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Mountain Fixer Upper: The 5 Styles We Didn’t Choose

You guys want process? Here’s some process. Welcome into the mind of a madwoman – otherwise known as a designer. That photo is of said project – our mountain fixer. It’s generic and livable yet wonderful and spacious, but not my style and ready for a total rehaul that doesn’t embody the trends of the late 90’s. Read the whole intro post for more details and to see the full house and to see all the updates as they happen, including what style we are choosing for each room click through HERE.

Emily Henderson Lake House Before 251

The first part of any design process is knowing how you want it to look and even more importantly, feel. We use adjectives like ‘cozy, welcoming, exciting, serious, whimsical, relaxing, sexy … etc.’ (I’ve never used that last one personally but clients have). I design function after emotion as function can be adapted to any style, but if you choose function first, the emotion can be lost. For instance, if you say ‘I want this family room to have a lot of seating and storage’ then you might start pulling it together without really thinking about how you’ll feel when you are in the room.

So for me, with this house, my adjectives were ‘open, clean, simple, special, minimal, fresh, easy, cozy and warm’. No visual, mental, emotional or physical chaos. RIGHT??

I started pinning accordingly.

What you are going to read next is my progression on how I honed in on the style/s that we are ultimately doing. It’s my thought process in chronological order. Let’s begin.

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In August, while in escrow when it was hot out I couldn’t stop thinking about making this house a simple, minimal, contemporary chalet. Yes, it’s in the mountains but also near a lake where the kids will swim so it kinda needs to function as both.

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I loved the idea of doing something totally different than any house we’ve done before. Focusing more on the architecture than the decoration and using more contemporary furnishings (in a good way).

When you are in the house you want it to be warm and yes, woodsy, but it’s not a log cabin nor will it ever be.

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Simple. Refined. Calm.

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Perhaps some stark and clean moments like those black chairs (although mine would be upholstered) or intense window frames. Great. I want to be those people. Perhaps we will – or not. Keep reading.

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Obviously, we want ‘cozy’ and ‘soft’ to balance out the hard finishes, so the upholstery and textiles will definitely play a huge part in making this feel like a home.

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The windows, the light, the floor, the walls will all tell a story that says, ‘we don’t need things or options or stress’. And chaos or distraction can take a hike … literally out the back door. All that’s required is simplicity.

Maybe there are some accessories like above, but even those are quiet. Shh…Don’t disturb the lady of the house journaling in her Kinfolk.

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Sure. We can still have cabin-y wood on the walls or ceiling, but it would be clean, fresh and modern – in a cabin sort of way.

I presented all of the above to Brian and these are his exact words:

“THIS IS MY WORST NIGHTMARE.” After weeks or maybe even a month of really deciding on a style that was the reaction, from the man who is not designing it, but yes will be sharing it.

I wasn’t pissed. How could I be? We have a very honest relationship and whenever he has held back his opinions it has only prolonged the awkward agony. He needs to be happy, but I was BUMMED.

He couldn’t see the vision. OBVIOUSLY I, Emily Henderson, would make this home to be warm. That’s what I do!!! I’m incapable of true minimalism despite how much I love it. TRUST ME. I kept saying. I want cozy as much as the next guy.

But he pushed and pushed and finally I was like, “FINE. What You Got? Where is your mountain fixer upper pinboard? Where are your weeks of visual brainstorming?”

He didn’t have one (duh) and said he pictured it rustic and warm and basically dripping in oak knots and wool. He thinks he is this guy:

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To put images to words (as we have to do with virtually every client) I created a board for him of really beautiful rustic cabins. Listen, as annoyed as I was for his critique I also really want him to love the house and want to be involved in the process so I was going to have to shove aside my weird all-of-a-sudden-strangely-minimal dreams to include my own family.

UGH. Here goes.

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Brian’s cabin would have the more traditional river rock, rustic beams and ceiling and more coziness than anyone could handle.

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Sure. That is STUNNING. But is it even possible in this house? How many 500,000 dollar bills do you have to drop to get that beautiful wood on the walls? Do you have to pay the sun to create that kind of shadow?

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Yes, sure, I want to be in the above room but it also feels so winter cabin in the north, not a California mountain/lake cabin. Plus it didn’t feel fresh to me (I used this photo 8 years ago as inspiration on SFAS – kudos for timelessness, for sure).

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Oh YAH. We’ll have deer and antler and we’ll fly in 400-year-old beams from France, to create unbelievable architecture in our generic 1964 fixer in an incredibly hard to get to remote town. EASY.

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I want to be there, too, but our house is not that house.

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I love that above photo and it will always be on my inspiration page, but hunters we are not.

I know. I get it. I want a super rustic old cabin, too. But after pinning for months and living in it on the weekends we BOTH agree, that our house cannot be any of the above houses.

So I kept moving … design-wise.

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Ok. So maybe the full-on rustic thing wasn’t possible but being from the woods in Oregon maybe I could merge what Brian wants with my past – thus Eclectic Oregon Cabin, like they did in the Anvil Hotel.

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More tree murals because ‘Emily-The-Tree-Mural-Henderson’ finds an inordinate amount of peace amongst the trees.

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Maybe we would add in some more cozy traditional cottage/cabin elements like that extremely wonderful wainscot wall and cozy wool bedding (p.s. remember it’s still 85 in the summer).

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We can freshen things up in some of the rooms with more of a whimsical tree wallpaper – because even ‘Emily-The-Tree-Mural-Henderson’ knows that you can’t put tree murals in every room. (#can’tyou???)

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We could give it more of a haphazard vintage/eclectic vibe that is super warm and cozy and inviting but still feels fresh.

Everyone loves an eclectic cabin, right????

Yes. Obviously. But I feel like that’s not much of a challenge for me, nor does it feel very forward. You see, ‘Eclectic’ has become easy for me. I want to push myself and do something totally different than what I’ve done and than what is expected of me (this part scares Brian). If this house were our main residence then it’s a style I’d seriously consider but as a showpiece for the world… I want to stretch my creativity. Also, there is something about being eclectic that is starting to feel messy to me …. are we moving away from it???

So…the next obvious style would be…

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This is where my brain said ‘ok you want quiet and neutral, but still that cozy cabin vibe’. I could get behind that/in that. At this time in my life, I was working on the Greenhouse with Niki of My Scandinavian Home where she talked about summer garden houses (remember that greenhouse we designed?). Being in that space was so lovely and perfectly merged the rustic with the modern.

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That wallpaper makes me happy for sure.

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Obviously, I want to be the person that has a summer cottage like the one above, but do I actually want a skirted sink???? Would I actually renovate a kitchen to then put in a ripped piece of linen as the cabinet front? No. That is a great and sweet solution to a space like the above (or like the one we did in the greenhouse makeover) but not for a freshly renovated house like ours will be.

It’s eclectic and vintage and doesn’t look too intentional. But I fear that the ‘unintentional’ look is starting to feel dated. I love it in photos like the above, but that gallery wall over that bed would drive me nuts in person if it were my house.

Ethniestory Taroudant ©romain Ricard

Of course, I want tile on my countertop, but wait, do I? Is that annoying with grout? Do things get caught in the cracks and does it feel dirty all the time? Maybe this Scandinavian summer garden house thing isn’t exactly what I want…

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But I could just bring it in the furniture…

Then after spending even more time there both of us agreed on one thing – we really don’t want a lot of stuff and we both really, really want it to be comfortable. So I went sort of back to where I started…but a cozier version.

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It’s clean lines but has more softness. Now that I’m staring at it I realize how close to the first one it is, but that goes to show that my initial thought wasn’t wrong, it just needed more tweaking (it’s still NOT what we are doing, by the way, keep reading).

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Brian liked this more than the first round of minimal, but he still said – it doesn’t feel like us, it still feels kinda cold and it doesn’t feel like this house. 

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I agreed. This house wants to reference mid-century a bit, with those windows and being built in 1964, and I think ‘cozy contemporary’ isn’t exactly it (although if it were a new build it would be a GREAT inspiration).

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I still love the inspiration of these photos and love the warmth and modernity that they project.

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A hanging fireplace? Yes. Probably. Although Brian is against that. WHAT??

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Simplicity, but using warm materials.



Come back Monday where I’ve FINALLY narrowed it down to two that both Brian and I love. And you, friends, will be the ones to make the decision. It’s the launch of a huge series for this house and boy are we excited. I’ll actually be up there meeting with my architect and contractors that day so I’ll show you more in the stories and I’ll be checking the poll all day long.

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Let me be clear (in case you missed it) – none of those styles are what we are doing (although some are part of what we are doing) to see the full house and to see all the updates as they happen, including what style we are choosing for each room click through HERE.  The two styles that we have narrowed it down to (that you’ll read about on Monday) are not wildly different from each other, either. But I figured seeing the process that we go through to really land on the right design direction, the right ‘look and feel’ could be fun for you (and it was fun to actually write).

Oh and as for Brian and I…as per usual he is right and his resistance often balances me out. I can get so excited about doing a style that I go too far away from ‘us’.

Happy Friday, and see you on Monday. We are finally, FINALLY doing this. xx

**But out of curiosity, of those above styles which are your favorite?

***For those of you curious the sectional is from Article, the coffee table is vintage and the chairs are from Fourhands but can be purchased HERE.

Update: Check out all of The Mountain House REVEALS here: The Kids’ BedroomThe Kitchen | The Kitchen Organization | The Kitchen Appliances | The Powder Bath | The Living Room | The Downstairs Guest Suite | The Loft | The Hall Bath | The Upstairs Guest Bath | The Dining Room | The Family Room


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224 thoughts on “Mountain Fixer Upper: The 5 Styles We Didn’t Choose

  1. Love the minimal contemporary, especially that kitchen. The cozy take is pretty good, too. The eclectic and whimsical Scandinavian or whatever…kinda played out…exciting overall!

  2. What a fun post, yes we want your process just as much as the final reveals (ok, almost as much).
    I am especially drawn to the first style, but I agree, it isn’t you! Can’t wait to see what you came up with and thank you for the interesting insights!

  3. Cozy Contemporary is my favorite of the above, but it needs to incorporate some mid century pieces to make it truly impactful. The tension in slightly rustic contemporary with mid century strikes a great balance and allows all pieces to shine versus falling into a time era where everything just looks and feels the same. It’s something I’ve tried to capture in my home with some Southern Cali style in my Nashville Craftsman. Great job Emily and thanks for sharing on your process!

  4. I love the Eclectic Oregon cabin look. It has more color, definitely more coziness, and I love the interesting details. My colonial can’t stand for much of that (and our “interesting details” are Paw Patrol toys right now), but our mountains of books help point me in the right direction.
    Thanks for this post. I really enjoyed the detailed unpacking of these styles, and why they work, or didn’t, for you all. I probably would have thought that the Scandinavian style was my jam, but it’s not. This is really helpful.

  5. The very first photos! The one on the upper left! Surely you can make it look like that without the fantastic dollar price. Yes!

    1. Oh wait! I was so wrong about which picture, it was the gorgeous one just under your comment of Ugh. The Rustic cabin photos. the one on the upper left. That one!

  6. I’m with you in that none of these options feels exactly right to me either. My least favorite is probably the whimsical Scandinavian. As a lover of all things MCM, I’m selfishly hoping that the final options with have some MCM influence to pay homage to the home’s roots.

    It would be super interesting to see your take on minimal contemporary, though. Pesky husbands ; )

    Looking forward to Monday’s post!

  7. My favorite styles out of the groups are the “rustic cabin” and “Oregon eclectic”. That first picture under “rustic cabin” with that amazing window stopped my heart for a second. I don’t think I would ever leave that room. And that rustic reading room nook picture with all the wood walls, oh my. My other favorite was the Oregon eclectic. Which if you can marry the two, would be perfection. I really dislike the Scandinavian ones(except the garden wallpaper one which I think could fit in with the Oregon eclectic, I’m all heart eyes for that) because they just seem messy and dirty? The other more simplistic modern pictures are nice and I guess more trendy but completely forgettable for me. Ha, in fact as I type this I can’t remember what most of them were. But of course this is just my opinion and I can’t wait to see what direction you go.

  8. I really like the cozy contemporary and the eclectic Oregon cabin! It’s really interesting to see the process on how you narrowed down your design focus, and I can’t wait to see what 2 options you came to!

  9. Minimal contemporary my favorite by far out of those for a renovation. Some of the others seem like you would need a lot of old elements already in place to achieve the style without it looking contrived.

  10. My favorite room picture you shared is the one with the DEER over the fireplace – but that is the one element I don’t love. I love the clean lines but rustic beams, the glamorous luxurious velvet sofas juxtaposed against the perfectly circular stacked wood and the beautiful FIREPLACE!!

    1. Yes, agreed!

      And i love looking at old design magazines and finding those pictures/designs that still work for today, which means they will still work for later. Timeless.

  11. Personal preference, but I love the starker more modern style. It puts the focus on the trees/water you see out the windows as the true focal point. But, maybe I would just be craving a calming respite myself since I’m also a designer who looks at busy color/pattern all day for clients. Can’t wait to see what the compromise is! I have the same aesthetic dilemma with my husband who thinks that style is too cold overall. For me, it eliminates the clutter and helps me focus on my family rather than jumping up to clean.

    1. I totally agree!! trees/water and yes about being a designer and wanting less stuff to look at, especially at what is your ‘getaway’.

      1. Take a look at the HGTV Dreamhome for another look at contempary cabin. I don’t really like the style of the DH at all, but it is worth a look.

  12. Scandi farmhouses forever! But, realistically they just don’t work everywhere, huh? But that hanging fireplace in a 1964 California lake house- isn’t it against some sort of zoning laws NOT to have it? I hope you find a place for it!

  13. I am crazy about your first original design ideas! I love reading about your process…this is what I’m interested in and wish “design” shows on HGTV would show more of! Can’t wait to see more on Monday!!!

  14. Whaaawhaaa… Tell me now! 🙂 I can’t wait. We just bought a woodsy home and I’m dying to know how you style yours so that I can get some new inspiration.

  15. best blog post ever! you have articulated so much of the process that I have been going through the last year. we are in construction now but this goes a long way to keep me on track towards my ultimate vision of cozy contemporary scandinavian beach cottage. :). can’t wait to see what you chose! thank you so much for communicating illustrating visually all of these styles!

  16. Man I hope you guys choose something akin to that first minimal style… it’s just so CLEAN!

    Whatever you do it will look great. I’m so excited that you’re taking on a new renovation. I think of all your beautiful spaces, this is going to be my favorite – and that’s saying a lot.

  17. You are the funniest human Emily and I love you. you’re so sweet to consider Brian’s feelings. Can’t wait to see the final fixer upper!!

  18. Since it’s a vacation house, I humbly suggest going for easy-to-clean, when possible, and also it-won’t-be-the-end-of-the-world-with-a-few-dings, if possible.

    1. WILL DO. Definitely struggling with that one, always, but I want EASY EASY EASY, too. Wait til my ‘which wall-to-wall’ carpet post …. obviously I want white!!!!!!! (if we do it).

      1. I’m a lake cottage mom and cringed when you said upholstery on the dining chairs. Wet bathing suits! Three meals a day in wet bathing suits. Is there a fabric for that?

        1. YES! I remember being a lake cottage kid and always sitting on the upholstered dining chairs to eat lunch in my wet bathing suit and towel even though my mom always reminded me not to. I wasn’t trying to ignore her, but as a kid it’s literally one of the last things you think about!! It would still be soggy by dinner!

  19. Pinned every single minimal contemporary.

    The house feels like it’s halfway in that style already!!

  20. Aaaahh! Best post of the new year! Yes, yes. Love the process narrative because it feels like chatting with a real human being with a bunch of different decorating ideas that need to be settled on and a husband with his own opinions, not just someone who magically turns out amazing interiors month after month. I’m following this cabin overhaul like I’m glued to it – we just moved from the San Diego suburbs to a mountain town a bit farther out and our new house is not dissimilar to your cabin (though much smaller). Plus my design cravings seem to be pretty similar to what you’re sharing in your thought process. Simple, pure spaces, love the minimal cozy in my head, but does my family really live like that? Do I? What shall I do? *watching your space with an eagle eye*

  21. I vote cozy, FUN, slightly funky 70’s (not 60’s) modern Cali-scandi-gonian! With an emphasis on textures, softness and trees (in a 70’s wall photo sort of way.) As someone wise once said, “perfection is boring, let’s get weird!”

  22. Without a doubt, cozy contemporary. Maybe just add some paddles or cowboy gear on the wall;). This is in California, right? Mountain cabins in California, in my experience, are either dreadful Tahoe 70s A-frames with leather recliners and orange shag carpet, no need to resurrect, or wonderful family-owned dude ranch cabins white painted with Western themes. My family used to go to this place in the Eastern Sierras in the summertime. Classic.

    I’d be inclined to use the local, what do you call it in design, vernacular?

  23. I like the eclectic cabin best! Sad to hear that you think “eclectic” is on its way out. 🙁

    1. I don’t think it will ever be out, but I think its getting refined. a beautiful mix of styles is ALWAYS in, but I fear its gotten messier over the years. I’ll always mix styles therefore i’ll always be eclectic 🙂

  24. I loved this post! Thank you for walking us through your thought process — that’s really helpful to see. That said, your first style was totally my favorite (*shakes fist at Brian Henderson*).

  25. Cozy contemporary. We are remodeling our home in Bend, Oregon. It was built in 1936 and we are doing it in a Mission style which has been fun. We have a modern/ industrial look to our condo in Portland so it IS nice to have 2 different styles in 2 different places.

  26. “You guys want process? Here’s some process. ” Lol. Thank you, Emily for reading and caring about comments and requests made from us random folk out in the internet!

    This post was so interesting and how you can easily transition from one style to another is very impressive to me. I first loved the Minimal Contemporary photos and was thinking WHY, BRIAN HENDERSON, WHY? WHY DO YOU HATE IT SO?!

    But I do like the Cozy Contemporary version and Eclectic Oregon looks really fun too!

  27. I would love to live in the Oregon cabin, but I can see why it wouldn’t be a great showpiece for your work at this point.

  28. I like Brian’s cabin. And I think it’s because my husband is the same. He wants to be that guy sitting there too. And he IS a hunter so we already have the taxidermy–wanna long-term rent some? 😉

    Very admirable of you to not just steamroll over Brian’s opinions.

  29. This is why I read your site every day. I just went on the entire design “journey” (gag sorry that’s the only word I can come up with) with you and was nodding my head the entire time. I get every single decision through this entire post… well done! Also CLIFFHANGER… not cool haha. I like a merging of Scandinavian and the Oregon Contemporary… Scandinavian without old grout and sink skirts and some wool plaid and trees thrown in for good measure.

  30. I am laughing so hard at your thought process and Brian’s response. My husband and I are building a log cabin vacation home and we’re having a strikingly similar discussion. I can’t stand the wood overload of the Appalachia look cabin and refuse antlers/bear/moose decor as ridiculous. When I mention modern, clean lines or minimal decor, he goes straight to cold and impersonal. The frustrating part is that apparently 20 years of marriage doesn’t give me any credit in the home decorating category. What?!

  31. I like the Cozy Contemporary option very much. A lot of the other options have elements that feel very similar to what you’ve already done (not including the Rustic Cabin). The only thing I beg of you not to do is just slap white paint everywhere. It indeed can be very very beautiful and light and bright and fresh, but it is one thing we have definitely seen from you and it sounds like you want to do something different, so… let’s see different! I am very excited to see this transformation and to follow along in the process!

  32. “THIS IS MY WORST NIGHTMARE.” Hilarious! Your initial vision is my dream house. I can’t wait to see what you come up with!

  33. I love the minimal contemporary aesthetics, but like you, I’m not sure I can live in it and keep it that way. Haha

  34. My husband has done that to me before, too. I get so caught up in an idea that I act like there’s no other way to do it but that way because that’s how I picture in my head. But it’s his house, too, and honestly, our styles aren’t that different so if he’s telling me to hit the breaks, it’s usually not a bad idea. He puts so much trust in the other choices that I make, that I feel like it’s totally fair to put trust in what he’s telling me, too. As much as I hate to admit it, he’s usually right.

  35. I cant wait to see what you do to work in the mid-century in a fresh new way! I love the 1964 elements in the bones of the home I want to see how you bring that into the interior!

    1. That is what I thought too. So brave!! My kids would grind the play doh in every square inch of the carpet ????

  36. Ok, my favorite of the ones above is the cozy contemporary, but mixed with mid-century. A mountain cabin needs cozy, warmth, and the more contemporary/mid-century quietness to relax you when you step through the door. I do not like eclectic – too messy and not right for a cabin. I like elements of the rustic style…maybe use the ceiling beams and planks, fireplace, and a few decor items to mix it in.

  37. Love what you did here with showing us the process! So so interesting! Thanks for listening to what readers are interested in and upping that a 100 notches to make it much more informative and exciting!

  38. What a cliffhanger!!!!! This reminds me of how Grey’s Anatomy ended on the biggest cliffhanger ever and then didn’t air again for 2 months. Rude. (jk) Your banter with Brian cracked me up!!! No matter what you do I hope you put a gigantic sectional in that living room. The couch you have in there right now is so beautiful but you look like you have space for all the cozy seating!

  39. Of this batch, my personal favorite is Cozy Contemporary. I love that it’s a change from your current home, has touches of mid century from your previous home, yet is still has a new and sleek twist. I think there is a timelessness and cleanness to the Cozy Contemporary will always be fresh, but still cozy! As a fellow designer, I find designing simple architecture/space/details are often the most challenging, but well worth it! Anxious to see what 2 you narrowed it down to, but absolutely LOVE learning about your process and working with your husband as a client. 🙂

    1. I agree. ‘decorating’ feels easier than making this MASSIVE EXPENSIVE NEVER TO BE CHANGED DECISIONS. I am collaborating with a local architect who knows the permit situation and contractors in this particular town, but i might want to also consult with an architect that can help me source all these materials that I typically don’t do. stay tuned ….

  40. Love the minimal and cozy contemporary (and that one cabin pic with the gorgeous lofted ceiling and gray wood walls!), but agree that they probably need to be punched up a bit to feel like a family space. None of the other styles felt like they would fit that house comfortably. I think pulling in some Pacifin NW Modern or Mountain Midcentury could be great! Looking forward to Monday’s reveal!

  41. We have tile with grout countertops and it drives me crazy. It always looks dirty. Avoid for sure!

  42. Haha. I can almost not read this. Like when you have to protect yourself from a friends problems bc it reminds you too much of yours. I for reals have pts about this kind of decision making. I just designed our whole house that will be done in a couple of months. This is EXACTLY how it is. And I’m waiting, just waiting to see if it all works out!

  43. Loving the minimal contemporary the most and also am drawn to the cozy contemporary. Can’t wait to see the two options you landed on. These process posts are fun!

        1. Actually if you use the epoxy grout, it doesn’t stain, (OK, so I’ve been told). we are going to use that on a penny tile counter top. A little more expensive and a bit harder for the installation but totally worth it because sometimes tile looks so wonderful and is just the right look!

  44. I like the minimal contemporary. The dining room is my favorite of the photos. My least favorite is the photo with the chaise lounge and the fur draped on it. That one does seem a bit too cold. I’m reading this while at work and I belly laughed at “This is my worst nightmare”. So funny. I like the post. 5 a. m. posts are the best. Great photos and not too wordy. Easy read. I can’t wait for Monday.

  45. This is so, so hilarious. Made me laugh out loud! I’m sorry for your pain, Emily, but I loved diving into your brain. Super excited to see the final direction of the house!

  46. My husband would 100% love all the contemporary design. He hates when furniture has more edges than a single rectangular box…Tufting, upholstery, eclectic is his worst nightmare.

  47. #1 is my worst nightmare, too. I know it seems to be a popular style right now and that some people find it soothing, but the minimalist, California Casualy style has the opposite effect on me. Not only do I find it drab, boring, and depressing, it actually makes me a little anxious – and I’m not a clutter person at all. Oh well, everyone is different. The “cozy” contemporary style has the same effect on me to a lesser degree.

    The Scandinavian cottage style seems too self-consciously weathered in a shabby-chic way that will probably look run down quickly.

    I like the rustic look, but it does sound expensive.

    The Oregon/eclectic cabin is my favorite look, by far. I understand wanting to stretch yourself, though. It will be interesting to see what style you settle on.

  48. I love the journey of this post! I also love the idea of starting with the emotion. Hearing about Mr. Henderson’s input is helpful. Melding my style with my boyfriend’s has been a challenge, but one that I see as evolving day by day and with future moves.

  49. Oh Emily, this is my favorite post in a while! I love hearing about your process and your crazy because it’s so relatable to my own kind of crazy! So excited to see how this all shakes out! My favorite is maybe the eclectic Oregon cabin, but they’re really all great.

  50. I’m excited to see what you end up choosing for the mountain house, but I’m more interested in your sofa! Is that the Burrard sectional from Article? If so, how is it holding up?? I want to buy this sectional but my fiance is worried that the arms look like they will rip right off because they are so slender….any insight would be immensely helpful!

    1. oh its awesome. I LOVE IT. I will mention it in the post. its awesome and even though birdie colored all over it last weekend it came out perfectly after some scrubbing. Highly recommend.

      1. Hahaha!! Birdie = budding designer. She was weighing in…”This sofa needs a touch of color. A little whimsy.”

      2. Awesome! The arms seem sturdy too? I don’t expect any little ones to be scribbling on ours for at least another few years! 🙂

  51. So excited!!! Thank you for showing this whole process. I can’t wait to be along for this ride! I’m a fan of somewhere between the rustic and eclectic Oregon cabin styles.

  52. Way to leave us on a cliff hanger! I loved this post; thank so much for walking us through your thought and decision process.

    I really like the cozy contemporary…it’s probably not a style I’d want to live with every day but I’d love to stay in that hotel room or guest house. There’s your next project….open up a small hotel or B&B and design each room differently!

  53. As a first-time homeowner, I look around at our house all the time to try to figure out what it wants to be, what we want it to look like, what’s too safe and what doesn’t honor the way or era in which the house was built – so I LOVE that you walked us through your thought process here! It’s a treat to be welcomed into your head, and I’m on pins and needles trying to figure out what styles you settled on!

  54. I freaking love this post. Hilarious. Also real. And all beautiful styles. Can’t wait to see what you come up with. Happy weekend, Hendersons and crew!

  55. Absolutely loved this blog post! I love how you articulated what a room should “feel” with adjectives to push you in the right direction, and your design evolution is so fun to get insight into. And I think you have given a great reminder of how important it is to have a husband’s thoughts as it is his home too. So if designer Emily Henderson, lets her husband steer her designs, then I should let my husband also be more included. Thanks Emily! 😉

    1. we are all happy when everyone in the house loves their home. sometimes its annoying but ultimately we end up happier. everyone needs to love it, RIGHT? (this is me reminding myself)

  56. LOVE the rustic cabin or Oregon cabin…because I want a house like that. However, as you stated the character of those homes is created over time and you would have to add all of that into your existing house which isn’t practical. Can’t wait to see what you’ve come up with and love that we get to go on this journey with you.

  57. I showed my husband a photo of a cream english roll arm loveseat, wooden legs, VERY neutral, nothing offensive (I THOUGHT) and he had basically the same reaction as BH. But you know, sometimes they just don’t know how good it COULD BE and need to experience it in person to realize they actually love a style they thought they hated 😉

    1. they have these ideas in their mind that often can’t exist in that state. pictures are the best way to communicate design and vision but still often innacurate (which is why I feel the need to document all my projects visually with photos). TRUST ME often doesn’t work. even for BRIAN!!! It’s hard. homes are so personal. And everyone needs to feel a part of the process. xx

  58. This post is awesome! Thank you! I really like the first option, but maybe a little cozier, too and less “mod/uber” than #4. If it were my place, I would definitely struggle with a husband that imagines himself in the super rustic space too. Good luck! I’m sure it will turn out amazing and I can’t wait to follow along!

  59. LOVED this post, I actually read through the entire thing, which is unheard of for me. I would go with Oregon Eclectic Cabin as my favorite of all the styles you put together. Can’t wait to see where you ended up. I would definitely enjoy more posts like this, and I don’t think I’ve seen one like it anywhere else.

    1. well stay tuned because there are a lot of rantings in my head that i’m dying to share. thank god you guys like to read it all 😉

  60. I love the Oregon Cabiny look with plenty of rustic thrown in. I mean, if you’re gonna have a cabin in the woods, why not give it a completely different and woodsy/vacationy vibe than what you would have a your normal house? And that pine tree wallpaper is SOOOO cute! Also, since there’s probably going to be plenty of traipsing around in the dirt, I’d avoid a lot of white and contemporary/plain surfaces. Everything is going to show dirt.

    How fun!

    1. I KNOW! you are RIGHT!! but what about my white wall to wall carpet that brian wants to put on the bedroom floor (the second floor). EEEEKKKK

  61. As one of my friend puts it, “I don’t want to be with someone who dresses better than I do.” I usually get “That’s nice” from my partner even on wildly different styles. Not helpful. So I’m glad that 99% of the design decision making is deferred to me.

    This post was funny and inspirational. Congrats on conceptualizing the mountain home! Thank you for sharing the process.

    1. P.S. My favorite styles are the first and last ones– but with a little more grit to the wood. While I appreciate cozy and eclectic in photos, I truly appreciate living in tranquility… like I’m always at a resort.

      1. oh then you might be happy about mondays post 🙂 and I like being around people who dress better than me but aren’t ass holes. if you can inspire without making me feel bad than I am happy and lucky to be near you.

  62. The minimal contemporary stuff is GORGEOUS, I have pinned that dining area picture because it’s exactly what I’ve been picturing for our soon-to-be-remodelled-fingers-crossed future home. Can’t wait to see what you’ve narrowed it down to…

  63. “Do you have to pay the sun to create that kind of shadow” ???

    I’m totally on Brian’s team.. like I love the clean minimal look but then I imagine putting my toddlers in it and I have a heart attack.

    1. Bahaha, it’s kind of true. Although we recently moved to sort-of-the-country and I’ve painted the living areas and kitchen white despite the surrounding dirt, because this is a house white looks amazing in. Plus only about half our stuff has gotten unpacked and I like it that way…. less clutter, and sooo much easier to keep things clean when you don’t have a lot of stuff and the surfaces are clear to wipe. I have more ability/motivation to keep up with it because there’s less of it.

      1. walls can be white. floors shouldn’t (if you have kids). hopefully we all choose an easy and aesthetically pleasing design plan.

  64. You have single-handedly made me dream of owning my own country/mountain/lake home one day and fully implementing design #1. It is GORGEOUS. Your blog is so inspiring. Can’t wait to see what you guys came up with & follow along with you.

  65. Cozy contemporary is my fave overall, but I find myself liking something in all the styles so I am not jealous that you have to choose.

    I do have to applaud you (and take your advice) for listening to your husband and going back to the drawing board. It is so hard for me to have my S.O. dislike something I have spent blood, tears, and effort on. Especially when I’ve gotten myself super excited for it! We are planning a wedding right now, so it happens a lot. It was great to hear how you handle it- so gracefully and respectfully- and really just a healthy reminder of how to be a good partner and adult (Sadly, I need these reminders)

    So excited for Monday!!! (which never happens)

    1. Its hard. even yesterday he didn’t seem that enthusiastic on the style that HE CHOSE. I was like I DID THIS ALL FOR YOU PLEASE PUT ON A SMILE FOR EFF SAKE!! He took a note (it was 6am and he’s not a morning person whereas I am) and was like ‘I’m excited I promise’. But its hard. they want to be thought about but they don’t want to deal with the minutea. its VERY difficult sometimes 🙂

      1. Love your honesty and you so so much!! Thank you for being relatable and human 🙂 So looking forward to watching this project progress and my fingers are crossed for the contest!

  66. The photos in minimal contemporary are my JAM. I love the warmth of wood, brightness of white and ease of textiles like fabric and cotton. Though it could be the indoor/outdoor element there that brings it all home for me (no pun intended). Speaking of indoor/outdoor, my Swedish family actually does have a country cabin…complete with an outhouse. #verrrrrrrycozy #nope

  67. I looove the really cosy and rustic cabin theme. Especially because that is what cabin life is all about. I actually felt sad reading the beginning of the post, thinking you would go for the super modern straight lines, haha! Your cabin already feels cosy, and I really think that THAT is what you should focus on. Warmth, wood, leather -aaah love it! I look so much forward to monday!!

    1. don’t worry. it will be cozy!! but you can’t make a log cabin out of a 1964 house that was turned into a 1094 mcmansion. unless you want to completely rebuild it. …

  68. Oregon Eclectic or Cozy Contemporary would be my faves. But no matter what you choose you’ve gotta go with the hanging fireplace! Please!! Especially if you use a Bathyscafocus Hublot model. I am in love with it and want it so badly, but even more I want YOU to use it because you could do it justice! It’s a lot like the one in your Cozy Contemporary roundup, but it’s a sphere and it’s closed and has the most adorable porthole window. I die.

    1. thank you! both brian and his mom (and a good friend with great taste) were like ‘uh… hanging fireplace?’ i showed them photos and they weren’t impressed and i was baffled …

  69. Truthfully, a little of each . But can’t picture what that would look-like. i have gone from early American in the 50’s/60’s to shabby chic/country cottage, now days. The rustic cabin appeals to me but so does the modern. Your designs are fantastic, Emily, so your mountain house will be fabulous as well.

    1. thank you gloria. your name, by the way was what the spiritiual counselor (that i just had seen with my best friends in Ojai last weekend) said over and over for me. She said ‘gloria, glorious you emulate Glorious’. Anyway your name reminded me of that great situation (of which made me feel really good :))

  70. Probably my favorite post to date, because this is how my brain works with our current diy remodel! I love your first design ideas….but my hubby would so love your husbands first cabiny-choice! So I’m so anxious to see what you decided on. If I could design your house I would take the Schoolhouse Electric house from your book as major inspo!!! Love that place so much!

    1. I love schoolhouse. some elements from there for sure. and ya, dudes be loving the rustic cabin that doesn’t exist in our life 🙂

  71. Nice post! I loved reading your thought process and seeing the progression of the design. So excited to see where you ended up with the final two options!

    As for my favorite style out of the ones shown above, my favorite image is the one with the black hanging fireplace because I love the contrast between the black fixtures and pale wood, plus the super plush sofa and rug look so comfy. That low wooden shelf has beautiful color and texture, too, so the combination of modern and rustic and cozy really appeals to me.

  72. Wow, an impressive amount of thought went into this! It kind of begs another blog post on a design cunundrum that I’m currently dealing with: designing around the opinionated husband (with clueless/bad taste.)

    Not to say a Brian fits this category 🙂 but I feel like I’ll waste a ton of time choosing a new bed that mine will tolerate, only to come home and find that he’s purchased the worlds ugliest brown sheets on Amazon for like $14 for said bed. And he refuses to declutter ANY of his stuff so we’re perpetually in this partially stylish/partially Marie Kondo’d abode that is generally ruined by I-live-with-a-22-year-old frat boy furnishings — when all I want is for him to have literally 1% of Brady/Orlando’s design sense.

    I can’t be the only person with this affliction! Please help!!!!!

    1. Its hard. Brian has pretty good taste + he takes a note. I think that most problems in all of marriages is that one person can’t take a note. If design isn’t your thing, let someone else do it!!! Its not that easy I realize but I feel like so many people hold onto the power when they should just let it go and everyone would be happier. Brian has almost entierely let it go. he just wants to make sure that its warm and inviting. and I’ve promised him over and over that it will be

  73. I tried to convince my husband that we should gut our Tahoe cabin and go Modern contemporary (Tahoe mountain modern needs to die) and while his reaction wasn’t as strong as Brian’s, I didn’t win that one either lol. We compromised on Contemporary Cozy, so that’s my favorite of your options here! Can’t wait to see what you decide on!

    1. CONGRATS. thats awesome. you didn’t win but sounds like you didn’t lose. YAY. mountain cabins can be so generic but they don’t have to be. lets do something new shall we?

  74. Definitely feeling the cozy contemporary look. My parents just tore down and completely rebuilt/renovated our tiny lake cabin into an epic 6 bedroom bakehouse and went pretty much with the head to toe cabin look. It’s really beautiful in some places but way too faux rustic and kitschy in others for my liking. It wasn’t my money so I was nothing but complementary but I when love homes, and cabins especially, elevate the surroundings and make it feel special and unexpected, while still cozy. No doubts on you nailing the look of this beautiful property! So excited to see this process and the final results!

    1. everybodies version of ‘cabin’ and ‘rustic’ is different and honestly its SO HARD to do it right. I don’t wish this on anyone, while also knowing how lucky I am. I’m sure your parents worked hard and while its not perfect, it sounds like its pretty great. xx

  75. I think the California casual, minimal, all beige thing is gonna be comically dated in a few years. I think the reality is that most people can attain an eclectic mix but not replace all their furniture and live on the set of star trek next generation lol PLUS I really like embracing hand me down furniture and historic pieces that this style doesn’t seem to do. I wonder what is happening in society that is drawing people to this style? Maybe we are finally seeing the economic upturn after the recession where people are prospering and have jobs and feel like they can live that “ideal” life. Whereas five years ago people may have still been cautious and more DIY/scrappy with what they had. So we were drawn to the colorful, hopeful style of mid-century modern and eclectic. IDK. I just know personally I am desiring a simple palette with warmer colors and I am moving to a 100 year old victorian home. I like the idea of honoring the style of the home you are decorating. Having it make sense.

    1. Amen! Those giant, black, insect-from-outer-space light fixtures are going to be hitting the resale shops in no time, too.

    2. I think you are absolutely right. Part of it is the time, as you said, and the other is the age (we are older and have a better budget). i love hand me downs and heritage pieces but I’m done with the random thrift. is that because i’m a snob now? maybe. or because the zeitgeist has told me that we are moving more towards prosperity? IDK. but I appreciate your comment and i’ll be thinking about it. xx

  76. FINALLY!!!! I’ve been waiting and waiting for the day when Quiet Scandi Girl would make her appearance! Thank you for featuring these beautiful ideas and know there is a strong YES to back that up from someone living in the Oregon woods herself.

    Kinfolk it is <3

  77. This post was amazing! I laughed out loud multiple times, but it was such a good read. I’ve lived in my apartment for 3 years and I still go back and forth on what feel or “emotion” (to use your words) I want to convey. This was very enlightening and helpful. Your book tops the stack on my coffee table for a reason.

  78. After seeing the pictures of minimal contemporary, I desperately want to spend the weekend in a lake house done up in that style. But… (and this is where I’m going to sound mean) I want to spend a weekend there without my husband and kids… because they are messy! I want to spend a weekend wandering around the house, running my hand over the textiles, gazing quietly out of the windows. Ok, now that I think about it, that would get boring fast. But, I still want to be in that pristine space!

  79. I like the rustic cabin style the best. I feel like all of the other designs have too much white. I am kind of bored with white walls/white everything across the design sphere in general. Warm tones, raw wood, and color (gasp!) all the way.

  80. Thank you so much for the husband / wife perspective here. And the ideal describing words vs reality. So true to (my) life right now!

  81. Thank you! I was one of the commentators who asked for process and I love this! Exactly what I wanted. But just wanted to clarify that I’d also love slightly shorter version of this post with the pay off “decision” in the end, instead of two separate posts. I know in todays world it’s all “stay tuned” and teases and have to amp up the anticipation and I might be an outlier so please don’t listen to me if you know it would hurt your page views but I always get a little turned off when the decision is put off/hidden. I don’t watch Bachelorette :). Maybe you could do both types of posts?

    1. HA. I debated this FOR DAYS. but ultimately felt that the next post would feel muddled if these options were in the post. People would feel that they were in the running when they aren’t. That’s why we broke it up. 🙂

  82. The “Minimal/Contemporary” had my name all over it and I live in Oregon up against the edge of Forest Park. I am working on updating my 4 story, 25 feet wide, 20 year old house. That is 100% what I want my house to evolve into. Will 10 – 20 foot ceilings, big beams and huge windows entice you to help my house on your visits to the Dunthorpe House?
    Still, looking forward to what direction your are headed in for your Mountain Fixer Upper.

  83. I love that you involve Brian in the decision-making. Not always the case with couples… You two make a wonderful team and those kids couldn’t be any cuter. Very excited to watch this happen!

  84. I love this post because it is telling about you and your process but it also helped give me insight about my tastes. I love the minimal contemporary, but as I look around my own home in Portland, it is much closer to the Oregon eclectic cabin, which is I guess fitting since I am in Oregon. But it is helping me realize I really want to edit my space more to be a more minimal eclectic hybrid if that is possible!!!!

    1. me too!! its really helped me get rid of even pretty things on my surfaces. if I love this minimal look so much then why do I have so much stuff???

  85. I really love this post! I am glad you are not doing the full on minimalism thing. I love a clean/uncluttered/less tchotchke vibe, but full on minimal contemporary just doesn’t seem very liveable. I like a lot of the rustic cabin photos, but I appreciate that your house isn’t that. However, I still think you could do something like the top left or bottom right photo on your rustic cabin collage because they don’t feel wintery to me. I love that you try to push yourself outside of your own style. I love to see a designer that is not a one trick pony!!! I also love that you make an effort not to fall into a trend that could soon be over. That’s what always worries me about contemporary. Contemporary is always changing and can feel dated really fast. I also loved that you said eclectic is starting to feel messy. I feel that way about many of the pictures in your whimsical scandinavian cottage photos. Grout on the counter, chipped paint…it makes my skin crawl 🙂 I could never relax in that atmosphere! I can’t wait to see what you decide on!!

  86. Man, I totally agree with Brian! I definitely understand the logic of minimalism at a vacation home, especially one where the trees outside can take center stage, but those first few inspiration photos leave me cold. Then the instant I saw the picture of the guy on his porch at his rustic cabin I had a big, warm emotional response. Those photos are just so much more inviting and pull at my heartstrings in a strong way. And when I saw the hanging fireplace I thought, naaah. And then I read the caption. Lol!

    Such a great post! It’s so interesting to see how the ideas evolve. Thanks for sharing, Emily!

    1. HA!! You guys should talk. And for the record I LOVE A RUSTIC CABIN. But you don’t renovate a home to create a rustic cabin. you buy a rustic cabin to create a rustic cabin. I want one but i’m not going to force this house into one. make sense?

  87. I love the whimsical Scandinavian cottage look, but I hear you on tile counters, no one has time to clean unnecessary grout, as well as the skirt under the sink. I wouldn’t be into that either. But that wall paper in the first image is so good.

  88. I love this process post—and I LOVE that minimal contemporary. So so much. I can’t wait to see what you have narrowed it down to. See you Monday!

    PS maybe it’s the mountain coziness you’ve painted in your post or this drizzly LA Friday, but I was wondering if you guys could do a fireplace refresh round up? From surrounds, hearth, mantle, decor… in several different styles?

    1. Oh stay tuned. its coming 🙂 I’ve learned SO Much about fireplaces in the last month due to both houses we are designing. Its a lot of info but I’ll get to it soon. xx

      1. YES, please!!! Working on a 20 foot high fireplace now and really would love some inspiration. Right now thinking of hugh rustic vertical beams on each side with a mantle with same and using old grayed used brick herring bone for the lower portion but haven’t figured out for sure all the way to the ceiling.

  89. I loved the 1st one the best!! The simpler the better, no mess or clutter! Come to the cabin to completely clear your head- and enjoy the nature! My house has way too much clutter so I think to have a nice and clean, yet still cozy space would be the perfect getaway cabin vibe to shoot for! Can’t wait to see what you have for us on Monday!


  90. I love those minimal styles so much… which i normally lean towards character, but the neutral-ness is probably goals for my final home… that being said, one day can you please do a more organic, natural, minimal home? 🙂

  91. The first photo of the rustic cabin category is to DIE for. I want that house. I want that window and I want the money to pay the sun to get those shadows. Gorgeous!!

  92. Emily, I love your Instagram posts and blog so much. I have five kids. That wasn’t a typo. From 16- 3 years old. I’ve actually gotten rid of a lot of home decor pages on Instagram that are just too overwhelming. Yours is so inviting. It’s like we are friends ?…. (in a not creepy way ??) I finally get everyone to bed and love to scroll your posts -the pictures- it’s like my calm at the end of crazy (every day), and I soak it in!!! It’s just so inviting, you write on your posts like we are all hanging in the living room talking about it! I love design and i love all of your tips and help and pics! You have such a cute personality! Thanks for inviting us into your life and business sharing all your amazing talents!!!!❤️❤️

    1. I can’t thank you enough for that comment. you have NO IDEA how happy that makes me. THANK YOU,THANK YOU. YOU are who I write for every day. Your comment made my week – in fact YOU should be so proud that with just one comment you can affect someones life. This is what we should all teach our kids – all 5 of them. 🙂

  93. There is a lake house that was featured in AD that belongs to Jennifer doebler and pat kelly. It is one of the coolest lake houses I’ve seen. Would work for winter too really well! More like Lake Tahoe feel. It’s cozy and traditional but the furniture pieces are modern and it is such a good mix. Just some more inspiration for you… not that you need it. Good luck can’t wait to see what you decide on!

  94. Love seeing the process. A good reminder that it takes time and edits (and patience) to get to the best end result. Thank you for your inspiration Emily!

  95. I had to laugh out loud at how you described the beginning stages of your process, because that’s exactly how it played out with my husband and I. I spent HOURS upon hours pinning pictures, glued to Houzz, pulling pages out of magazines to show what I had in mind for a new house we were building. And after putting everything into it I show hubby and he goes “nah”. I was so annoyed at the time! I thought really, after all the time and energy I’ve put in you dismiss it all with ONE word?! So I asked him to gather his own ideas, which consisted of extreme minimalism, devoid of any signs of life, let alone being suitable for two young children. I love mid-century and veer a little to the traditional side, he loves contemporary. After a lot of deliberation and give and take, we ended up with a look that is very similar to what you call cozy-contemporary above, with a few mid-century elements. I love my new house so much, and it far surpasses any of my original ideas – yay for collaboration! But oh my gosh, the process that it took to get there!!!

    1. YAY for collaboration indeed. just yesterday when I was presenting the two styles we are down to, again (tomorrows post) he was like ‘great’. and I said, full stop, “I need more physical excitement from you.’ The lucky guy has had me design every home he’s ever been in for 17 years so for him its old hat and OF COURSE i’ll make it awesome. But i’m like ‘ you want to be involved? i want you to be involved, then bring your emotional A-game and show that you are excited because that is what I need’. He did and was like ‘I’M SORRY! I LOVE IT, I PROMISE!’. Thank god. he can take a note 🙂

  96. I love the high ceilings and the beams in the rustic cabin living rooms and those wood walls and book cases WOW! I love the cozy Boho feel of the living room in the Eclectic Oregon Cabin and I’m in love with the dining room, lounging area and bedroom in the Minimal Contemporary. Sorry Emily it’s just way too hard to pick a favorite.

  97. Eclectic Oregon Cabin!!!! Also LOVE the green and white. I recently found that tree miral for a room in my house. I’m from Oregon too and now live in wisconson … Miss those trees!

  98. I’m with Brian in this one. And also that house needs something mid century modern, duh!

    It feels like there is something off with minimal and scandi styles. Maybe they are a bit dated and have been around for too long by now. I’m waiting to see new trends and styles, and I’m sure the end result wont be the same old minimalistic, eclectic, mcm or scandinavian, but something fresh! I really loved this post and can’t wait for monday (even though I’ll have a 9am to 8pm school day, which I’m not looking forward to)!

  99. Check out Lauren Leiss’ blog, both her house and lake house she decorated for her father. Vintage , modern, warmth, wood, stone, botanical – it’s great.

    1. I love that house. If we didn’t live in a traditional house now I would emulate that but I don’t want to do something that feels so similar to our house now. But she is a real talent and I love her 🙂

  100. My old lady, long view, two cents…
    Nature is the star, it’s ok to be minimal. I was never a minimalist until we had a lake/mountain place with an amazing view. White walls and minimal furnishings were perfect. Nothing to get in the way of the view. And it was so relaxing. That’s why we had a second place – to get away from the mess of our 1st place.
    And you don’t want tile countertops. At the very least do butcher block. The grout will make you insane. Nothing will sit flat on the tile. If anything falls, even 6 inches, it will shatter.
    Loved the post, and I laughed out loud at Brian’s “worst nightmare” comment! They were all gorgeous to me, but that’s the beauty of collaboration.

  101. My favorite styles from the above are the Rustic Cabin (love all the wood!) and the Eclectic Oregon Cabin. But without a lot of clutter in either – other than books. Cabins needs tons & tons of books. And board games. I just love the feel of a real (cozy) lakeside cabin.

  102. I like the minmal contemporary. Mainly just because if I was going away for the weekend I wouldn’t want too much stuff and I would want it low maintenance, easy to keep clean and tidy. I’m sure whatever style you go for it will look amazing.

  103. While I totally agree that the Scandinavian Cabin is everywhere. I’d still have LOVED to see Emily’s take on it. Something I’ve wrestled with: how do I make that style actually work in my basic American space and not feel overwrought and ridiculous?

  104. So here is my unsolicited opinion 🙂 You do you. I don’t think you have to work so hard to fit one narrow style. Did you see Amber Lewis’ recent Insta Story? She talks about advice she received about not straying too far from her brand. You know how to pull together a room with vintage and color. That is your “brand”. You can do it in a way that suits the cozy cabin and doesn’t have to conform to some defined “style”.

    1. She also mentioned that the woman told her, if you are to stray from your design brand to do it in your own home, not a clients. And this is the perfect opportunity for emily to do something she’s never done before to go explore new styles! Explore emily explore!

      1. I agree with both. it will feel like ‘me’ but hopefully a different version that we haven’t seen (but hopefully we all like :))

  105. I have to laugh at Brian’s horrified reaction because that is what my husband always does with my favored decor style. I’m into eclectic MCM boho and he’s more contemporary craftsman. Just picking a living room rug almost ended up with couples counseling. Kidding, but we did get in a fight over it. I like the eclectic Oregon look myself but I agree it’s not quite right. Maybe it needs more MCM Bond villain? That hanging fireplace would certainly fit in there!

  106. Eclectic Oregon cabin and whimsical Scandinavian cottage are definitely my favorites. They both felt the coziest to me. When I think Mountain lake house, both of those feel perfect to me.
    I’m excited to see where you head!

  107. I love the idea of having Scandinavian influence – but a lot of your inspiration photos you were referencing, to me, felt more like a Scandinavian take on French rustic – KWIM (which I do know that the swedes were heavily influenced by French design during the Gustavian period, so I can see how some Scandinavian could come across as French)? The tiled countertops combined with rustic woods, and skirted cabinet were the most French countryside aspects – and those were probably the pieces you had the most issue with. I felt like a lot of your inspiration photos for clean, contemporary felt more Scandinavian (in a modern, rather than a rustic way). Mid Century modern also has a heavy, clean Scandinavian influence – so incorporating the light, airy, clean, minimal scandinavian designs (which are reflected in your clean contemporary mood board) combined with cozy, outdoorsy (in a lake house, not north mountain cabin sort of way) textures and elements would be amazing. I can’t wait to see what direction you end up going, but I think instinctually, you were right on with wanting to incorporate some aspect of clean and minimal into the decor.

    1. Ooh i like you. You clearly know what you are talking about. Its like have a dramaturg that analyzes and rewrites what you actually meant to write in your play. thank you : )

  108. There is so much in all your boards that I love. The wallpaper options are all beautiful. My absolute favorite was the kitchen close to the top with all the lower elevated cabinets with drawers. That is dream house material for me!!!!!

  109. I personally like the minimal contemporary and rustic cabin looks. Far from each other? Perhaps. But I believe the first set of images you chose is where style is going (grey scale with pops of warmth) but the rustic cabin is what I would choose for myself if I lived in the mountains of Appalachia and kind of what I dream. Especially that first picture under that category- the impossible lighting bedroom dream.

    1. Oh, and your reaction to how Brian reacted to your initial design? My reaction every time I presented a new baby name to my husband. I finally let him be the presenter of names and, amongst those, he presented one I had wanted from the beginning 😀 VICTORY

      1. It really has to be their idea, which is hard in this scenario. but i’m trying. manipulation 101 – make it their idea!!!

  110. I looooove this post! It’s crazy how helpful it is to hear your thought process, I think because when I make style decisions for my home I now know what questions to ask and why certain styles may not be right for my family or home. So yay for that! Also, I love that you’re pushing yourself to do something new, love to see new designs and brave choices! So, to sum up…lots of love over here 😉

  111. Hearing about you and Brian negotiating makes me feel so much better about the struggles my husband and I have finding a middle ground when it comes to design choices!
    I can definitely see the appeal of option 1, minimal and calm for a get-away home.

  112. LOVE this post. Love, love, love. Following the process is great. If anything, I’d be interested occasionally to go even more in depth. How did you move from one style to the next? Is it all gut feeling for you or did you pick a main piece of furniture to theme around? “That sofa is too low and square so moving from scandi to cosy it must be softer lines…”?

    I was with Brian on the rustic cabin vibe when you first presented this house but understand why it wouldn’t fit (while secretly wanting you to do it anyway). Your first theme, it just didn’t look like people would live there. I liked the Oregon Eclectic best as I’m also a tree mural woman and have loved the ones you’ve done before.

    I relate to one of the other commenters (and you) about getting men involved. Sometimes they just don’t know what they want and you spend weeks arguing until you do the thing you were going to do anyway. Then after about three weeks they look up one day and say something like “this room’s really nice to spend time in”, as if it hadn’t taken you months to arrange in such a way that was welcoming and cosy with them complaining the whole time about why they had to to paint the stupid ceiling!!

    On a writing note, this post was interesting and funny and true and Emily and it engaged so many people that I read all of the comments and wanted to respond to at least half of them. It’s inspired me to head out to the garage and get some stuff done.

    1. thank you so much. I love that you guys want more process, because lord knows its in my brain and I can type faster than anyone I know (seriously,. I was a really proficient piano player all growing up and I have seriously fast dexterity). I suppose thats why I blog. ANYWAY, thank you. And regarding partners – I know brian likes our house, but its only when he’s presenting it to someone for the first time and I hear him be so proud of what I do that i’m like ‘ok, he’s psyched’. 🙂
      (and thank you, again, about writing :))

  113. I loved reading this post. When decorating I often have so many ideas of how I want a place to feel, and I tend to get lost in the process and end up with a hodgepodge of feels in one space. NOT zen. But out of all of your ideas i loved cozy contemporary AND Oregon eclectic. Can we have our cake and eat it too??

  114. I was kind of waiting on your take on Scandinavian style 🙂 Not rustic/romantic nor monochrome kind of (we’ve seen those already) Scandinavian but classic modernism (I think of Alvar Aalto, Arne Jacobsen, Josef Frank, Marimekko…) meeting modern Scandinavian cabin meeting Californian playfulness. Although your house is not so 60´s maybe bringing some 60´s in? Can’t wait!

  115. I like the modern Oregon cabin style the best. I think the modernity of it brings in the inherent architecture that the cabin already has, and the woodsy charm of Oregon connects to the fact this is a cabin house. It “fits” the space and it “fits” you guys. I get it doesn’t push you as much, but I think it is the most “you” and therefore it will feel more comfortable (and you started by talking about the feel of a space). Also, I have issue with some of the minimalist spaces you were drawn to. I too like them, but they’re not practical with all that white around kids (spills! stains! mud tracked in! colorful toys!). The Oregon cabin style allows you to have a little color in there, which would make it a lot more kid friendly


    Love this!!! Although the two contemporary styles are my fav (for the same reasons as yours: forward thinking, a new challenge, peace and calm), my favorite part about this post is the realness of the process that you’re shining a light on. It’s SO REFRESHING to hear your real life story, one that isn’t polished and insta-perfect. Not that I don’t love that too, don’t get me wrong.

    Here’s a good way to describe my perspective:
    – Looking at a finished renovation post is like watching my bestie get crowned Prom Queen. I’m clapping for you and screaming your name from way up in the nosebleeds!
    – Reading process posts is like having a cup of coffee with Prom Queen bestie the next morning and talking about all the juicy shit that went down. I’m happy that my bestie, the Prom Queen, is so awesome and down to earth!

    1. if there is one person who loves an analogy in this world its me. which you probably already know if you read this blog. I think in analogies more than I think in actual thoughts. Thats all to say I LOVE THAT ANALOGY. and I couldn’t have come up with a better one to explain why I love who I love when i love them – both on social and in real life.
      Nice job. Thank you. Also do you need a writing job? 🙂

  117. Love ❤️ the Scandinavian Cottage design….would be my
    “My” 1st choice. With that being said, I completely get why you didn’t want to take that road!

  118. I love the rustic cabin photo #4. The mix of wood, white, and textures is modern, bright, and yet comfy, which ultimately is what a mountain cabin should be.

  119. Eclectic Oregon Cabin, though I think ALL are great in their way. LOVE your style–both in design/decorating and writing.

  120. Emily,
    I thought this might help you with your search for gorgeous wood. I love this maker and they are in OR.
    This might be a good source for your project.

    MADE, Inc.
    2940-b SE Belmont Street
    Portland, OR 97214


    So excited to see the final!

  121. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now, always enjoy it, btw. But this post was so fun to read – I could hear your voice and completely understand the internal struggle of picking a style. Can’t wait to see the finished product… Thanks for taking us along during the process, Emily-The-Tree-Mural-Henderson 🙂

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