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How we styled our living room to sell



As you might know at this point our house is on the market. I’ve decorated it a few different ways over the years – at some points loving it more or less, but never taking advantage of that light and the bright airiness the living room has. It’s a beautiful room with an insane view and so much light all day long. When we moved we needed our sofa, so we had to restyle it to sell. This is the ‘How we styled the living room to sell’ post.

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I wanted to show off the light and space, so everything we did was with that goal in mind. Since we moved our sofa to the new house we needed to replace it with something for staging and selling. Around that time Article reached out to say ‘hey, we just finished shooting some sofas in LA for the catalogue, do you want to borrow for the staging and potentially sell it with the house?’ I looked at the sectional in question and said, YES.

Now that this sectional is in here, man this room is prettier and more inviting than ever. It simplified the seating area and is the kind of sofa that goes with so many different styles of houses – so I knew it would appeal to so many different buyers. I was extremely impressed with it and we all commented how it just worked so much better than the awesome leather strapping sofa I had. Of course because this is linen (and not sunbrella like my white sofa was) I wouldn’t have felt as confidant buying it with two toddlers, but seeing it in here really made me think ‘this is what this room wanted the whole time’.

Remember when it looked like this?


One of the major changes was the removal of the tree. Visually I missed it SO MUCH but the pot was rotting, the leaves were dropping sap, ruining furniture, flooring, rugs, etc. (It was healthy and new in that photo). Walking over there was like walking on a fly trap. But it was so big and daunting (and expensive) so figuring out how to best solve the situation was so hard. Ultimately we knew we couldn’t have an open house with the sap. So we gave it away to a friend (after trying to sell it for 1/5 what I paid for it), and did a light refinishing of the flooring around it. At different points it was a GORGEOUS tree, but when it was sick it really caused me more stress than any other thing in my house. And then I would talk about it like that in front of it which I think made it more sick. It wasn’t properly potted in the first place. UGH. I’m so glad it’s gone and off to a better place.

Since my eye knows it was there I miss it, but looking at these photos makes me think – it doesn’t matter, that room is so lovely without it and it really does look so big and airy. We bought a $100 fig tree instead. Done. And yes, I thought about bringing the old tree to my new house, but when my friend Tessa said that she wanted to plant it in her back yard and that she would LOVE to love it properly, I said – maybe that’s just best. Brian grew to hate that tree so maybe it’s just best to move on and cut our losses. It was in three magazines, it did its job for my portfolio. Time to move on.

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I was very worried about how to style this room to sell, and yet be full of enough personality to represent me. Brian kept telling me to stop and that it was good enough and I kept joking dramatically, ‘this is my life’s work!’ So I kept all the color and pattern in the textiles, and used a (what I like to think) universally loved color palette of gray, blue, navy, white, wood, with some hints of lighter toned pinks as an accent. I didn’t want it to be boring. I took your advice from my master bedroom staging and decided to leave more style/stuff than I was advised from others. Hopefully I was right. The pillows are a mix of ones that I already owned, vintage fabric I had made (that are available on the flea) and Target (most are linked up below).

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I took off the more neutral bench covers along the fireplace and revealed the vintage indigo (that has been brightened from the sun) instead. It added a nice pop of color (and if you are the buyer, of course you can keep both covers).

I brought back that awesome table with the sadly cracked marble top (that you can barely tell). I coudln’t have it with the kids (it was extremely easy to knock over) but it looked amzing here.

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One thing that you may or may not notice is that the two sconces up on the second level don’t match. It’s ALWAYS bugged me (in photos, HA). The order came in wrong, but it was right when we were shooting the laundry room post so I just installed it for the shoot. They are so affordable and I should have replaced it, but I didn’t because that sounds like a super boring way to spend time and money, especially since it was already shot. 🙂 In person it didn’t really bother me and most people didn’t notice it (one is gold and one is white, both the same style). 

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We paired back the shelving (stay tuned for a video/post on that as part of our ‘staging to sell’ series with Curbed). I brought in one of my saddle chairs for the shoot. It looks small here, but looked great in the room. I actually brought that one (and the lamp) home before the open house because I wanted them in this house so bad. We kept the color palette calm, with these pops of teals and blues. 

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That is the view from the dining room and it’s a REALLY really good one.

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Not sure if you guys watched the Facebook live but in it I talked about how everything is for sale to the new buyer, but then retracted almost immediately saying ‘well not that, and not that, and definitely not that’. One person asked what would be the one thing I would save from a fire, and I answered that would be the blimp painting. Most everything else I can buy again or find a version of which I love. I would definitely re-buy those ceramic bells, that pouf (it looks so good in birdie’s room), that throw (which is so expensive but man, it has looked good every place I’ve styled it) and some of the Rebecca Atwood pillows. And that black Jonathan Adler pot (that I got at the flea market for $20!) I’m hoping the new owner wants to buy the sectional, that dresser, the saddle chair (pair … even though they aren’t there right now), the coffee table (I LOVE it but it’s too heavy for us to move for our fort-making in the new house) and the rug – because those pieces don’t have a place in the new house as of right now. 

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The dining table and chairs also don’t work in the new house size-wise (and since our countertops are marble it would be weird to have marble next to marble) so I’m hoping the new buyer wants to buy that table and chairs, too (If not, you KNOW that I’ll be doing a big instagram sale so stay tuned).   

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Well, there she is. I’m going to do a big ‘Glendale house Biography’ post, putting all versions of all rooms in one post (with links to them), with all befores/progress and afters so that you can see everything in one post, all together. That’s mostly for my own reference, but I figured you guys might like it, too.

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I have to say that I really do love this more than how we had it before. It’s making me question not having a sectional in every room, if possible (we put one in the family room, too and it looks so good). They are just so inviting, cozy and in a way a sectional makes designing the rest of the room easier – just add a club chair and you are good to go. I love the slim arms of this sectional so much, by the way – it maximizes the seat area without it being too bulky.

So here is a get the look for the last and final Glendale home living room. Hopefully the new owners want ‘the look’ so much that it he/she buys it all (except for the things mentioned above :)) WISH US LUCK.

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1. Couch | 2. Brass Chandelier | 3. Coffee Table | 4. Rug | 5. Leather Pouf | 6. Wood Accent Chair | 7. Leather Accent Chair | 8. Side Table | 9. White Lamp | 10. Woven Tray | 11. Turquoise Vase | 12. Coral Stripe Pillow | 13. Green and Gray Pillow | 14. Navy Fringe Throw | 15. Blue Strip Throw | 16. Dash Pillow | 17. Cream Euro Pillow | 18. Blush Pillow | 19. White Handled Vase | 20. Pink Ceramic Vase | 21. Striped Bell with Beads | 22. Moon Phase Bell | 23. Painted Eye Bell

Do you like it better than how we had it? Or am I alone in that?

***Update: Due to last weeks executive actions I have decided that 100% of the net profits from The FLEA will be donated to the ACLU until March (or until it’s sold out). Regardless of politics, America is a country founded by immigrants, and our moral standing is in question right now as we are rejecting those in need out of unsubstantiated fear. We, the people, define what being “American” means, and I say it means freedom for all and acceptance of everyone – (yes, with vetting, protocol and proper paperwork). Also I’m taking suggestions on where to donate, if anyone knows any organizations that are better at promoting love and fighting for civil rights, then please leave in the comments.

Fin Mark


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Well said!


Beauty all around — both in the living room & in the tone of your afterthoughts.


I dont think keeping our nation safe by enforcing immigration laws is hateful. America has always been there to help the rest of the world because we are strong and secure. We need to remain that way by being smart about our national security, laws, economy, immigration, and our military. If we no longer have a secure country, how can we then help others? When you are flying on an airplane they tell you to put your oxygen mask on first, then help your child…because if you don’t survive, neither will they. Our government is taking a step back to… Read more »


Hi Lisa, I hope this message thread can find some understanding between you and me (and people who think in similar ways than each of us). I agree 100% with all the things you are saying. Indeed America has a strong place in the world and we cannot let our guard down on these very important issues. I have been following the news and the consensus is that this order does the opposite of securing our borders. The people who are not allowed to enter the country are people who were already vetted multiple times. Resources that should go towards… Read more »


Hi Lisa, You seem to be a thoughtful person and I respect that you laid out your concerns in a diplomatic way. I would encourage you to think about this from a historical perspective as well. During WWII, we refused Jewish refugees into America because we were concerned that spies would sneak into the country. Anne Frank’s family was denied asylum in the U.S. because they still had relatives in Germany, which the U.S. believed made the family a security risk. I agree with you that keeping the nation safe is important; however, these refugees have already been deemed safe.… Read more »


Lisa please know that I mean no offence but… as an European I sometimes find your ignorance (“not knowing the facts”) on geopolitcs appalling. Lisa you state “help the rest of the world because we are strong and secure” – what exactly are you talking about? Funding what will become Al Qaeda because they were against the Russians? Who btw should not have been in Afghanistan in the first place? Or are you talking about the occupation of the Dominican Republic in order to have control on the Panamanian Canal? What about Nicaragua and Chile? Or supporting Israel against the… Read more »


I completely agree with you. This isn’t something that in new…


In reference to Lisa’s comment ^^^


Thank you so much for using your platform to stand up for immigrant rights.


KUDOS to you for your support of the ACLU, for using your platform as a voice for good, and for your message to all of us to not be selective in how we express these moral values. I’ve seen on Instagram that both Jaime Derringer and Anna Ullman have put up for sale original artworks, at extremely reasonable prices, with 100% of the proceeds going to the ACLU and Planned Parenthood respectively. I absolutely LOVE that all of you ladies are using your talents to support causes that you believe in. What a fantastic way to put your money where… Read more »


That’s a great note at the end, thanks for writing it! It’s fantastic that you are donating net profits to the ACLU. That organization is a national treasure.


I´ve never commented (anywhere!) before, although I´ve been tempted several times. However, I am now so full of admiration that I´m going to: I´m very, very, impressed that you really put your money where your mouth is. What an example!
Reading a design blog often feels slightly frivolous to me, but I learn so much here about so many different aspects of life (in America) that I keep on coming back. Keep at it!

Thank you very very much for commenting 🙂 It honestly is what keeps me going at times xx


By answering, you’ve encouraged me to comment more often. So pleased that we’re both pleased. Thank you!


I have always loved that Serena & Lily rug. Can you tell me about its durability? I have two toddlers – 3.5 and 1.5 – and am worried about the color.


And if you’re thinking about selling it when the house sells, let me know!

You can spill a cup of coffee or a glass of red wine on it and just sop it up with a paper towel. It’s INSANELY stain resistant. I’ve had two of these – one in the bedroom and this one in the living room. The bedroom was a pass through to the outside deck and got a lot of indoor outdoor shoe-wearing traffic, so where the foot traffic was the hair/fur wore down, changing the tone of it to be darker, but not dirty – just balder (that sounds so gross). I didn’t notice it until we moved and… Read more »


I also have two toddlers (3.5 and 2 at the time of purchase) and have this rug. I 100% agree with Emily’s comment about it being stain resistant. Before I purchased it, I actually ordered a sample. I let my kids go to town with spilling stuff on it to see if it would come out. Everything did, including the things we let sit on the sample overnight. Unfortunately, unlike Emily’s, mine is in a very high traffic area. I live in a very narrow rowhouse with an open plan, so everyone has to walk over the rug to get… Read more »


I completely agree with you 100% about Syrian refugees, absolutely we need to help them and let them into our country. It breaks my heart for those families. I don’t want to make this into a religious post, but as a Christian, I just wanted to clarify one thing. Jesus Christ was not just a good guy, He is God, fully human and divine at the same time. Christ claims many times to be God, so either he is God or he is not. If he’s not God, he knows that he is not God and that makes him a… Read more »

Thanks Allison. I actually deleted the part about Christianity to avoid people some how mis-interpreting me, thinking that i’m anti christianity, because i’m certainly not. I woke up at 5am with a ‘gah! do you really want to bring that kind stress on yourself right now? did you really just talk about Jesus on your blog?’ panic. But since we are here again … I hope that more Christians can act more like Christ – whether you believe he is a human or God, he was/is a very, very good example to all. Helping those in need and living with… Read more »


I get where you are coming from and why you took down your original post. I hope I did not cause you any undue stress by commenting about religion in my post, that wasn’t my intent. After I posted, I did see you took it down. Once again I am in total agreement with you that it is our duty to care for ALL life (refugees, homeless, mentally ill, the poor, criminals, etc. ). Not one life is more important than the next. I wasn’t necessarily offended by anything you wrote about Christianity and get where you are coming from… Read more »


Thank you for that post, Emily.


Extremely well said, and I couldn’t agree more. We are an embarrassment to ourselves on a world-wide scale right now, and it’s disgraceful.

(Also your LR looks great, and I hope the Open Houses will prove to be fruitful for you.)

Gorgeous as always! And thank you so much for using your designer celebrity status to stand with our immigrant brothers and sisters. My grandparents lived in Holland during WWII (my grandmother has stories of hiding behind a chest that got shot full of bullets) and immigrated separately to Canada (they met here) in search of a better life after the war was over. I identify as a Christian feminist, and man does it make my heart break and my blood boil to witness all the things that are being done in God’s name — or in spite of his words.… Read more »


I like the sectional alot but preferyour earlier versions. that said this is great too. Good selling!!


Bravo, Emily! Very well said– I spent some time over the weekend writing my Senators and Representatives as well. Our country was founded on religious freedom, freedom for all, not just Christians. This is a founding tenet of our democracy and it is being sorely tested right now. But back to the house, I love the staged version of the living room– I esp like the hits of green in the pillow on the couch, the fiddle leaf fig, and the art work beyond in the foyer. It’s just a bit, but so delightful to the eye. I can’t say… Read more »



Emily, I love you! The end of this post was perfect. Spent the weekend demonstrating and trying to help friends who have already been affected by the EO. Thank you for speaking out!


I tried to comment earlier but I don’t think it went through. Just wanted to thank you for speaking up. I’m a non-evangelical Christian and I don’t think some of these people are reading the same Bible I do.

Hope the new owners keep the living room just like you styled it!


Thank you for speaking up about the hypocrisy of the current “Christian” dominance of our politics. You nailed it.


Thank you for your comments. I couldn’t agree more.


Looks great, Emily! Speaking of the Flea…is there a way to filter out the sold items? I like the option of seeing sold items to get an idea of what kind of stuff is sold, but most of the time, I only want to see the items available for purchase (and that way the page loads faster too). If there’s a workaround that I’m not seeing, please let me know!


Thank you so much for your statement at the end of the post. What is happening is not normal, right, or just. We have to use our voices in any way we can to oppose and reverse this terrible executive order.


As always, thank you!


I missed the FB live, but I have a question, I’ve noticed in the shots of your front door (from the outside) there seems to be some sort of ledge or something to the left but kind of in front of the door, what is that? I always imagined it was a planter, but I’ve never seen you put anything in/on it.



loved the room both before and after.

always hesitant about donating money without knowing exactly where it goes, but i have worked with my nashville chapter of world relief and have seen my money and time go to good use. i’m sure there are several LA chapters.


Your house is a dream; I could look at pics of it all day. I love the way it’s styled now, but yeah too bad the tree didn’t work out.

Bravo for donating Flea proceeds to the ACLU. Imma go browse through those things again…

i love how bright everything looks….definately gives ideas on how to make home improvements

Love how you styled this! I also have an Article sofa and we love it! We went with a dark colour to help with toddler messes.

I’m so sad that the coffee table is no longer available at anthropology. I love it!

Happy selling


Hi! I have been spying the sectional for a while now. How comfy would you consider it? The husband has such a requirement. ?

karine s.

emily, who is that painting by in the dining room – the one where the woman is looking back at the viewer? It was love at first sight when I first spotted it in the guest room – the colors, the style – and I’d love to know the artist or more details so I could hunt them and other hopefully similar pieces by them down. karine x


Thank you Emily!!! Your house is beautiful and you are a beautiful person ! This is a good start of the monday after a week with these horrible events. As a visa-holder myself and living in the US for 17 years, this weekend my husband and I had a serious talk about leaving (and no, i’m not from one of the seven countries). I had some hope after walking the LA march last week but got hit hard this last week. I’m so disappointed in people, looks like this president brings out all the ugliness what was hidden inside them.

I love the room but what made this post truly wonderful was your update. Powerful. Thank you.


I have an idea for you to consider. Possibly you could move many families of properly vetted migrants into the home you are trying to sell.


Your home looks bright, calm, airy, and wonderful! I look forward to reading about the bidding war and how that went down. As for the current state of affairs regarding immigration…our minds may go to the Syrians and those in need first, but let’s not forget that our medical system is dependent on foreign nationals. Surely anyone who has walked a hospital corridor or been treated in the last two decades knows this. Our president doesn’t seem capable of seeing the forest for the trees.



Thank you for using your platform for good. If you’re looking for additional organizations to support, may I recommend the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), National Immigration Law Center (NILC), and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)?


Please do a lot of research about SPLC before donating. Stephen Bright, a hero among anti-death penalty advocates, has written about the war chest Morris Dees amassed in the name of poverty law (over $100 million), and contrasts it with the small amount of legal services SPLC actually provides to poor people. Mr. Bright notes that plenty of other poverty law groups help many, many people — and do so on a shoestring budget. (EJI-Alabama is my personal favorite.)


First time commenting but have been reading for a long time. I love your design style but really admire your integrity and courage to stand up for what you feel is right. I also just donated to ACLU but am looking for more to do. It’s a scary time for the country but I’m glad people like you are taking a stand and making a contribution.


I’m a daughter of an immigrant and this made me respect you even more. Thank you, for always putting your real, raw feelings out there, even when it’s not the easy road.
And for putting your money where your mouth is!


Do you have a link for your hallway sconces? Thanks!


I read your blog all the time but very rarely comment. Thank you for continuing to be a voice of reason and love during these troubling times. Thank you also for donating to the ACLU. Cheers!


I’ve been waiting all weekend to see your opinion on what’s happening in the US. As a Canadian (who reads your blog daily), I’m shocked at what is happening across the boarder and am very afraid of how easily it could happen here (Google Kevin O’Leary). Thank you for providing us with a lovely post with pretty pictures (a break from all the dark and stormy) but ALSO using your stage to support equality and stand up for human rights. We need it for humanity.


LOVE the staged living room. I completely know how you feel about the selling (or not selling) of some of your treasured items. Our house sold last August and I staged the whole house with my own belongings…which included some of my treasured vintage pieces. The buyers decided they wanted to buy as much of the large items as they could as they were moving half way across the country and didn’t want the burden of moving furniture. It really worked out great because I was able to itemize what I wanted to keep, which was mostly accessories and desperately… Read more »


Emily, I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to support the ACLU and to buy the floral shams you had on your guest bedroom. We just painted our bedroom green tint and I think the colors would be so happy together AND it would make me incredibly happy to give further support to organizations that will help keep our country TRULY American!! xoxo


Whoa with the unfounded, unfair attack on Christians. I don’t care if you and I believe different things, but you lose me completely when you lump an entire group of people into a box and label them negatively. They have a word for that – stereotyping. Our politics and political system are not representative of Christianity – not now and not over the last 8 years either. You wrote as if the executive order was signed “in the name of Jesus” and endorsed by every Christian. What on earth does any of it have to do with Christianity? That attitude… Read more »

I didn’t blame the religion of Christianity for anything, I would never do that, and I’m truly sorry you are sensitive and that you interpreted my words as such. I have first hand experience with the amazing power of good christians (my parents are on a mission right now in Samoa) and was raised with those values. I simply see a lot of hypocracy amongst individuals – please note that word – NOT the organized religion as a whole, but individuals who claim to be so Christian but frankly act mean towards other people. Good christians, like you, prioritize helping… Read more »


Wish you can hear me applauding your right now. Being a kind, respectful person has no religion


Agree…so many, many misinformed and misled people commenting. It makes me very sad to see the hate coming from those who profess love for “all”. The division in this country began with the country’s founding. We are a young and rambunctious nation, however, we have always strived to be a nation of laws and order amidst chaos and dissent. Embrace the chaos – this is what this energetic lawful nation is all about! The right of all legal citizens of this country to dissent is written in the US Constitution. Emily has a perfect right to donate her profits to… Read more »

What hate are you talking about? I haven’t read all the comments yet, but they all seem to be positive.


I completely agree with you, Kristen. You said exactly what I’m feeling.


Everything looks so beautiful! You did a wonderful job! We are currently redoing our entry way and I’m looking for a nice, casual bench. I would love to know where yours is from!


It is, of course, beautiful. But you are preaching to the choir with me, so I popped in here to say that my (male, if it matters) colleague just glanced at my screen and said, “Wow. That is a gorgeous living room!” So: mission accomplished! You’ve nailed it! 🙂

You are amazing for redirecting the profits from FLEA sales to ACLU. We all are in this together to stand up for one another and those with voices like yours doing this is inspiring. Thank you, Emily!

Also, I seriously want to move to LA now just to buy your house. This is exactly what my dream home that I’m looking for is- you did a beautiful job staging! These are the exact color palettes I am decorating in 🙂


THANK YOU!!! Donating the proceeds to the ACLU is amazing. I feel like that should be at the top of the post!!!!!


I have always LOVED that you left the fireplace stone au naturale. I guess there’s a place for whitewashing stone, but gah!


Shopping the flea means BOTH supporting the ACLU… AND potentially getting something personally shopped for by Emily Henderson? My Monday just got a whole lot better. Kidding aside, thank you Emily for sharing the beauty you find and create in the world AND for using your platform for important things that need to be talked about. And desperately changed.


Ooh! Beautiful room! Calm, airy, cozy, and still full of personality and interest. And, somehow I never realized there was a window behind your tree (onto the entry). Your other versions always seemed beautiful (loved that blue sofa) but maybe in person it was too “leggy” with all the slats and slings.

Love that you’re using your platform to share on things you feel strongly and passionate about.


I know you said you’d rather cut all ties and let it go without knowing what happens to this home, but man, it’d be fun to have a spin-off blog, so I can see the new owners love it, cause they’re GOING to love it! Has that been done?! Like the Rhoda to your Mary. Or at the very least a Holiday Special or Where Are They Now.


I feel a little silly asking a frivolous question when this post took on a much deeper meaning, but really am just curious: is it common for buyers to buy a lot of the staged or previous owner’s furniture? I live in TX and have owned 2 houses but never experienced that. Wondering if it’s a regional thing or more common at a higher price point? Thanks!

I don’t really know to be honest. I personally think that the buyer should buy a few of these pieces because they just look so perfect for the space. But of course they may not be their taste … or maybe they, you know, already have a sofa 😉 But I do know a few people who have sold so much of their furniture when they sold their house. In fact you know that Spanish California Mod house I designed? Well, they are friends of mine and when they moved she basically sold them a lot of what she had… Read more »

Chicago chiming in here – we’ve done that both times we moved, so not sure if it’s regional or what. Hope that helps!


Thanks for responding! I appreciate learning new info like this. 🙂


Love! Where is the white pom pom throw on the couch from?


I misread that for a moment as “what in the white pom-pom” and I thought it a hilarious way to call out on a design blog.


That is funny! I think that should be a new phrase.

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