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Interview With Design Star Winner Emily Henderson

Exclusive Interview, Part II: Secrets From a Stylist's Emily Henderson

Earlier today, I shared the first part of my interview with fab stylist and HGTV Design Star winner Emily Henderson. Tune in Sunday for the 10/9 central premiere of her new series, Secrets From a Stylist, and get excited for the premiere with the second part of my interview!

CS: I loved the way you repurposed the tacky fake flowers into that chic white chandelier in the dining room challenge. What's another inspired repurposing you've done in a style shoot or home?

EH: I'm not the biggest repurposer. I do a lot of refinishing of furniture, where I'll restore it to how it should've been. A lot of people paint out furniture unnecessarily sometimes, and it ruins the piece.

Anything can be a vase if it can hold water. I use jars, teacups, anything that's watertight, for plants and flowers. When you're shopping in thrift stores and flea markets that's something to keep in mind.

Also, any piece of fabric can be turned into a throw pillow. Scarves and retro-patterned sheets are two good examples . . . Even if you don't sew you can take them to a tailor and they'll do it for $20 or $25.

CS: The premiere of Secrets From a Stylist features your friend, Glee cocreator Ian Brennan. Not to gender stereotype too much, but do you think that there are any typical issues that men face when tackling home decorating?

EH: Yes! Ian is much more stylish than most guys I know, but he definitely balked at wallpaper, because wallpaper is inherently decorative, and decorating is inherently feminine. So when I suggested wallpaper he kind of balked. He immediately associated it as "granny" and I had to work with him to get past that.

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CS: Can you tell me a little bit about your "style diagnostic" process?

EH: On Design Star, it was taking someone's favorite outfit and turning it into a room. [Secrets From a Stylist takes] that same idea but we expand it and ask them questions, like what favorite movie they'd live in, what set of a movie they'd want to live in, what decade they'd most want to live in . . . it's kind of a lifestyle quiz. From all of those answers I extrapolate their different styles they'd be inclined towards. There are visual questions, too . . . I don't think people in general are just one style, but when combining styles it can be very difficult to figure out what pieces work with what and why, and when it becomes junky and when it's beautiful, so that's what I do on the show. I worked with Ian to figure out his exact style, and then we styled his house accordingly

CS: In your opinion, are there any accent pieces that really make a space pop?

EH: I always try to add some sort of metallic, and I always try to mix up the shapes. This is kind of decorating 101, but if the coffee table is rectangular I try and have the side table be round. And the more contrast between shapes, textures, and colors creates so much interest for your eye.

I'm a pattern girl, that's for sure, and even with people who think they don't like pattern, I try to bring in some pattern that can be layered, because it makes [a room] feel evolved and collected.

As far as go-to pieces though, I don't have many. I just respond to things that have age and tell a story and that have had a life previous to this one.

CS: I love that idea of pieces in your home that tell a story. That's so great about vintage pieces and pieces that have been passed down from previous generations in your own family. It really makes a house a home.

EH: I think that a huge mistake — but I completely understand why people make this mistake — is to go to the box stores and get everything in one fell swoop. Again, I understand why people do this, but I think that it's really unfortunate because your house ends up looking like a catalog. Not every town has amazing flea markets, but most have antique malls or thrift stores, and I know a lot of people are still hesitant on that, but [if you shop at vintage stores] you'll find some more interesting pieces, and you'll look more interesting.

I mean, you walk into a lot of people's houses and they don't look like them at all. My goal with Ian's house is to pass it off as if he did it. That's kind of the goal, to look like I was never there, that the space is exactly the client, and it wasn't like an "Ooh, who'd you hire?" but more of a "Wow, your place is awesome!"

CS: Is anyone really inspiring you lately?

EH: There are a couple of photographers and stylists whose work always kills it. Photographer Roland Bello works with stylist Robyn Glaser, and they're the duo. They did Anthropologie for years, they do West Elm right now, and they did Domino and Gourmet constantly. They kill it, they're amazing. Mikkel Vang and Christine Rudolph are awesome, too. They do beautiful work, which is basically fine art but they get paid a lot of money to do it.

Be sure to tune in on Sunday for the premiere of Emily's new show!


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