Emily Henderson on ‘Five Things I’d Save In A Fire’

Last fall when I released my book Sage Living, I was honored to be featured on one of my favorite design blogs, Style by Emily Henderson. Emily asked me to share the five things I’d save in a fire, an interview topic typical of her delightfully playful and deeply personal approach to blogging (and t0 life)! Now I’m thrilled to bring you Emily’s answers to the same prompt. Just like Emily herself, her responses will tickle your funny bone, touch your heart, and of course turn your eye more critically to your surroundings. If you haven’t picked up your copy of Emily’s book Styled: Secrets for Arranging Rooms, from Tabletops to Bookshelves, you’ll definitely want to add it to your library as soon as you finish reading this post. Take it away, Emily!

emily henderson style tips
For someone who has such an intimate relationship with ‘things’, I can be strangely cold about parting with them. I shop, collect, style, love, hug, and then after a while (and after a couple shoots) I’m typically ready for something new—so I sell either to a client or now on The Flea. But that said, there are many things I simply can’t or won’t get rid of.

I have a rule that when you are a collector (ie. if you’re someone who has too much stuff), everything you own should be either (a.) beautiful (b.) functional or (c.) sentimental. If a piece can be all three of those things then that’s a magical piece that you should keep forever.

So here are my top things that I would save from a fire! These are items that I don’t think I will EVER part with, mostly for sentimental reasons—which is truly the best reason to keep anything.

style by emily henderson

1. That floral pillow. I found that scrap of fabric at a thrift store 9 years ago and sewed the pillow out of it. It has been with me through 5 different homes and countless different styles. I’ve always had a thing for florals (because flowers are pretty much the prettiest things on the planet), but this floral fabric is special. Maybe its the colorway, maybe its the scale. I don’t know, but I love it. Sidenote: I love it WAY more when its styled like the photo on the left, not the photo on the right.

shelf styling by emily henderson

2. Vintage Irish Setter Portrait. I bought this guy at the flea market for $20 five years ago and had it framed. It’s special. I’ve had so many readers ask where I got this painting, or if they could buy it from me if I ever choose to sell it. Yet it’s something that I just can’t part with, that I’ve continued to hoard through every move. It’s vintage, it’s blue, it’s quirky, and it makes me happy.

emily henderson's retro leather chairs

3. Vintage Leather Safari Chairs. I picked these puppies up from a vintage mid century store in Salt Lake City years ago when I’d just started the blog. They were $900 for the pair and it was the most I’d ever spent on any single piece of furniture in my life. Granted $900 is a steal for the pair of these nowadays, but back then it felt like I was dishing out so much for these chairs. I’ve used other chairs in my living room, but for some reason I always come back to these.

midcentury console styling by emily henderson

4. Blimp Drawing (header image). It’s large—no in fact it’s huge—but even as my leg hairs burned off in the fire I would be trying to rip this piece off the wall to bring it with me to safety. I’d eyed it for months at a flea market when I was living in NYC and although it was not much in price, it was my first “real” piece of art and it felt like a big purchase for a young girl at the time. I wasn’t sure what I would do with it but it always attracted me. Flash forward 10 years later and I finally made the decision to frame it. It’s now prominently displayed in my living room.

5. Ceramic Collection (above image). My ceramic collection continues to grow more and more each year and I couldn’t be happier about it. I have no particular theme or specific pieces that I look for, I just buy whatever appeals to me and I think that’s why I love the collection so much. I have been able to part with a few that you may have seen go up on The Flea from time to time, but the majority of my collection I’ve had for years and it all holds a very special place in my heart. Fire or no fire, these guys will be with me for the long haul.

styled book by emily henderson

6. Bonus Sixth Item, My Book! Writing my book Styled: Secrets for Arranging Rooms, from Tabletops to Bookshelves, was a labor of love. It was almost like a third child for me. Now don’t get me wrong I would grab my children far before any other loot in my house ESPECIALLY my book, but so much time, energy, creativity, and work went into this little collection of pages that it will definitely be one of my biggest accomplishments thus far in my life. Besides, when everything else burns down around me at least I will have the pretty objects on the page to reminisce about all those pretty things that now sit in the rubble.

Thank you Emily! It’s so fun to learn the stories behind the pieces we’ve seen floating about in her work for years! What we hold near to our hearts speaks volumes about who we are and what we value, doesn’t it? Knowing that Emily has an enduring penchant for the quirky and the storied only endears her more to me. It’s such a pleasure to call her a colleague and a friend!

1.-3. David Tsay 4. Mike Carriero 5. Zeke Ruelas 6. Tessa Neudstadt 7. Zeke Ruelas 8. Mike Carriero 9. Tessa Neustadt 10. Mike Carriero 11. Jenna Kutcher