Before/After: A Space-Enhancing Historic House Remodel in Melbourne

Carole Whiting spent 20 years producing television commercials while moonlighting as her architect husband’s design sidekick. Eight years ago, she finally signed on full time with his firm. Several design awards, a white-hot laundry room—and a divorce—later, Whiting now runs her own busy South Melbourne design studio leading a team of four. We happened upon […]

Carole Whiting spent 20 years producing television commercials while moonlighting as her architect husband’s design sidekick. Eight years ago, she finally signed on full time with his firm. Several design awards, a white-hot laundry room—and a divorce—later, Whiting now runs her own busy South Melbourne design studio leading a team of four.

We happened upon her stylishly practical interiors on Instagram and asked to see more. Here’s a favorite recent project: a new chapter for a compact historic house belonging to a recently married artist and builder and their blended family. The challenges: balancing tradition and modernity, creating order and flow, and keeping the look clean, all Whiting’s specialities.

Photographs by Jack Shelton, unless noted, courtesy of Carole Whiting Interior Design.

Moody and original on the exterior, the late-th-century North Melbourne Victorian was kept as is: &#8

Moody and original on the exterior, the late-th-century North Melbourne Victorian was kept as is: &#8

Above: Moody and original on the exterior, the late-19th-century North Melbourne Victorian was kept as is: “the only thing we addressed was the ironwork, which we restored and painted black,” says Whiting. Fittingly, the new owners, Soma Giovannini and Tom Carson, together run Adobe Restoration, “a boutique restoration building company.” Photograph by Kit Haselden, courtesy of Adobe Restoration. The interior had been largely stripped of original detailing and lacked a kitchen, but the entry retained its original stair and Baltic pine floor, which was replicated elsewhere. (Scroll down to see some Before shots.) Whiting used the space under the stairwell for &#8

The interior had been largely stripped of original detailing and lacked a kitchen, but the entry retained its original stair and Baltic pine floor, which was replicated elsewhere. (Scroll down to see some Before shots.) Whiting used the space under the stairwell for &#8

Above: The interior had been largely stripped of original detailing and lacked a kitchen, but the entry retained its original stair and Baltic pine floor, which was replicated elsewhere. (Scroll down to see some Before shots.) Whiting used the space under the stairwell for “mechanical services, data, bit of plumbing, hot water—all the things that need to go somewhere”—and she inserted a closet in the well next to the stair.

“The people who sold the house were builders who did a quick fix to patch it up for sale,” Whiting tells us. “They pretty much plastered everything up and put in cheap fittings.” Soma and Tom, she reports, plan to stay put and wanted to reinstate a classical look while incorporating “the requisites of modern domestic life.”

Whiting was charged with fitting in a sizable kitchen, plus dining room, living room, home office, laundry, and WC  on the ground floor, which began at 860 square feet, and was extended to 9 square feet.

Whiting was charged with fitting in a sizable kitchen, plus dining room, living room, home office, laundry, and WC  on the ground floor, which began at 860 square feet, and was extended to 9 square feet.

Above: Whiting was charged with fitting in a sizable kitchen, plus dining room, living room, home office, laundry, and WC  on the ground floor, which began at 860 square feet, and was extended to 914 square feet.

For a sense of openness, she removed the wall that cut off the entry from what became the kitchen. Three-quarter-height pantry cabinets serve as a partition between kitchen and dining room. On the opposite wall, Whiting inserted a combination powder room and laundry—originally two small rooms converted into one and camouflaged behind a central paneled door with the same trio of peg handles as the pantry cabinets.

The room&#8

The room&#8

Above: The room’s north wall, overlooking the garden, was pushed out to extend the kitchen (see floor plan below).

Tom, the builder-owner, loves brick and laid the back walls himself using recycled materials. “There was quite a debate about keeping the brick color,” says Whiting. “I wanted to paint it white. In the end, we left it and I really love it—sometimes you need to be open to input.”

 Another of Whiting&#8

 Another of Whiting&#8

Above: Another of Whiting’s space-enhancing tactics was to establish a materials and color palette and stick to it. Throughout, she introduced wood paneling—”made the old-fashioned way.” And she painted just about everything in Dulux’s Lexicon Quarter, which comes in full, half, and quarter strength (the last is what Whiting used).

The walls are offset by two colors “and no others”: Dulux’s Grey Pebble, shown here on the ash island, puts in an appearance in every room, and all of the house’s dark accents are in a custom-mixed charcoal.

Are We Done With Canned Lighting?

Emily Henderson Moutain House Family Room Lores117

Overarching statements like being “done” with something as ubiquitous as canned lighting is maybe a little dramatic, yes, but I’ve been discussing the topic with Emily back and forth for a few weeks now. It can be fun to be black-and-white about a topic to force people’s hand to make a decision. It’s what I… Read More …

The post Are We Done With Canned Lighting? appeared first on Emily Henderson.

Emily Henderson Moutain House Family Room Lores117photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: how we designed our kid-friendly family room

Overarching statements like being “done” with something as ubiquitous as canned lighting is maybe a little dramatic, yes, but I’ve been discussing the topic with Emily back and forth for a few weeks now. It can be fun to be black-and-white about a topic to force people’s hand to make a decision. It’s what I call the “gun to the head” decision, which, well, is very (unnecessarily) violent (considering the day and age we live in), but an effective discussion tool when used hypothetically. Emily’s stance on the subject was that she’s seeing new trends emerge in place of the traditional recessed light (I’ll walk you through those), so, as a designer, maybe there’s no reason left to use the “builder basic” feature. Me, on the other hand (not a designer, just a design enthusiast), think there will likely always be a place for them. That said, we thought to take our discussion to the internet…and here we are.

From Emily: “It seems like back in the day, the only options we had for overhead lighting were canned lights +flushmounts/pendant/chandelier, only canned, or flush/semi-flush fixtures, but we are seeing more alternatives to ceiling lights where there is an obvious shift from the really consistently placed overhead round white 6-inch canned light.”

Em, though I don’t necessarily disagree with you that people are doing different, cool things (but also, kind of cluttered things…stand by for photo examples), classic recessed lights are just one of those things in a home that, while not always super attractive, add enough value and ease of living (you know…if you classify wanting to “see” things in a well-lit room value) to outweigh their visual clunkiness. And frankly, I think, as long as they are well placed, they aren’t that clunky. Their very nature is to be visually unobtrusive, hiding up in the ceiling.

Let’s pause for a second, though, to throw out some definitions. I’m guessing most of you know what I’m talking about when I say “canned” or “recessed” lighting (which, according to my husband who’s in the architecture field, are two words for the same thing), just in case, these are the bad boys I mean:

Emily Henderson Home Lake House Remodel Intro 9

Pretty basic, run-of-the-mill canned lights (also called “pot” lights) are about 6 inches round, typically with a slight ring around them that’s flush to the ceiling. The wiring and housing sit inside your ceiling. The install on these, according to Jeff Malcolm, the GC on the mountain house, is about $75 per light all in (wiring and installation) for a new build and about $125 per light for a remodel (considering there’s an existing light circuit). None of that includes the actual cost of the light itself which could run anywhere from $10 for something no-frills at say, Home Depot, to deep into the hundreds mark for something smaller, LED or more decorative.

Anyhow, I just wanted to lay that foundation for you all before diving into all the new “options” we’ve been seeing to keep costs in mind. Like with most things in life (and design), the nicer or even less visible something is, the more $$$ it becomes.

Emily did want me to remind everyone what she did use canned lighting in the mountain house (that’s a “before” shot above of the family room). Exhibit A:

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: our soft yet secretly sultry downstairs guest suite reveal

The house was more modern than her LA house, so they “fit in.” Plus, the intention was to keep this house much more minimal in terms of “stuff” so the canned lights provided overall room light without filling any space with lighting fixtures.

Now, let’s dive into the whole “what we’re seeing” part of this post, starting with a project that’s likely familiar to anyone who’s been following this blog for a while:

Black, Square & Very Small

Emily Henderson Corbette Crypton 70s Modern Makeover Living Room 30photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: a modern and organic living room makeover

Emily’s friends Corbett and Leigh opted for more modern recessed lights in their (ridiculously gorgeous) Los Angeles home, shown above. The installation on something like this would likely not increase the cost; the only thing that’s the variable is the light itself. I personally love this look because it’s both functional and pretty good looking. It’s like a nice, kind, smart AND funny man. FULL PACKAGE PEOPLE. I think white, round canned lights might look a little sterile in a home like this…misplaced almost, so this is a great option.

Leibal Mhouse Dko 2image and design via dko

Here’s another example, in another modern home. Definitely file away “small, black and square” into your modern home filing cabinet. These could also just as easily have been white to fade away, but I’m sure it was a stylistic choice. These appear to be double lights (two small bulbs in the same housing), which probably helps with light distribution and direction. I’m into it.

“Tube” Spotlights

Simone18image and design via simone haag

The whole “tube” light fixture in general is what made this conversation about the hypothetical demise of the canned light come to light (ha). I’ll show you some shots where these are used in groupings (like canned lights would be) in a sec, but for right now, this is what we’re calling “spotlights” because, that’s frankly exactly what they are. Making them into more of a flushmount fixture does feel a bit more intentional. That’s not to say a recessed light wouldn’t have been premeditated, but being that it’s a one-off in the ceiling, making it stand out a little more rather than visually disguising it says “yeah, I meant to do this.” Could this also have just been a moment for a pendant? I think yes, but it really depends on the placement in the room. In this space in particular, it might be a bit strange, like a random hanging light fixture off-center to the room. What do you think?

20180605 Chelsea Hing Stgeorgesrd Web Res006image and design via chelsea hing

The lights here seem to have a bit of a similar purpose (providing more direct light on the sofa…maybe for reading?) but they very well might also just be individual pivoting lights, similar to what you’d find on a track lighting system…just without the actual track.

20180307 Chelseahing Yarraglen20270 Web Resimage and design via chelsea hing

Same situation (same designer, also), presumably for illuminating a dressing area near the closet. These, however, are black (or bronze?) so my question then becomes, why chose to make spotlights like this more visible. Is this purely stylistic? To pick up the black in the cord of the pendant above the nightstand? To play off the room’s more contemporary aesthetic?

Really Striking Black Track Lighting

image and design via sam crawford architects

If you’re okay with the visibility of black, modern track lighting, this could be a good alternative to recessed lighting. It’s adaptable, works well for a ceiling like above and below (cement-finished, wood-slatted) where drilling in holes for the cans might look disruptive, and in my opinion, adds a certain cool industrial vibe. I’m not talking found iron barrels repurposed into a coffee table “industrial vibes.” I just mean it’s a bit more suited to an open, contemporary room/space.

Emily Henderson Track Lighting Is It Cool Pic 1image and design via figr. Screen Shot 2019 10 11 At 10.58.31 Amimage via the design files | design by gardiner architects

Recessed lighting has the option of having a pivoting “eyeball” like feature, so you can direct light similar to how you would a track lighting system, but again, I think it just boils down to aesthetic preferences, tbh.

Clustered Tube Lights

Ed3cf4bd041e97737dfa758fc5e28f52image and design via mim design

These are just like the one-off spotlights I wrote about earlier, except…there’s more of them. I do really like them over a kitchen island, and they’re also pretty neat in a hallway:

00d927c0067fe808148ff3b269cf1a81image via lightingstyles.co.uk

But I was curious about the kind of light they gave off (would they be harsher, is this any different than a can light that would sit 6-8 inches higher?), so I whipped out my phone and had an impromptu interview session with my unsuspecting architect husband about them. Here’s the gist of what he said:

Me: “So I’m writing about canned lighting and ‘what’s next.’ I’ve been seeing a lot of ‘tube’ lights lately, like this:”

Aimee Tarulli Home Tdf Th2image via the design files | design by b.e architecture

Charles: “Ok.”

Me: “What do you think? Do you think it would create different light than recessed? Why do architects like using canned lights? PS, I’m quoting you, so don’t embarass me.”

Charles: “Well, the light would probably be more focused, so it wouldn’t spread as much. It would focus on an area directly below it, in this instance, the island. But because it’s so focused on an area, now you get light playing…a pattern…dark, light, dark, light, dark, light.”

Me: “Ah ha, I see…so as an architect, do you like something more decorative like this, or are you still a fan of the traditional canned/recessed light?”

Charles: “I like what works for the space. Something more decorative isn’t always the answer. Sometimes, elements have to fall back for others to stand out…so, it depends on what the space looks like and what’s trying to be accomplished. But canned light is probably less expensive.”

Me: “So, do you think this kind of thing is just trendy or do you see it having lasting power?”

Charles: “It’s hard to say for me, but if what I’m seeing is any indication, even traditional recessed lighting seems to be getting stale in a design-forward state of mind. What I’m seeing is either smaller lights with more power resulting in a smaller profile (think LED) or a bank of LEDs behind a surface that acts as a diffuser. It’s like hiding your hand…like a magician. This whole surface is lit…but how??”

Me: “Now you’re showing off, but thanks.”

Photo3 For Blogimage via thelightingsuperstore.com.au

And there you have it folks…a look into my marriage. If you want someone who will always have something to say about literally anything, marry yourself an architect. SO MANY OPINIONS but SO USEFUL when you’re a design writer, I tell ya.

Before moving out of this category, I wanted to note…so many of these photos with the “tube” lighting situation are sourced from homes/designers out of Australia. The Aussies tend to lean much more “warm minimal modern” than Americans, but what we see over there eventually catches the wave across the Pacific stateside, so if you’re like “blegh this is offensive to my eyeballs” all I’ll say is this…just wait. Before you know it, you’ll be on board (like me with—I can’t believe I’m saying this—the scrunchie).

Multiple Flushmounts

Ad6ff6a858b9e623be9343d7390465e4image via barn light electric company

And finally, I move into the category that had Emily and I the most chatty: the multiple, showy flushmount. This is not a subtle design move. In fact, it plays the opposite role of the camouflaged recessed light. It’s an “I do because I can” aesthetic play, which I’m not normally mad about. My heart lives far deeper into the maximalist zip code than minimalist, but I’m not sure I’m entirely sold. In the above room, I do kind of like it, probably because the rest of the space’s decor and furnishings are neutral and subtle. This is the big “moment” here.

22 A Lilac Kitchen Accented With A Bright Yellow Cooker And A Polka Dot Backsplash Plus Brass Lampsimage via remodelista | design by penelope august

There’s also something interesting about the rose-hued blown glass flushmounts in this kitchen (if it looks familiar, I originally shared it in this post about lilac being back…and you guys called out the flopped over art piece which still makes me chuckle). They’re visually “light” so I think in this instance it works. Besides, if you’re someone who can muster the courage to do a purple kitchen with a funfetti-like terrazzo countertop and backsplash and a mustard yellow range…I doubt you’re worried about keeping things minimal.

Image15image via california home & design | design by haus of design

Okay, I just LOVE this. It’s so over the top and purposeful and I’ve had this image saved in my Instagram bookmarks for a few months now. When Emily first suggested this topic being a post, I instantly knew I wanted to use this shot. I consider this far more of an art installation than functional lighting, but if you’re going to buck traditional, might as well do it with some flair, no?

And finally, speaking of flair…

1653 K4fgdsp8image via modern palm boutique | design by tia zoldan

While I’m not sure I’d go this far in my own space, I do applaud the adventurous spirit of Tia Zoldan, the designer of this kitchen above. While six canned lights would have provided likely a sufficient amount of light, the brass flushmounts sure do add more style than recessed cans ever could.

So…I come back to the original question at hand: are we done with canned lighting? Me personally, I think no, we’re not. And frankly, I don’t think Emily thinks we are either, but it’s fun to dive into what ELSE there is out there. But now I throw it to you, dear readers…where do you stand on the “cans are dead” vs. “cans are alive and well” debate? Are you into the multiple flushmount look or even the “tube” downlight? Can’t wait to hear from you!

You may also like:

Steal This Look: A Hushed Bedroom in Calming Colors

Lucky is the home that calls Nina and Craig Plummer its owners. The two are the founders of Ingredients LDN, an inspiring online store based in Edingburgh, and the grand apartment they share is a testing ground for the beautiful products sold on their site. Only items that fit their philosophy and aesthetic—the perfect soft […]

Lucky is the home that calls Nina and Craig Plummer its owners. The two are the founders of Ingredients LDN, an inspiring online store based in Edingburgh, and the grand apartment they share is a testing ground for the beautiful products sold on their site. Only items that fit their philosophy and aesthetic—the perfect soft palette; natural materials; thoughtful craftsmanship—make it onto their site and into their home.

The result is a wonderfully considered residence. (See the full house tour here.) We’re particularly taken with Nina and Craig’s muted bedroom. Let’s take a tour, then we’ll show you how to get the look.

Photography by Nina Plummer for Ingredients LDN.

The walls are limewashed in a warm neutral. “The process is easy and very forgiving,”  Nina told Margot. “The effect achieved depends on the brushstrokes you use: you can get an almost solid color or more of a plaster look.”

The walls are limewashed in a warm neutral. “The process is easy and very forgiving,”  Nina told Margot. “The effect achieved depends on the brushstrokes you use: you can get an almost solid color or more of a plaster look.”

Above: The walls are limewashed in a warm neutral. “The process is easy and very forgiving,”  Nina told Margot. “The effect achieved depends on the brushstrokes you use: you can get an almost solid color or more of a plaster look.” The couple are drawn to objects that have patina, texture, or both.

The couple are drawn to objects that have patina, texture, or both.

Above: The couple are drawn to objects that have patina, texture, or both. The ever-versatile OGK Safari Daybed was designed in 6

The ever-versatile OGK Safari Daybed was designed in 6

Above: The ever-versatile OGK Safari Daybed was designed in 1962 by Danish architect Ole Gjerlov-Knudsen when his son was going on a camping trip.

Here’s how to steal this look. Note: Most of the products are sold on Ingredients LDN; we’ve tried to source stateside, though, when possible in order to cut down on shipping costs.

The Soft Stuff

The Kapok Mattress Bedroll by Tensira in navy and off-white is $9 at Goodee. (For more about Goodee, see Byron and Dexter Peart&#8

The Kapok Mattress Bedroll by Tensira in navy and off-white is $9 at Goodee. (For more about Goodee, see Byron and Dexter Peart&#8

Above: The Kapok Mattress Bedroll by Tensira in navy and off-white is $139 at Goodee. (For more about Goodee, see Byron and Dexter Peart’s New Essentials for the Home.) On Nina and Craig&#8

On Nina and Craig&#8

Above: On Nina and Craig’s bed is a Belgian Linen Bedcover in Ecru, currently sold out on their site. It is, however, available in Raw Umber (at right), for £224. Stateside, consider Rough Linen’s Linen Day Blanket, in Natural, for $195. Kirsten Hecktermann’s hand-dyed Velvet Jewel Cushion Covers, a longstanding Remodelista favorite, are available in custom colors for Ingredients LDN; from £68. A wider range of colors is available at Hecktermann&#8

Kirsten Hecktermann’s hand-dyed Velvet Jewel Cushion Covers, a longstanding Remodelista favorite, are available in custom colors for Ingredients LDN; from £68. A wider range of colors is available at Hecktermann&#8

Above: Kirsten Hecktermann’s hand-dyed Velvet Jewel Cushion Covers, a longstanding Remodelista favorite, are available in custom colors for Ingredients LDN; from £68. A wider range of colors is available at Hecktermann’s website.

The Furniture

Paola Navone&#8

Paola Navone&#8

Above: Paola Navone’s Ghost Bed comes in several upholstery options (cotton or linen, in various shades) at Gervasoni. These handmade Rustic Antique Wooden Stools are &#8

These handmade Rustic Antique Wooden Stools are &#8

Above: These handmade Rustic Antique Wooden Stools are “made with traditional construction methods”; £85 at Home Barn Shop.

3 Design Agonies, 1 Post: Tricky Lighting, Big Empty Walls & Foyer Styling

Emily Henderson Design Agony Opener

An old friend is back in town and her name is Agony…Design Agony. This time, we are planning for her to embark on a more permanent residency both on Instagram and here on the blog. If you follow Emily on Instagram, she started answering followers’ design agony questions on stories. It’s been awesome and so… Read More …

The post 3 Design Agonies, 1 Post: Tricky Lighting, Big Empty Walls & Foyer Styling appeared first on Emily Henderson.

Emily Henderson Design Agony Opener

An old friend is back in town and her name is Agony…Design Agony. This time, we are planning for her to embark on a more permanent residency both on Instagram and here on the blog. If you follow Emily on Instagram, she started answering followers’ design agony questions on stories. It’s been awesome and so far you guys are really into which we love. One of the aspects all of you responded to was getting real product resources. I mean, who doesn’t love that?! So for today’s post, we thought we would recap some of the more product-focused agonies that Em has already tackled but with even more resources. PLUS, so there is something new for everyone, we chose one new agony we think could be helpful to more people. Shall we just get into solving the world’s (design) problems? Yes, I think we should.

The Agony: How to Avoid Harsh Lighting

For our first Instagram Design Agony, we chose Jenny who was having an issue with her floor task lamp next to her sofa. In her own words, “it’s like looking into the center of the sun.”

Emily Henderson Design Agony Harsh Lighting Living Room 1

We get it, directional lamps don’t give off the best light and can be harsh on the eyeballs (yet seem to be everywhere as they’re pretty on trend right now). Why not just use a drum shade lamp? Well, on the other side of her sofa, she already has a lamp with a drum shade and didn’t like the look-alike look. There wasn’t enough contrast and visual interest for her taste. See what she means??

Emily Henderson Design Agony Harsh Lighting Living Room 2

Emily’s Four Solutions

1. Start simple. Try a lower wattage bulb like a soft white 40 watt. We get why people opt for a super bright LED bulb: bright spaces make you happy, right? Well, in the wrong lamp, it can be too harsh for the eyes. Here are three options:

Emily Henderson Design Agony Harsh Lighting Bulbs

1. EcoSmart 40W Equivalent Dimmable LED Light Bulb | 2. GE Lighting Soft White Long Life | 3. AmazonBasics 40W Equivalent

2. Double arms. To keep the super sculptural look of the task lamp Jenny already has, she could replace it with a double-armed directional lamp. That will help distribute the light a bit more. We think these could be great:

Emily Henderson Design Agony Harsh Lighting Multi Armed Floor Lamps

1. Avallone | 2. Geneva Multiple Glass Globe | 3. Bruno Double-Arm

3. Opt for color. Jenny didn’t like the two drum shades but we think she shouldn’t give up on the idea because a drum shade will most often give you the softest light diffusion. To break up the “sameness,” she could change the color of the other drum shade so it doesn’t visually compete. These are our picks:

Emily Henderson Design Agony Harsh Lighting Colorful Lamp Shades

1. Black Drum | 2. Natural Burlap Drum | 3. Blue Drum

4. Lastly, she could try a hanging sculptural pendant that gives off ambient light. This way, it still looks architectural and cool but the light isn’t so harsh. We are very into these three:

Emily Henderson Design Agony Harsh Lighting Sculptural Pendants

1. Bonbon | 2. Sphere + Stem | 3. Mater Terho

Jenny, we hope this helps to solve your “sun” problem and you find the perfect light match.

The Agony: What To Do With A Big Empty Wall

This is a VERY common “agony” we get asked about…How do I fill up my big empty wall?? Well, in Emily’s instastory, she went through three great options that will hopefully not only help Kristin but also be useful for anyone else having the same issue. But before we get into the tips, the main thing to remember is that you want to break up the wall to add depth and dimension since it’s, well, a pretty big empty wall. So, if you have a truly large wall, stay away from the “one huge piece.” That’s not to say overscale art never works, it does. It can be powerful and fantastic, but to get anything large enough for a wall-like Kristin’s, it would be VERY overwhelming.

Now onto the issue at hand. Here is Kristin’s living room…

Emily Henderson Design Agony Empty Wall Living Room 1

She’s got a great foundation here with some beautiful pieces, but the wall definitely needs some love.

Emily’s Three Solutions

1. Create a personalized gallery wall with an articulating sconce like we did in the Atlanta living room we did earlier this year. Also, adding a little sculpture in a wall display box adds a ton of depth and will really make your wall three-dimensional and pop.

Emily Henderson Design Agony Empty Wall Living Room Inspo 1Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp for EHD | From: Reveal: A Budget and Rental-Friendly Living and Dining Room (With 80% Thrifted Finds)

Here are some sconces we think would look great.

Emily Henderson Design Agony Empty Wall Living Room Articulating Sconce

1. Envoy Swing | 2. Alto | 3. Nymane

These are the kind of display boxes we are talking about. Box #1 was the one we used in the photo above.

Emily Henderson Design Agony Empty Wall Living Room Display Boxes

1. Bjoernarp | 2. Black Metal Cube (set of 3) | 3. Barkhyttan

2. Another option is to make a grid of art with two matching flanking sconces. In the photo below, the sconces aren’t technically flanking since they are above but it’s the same principle.

Emily Henderson Design Agony Empty Wall Living Room Inspo 3Photo by Geneieve Garruppo | From: A 120 Year Old Barn Makeover With The Frame TV + Shop The Look

These are some great options.

Emily Henderson Design Agony Empty Wall Living Room Flanking Sconces

1. Simon Adjustable | 2. Savannah Single | 3. Perry

3. The last suggestion was to hang a large diptych (two corresponding pieces) or triptych (three corresponding pieces) with an added sconces or two to fill and make the space more dimensional. For Kristin’s particular space, if she wants to do just one sconce, we recommend something really sculptural, articulating and placed on the right side of the room (if you are standing in front of the sofa). Two would also be great but wouldn’t need to go so sculptural because it wouldn’t overwhelm the room.

Emily Henderson Design Agony Empty Wall Living Room Inspo 2Photo by Zeke Ruelas for EHD | From: Silver Lake Hills Living Room Reveal

Here are some diptychs and a triptych we think would work in Kristin’s space…

Emily Henderson Design Agony Empty Wall Living Room Wall Art

1. Reticent 2pc Printed Tinted Gel Canvas | 2. The Line No 12The Line No 16The Line No 13 | 3. Calm Forest No. 20Calm Forest No. 18

(Pssst…For Emily’s IGTV on how to create a gallery wall, click here!)

The (NEW) Agony: An Unstyled Entryway

This is a NEVER before shared Design Agony from a reader named Sara. Sara messaged Emily asking if there was styling hope for her entry or if she should just rip it out and start over. Start over??? No need! This is a very cute entry that just needs a bit of styling to bring it to its full potential. The design team has four solutions for Sara…

Emily Henderson Design Agony Entryway 1

EHD’s Four Solutions:

1. Put some leaning art on the shelf. It will help to draw your eye up and add visual interest to that empty space above the hook ledge. Here’s a good example from Erin Francois’ home tour we shared on the blog last year:

Emily Henderson Design Agony Entryway InspoPhoto and Design by Erin Francois | From: House Tour: A Home Crush A Year In The Making

We really like these combos below. Go with only two pieces so it doesn’t feel cluttered, one larger in scale (by at least 4 or 5 inches where they overlap) and the other a bit smaller.

Emily Henderson Design Agony Entryway Leaning Art

1. Folded Lines + The Chiton | 2. Landscape 151 + Shade | 3. 2:54 AMCactus Line Drawing

2. Next up is adding a bud vase on the shelf with a little greenery (it’s a little detail that’s instantly inviting).

Emily Henderson Design Agony Entryway Bud Vases

1. Bud Vase | 2. Clear Glass Mini Vase | 3. Small Ceramic Vase

3. Mix in a couple of pillows on the bench to add warmth and texture.

Emily Henderson Design Agony Entryway 2Photo by Tessa Neustadt for EHD | From: My House Tour From Good Housekeeping

It might seem silly to some to add something like pillows (or a throw) to an area of the home that seems like it could benefit mostly from utility, but hear us out. Some softness goes a long way to making a vignette feel purposeful and not forgotten. Plus, you know…a little lumbar support for when you’re grunting your way through pulling on your boots. Here are a few combos we are very into.

Emily Henderson Design Agony Entryway Pillow Combos

1. Anchal Crescent + Rebecca Atwood Waterfall Stripe | 2. Liana Fringe + Tweed Lumbar | 3. Woven Stripe with Fringe Lumbar + Cable-knit Cushion Cover

4. Spray paint! The last solution we suggest to Sara is to spray paint the woven bins she already has black. Having a contrasting color will create some more dimension. It’s also budget-friendly. (Take a look at the below entry—it’s my house!—where I spray painted the peg rail black to set it visually apart from the “blonder” tones below.)

Jesslivingroom8 1Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp for EHD | From: Makeover Takeover: Jess’ Long Awaited (Small Space) Living Room Reveal

Alright, that’s it for today’s agonies. Hopefully, some of you have found some inner design peace on this fine October Tuesday and are feeling empowered to conquer your problem areas. For the rest of you, don’t worry because this is just the beginning. We will still be covering agonies with Emily on her stories (we’ll be running those every Tuesday, so be sure to check back) and then every now and again, diving into them a bit further here with more product resources.

If you have any design agonies of your own, feel free to DM Em on Instagram (be sure to write DESIGN AGONY in the prompt so it stands out) and check out the Design Agony highlight on her profile to see what we’ve covered already. For an issue you’re having that might be a deeper dive, be sure to email us at designagony@emilyhendersondesign.com.

Love you, mean it.

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