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Best Advice Ever: On Wood Finishes, Bad Sofas, and Area Rug Placement

By 07/13/2015November 5th, 202021 Comments


Spoiler alert: You might get cranky when you read these mistakes if you realize you’ve made them in your own home. Or you could always start painting some of it. Bottom line: if you are not shopping for furniture, skip this next section . . . then you can just keep being blissfully unaware.


It’s not fun when someone explains why you shouldn’t have bought that $5000 area rug, or that complete dining room or bedroom set. If there’s nothing you can do about it right now, wait to read it until you can do something about it.

Emily is a lovely stylist who lives in LA, and has her own show on HGTV. She’s got lots of videos on her site with fun tutorials on styling, she’s playful, and she’s hugely entertaining.

Here’s the first one:


In this post, Emily gives you the lowdown on which wood furniture you should stay away from. And it’s never good to buy matching sets of anything (coffee tables, dining rooms, and bedroom sets). Good designers go out of their way to coordinate different wood furniture pieces because hey, you can buy the matched stuff on your own. You don’t need our help to do it that way.

Next up, furniture:


Here, Emily shows lots of examples of the style of sofa you should never buy. It’s true that it’s hard to style around furniture that looks like this.

And slipcovering a mistake is not cheaper, by the way. It costs the same as buying new. By the time you pay for the fabric and the labour to re-upholster or slipcover, it’s the same price as a brand new piece. The only time it’s worth it to slipcover is if the sofa was expensive and a good classic style to begin with.

Emily also had a phenomenal post on area rugs:


I don’t think I’ve ever read such a comprehensive post on buying area rugs. I’ve written a few (here, here and here). But Emily has it all here in one place. It’s a must read.

So there you go. I read her blog for hours on Thursday night, even some out loud to Terreeia as she made dinner. I was highly entertained and inspired by her writing style and tough love advice, all wrapped up with adorable photos of her family.

emilyfamilyHubby, Charlie & Emily Henderson

12thingsThis was the post I read out loud. So funny!

Give them a read, my lovelies, and let me know what you think. Good styling can disappear so many things you don’t like about your house, and we all need all the help we can get, right?

Which post is your favourite?

Related posts:

One More Reason to Skip Accent Tiles Altogether

First Rule of Design: Boring Now Equals Timeless Later

Danger: The First 24 Hours After you Take Possession


  • Kristin Terkelsen says:

    I loved the post about her own home. I am glad to you I am like an interior designer in some sense! I am about to embark upon building a home, and I will reference this post so I can limit the little things you learn to live with once the contractors are gone!

  • Mary-Illinois says:

    I’ve been a fan of Emily since she was on Design Star on HGTV. She’s a fun read. Her aesthetic is different then mine, but I love what she does.

  • Brooke says:

    I only read two blogs and now they have merged! My favorite is the sofa post because it’s so easy to settle on good enough instead of working to find just right.

  • My favourite is 12 Annoying Things I Ignore Every Day. Before my own huge renovation I did the exact same thing. Even after our renovation (we did not touch 2 bathrooms), there are things I need to ignore (for now). I could totally resonate with her.

  • aprilneverends says:

    My favorites are the generic furniture, and the worst wood finises ones. I love these Design Mistake series by Emily. She managed to write down, honestly and funnily, things I’ve been vaguely feeling about different types of furniture for many years, and never could properly put into words. Also some things I just never really knew-for example that a very dark stain is chosen often precisely in order to cover the the defect of the wood itself.
    I also like the too-small-rug post, since I’ve never owned a rug yet, precisely for the reason I’m still to save money/courage for the rugs that are not too small AND make my heart sing.
    Which is fine, because I find dreaming about something beautiful can be as almost fulfilling and amusing as actually having something beautiful.

  • sandyc says:

    I laughed out loud at 12 Annoying Things as well. After two and a half years in my “forever” home, I still have way too many things I don’t want to be forever; the only excuse I can add to the list for not fixing yet is my still true “cash poor” status – not a dire status but definitely a “think long and hard and then think again” status.

    Emily’s most practical post for me is the one on area rugs – much simpler and better than any I’ve read recently and one that I’ll keep on hand for later.

    Thanks so much for sharing with us, Maria.

  • Kates says:

    Between Emily’s blog and your blog I feel like I am totally covered on all things interior design and styling related!

    • coconut says:

      Agreed! I like how Maria, the Cote de Texas lady, and Em Henderson have seen so much good stuff and crap in their day that they can size up a space immediately. And tell us explicitly what is going on. Thank you!

  • mrsben says:

    I think my favourite post is; 12 Annoying Things That I Ignore Everyday. Reason; I can relate as for many months now I have had a sawed-off portion of a hockey stick that is notched on one end and propped up against my hot water kitchen tap to prevent it from leaking. Its a quick-fix invention of my DH’s but in all fairness as we do plan to upgrade the entire kitchen shortly I just boast to my friends, that its probably the only house in the city that has such a creative device. (Eye roll!) -Brenda-

  • Lisa Lucas says:

    I love that she included photo examples. I get stuck all the time needing something for a last minute staging and recognize a lot of her examples of things that are often stocked at the store for immediate delivery.

  • Lena says:

    To be honest, maybe it is just her gushy LA hyperbole, but your blog is much better written. In one paragraph avocado paint is described as ‘insane’, because it is ugly I guess, in the next paragraph a stained glass window is ‘insane’ because it is attractive. And oh, how she suffered for a year and a half with the same shower head I’ve been using for 15 years since it is one of the few that adjusts up and down for people of different heights (she might feel better about it if she kept it clean).

  • Deborah says:

    After reading this post I received inspiration, education, confirmation and some really good laughter ( is because I could relate) hmmm.
    All the posts were excellent.

  • Shannon says:

    Loved these! And definitely have a few of those wood issues that need to be addressed. Anyone have thoughts for what to do about a solid mahogany Stickley king sleigh bed? I feel like it’s so out of style right now in addition to being dark and shiny.

    • Melanie says:

      A few years ago I painted all my mahogany and Rimu (a New Zealand native wood) furniture, including a sleigh bed. I have never regretted it.

      • Shannon says:

        Thanks, Melanie. That makes me kind of ill. But I guess we could always refinish and restain down the road.

  • Johanna says:

    I was in tears laughing about her shower head. I’m relieved because I too have things like that in my house.

  • Christina says:

    I think my favourite thing about Emily is her openness about the staging and photoshop aspect of photos. It’s so easy for someone like me to get discouraged because my house doesn’t always look that fancy (or organized) and then she goes and posts an article about the little things left undone in her house and I feel a bit better knowing that she makes mistakes and leaves things undone as well.

    And as a Designer, I too am absolutely in love with Emily’s new site and wish I could claim it as my own work. More to aspire to!

    On a similar note, my favourite posts from you (been reading your blog for the past 2 years) have always been the ones where you’ve talked about mistakes that you’ve made and how you’ve learned from then. Vulnerability seems to be key in connecting with your readers.

  • Carol says:

    The other two blogs have very good content but I really
    like the style (apperance of your blog…..short, to the point, very colorful with real pictures of real people and things. I especially enjoyed the journey you took us on when you remodeled your house………it was very very interesting and Real with great pictures!!
    So I hope you don’t stray too far from what it is now.

  • Melanie says:

    Lovely and useful blog. One to add to the must see. The way she labels her photos with references as to why she is posting them is so helpful. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Brenda says:

    I absolutely LOVE Emily Henderson! Your Blog and her blog are the two big ones that I follow on a consistent basis. (And Joni Webb’s too, but you really need a lot of time to go through hers because they are so LOOOOOONG and well researched that you need time to read the whole thing!)

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