Emily Henderson talks w/ Mark & Theresa about her collecting rules, her style diagnostic, and how her husband deals with her constant redecorating.
Mark: And you are back inside MyFixitUpLife with my beautiful wife Theresa.
Theresa: And my handsome husband Mark.
Mark: And shhh, it’s no secret.
Theresa: What’s no secret?
Theresa: I love secrets. Emily how are you doing today?
Emily: I’m great thank you so much for having me. I love how you say from so emphatically.
Mark: As far as I’m concerned that’s the only word…
Emily: It’s funny because when they were naming the show at first they said ‘Secrets of a Stylist’ and they thought that ‘Secrets from a Stylist’ was just so much more compelling and convincing. I’m not totally sure that it is but it’s hilarious that there’s a big distinction between those two words.
Theresa: Well I’m fixated on the secrets part because I love secrets.
Emily: Me, too.
Theresa: Well one thing is that you shared a really good point in HGTV’s magazine which is I think out on newsstands right now — it’s the June/July issue. And you kind of put a spotlight on this for me because I have had a history in my life of collecting things because I’m obsessed with them and you point out if you are in love with something and it’s really special to you, to not buy multiples of it.
Emily: Well I mean I think there’s a distinction between buying multiples of the exact same thing and creating a collection because I’m a big fan of collections as well but I think where people make a mistake is when they’re out shopping and they see two of the same thing and they’re like ‘Sweet! I scored. I found two,’ and actually by putting them in the same room it takes the uniqueness away from each one so it kind of dumbs down both of them. But as far as a collection I think that is slightly different because in a collection you actually are buying a lot of variations of the same thing but they’re at least a variety. Do you know what I mean?
Emily: I’m a massive fan of collections, like I collect everything.
Theresa: Really? Like what are you collecting right now?
Emily: What am I collecting right now? So I always collect brass animals. It’s just my thing I have a complete zoo, and it’s a problem. And I always collect white footed vessels like pottery because I use them so much in styling — for shelving styling, a coffee table, or vases for flowers — so you know there are certain things that I can’t stop buying so I even had to create a bunch of rules for myself and do you want to hear my collecting rules?
Theresa: I really need your collecting rules.
Emily: Okay. I wish I had them in front of me. I wrote them all out one day on my blog. But the first thing is don’t collect the world, choose two or three or maybe five things that you want to collect and just make those collections really good but you can’t collect everything because it becomes a hoarding problem. The second is make sure you’re not just collecting — like say if it’s blue pottery plates, you’re not just collecting any of them, you’re collecting the ones that are rare and interesting. Because otherwise you’re just hoarding them from everybody else, but you’re not really making the collection special and it kind of dumbs everything down. So you want each one to be unique like you bought it for an exact reason not just because it technically fits into the collection. And then make sure to display your collection together because — especially if it’s chotchkies — if you spread them out throughout your whole house it will just look like chotchkies, where if you display them together say in a curio cabinet or on a particular shelf, then it becomes a special collection and not just something that is spread out and just kind of taking up space and people won’t get it as much. So display them together. Those are my three rules.
Mark: Those are great.
Theresa: Those are really good. And I like the not spreading it out all over your house because it kind of ages your house and makes it seem older.
Emily: Everybody is afraid of collections. I mean we’re not, but a lot of people are because what they remember is you know their grandma’s house when they were little, whether it was just like little porcelain figurines everywhere, so you just have to be kind of careful with your collections, but nothing’s wrong with being a collector. I think it’s one of the most fun things in the world is to have something that you love, and try to find the best of those, but you just have to be kind of careful.
Mark: Totally. Now do you actually have a fence built around your zoo or any kind of moat?
Emily: It’s honestly a little out of control. Brass animals are kind of iconic to me, people know how much I love them, so I’m going to sell a bunch of them and I’m feeling really good about it right now. I don’t know if, like the day of the sale, I’ll start panicking, but I’m going to keep my favorite four or five and relinquish the rest of them to the world.
Theresa: Aw they’re going back into the wild. That’s so nice.
Emily: Yes. I’m freeing them.
Mark: You have a great catch and release program.
Theresa: I love that. Like you’re raised them and now they’re old enough to be out on their own.
Mark: Look for Emily Henderson’s new show on Animal Planet.
Emily: Yeah, totally.
Mark: It’s the catch and release of brass figurines.
Theresa: That’s fantastic.
Mark: I do have a real question for you which is, I’ve seen some of your work of course on ‘Secrets from a Stylist’ and in HGTV magazine, and on Animal Planet, and you have such an eclectic style, is there a time period of design, of history that sort of informs where you start from?
Emily: Well, not one particular time. You know for the show I do this style diagnostic which is a series of questions that I ask the client, the homeowner, to try and figure out what their style is. And one of the questions I do ask the most often, even if it’s off camera, is what decade would you live in if you could live in any decade, and not just what happened socially but everything. What it looked like, what the general energy was, and every decade in general — especially in the 20th century — is very different and so that does give me a good jumping off point because a lot of people, you know they might say 50s/ 60s because they’re into mid-century, they might say 70s Palm Springs — that’s one that I’m a huge fan of. And sometimes I just show them pictures, but it is very helpful to hone in on what type of vintage style they like, and some of them say none. Some of them don’t want anything vintage, and then we do contemporary, but that is a question that I ask a lot. And it’s funny because I was a history major, I got my degree in history, and I always laughed about it in my 20s I was like, ‘Oh what am I using that degree for, clearly nothing. I’m playing with flowers all day.’ But then I realized it actually has been informing a lot of my design work, so it’s pretty funny.
Mark: That’s super cool. So then you don’t really have to dig too deep if someone says their favorite decade is 1320.
Emily: Ha ha I don’t think anybody has ever been that obscure, but there are some that say they want — I don’t know like the Marie Antoinette look, they want something French in the 1800’s. And that’s super exciting. When people can go that far back, that’s extremely fun for me because I do get a little sick of doing the same decades over and over. Like mid-century is so big right now that we had to on the show kind of start thinking about that with casting because we didn’t want every single week to look the same obviously. And that style is coming up way more than any other so we kind of had to monitor that a little bit.
Theresa: Well I think that kind of qualifies Mark for your show, if he wants to have 1320s.
Mark: Yeah I was using myself as an example there.
Theresa: That would be kind of really challenging. I would not want to see his stylist diagnostic at all.
Emily: It would be so fun. They’re really fun. I mean a lot of it is you know maybe patterns of fabric or what you’re wearing — like I love analyzing people’s wardrobe and turning that into the style of their space. One of my other favorite questions is ‘If you had to live in a movie what movie would you live in?’ And it’s hard to come up with that like right off the bat, but I give them like a day in advance on that, but it is very telling.
Theresa: My move is Mary Poppins. That’s where I would live.
Emily: Oh really, that would be very fun.
Mark: What’s your movie?
Emily: Mine is a combination of The Royal Tenenbaums because it’s just so corky and weird and interesting and I do love Marie Antoinette, I love over the top girly, princess-y, glamorous, luxurious stuff. But then I also love, do you remember that movie that came out a couple of years ago I think it was A Simple Man, it was set in the 60’s and the wallpaper matched the rug, matched the drapery and it was so over the top that it was just very, very exciting to be in, but my style changes kind of a lot because I shop so much and I have a bit of style ADD so that answer could definitely change in six months that’s for sure.
Mark: When you’re shopping for stuff, and you know you mentioned your animal collection and different things that you have, do you actually shop for stuff, have it for a while, and then use it either on the HGTV show or in your clients’ homes?
Emily: Yes. We call it fostering, so I’ll be at the flea market and I’ll find an amazing chair — I don’t know who I’m going to use it for, but I know I can’t not buy it. So what happens is it will either come home with me for a couple of months or maybe even go to an assistants house for a couple of months, and then when we find the right home for it then we adopt it out. And it goes home with the homeowner on the show, or an outside client. I mean that doesn’t happen with everything but my house is a rotating showroom basically. My husband is so sick of seeing things come in and then seeing them go so now for certain things he’s like ‘We get to keep this, please.’ And I’m like alright if you love it that much it will never leave, but it’s constantly rotating. But it’s fun.
Theresa: Is it like his favorite chair or something like that?
Emily: Exactly. When he cares enough to say something like ‘Please don’t give that away’ then I don’t because I mean he’s begging for us to keep this lamp, clearly it’s important to him. But in general he doesn’t care he’s like yeah that’s fine. But when he cares, he really cares.
Theresa: Well that is really fun. And I bet that his style is probably a little bit different than your style too.
Emily: Yeah but he kind of like — it’s not a battle he wants to fight you know what I mean? He puts his foot down every now and again, but he’s a smart enough guy that he’s like whatever she’s gonna do whatever she wants to do anyway. So he stopped caring I think years ago.
Mark: Did he actually build a room in the back of your house and then move and you didn’t know?
Emily: Seriously. No it’s funny because we’re in this new house and I’m decorating each room by room for my blog, like I’m giving it a big makeover. And I want to go over the top. I’m feeling very glamorous these days, I really want to go over the top. And so I was looking around our house the other day, and every single room has so much girl in it it’s getting a little out of control. And he hasn’t said anything yet but even I was like I need to pull this back a little bit because this poor guy is living amongst crystals and velvet in every single room and so I might need to adjust it a little bit for him, but he’s not saying anything it’s hilarious.
Theresa: So when you’re traveling for your show and you’re filming do you ever fear that you’re going to come home and…
Mark: And he’s dismantled the rooms.
Theresa: He’s gonna have leather on the walls and wagon wheels and antlers and stuff?
Emily: No, no, no. He does like my style, even though it is particularly girly right now, he does like how perky the house is, and how interesting it is and how much crazy art we have. You can’t deny that our house is really cool so in general he goes with it. Sometimes I push him a little bit too far in the girly direction, but he’s a smart guy — that’s not the battle that’s he going to fight. So I don’t have to worry about that yet. I’m gonna wait until we have a son and I overdo it with something super girly, and you know he might put his foot down then.
Theresa: Yes, you don’t want to girl up your husband’s son. That’s kind of like a barrier right there. But I do want to say looking at the HGTV magazine and looking at the spread, they’ve pulled out like everything in your room except for one thing that I want to know about is your slippers.
Emily: Oh that’s funny. They are Lands’ End and they were like $29.
Theresa: They are super cute.
Emily: Thank you. I love them.
Mark: That begs a second question — flats or heels?
Emily: I wish I could say flats, I really do. But heels make us taller and make our butt look better.
Theresa: Oh they do. They make you long and lean. And that’s what you boys like.
Emily: I’ll wear flats, but I’m not psyched about it.
Mark: Begrudgingly wear them. I get it.
Theresa: Her slippers are flats.
Emily: Yeah, it’s funny right now I’m wearing flats because I’m in New York, but normally in LA you drive everywhere, I haven’t walked in years in LA, so you can wear heels almost every day. Which is so girly, but it really makes you feel better and taller and prettier so that’s what I do.
Mark: I love it. Well I have one more very important question for you that I read on your website and that is you’re a big fan of the Dos Equis World’s Most Interesting Man advertisements?
Emily: That is so funny that you saw that. Every single time I see a commercial or a billboard it’s just so good. They make him seem like I want to be him you know? And it’s kind of a cheap beer that’s not particularly good or interesting so I just think as far as an ad campaign, yeah I’m on board I love it.
Theresa: My husband Mark is obsessed with that as well.
Mark: Do you have a favorite line that comes to mind? Or are you laughing too hard and you can’t remember any of them?
Emily: Oh gosh I don’t know if I remember any of them. I did quote one on the blog I just forget which one it was.
Mark: I do too.
Emily: But he’s awesome.
Mark: He’s great. His charisma can be seen from space. He was late once to see how it felt. We’re late though.
Theresa: We have to go to break. So you’ll have to go to stylebyemilyhenderson.com and check out her show.
Emily: Thank you so much for having me.
Theresa: Thank you so much.
Mark: Thank you Emily and we’ve got to take a break we’ll be right back with more MyFixitUpLife.