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    Emily Henderson

    Emily Henderson

    All images © Kaitlin Green

    Perhaps best known as the host of HGTV’s Secrets from a Stylist, Henderson is the founder/ creative director of Style by Emily Henderson and author of the New York Times Best Selling book “Styled: Secrets for Arranging Rooms, from Tabletops to Bookshelves” as well as her second book, “The New Design Rules: How to Decorate and Renovate, from Start to  Finish”. Originally from Portland OR, Henderson trained in New York City, where she was working as a prop stylist when she won Season 5 of HGTV Design Star. From there, she moved to Los Angeles and went on to host Secrets from a Stylist. In addition to her work as a designer, she writes the daily style and design blog “Style by Emily Henderson”. Currently,  she is working on renovating a 100-year-old farmhouse and a river house new built in her hometown of Portland, OR. 

    “I believe a room is soulless without something that is vintage or antique,” she has said. “I  believe an object or piece of furniture should be either functional, beautiful, or sentimental and if it can be all three then that is design magic. I believe that comfort comes first, but style is a close second. I believe a home should look like the person that inhabits it, not a catalog, not what you think others would like — but really, truly like you.” 

    1. You have such an impressive and multi-faceted career. Could you tell us when do you think it all started?

    It all started when I got a job as a shop girl at Jonathan Adler’s first store in New York.  Stylists would come in to get pieces for shoots and I knew that’s what I wanted to do.  Because of that, I was lucky to get a job assisting a magazine stylist until I was ready to go out on my own. It was so exciting and challenging and I loved every minute of it.

    2. Many people may think it is the winning of HGTV competition that kicked off your career in a new direction. But would you say it has been a defining moment in your career? Could you tell us about it? 

    Absolutely. There were, of course, cool milestones before that but winning the show is what launched my career in a way that much more of the world got to learn who I was. I am forever grateful for that wild experience.  

    3. What was the best part of writing your two design publications, that were widely read and loved by your audience?

    Writing a book is no joke and especially when it’s a book about design, it takes A LOT of talented people to make it a success. But the best part is always to see it come to fruition, in print, and the response from the readers.

    4. What do you think is the deciding factor in a successful interior design project?

    I  think most designers would agree that a project feels like a success when you feel creatively fulfilled and the client loves their home. It’s pretty magical. But also sometimes just finishing can feel like a success. Ha. Some projects can take years so when you cross the finish line it feels great no matter what. And look, no one’s upset if their project gets published because it’s pretty darn exciting and your work is being shown to a much larger audience. But those moments are just that, moments. So while they can bring you more business, it’s really about whether or not you and your client are equally happy with the result.

    5. How do you combine so many aspects of your job in such a complementary way? Styling, writing, designing…What is the most challenging aspect of all of this?

    I’ve done it for so long that I don’t know any other way! I’m an external processor so my blog posts and books are just as much for me as they are for the readers. But the most challenging part is that often it can feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, week, or month. I love my job so much but I also need to be a good mother, wife, and friend which I also love, obviously. Juggling everything can be a lot but I’ve created stronger boundaries around my schedule which has helped immensely.

    6. How would you describe your creative process and its influences? How do you get inspired?

    Normally, the first thing I do is look at the actual house I’m designing. For me, I’ve lived in a  Spanish-style apartment, a midcentury modern home, a classic Tudor, and now a 100-year-old farmhouse. Every design has been based on the architecture. For me, that helps to dictate the hard finishes and see what style of furniture I might start to play with. I, of course, love to mix it up and pick pieces that wouldn’t traditionally be chosen but it’s easy to start with the ones that would. From there I love to pin, read design books, look at magazines, and go to antique shops and thrift markets. So much inspiration can be pulled but all of those places.

    7. What would be the ideal place to design for you?

    I have fantasies of designing a bed and breakfast or a small boutique hotel someday but who knows! I love the challenge of designing new types of projects.

    8. How do you choose the materials you work with?

    It might not be the most exciting or what will go viral on the internet but I love working with really classic materials and styles when it comes to tile, flooring, etc. But the home’s architecture plays a huge role too. Then when it comes to furniture and decor I like to take more risks because it’s far more affordable to decide you want to change an accent chair than the tile in your kitchen. But I am so inspired by the designers who take more risks in all categories.

    9. What was one of the hardest-learned lessons in your job? 

    It’s easy to get frustrated and want to point fingers when a mistake is made. But the best way to handle any mess-up is to be solution-focused. That’s not to say no one should be held accountable but at the end of the day the problem needs to get fixed and the faster the solution is decided on the better.

    10. What advice would you give to beginner designers?

    Just start creating and putting yourself out there. That is one cool part about the internet. We see so many wildly talented people now with a variety of backgrounds and experience levels. The more you do, the faster you’ll truly find your style and hone your eye. Sure you might look back and cringe a little but we all do that.

    11. If you had to summarize your creations in one word or sentence, what would it be?

    This is hard for me because I am extremely wordy but if I only get one I’d say eclectic.

    12. Is there a design object you would not like to live without? If so, what is it?

    Sentimental pieces of art. It’s easy (albeit not cheap) to replace things like a sofa or a rug but a one-of-kind piece of art that means something to you can’t be. 15 years ago I bought this huge vintage drawing of a blimp (it’s awesome, I promise) that I had been eyeing for months at a flea market. While it wouldn’t hit my wallet as hard these days, it was a big expense then and my first real piece of art. It’s been with me in every home since then and I would absolutely save in a fire. Those are the decor pieces that make our homes unique to us and that is why I think they are crucial.

    13. Do you have any books/porgrams/podcasts to recommend to our readers?

    I know I am biased but I really tried to pour as much useful information into my two books as possible. But of course, there are so many great books out there. Aside from that, I don’t have any specific program recommendations but there is so much online whether it’s on  YouTube, Skillshare, Masterclass, etc. Those are great places to start.

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