped open when i saw the tree painted on the wall. so beautiful! what a gorgeous home. i am in love.

  • Wow, I have to save this posting and look at it from time to time for inspiration. One look is simply not enough. You are oozing with inspiration. I would love to just come and soak up the creative feel in your home. Very, very fun, what a wonderful home you have created for your family. Thanks for the inspiration!

    Question: my wood floors were sanded and sealed 2 years ago and look horrible! (lots of dark water stains) if I paint them white, do you know if I have to re-strip and sand them? or could I cover them with a good primer/sealer and paint over that? Thanks!
    LOVE LOVE LOVE your home!

  • Cindi: Thanks! I didn’t sand mine. They were pretty scuffed though. I primed them (2 or 3 coats) and then did 2 or 3 coats with regular glossy paint and poly’d them. Careful b/c too much poly can yellow them.

  • Emily,
    You have done so many things I love! But my favorite is the white floors. Can you tell me what gloss paint you used? I had my cement floors in my showroom painted with the intention of a very high gloss and they didn’t have that sheen that I wanted. I know they are different materials and would be greatful to be steered in the right direction.
    Many thanks…great job!

  • i just fell in love. when i picture my future home it looks exactly like what you have done with yours. pops of colors and whimsy on a neutral pallet. amazing!

  • Wow. So wonderful and colorful and personal. I love when someone can take something that in other hands would look cluttered (ie. mine!), and make it look clean and modern and fresh. Gorgeous!

  • Lovely! Do you have enough seating in the living room though? That couch looks kind of small. Charming, but small.

  • What an adorable house! The birdhouse tree is a unique & wonderful addition to the kids room. Thanks for the ‘sneak peek’

  • This home is absolutely gorgeous! I love the exuberant use of all the bright colors against the clean white backdrop. I’ve been pondering a few home improvements and have already committed to painting my floors white as soon as it warms up enough to move everything outside for a few days. I’ve also been longing for open shelving in the kitchen but tearing out the cabinets is not in the budget (not sure of the condition of the walls behind the cabinets). I’ve kicked around the idea of simply removing the cabinet doors, and this lovely kitchen has convinced me to to do just that. But until it warms up, I think I’ll just look at these photos once or twice a day. :-)

  • Beautiful home! So colorful and whimsical…I really love the first room with the tree illustration and birdhouses. Amazing!

  • Wow! So incredibly amazing I am drooling! I think I will come back and back again to look at these photos! What AMAZING taste! What loveliness and sheer delightfullness! We are just in the process of buying our first place and oh I am so INSPIRED!!!

  • Thanks again! Lois: I used high gloss door and trim paint from home depot – nothing fancy. You could also use deck paint, it has poly in it. but they didn’t have a high gloss version at my home depot. It might be different for cement though …Gendy: The sofa IS small, you’re right! Look at the flicker pics and you’ll see we also have 2 insane round ’70’s chairs with an indian print. We use floor pillows too.

  • I think this is probably the most fantastic, beautiful, colourful, inspiring house I have ever seen!!! Now! where’s my paintbrush?

  • More is not more. There are so many wonderful touches with ‘brave’ colors, strong found furniture, great use of tight space, and smart storage solutions. And some wonderful collections. But it all becomes one big jumble with soooo many little ‘tchotchkas’ everywhere. Edit! So the eye can find a place to rest and appreciate the truly strong statements.

  • You had me at tree on wall with birdhouses! What a beautiful, loving, warm, cosy, cheerful, happy & personal home. I have a feeling we would be great friends! :) Thank you so much for sharing this with us…..I so wish I could visit and see all of the wonderful detail up close and personal.

  • I loved all the color!The way all those colors just blend in!!!!!!!!!!!!!!Its so amazing,I wish that that room was my room. XOXO Abby

  • Ohmygod I love it – all of it. DO NOT EDIT, DO NOT EDIT!! And the bunkbeds looks professionally made – any chance your husband would share his plans – my husband is threatening to make a bed for our son, and I’m worried!! We’d love to have any advice you have- as yours are truly lovely…

  • Please, don’t edit! Sometimes more is just plain better! My eyes like to travel all over those tchotkas! You’ve done a great job putting your home together. I love it!

  • Amy: E-mail me (address is on my website) and I’ll try to get you some info on the bunks. And as far as ‘editing’ goes, this is about as edited as it gets. You should see the place when there isn’t a photo shoot. I never said I was a minimalist!

  • Even though this home is not my own personal style, I think that is what I LOVE about it! The use of color and accessories is so fearlessly individual. I feel like I got to know the owners just by this short little collection of pictures. What a great example, not to copycat, but to avoid the “safe” decisions and go with the choices that make you happy. Wonderful, amazing, my day is made. Thank you for your beautiful style!

  • Emily: I really like the color you painted the walls in your living room! It’s still light but, has a nice contrast with the white trim in your home. It looks like a soft gray… I would love to know the color you used. Thanks!! :)

  • Mindi: Thanks! We love this color too. my husband picked it 4 years ago and we still like it. It was Lowe’s Olympic brand, I believe. The name was something like moon shadow or moon dance. Sorry I don’t remember exactly.

  • What an inspirational space; I also live in a small space with two young children and I work and school from home as well. I can see that it’s time to be more bold with colour…

  • emily…i wasn’t going to ask, but you’ve been so kind as to answer all the other questions…how do you feel about the white laminate flooring in the office/garage from ikea? is it holding up? drawbacks? how are the kids on it? i’d love to use it everywhere in our tiny house – and the price is nice – but haven’t seen anyone who has committed to it other than you. would you choose it again after having lived with it?

  • It is early and I just had my first cup of coffee but this bit of sunshine has truly made me smile and wake up , ready to go. How could one not think cheerful thoughts in this enviroment. Thank you for sharing Love it! Kathysue

  • katie:
    bunk beds were made by my husband.
    ikea laminate floors in white – considering i don’t wash my office floors that much, they stay pretty clean and mop easily. anytime you have white floors you’re going to see footprints/dark pet hair etc more easily, but the payoff is how much light it brings to a room. good luck!

  • Absolutely glorious and resplendent in all it’s breathtaking use of colour – i LOVE it – thanks for proving a family home can be uber cool – this has to be one of my favourites ever.
    Welcome back colour – I’ve missed you

  • Everything is beautiful! Any chance you know the vendor of the hot pink and white wall paper scrap you have hung above your desk (the one on the bottom left)? I am looking for a similar look for my home office and am running into dead ends! Thanks!

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

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

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

  • 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)