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Interview With Design Star Winner Emily Henderson 2010-08-27 09:00:13

Exclusive Interview With Secrets From a Stylist's Emily Henderson!

It's no secret that I'm a big fan of HGTV Design Star winner Emily Henderson. Her chic yet livable style and sparkling personality really impressed me on the show, and I can't wait for Sunday's 10/9 central premiere of her new series, Secrets From a Stylist. In the first episode, she makes over good friend and Glee co-creator Ian Brennan's LA pad.

Yesterday, Emily and I chatted about her experience on Design Star, her new show Secrets From a Stylist, and ways to make a house reflect your individual style.

CasaSugar: Congratulations on the win! I was really pulling for you.

Emily Henderson: Thank you! That's so nice.

CS: You grew up in Coos Bay, OR. Do you think growing up where you did has affected your aesthetic?

EH: There's very little high style in small-town Oregon, and that's not a dig at all. There aren't even department stores. My exposure to style was very unpretentious. I grew up with just the things that I needed, and that lends itself a lot to my style. My parents are both teachers and they had six kids, so we weren't exactly rolling in dough, so we went to thrift stores way before it was cool to go. We had such freedom to buy weird stuff, and my parents didn't really monitor us; I could bring home whatever I wanted from the thrift stores to a large extent. Almost because there were no fancy stores in our town I learned to like whatever I liked because it was weird and old, and that has something to do with [my aesthetic]. I started loving old things when I was very young, like 5 years old.


I see people from Oregon and they read my blog, and they say, "We relate to you." The vintageness and the unpretentiousness came from there. I love New York, and I don't mean to say it's pretentious, but there's something laid-back and unfussy about Oregon that I love.

Check out Emily's tips for decorating, flea marketing, and lots more!

CS: Do you have any tips for items to look for when flea marketing or thrifting for home items?

EH: This tip is more practical: I get to a flea market as early as possible and I race through it kind of like a crazy person looking for the biggest pieces first, because those pieces always sell first. People come and meander through, and that's how they lose a lot of the furniture pieces.

I come with a list, because it's really easy to get distracted and overwhelmed, and you can't literally look at every single thing at a flea market or thrift or vintage store. I have to tell myself to focus on this list or I'll overlook things and get distracted by the weird vintage doily collection instead. So a list is important.

I would come with a color story in mind, but be really flexible with it. If something isn't exactly your color palette, don't worry about it, just let the room evolve. You don't want something that clashes necessarily, but I think people think they need to be perfect when it comes to a color palette, and especially with buying vintage, let it evolve and it'll be more interesting.

CS: Your glass house challenge room really blew me away. I love how chic yet comfortable it looked. It seems like a lot of rooms that I see get the chic, but completely ignore the comfort. How do you manage to balance these two elements?

EH: People think they need to be perfect and their house needs to be perfect in order for it to be finished. I think the more perfect it is, the less people enjoy their time in it! Most of my friends aren't perfect; perfect people are kind of annoying.

I definitely prefer spaces that are a little bit off, like the side tables don't match . . . The more you try to look perfect, the less interesting and the less comfortable your room is. I'm not perfect, and I'm always trying things out. You shouldn't be so precious with things. You can always fix it. It's just home design.

CS: True, there's no reason to take it so seriously.

See the rest of my interview with Emily later today!


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