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Mountain House Reveal: How We Designed Our Super Kid-Friendly Family Room

FAMILY ROOM REVEAL TIME (i.e. the last space we’re revealing during mountain house “shark week”—master bedroom and bath are coming up the first week in September. This is the one room that I wanted to feel even more personal and comfortable (if that’s even possible). It’s for our kids because as they are still young, they really like to play near us so while I’m in the kitchen cooking or hanging with friends at the dining table or living room, this is their room.

The Goal for the Space:

This room is where our family plays and makes a massive mess, every day. Games are played and Legos are built all day every day. And after the kids go down (if we possibly stay awake after the requisite 20 minutes we lay with them), this is where Brian and I watch Dead to Me on that awesome Samsung Frame TV.

Here’s a peek at it what we were working with before the renovation:

Emily Henderson Home Lake House Remodel Intro 9

Emily Henderson Home Lake House Remodel Intro 18

The Challenges:

Ha. So many challenges.

First, as you can see in the “before” shot, this room had a big staircase to the upstairs hangout area (there were actually two, the other being the loft) that we turned into the master suite thus not needing the stairs. We removed them which made the room far more usable, bigger and squared off. It was so awkward before and now it’s probably the most used room in the house.

There wasn’t very much light so the scenic doors and the new windows we sourced through Marvin make it so much brighter and happier. And in here, we didn’t need window treatments for privacy or light so we skipped those so we could see the beautiful white oak frames.

Here’s How We Achieved Our Extremely Kid-Friendly Family Room:

Emily Henderson Moutain House Family Room Lores113

Emily Henderson Moutain House Family Room Lores116

Seamless Storage.

So much storage. The bench could have provided an area to put pretty birch logs, but after that silly debate, we knew that it was going to be for bins of toys. We found really sturdy and affordable bins from Target’s Project 62 collection which fit perfectly both in size and style (how pretty is that wood?). And that credenza from Ethnicraft is seamless with the flooring, thus again keeping it more minimal, simple and clean.

Emily Henderson Moutain House Family Room Lores117

We created a mini back entrance with that vintage mirror from MidcenturyLA that holds all my hats, sunglasses and a pretty sculptural vintage chair. All in the light wood that again echoes the main wood of the reclaimed beech.

Emily Henderson Moutain House Family Room Lores16


We wanted this room to be more colorful to reflect our kids and feel more playful and happy. So while the rest of the house (besides their room) remains more neutral, that rug and all the artwork make this room feel so alive and young. Now I’m like, wait, should I bring more color into the rest of the house??? (Ha, I already have.)

Emily Henderson Moutain House Family Room Lores15

Kid-Friendly Textiles.

We chose a really deep, cozy sofa custom from Cisco Home that we upholstered in Crypton fabric. It’s dark, but even if it does get greasy popcorn on it, it comes out with a quick wipe because of the Crypton. It has a pillow top cushion that is SO comfy. For this shoot, we took off the back cushions to add more pillows and make it more editorial for the magazine but we actually live with the back cushions on it.

The rug from Nordic Knots is so high quality and beautiful. It’s low-pile, cozy, and dark thus making it a perfect surface to build on. Dark rugs show more lint, sure, but we love this happy hit of blue that the room needed. It’s also wool so it will last forever and actually doesn’t shed like other wool rugs.

Emily Henderson Moutain House Family Room Lores17

Now technically, this chair (more on it in a sec) isn’t “kid-friendly” but it’s important to break up a really cozy upholstered sofa with another material—leather, wood and brass, and a shape/style that ensures that isn’t your average TV room. Okay, back to the chair. It’s from Norell Furniture and is my dream chair, full stop. I want it in every room, but it’s PERFECT here. It’s so cool with the leather straps and the extended shape of the headrest. It edges up the room and brings it to another level.

Emily Henderson Moutain House Family Room Lores115

Personal art.

All the pieces in this room are personal to our family. I’m obsessed with this wall and it’s a total conversation piece. Everyone stops and stares and comments. It’s just so special to our family. I included our wedding vow cards, the kids’ ultrasounds, artwork by them, a special piece from Danielle Krysa with a collage of Brian and I incorporated into it, photo strips, Polaroids and the kids’ self-portraits from pre-school. It’s full of life and color and makes me SO HAPPY.  We framed them all with Framebridge in a mix of light wood, dark wood and white mostly float mounted so it felt more collected and inviting rather than a grid or something that was more modern. It’s my favorite gallery wall I’ve ever installed and I don’t plan on changing it for the rest of our life here.

Emily Henderson Moutain House Family Room Lores114

Also, in terms of the double sconce, we got it from Orange and it adds such architectural interest and breaks up the gallery wall in a really unexpected way. The room wouldn’t have been flat without it, but boy does it make it come alive having those arms project into the space.

Family Room 13

An “Undercover” TV.

The TV (Samsung’s Frame which has a built-in art screensaver that is VERY convincing) is big, but again, looks like art. The kids know it’s there but are less distracted by it than they would be a huge black box that screams “I hold all contents of Paw Patrol.” As for the fireplace, it’s gas and turned on with a push of the remote. Every morning in the winter, we would put it on and immediately the room felt so cozy. It’s only a little hot to the touch (we normally had the flame on low; you can control the heat and the height of the flame). Fireplaces are magic, they just are, and create an ambiance in a mountain house that is very very welcomed. Sometimes the kids just cuddle in front it and puzzle for hours.

Emily Henderson Moutain House Family Room Lores18

Easy Access to Outdoors.

The scenic doors (by Marvin) open to the outside and they stay open all days when it’s cool enough outside, which means the kids can run out to the back without having to ask us to open the heavy doors for them. They are just stunning and the white oak finish is seamless with our reclaimed beech flooring. It’s incredible in both function and style.

Family Room Gif 3

When the four-panel doors are all the way open, it really just feels like the outdoor patio is part of this room and we can watch the kids from inside because it honestly feels like we’re out there with them.

How We Live In It Now (& Will We Change Anything?):

Emily Henderson Mountain House Family Portrait3

This room gets USED. For the magazine shoot, the direction was to make it less “kid” so we put cushions on the benches, but in reality, those are surfaces for Legos and doll-dressing. I couldn’t handle all the pillow styling, but they certainly look more fun and editorial than not having pillows. So we put the back cushions on and just have a throw for snuggling without the daily pillow placement pressure. 🙂

Our kids neither play Bingo or Checkers and we certainly don’t leave them out on the coffee table like in some of the previous shots. These are editorial props for a magazine, but typically that coffee table (which is vintage and I’ve had forever) is full of Legos or crayons.

But otherwise, it’s exactly how we use and love it every day. It’s a total mess, but the bins and the cabinet make it easy to clean up and by “easy,” I think we know that asking a 3- and 5-year-old to clean up is never EASY. But at least we have a place for everything and nothing in this room can destroy them or get destroyed by them.

Now, our favorite part of these reveals: the VERY satisfying before and afters…

Family Room B&a 2

Family Room B&a 1

Family Room B&a 3

Family Room B&a 4


Pure White by Sherwin-Williams | Windows by Marvin | Sliding Doors by Marvin | French Doors by Marvin | Door Hardware by Marvin | Beechwood Flooring by Ross Alan Reclaimed Lumber | Light Switches from Forbes and Lomax | Fireplace by Heat and Glo | Fireplace Color by Sherwin-Williams 


Sofa by Cisco Brothers | Sofa Fabric in Black Slate by Crypton | Credenza by Ethnicraft | Coffee Table from Knoll | Side Table from Target | Side Table from Country LTD. | Chair by Norell Furniture | Cylinder Floor Lamp from Rejuvenation | Bench from Counter Space

Art & Decor:

Rug by Nordic Knots | Mug from Sheldon Ceramics | Throw Blanket by Rebecca Atwood (no longer available) | Quilted Velvet Square Pillow from Target | Quilted Velvet Oversize Lumbar Throw Pillow from Target | Woven Stripe Oversize Square Throw Pillow from Target | Silk Blend Dash Oversize Lumbar Throw Pillow | Oversize Square White Pillow on Sofa from Target (coming soon) |  Black and White Contrast Pillow on Sofa from Target (coming soon) | Black Suede Pillow from CB2 | Rug from IKEA | Vintage Mirror from Mid Century LA | Table Lamp from Target (coming soon) | Connect Four Game from Target | Checkers from Amazon | Wood Storage Bin from Target | Candles from Target (coming soon) | Art Frame from Framebridge

TV & Lighting:

TV Frame by Samsung | Vintage Sconce from Orange Furniture

Patio Furniture:

Table from IKEA | Benches from Target (no longer available) | Vase from Ferm Living

Check out the rest of The Mountain House reveals here: The 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 Kids’ Room

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4 years ago

Dreamy! Though I appreciate the Scandinavian minimalist vibe in the rest of the house, this room is so cozy and livable. Thanks for an awesome week!

4 years ago

FYI: The link for the bins from Target leads to a board game.
Thank you for a great week of Mountain House reveals!!

4 years ago
Reply to  Renee

I noticed this too and also the link to the Ikea table goes to sherwin williams paint color. Beautiful room! Have really enjoyed the week of reveals. You guys have done a fabulous job – such wonderful inspiration.

4 years ago
Reply to  Bek

Both are fixed now! So glad you enjoyed the reveals, have a wonderful Sunday!

4 years ago
Reply to  Julie Rose

Love the room so much! Those sliding windows are the bomb. Brings the outside in.

I just tried the link for the bins, and it still links checkers on Amazon. Thanks! Will just try to find them on Target.

4 years ago

Gah. I love this room so much. No wonder it is so well-used by your family.

4 years ago

This room reads the most “Emily” to me. I’ve loved seeing all the rooms this week and how you’ve stretched stylistically, but it makes sense that a room you want to feel the most comfortable would be closer to your “regular” style. Bravo on the whole house!

4 years ago
Reply to  Amber


4 years ago

Love it! And I love and want the storage bins but it looks like link goes to checkers!

4 years ago
Reply to  Meg

The link is fixed!

4 years ago

So beautiful and cozy! I esp I’ve the gallery wall, it looks so elevated.

4 years ago

LOVE seeing the whole house come together – so much lovely and intentional design. Sidenote: Just wanted to give a shoutout to the link-ups y’all have been doing. I’m secretly hoping they will be an ongoing installment – it’s become a Sunday ritual of sorts!

4 years ago
Reply to  Lissa

What Lissa said! I look forward to them every Sunday morning too!

Roberta Davis
4 years ago

It’s all “you”- every space. And it’s all fantastic. I love to see how you considered the livability and how you would use the room, in your design, yet still made it stylish and beautiful.

danielle krysa
4 years ago

Beyond honored to have a piece of art on that very personal, beautiful wall xo

4 years ago

You are the queen of this look and may you reign forever! I want to stare at it for hours!!! ??????

4 years ago

What an incredible transformation. It’s such a beautiful, inviting living space. One could spend hours on end ruminating, playing, napping, talking, writing, reading. Question: is the fireplace a natural plaster that’s been painted or sealed or both? Perhaps I overlooked the details about that specific design. I’d love to know more details.

4 years ago
Reply to  Jo

Hey Jo! The fireplace is a plaster and then we painted it in Gossamer Veil by Sherwin-Williams 🙂

4 years ago

This room looks very cozy! I agree that the addition of color makes it particularly inviting. I will look forward to seeing more bits of color added to the other rooms.

A typo I found: I think you meant, “how we LIVE in it” rather than “how we love in it.”

4 years ago
Reply to  Addie

Love it all!

Where are the long sheep skin rugs over the bench from in family room?

4 years ago

Gorgeous! LOVE the personal gallery wall.

4 years ago

This room is so incredibly thoughtful. My favorite parts are the sconce – because it’s so modern and of the moment, representing your family’s businesses – and the doors to the outside – supporting your life with your kids.

Thank you for sharing so much.

4 years ago

Such a dramatic change! The “before” felt like a finished basement to me, and every time I saw the pictures I would have to remind myself that it wasn’t. It was definitely dark with the only window being shaded by the deck (?). I am obsessed with that gorgeous leather chair and the sconce. The rug has an 80’s vibe and the bright blue is a little jarring in the context of the rest of the house. It’s a really lovely space though and all the light you added is fantastic. Can’t wait to see the master.

4 years ago

So comfy and cute! I think this is my favorite room of the house. I’m wondering if you think you’ll switch to a sectional or more seating when your kids are bigger?

4 years ago

This room is gorgeous and might be my favorite in the house. But this entire house is just stunning. The open design, the natural light and the incredible finishes touches remind me of your Glendale home which I LOVED. I have always felt that the traditional LA house while great, didn’t fully capture your potential as a designer but this house just sings to me.

How do you resist the urge to move in here full time?!

4 years ago

In an earlier post this week, you mentioned spending money on doors and windows. Boy, was that right on the money! The doors and windows (and floors!) are amazing and really take every room up a notch.

4 years ago

My favorite room of the mountain reveal! It really feels true to your style. I love the color! Is the rug plush and soft or thin like a flat weave? Do you use your regular rug pad under it?

4 years ago

This. Is. My. Favorite. Room. I vote Yes to bringing more color like this throughout the rest of the house like you were saying. This room feels so fun bad personal and still beautifully styled. The sconce along the art wall is so beautiful!!

4 years ago

Thanks for introducing me to those amazing light switches. They’re to die for. Brb now I have to go build a new house where they’ll be featured. 😉

4 years ago

When I was in my early twenties, my best friend had a baby. I knew that this experience was a wonderful one and that she was so happy with her new family. At the same time, I couldn’t help feeling sad about losing a certain amount of intimacy with her. We’d spend less time together, and we had less in common. I am having that same feeling right now reading this blog. When I first started reading in 2013, I loved it so much. It was an incredible free education in design, with empowering advice about how to make a house beautiful by buying inexpensive vintage furniture. I loved the idea that it was something that could be done on a really small budget and that all you needed was the know-how, which Emily provided in spades. Plus, even though she doesn’t know me and never will, I felt like I had this one-on-one friendship with this cool, smart, funny girl who was so charismatic on the page that she could make spelling mistakes charming. (And bring back the word “nay.”) I just don’t have much in common anymore with Emily. I know that never in my life will I… Read more »

4 years ago
Reply to  Alex

Dude, you sound a little “me-me-me” here. Other people’s good fortune — whether it’s a baby or a pebble ice machine — is not about you.

4 years ago
Reply to  Alex

I totally hear what you are saying. Former interior designer here who became too woke to keep doing this. I grew up with HGTV, pored over design magazines, and dreamed of doing this kind of stuff for years. But it feels like this is just feeding the capitalistic nightmare that we live in. There’s nothing inherently wrong with beautiful design and a life of luxury. But it just feels so disheartening knowing the reality of suffering and inequality going on in this world. Grace Bonney of Design Sponge is closing shop after years because she can’t play this game anymore. For goodness sake, even Kim Kardashian is gravitating towards criminal justice reform. I know you are sensitive to these issues, Emily, and try to do charity projects and speak openly about social justice issues. At the same time it feels like these are just crumbs when the reality is that this whole business model is feeding the beast. How do you deal? What’s next?

4 years ago
Reply to  Laura

Oh for god’s sake. You became “too woke”? And yet here you are to read about design. Why? To sit in judgment? Does it hurt when you pat yourself on the back so much?

4 years ago
Reply to  Elizabeth

No I’m still here because I am curious to see what Emily does next. I’ve always been a fan of Emily and I know she has struggled with similar feelings. I can see how “too woke” sounds obnoxious. What I mean to say is that this thing that I once felt so passionately about feels icky knowing the greater realities of this world. I know Emily listens and cares about this stuff and I want to keep the conversation going. I still love interior design and want to see the industry shift in a positive way if that’s possible.

4 years ago
Reply to  Laura

Why does anyone create anything at all anymore? What is the purpose of art, music, film, and theater when there are so many other real world issues we could be focusing on? Surely there are better, more meaningful ways to spend our time? I’m asking all of this rhetorically, of course, because it’s a ridiculous question. Art and design serve an important purpose in culture and society. Someone has to be the response to all the darkness in the world. That is the role artists fill. Humans need balance; they need inspiration; they need joy. Artists of all kinds give us an escape, allowing us to recharge our batteries so we can confront our reality with fresh eyes. Designers might get less fanfare than “artists”, but they’re no less important. In fact, in your daily life, designers may be even MORE important. They are artists but also problem solvers. Any object in our daily lives that functions well, whether it be your car or your sofa, only does so because of designers who cared enough to improve on something that came before or to demand better. Emily is an artist and a designer. She doesn’t paint or act, but she… Read more »

4 years ago
Reply to  Saima

Hey I don’t disagree with you about why art and design are important philosophically, but you are fooling yourself if you think the design INDUSTRY is about anything but the $$$. Emily’s business is a huge success in large part because she moves product. Most of the cute, affordable Target stuff is made overseas. As spokesperson, I would love to see Emily travel overseas to vet the factories and let us know if these goods are ethically and sustainable sourced. And the high-end stuff is only accessible to a certain market of people. I’ve got nothing against rich people, but am frustrated by the socio-economic conditions which perpetuate vast inequality. Marketing to the ultra rich, while profitable, is essentially maintaining and benefitting from the status quo. As another Laura commented below, all these pretty renovations make her feel like “i too now want to go out and buy a new home and completely renovate.” I don’t know if that’s really the type of inspiration we want the design industry to promote.

4 years ago
Reply to  Alex

This comment is how I feel too – and I think because it was thoughtfully written and because Emily’s blog tackles issues very openly, it makes more sense as a comment on this blog than on other blogs, where perhaps a reader might think it but not say it. I still love this blog and read it every day, and I love the growing team and new voices, but the design itself looks a lot more like any high end designer’s portfolio than something specifically “Emily” or something that I can realistically take inspiration from my my own home. That’s OK, because its also wonderful to hear all the detail and choice-making behind the scenes. It’s such a pleasure to hear about the process and sourcing, and logistical complications. However I really miss the early days, the “weirder” looks, and the working within more constraints, because. I also loved the Frame TV styling shoots because they were unusual and made use of interesting props and collections, and reminded me of those early days. I’ll still read and love the blog no matter what – and I have been enjoying the new voices and makeovers. But I can still miss my… Read more »

4 years ago
Reply to  Emily

Also excuse all my typos – was composing on a phone!

4 years ago
Reply to  Alex

Yeah, she’s moved on. And you haven’t. It happens in life all the time.

4 years ago
Reply to  Alex

i kind of agree with the FOMO but it’s not necessarily the blogger’s fault. all 5 of the bigger designers i follow (emily, sarah sherman samuel, chris loves julia, jenny komenda and amber interiors) have bought very nice homes within the past year and completely redid (redoing) them. i’ve noticed that i too now want to go out and buy a new home and completely renovate it. we even put our perfectly fine house on the market earlier this year only for me to realize 1 week later that we can’t afford it and it’s not the right time. i need to check myself and remind myself that they have the income and ability to do it, which is great for them but does have me feeling left out. i’m still able to get design inspo from these renovations though. i also think emily referenced this earlier this year in regards to the direction the blog is going – less big renovations and more smaller designed spaces like the past. it’s an interesting discussion for sure…

4 years ago
Reply to  Alex

I find such comments to be so unfair, unempathetic and myopic in their spirit. We have to rise beyond holding people back for things they have evolved to do (super well, if I might add), just because they don’t match the aspiration we hold for them. None of us are still doing what we did 10 years ago. I also cannot afford 90% of what Emily will post about, but I learn from the spirit, passion and kindness she has across all her posts (and all her ideas can be mimicked to options that work for me). You find what you look for. Relatability doesn’t have to be one-dimensional and versus finances only. If you like her as a person, you can find relatability across multiple other aspects of her life/personality and not have to lose any of the connection. If a bond weakens because someone has started to reflect a stronger financial outlook, then that connect wasn’t built on the correct fundamentals anyway.

I wish you more success Emily. Your work is so honest, as are you.

4 years ago

Obsessed with the windows and doors. And love the plaster for the fireplace surround. Question – weren’t there going to be custom bookshelves flanking the seating on either side of the fireplace or was that nixed? Curious to see what has come of that decision. Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to seeing the master bath and closet reveal!

4 years ago
Reply to  Ashlea

Hey Ashlea! Yes, the original plan was to build custom shelving that flanked the benches of the fireplace but one day during construction our crew told us the the sliding doors would have to extend into the space about 18″ more than they expected so we had to nix the design but in the end we all love how it turned out!

4 years ago

I absolutely LOVE this family room! I know before there was that window to the dining room there was a debate about storage for outside clothes ans shoes coming in – did you find a solution?

4 years ago

While I have followed every step published by you and saw all the work it involved, the outcome appears effortless……must mean it is so right on a lot of levels. Well done, Emily and team!

4 years ago

I love love love the kid art.

4 years ago

Love it love it LOVE it. I love that this room has more color but can’t decide if that makes me a wish for more color in the rest of the house OR if the lack of color elsewhere makes this color more special. And that this color makes the quiet neutral spaces more special too. Now that we’ve seen all the living spaces, I think you have achieved absolute perfection. Earlier in the week I loved it all, but thought more color would be nice. Now I think the balance is just right. Thank you for sharing this with us. It is breathtaking. Also, this reveal week has been like Christmas morning every day! What a treat.

4 years ago

So beautiful and yet colorful. It really works with the rest of the house. Can you please link up the gray and white pillow that’s on the fireplace bench?? I NEED that pillow!!!

4 years ago

While this hoe is really beautiful, nothing about it says “mountain” to me. That rock fireplace was a missed opportunity to incorporate a little “mountain”. Is Brian happy with it?

4 years ago

Okay, the chair and gallery wall are phenomenal. I know you had to do away with the custom built-ins but the bench length just seems sooo awkward. Is that how it’s going to stay? Are you happy with it?

4 years ago

Hi Emily,

What you’ve done with this blog is awesome! Thank you for sharing those tips and information. And those pics are splendid.

I am a builder from Jakarta, Indonesia. I just want you to know how we appreciate the changes that you have done with those places.

Visit our website if you have spare time :

4 years ago

Fantastic room! Heads up, the link to Target storage bins is incorrect…

4 years ago

That meaningful gallery wall is everything. ❤️ Thank you for jump starting a project for me that will add the much needed personal touch to my home.

IKEA table link goes to SW paints.

4 years ago

Love it! Wish the TV was hung lower, and wish the built-in benches were symmetrical with the windows, but those are really my only “wish it were…” moments in this room. Sooo good! Really digging the new sofa – both style-wise and color-wise.

4 years ago

Why do you guys have to blow out the lighting in the afters? This is gorgeous but my other question is what about screens? Is Lake Arrowhead high up enough to not have to worry about mosquitoes? What about flies?

4 years ago

This is my favorite room so far! SO beautiful and cozy – and once again, such a nice balance between minimal and fun. All of the rooms have been beautiful but this one is just super EHD and I love it. Very inspiring because I feel like the “spirit” and color palette of this room can totally be replicated with my (much) smaller budget. Thank you!! XOXO

4 years ago

I may have missed this somewhere, but where is the blue rainbow piece sitting on the credenza from?

4 years ago

OMG I missed this one last week but I think this is my favorite room in the house (close tie with the kitchen). This one feels Old Emily meets New Emily. because of the playfulness and color while still feeling minimal. I just want to be in there!

4 years ago

Gawd…I just love this room 🙂 I want to spend all my time in it. I can see why you guys do.

4 years ago

Ohhhh….that gallery “personal” wall is the BEST…just warms my heart. This is the true soul of a home. I’ve been pulling my kids’ artwork for awhile now (decades old), am in the process of doing something similar. LOVE this!

Kelsey Newell
4 years ago

Can you tell me about the comfort level of the Norell chair?