As Target’s home spokeswoman and an HGTV “Design Star” winner, Emily Henderson is a familiar face in the home-design world. She shares her work and family life on her blog and Instagram, attracting a strong following. Fans flooded staff writer Jura Koncius’s recent Home Front chat featuring Henderson as a guest. The style expert’s advice on designing for your family’s needs, young children and newlyweds included:
Storage is essential when living with young children: Having two small children, 3 months and 2 years old, Henderson gets it. “Storage trunks are your friends,” she wrote, adding that she has three in her house. They can look stylish on the outside, “then inside they hold all your plastic baby unmentionables.” Closed storage can be better than open shelving, she says, if you want to keep your home from looking messy — even for books.
A nursery can pull double-duty: If you want the nursery to also serve as a guest room, decorate and set up the nursery but don’t do anything too cutesy. A pull-out sofa or a twin daybed with a trundle in the room allows the option for a friend to crash.
Go round and heavy for a child-friendly coffee table: You don’t want the kids to be able to knock it over. “I have a huge pouf in our family room,which my kids love to crawl all over,” Henderson wrote. “Target, Crate and Barrel, West Elm and Serena and Lily all have good, round, heavy coffee tables.” She recommends a drum shape. Think about using indestructible materials: unfinished (rustic) wood, leather, Sunbrella or a big patterned fabric to hide yogurt finger stains that will surely arise.
A shared color palette can help blend households: Compromise can be difficult when it comes to your home, but it will help to choose a shared color palette with cool and warm tones that you both like. Cooler tones — gray, blue or green — keep it looking fresh and modern, and warmer tones — wood, leather or creams — help it feel inviting. Keep basic furniture pieces simple so most of your accessories can work with them. Each of you can nix a piece from the other that you can’t live with, and you each get to keep a piece you love. If you love a feminine, Victorian-style chair but your partner has more masculine tastes, think about reupholstering it in a simple gray linen. “It’s hard, I know. But the more you both can be part of the process, the more you will both love it and want it to represent both of your styles.”
Sharing an office? Keep it simple: The key to visual sanity is simple, basic pieces of furniture that correspond with each other. Pick either two matching office desks or one big table. Ikea sells long desks that two people can work on, or consider a small-scale dining table. An L-shaped desk gives each person their own space, but it looks clean and simple.
Remember one rule for downsizing: When downsizing, you want to look at each piece and make sure it fits into two of these three categories: beautiful, sentimental or functional. If it fits all three then you have yourself a wonderful piece. And if it doesn’t fit into any, then “donate that sucker.”
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