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Our First Ever Reader Event At the Mountain House—A Recap

Two Saturdays ago was our first reader event at the mountain house. We invited 30 (+ plus-ones) of our most dedicated readers/followers up to Lake Arrowhead and the EHD team hosted them for the day. It was EXTREMELY fun, fulfilling, rewarding and pretty much made our year. At first, I thought maybe it would be “good marketing” if it was more of an “influencer” or “press” event…what I “should” do, but I really just wanted to be with people who knew me, were dedicated to this process, super engaged in the contest and had commented for YEARS.

The goal of the day was to really thank these readers and treat them to a day in the mountains—both the house and the general cultures. Once I realized that so many people were flying in from Oklahoma, Florida, New York, Arizona, etc, I realized that a 3-hour party wasn’t good enough, so my team went all out to ensure that they had 8 hours of fun to look forward to. Thank you, Caitlin, for jumping in so fast to produce this event (we literally threw this at her on her second day of work).

But it wasn’t without prep, as we all know and it PAINED me that the exterior wasn’t landscaped yet, but my team came up with some really pretty solutions.

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The team spent the few days prior (and the morning of…SO MUCH PREP GUYS) setting up the back yard area where we knew a lot of “hanging” out would happen (particularly during lunch). While, yes, I’m a chair hoarder, there wasn’t enough seating throughout the interior, so we pulled from our prop closet (remember these chairs from the Culligan spa post and that table from a vintage haul post we did last year?).

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We bought a handful of these pretty rad folding lounge chairs from IKEA, cut down some stumps for “side tables,” hung some hammocks, and set out tables and chairs. Honestly, it was kinda perfect.

Cheeseboard Side By Side

Because a party is no fun without things to awkwardly shove into your mouth mid-conversation the whole time, Emily Bowser crafted these RIDICULOUSLY gorgeous cheeseboards. She literally whipped them up on under an hour (prep and all), and we started calling these “Boards by Bowser” because they were so stunning and professional. Please don’t poach her from my styling team.

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We bussed everyone in from town on a LITERAL party bus (yes, there were colored lights and, uh, a stripper pole…because we classy at EHD), and let everyone roam around the house, take pictures, talk to each other (plenty of them had met up the day prior and already knew each other!) and the team, and just generally hang out and really experience the space.

Drinks Side By Side

Shout out to Topo Chico who sent us nine cases of bubbly water to enjoy during the event (and at the office). I had never had it before but my team swore by it and now I’m foregoing La Croix for life. For some “libations,” we made some custom cocktails (something we called a “mountain house margarita” which was really just a margarita, ha, and a whiskey-based mojito which was so yummy). HOT TIP: Make drinks self-serve with plenty of cups, ice and garnishes so you don’t feel like you have to play bartender all night. We had a staff to help (my team) but we aren’t caterers or bartenders and I didn’t want them to feel too much like they were “working” by literally serving people so this worked GREAT.

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Another big THANK YOU goes out to Stonefire Grill for providing lunch for the event. They brought over an assortment of entree salads, a ridiculously good pesto pasta, BBQ beef and pita and hummus. Jazz (pictured above) was AWESOME.

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Milkbar Side By Side

And lastly, another thank you to Milkbar who provided the most decadent funfetti cake, cake truffles and SO MANY COOKIES (if you’ve never had anything from Milkbar and have one locally, you’ll be very pleased when you stuff their sweetness into your cookie hole.

While the food was great, the BEST part of the day (of course) was meeting all these incredible, amazing, devoted readers. It wasn’t just for me, it made the whole team feel so good. Talking to actual human beings who consume our work behind screens every day is unreal. Honestly, by the end of the day, I think the whole EHD was floating around full of pure joy and just genuinely elated from the outpouring of support, encouragement and love we felt from this group ALL DAY.

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People 6 Up

A little after lunch, we did one of our favorite group activities: A STYLE DIAGNOSTIC. It’s basically an IRL version of our style quiz to “diagnose” your decor aesthetic and it’s so much fun (and strangely accurate). We should find a way to package this up and send out it in the mail to everyone who wants it. Wait…should we do that?!? I have this fantasy of sending it out and then doing a live IGTV or whatever platform people can ask questions with…stay tuned.

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Style Diagnostic 2 Side By Side

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Style Diagnostic Side By Side

We also had a long, informal Q&A session where myself and the team answered TONS of questions, mostly about the business, how we run the crazy behind-the-scenes of this site and the production that goes into it (both design- and editorial-wise), but also some more personal “working mom” questions. I cried. What’s new.

Next up was a boat tour around Lake Arrowhead which was so much fun (for whoever didn’t suffer from seasickness). It seemed strange to invite all these people up to a mountain/lake town and not take them on the water (and Lake Arrowhead is private so you can’t even rent your own boats, thus renting out the tour boat).

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If you’re local(ish) and ever make it up to Lake Arrowhead and want a kill of hour on a lake, take the tour. The captain calls out all the “famous” spots (i.e. like where they filmed the lake scene of the original Parent Trap where the twins put their dad’s girlfriend on a mattress and push her into the water)…basically it’s like an LA celebrity tour bus, but on a boat, and in Lake Arrowhead. It’s charming and sweet.

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We wrapped up the night at my family’s favorite restaurant in the area: LouEddie’s Pizza. They have a beautiful area in the back that they rent out for events and weddings and it’s pretty magical. Basically, imagine eating yummy pizza under a canopy of trees and string lights with the sound of water fountains bubbling in the background surrounding by ridiculously charming little cabins.

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The biggest takeaway from the day was the importance of connecting with our community. That sounds like I’m running for your local councilwoman, but it solidified the importance of getting real feedback from you, the people, who have read consistently for years rather than reading the comments of infrequent readers (or trolls) that steer us in directions that we can get easily lost in.

Thanks to all the readers for coming. Again, we were so touched that some of you left your babies for the first time, some of you dropped your kids off at kindergarten for the first day then hopped on a flight. I’m so glad it was a success. If you were at the event (a lot of you happened to have your own blogs!), please leave links to your posts below in the comments and we’ll update the post throughout the day to share.

I truly LOVED talking to every single person and felt totally elated, in fact, the next day I crashed (both because of adrenaline, but also because I think it was a real emotional high).

Brian was there shooting all day, and here’s a visual recap of the day:

Our sitter brought the kids to LouEddies where the readers got to meet them. Charlie was shy but listened to the Q&A next to Brian nearby. Brian helped explain to them what was happening, what I was doing, why everyone was there to see me…I could cry because that would NEVER have happened 50 years ago. Not that a woman wouldn’t have done these things, we have for decades, but that a husband would take the time to make sure that the kids knew how important their mom is. They know I write a design blog and work for magazines, that’s it. We don’t talk about a “following” or readers/fans, and they’ve never seen Instagram. They freaked out when I was on Good Morning America, trying to get me to wave back to them via the computer, but it’s not like they watch the news. So many people are on the internet (YouTube, etc.) so it wasn’t impressive. So to them, they were like “Woah, all these people are here to listen to my mama?” It was so special and I felt empowered answering questions, making people laugh in front of my family. I think the margaritas helped. 🙂

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People asked me up until the minute before the event if I was stressed and I honestly wasn’t. I was truly EXCITED. Even days before, pulling together the house (every closet needed to be organized, every drawer cleaned) my friends were like “Aren’t you stressed about 60 people coming here in 2 days” and I kinda was working like a crazy person, but not stressed. There was no sponsor involved, no talking points to hit, just me, my team and 60ish people who really appreciate and care about what we do.

But mostly I wasn’t stressed because I have such a great team that had pulled it all together so well in every way. The details were thought through, both visually and logistically. Everyone gave up a Saturday to help out which I know is a sacrifice, so I can even more enthusiastically say ENJOY YOUR WEEK OFF. This is one of two weeks that we shut down the office, to reset, recalibrate in every way and they deserve it.

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THANK YOU EHD TEAM. You are THE BEST. And I can’t wait for you to meet them all in September, properly.

Head to stories if you want to see more of the event, it was pretty epic and I can’t wait to do another one…now we just need to find our 2020 project…stay tuned. xx

***photography by Veronica Crawford

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4 years ago

It looks like the YouTube video is private, so we can’t watch it. We’d love to see if if Brian is willing to share!

4 years ago
Reply to  Margo

I‘m having the same problem. Would love to watch from Germany. Looked like an amazing event!

Karen T.
4 years ago

Amazing! I so hope some of the attendees link up so I can continue to live vicariously through them! So jealous but happy the day was such a success.

4 years ago
Reply to  Karen T.

Same!! So jealous!!

4 years ago
Reply to  Karen T.

This looks like and absolutely amazing day! Thanks for giving us a peek into it. And please, please do a style mail out. I’m a brand new first time mom, and I’m still feeling a little bit like my life isn’t my own anymore, and watching your stories and reading the blog each day has helped me feel just a little bit like my ‘old’ self. Thank you for doing what you do and sharing it with all of us 🙂

Heidi - eatdrinkhome
4 years ago
Reply to  Karen T.

If you search the hashtag: #partyatems on Instagram you will find most of the attendees posts. I went and it was as awesome as this post describes. I definitely had a happiness hangover the next day ?.

4 years ago

OMG yes please do the style mail out! There is something so fun about mail right? This event looked amazing, you’ve got such a great team!

sherrie S
4 years ago

I LOVE how everyone is wearing EHD signature grays, whites, blues and olive but Emily is in cheery red print! How ever did you plan this? 🙂

4 years ago
Reply to  sherrie S

OMG, I didn’t notice that til you pointed it out! So this was officially color coordinated?!!

4 years ago

What a lovely day, and such a personal way to connect with readers! I’m sure they LOVED Lake Arrowhead and the welcome you rolled out. This is such a heartwarming post. And LouEddie’s is SO good! Their decadent White Out Pizza is the best!

4 years ago

So excited for everyone that was able to attend!! Sounds like it was really a special day for everyone involved. Already saving up for the 2020 reader event!! 😉 😉

4 years ago

Aww. Your very own Goop conference.

4 years ago
Reply to  Susanna


4 years ago

so awesome of you to host this event.
you’re the real deal EH!
we can find pretty well styled photos on social media, but you keep it real. the authenticity and behind the scenes is what keeps me tuning in each and every day.
I think you need .a guy on your team though:, looks a little female heavy…) any openings?

4 years ago

Ditto on the video link. I’d love a post about entertaining and some charcuterie tips from Bowser! And I’m still waiting excitedly for the playroom reveal. After reviewing and voting on the “final” look, I’m invested! Honestly it looked like a pretty fabulous day.

Alex M
4 years ago

I need all the attendees to share their wardrobes!! (Especially the four women in the group shot of attendees, they’re looking fab!) it seems like it was a great day.

For anyone who is above beginner level baking, the milkbar cake recipe is online and it is absolutely worth a try. It’s not an easy recipe but it makes an insanely good cake.

4 years ago

I’m new to reading this blog. I found you through your Mountain House kitchen post on Remodelista. I have to say this is the most fun and engaging blog I have ever read. I’m so glad I found you for the Mountain House reveal week and this reader event. I just find it so lovely that you opened your home to celebrate with your readers. Well done.

4 years ago

I had so much fun at the Reader Event with you ALL! Truly a dream come true and you sharing your beautiful family with us IRL was so special to me. Thank you! Truly from the bottom of my heart for making this such a memorable experience!

4 years ago

This makes me want to cry happy tears.

4 years ago

This is lovely Emily and team, thank you for sharing!!

I’m curious about the new Target fall collection.. I think it was teased to be released Aug 25 but I’m not sure I’ve seen anything. Any news, and maybe a round up of favorites??

Thanks for being awesome guys!

4 years ago
Reply to  Jenn

I went looking for the new Target items as well and I didn’t see anything other than the taupe quilt. Hope they get a chance to update the links!

Roberta Davis
4 years ago

That looks like a great day. Yes- do the mail-out style quizzes!!!! The video was amazing- loved the music.

4 years ago

I’ve followed you for years, and I just feel so happy for you. It seems weird to say that since I don’t know you, but it’s been fascinating to see you build this business, all while trying to maintain a level of transparency and authenticity with your “audience” that is so unique. I’m glad you were able to truly feel the validation from your fans and readers, and share something so personal. Bravo to you AND YOUR TEAM on such a lovely home, and what looks like a lovely event.

4 years ago

What a fabulous event! Loved the video, Brian.

Monique Wright Interior Design
4 years ago

It was such an amazing day! The house, the staff, the new friends. Grateful I got to be a part of it. Thank you! ?? P.S. those Milk Bar truffles were little pillows of heaven and I’m still thinking about them! ??‍♀️

4 years ago

This is so darling! Love that there was EHD IRL!

4 years ago

Wow, you go above and beyond for your readers! I’ve only been reading the past few months but I look forward to it everyday. I’d also love to take your style diagnostic!
PS- Can you provide links to the Target items that you used in the Mountain House that are now at Target? I couldn’t find the bedding you used in the guest bedroom and I was totally going to copy it!

Tina Schrader
4 years ago

Such a wonderful thing to do for your readers — and in doing so, for yourself and your team, too! I’m glad all went well and this was fun to read about. Big pat on the back. 🙂

4 years ago

I can’t thank Emily and her team enough for allowing me to be part of this. Everything went off without a hitch, which is pretty amazing considering they shuttled us all around. The mountain house is even more stunning in person (if you can believe that) and so peaceful, even with 60 or so people milling around. My husband accompanied me. He had some misgivings about going, but he ended up having a great time. Thanks to everyone for such a special day!

4 years ago

It looks like the day at the mountain house was unbelievable. You do have an amazing team.
YES! I am SO thrilled to see a brown face on your team As a Black woman it did my heart good!
BTW do you know who your avid readers are even if they don’t comment?

4 years ago

That looks like it was so fun – MAN I was sorry to miss it and all of you!!!

Anne Henderson
4 years ago

What an awesome event!

Crissy Perham
4 years ago

What fun!! Having FIMO (past tense of FOMO)! 😉 So happy you and your team could do this for so many people who love to follow you. I really loved the part about Brian with your son. I think it’s always important to praise our teammates and it was great to see him supporting you, his Number One Teammate! Great job, guys!

kendra stark
4 years ago

Big ‘YES’ to the style diagnostic kit! Looks incredible, would love to attend if you do more in the future!

4 years ago

OMG – you are the CUTEST, most awesome, most genuine and gracious person! What an incredible event for your fans.

4 years ago

Oh, what fun it is . . . to spend time with Emily Henderson! Will this be an annual event?????

Nancy F.
4 years ago

This looks like it was SO MUCH FUN – thanks for the video Brian! Made it feel (almost) like we were there to participate in the community event.

If you’re looking for a small-ish project we are wanting to convert our 1500 sf office into a gallery space in the Seattle suburbs and could use HELP!!

Enjoy your week off EHD team…keep up the good work after your rejuvenating rest.

Brooke O'Brien
4 years ago

What a lovely thing to do! Your open spirit is so infectious, inspiring, and unexpected!

Oh, and welcome to Topo Chico addiction. It’s a thing. I haven’t had a LaCroix in years! Nobody does bubbles like Topo Chico. It literally does not go flat. We moved from Austin, where Topo Chico seems to grow on trees, to Ojai last year and were shocked to learn there were grocery stores and restaurants that could stay in business without it. Thankfully that has changed over the past year and lots more places carry it up here.

Also, this is my first time commenting. We bought our first home last year and I’ve been a daily reader as I try to figure out “my style”. I guess it took this display of inventive kindness and generosity–plus the the Topo Chico reference for me to pipe up.

Nancy Nimmo
4 years ago
Reply to  Brooke O'Brien

I so understand Brooke about being inspired by this team.
We are building a new house in Flagstaff ….changing my so cal coastal thinking , to mountain cabin clean lined Scandinavian.etc…and we thank the guiding light that lead me to this team. Koehler owes you all a big commission from us, We come again and agin for inspiration, and the joy of it all.
Ps. The Portland kitchen work station with cabinet doors has been keenly studied and it inspired our station…it’s in the works…thx.

4 years ago

Wow ~ looks like it was a fun filled day, the house looks stunning.
Wish I could have joined the fun! Thanks so much for sharing.

Joy Netanya Thompson
4 years ago

I’m so thankful I got to attend, and this was so fun to relive the day! I was definitely struck by how peaceful the mountain house was, and how literally every single corner and detail was gorgeous. My husband and I had an amazing kid-free day up there, and it was so fun to be out on the lake! It had me dreaming about having my own lake house one day… 😉

I didn’t blog about the day but I did a ton of Instagram stories and mentioned it in my newsletter! Maegan
4 years ago

Was SO FUN! So happy I got to be there and meet you and your amazing team! It was a day to remember 🙂 Thank you!

Pam Meyer
4 years ago

Style mail out??? WAHOO!!!

4 years ago

What a nice thing to do, you are wonderful! It looks like everyone had a great time!

4 years ago

I just had my rehearsal dinner for my wedding at Lou Eddie’s and got married in Lake Arrowhead at Pine Rose! Love it up there so much.

4 years ago

You are the coolest, Emily! Such a neat event.

4 years ago

The day was truly magical. It’s a bit surreal to experience your blog and your design IRL; everything was better in person. Thank you for your kindness, generosity, and authenticity.

BTW, my 7-year old daughter found my style diagnostic kit and loved playing with it and creating her own boards. She calls it the “Emily Henderson Toy”.

4 years ago
Reply to  Margaret

omg her “Emily Henderson toy” — that is the best! I need to pull mine out for my daughter to play with…so smart!

Christina D.
4 years ago

Emily and EHD Team-Bravo!!, the Lake House design, the hospitality and thought put into this event, wow!!! I cannot express enough how RAD it is that y’all created this event for us readers. Thank You to Brian for filming for us folks not there, I so enjoyed watching how it all went down:) And I would love to see another event in the future!!!

Kato Design Build
4 years ago

This was like *THE BEST* summer camp for design enthusiasts – all packed into a day and I wanted to soak it all in. Your team did an amaaaazing job with every detail and it was constantly a pinch me moment getting to ask questions, take photos, and just wander the gorgeous Mountain House. I hope you guys continue to host more events like it b/c it’s utter magic getting to experience it. Huge hugs and thanks to Emily, the team + Caitlin for her first assignment, Brian, and Emily’s kids for sharing her mommy with us on a Saturday.

4 years ago

This post makes me HAPPY and JEALOUS, and ALL THE FEELS!!! Love it!

4 years ago

Loved this post! Please could you list the names of all the women in the last photo of your team? Want to put names to faces!

4 years ago

The fact that you did this, no sponser/no “influencers” speaks volumes about yourself and is 100% why I keep coming back! Not only do I value your design knowledge but we are all drawn to your genuine-ness. Thank you so much for working so hard!

4 years ago
Reply to  Ashley

This is really so true. I read a lot of blogs but have gotten pretty turned off to many of them due to sponsorships. I don’t begrudge them doing that because of course they need to get paid for the long hours they put in. But it does start to erode my trust over time. But not here. I think your authenticity comes through so completely that I don’t question it. The fact that you did this reader appreciation event is just amazing.

4 years ago

I had so much fun at this event with so many amazing people!! I am still pinching myself that we got to go. Thank you Emily and the EHD team for making such an unforgettable day 🙂

4 years ago

I love that you did this. We love all that you share with us and it’s so nice that you shared it face-to-face. Keep doing what you’re doing. We can’t get enough of the content and hearing about your cue fam!

4 years ago

This is beautiful!!
Congratulations. ❤️
Thanks for sharing with those of us who weren’t there in person. ?
Yes, yes, yes to style quizzes by mail!

4 years ago

Yes, P L E A S E, to the style quiz mail out. I’m pretty decent at home decorating and read a bunch of decor blogs, but I still struggle to get things the way I want them to feel. I would LOVE more help in defining my style.

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4 years ago

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4 years ago

Amazing! The fact that you would host an event like this speaks volumes about your character <3