Anyone who follows Emily Henderson — HGTV host and Target’s new home style expert — on Instagram or her (super fun) website knows that the designer is hysterically funny, and she’s also currently renovating her new Los Angeles home. The design star takes a break from fixing up her dream house to think back to her NYC days in a tiny Spanish Harlem apartment. She shares some tips for living in a challenging city space.
Avoid sensory overload
“The overall philosophy is if you live in a small space that’s dark, the more contrast you have, the smaller it will look,” says Henderson. Her advice: “Limit the color palette and limit the amount of patterns.” But, stresses the designer, “With the patterns you do include, try and keep the contrast down.” For example, instead of getting a huge black-and-white rug, get a gray-and-white rug that’s more tonal.
But no stark white walls
Despite popular belief, “people in small spaces with no natural light shouldn’t paint their walls white,” says Henderson. “It just looks flat and dead.” She says to go with a tone such as a medium gray. “You just want some sort of pigment in the paint in order for it to have life.”
Her must-haves for tiny rooms
“Think about reflective surfaces. Glass, Lucite and metallic items reflect light around and make a place appear brighter.”
“Plug-in sconces keep lamps off your tables and provide more light.”
“Look for nightstands with drawers instead of just a cute side table. You want stuff that adds storage.”
In her NYC pad
“I did a lot of brackets and shelving on the walls to keep things off of surfaces. Surfaces can get cluttered really easily. So use your wall space and go vertical.”
“I chose a lot of pale colors that went together, with low contrast. So it felt softer and less messy.”
“I was obsessed with temporary furniture like folding chairs and folding tables — especially vintage ones. Also, multifunctional pieces like stools that actas cocktail tables and chairs.”
Henderson shares her new house with her husband, beautiful baby boy and two cats. The designer — an animal lover— recently partnered with Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal cat litter to make over the cattery at Animal Haven, a no-kill animal shelter in SoHo. (Shortly after, all the cats in the cattery were adopted. Coincidence? We think not.) If you’re looking to adopt a pet, Animal Haven is located at 121 Centre St.