Emily Henson for Primark sketches
Behind The Scenes, Interiors

From Sketch To Shoot

I’m no Picasso (or Matisse or Rembrandt or even Thomas Kinkade, Painter of Light, millionaire mass marketing painter of idyllic settings, with shops in every mall in America…) but I do have to sketch out ideas sometimes to help a client visualise what’s in my head for a shoot. I was always artistic in school, focusing on right brain studies like art, pottery and languages as soon as I had a choice. But I was never a fine artist, unlike my brother Duncan who went to art school in New York and seems to be able to dabble in all media, but can still draw a beautifully realistic body if he has to.

My drawings are more child-like, cartoony almost, but they get the point across. I’m determined to improve my skills over the next few months as there are things I want to create, and ways I want to grow my business, that will rely on me expressing myself through drawing and design. It’s a challenge, but one I’m hoping I can rise to.

In the meantime however, the cartoonish sketches do the job. Here are a few I did for one of my clients, Primark, when planning for a homewares shoot earlier this year. After receiving their brief, I went on the hunt for a suitable location. Once confirmed, I planned each shot, deciding where in the location house it would take place, what furniture I would hire, and what product would be represented in each shot. Then I did some little doodles to present to the client, so we could all be on the same page.

Sometimes things change on the day – maybe the spot I chose to shoot doesn’t work light-wise or the photographer has a better suggestion – it’s really important to be flexible and roll with it. It is a collaboration after all, and the end goal is to make the client happy by creating the best imagery possible to sell their products. This particular shoot went pretty much according to my plan, although the location was tight and quite dark and presented various challenges. We made it work and got there in the end.

I hope you have a great weekend filled with rest, relaxation, and maybe a little sketching?

Doodles and styling by me, photography by Adrian Briscoe, floral garland by Yolanda Chiaramello, product by Primark.

Emily Henson for Primark

Emily Henson for Primark Emily Henson sketch for Primark homeware

Emily Henson sketch for Primark homeware


Life Unstyled in Emily Henson's prop kit

Life Unstyled Gets Some Love In The Press

So my book came out. Did you notice? Life Unstyled in all it’s pretty printed glory is out there in bookshops, and judging by all the photos I’m being tagged in on Instagram, also in a lot of people’s homes. If you follow me on any of my social media channels, you’ll know because I’ve been talking about it ad nauseum. Trying not to be a bore about it, but then again, I worked my bum off and I’m going to talk about it for a bit! I’ve had my advance copy for a while and it’s already made its way into my styling kit, above.

The past couple of weeks have been exciting, with Life Unstyled getting lots of great press:  a lovely piece in Stylist magazine; a brilliant three page article in the UK’s Metro newspaper (Life Unstyled Metro);  a nice excerpt in Period Living magazine (Life Unstyled Period Living October 2016-2); a six page spread in Psychologies magazine, to name a few.

There was also a great blog tour, with some of my favourite UK bloggers reviewing the book. Here are links, in case you missed them. Makes for some good weekend reading:

Lobster & Swan//Makelight//Decor Art UK//Heart Home Magazine//My Warehouse Home//Dear Designer

AND…Etsy wrote a great piece on their US blog. I’m really feeling the love!

The most exciting thing about seeing the press for this book is that this isn’t just a book about an interiors trend, like Modern Rustic and Bohemian Modern were. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – I loved writing those books! But Life Unstyled is more about a lifestyle choice and it’s an idea I’ve been chirping on about for years, right here on this blog, starting back in about 2009. So to see in print words I wrote and ideas I came up with, is so exciting! And for people to be responding to it in the way I had hoped – saying it brings them relief to look at the images in the book, rather than making them feel bad about their less than perfect homes – well that is just bloody brilliant! That’s all I wanted. If you’ve already received your copy, tag me in a photo on Instagram – I’d love to know what’s your favourite page.

Next week I’ll share pictures from this week’s book launch and workshop at Anthropologie. It was a huge success and I had such a blast. And I’ll also be offering a giveaway of a signed copy from my personal and very prized stash of Life Unstyled. Tomorrow (yes, a Saturday post) I’m sharing how I turn my sketches into a shoot. xoxoLife Unstyled in Stylist magazine

Life Unstyled in Metro

Life Unstyled in Psychologies


Emily Henson of Life Unstyled prop shopping
Behind The Scenes

The Upside Of Freelance Life

2016 has been a really weird year for me. Full of contradictions. My personal life has been rubbish. Worst year ever, as I mentioned in my last post. Let’s leave it at that. But my work life has been booming. (Except for June when I didn’t have a single shoot and I was thinking about a career change – dentistry perhaps?) Aside from that scary little quiet time, I’ve been so busy with making/writing the new book and styling freelance for old and new clients that I’ve barely had time to think. It’s turned out to be a life-saver in dealing with the difficult personal issues – if I’d had too much time to mull things over, I would have been even more of a mess! (That quiet time in June wasn’t too pretty). Continue Reading

Ikea white bedroom on Life Unstyled

When your personal life affects your interiors life

You could argue that your personal life always affects your interiors, and you’d be right I guess. Your style goes through many stages in your adult life – college dorm rooms, your first flat shared with friends, first flat with a partner, the arrival of babies, then toddlers, then teenagers, mid-life crisis (hey, it’s a valid life stage!), retirement….

Your home has to tick a lot of different boxes during these stages. But what I’m talking about are the occasions when, seemingly out of nowhere, your interiors style does a 180 degree turn. One minute you like one thing, the next you can’t stand it. This is what’s happened to me and I have to say, it’s very weird because I barely recognize myself anymore! I’ve had a lot of change in my personal life this year and things have been quite unsettled (this is me being euphemistic). Now that the dust has settled, what has manifested is a complete change in the way I want my home to look and feel.  Continue Reading

Life Unstyled book cover
Creativity Before Consumption, Interiors

Life Unstyled, the book!

There hasn’t been a whole lot of action here on the blog lately, but I have a good reason, I swear. I’ve been travelling and busily scribbling away for my most exciting project to date: Life Unstyled in it’s rather gorgeous printed book version (if I say so myself).

Following on the success of Modern Rustic and Bohemian Modern, the lovely ladies at my publisher Ryland, Peters & Small (RPS) finally let me loose on my idea for Life Unstyled the book, where I get to totally indulge my unending passion for beautifully imperfect interiors. With the magnificent Debi Treloar behind the camera, I have curated, styled, and written what I hope is a book that inspires you all to love your own homes, with all their lumps, bumps and unfinished jobs, just a little bit more.

Just like this blog, Life Unstyled the book came about as a form of rebellion against the impossibly high standards set in magazines and social media, where very often we’re only shown a moment in time when a room has been styled to look it’s very best. Never mind that just out of frame there is usually chaos and mess – we don’t see that, we just see the spotless and clutter-free shot that often makes us feel bad about our own less than perfect homes.Life Unstyled book chapter page Continue Reading

Life Unstyled Bohemian Modern dining

Mix & Match Dining

Now that I’m thinking about yet another house move (see last post) the wheels have started turning regarding how I’m going to decorate. As I mentioned last time, my taste has changed a bit, calmed down I guess in the last year or so. But that doesn’t mean I like ordinary (FYI I do not like ordinary). I still love an eclectic mix, and no better place to exercise my right to mix and match than in the dining room. Whether you have a separate dining area or, like me, your kitchen does double duty, one of the most freeing realizations is that it doesn’t all have to match.

The brilliant owners of this insanely stylish home in The Netherlands – styled here by me for my second book Bohemian Modern – have got it so right. Start with a good solid table, add a petite love seat and then mix in an odd collection of dining chairs and stools. (If you have room for the love seat idea, don’t forget to check the seat height as a sofa is often lower than a dining chair. You could always plump it up with extra cushions for added height). The trio of glossy copper pendants and the concrete floors give this vintage look a more contemporary edge.
Life Unstyled Bohemian Modern table

Continue Reading