Emily Henderson must be out of her flippin' mind. Amid tackling a fixer upper roughly two hours outside of her home in Los Angeles, designing interiors for clients, and serving as Target's go-to stylist, she's recently tacked another project onto her neverending to-do list: Partnering with her brother to renovate a house he and his wife bought in Portland, Oregon. Though, if you asked her, she might say her bro's the one out of it. "I mean, who buys an $850k flip?? (Ken and Katie, not me)," she wrote on when she first announced the project in January.
But that's the thing—this house is far from a flip. Emily and the team have spent the past nine months totally gut-renovating the property, expanding it by 1,300 square feet (transforming the floor plan AND adding a third floor!), and infusing every square inch with character and soul. And doing so in a way that complements the stately homes that surround it. While appealing to a potential buyer, because hey, part of the objective is to eventually sell the house.
So, how do you do all that without creating a cookie-cutter McMansion...and going nuts in the process?! In this exclusive reveal, Emily breaks down what she's done (Spoiler: She's got some hot tips to steal!). And if you just can't get enough, hit up for a room-by-room account of how she's transformed the Portland house, starting with an in-depth look at the . Then contemplate a move to the Pacific Northwest, naturally.
When you're renovating a project to sell, it's tempting to appeal to the masses—which can be the exact thing that makes people overlook all your hard work.
"I took the crazy down a bit to make sure that anyone could see themselves here. Well, not anyone. Anyone who likes modern classic style with a bit of casual glam," she said. "I didn’t want it to feel staged or have too much mass appeal. Mass appeal means generic, and this house just could not be generic."
You know how when you first move into a house and you spend an inordinate amount of time debating where, exactly, the sofa should go? Emily's been there. With this house.
The living room features a few competing focal points—those epic Milgard windows! The Bedrosian marble fireplace!—sparking debate on the best placement. Ultimately, they decided to have the sofa face the dining room. "This way, you could see the fireplace when you walked in," she explained.
Emily didn't play it safe when it came to choosing tile. This geometric, is from Ann Sacks, and it takes a pretty bathroom to straight-up showstopping. "This is a natural stone, so it really calms down anything that feels too glam or modern," Emily said. "Had this been in black and white, it would have been too much, but those tones of blues, grays and white marbles keep it calm and classic."
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If you're renovating to resell, the temptation is always to keep costs rock bottom to reap the biggest profit, but that wasn't Emily's move here. The house was refined to begin with, so they made smart investments to elevate the space as they expanded it. crown moulding and custom window treatments give this bedroom a polished look, but Emily keeps things from skewing fussy (the danger on the opposite end of the spectrum) with a few budget-friendly finds, like a and a .
Fact: Kitchens sell houses, which makes every decision seem ABSOLUTELY, MAKE-OR-BREAK IT CRUCIAL. Yes, all-caps crucial. That's why, when Emily was deciding on the cabinet's paint color, she polled everyone she knew. Everyone.
"In a way, it was process of elimination: I’ve painted a lot of kitchens blue, gray is sad in Oregon, and a bright, warm tone is out of the question for something you are trying to sell—like pink, red, orange, etc.—so it really left green or white," Emily explained. "I wanted to pull your eye into the room, which a dark tone does."
In the end, she went with by Sherwin-Williams.
When it came to adding bursts of personality to the house, Emily was thoughtful. "The only risks I took were the wallpaper in the dining room, which honestly can be easily removed, and the paint colors, which are SO easy to paint over," she said. So, if you're the rare segment of humanity that isn't into blue—even this moody, from Sherwin-Williams—you can change it out easily.
It's a classic design rule to have a few recurring elements that help one room flow to the next, and Emily does it to great effect with this space. Shades of blue and white are repeated just about everywhere—and that killer Bedrosian marble surrounding the fireplace can also be found on the walls and counters of the media room, as well as the kitchen counters. It's seamless, yet not so matchy-matchy that the home feels one size fits all.
"The key is to keep it balanced and do it consistently—don’t just have one thing that stands out in a different finish," she said, referring to the mix of brass and silver hardware she used in the kitchen. "Make it intentional by peppering them evenly throughout the space."