The Better Buy Podcast: Emily Henderson

The Better Buy, a new podcast from Better Homes & Gardens, explores everything home-related, from decorating and DIY to renovation and budgeting. Every week, we talk to homeowners across the country about the highs and lows of homeownership, sharing stories, advice and practical tips you can apply in your own home. We are on a mission to inspire and empower you to create your dream home. New episodes every Wednesday!

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on this episode

Host Mélanie Berliet talks to Emily Henderson, founder of and author of The new design rulesas she shares what she learned from renovating a home during the pandemic, decorating with young children, and her favorite home decorating rules to follow and break.

Meet Emily Henderson

Emily Henderson is a stylist turned home remodeler. After living in Los Angeles for years, the Oregon native, her husband and two children moved back to her home state during the pandemic. They are currently renovating a 1910 farmhouse into their family home, and possibly “forever home,” documenting the process along the way.

Advice from the episode

Emily shares her best renovation advice that you can apply to your own project.

Obviously, once you look at the house for your own personal needs, wants, preferences, styles, and you rethink it based on that. So it’s everything from bringing in the things you’ve owned, loved, and loved — whether it’s your most comfortable sectional piano or an heirloom, that’s sure to make a home look more like you. But I think imbuing your personality takes a lot of time and the slower you do it – and this is coming from someone who designs fast because of my occupational hazard of my job [as a stylist]-the more connected you are with it in many ways.
Emily Henderson

Why you should not rush to decorate a new house

  • It takes time to infuse your personality into a home.
  • Take the time to bring in your stuff, think about how you want the space to be, and plan how you’re going to tackle projects.

I always recommend [living] in a house before renovating it. You really have no idea how you’re going to use the space. You don’t know which corner will be the nicest to sit in, you know? You don’t know what to stare at when you’re doing the dishes. Do you want to stare out the window? Want to babysit your kids… We didn’t move in? [the farmhouse before starting the renovation] We’ve been renovating for a year and a half or more, and we do a lot of guesswork and ask ourselves a lot of questions like, ‘Okay, are we sure this is where we want our bedroom? Are we sure this is the direction of our bed?’ That sounds esoteric and arbitrary, but I promise you it makes a difference.
Emily Henderson

The importance of spending time in your home before starting a renovation

  • Take the time to live in your home and understand your home.
  • Little things make a difference, like where you want your bed.

They both want a lot of bold colors, and I don’t want to invest in real pink furniture because I don’t know if that’s something we’ll all want in five years. So instead I bought a lot of used, really cute vintage furniture. Like $80 dressers. And I said, “Okay, if you want a hot pink dresser, we’ll do it together.” We’re going to paint it together, and then at least there isn’t that kind of financial investment in something that they might not like. Or we can repaint it.
Emily Henderson

Why Emily chooses vintage furniture for children’s rooms

  • Buying used furniture allows you to customize it. Go ahead and add bold colors!

One of the biggest is the undersized rug. It’s because rugs, when hung vertically, look a lot bigger than they do on the floor, so you’re like, ‘Oh, that’s certainly big enough.’ And then you get it and it’s too small, especially for living rooms. And then hang curtains completely wrong. That’s a big one too. People just hang them too short and too low.
Emily Henderson

What are the most common design mistakes people make?

Knowing the rules is really good information for you to make the most informed, best decision about how you want to break them. For example, vanity lighting – that’s something where there are very specific rules about what height and what type of lamp gives you the best lighting to put makeup on. It really sucks when you choose something that really sets the tone and illuminates the entire counter, but not your face. You want to know those rules, but then you think, ‘Well, what if I love these directional ramps? What are we doing?’ So you can either put in really good niche lighting or just use it in your powder room where you don’t even need to see your face. If you know what you’re doing and if you’re willing to really stimulate your creativity, you shouldn’t be bound by any rules. But I like having the information so I know I’m making a choice and not a mistake.
Emily Henderson

When should you break the house design rules?

  • Push your creativity when tackling a renovation.
  • Know the basic design rules, but don’t be afraid to break them!

Links and Resources

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