An old friend is back in town and her name is Agony…Design Agony

1 Advice DesignAgony

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.”

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’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:

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:

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:

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:

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…

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.
Photo 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.

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.

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.
Photo by Geneieve Garruppo | From: A 120 Year Old Barn Makeover With The Frame TV + Shop The Look
These are some great options.

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.
Photo 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…

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

1. Folded Lines + The Chiton | 2. Landscape 151 + Shade | 3. 2:54 AM + Cactus 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).

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.
Photo 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.

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.)
Photo 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

Love you, mean it.

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