Bedroom Spaces

We’re back with our Swan Lake House! If you’re new to the project, you should know we had a really cool client with specific taste that pushed us to work in a direction we’ve never done before. Last time we shared the entry great room, dining and kitchen, and today we move to the bonus rooms and bedrooms!

Get caught up with the sneak peek, first photo tour , first webisode and yesterday’s webisode.


Behind that massive stone fireplace, there’s a space that’s created for lounging and playing pool. Although the style throughout the home is very minimal, we made it a little bit more casual in here. We did three tones on the built in and went through several iterations of how the white wood and the black would all layout. It turned out interesting and sleek! Coziness is important, so we incorporated a patterned rug. The custom pool table pairs beautifully with the linear light that hangs right above it. 






The long stretch of wall has a great seating area that was built around the TV and artwork we wanted to include. We played with the layout and opened it up like a window seat without a window! Custom cushions make it like a sofa, so it’s super inviting for hanging out while people play pool!






Once you walk through the bonus rooms, you see a kitchenette area for the gym. The gym equipment wasn’t installed yet, but you can see that every detail of this space was stylish, down to the boxed water. 



There are incredible views in the powder bath. We used a dark, stacked tile with a reactive glaze that gives it really nice texture. We played with the scale in proportion with this floating vanity. There’s a wood base that’s topped with a massive marble top, and a vessel sink to complete it. Attention to detail makes all the difference, especially with a paired down color palette. 



We carried the stacked tile into the laundry room, with a fresher and more white palette. The cabinet tone is carried in from the kitchen.



The all black mudroom turned out to be all we wanted and more. Vertical paneling and wood hooks nod to the lake house feel, and the drawer details were something we carried into the master bedroom! 



This project really opened us up to modern details that we haven’t gotten to play with before! We’ve never done a built-in headboard like this and we’re so excited about it. A custom walnut piece wraps the back, with attached floating nightstands in the same finish. To keep things cozy, we created a custom upholstered headboard. Great sconces reach over the nightstand in a grand way.



We still had a ton of space at the foot of the bed so we were able to include a deeper bench and a Moroccan-inspired textured rug. Black steel bars tie in with the light fixture and fireplace. Artwork was something we had to go back and forth between! We came across this night time beach photo that had the same color palette incorporated with a water aesthetic. The scale was massive, fitting above the bed perfectly.








We had room for a lounge chair, floor lamp and side table! It balances out the open space, and creates this great moment near the fireplace. 


At one point our client said that he wanted to incorporate this black surfboard somewhere. This corner was the perfect spot to tie in with all the black! It creates the coolest feeling in the space. 



We didn’t get video of the master bathroom, so if you already saw the webisode this space is new! The stacked tile continues into this space, and we topped them with a visually interesting bistro sconce that draws the eyes up. The raised sink makes a really cool statement, but the space feels really clean.







We had another master bedroom! We actually weren’t able to complete this master space in time to get it filmed, but luckily we were able to film the bathroom. And how could we skip it? 



We love the way this space feels, because the windows are huge and you feel like you’re in the trees! That light just comes in and bounces off all of the soft tones that we have, with light wood mixtures. As you walk into the bathroom, the corner tub is exactly where your eye goes. It has this really great sleek shape! 




We had this blank wall over to the left, and we didn’t really know what to do with it. Artwork didn’t feel right, so we did vertical paneling in the same tone as the cabinetry, and I think it adds a little bit of warmth and detail. But of course, it’s still sleek! There’s a long stretch of cabinetry, so we were able to create a linen closet with a sit-down makeup vanity in the middle. 


watch the webisode

Kitchen is Ready for Her Reveal!

Photography by Zeke Ruelas

Dear Diary,

Remember that one time like ten million years ago when I told you I was renovating my parents’ kitchen? RAISE YOUR HAND IF IT’S BEEN SO LONG THAT YOU FORGET ABOUT IT. ALSO RAISE YOUR HAND IF YOU’RE LIKE “DUH I REMEMBER BUT WHY IS HE HIDING THIS KITCHEN FROM US???” Well, a few reasons. The project began almost two years ago during the holidays when I started showing my parents renderings I’d made of what their kitchen could look like if we expanded it onto a deck previously occupied by an awkward deck. They were like “COOL STORY ORLANDO” until Bertazzoni busted through the wall like the Kool-Aid man screaming “HERE HAVE SOME FREE TOTALLY GLAMOROUS LUXURIOUS ITALIAN APPLIANCES!” It was the greatest, most heartwarming moment in all our lives and my parents were like “OKAY FINE LET’S DO IT WHAT COULD IT COST, $10?”

Keep in mind, this was December 2016 and we basically thought the world was ending (side note: it did) so my parents were probably just like “SCREW IT WE’LL ALL BE DEAD SOON ANYWAY.” We set about finding a contractor in early 2017 and had one selected by March. We were pretty much ready to go but construction didn’t end up starting until August 2017, lasting until May 2018. So yeah, this project was LONG. But it’s funny how something can be stressful and take so long and then just months after it’s completed you totally forget about how ridiculous the process was. Today, on this blog, I will be chatting about all the appliances, furnishings, fixtures and finishes I chose for this project. Over on my wife Emily’s blog, I will be spreading even more juicy gossip, chatting about things I would have done differently if this were my kitchen.

Sources: Refrigerator, Dishwasher, Range, Hood, Backsplash (Color: Crater Lake), Countertop, Globe Pendant, Brass Pendants, Roman Shade (Color: Romaria Aquatint), Concrete Floor Tile, Stools, Faucets (Finish: Brushed Nickel), Large Sink, Small SinkVase, Island Color, Wall Color, Cabinet/Trim ColorTea Kettle

Now, before we really get into things, just a little, slightly traumatizing refresher on what this room used to look like:

The previous kitchen wasn’t HORRIBLE. It was fine. But for a house this size, it felt oddly out of scale. My parents’ house, nestled in the hills outside the city of Santa Rosa in idyllic Sonoma County, California, has four bedrooms and three bathrooms. It’s built for a family and my parents use it to host a lot of family events. So the kitchen just wasn’t functional for the way they wanted to use it.

Since you’ve all been so patient, I wanna chat a bit about why this project took so long. It’s hard to fully talk about it because much of it had to do with nuances with the contractor and I don’t want to say anything negative about him because that seems unfair given my platform. Aside from everything relating to labor, the project itself was a lot more complicated than it looks. PLEASE ENJOY THIS DRAWING SHOWING EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED CONSTRUCTION WISE:

You look at that layout and think “OH YEAH JUST EXPAND ONTO THE DECK! EASY!” But in actuality there’s a ton of engineering and permitting that needs to happen when you expand a home, especially if you’re expanding over an open space (if you want to see what the exterior of the house looks like check out my post on the deck I designed as part of this project). So number one reason for how long this project took was probably the engineering/architecting/permitting. The other reasons are boring and convoluted and so I wont waste your time with them. Just know that none of it was my fault and it was all everyone else’s fault, K?

My parents bought their house at the base of the market and got an insane deal on it. It had been foreclosed, purchased for literally nothing, and flipped. The design decisions made by the flipper weren’t horrible, they were just super dated and cheap and gross. So okay yes they were hittable. The house was filled with anything you could get a great deal on at a big box hardware chain. The worst thing about the kitchen was the size. The second worse thing were the gross ARE-THEY-FILTHY-OR-NOT? countertops. The beautiful white Cambria countertops we replaced them with were a breath of fresh air (you can actually tell that they’re clean now!).

The very first decision made about the kitchen was the range. I took a wonderful tour of the Bertazzoni factory in Italy before this whole thing started and I loved this appliance the second I saw it. I love that ranges that have a bit more of an ornate, intricate look are having a moment right now. They give the room such a beautiful focal point.

Ormomdo has slowly collected blue Le Creuset dutch ovens over the years. Honestly my dream in life is to live in a world where all my food is cooked in blue Le Creuset. I would just drink wine straight out of a 3 quart dutch oven and just laugh about France and the meaninglessness of existence. It would be beautiful. I think they are such gorgeous, functional pieces. And also they are extremely helpful for styling photo shoots because they help bring in some pretty, vibrant color when you just need a little pop. The double oven feature of the 48″ Heritage range we chose has already come in so handy for holidays. Just another place to bake bread or warm up dishes.

Ormomdo and Orlandad. Ready to party.

One of the design decisions that probably doesn’t make the room any more photogenic but looks great in real life is the pitched roof in the kitchen area. This was not something we originally intended on doing. But halfway through construction we found out we were able to raise the roof, so we went for it. Ideally, we would have been able to have the ceiling be the same in the whole room. But unfortunately there’s an attic above the family room filled with my childhood toys, so my parents didn’t want to do that. Also it would have added a ton of cost to a project that was already ballooning (from an original bid of $76,000 to $150,000). In photos, it looks kinda weird that the ceiling gets higher in the kitchen. But in person it’s really lovely, creates a much airier and open space. I predict that whoever buys this house will be like WHY IS THE CEILING DIFFERENT IN THE KITCHEN THAN IN THE FAMILY ROOM? And they’ll remodel it to all be the same. But this configuration works for my parents so I’m happy with it.

During the course of this remodel, I made it kind of a mission to learn as much about the products and finishes I was putting into my parents’ house as possible. I went to Bertazzoni’s Italian factory to learn about their incredible 150 year-old family business, I went to Cambria’s factory in Minneapolis, I learned everything there is to know about window treatments at The Shade Store (side note: how gorgeous are these pretty patterned romans?), I went to Humboldt Redwood Company to learn where the lumber was coming from, and I went to Fireclay Tile on the Central Coast to learn about the intricate, handmade tiles I’ve loved since I used them at Orcondo. I was kind of shocked at how these tiles are made. They’re basically hand cut and hand-glazed, using extractors and other tools I’ve only ever seen at my friend Ben Medansky’s ceramics studio. It’s a magical factory and the people who work there are artists. Just beautiful to see.

The beautiful hexite shaped Fireclay tiles (color is Crater Lake) were a nod to Ormomdo’s love of blue. There are blue accents all over the house. I worried a bit that these would make the kitchen look like a swimming pool, but the color has just enough warmth that it keeps it out of that territory.

Orlando, Orlandad, Camilo, and Orlandisa (my sister, Elisa).

The door to the new deck was a great way of letting more light into this space. We selected the simplest, most open option available. We replaced the door hardware throughout the house with these simple black levers and they look a thousand times better than the twangy, twisty ones that were there before.

A lot of people are doing wood floors in kitchens these days. And I have to say that I’m totally on board with that trend and I love it. That was actually our first choice for this room and Orlandad was really pushing for it. However, because my parents just replaced their flooring in their whole house with solid wood and there is no natural stop, we would have had to refinish the large third level of the home (this house is oddly vertical btw, built onto a hill with three separate levels). But the constraints on using wood actually allowed us to bring in another beautiful material. We used a beautiful warm concrete tile from Rustico. I’m a big fan of faint grey, so I love how light it is and how it reflects light and keeps the room bright.

You can read about faucet drama in the post over on Emily’s site, but I’m pleased with how these gorgeous Kallista fixtures look in place.

Literally the first thing I do every single time I come home.

I figured the new kitchen needed new dishes to go with it, so I selected these very cute striped ones from Kate Spade.

Sources: Large Pulls, Bar Pulls, Cabinet Knobs.

Sometimes the smallest details are the ones you notice most. The hardware all came from Schoolhouse and I love it. The large scale pulls on the cabinets flanking the fridge are my favorite, but I also love the T-pulls on the cabinet doors. I chose black because I wanted a few little accents to bring in the wonderful matte black finish from the range.

Source: Wine Fridge (Similar to shown)Door  HardwareLight Filtering Roller Shade

The color of the island was challenging to capture in a photo. It’s not green, but it’s also not true blue. It’s the perfect color of peacock blue (the color is Benjamin Moore “Olympus Green”). Zeke and I had the hardest time color balancing these photos because in some images the island looked like navy blue and in others it looked like hunter green. LET THIS BE A LESSON TO ALL OF US that color really depends on space and what colors are bouncing into the room. So while I totally recommend this color, don’t go painting it on anything until you’ve tested it in the space. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if it looked purple in your house IT’S THAT MUCH OF A CHAMELEON COLOR.

In other news, I realize painting the island peacock blue is not rocket science or a new invention. Basically everyone and their dog has done it by now. After I had selected all the colors for the kitchen, I noticed a lot of my blogger friends had chosen nearly identical color schemes for their kitchens. I don’t think it’s because we’re copying each other necessarily (though I see no shame in staling ideas from my talented friends), it just kinda happens and I don’t know why. I remember panicking a little when I saw my friend Will’s freshly-redone kitchen and thinking “HOW DID WE DESIGN BASICALLY THE SAME KITCHEN WITHOUT TALKING TO EACH OTHER?” I’ve chatted with Emily about this too. Like sometimes we accidentally do the same stuff and don’t know why. It’s a good reminder to try and be inventive, but also I don’t think you should be so obsessed with trying to be different that you end up creating hideous designs just to be sure you’re unique and special.

The home’s location, nestled between the Dry Creek and Sonoma Valley wine regions, made a wine fridge a necessity. My parents previously kept their wine at the bottom of a coat closet, so this was a major upgrade. Honestly, it required a lot of arm twisting to get them to let me put this in. They were like HOW RIDICULOUS WE DON’T NEED THIS and I was like HERE IS A FREE WINE FRIDGE OKAY BYE [speeds off in red convertible with Geena Davis].

There’s a light tube right above the refrigerator that lights the appliance like an angel on a daily basis. The previous kitchen had a terrifying light hole that made you feel like the world was ending every time you looked into it, so we covered it up and replaced it with a light tube. Honestly, every house should have light tubes all over. It’s energy efficient and provides such beautiful natural lighting.

How excited would you be if the inside of your refrigerator looked like this all the time? I seriously just want to buy only watermelons and green food just so every time I open the refrigerator I feel like everything is under control. In other news the other corner of the kitchen was a disgusting mess while we shot the inside of the fridge because Ormomdo has like 40,000 condiments and tons of food that is NOT camera ready. Just FYI so you don’t feel like your ugly gross refrigerator interior makes you a terrible person. You’re probably a terrible person for other reasons so calm down.

Source: Tea TowelSeaglass Tumblers, Cutting Boards (Similar)

So there you have it! My parents’ dream kitchen makeover! After it was all finished my parents were basically like NEVER AGAIN but I already have a million other projects in mind for their house. Like bathrooms, windows, doors, etc. Honestly I need my own house so I can start renovating it because as annoying as renovations are, they’re so satisfying to finish. A huge thanks to all the wonderful sponsors who helped make this kitchen happen. My parents and I LOVE LOVE LOVE everything that went into the kitchen and fully recommend them.

Anyway, does someone want to give me like five million dollars so I can buy a house and do this to my own kitchen? Okay bye.



PS: Don’t forget to head over to Emily’s blog to read juicy gossip about all the things I fought with Ormomdo and Orlandad during this harrowing renova

L.A. Story: A Budget Kitchen Makeover, DIY Countertop Hack Included

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  • Photography by Sara Tramp, courtesy of Emily Henderson Design.

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  • She had renovated the kitchen in her 363-square-foot flat. One of her layout inspirations? The kitchen of Sarah Lonsdale, among Remodelista’s founding crew members. She wondered, would we like to see with her space.
    Visit for more spaces designed by Emily Henderson along with her partners:
    Take a peek at the things they were able to do together–to a budget. Then head over to Emily Henderson’s site to find out all the particulars of the makeover.

    One look at the before/after images, and it was clear that we needed to write about it. From the posh breakfast nook to the plywood counter tops, that covers the countertop beneath Jessica’s kitchen rehabilitation is clever and considered.

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  • And cost-conscious, too: The entire DIY project cost approximately $2,000 ($1,000 for its built-in jobs and $1,000 for its decor), because of some handy and willing father. “My father built, I then installed and sealed. I am quite aware that this kitchen would have hit my wallet considerably harder had I not had my dad do all the craftsman function,” says Jessica.
    Head over to Emily Henderson’s blog today to see all about Jessica’s kitchen makeover. For kitchen rehabs, visit:

    Above:”When I first walked into the kitchen, the priority was to rectify the countertop,” says Jessica. “It was miserable, outdated, and bringing me down.” Her solution: Inspired by Sarah’s clever idea to pay unsightly counters Jessica, with plywood along with a huge help from her daddy, did exactly the same with her countertop. She secured it.
     Jessica didn’t have to do much to the kitchen cabinets. “I just replaced the hardware on the lower cabinetry, but the uppers came that way! When I looked at the place for the first time, my heart stopped when I saw all the open shelving. In my head I thought it was the perfect excuse to buy only beautiful kitchenwares since they would be on display all day, every day,” she says.

    Above: Jessica did not have to do much to the kitchen cabinets. “I simply replaced the hardware on the lower cabinetry, however, the uppers came this way! My heart stopped when I found of the shelving, when I looked in the location for the first moment. In my mind I believed it was an ideal excuse to buy only beautiful kitchenwares because they would be on display daily, daily,” she says.
    Jessica chose Farrow & Ball’s Pointing for the walls—”the most perfect warm white.” She’s not sure what’s on the cabinets, as they were painted before she moved in. Jessica considered making over the linoleum floor with sticker tiles, but its unevenness would have made that difficult. Instead, she made do by covering much of the floor with a vintage Turkish rug. The mirror has been in her family for four generations. The landscape was a $20 flea market score. (See The New Art Gallery: 12 Favorite Kitchens with Paintings on Display.)

    Above: Jessica chose Farrow & Ball’s Pointing to your walls”the best warm white.” She’s not certain what’s about the cabinets, since they were painted before she transferred in. Its unevenness could have made that hard, although jessica considered making the linoleum flooring over with decal tiles. Instead, she chose by covering a lot of the floor with a classic Turkish carpet, do. The mirror has been in her family for several generations. The landscape was a $20 flea market rating. (See The New Art Gallery: 12 Favorite Kitchens with Paintings on Display.)
    “After clearly looking at too many beautiful modern Parisian hotels and homes, I designed this guy,” says Jessica of her breakfast nook. “I wanted to utilize and maximize the space with a renter-friendly (minimal holes in walls) built-in instead of going for a table and chairs. This way, four people can eat at once here instead of two or maybe three.”

    Above:”After obviously looking at a lot of amazing modern Parisian hotels and houses, I designed this man,” says Jessica of the breakfast nook. “I wanted to utilize and maximize the space with a renter-friendly (minimum holes in walls) built-in instead of going to get a table and chairs. In this manner, four people may eat once here instead of two or maybe three.”
    At a cost of about $750, the nook was Jessica’s biggest splurge (the Smeg was gifted). “I purchased 10 red oak stair treads—that’s where the bullnose edges came into play—that I then graciously passed over to my dad, along with my design plan. The brass bars are curtain rods and the back cushions I made with fabric, foam, wood, and a staple gun,” shares Jessica.

    Above: In a price of about $750, the nook was Jessica’s biggest splurge (the Smeg was talented ). “I purchased 10 red oak stair treads–that is where the bullnose edges came to play–which I then graciously passed to my father, along with my layout program. The metal bars are curtain sticks and the rear cushions I created using foam, fabric, wood, and a staple gun,” stocks Jessica. Jessica’s dad also constructed this beautiful bench, that wraps around to the entry hall, from alder timber sourced from Austin Hardwoods and Hardware in Santa Ana. (you may see her living room makeover here.)


    A peek at the original kitchen.

    Above: A peek at the original kitchen.

    Modern Home With A Hint Of Mondrian Flair

    Primary colours and strong black lines, reminiscent of De Stijl/Mondrian style, shape this modern home interior. The bold scheme fills the living room of a 88.1 square metre apartment in Minsk, Belarus, visualised by Zrobym Architects. The master bedroom decor shows the same strong black linework, but in this space colour has been drained out to leave a monochrome aesthetic. The bathroom and shower room are visions of black and white too, but we see a return of some colour when we find the kids’ bedroom. In here, navy, yellow and a blush toned pink accentuate a predominantly white scheme for a fresh and playful look.

    Blue, yellow and red tones colour the black and white backdrop in the modern living room, which gives it the De Stijl/Mondrian flavour. A monochrome rug stripes the floor beneath ultra modern accent chairs. A semi-circular upholstered window seat provides alternative seating.

    The chair upholstery is of a tone toward the lighter end of the red spectrum, which is complemented by a pink tube light in the home entryway. The pink light transfers colour onto glossy white wall and floor tiles.

    Black trunking holds electrical wiring in a cubist layout on the ceiling, tracing the journey to a cross shaped pendant. A bar light is suspended from the electric track, over the peninsula of an inconspicuous kitchen.

    The square black legs of the modern coffee table match the ceiling design.

    A round flush fitting ceiling light is installed beside the first pendant, creating an ‘x o’ formation; like noughts & crosses, or a text representation of a kiss & hug.

    Minimalist choices shape the room. A simplistic media unit underlines a wall hung tv against a plain white wall. A basic black floor lamp with no shade provides task lighting by a chair.

    The home entryway has a tall mirror by the door, which reflects the pink glow of the tube light, and plays with the illusion of space. Black wall hooks have been mounted to accept coats. A soft upholstered stool provides a comfy spot on which to sit and deal with shoes.

    Three blue box stools sit at the kitchen peninsula behind the lounge area. White cabinets conceal the kitchen appliances. A yellow storage volume stands out at one side.

    Curtains pull closed across a closet in the hallway, which has chests of drawers installed in the base to accompany the usual hanging rails.

    Solid white closet doors with black bar handles occupy one side of the connecting hallway, whilst obscure glass doors and panels run the length of the opposite side.

    One of those glass doors leads into the master bedroom. All of the colour has been drained from the modern decor in this space; black, white a grey provide crisp contrast.

    The minimalist bedroom is set over a split level floor, with the higher floor utilised as a vanity area and ensuite bathroom. A bespoke bed bridges the two levels, with the base of the headboard cut short to accommodate the change in floor height.

    The raised vanity area consists of a makeup table under the window, and an adjacent wash basin.

    The ensuite bathroom runs directly off the vanity area, though a privacy curtain can be drawn across to create a more solid divide. Mirrored tiles cover the splash zone around the bathtub, and add a shiny decadent touch. The reflection in the tiles doubles up the effect of a modern chandelier.

    A monochrome geometric floor runner adds bold panache to the vanity area.

    A large vanity mirror equips the basin, and shines light from around its circular edge. Natural light and nature views come into the bedroom via a tall window. A balcony awaits beyond the glass, which runs on as the living room balcony too.

    Moving on to the kids’ bedroom, we find a playful decor scheme. Kids’ beds are coloured with flashes of primary yellow inside white built-in bunks.

    Double workspaces occupy the window area of the kids’ room, with bookshelves built into each side. The playful kids chair seen here is the Magis puppy.

    More bookshelves are built into a recess by a glass door. This library area has been painted completely grey over the walls, shelves and ceiling to define it as a separate zone. On the other side of the grey zone there is a set of climbing bars that continue across the ceiling – so the kids can climb up, swing across and grab a book!

    A blush colour sofa bed is teamed with a coral side table and a white wall sconce to make a small lounge area in the kids’ room.

    The wardrobe is a copy of the hallway closet, with chests of drawers in the base and a curtain ‘door’.

    A round rug softens the look and feel of a hard glossy white floor.

    The shower room sees a return of thick black linework around the shower screen, and in black fittings.

    Another cross shaped light fixture appears in the white bathroom.

    The backsplash behind the basin is a frosted white design, which features a clear mirrored area with a diffused edge.

    In the shower, a black linear toiletries holder conceals a towel hook underneath.

    Home plan revealing the curved outline of the home and balcony areas.

    Furnished floor plan.

    Recommended Reading: Mondrian inspired interior design

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    Our Dining Room Dilemma

    Emily Henderson Mountain House Dining Room OpenerEmily Henderson Mountain House Dining Room Opener

    This is one of those posts that as I was writing it, ended up changing my mind about the ENTIRE room. But instead of deleting out all the “debates” at the beginning, I left in the thought process that brought me to a big TWIST at the end, so keep reading.

    **But before I get into talking about our mountain house, I want to recognize a fellow family blogger’s fire tragedy. Chris Loves Julia were also documenting their mountain cabin renovation of which we have loved following along. Last week, it tragically burned down and well, it shook our office and our family, with almost everyone tearing up so I can’t IMAGINE how they feel. I didn’t want to continue going along, documenting our mountain project, without just recognizing their tragedy and knowing that it might be hard for them to read along. Not sure what else to say except we, like them, are so grateful that no one was inside. They are a great family to support, creating wonderful content and putting good things out into the world so if you don’t follow them, now’s a good time to start. We are so just so, so, so sorry.

    It’s another “where we are and where we might go” post on the mountain house, this time in the room that ALWAYS CHALLENGES ME the most: the dining room. Why? Keep reading, but first let’s remind us all what she looked like before.

    Emily Henderson Mountain House Dining Room Before

    Besides this strange peninsula in the middle, it was kinda the same shape. We put in new GORGEOUS windows from Marvin (more on that later) and changed out the flooring (from Ross Alan Reclaimed Lumbar—the nicest family with the prettiest wood, so if you live in LA, please go check them out and say hi from us).

    What you can’t see is that the walls all had a thick layer of orange peel spray and the corners of the entire house were rounded—like every window, every doorway, everywhere. Do you want to know the most annoying way to blow your budget? Smooth coating walls. More on that later (and we didn’t do that here, actually, they are a slight plaster).

    Emily Henderson Mountain House Dining Room With Opening

    It’s a pretty room with GREAT light, but it’s not there yet. A lot of the elements could change.


    Dining Room Options

    First, once again I have a scale issue and I’ve finally learned my lesson. I, Emily Henderson, like smaller lighting fixtures over dining tables. Sometimes it takes three times, making the same mistake to really get it (Glendale house, Los Feliz dining room and now here). It’s like how I keep buying high waisted wide leg sailor pants and yet I always opt to actually wear a skinny jean. Always. So the other day I told my best friend as I was purging my closet, “I’m making a promise to myself and you that I will NEVER EVER EVER buy another pair of this style.” And then three effing days later, I bought low waisted wide legs as if that’s going to be any better!!!

    Anyway. There is a reason for the larger fixtures. Originally we were going to punch through the ceiling and show the joists to match the kitchen, but once we decided on the plumbing in the directly-above master bathroom, we couldn’t. So the ceilings were supposed to be a foot higher. I also wanted glass as to not abstruct the view. They don’t look too overscale in the photos but when you are sitting at the table, they feel big above you. They are seriously beautiful, with black and brass detailing and they give great ambient light. It’s not ideal, as they were custom (from The Urban Electric Company) but I’m hoping my friend’s new 100-year-old huge Tudor will be a good fit for them.

    Meanwhile, I’m still trying to figure out what should go there, and I may not know for a while until I for sure decide for or against a banquette going all the way around the windows. I’m leaning towards what we like to call a “micro pendant/sconce” like this:

    Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Trend Tiny Bubble Sconce 9 2500x3625

    image source | design by studio joanna laajisto

    Next, the ever-controversial pony wall:

    Dining Room 2

    A few facts about the pony wall: 1. Yes, the column is load-bearing and as we tried to move it, our engineer said the most we could move it is 12 inches to the right because our huge bathtub sits above it. At one point, we were going to get rid of the “pony” part of it and clad the column in wood, but then we thought that MAYBE we’ll still do a huge dining banquet in which case we’d want that wall. So it was one of those things that we thought to keep for now, deal with later.

    But as the coats and boots are being strewn about (it’s right by the backdoor which is how we walk to the woods/lake), I was like ugh, maybe I should make this awkward wall more functional. Many of you shared my same woes on our family room update post, and we even polled it on Instagram Stories last week and it was 53 to 47 to close it up. We are so used to it being open and even though there is still a big opening directly next to it, it’s hard to close things up.

    Dining Room 1

    So I did what any professional stylist would do: I hung up a piece of fabric to see how it felt.

    Dining Room 3

    The idea would be that we would dry wall the dining room side of it and turn the family room side into a very shallow wall of hooks for coats. MAYBE a low shelf for boots. Kind of like a mini mudroom, similar to:

    Mudroomstorage Studiomcgee
    image source | design by studio mcgee

    The pros of closing up the wall are as follows:

    1. It will be cleaner, architecturally. It makes the dining room feel more enclosed and we can put pretty art on there.
    2. We get some hooks for coats, therefore adding function.

    The cons of closing up the wall are as follow:

    1. We like how open it is!
    2. I really don’t want to look at a pile of coats on the wall. Not having the storage means we are forced to hang them in the hall closet, of which I do three times a day.
    3. We would spend more money. We are SO done spending money on this house. I really should pursue a marriage with a handyman or a general contractor. I wonder if Brian would be open to that if he knew how much money our family would save?
    4. We might have to move the electrical unless we don’t take the niche down to the floor, which is annoying and yes involves dealing with an electrician and saving money and we MIGHT need it for code.

    A lot of you want us to do floating shelves there which we had considered, but then I have to put something on them and I don’t want to create a space that I have to style. We already have a bar, so it would just be something that would just create visual clutter.

    So where are we right now on the pony decision?

    Last weekend, as we sat at that table with friends, fabric over the opening, everyone agreed that they missed the openness. Brian was pretty adamant about not closing it up and I was on the fence so I suppose that’s our decision for now.

    I do think its a missed opportunity for function, and there is something a little dated about it but I will say this: There is STILL a chance that I will put in a big built-in banquette in which case we’ll want that wall.

    Let’s talk about the real problem here…


    Chairs Grid

    Right now, we have this IKEA table (I know, it’s pretty darn good) chosen because the day before we were moving all of our stuff up there, we realized that we didn’t have a table and IKEA stocked this one. Turns out we actually really do like it. We brought all our extra dining chairs up there to play around (and sit on), so naturally, I took photos so you could see the difference between wood and black.

    What do I really want? A GORGEOUS live-edge table and beautiful yet comfortable chairs.

    Appleton Oct18 2404
    image source | design by lora appleton

    BUT DO YOU KNOW WHAT DOESN’T ACTUALLY EXIST? REALLY beautiful + unique + REALLY comfortable + sculptural + kid-friendly chairs. It’s not that I haven’t looked, it’s that by nature of being a chair, it can’t actually be all of those things. It’s like trying to find really low-calorie/low fat + really delicious food. It’s just not how life works and you have to compromise somewhere.

    I know this because our dining chairs at our Los Feliz house were in fact VERY comfortable but they were kinda boring. My next door neighbor/good friend has them now because I found my dream set of Cherner chairs at the flea market which are a 7 on the comfort scale, but every time I’m hanging out around her dining table, my bum being nestled by the padding on all sides, I regret choosing style over comfort.

    So here I will NOT choose style over comfort. It’s a bummer, TRULY. Maybe you are wondering what level of comfort a family could possibly need and I’ll go ahead and say our’s is VERY HIGH.

    What makes a chair comfortable?

    1. Upholstery and cushion on both the seat, back and, ideally, arms. Think a club chair at a bar. That’s what I want. But those are rarely if EVER in the style that we want up here, which is more sculptural and minimal, with mixed finishes (ideally wood and upholstery). But upholstery on the arms is by nature NOT kid-friendly. Even if it’s leather, you still have to wipe up the marinara and jelly hand prints.
    2. Large scale. Especially for guys, we don’t want a dinky, light chair.

    I love these below, but they are everywhere and that back looks VERY straight.

    Valle Dumbo Ad Skj 09
    image source | design by giancarlo valle

    These look more comfortable but I still don’t want to sit for hours and hours (I write at the dining table from 5-7 am most mornings).

    Kungshöjdsgatan 9a
    image source | design by grey deco

    Something like the below could work, they are large scale and have upholstered seat and arms…but perhaps too contemporary for us.

    Catherine Kwong San Francisco Home 03
    image source | design by catherine kwong

    Are you ready for this????

    After writing this post for three hours on Saturday, I finally realized what needs to happen that will solve all our problems: the light, the pony wall, the comfort, adding style and interest, the need for kid-friendly…


    Unadjustednonraw Thumb E5761

    We need to go back to the ORIGINAL plan which was to do a big built-in banquette on the three sides where the windows are and the pony wall. That’s what I ALWAYS wanted because EVERYONE loves sitting in a banquette. We’d make it deep and have a ton of pillows, so I can add much needed softness and texture. We’d likely do leather or a vegan leather for the bench.

    Unadjustednonraw Thumb E5661

    We’d obviously need an oval or round table, and then put three chairs on the front side, chairs that the kids can sit in with maybe an upholstered seat but not arms or back, thus checking off two of my boxes: sculptural + kid friendly. I’m not going to be sitting there, my spot is smack dab under a window. And yes I know that it MIGHT be annoying for everyone when the people in the middle have to get out, but it’s worth it. Who opts for a table at a restaurant when there’s a big comfy booth open? People who care nothing about coziness and comfort.

    We had dinner there with friends on Friday night and it just didn’t feel good the old way. But by rotating the whole set up and eating breakfast by the window, it became such a happier, more inviting, more desirable space.  It’s a space you WANT to actually sit for hours.

    Unadjustednonraw Thumb E57f1
    Unadjustednonraw Thumb E56f1

    By doing a built-in along the window, it gives the pony wall some purpose. Our architect felt that there was a lot of wasted space in the middle up there, but we have kids and open space is FINE. It actually feels really, really good.

    Lastly, it solves the light situation because we could simply get rid of the pendant closest to the kitchen and the other one is PERFECT for a rounded table/nook. Even the location of it is perfect.

    I get my comfort, a place for me to sit and write and hang out on upholstered cushions. The kids will get their more kid-friendly chairs that are really pretty (I’ll probably just get cushions made for the Paul McCobb chairs that I have or mix up vintage). We keep the pony wall because we love how open it feels and we don’t have to change out the lights. Then we’ll put some low hooks for the kids’ coats on the other side of the pony wall.

    BOOM. Even Brian was excited about this new plan.

    Thanks for letting me externally process this all with you. I know not everyone will agree with this, but when designing a house, I really try to make EVERY single room as desirable as possible. A room you actually WANT to spend hours in and sometimes you don’t know what that is going to take until you live in a space for a while.

    Thoughts? Feelings? Comments?

    The post Mountain House Mondays: Our Dining Room Dilemma appeared first on Emily Henderson.

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