Name: Emily and Erick Henson, plus Ella, 11 and Johnny, 8. Also Gracie, the French Bulldog and Cub and Betty, the cats.
Location: Highland Park — Los Angeles, CA
Size: 702 square feet (to be precise!) plus approximately 150 sf in converted garage.
2 beds, 1 bath (Jack and Jill style, between the bedrooms.) We recently moved our washer/dryer outside and turned the old laundry room/junk room into my son’s bedroom so there is a teeny tiny third bedroom now
Years lived in: Just over 5 years— Own
Emily Henson, a prop stylist and interior decorator, first debuted their home when she entered the Small Cool Contest. Showing off bright colors and clean white lines, this small but decorative home features plenty of DIY goodness and a lot of love.
When I first walked in immediately I thought , “this looks like Anthropologie”, to no surprise the store was actually one of her first clients. Each room is filled with sentimental details like photographs and collectables, and there are bursts of color everywhere. During the shoot she showed me their very large tri level back yard which has not been manicured for Winter yet, but we had fun setting up a garden dinner party setting. Another great feature is that they converted the garage into her office/ craft room and music room. There are cool and patterned textiles, soft and fuzzy pillows and throws, sweeping window treatments, children’s toys, random collected vintage pieces and so much character.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: If I had to give it a name, it would be a mix of modern eclectic and British eccentric. I like to start with a bright, neutral palette – mostly shades of white – and layer in color with textiles, art, and furniture. I also prefer most things to have a handmade quality. I much prefer to make something myself than buy it from a shop. Or if I do buy something, I like to customize it in some way to make it my own. I don’t like things to be too perfect either. I like there to be something a bit off –kilter. Erick is very understanding and lets me do what I want. He’s very supportive of the idea that our house is my laboratory – it’s where I experiment with ideas and consequently it is always changing. My style is definitely not for everyone, but it is a very accurate reflection of my family and I.
Inspiration: I read a lot of home magazines – Living Etc, Vogue Living Australia, Elle Decoration UK are a few of my favorites. I keep binders filled with tears organized by room that I constantly flick through when I’m looking for inspiration. I’m also inspired by the occasional fashion editorial – anything styled by Lucinda Chambers at British Vogue, Grace Coddington at US Vogue and Alex White at W. The sets they design are always incredible and utterly inspiring. I also refer to some of my favorite home décor books: Bazaar Style by Selina Lake and Joanna Simmons, Flea Market Style by Emily Chalmers (Emily is a stylist in London who also has a lovely shop called Caravan), Found Style and Midwest Modern, both by Amy Butler. Lastly, I get a lot of inspiration from textiles – I often build a whole room around a piece of fabric.
Favorite Element: Right now it’s the painted wood floors in the living room. I painted them white last year and just re-painted them a very light blue-grey. It transforms the whole room, bringing in a lot more light from the French doors. It makes the room like a blank canvas so any colors we use pop against them.
I also really love the 3 sets of French doors in the living room. Originally they were ugly aluminum sliding doors that were broken. A friend gave us three pairs of antique doors. They bring so much light to the house and it’s lovely in the summer when they’re all open (if only I could stop my dog from escaping out them it would be perfect).
Biggest Challenge: Making 700 square feet work for a family of four plus pets. I’m not going to lie, I dream about having a bigger house – more closets, a few corridors, a couple of extra rooms would be nice. When a house is this small and open it can very easily look cluttered. Obviously I like lots of pretty things around the place but there has to be some balance otherwise it gets really chaotic. (I’m sure it’s already too chaotic for some people).
What Friends Say: Most recently, we had friends to dinner and they said we should go into designing Yacht interiors since we made a small space seem much bigger!
Biggest Embarrassment: A few months ago I would have said the bathroom. Now that’s fixed up, probably the fact that there are lots of unfinished jobs around the house. We tend to get things about 97% done, but it’s that 3% that bugs us every time we look at it. For example, in the kitchen there is trim missing from around one of the doors. It’s really ugly, but I’ve talked myself into thinking it looks cool and raw (it doesn’t). Also in the kitchen, when we bought the place there were lowered ceilings. Think office style fluorescent lighting. The day I got the key I knocked it all down with a sledgehammer. Hiding above it was the doorbell box – all exposed dangly wires and parts. The house is so small you don’t need a doorbell so we disconnected it. However, we need an electrician to come and disconnect the wires properly in the attic. Until we do that, it still sits up there on the kitchen ceiling looking awful. We’ve nicknamed it “the bomb” because that’s what it looks like.
Proudest DIY: Probably the kitchen. It was the first room we did and we practically gutted it. It was also the only room we did without professional help. (Perhaps that’s why we still have “the bomb” on the ceiling and unfinished trim…) My husband and his brother put in the subway tile. We did the checkerboard floors together, painted all the cabinets, and put in the butcher-block counters. I think it really suits the style of the house.
I’m also proud of making our garage into an office and most recently, making the old laundry room a very small bedroom for my son - but since we didn’t do the work ourselves I can’t really call it DIY. I do love them though!
Biggest Indulgence: I don’t think we’ve really been indulgent. I suppose making the garage into an office could count, but mostly it was practical. We had a small chunk of money and decided to hire a friend in construction to do it for us. It’s been so great to have just a bit more space. When I’m prepping for photo shoots I work from home. When we first moved in, my office was a desk in the corner of the living room. Now we have this space that serves as my office, sewing/craft room, prop storage, and most recently with the addition of a set of drums given to us, a music room. It’s getting a little crowded in there actually!
Best Advice: Ignore all the rules. Don’t try to please anyone but yourself when it comes to your home. Let it be a direct expression of you and only you. If in doubt, add books and flowers.
Dream Sources: I honestly don’t covet expensive things when it comes to furniture. I’d rather have some incredible art. How about a piece by Jackson Pollack or Cy Twombly hanging in my living room? That would be nice. You did say dream source. A bit more down to earth – I’d love some dishes by Canvas. I used them on a shoot recently and they were gorgeous. (shop.canvashomestore.com)
Resources of Note:
- • Green mirror – Revival Furniture, 181 N Avenue. 21, LA
• Red Chinese armoire with butterflies – bought in Seoul when we lived there, but it’s from China. I wouldn’t necessarily choose it if I bought it now, but it is sort of sentimental since it was a big purchase for us when we didn’t have much money.
• Square mirror with round wood pieces – Anthropologie sale.
- • Paint: Olympic (Lowe’s) in Moonshadow.
• Floor paint – “Break-through” brand tinted with Benjamin Moore silver half dollar
• Large mirror – Revival Furniture, LA
• Green sofa – Urban Outfitters via craigslist.
• Blue/grey mid-century style sofa – Urban Outfitters, given to us by a friend.
• Vintage glass lamp bases – Melrose Trading Post
• Blue/pink lampshades – Urban Outfitters sale.
• White coffee table – Goodwill.
• Red console below TV – Ikea.
• White wrought iron lamps – St Vincent de Paul thrift store, LA.
• Blue kimono lampshades – Urban Outfitters sale.
• Curtains – Ikea, I didn’t hem them yet.
Art – mostly by my brother, Duncan Simpson.
• Kitchen chairs – Ikea, but I found them at a thrift store for $15 each.
• Vintage stove – Craigslist
• Barstools – found on side of the road. Made fabric covers for the seats.
• Floor tiles – Linoleum City, LA.
• Red chandelier – originally brass with plastic pieces hanging. From St. Vincent de Paul thrift shop, sprayed red, hung with handmade fabric garland.
- • Bedding – Ikea, Target, large floral pillows made from fabric
• Chest of drawers – Ikea, repainted and knobs changed.
• Lampshades – original fabric removed and strips of fabric wrapped around frame –made by me.
• Chest of drawers – Ikea, repainted and knobs changed
Art – mostly Duncan Simpson
- • Tree – I painted it so I had a place to put the birdhouses that I made for a display at Anthropologie when I used to work there.
• Bed – Ikea
• Curtains – made from Ikea fabric
• All other bedding – made by me.
- • Bunk bed – made by my husband when my kids shared a room.
• Bedding made from an Urban Outfitters tapestry
• Floors – Linoleum City
- • Tub – mini 4’ claw-foot bought on craigslist
• Sink – Habitat for Humanity ReStore
• Cabinet – old built-in given by a friend
• Paint on bead-board – Behr paint plus primer in grape creme
OFFICE (converted garage)
- • Desk made from pink and yellow file cabinets from St Vincent de Paul and a wood/glass top
• Sofa – Urban Outfitters
• Office chair – found in an alley in Pasadena
- • 10’ long table – Habitat for Humanity ReStore, Pasadena
Thanks, Emily & Erick!
Images: Bethany Nauert
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