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Design Mistakes: Not Having A Plan



I find that there are two kinds of people in the world – people who don’t ever design their house because of style paralysis and fear – (not wanting to make a mistake), and others, like myself, who fall so hard for something that it clouds all judgement and triggers are pulled emotionally before a proper plan is in tact. This design mistake post is for the latter: for those of you (myself included at times) who suffer from ‘shopping without a plan.’

Don’t worry, throughout this post I’ll help you through what specifically to avoid and of course how to come up with a plan so that you aren’t a repeat offender. This post is for you, as well as me. It’s more like Design Therapy: Community Edition. Should that be a new series???

Let me be clear – it’s not like I plan EVERYTHING. In fact if you did then that room is far more likely to turn out generic – you need room for passion purchases and weird vintage things, for sure.

I like planning things to some extent – the dreaming up phase of a project is certainly the most fun. But just having a rough plan or a mood board doesn’t mean that you are going to make the right decision/s. While I advise all the time to ‘pick a color palette and shop/style within that palette for a guaranteed cohesive look’ that doesn’t mean that the things you’ll purchase are right for your particular space. So here are the specific mistakes you can make (and I’ve made) if you don’t have a plan:

Mistake #1: Buying without measuring. HA. I’m a professional at making this mistake. This usually has to do with vintage finds – I stumble upon something amazing and my love for it and the immediacy of the purchase actually inhibits my brain from analyzing the piece at face value. Let’s take this pine dresser, for instance:

Emily Henerson_Design Mistake_Not Having a Plan_1

Here’s how this bad purchase specifically went down – we were in escrow in the new house and I was so excited/impatient to start shopping for that new english country style, but I had no right doing that yet, as we still had an entire renovation to finish. I didn’t know what room would be our master or what the dimensions of the unsaid room was. Oh, but I wouldn’t let that stop me from a beautiful piece. Don’t be ridiculous. I would forge on as the intrepid consumer that I am! Even worse, instead of shopping on foot, I jumped on Craigslist during the kid’s Saturday nap-time (every week) which is where this guy came from. It’s like I was so desperate to do damage, to consume, and at the time wasn’t going to the flea market on Sundays but I NEEDED my fix to buy vintage for our new house. So, I fell in love with this dresser’s pretty wood and simple detailing and barely looked at dimensions.  My serotonin sky-rocketed, a rush that propelled me to email them, insisting I was the right person for their beloved piece, and then swiftly had Brady run over to pay for it and then booked a dude to go pick it up. I didn’t even look at it in person. I’m pretty sure that I have a shopping addiction but purchases like this really solidify that fear. I get such a rush from finding a beautiful vintage piece that I don’t stop for ten minutes to make sure it will even fit through the door (which actually happened – more on that below). Then of course after I expressed my interested in this piece the lady was like – I have 5 beautiful 100 year old pine pieces and I was like ‘antique pine!! yes!! I need more!!’.

Idiot. Don’t do that. That dresser didn’t fit through our bedroom door. It had to be taken apart to get in and without us knowing that, then also taken apart to be removed. It was not the right size and shape for the room either. It’s stunning and thank God it wasn’t a fortune ($500) but still a waste of money (I fortunately just sold it for slightly less once we moved it out of the room). Big mistake. HUGE.

Mistake #2: Buying without having an intended location. In my case I’d like to introduce you to this cute vintage velvet chair, also from my bad, addictive boyfriend, CRAIG(slist).

Emily Henerson_Design Mistake_Not Having a Plan_6

The shape! The scale! It’s great, right? It is special, for sure.

It was $125 so I hoarded it with the intent to reupholster and throw it “anywhere”. But as I was pulling the house together it just didn’t have a proper place. The living room wanted a pair of lower chairs and a chaise in the corner. The kid’s rooms need more cozy comfort. Our bedroom doesn’t have room for an accent chair (although now I’m wondering if we need one?). The point is you should have an IDEA of where a major piece of furniture should go before you buy and then hoard it. Especially if it needs work. Don’t worry, I sold it so it’s fine, but I was silly to buy it in the first place without even knowing where it was going to go. You can buy art, accessories, and textiles if you don’t know where they are going to go because they are easier to mix in and smaller, but don’t take a risk on a larger, more expensive piece of furniture unless you can picture exactly where it will go and it is part of your plan.

Mistake #3: Buying without consulting other people. Here’s a lame/funny stylist joke – how many stylist does it take to screw in a light bulb? Answer: I don’t know, what do you think?


Stylists are notoriously indecisive and need options and opinions. Permanent decisions are not our forte and opinions are our addiction. I think for the most part this serves us positively. Every person in my life has good taste or ideas (or both) and when it comes to major decisions I rely on them to not only ‘yay’ or ‘nay’ but bring up alternatives, worst case scenarios, things I haven’t thought of, and remind me of practical life issues or aesthetic problems. I have no ego when it comes to input (as you clearly know) and because of that consulting other people at times has saved me from even more mistakes. If you are pulling triggers and are unsure of your decision – please ask your best friends. They know you, your style, and your house and family.

Mistake #4: Buying to check the box. Otherwise known as – you are desperate to have a sofa to sit on so without feeling inspired you go to a major retailer and haphazardly purchase some major pieces that you haven’t fully measured or even considered in your space. I’ve definitely done this but it’s not my biggest problem, although I know it’s definitely one of many of yours. Most recently I bought these Target chairs to see if they would work…

Emily Henerson_Design Mistake_Not Having a Plan_9

I love them, and we needed somewhere to sit but they weren’t right as they were too busy and felt disjointed from the kitchen. Luckily I’ve used them in a million shoots and my friend inherited them. Sometimes you just need a place to sit, but if you can stave off your desperation for a while you’ll probably make a better decision and have less regrets.

Mistake #5: Painting first. Now I’ve always said that choosing the wrong paint really isn’t a big deal and repainting is WAY less daunting than you think. Sometimes, especially if you are renovating your contractor asks for a paint color and it’s ok to not choose the perfect one. White would make it easy, but you might repaint anyway.

Emily Henerson_Design Mistake_Not Having a Plan_3

For instance at first we painted Birdie’s a light pink – which is super hard to see in this photo, but trust me that it overwhelmed the room and instantly made me angry.

A dark blue was selected for the family room … and you know how that turned out. Emily Henerson_Design Mistake_Not Having a Plan_7

IF you can wait to choose your paint, then paint last because there are a million paint colors to choose from whereas there aren’t a million rugs, sofas, pieces of art, fabric, etc. When we create a design plan it is never around a paint color – it’s around a vibe, inspiration, or conversation piece.

Mistake #6: Buying before you live in a space and really knowing how you’ll use it.


I fell in love with that sofa and bought it. But what it did to this room is make it more formal and stiff than I wanted it to be. We rarely sat on it or hung out in there.

When I staged it I put this huge comfy sectional there and man did it change the whole vibe of the room. I thought that I wanted this room to be more formal, but once it was really designed for comfort I realize that we would have spent so much more time in there.


#7. Not having a jumping off point for a room. Typically when I design a room I find something – a piece of furniture, a rug, a wallpaper – SOMETHING to help guide the design and get my heart racing.


The last 5 months of thinking about this room has been so annoying to me because I just haven’t felt inspired (obviously it’s not styled, those are just things I was playing with). I didn’t think I could do wallpaper because the walls are textured, the ceiling is sloped and there is wallpaper in the shared bathroom, but it didn’t stop me from doing it in Birdie’s room.  I liked it much more after it was painted blue and we put beadboard up, but still…Thank goodness I didn’t make any purchases except that awesome glider. All of the pieces were leftover from other spaces. I would create a mood board, searching for inspiration and it always looked boring. Always.

Well, as of yesterday we chose a wallpaper (check my insta-story before it expires) and immediately my heart raced. Now, not every room needs to have your heart racing, but a kids room is a place to do something really exciting, not just have it be pulled together.

I know it’s really easy to say ‘have a plan!’ without helping you figure out how to create that plan, so the quick order of how we design a room is this: pin like crazy, see what those pins have in common, create a color palette that you love, then start a mood board with products in that style and color palette (you don’t have to know photoshop, I do it in keynote as I don’t know photoshop and it works – and then someone from my team makes it look really pretty in photoshop for the blog). Before you make major furniture purchases make sure that the board is exciting, cohesive, and balanced visually. If you already have a piece of furniture and want to incorporate it in, ‘google image’ something similar and throw that on the board (that’s what I did with Charlie’s Heywood Wakefield dresser -which is officially for sale since I just ordered a new gorgeous one from Rejuvenation that I’m freaking out about). Once you feel great about the board then make sure that all the sizes, scales, and locations will work in your room. THEN start purchasing. Know that even after you make your purchases things will change and shift once you get them into the room, but taking the time to create a plan will really reduce the design regrets and mistakes (like all of the above).

Good luck, folks. And if I’m missing any big ‘lack of planning’ mistakes or if you have any really fun horror stories, do tell …

Photos by Tessa Neustadt and Sara Tramp

In case you want to know what else we think everyone is doing wrong check out these design mistakes:  The Generic Sofa Roundup | Rugs That Are Too Small | Painting a Small, Dark Room White | How To Hang Art Correctly | How to Hang Curtains | Bad Wood Finishes | Anything “Antiqued” or “Faux Old”

Fin Mark


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I’m a little confused. This is what you do for a living and you’ve already painted your sons room 2x and are now wallpapering, painted your daughters room 2x and then wallpapered it, have swapped in 10 different rugs and sofas in the living room and family room, didn’t realize that an open plan family room would make it difficult for the room to feel cozy, bought furniture that wouldn’t fit in a space multiple times, couldn’t figure out a simple dining room table or chairs, got the curtains wrong for Birdie’s room, got the blinds wrong in your own… Read more »


Whoa! It’s her house, she’s entitled to make as many design changes as she likes until she’s happy with it. Chill on the negativity!


she can make as many mistakes as she wants. that’s not the point. i love emily and have been reading for a long time i just don’t get how as a professional this level of mistakes happens almost constantly with every aspect of the home.

Liza Grazzi

If you “love” Emily, try being kind and respectful. As a “stylist”/”home decorator”/”professional”etc., she is essentially an artist. This is her craft. Sometimes physical adjustments are part of the artistic process. (& not to sink to your rude level, but what do you know anyway?? Are you a professional designer? Just saying 😉 — good vibes and comments only – hate is unnecessary)


Wow, way harsh. I loved Emily’s post, it’s totally relatable. She is a design professional which means the standards are much, much higher. I think it just shows her passion for getting it right and I appreciate the honesty that even as a professional, it’s hard to get it right the very first time.


Also? Can we just agree — reader’s honor — that if a massively critical comment is truly necessary, at least wait until a few other comments come in before posting it?? I can only imagine that after posting a pretty vulnerable, but very helpful entry, the last “first thing” the author wants to read in response is some disparaging missive that will probably color all the other comments coming in, and will probably haunt the author for the rest of the day. ! Just cool it for a few…and *maybe* while waiting to post, we might just decide it’s not… Read more »


I would imagine it’s a combination of a couple of things, mainly rushing to get things done for photoshoots and being more willing to to try different things because it’s for her own home. When someone is paying you, you spend a lot more time nailing down the details; when it’s your own home, you might be more willing to see how it looks.


From reading the blog for a long time, I think Emily tends to take more purchasing risks on her home than she does with client work. There are processes involved in client work that keep impulsive purchases or decisions—basically what these mistakes come down to—from happening. There’s the sourcing, the team discussion, mock-ups, proposals, client discussion, and finally, a decision (likely more steps if custom work is involved). I see a pretty clear distinction from EHS Design and EHS-at-home.


good point. i do think there’s a distinction between a designer designing their own home vs. that of a client. but the posts about the most recent house they’ve been doing has the same issue. 6 different sofas brought in…..7 different rugs tried out. isn’t it the decorators job to narrow it down/know what’ll work well and not subject a homeowner to 6 different couches?


I think it’s very short sighted to expect perfection just because someone is a professional. Any big job/project will always require rounds of edits. Do you not make mistakes in whatever area of expertise you’re in? How else would someone learn and grow?


But as a homeowner, I want to see all my options. I don’t expect a designer to say – here is the best option. I want a curated and guided path of options. 6 couches is far better than 100 couches. Plus what looks good on paper is so different than in person.

So maybe you as a homeowner want a living room in a box. However, I want to work with my designer to have them translate my style mixed in with my preferences. “Right” is subjective in the design world.


Amen! How fun it would be to work with this designer and her team. I’d insist on a big chat, while cuddling toddlers and puppies, on a minimum of six sofas before deciding which sofa felt like home. Looking right is one thing, feeling right is another.


As a professional decorator, I’d like to point out that EDH’s clients are not paying for 7 rugs in succession, thinking it’s THE rug every time, while the team says ‘oops!’ over and over. These are options borrowed with the express purpose of trying them
out and returning what isn’t good. You probably have been putting clothes on your own body for years, but you try on jeans before buying, right? This is a really normal part of the industry, standard enough to have its own lingo (vendors will say a piece is ‘out on spec’).


EHD. Sorry. Pretty sure autocorrect should have picked that up given how often I read the blog (always), but Siri and I both remain imperfect…

Sarah Shumway

It’s more about the final product than the process…emily has eclectic and moder tastes worn vintage leanings . That combo means you like a huge variety of styles and it’s a never ending buffet of options in the world. There is always something else better or just different enough. It’s hard to know if you’ll prefer a modern, vintage, soft, surprising, classic, ironic, contemporary style most, or all of the above! eclectic is the hardest style to nail down.


The easiest place to experiment is in your own home.
So I don’t understand why she WOULDN’T try out a bunch of options?
ART isn’t about slapping down and getting it perfect, sometimes art is about the mood and feel

Dude, you must be having a bad day. Go eat some ice cream.

ha. Colleen 🙂


Best comment award!!!!!!!


Just reading all the comments …Sunny side: seems everyone pretty much came to your rescue 🙂 So don’t listen to the haters ~ you be you ❤️




I think plenty of designers play around with their own property to ensure that when it comes to the client they don’t make a mistake! They take risks on our behalf to discover what works and looks good. And all the before and after photos of Emily’s clients places’ have shown a big improvement. There are certain design rules but there’s no magic formula that makes everything immediately perfect every time. If there was, the rooms would look generic and uninteresting and we wouldn’t be following this blog as we would all know how effortlessly. I think the difference is… Read more »

I think that the photos of ideas gone wrong actually help the reader. Planning is good, but not foolproof. Learning from mistakes and making the change instead of living unhappily is part of the process. If you hire someone they give you three options. That helps people make a decision. But having access to zillions of resources makes it hard for both designers and ‘regular’ people to focus. Overall the planning strategies are great. (I personally fall victim to falling in love with small tables for which there is no space. 🙂


Emily is fearless in showing us her process. That takes courage because so many professionals rarely describe the warts and all of their process, all you usually see is the smooth and shiny botoxed surface. Emily does describe her true process and that is what I learn from. It is her house. She is an artist. The house is her canvas. If she wants to scrap off a section of paint on her canvas and start all over again it is her business and that is what artists do. We should all be so lucky to have such a passionate… Read more »


As a designer the most difficult decisions to be made are always the personal ones. You have so many things to choose from and are inundated daily with more, more, more. As a designer most of us also carry a passion for the process and are driven to act on that passion. Working with more limitations can be much easier, making decisions faster and easier to make. So, client work almost always falls into that structured category of budget, taste and/or site/building limitations. Working for yourself is plain hard! Emily is so transparent with how this design process works and… Read more »


Well said!

Sarah D.

I, too, am beyond grateful to EHD and have learned sooooo much from them and their candid successes and failures.


I second this comment. Anyone in the design community knows that designing for yourself is the toughest job of all.


Yes yes yes. All of the yes. I’ve learned so much from reading Emily’s process posts.


To some extent it makes sense that we all have regrets about some purchases, but most people who have nice homes just course correct over time. For example, I don’t see a reason why white blinds that go with the frame color of the window could ever be wrong. So many people buy these $30-60 blinds at HomeDepot and they live with those because they cannot afford anything more expensive. They try to put nicer curtains on and curtains draw the eye, while white blinds become part of the window and not a decoration. Easy formula to follow. Similarly when… Read more »


I agree with others that making bold choices and trying things out in ones own home is great, because she can then bring something new to the client. But honestly I don’t see that dresser or other things to be mistakes. The dresser looks nice and can always be styled/arranged so that it fits the room, provided someone wants to add more things into the room as opposed to having just a few items there. Sofa is a completely a different story. You first must know what’s the purpose of the room, and then buy a sofa that will serve… Read more »


Yes, but “white blinds that go with the frame color of the window” is not what we come here for. Think of someone who runs to keep reasonably fit as opposed to an elite athlete. When we turn on the telly to watch the Olympics, we want to see the elite athlete; when I surf here, I want to see someone push the envelope, combine things in a fresh, new way… surprise me, excite me…

One of the things I love about this blog is that Emily openly admits her mistakes and not-so-great decisions. No one in any profession is perfect. As a designer myself, I can especially attest to that. Getting something just right takes revisions and editing. I think it’s awesome that she shares the good and the bad, so that hopefully we can learn from her. I’m sure a lot more editing and experimentation goes on in her own home than in others’; it’s her canvas to be creative and try new things. If you stop learning, you stop living, and part… Read more »

I agree with Molly– feel free to make as many design mistakes as you want (if it’s your own house), Mistakes always happen, but I’m assuming she has far less mistakes made with her actual clients. But Lex, you bring up an interesting point…is the rushing to meet deadlines, and/or trying to push out more blog content, the catalyst for these mistakes? Emily, I would love to hear your thoughts if you think that the desire to make blog content has imposed on your ability to be more thorough/patient in your design decision making. I’m only asking because I’m about… Read more »


I’m confused as to why you felt compelled to be quite so rude on a stranger’s blog that no one is forcing you to read or agree with, let alone hire EHD as a designer. I just don’t understand the compulsion to be rude on the internet. Don’t think she’s a good designer? Think she’s incompetent at her job? Just stop reading. Good news – you don’t have to hire her and it hasn’t cost you or anyone you know any money. I certainly can’t afford to make this many changes in direction/plan but she can so good for her.… Read more »


My thoughts: I think the frequent changes are due in large part to obligations to shoot a particular space within a specific timeframe. I think those obligations lend themselves to impulsive decisions that work for the moment but not in the long term. I personally would like to see less of Emily’s house for the time being (a few months) I think there is a lot of pressure to have perfection and it allows us to be way more judgmental about the process overall. I would like to see some of these photo shoots and sponsorship obligations completed in client… Read more »

Jennifer, your first sentence is definitely the truth. But its honestly fine and I enjoy it. Sure, selling furniture is annoying afterwards but it is also part of my reality. Creating content for a living also creates faster and more decision making but also a lot of good comes out of it, or lessons i’ve learned. I could keep those lessons to myself, but why when I have a big audience to impart them to.


Emily do you!
Life is to short for nay sayers (I was being polite)????


I agree and I personally enjoy your being open. My reply was coming from this place: I perceived your post as a response to commenters on another site ( which I will not name) and Lex’s comment specifically as coming from someone from that site as well. I felt that you were trying to explain yourself to these people. My thoughts were if you were feeling the need to do that then I wanted you to step back a bit so you didn’t feel obligated to respond to them. There is room for constructive criticism and then there is just… Read more »

Sarah D.

Please keep the lessons coming! My home has gone from cookie cutter to polished eclectic because I’ve learned so much from reading your blog these past few years and I’m grateful!!!

The Home Grrl

I agree with you 100%, Lex. To everyone coming to Emily’s defense, the point Lex is making is that Emily is supposed to be a PROFESSIONAL designer! These are mistakes that anyone who claims to be a professional shouldn’t be making, especially to the extent they have been with this house. I find it embarrassing to watch.


I’m curious as to whether Lexi and the critics in this thread are actually designers or stylists (or have assisted them directly.) The first time I assisted on a photo shoot, I was surprised by how many options you needed for ONE thing, such as a vase or plate, and how much of the job was just tweaking, tweaking and more tweaking until you thought there couldn’t possibly be any more combination of ways to style something. Like Emily said, there is a TON of nuance in making something look good, especially for photos. They may make it look easy,… Read more »

Oh dear….


Then don’t watch.


I’m a professional interior designer, my own business is relatively new but I’ve been in the field and working for other designers and design firms for over 5 years. If I had to guess, I think you probably watch too much HGTV, where all of the hard work, mistakes and revisions are done off screen. Real, good, lasting, thoughtful design does not happen on the first try or overnight. When working with a client, your designer is your advocate – helping you to make the right decisions based on their own experience. They’ve gone through the expense of trying new… Read more »

Bailey tobin

Wow! You have no clue what goes into designing a space. You cant be safe and always to the same thing. As a designer there is always pressure with your own home to be extra creative and with new design ideas. I am an interior designer and currently renovating my own home and it has to be the toughest project I have ever worked on as I feel the pressure of what to pick and what will other people say. Your comments are truly hurtful as she has opened up her house and family. Nothing is worse then negativity.


Dear the home grrl (?) you can’t seriously think that someone in creative job should not make mistakes. How do you think new ideas evolve if you are not allowed to make mistakes? You can’t always play it safe when you are supposed to create something new. I think Emily is very much a PROFESSIONAL designer and her content is very helpful for her readers. Maybe you should go follow some other designer with only pretty pictures and learn nothing about design?


I think anyone who is a professional ANYTHING still makes “mistakes”.
Kudos to Emily for admitting them, and still having vulnerability to share them with her readers.

I appreciate all comments, certainly. But this negative one warrants a response. I consider most of my job documenting my design process for you, instead of just revealing these perfectly styled out rooms at the end. I consider my house my laboratory and I take risks all the time, because yes I need to create content in order to keep the blog moving – but also because its fun. I give myself full right to try things and fail and then tell you ‘hey, don’t do this, i did and it didn’t work’. Sure, we have design clients and if… Read more »


You are so much kinder and more polite re: these posts than I would be! 🙂


Emily – your book and your blog are the only reasons I’ve been able to take some of the things I’ve loved online and in magazines and replicate them in my own home. The negative comments are completely missing the point of your approach- which is about making design accessible. Given how many design blogs simply post pictures of homes with maybe a link to buy the stuff in them, I really appreciate you taking the time to create posts I can learn from!


Posts like this one are 100% why I love this blog and your IG stories so much. I always feel like I should rush into design but then it doesn’t look right. seeing the work and struggles to get it right makes me feel more confident in my own abilities because you’re showing that it’s ok to make mistakes!


Emily, please continue to write posts like this one! I relate to EVERYTHING in this post! Thank you for always being so honest and real!


I agree, I love the posts! What a relief to know that stylists struggle with design decisions. It is wrong to tear someone down and question their craft, when the whole goal of the post was to encourage readers to be ok with making mistakes. This kind of post is positive and helps people. I work in healthcare and trust me even the most skilled make mistakes and learn. Without mistakes there is never growth. And for goodness sakes she is creating content! So to those negative posters, go back to watching HGTV where everything is just SUPER!!! I love… Read more »


Lovely reply Emily but I don’t think you have anything to explain. You’re doing beautiful, inspired work & we appreciate you sharing so much with us! Thank you. Keep up the great work!


Amen, Emily! I love these posts and I do learn a lot from them. Thanks for your “honesty and transparency”! Don’t listen to the negativity.

Please keep documenting your mistakes. Real Living is a popular Australian interiors magazine that recently started a monthly segment from the perspective of interior designers and stylists discussing the mistakes they made in their own homes for the audience to learn from. Our own homes are the one place we allow ourselves mistakes because its where we take the biggest risks.


Thank you!!!! Because of your transparency and sharing your learning process, I don’t get so wigged out because I move the furniture around in a room five times. Or buy things that don’t work. I say, “Well, Emily does it.” This isn’t waving a magic wand or seeing perfection in a crystal ball. You show the process, the struggles, the wins, the learning, and that has been important to me.


I love seeing your process- it makes me feel so much better about the way I agonize over decisions and it’s so helpful to see what works and doesn’t. Thanks for being open with us!


I wouldn’t say any of the choices are “bad” or mistakes even… It’s all part of the process. You are figuring out as you go and taking a risk is always better than playing it safe. You may discover something genius in fact which you would miss if it was all so calculated. Thank you for sharing with us!


She’s not a surgeon. Designers/stylists/artists need to be able to experiment, make mistakes and PLAY. I can’t afford to do as much of this in my own home because I don’t have the money, it would drive my husband crazy, and I would never get around to selling items I don’t end up using, but I’m not a designer! I have followed design blogs for about a decade and there seems to come a point with every blog (I’m thinking of YHL in particular ) when the comments just get deeply critical. I really hope this isn’t happening here. DESIGN… Read more »


totally agree! Emily makes design FUN! I LOVE that suddenly she decided to wallpaper her sons room. That is why I look forward to her stories more than other peoples. Im vicariously living through her designs. lol.

As someone who is a completely different type of a designer, I will say this — often times good design is a result of trial and error. Sometimes the best solutions were originally mistakes. And good things take patience. And hey, trying things out is half the fun! Emily has resources that most of us don’t, so she can afford these luxuries and we benefit by watching.

Keep it up, Emily! I personally love the realism. Social media has way too many people thinking things just happen like magic with the snap of a finger. This, right here, is reality.


I don’t think this is unusual. I’ve seen designers tweak spaces over and over. It’s a process and you never actually know if something will work until you try it. Also, Emily is a human being and maybe she changed her mind about what she was wanting the room to feel/look like. It happens. I personally like knowing pro’s make mistakes too.


I think Emily’s creative process is very experimental and non-linear, and now she has the resources to experiment with 5 rugs and 6 sofas. I think it’s very cool that we get to this peek behind the curtains.


I will say I think this is closer to how it actually is to have a designer work with a customer. (She’s still a designer – you don’t need a degree to use that term – the term ‘decorator’ seems a little purposely harsh and outdated – as someone with a degree in design I have the utmost confidence saying that) I work as a graphic designer in advertising and the amount of rounds we go through with the client is unbelievable. Add in something specific to be designed around (in Emily’s case, rooms and spaces) and I can’t even… Read more »


Actually Ele, you do need a degree and a license to practice as an interior designer in some states. Also, while it may be a less popular title these days, I don’t think ‘decorator’ is harsh. I do see why professionals may prefer “designer” though, as it seems to cover a broader scope of work. My state requires licensing, so legally I practice as a decorator – despite the fact that I just designed a house from the foundation to the rooftop. Honestly, I do the same job, it just says decorator on my state forms and does not say… Read more »


To use the term “Designer” you don’t need accreditation. Just because shes not an AIA Interior Designer, does not mean she is not still a Designer. (I did know that most states require that). My point is that Lex seemed like they were purposefully trying to talk down to Emily by calling her a “decorator”, just to be ugly and rude.


I actually find it rather humbling and extremely helpful that Emily, being the majorly successful designer she is, shared her paint “faux pas”.
In doing so she saved many others costly time and reasources.
We should applaud Emily for being so honest and open about her design processes unlike many other big designers who keep the secrets to themselves.


I find the multiple changes/choices fun and sort of normal for design blogs. Remember that designers’ own homes are kind of their own canvases. So the rooms will change and evolve multiple times over the years. I think Emily only lived in her last house a few years and yet it went through a bazillion changes. It’s fun to watch.

Ruth C.

Lex – You obviously haven’t bothered to watch any of Emily’s TV shows or taken the time to read her book. If you had, you’d know how talented (and nice) she is. I won’t make any further comments about your post because (unlike you) I don’t want to be rude. Have a nice day.


Wow, you are an ass. Seriously. Emily was very kind in her response. Like it was mentioned in other comments, Emily is letting us in on the process. It is as if an artist said “hey, I am going to show you my sketch pad before I paint my master piece”. See for example:

In the famous words of Bob Ross, ‘those aren’t mistake those are birds”. And you Lex need to understand the process of making and creating beautiful things.


I think that’s what makes her an amazing designer. She could just put whatever in a room and say it looks good and a client will think it looks good because they may not have a sense of style. The fact that she tries things out and changes things to make it just right is part of the design process, you can’t design a perfect space overnight. Yes, you can go to Target and pick up a bunch of cute pieces to style a room and it would look amazing, but then it’s no longer a though out, well designed… Read more »


Wow, snaps in z-formation. I actually LOVE to see the process that Emily has. And actually I get why she’s constantly tweaking – because this is what she does! It’s really refreshing because I find it truly authentic. Unlike every other Instagram blogger, she doesn’t drive into the trends of chevron and farmhouse wood and is much more thoughtful about it. There is something really nice about not being perfect and being super transparent about it. Could I live this way? No. Because I would go crazy. But this is what Emily’s passion slash job is and so I expect… Read more »


Seriously. What is your problem?? This is her house not a client’s. I’m glad I’m not you. Take a Prozac or a handful of xanax and chill.


Lex, your comment shows how completely oblivious you are to the process of decorating a space. People try something and see and if they don’t like something once it’s in a space, they try again with something else until they get the room look they want. A plan in concept can be very different than it’s execution in a space. That’s the process for everyone, professionals, too. Next time, before you fire off a snarky email that you try and disguise as a “I’m confused, just wondering” email, get a clue as to what you’re talking about. Because what has… Read more »


hi ginny. lex here. i didn’t send an email so i’m not sure what you’re talking about. cool move calling a commenter an “ignorant ass” very professional.


Ha. Pointing out that Ginny used the term ’email’ instead of ‘blog comment’ confirms that you, Lex, are a troll. The inaccurate terminology doesn’t take away from her good point and we certainly knew what she meant. Clearly, considering your original comment, professional conduct has nothing to do with this. If you don’t like what Emily is saying stop reading.

I personally, wouldn’t have made some of the design decisions Emily made but then, hindsight is a bitch.

Brooke Hooker

Rude! She’s amazing and great at what she does!!


I work for a company that produces stop-motion animated films. We have a building full of some of the best set designers, production designers, artists, animators, etc. in the world. These people are highly trained and highly skilled, and if you think for one second that all of this means they hit the nail on the head perfectly each time, you are crazy. Art is a process. Design is a process. Beauty comes from the failures. You think writers submit their first drafts for publish? You think architects never make amendments to their blueprints? You think fashion designers don’t make… Read more »


Yay to this comment! I love this.


Um, to Jocelyn’s comment. Not Lex’s.


Perfectly said Jocelyn.


Exactly ! If you are an Artist ,Designer, Writer… that’s the way the creative people roll ! If you ( the negative commentators) were in any type of creative field you would get this!


My additional $.02 from an earlier comment and in agreement with Jocelyn. Years ago I worked for a very famous person known for their design acumen, featured in design magazines internationally and big time house flipper, widely respected in a sphere where everyone can afford the best. That person would have whole newly constructed and designed rooms ripped out if they were not to their satisfaction and constantly swapped out furniture and believe me they were working with a world class design team. Heck, they would even take my opinion and I was but a lowly assistant. It takes a… Read more »


I am also reminded of the T. Roosevelt quote that brilliant Brené Brown is known for referencing when talking about the courage to be vulnerable and take chances vs the critic on the outside looking in. It takes a secure, mature, courageous person to admit mistakes and try to help others as a result. I admire you, Emily. “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose… Read more »


It’s simple. Her love for design. That’s why. I think it’s fun. I would if I could, switch things up to get it just right. If anything she’s sharpening her tool so to speak for clients and for us who follow her.


My interior designer brought 4 trucks of furniture she borrowed from her dealers and we tested out tons of shapes, sizes, configurations in every room before we settled on a theme. Most of it was educational (what sizes work, what flow works, what wood finishes don’t work) … in the end I bought 1 thing from all the trucks, but otherwise the point was to experiment in one very costly day what would work best.
Emily just does it very publicly, but many interior designers would require 1 year from start to finish. So let’s just enjoy the ride, eh?


My guess is designing for your own house is very different then designing for a client. Thx em for this post. I totally relate to it!!!

as someone pursuing a career as an interior stylist, i know my taste for my personal space changes all the time. just a few months ago i was drawn to this one thing…and now i’m across the board liking another. when it’s your own home you take more liberties/chances and have room to play. sure mistakes in measuring might be read as an issue coming from a professional but i know from watching home design tv shows and reading other blogs mistakes happen all the time! to err is human. i did wonder why emily knocked “40 holes” in the… Read more »


Damn girl! Haven’t you ever made a mistake? Like your comment for instance? We’ve all had those days riddled with errors, personally and professionally, days in which we measure wrong or don’t measure at all, days when we make snarky comments with the intention of cutting someone down, but there can be such grace in acknowledging a misstep and changing course with poise and mindfulness (hint, hint 😉


Super negative and not cool! Designing takes courage. Creativity means taking risks. Anyone can turn out a cookie cutter room. But something imaginative like Emily requires a little experimenting and flexibility


Hey Lex, Design aside, in all of life there is a rule. The rule dictates, that in order for there to be many fabulous successes, there will be some failure. For every personal bungle Em shares, there are a dozen more strengths and successes in her portfolio that profoundly overshadow mistakes…. By embracing risk and failure as the excellent teachers they are, Emily cheers us on to express ourselves without fear of the outcome. Brilliance and error are not mutually exclusive… in fact I believe they are best friends, who get married and have babies named delight, discovery & passion.


THIS COMMENT I love! Meeting harshness with harshness is not cool, and that’s what’s going on in most of these posts. This one (Ashley’s) is constructive and substantive. Part of Emily’s much-vaunted transparency must include a thick skin in regards to negative comments. Instead, everyone’s making a mountain out of a molehill and giving so much undeserved energy to Lex’s comment.


I don’t think “mistake” or calling out that she did something “wrong” when she just simply made changes and decided to go in a different direction. In your own house, there is no concern to make a client happy, it is only yourself. And you may use trial and error many times to find “the best option”, which asserts that the options that came before it were not wrong, they just weren’t the most desired. I’m sure if you changed your perspective to see design as ART rather than SCIENCE, you wouldn’t be so judgemental on her personal design choices.


Have you ever been to an art exhibition at a museum…for instance George Seurat where you might see twenty of the same painting where an artist changes things in each rendering before he creates his large masterpiece. That’s why some paintings are expensive. An artist may paint something 50 times before he creates the ONE. Just food for


I feel like most of these commenters who think this is a mean comment should consider the difference between negative and neutral. I find Alex’s comment to be neutral and invite some discussion and education- and that’s exactly what has happen! Plus a whole bunch of shaming and name calling. Lex expressed concerns- if you are one of the commenters who feel the initial comment was mean and jumped down let’s throats with name calling then you should look in the mirror. As many people have already pointed out Emily’s work for her home and blog is not a typical… Read more »


Well said! Completely agree with you!!


*IN DEFENSE OF LEX* I don’t think she was overly nasty. There is a difference between vitriolic baiting and curious criticism. She brings up some valid points and questions from the perspective of a reader that isn’t in the field. Frankly, some of the responses to LEX have been worse in tone. Many commenters gave good answers and ultimately Emily gave a good explanation for herself. I feel that is what LEX was asking for, some clarification. However, telling someone they are having a bad day, they need to eat ice cream or they are allowed good vibes only, basically… Read more »


YES. This is what I’ve been thinking about but you have so succinctly expressed.


Being a designer myself I am ALWAYS changing things….. the first time around usually looks just fine to most people however, I always want to push the boundaries, take more risks. I’m not striving for just fine. That’s why everyone loves this blog. You’re not going to get that layered, unique look the first time around. Emily is working toward perfection every single time and she won’t settle!


Transparency that Emily shared is real life stuff. Think of this like that famous line about needing to spend 10,000 hours practicing a skill or craft before its fluid & “perfect.” In my job, I don’t get things exactly right every time. In my conversations with people, I can stumble. Diet & exercise of my life…nope, not perfect- calibration and moderation every day. Finding the perfect hair color, handbag, bathing suit, bra, jeans…its all wrong until its joyful and makes your heart sing. Its all about daring greatly, trying again and again and like understanding batting averages or records of… Read more »


I actually agree with first commenter. This seems like design Schizophrenia. And designers are famous for saying buy what you love, you will find a place for it! As a design professional, my first reaction is always, “have you measured”! I have saved thousands of dollars for clients this way.

Mrs Caple

I think you’re missing the point. A home is not a mood board. Something can look great on paper but the light in the room, it’s uses etc can alter a design concept. Also the post is headed up ‘not having a plan’ she is teaching you to have a plan. If you don’t like how she designs and styles a room stop following her

This was one of my favorite posts ever. Confidence in Emily I have from the results she shows. More importantly, this piece gave me confidence in myself.


I love that Emily is honest and that I can relate to her. I’ve made a few regrettable design mistakes in my home as well and her post was about helping all of us avoid these costly mistakes. I’ve learned so much from you Emily! Please keep it up! We love you!


Most of the time I am a thoughtful person. But Lex, you sound like a real bitch. ????????‍♀️

As a professional designer (professionally trained), there are a couple things that I feel many of these comments don’t consider: 1) Emily could have just as easily titled this, “Design Decisions that Looked Pretty Good but Didn’t Feel Quite Right to Me”. She called them mistakes because SHE feels they are mistakes. A lot of the stuff she used actually looked pretty good in the space, but design is a highly intuitive and personal process. The best designer is one that tweaks things to a point of perfection. Some designers may claim to nail it the first time, but they… Read more »


Apparently you’re perfect so maybe you should just stick to following others who pretend to be as well. I for one appreciate honesty and realness, not the illusion of perfection.


These aren’t “mistakes.” Good design in any field is “iterative.” Options are given, layouts are edited, tweaked. This is a visual field, and Emily’s strength as a blogger has always been that she shows us her process, not just the final “HGTV” result. That requires “iteration” in the design process. You think it’s a mistake because you aren’t a designer.


I’m an engineer working very closely with architects and designers. The number of revisions that happen during the design process would make your head SPIN. It is not a linear path AT ALL. It’s full of overlooked details, and owners changing their minds, and realizing something doesn’t work once you flesh out the details, and tweaking until it’s right and there’s no time left. And then realizing it’s literally NEVER PERFECT and fixing things during construction. If you’re looking for a highlight reel, those design blogs are all over the Internet. I get that no owner wants to see the… Read more »

Sarah Traugott

wow–what a jerk!


Hey Lex! I’m a shoe designer and draw lots sketches, order lots of prototypes and even more samples. Not every shoe makes the cut, but you can’t really be sure until you see the physical sku in front of you. I’m sure Emily’s process is much the same, and probably yours too (assuming you work in a creative field and have the authority to criticize an artist’s process)!


As an ad designer my clients are welcome to ask for tweaks, its their business and they’re paying me. But when designing for myself, sh*t gets done because I spent a whole lotta money learning what works.Emily is a talented stylist and not a designer, hence mistakes.

And below, the person who said that ‘interior designer’ is an outdated term, that’s an insult to those that are, and its actually doing Emily a disservice by holding her to those standards.


Those cheeks on baby birdie are too chubby to handle! Everyday I marvel at your design prowess, Emily, but I am always completely undone by how ridiculously adorable Elliot and Charlie are.


We are at the tail-end of a major five month reno (it….will….end), and I have continually restrained myself from buying ANYTHING that’s not tied to the construction. It’s been hard, but seeing the finished space is crucial (not to mention I want to take my time decorating, that’s the fun part!). I have been on the hunt for sure, and have dedicated one tab from of my 10-tab reno spreadsheet for furniture/decor ideas so when the time comes, I already have a starting point.


Can you write a post for the decision paralysis people please!!?


yes please.


Ugh yes please! Totally me.



Oh my gosh, that’s what I came here to say! I have the other problem, haha! I spent a weekend day in an antique market, wishing Emily and her team were with me to say, “Oh just go for it!!” 🙂


YES!!!!! That’s totally me and I need HELP!! 🙂


Question about this, that’s only related to furniture purchasing adjacently. When you laid out your living room in your current house and placed the junction boxes/sconces are you still happy with their placement? Did you/do you feel restricted to find specific pieces that fit under the sconces which in turn seems like may be dictating the scale, style and placement of artwork on top of that furniture? I’m wondering about this as I decide where to place sconces in my living room and want to know if there’s anything I should look out for.

We placed them without art in mind – on purpose. We wanted them to look right in the space instead of placing them where it would be convenient to decorate. That being said it has made hanging art more of a challenge, but we are figuring it out and its looking good (did you see my insta-story about it?). We also chose sconces that were big and traditional so we wanted them placed in the exact spot that looked original. Make sense?


Thank you for your response! Yes, totally makes sense. I love following your insta-stories, and watched very closely your recent one about hanging art all over the house and saw you deliberating around changing the art around/under the sconces. That’s actually what prompted the question, especially since it’s relevant to me right now. I definitely like how you’ve been handling it, and agree that the sconce placement sans furniture looks fantastic. Good to hear that you don’t feel restricted and that you are still happy with their placement. Very helpful, thank you! Also, I LOVE these posts, find them incredibly… Read more »


I read your blog cause I think you are one of the best designers out there, but I sort of miss the girl who agonized over spending 700 on an amazing, possibly life changing, vintage navy sofa. I think there is some good advice here, but most of us can’t afford to redesign a room from the ground up. If I spent 500 on a dresser I would have to make it work. I find this issue with all the blogs I read, they started so good, then the cash flow increased and I can no longer relate. I actually… Read more »


Me too.
I love you Emily. I can’t not relate. It’s not aspirational, it’s depressing.

We really try to give different price points and styles. I mix vintage, big box and custom with a couple splurges but a lot of Target. I really try to listen to you and hear what price point and what content you want. In the survey you guys said you want both – budget and high end aspirational so we really try to do both. Usually I do something special and splurgey in a room, but the rest of the room is full of vintage or Target. Some rooms less so and some more-so. Anyway, point is that this is… Read more »

Emily, I can’t believe I discovered this blog only this year. We are in the midst of buying our first house after living in an apartment for years. I’m so excited to decorate and have a more grown up house. We need everything! Ive been going nuts on Pinterest and your blog and have been so inspired and I’m so happy that I read this post. I feel like I am rushing things and have to tell myself to slow down and take my time. I did buy my first vintage dresser and am nervous it will not be enough… Read more »


Perhaps in order to resolve this issue, you could certainly keep the high-end pieces but also add a pop up window or suggestions for low-budget equivalents of the piece, like things you would find at a big box store that would work just as well or even look similar in the room. Forgive me if this has already been done, I’m a fan of your Instagram and have just learned of this blog. I love what you do!


Agree. it IS depressing.


I see where you’re coming from, but I love that there’s still lots of product round ups with different price ranges AND affordable Target pieces featured.

I can’t afford 90% of the stuff in Emily’s house, but I totally find it inspiring!


Sarah, but who wants to replace their furniture with target or ikea if they can afford something a little better? I think most people will prefer to make that 700 dresser work as opposed to replacing with 300 furniture. Not to say cheap furniture is bad or ugly, sometimes one will make a choice to buy it even when they can afford something else. However, most people don’t have the luxury to return something unless it’s broken and they can get a full refund. There are some instances when furniture is making someone really miserable and paying a 15% restocking… Read more »


I love those posts too!! I actually refer back to them when shopping for a flush mount or a bathroom vanity. I always skip to the cheapest section, but there are always good options I wouldn’t have found on my own. I also like the whole room plans broken down for different budgets. Who wouldn’t want a professionally designed room for a budget price? However, these are sometimes deceptive as it will list the price for art over your sofa at the smallest (8 by 10) size available , or the price for a scatter rug when you need a… Read more »

Oh shoot, that should NOT be the case (with the budget rooms). I’ll make sure that isn’t happening because at first we were super careful about making sure that the size of the art was big enough and the price was accurate. Sorry!!

Hi Katy, I agree with what you’re saying and think that blogs along with all forms of media definitely push us to consume more but on the flipside I think blogs like Emily’s for most of us “normal folk” are definitely more inspirational rather than something we could actually afford. I’ve definitely bought some pieces I’ve seen on Emily’s blog (but they were all Target) haha but I love her design aesthetic and this blog has definitely opened my eyes design wise. I may not have anywhere near Emily’s budget but I’ve made similar mistakes. Buying dining chairs on Craigslist… Read more »


Totally agree with all that Kasia!

Thanks, Kasia! Happy to create more budget friendly posts – such good feedback. And regarding the consumption situation – I really only want people to buy what they are shopping for or what they need. So when we do Patio furniture posts i’m not saying nor would I want you to scrap everything you have and buy all new stuff. However if you are in the market and need some patio furniture in which to sit, then that’s where we would come in and help narrow down the choices to what we love so you feel more confidant with your… Read more »

Emily thanks so much for taking the time to answer all these, you’re awesome! (DON’T STRESS!) For sure, regardless of exposure from whatever form of media it may be (TV, magazines, blogs, etc.,) consumption is ultimately an individuals choice. No one is forcing us to buy anything and I definitely try to shop for only what I need (especially when it comes to furniture, clothes/shoes are another story ;P) I do love having narrowed down lists and as a writer/blogger myself know just how damn hard it is to scour the entire giant internet to find things so I very… Read more »


Don’t stress out Emily. You have great taste and I try to visually take in your ideas as inspiration only and occasionally have bought Target items I wouldn’t have found if you hadn’t posted them, but it does feel like suddenly you are under tremendous pressure to be creating content constantly which as a person who bought a 1913 craftsman in LA 3 years ago and have spent all my money on a roof and foundation repairs and nothing cosmetically fun, at times lately it feels hard to relate. I am probably just jealous you have the resources to constantly… Read more »


Emily, the fact is: We all come here, to your site, because we l.o.v.e. to see what CAN be done, whether it fits our personal budgets, or not. Sometimes, it’s so high-end, it isn’t reality for many, but if we keep our eyes open, we can find something similar that we can replicate at a fraction of the cost. I think we’ve watched some areas with loads of changes in this house, because, (maybe?), you’re fixated on the English thing, which isn’t actually the style of the house. I like your “weird” choices, because we generally can’t afford to take… Read more »


Kasia, your point about the blog being more inspirational than practical makes a lot of sense to me. It’s like fashion—I still enjoy flipping through magazines and looking at pretty pictures of high end fashion on Pinterest, despite not being able to afford any of it. In fact, I buy about 90% of my clothes/shoes/accessories from Goodwill and other secondhand stores, but the high end images help me understand my own preferences and style a little better and give me ideas for pulling outfits together. I think it’s pretty natural for bloggers with excellent design sense, charismatic personalities, good content,… Read more »


Exactly what Sydney said! I have a tiny design budget but a love for colorful style. I’d love help in seeing the potential of old, imperfect, but affordable things.

Anne at Large

Ooo yes I loved yhe trolling Craigslist posts, I had forgotten those!


$500 is a lot of money but a $500 dresser is a bargain and if it can be re-sold for even a bit less, it’s not a huge deal. I think you bring up a good point about different tolerance levels for mistakes. But if you are someone who is picky about how a piece of furniture looks, you might need to make a choice: either stick with something you bought but don’t really like in the space or swap it out. You could buy something cheaper so that mistakes are less costly. But if I did that I would… Read more »


I know what you mean. I’ve been thinking about this lately, mostly when I read blogs that used to be more DIY and have now gone more upscale, designing rooms from the ground up without having to work anything in or makeshift anything to fit. It’s almost like part of the aspirational quality is lost, because people aren’t necessarily aspiring to buy a bunch of Rejuvenation and Candelabra pieces, because if they could do that then their rooms would probably look pretty awesome (you could literally copy a catalog shot) but instead people are attracted to the ‘make it work’… Read more »

I think this is great feedback. Thank you 🙂 We’ll try to make it work more often xx


Yes!!! LOVE these.


I agree with Katy and Caroline. Less consuming, more ‘real life’, please. I love your family-life stories, those are really relatable. I like looking at the ‘design’ posts, but hate all the ’round-ups’. “Buy this, buy that.” Even clothes now. There is already so much of that.

I’m just chiming in to say that I love round-up posts. I know a tremendous amount of effort and time goes into creating them and they are SO useful when you’re in the market for a new piece of furniture.


I agree. Particularly in Charlie’s room while I can see it being cute with wallpaper, he’s almost 4 now and the pattern they picked looks like something he will for sure be grown out of by the time he’s 6 or 7 (and I would guess costs a few thousand dollars for paper plus installation). Wallpaper is meant to last so much longer than two years, and the responsible thing to do as a designer and a consumer is to select a wallpaper that you want to live with for years to come.

Hmmm.. i actually think it will last til he’s 10! it’s a whimsical midevil knight and horse situation … but who knows. Brian and I talked about it and he thinks it has years and years of longevity but maybe you are right. For now, he LOVES it, though. ALthough we found out today that it is a 8-12 lead time which won’t make it for the shoot…. So we may decorate it as is and then if we still feel like adding the paper later then consider it 🙂


My 13 year old would still love it. Go for it because you can. Can’t wait to see it!


Where is the new wallpaper for Charlie’s room pictured .. would love to see it


Can u tell me where to see the wallpaper chosen for Charlie’s bedroom ?


“I also have to wonder if blogs actually push us to consume.” Well, yes, that is why Target and other advertisers are paying for advertising and for the relationship. It’s not just the sponsored posts – the whole idea of designing your outdoor space, brunch, cocktail hour, shelf is supposed to be aspirational, make you feel insufficient, and get you spending money in new areas to ‘keep up’.


Maybe it says more about the individual, regarding the push to consume? Sponsored posts are about the product. We are bombarded with “but this” everywhere we look.. It’s up to us to filter, not Emily.


Haha, Sarah! Spot on!


Hey Katy, you’re saying exactly what I thought. I find it very hard to relate to some of this. Buying a $500 piece of furniture and have it be no big deal to chug it later, or repainting an entire room twice… those things sound time-consuming, incredibly expensive and a general nightmare.

Lots of the rooms and ideas shown here are inspiring and fun, but it’s this exact tone that makes me feel uneasy about this site at times.

Hmmm. I see what you are saying, although I sold the dresser and lost very little. I’m saying it is a bummer which is why i’m warning people to avoid my mistakes but I’m so sorry if the tone feels flippant and Its definitely something i’ll process and adjust. Thank you 🙂 Oh and re consumption – as I said above I really don’t want you to purchase something unless you need it. If you are in the market for a sofa/coffee table combo which a lot of you are, hopefully yesterdays post helped, but if you aren’t then please… Read more »


Seems like you aren’t really too worried about the negative implications of consumption or consumerism at all! “It’s like I was so desperate to do damage, to consume, and at the time wasn’t going to the flea market on Sundays but I NEEDED my fix to buy vintage for our new house. So, I fell in love with this dresser’s pretty wood and simple detailing and barely looked at dimensions. My serotonin sky-rocketed, a rush that propelled me to email them, insisting I was the right person for their beloved piece, and then swiftly had Brady run over to pay… Read more »


Jen, you obviously don’t read Emily on a regular basis…this is an example of her sarcasm and self deprecating humor! She’s not being flippant about spending and wasting! I’m not being mean, but there are plenty of other blogs and bloggers that will meet your needs. There’s no reason to pick on Emily and expect her to be something she is not.


I’m so glad someone else pointed this disgusting section out! Emily – I’ve been a huge fan for years, but that post made you look like a hack. There is nothing professional in your approach or execution here, calling it ‘bravery’ is a little much. Its really just being a shopping addict.


Should Emily be worried?? She isn’t responsible for our neediness or feelings of less-than and keep-up-with-the-Jones’. We are responsible for what our self-esteem is. Time to adult-up here.


I must be missing something here… I love to try things in a space. If it doesn’t work, we acknowledge it doesn’t work, and sell it! We moved 4 times in 5 years. Two of those moves were cross-country. If it was going to cost us more to move it than it was worth, we sold it. Craigslist & sites similar are the BEST. I kind of hate to admit this, but I have (many, many times) sold items for more than I bought them for!! In the end, stuff is just stuff. Who cares. It is the family &… Read more »


I have a ton of respect for how you handled all of this feedback Emily. I don’t think your blog encourages consumption (although I do get tired of seeing so much Target product). There is reader responsibility here too: if you do a coffee table round up, but I am happy with my coffee table, I skip that post, because I don’t want to be tempted into new ideas that won’t serve me right now. No big deal! You do a post about the design process and I read every word because it helps me think differently, inspires me in… Read more »


I think it should be recognised, by readers and you I guess (I think someone mentioned YHL) that by bringing us readers into your life so much, we feel we ‘know’ you and can therefore feel very personally when you do or say something we don’t agree with. I know I have to remind myself sometimes that a particular blogger is not my friend and my exasperation in their choices is not valid. I agreed with some of what Lex said and Jess above. I’m wondering if it is because, whilst you are being very open, it seems to come… Read more »


I know this comment is late, but I hope Emily and her people are still reading. I don’t get why people care if they can relate all of the time. Would I read a blog that I can completely relate to?? A blog about a woman who can only afford to buy a furniture piece a couple of times per year and who on occasion buys a smaller decorative item from Target or Crate and Barrel? No. That would be boring. There would be like 10 posts per year. People, we come here because this blog contains “the ultimate,” while… Read more »


But…. The whole point of this post was to learn from her mistakes so we don’t make the same ones… wait to paint… make sure a piece of furniture is the proper scale before buying… I’m a little confused as to why you are all hating on her mistakes. THEY WERE MISTAKES. Lucky for us, she made them. So now we can try to avoid making them. (And enough about the dresser…she sold it for $$ and was able to post about it which is $$ so… enough!) No need to pile on, guys. Also, this has never been a… Read more »


A lot of time I find the fun in searching for copy cat pieces. It’s awesome to be able to purchase the target pieces and incorporate them in my home. But if I try and purchase everything off of my Pinterest boards, it’s just not gonna happen. But I can find something close/affordable and most times I like it more. Emily inspired of course.


I think some maybe all these mistakes are time based. It’s great to show readers a before and after but I think the integrity and solidity of Emily’s past homes was the result of time. The pieces were actually collected. Rooms didn’t come together in a day or weekend. They grew. They evolved. They were collected!!! Designers say this or that will look collected but that is the shabby chic equivalent of an actual antique with actual wear. It might be a decent substitute for a photo but in real life you know…you can feel the real ness. There is… Read more »


So many clever and articulate readers here. I agree with this comment 100%.

“Right now it feels like a stage set for consumables” THIS!!! Yes.


I don’t care so much about the budged friendly posts. I don’t expect Emily to design me a room for free, I find it very satisfying when I do the work my self, finding that perfect piece in my (very) low budged or making it my self. I’m here for her inpirational content, no matter what the price of the piece is. I feel like those posts with tons of different dinner tables in many price points can be very overwhelming. I know some of the readers need these posts and are enjoying them. I just hope she doesn’t feel… Read more »


I quite agree. I’m here for the ideas, not the sources (mostly). My home is full of vintage/thrifted/inherited items because a) it’s what I can afford and b) it’s better quality (and it’s more interesting!). I’m not that interested in low-end, mass-produced furniture that will probably fall apart after a year or two. So, I generally skip the “get the look” sources. But Emily is creating a variety of posts so that everyone in her very large audience gets something they like and want. I will say that interior/fashion “taste-makers” in general have a pretty skewed idea of what is… Read more »


In all honesty, I didn’t know this was a budget friendly type blog. I looooove looking at Emily’s creations and processes (ALL THAT BLUE!!! Swoooon!) but no way I could afford anything in Emily’s house. Definitely an aspirational and inspiration blog from my budget’s perspective. I grew up in a family that didn’t buy a new sofa for 20 years. Gran recovered when Mum got tired of the design (original scratchy plaid, then denim, then white, then to the trash!!) and it was held up with encyclopedias when the feet cracked from over use haha! So seeing someone spend a… Read more »


Can u please
Tell me the color of green paint in Charlie’s room, version 1.0? Thank you!


Hi S, this is unsolicited but I just painted my son’s room in a color that looks exactly like Charlie’s. It was Benjamin Moore Bunker Hill Green and it’s lovely, perfect for a little boy.


Great advice! For #4 (buying to check a box), if you HAVE to because you need a sofa or whatever, go as cheap as possible. Check Craigslist or Freecycle (although my bed bug phobia keeps me personally from getting upholstered stuff on those sites) or go for low-end things from Target, Ikea, or even Walmart. That will give you something to use while you find what you like, and depending where you live, you can probably get at least a few bucks back selling it online when you are done (or pass it on to someone else who just needs… Read more »


I love re-design , re-painting. I started doing that as a kid in my little wallpapered bedroom.

Now as an adult, I love that about myself. ALWAYS…. rethinking things, design, myself, and situations( people too, lol)

P.s I agree ,on having an inspiration before diving in head first.

Emily keep doing you!!!



Lol well perhaps not a complete horror story but I was seized by inspiration of needing to change my living room even though I had just done so two years ago. It was beautiful traditional with a chesterfield style sofa and windsor chairs. Enter the Chindi rug. Sold the traditional furniture so I could have the rug and then had an empty living room with ONLY A RUG for a while. Lesson learned: know what is replacing the pieces you are getting rid of unless you are ok with empty space for who knows how long:p I’ve finally found the… Read more »


Did you do a lot of yoga in your empty space????? Love your share. ????


I found this post refreshingly honest and am glad I’m not the only one with this issue. As a designer myself, I can totally relate to this when it comes to my own home. My home is a place where I can experiment and see what speaks to me. There’s only so much you can do and visualize on the computer. You have to really see how things turn out in person before you can say yay or nay. Also, as a designer, I get bored of things easily so if I come across a new piece, I find excitement… Read more »

Thank you, Tina 🙂


I really appreciate this post, and its honesty. I think the mistakes are part of the process, and as long as they can be easily fixed like paint and furniture, then you’re happier with the end result because of the process.

I did not love the wallpaper for your son’s room, mostly because I think it will limit artwork options, and at least for my little kid art on his wall has changed as his . Plus too much patterned wallpaper overall in the house maybe?


Oops cut off. Meant to say for my kid the art on his wall has changed as his tastes have changed and I think its great for kids to express themselves that way.

That could be true! UGH. i just want to LOVE that room and feel excited … the wallpaper has a 8-12 week lead time so we’ll see if we pull that trigger.


I get that you want to be excited about the room, but wallpaper can end up being an all-to-easy-to-reach-for design crutch / cureall to get the room to a more “complete” and “cute” place presto-chango. IMHO there’s already a lot of dense patterned wallpaper going on. As for the drama on this thread, I see both sides (and agree that the original post was likely a direct response to some snarking on other sites) however I believe she is making a good faith effort at self reflection and transparency – and it’s that “peek behind the scenes” that keeps us… Read more »

Jane B.

I loved the post and as one who finally does have more budget and a forever home, the posts and roundups are totally helpful! The one thing I’ve watched Emily do multiple times that makes me sad is rush or change or force decisions for a photoshoot. Gah! Don’t do it again in Charlie’s room! In your last house we watched you rush to “finish” rooms for photos only to see you undo each design over the next few months. Isn’t the point of photographing your house to see how you actually love and use the space? Instead choices get… Read more »


I sometimes wonder, too, how much wallpaper is too much wallpaper. While I love this wallpaper, and would love to see it in the room, there is wallpaper in the bathroom (with intricate pattern) next to it. With wallpaper being so expensive, and an investment, I wonder about that decision. Nevertheless, Im still excited to see the room come together!


Wow. This may be your next-most-controversial-post Emily! Some not so nice, keep it to yourself comments so far….

When I was a child I continually moved my furniture around in my room – and now I do that with my whole house. I like changing and moving the style around me as I change and evolve as a person. It should never end! I liked this post!

My problem is planning forever and never executing. Compounded by the fact that I’m a professional urban planner, which involves 20-30 year city-making timelines, this is a problem. I’ll have my mortgage paid off and still planning what the rooms should look like.

I guess I missed the controversial aspect of this post when I made my comment above. On that topic, design is an iterative process (urban design, graphic design, landscape design, interior design…). My iterations just come on paper (or Pinterest!) and it takes me forever to pull the trigger.


Thanks for your honesty This has happened to so many of us. Sadly due to cost/time and disruption you tend to have to live with it. With experience, you learn to take your time especially with bigger purchases. Buying a sofa can take me 4-6 months before I am 100% happy that this is the one! I recently helped a friend fit out her new but empty apartment and spent a whole day just measuring. Then days…weeks sourcing. Absolutely everything fitted because we measured and if we saw something a chair, table or chest – the first question was size/scale… Read more »

I would add something about hoarding a few vintage items here and there. The way you style homes to feel so collected is based on your knack for integrating new and old together so seamlessly. I helped my mom put together a “grandma nursery” for her first grandchild on the way and it was easy because you don’t really put too much vintage items in a nursery (durable, clean, safety reasons) but when it comes to decorating her living room we are at a stand still. I keep telling her to go shop and splurge on some vintage finds she… Read more »


“You can’t really plan for vintage.” I love that! I love to go antiquing and vintage shopping. My husband always asks me what I am looking for and I always respond, “treasures.” Antique and vintage items create the magic, but it is really hard to plan and mistakes happen. My basement is full of benches and chairs and lamps. Most of them circulate back into use as my kids get older and their rooms change or I move things around. It is so fun!

Yes! Totally agree on shopping for treasures! My husband says the same thing. You just need to wander a bit until you find something that makes your heart “lurch.” I think those are the pieces Emily is talking about when she says she bases a room around them!

I appreciate your willingness to share your design mistakes because I learn so much as a result! I also grew up in an English Tudor with textured walls and sloping ceilings, so I especially enjoying seeing what you’re doing with the bedrooms. When it comes to planning, Pinterest is my preferred way to save images although I still have folders of photos torn from magazines over the years. My advice is to note in the caption of each pin what specifically you like about that image. For example, is it a particular piece of furniture, the color scheme, or the… Read more »


Design Therapy series! Yes please! Loving your dedication to get it right and how willing you are to go to other’s for their opinions. Its a dangerous place to get to when you think you can do it all on your own and I love being in a community that gets excited together about design!

Madison R.

ugh to all of the negative comments. I have to say I love your pull the triger attitude. I am actually someone that falls in the earlier catergory of paralizing fear to buy anything and then I’m just living in a white box with an ikea dresser. Following your blog has made me realize you can never know until you see an item in the space. This has allowed me to pull the trigger on items in my home that I now absolutely love. You have insipired a love for thrifting in me and allowed me to always remember if… Read more »


This is a very valuable post, Emily!


Thanks so much for this post, Emily! Do you have any tips for people who suffer from design paralysis?! I bought a house eight months ago and having a terrible time making any design decisions and questioning everything I have done to the point that I’m afraid I’m going to need to repaint because furniture/rugs/accessories may not look right with the colors I’ve chosen!

Here’s the thing that Emily does, that other blogs/designers/stylists don’t. She opens the door into the entire process. As a decorator myself, these things often happen. When you see a gorgeous photo shoot of a client home in a mag, it’s been decorated, staged, styled, rearranged, etc. The people rarely live in the spaces the way they look. As Emily mentioned with that sofa in her old house… It’s amazing, but it wasn’t right (I agree). In theory, in a mood board it might look great, and maybe a client would love it, or she’d love it for a client,… Read more »

THank you so much, Jennifer. You just made me 50% less nauseous 🙂 xxxxxxxxxx Cheers to knowing that perfection doesn’t exist and anything close to it still was full of mistakes along the way. xx

My sentiment exactly. Also- in reality a lot of these “mistakes” aren’t actually mistakes – they just didn’t feel right to Emily. With design, there is no right way. It’s all about how it feels to the person living in the space which is why it’s so subjective.


Or someone hands out the wrong envelope at the Oscars… these things happen to everyone!


SOOOooooooooo funny!


to people commenting about the cost of furniture–please keep in mind that Emily’s in California. When you go to an antique store, a thrift store, or search Craigslist, how much is furniture in *your* area? to people commenting about professionals making mistakes–how would you respond to a famous chef posting about a new recipe s/he came up with, tried at home, and didn’t work out quite as hoped? Thanks for giving tours of your lab, Emily. Science (or design or whatever) is more than just reading the finalized publications, and I appreciate that you explain the processes rather than give… Read more »


As someone who reads food blogs: I would 100% have a similar response if the chef/blogger put out a brownie recipe, sponsored by Ghiradelli, and told me how amazing it was and that she was going to make this brownie recipe every week for the rest of her life. Then, literally weeks later, she posted a new brownie recipe and waxed poetic about how *this* is the one, and the other one just didn’t feel right to her, and she’s going to love this brownie recipe forever. Turns out, a month later, she’s all like, “Guys, I have to admit…… Read more »


Loved this post. I definitely play around and change my mind a lot in my own home and agonize over the style and design. There are just so many great options and we can always get what we want due to space, design or functionality restrictions. I have a garage and closets full of things I intend to use at some point but when I acquired them they just didn’t quite fit or have the look I thought they would…or I changed direction.


As a designer, I want to respond to the negative comments – sure she’s made mistakes and changers things but the reality is: that’s how it works. I am an architect and I can’t tell you how many times we’ve gone “back to the drawing board” on projects, either through our own mistake or a client changing their mind. Most designers (my firm included) like to only show the pretty, finished prodict but the reality is that design is messy. I’m in the middle of redesigning a project because it came in $225k over-budget. We underestimated some costs, the client… Read more »

Thank you, Emily. Have designers relate and tell their own story I think helps everyone to know what being a designer and artist really is like. Successful design requires risks and mistakes, without those we are all just generic. thank you xx


Hi Emily!

Love this post and LOVE reading your blog daily. 🙂

By chance, do you happen to remember where the light blue/grey couch is from? (In the photo from your original home.)

We just purchased our first home so I am so excited to look back through your blog for design inspiration!!


While we’re on the topic of planning, I just wanted to share this super timely post from Chris Loves Julia about a 3D modeling service called Modsy:

The renderings are INCREDIBLE and I feel like they could solve a lot of issues that are being discussed here!

Also, Emily, I think your response to those doubting your talent as professional is so perfect and on point. I for one love the humor, honesty, and authenticity you bring to everything you do, including posts like this one.

Thank you 🙂 and its funny because the original intent of this post was to do a roundup at the end of really good design apps that could help people, but I ran out of time and then forgot about it (we had a different post scheduled for today but the sponsor pushed it off so I scrambled to finish!) but that would be a great add to helping people. Checking out that service now! xx

Zoe A.

My name is Zoe and another Zoe said exactly what I wanted to say! I LOVED this post and was nodding my head and laughing the entire time, because I have done exactly the same things you discussed in my own home. I didn’t think for once about you being a professional designer and having to get it right – I mean, obviously life is different at home versus at work? Anyway. As I was reading it, I was thinking of Modsy bc of CLJ’s post! You and Modsy need to partner! And Modsy truly seems like a godsend for… Read more »


Wow, Modsy looks so so awesome! Can’t wait to give it a shot.


Lighten up, People!! You do You !!! I love and admire the process and inspiration !!

Jenna Whitt

Your post was therapeutic indeed and had some valuable reminders that I wish I had learned in theory rather than in practice! One time I was trying to get a wagon on Craigslist and realized I had put that cart before those horses as I absolutely had no (none, nada) need for it – but loved the possibility of its use. I yelled, “whoa” on that one, but I could avoided a little embarrassment had I read this article back then. (Everyone who has not learned the things yet that she shared, pay attention!:)) Anyway, thanks for telling us about… Read more »

I want more wagon puns, please!!! Thank you. xx


Wow, I can’t understand all the negative comments, have you never read a stylists or designers blog before. Their home is their laboratory to try different ideas that clients would never try. Sometimes they don’t work out sometimes they do,
come on people. Emily is letting you in on the process this home is completely different than her last. I happen to enjoy all of posts and tours because you never know exactly how something is going to work until you try it.


Love your process, love this post! hats off you Emily


Thank you so much for this post! It’s just what I needed to slow my own roll.

My husband and I are in escrow for our first home and it’s taking all my self-control not to buy, buy, buy, because I’m so eager to decorate and design the space. My gut has been telling me to take my time and live in the space for awhile before we buy anything new so your first-hand experiences and advice is so helpful!


Hi Em, I’m just weighing in as another reader who appreciates your honesty and willingness to share the great as well as the “mistakes.” I learn so much from you and your team. Please continue to “do you” and don’t be discouraged by the negative comments.


What is the name for the style of chair in the first photo?


I love these posts. What I need for any field I’m interested in–design, organization, competition dog obedience–is the process. I love me a beautiful room, an organized drawer, or a flashy heeling dog, but to get there myself I need to know what you were thinking along the way; what worked, what didn’t, and, most importantly, WHY.
So keep them coming.

I love interior design/home decorating so I’m constantly switching things up in my own home whether it be rugs, furniture, paint etc. (I think I’ve painted my bedroom 5 dif. colors over the past few years haha) Sometimes its because it doesn’t work scale/color wise or sometimes its because you change your mind. So I really appreciated this post because it helps me to realize that even professionals go through a process of trying different things out before they choose something. Thank you Emily for being so open with your design process!


Watching you admit to mistakes gave me to confidence to admit we used the wrong rug in our home and sell it and get one I loved more…the problem is the new one isn’t perfect either ???????? can I just have your family room rug ????????????


I think that being a designer is an art, not a science, and so tweaking designs and ideas totally makes sense to me. I would be amazed at the idea that a modern room would just be ‘finished’ without little changes here and there. Also, for those who can’t imagine buying furniture and then not being able to use it, this is one of the best things about consignment stores and Craigslist. I think it is totally normal to buy an item, decide it isn’t quite right and sell it for something new. I am not a professional designer or… Read more »

I love this post!! It’s so refreshing to know that even the pros make mistakes every now and then, too 🙂 Thanks for starting the candid conversation! P.S. I just watched your Insta Story, and wanted to say that I definitely feel like you share PLENTY of budget-friendly tips on your blog…Are people blind?! You rule. End of story.

Emily, I read your blog daily and while I’m not a design blogger at all (food blogger, actually), I find these posts REALLY educational. I’m about to go down the route of a kitchen renovation and I have no idea what I’m doing but totally know all at the same time (if that makes sense). It doesn’t make any sense for me to hire a kitchen designer because I know what I want but since I’ve never done it before, there’s bound to be mistakes. I’ve read all your kitchen posts and more to prepare myself. It’s like school for… Read more »


I never comment on blog posts, but I felt compelled to today. Emily, please don’t stop these blog posts because of some internet bully. I find these posts super relatable and I love knowing that even professional designers make mistakes too. If I just wanted to see pretty finished pictures I would pursue Pinterest all day instead of coming here to learn about the process. While, I love the pretty pictures, I find the process behind the pretty pictures super helpful. I love that you mix vintage, budget, and expensive pieces.

These “Design Mistakes” posts are some of my favorites and here’s why–we all make them. It doesn’t matter if you are a professional or not. It’s great to know that even the pros struggle with a space or a vignette sometimes! More than that, I think it’s hella cool how humbling it is to know you can learn from these mistakes. Think about it–it’s way harder to design your house than a client’s house. WAY harder. Either way, it’s all about changing things up until you are happy with them. Live and let live, ya’ll. Have a glass of wine.


I really liked this post. It reminds me to keep trying different things in my house, I don’t have to love an idea that I thought I would love. I’m not a designer and get stuck thinking once I fix up a room once it should be ‘perfect.’ Your website shows me that people who actually know what they are doing and have a good eye for style keep adjusting and trying new things until they get it right. Now I’m inspired to go and move that picture that I hate hanging on the bedroom wall without my husband noticing… Read more »


Emily, I read through all the comments and just want to say that my husband and I have always decorated on a very tight budget (like some pieces at IKEA are too expensive budget) but we still learn so so much from you design and this new house is no exception. I love that you are trying out a different style and honouring the period of the new house. Every time we move to a new apartment we go through these types of changes in style and scale. Granted, we are not able to change things nearly as quickly as… Read more »


I cannot get over these mean comments! This blog and design in general are meant to be a fun escape from the harsh realities of life. It’s not like you are a surgeon switching around your heart and liver every month. GEEZ! Keep on keeping on.


I’m 100% confused. How can someone storm in here saying you shouldn’t make mistakes as a designer. Literally your title “Perfection is boring; Let’s get weird.” That is what I expect when I read your posts and watch your stories. No one is perfect, if a designer said that they would make a room perfect for me, no mistakes – I don’t know if I would trust them. Mistakes make people human and if people can own up to mistakes then the world would be a better place. I don’t own a home now, just a baby apartment, but have… Read more »


I just saw your instagram story, so came to the blog to see what all the hubbub (is that a word) was about. I got sidetracked by all the photos, but will go back now and read the content. Anyway, can i just say your house is so AMAZING!!! I mean seriously it is just dreamy! I have taken more screenshots of your insta stories than i have pics of my own kids lol but seriously whatever you are doing…just keep doing it!!! youaremydesignhero


I am a growing designer and this has been one of my favorite posts to read. It’s one thing to see finished spaces and to learn from those, but since my job is to create and not copy, let me tell you how INVALUABLE it is to see exactly what affect a taller dresser vs. a shorter dresser, one size of artwork vs another, or one paint color vs. a wallpaper has on the same room. Even when I (rarely!!!) don’t agree with the final outcome, I am learning from this blog. Where else could I get this case-study sort… Read more »


effect*, hah…speaking of mistakes.


Man! This was such an amazing post. It is so well timed for me, since we are getting ready to move. I get excited about certain pieces and jump the gun. This time around I haven’t purchased a thing. I’m going to take your advice and get a feel for how we live in each space. Thanks a bunch!!!!!

Jeannette Neal

Emily, I love your transparency. I recently made it a point to only follow designers and photographers who actually connect with their audience. I remember when I was starting up my photography business I reached out to countless photographers who were a few steps ahead of me in the process, and not one of them answered my questions. It was as if I was asking for them to hand over their first born child. I was struggling, and needed help. And then I found an incredible photographer online (jasmine starr) who do a lot of what you do–peel back the… Read more »

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