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Emily Henderson

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by Emily Henderson
Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Sidebyside Header 01

Today is the REVEAL (!!!) of the two final kitchen design plans for our “modern rustic Scandinavian mountain” kitchen. I just spoke to your employer and they agreed that while it’s not a formal national holiday, you should skip work and spend the day reading this, instead. It’s the biggest I Design, You Decide to date, and a lot of the design of the house hinges on today’s poll. No pressure (actually, it’s A TON OF PRESSURE, DON’T FAIL ME). You’ll need a while to read it (it took me a while to write it), but if you are a renovation junky, are renovating your kitchen soon or are in design school, don’t miss a word because I learned so much and there are a lot of valuable nuggets that aren’t just about colors and textures woven in. As an uncertified decorator, I have a new found respect for all the kitchen designers who have been renovating these hardworking rooms for years. Designing this kitchen to be functional, stylish, fashion-forward but not too trendy, mountain-appropriate yet with a super modern feel has been tricky, (though a very fun challenge).

To create two design plans and like them both (almost) equally was perhaps maddening, honestly. I’m so happy to say that we have finalized the two kitchen options for you to choose between, and we love them both. (And thanks to my amazing design and blog team for helping to pull this together…everyone weighed in SEVERAL times as things flipped and flopped to get to where we landed for these final plans).

Let’s revisit the “before” which was a pretty great time capsule of 1992.

In case you think I’m being a snob against this style, know that I realize wholeheartedly that the reddish-yellow-brown shiny maple cabinets of 1992 are the white, gold and blush bathrooms of 2018. We are no better than our predecessors when it comes to avoiding trends because the zeitgeist is a typhoon you can’t avoid if you are near. Hilariously, all-wood/maple cabinets are back, it’s just done differently. Perhaps a whole post on that is due (you tell me what you think).

But it is dated, and it was the darkest room in the house and yet the one we hung out in the most.

We renovated this entire kitchen to give it the modern mountain treatment that it deserved. As a reminder, here is where we are with the layout, and thanks to your comments all that is in red are new changes (see this post to see the full functional layout, and cabinetry and appliance plan).

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Plan With Notations 01

The biggest change is that we switched the fridge and the dry bar cabinet so that the swing of the fridge door doesn’t affect the person sitting on the island (as per your comments and suggestions—THANK YOU). We spent a FULL DAY trying to add the dry bar on the end of where the fridge is planned to be now, facing the living room, opening in that direction, but the ceiling lines aren’t consistent over there and it was looking so messy and architecturally silly so we stopped trying to make it work (because it wasn’t working). We also clarified some overhangs for counter seating and dove deeper into the cabinetry storage.

The intent of the design is to create a kitchen that feels both rustic and refined, with elements and finishes of both styles that work well together and don’t compete. I want there to be some more forward, edgy elements as well as something that references that we’re in the mountains. We didn’t want it to go too cold and contemporary but I also didn’t want to be as traditional as my current house. So where we landed was not quite in the middle: we included strong design elements and finishes reminiscent of both, with clean lines and finishes that were at the same time warm and refined.


Option #1 is more dramatic and edgy, but with some classic details. Here are some inspiration photos, but obviously there isn’t anything that is an exact match because this kitchen hasn’t been designed or seen before.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Kitchen I Design You Decide Inspo Pic 1
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Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Kitchen I Design You Decide Inspo Pic 4
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Please note that black stained wood above…we LOVE that. In fact, we haven’t been able to stop talking about the finish for weeks (it’s on everyone’s minds constantly).

Without further ado, I’d like to present to you our first kitchen design option:


Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Option One Final Edgy

Ellis Pendant | Faucet | Sink | Hardware Pull | Vic Sconce | WindowMini Dome Sconce | Micro Knob | Smokebell Pendant | Ledge Pull | Soho White Marble

There is so much to talk about that I am going to reference throughout, but I wanted to show you the materials before we dove into the renderings. To ensure that everything actually worked together (which we tweaked one million times), my design team (Julie, Velinda and Grace—THANK YOU) used their magic and skills to do 3D renderings of both kitchens for you (and us).

Here is how all those materials will actually look in the space. Remember that this is a rendering so what you can’t see are the natural light, texture and general soul.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Render 03 Fnladj

This option is more dramatic, modern and forward with its black and off-white color palette, light blue-gray honed marble (that we might leather) and hits of gold. You already know the layout, so it’s time to talk more about the finishes. (The dining table and chairs are just to help you understand the space but are not part of the design plans yet.)


Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Render 07 Fnladj

The island is clad in a stained black reclaimed wood. After weighing and sampling so many different options, we landed on black stained old wood, instead of either unpainted rustic wood or painted flat wood because we really wanted some texture here. In person, it’s so pretty and subtle but brings in the cabin-y feel. It’s the focal point of this design and everybody who sees this wood is responding strongly to it.


Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Render 09 Fnl

The lowers and the floor-to-ceiling cabinets are an off-white (Egret White by Sherwin-Williams) to keep it light, but we didn’t want a stark black and white option (I realize it looks white but it is indeed an off-white). This white is warm and lovely.

We did change some of the drawers up there function-wise because we realized that we didn’t have a “junk drawer” and that top one on the left is when you first walk in through the side entrance so it’s the perfect place to throw everyday stuff. Plus, we are putting an electrical outlet in one side with a divider to make that the charging station for tablets, phones and computers. The vertical cabinets pull out and will have custom built-ins for a spice rack, knife block and utensil holders. The two big drawers in the center are for pots and pans, as well as the two cupboards on each side. We’re still deciding whether we want those cupboards to have a pull-out bottom shelf or not. That’s TBD.


Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Render 02 Fnladj

The stone countertop (called Soho White from Bedrosians) is so beautiful but quiet. It’s a super lovely blue-gray marble that is honed and has a lot of movement in a soft way. I know marble as a surface is controversial (since it’s so high-maintenance) and a “lifestyle choice”, but it’s my choice and I like a house that ages. Yes, I’ve questioned this one million times and we even threw in a quartzite that was stunning but we were worried it looked like granite. I originally was going to use Cambria quartz for durability and stain resistance, but when Brian forced this house into a more rustic direction, the rustic island needed an organic stone. This is the one choice that I might change should this option get chosen. We took it up the window wall so you could see it more, and chose to make it thicker—2 inches—so it has more of a presence (which means that we had to adjust the cabinet height…did I thank the design team yet? Yes, but they deserve another shout out because each change took HOURS to render out).


Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Sink Faucet Moodboard 01

Faucet | Sink

We went with a classic farm sink to keep with the cabin vibe. I love a single basin versus a double (and I’ve heard others agree). We chose the Purist in Vibrant Polished Brass to modernize the space and keep it warm and in the EHD brand. 🙂 The shape of the Purist is amazing and so simple that it can work with so many different styles. We ordered all the plumbing months ago and I recently was like “should I have ordered it in black?” but I’m so glad I didn’t let myself change my mind. I think this kitchen needs that brass and it helped inform all the metals in the lighting.


Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Render 06 Fnladj

The cabinets are inset so the fronts are flush with the stiles (hot tip: a stile is the vertical framing between the cabinet or drawer fronts; I JUST learned that). The wood we went with is alder that has 1-inch grooves and a 1 1/2-inch panel around the outside.

We wanted texture and detail but in a modern way that still felt simple. We tried 1-inch grooves with no border, but it felt too contemporary for Brian (he was right) so the panel around the outside helped keep it more classic. When renovating an older home, it’s my personal opinion that you should avoid looking “new build” as much as possible because even if the “new build” is super cool and trendy, it has the chance of looking more dated in the nearer future. I look at my beadboard in my bathrooms in LA and I’m like “why didn’t I do something more modern here??!!!” But then I remind myself that the house is 100 years old and wainscot is so classic.

I’m going to break down the whole process of how we chose the style, finish and profile of the cabinets in an upcoming post, so stay tuned if you’re interested.


Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Render 08 Fnl Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Render 08 Fnl1

We went round and round on these cabinets, at first going floor-to-ceiling as single panels, but it just looked like closets to us (we’ll show you that process in that upcoming post I mentioned above). It works in some houses, but it was feeling too cold for us. Besides, it couldn’t be seamless because of the freezer drawers (which were already on site). So by breaking them up, it really felt more interesting, custom, inviting and, frankly, functional.

I decided on glass fronts for the dry bar and appliance pantry because I wanted to add texture. Turns out I’m TRULY not a minimalist (shocking, I know) and I just couldn’t do a wall of floor-to-ceiling cabinets without adding more interest. I love how those two glass cabinets break it up, plus it’s two fewer cabinets that guests will have to guess their function.

We will likely use a thick almost “blurry” glass that I’ve seen around lately (go here for a visual reference). I will need to do more research on it, and I’ll show you what it is when we do the posts about how we are designing the inside of those two cabinets (why not make them special, right?). It might be cost-prohibitive, but I like the idea of slightly obscuring the contents inside.


Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Lighting Moodboard Option One 01

Ellis Pendant | Vic SconceMini Dome SconceSmokebell Pendant

Coming up with two lighting plans that worked together and still told the story of the house was hard. Plus, loving them both equally was quite the challenge.

For each plan, we have the following components: something streamlined and modern, and something lantern-like that feels more cabin-y. We will do a whole post about how to pick coordinating lighting and we’ll show you all the rejected combos (well not all 124 of them, but enough that you understand the process). Because we have hidden track lighting in the beams for function, the island light could be less about the light and more about the form; here, we picked this stunning sculpture by Katy Skelton. And yes, that is caramel leather in the middle. So gorgeous. The black and brass sconces flanking the window are glass lanterns from The Urban Electric Company. I’ve loved them for so long.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Render 07 Fnladj

Above the bar, we have three micro flush mounts (I think I just coined that term) to help light that area, but not detract from the view into the kitchen from the living room. These are modern but so simple that they can work with the rustic wood. That Katy Skelton pendant is the hero so we wanted to really see it from the living room. We mixed up the shapes and the numbers of fixtures but made sure that the style of the hardware/rods and the finishes worked well together. For instance, we wouldn’t have done that pendant over the island with sconces that had a lot of decorative detail. But doing sconces that were really modern might have taken this kitchen down a colder path. So finding really modern streamlined “lanterns” helped it make sense and give us the modern cabin feel that we wanted.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Render 05 Fnladj

The pendants over the dining table (more on those next) also reference the lantern sconces, but by being rounded instead of rectangular or square, it plays off the lines of the island pendant and doesn’t mimic too much the boxy shape of the sconces too much. We have a mix of round and square, refined and rustic, but all in the same three finishes – black, brass and glass. That seems easy but trust me it’s not. I’ll show you all the rejected combos soon. It took FOREVER, but was such a great learning process.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Render 04 Fnladj

Also from The Urban Electric Company, the rounded lanterns over the dining area are a little more modern, again in mixed metals. The frame is black, but the disc is brass. They have a large presence in such a quiet way. And I literally think that they will forever be in style. Finding “modern classic” is so hard, but I think these do it (all of UECo.’s lighting does, actually…and by the way, it looks like their product is to the trade but you can order anything over the phone). Urban Electric is a wonderful company; skilled artisans make all their product at their South Carolina headquarters by hand, and their entire staff has amazing work/life balance and they even offer paternity leave. Their lighting fixtures are high-end and thus expensive, but they should be and are worth it. If you love beautiful handmade lighting and can afford a design company that supports/creates US jobs and treats their employees so well, please do :).

**While the design of the dining room has not been started we wanted to plan the other lighting with those lights in mind as it’s a shared space. So don’t think about the table and chairs as they are just placeholders (although I’m OBSESSED with these, from Thos. Moser).

Here you can see how all the lighting interacts, which was tricky and maybe something that not everyone thinks about. But as a stylist, it’s really important for me to combine shapes and scales to ensure that certain things don’t block others and that there is a variety without it looking mismatched. I wouldn’t do two sconces, two island pendants, two dining room pendants and two bar semi-flush mounts. I worked so hard to make them different, but cohesive.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Render 01 Fnladj

I think seeing this entire thing overhead is also VERY fun so you can better understand how the whole space functions together. There’s great clearance around the island, and it’s easy to see how the view from the living room can go all the way to the dining room, thus the need for keeping the lighting minimal and quiet. We haven’t plugged in seating yet but there will be three stools at the island and at least two at the bar. And remember that most of the floor-to-ceiling cabinetry will retract and can stay open without the cabinets in the middle of the room (see this post for reference).

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Render Plan Fnladjd2

Phew, okay…that was a lot. Here’s a reminder of the materials below so you can stare at them while deciding.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Option One Final Edgy

Ellis Pendant | Faucet | Sink | Hardware Pull | Vic Sconce | WindowMini Dome Sconce | Micro Knob | Smokebell Pendant | Ledge Pull | Soho White Marble

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Ps Option1

But obviously, a full tour rendering of the space will help you feel as immersed as possible. I LOVE seeing this. Again a HUGE thanks to my design team for pulling these together for all of us to reference. It helped immensely.

Emily Henderson Mountian Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Option One Animation 02


Before we dive into all the exact materials and plan, let’s take a peek at some inspirations for this second kitchen design.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Kitchen I Design You Decide Inspo Pic 2
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It’s impossible to find something similar, but the surrounding cabinets and lowers will be in a darker tone, while the island will be a lighter focal point.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Kitchen I Design You Decide Inspo Pic 3
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Choosing an alternative color palette that I haven’t done before but fits a mountain house was hard. My current kitchen is dark green and a stone color, the Portland kitchen is a super dark green, but I have done a ton of blue kitchens so I didn’t want to repeat that. At the same time, a gray kitchen can feel a bit cold to me. I love all of these, so I found a color in the middle.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Kitchen I Design You Decide Inspo Pic 5
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This is similar, for sure, but the color palette, counters and lighting are all different. The function and layout stay the same mostly to keep my sanity and get the cabinets started. This one is a bit more predictable ‘EHD’ because it’s a medium toned gray/green with white, brass and hits of black but it’s also very appropriate for this mountain house. The same elements are mixed, just differently. It’s not a different style, but the elements that are applied are of a different finish thus giving it a different look.


Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Option Two Final Friendly

Chiltern Double Pendant | Faucet | Sink | Hardware Pull | Taylor Sconce | WindowMolten Sconce | Micro Knob | Chisholm Pendant | Ledge Pull | Sky White Marble

Option #2 does skew a bit more traditional mostly because of the lighting and the white island.


Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Render 02 6.20.181

Instead of the black stain for the island, this will be a bright white PAINT of the same reclaimed wood, so that the tone of the wood doesn’t come through, but the texture does. We tested it with high gloss and it looks great and definitely reads as wood, but we are playing with matte white, still. The high gloss will likely be easier to wipe off, but we’ll seal the stain or flat paint so I’m not too concerned (but please weigh in if you have first-hand knowledge). The reason that we are only doing this on the island is that our contractor and cabinet maker don’t want to use it on the floor-to-ceiling unit because they have basically promised us that it will warp and the cabinetry will not fit straight and close properly, especially since our cabinets are inset. They said we can use a veneer on MDF and achieve a similar look that will be more structurally sound, but we think the additional texture of the reclaimed wood, even painted, is so beautiful.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Render 03 6.20.181

Also, we opted to enclose the island seating which means less seating as you can’t have stools on the sides, but since we have the bar/peninsula so close and the dining area right there, we think this will be enough.

Three people can sit at the island and that’s plenty since we’ll likely eat at the dining table. An overhang of the marble just looked and felt perilous with little kids running around  so having it enclosed lets us see the wood more as well as kept it a bit safer for the kids as their depth perception can see a big island more than a cantilevered stone (they can only really see what is right in front of them when running around like rabid rough housers—true story with ours).

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Render 04 6.20.18

You can see in this view that the dishwasher is on the right of the sink, and the garbage and recycling is on the left. Over the weekend while on Pinterest, I saw how many people have added a pull-out cutting board above the garbage that then allows food waste to fall into a hole into the bin, so I will likely add that as it seems smart (it can be within the same pullout for the garbage so it won’t add a drawer line).


Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Render 01 6.20.181

The cabinet profile is the same as Option #1 but in a different color. Listen, I can’t do a warm-toned cabinet unless it’s wood, so the options for anything painted are light blue, medium blue, dark blue, light green, medium green, dark green, white, light gray medium gray dark gray, black. You get it. I also didn’t want anything too BRIGHT because we are going really neutral in this house and I didn’t want a jewel tone come out of nowhere. What we have chosen is a medium green/gray that is kind of hard to define. It doesn’t immediately look “green” (and it also doesn’t really look slate-y blue in person, either) but it has so much more warmth and more tones than your average gray (Grays Harbor by Sherwin-Williams). It’s not “bright” per se, but it’s still happy. We love it.

The stone is lighter, with a lot of cream and taupe movement. It’s called Sky White and it’s honed marble (though we might leather, as well). It’s BEAUTIFUL, but it’s so light that it’s a little scary with stains. I will say that our current LA leathered white marble is holding up GREAT. Sure, there is some color variation where we use it the most but I think that the leather and honed finishes really do better with wine, citrus and acids. We’ve only been here for a year so we’ll see how it holds up but for an older home, it still looks beautiful. We also chose to not do a waterfall counter because it felt too contemporary for the house (despite your Instagram story poll—you guys voted to waterfall…sorry).


Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Lighting Moodboard Option Two Friendly

Chiltern Double Pendant | Taylor Sconce | Molten Sconce | Chisholm Pendant

Lighting for this round is feeling slightly more traditional I think because of the shades on the island pendant, but it has a good mix of simple and streamlined to work with the rest of the house. As a reminder, we have white modern track lighting (not shown because we haven’t sourced it yet) for task lighting as I know that the other pendant in option #1 does give off less light. But I love the lines of this one as well and it’s still modern, albeit slightly more traditional (the shades can come in a metal finish). The peninsula/bar flush mounts from Allied Maker are glass with a thin brass plate (they look a little dark in the above image, I know), thus referencing the lanterns and still keeping the sight line clear. The sconces for around the window are from Katy Skelton and add that streamlined modern touch that takes the traditional pendant over the island in an edgier direction.

The dining pendants are my FAVORITE LANTERNS IN THE WORLD. The lines are so clean and crisp; they are black and brass, and the glass is clear (not green like in the rendering above). It says “modern cabin” in such a sophisticated, high-end way. If this option doesn’t get chosen, I will try so hard to put these in the house somewhere else because my soul is responding really hard to them.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Render 07 6.20.18 Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Render 05 6.20.18


Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Moodboard Hardware

Hardware Pull | Micro KnobLedge Pull

For both the floor-to-ceiling and the lower cabinets, the handles are a mix of tiny micro knobs, ledge pulls, and large squared off handles for the heavier drawers and appliances. Yes, you can mix up your hardware and should, especially if you stick to two to three styles in the same finish with a similar profile. Our picks are thin, black and modern. We toyed with SO MANY, including not having any at all (which I’ll go into in that upcoming post I keep mentioning). I love to mix a knob with a handle at the very the least, but if you have the opportunity to add in another hardware (or even a non-hardware…more on that later), then it will look even more custom.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Render 09 6.20.18

We wanted the stiles on the cabinet doors/drawers to be really small, but the smaller they are the harder it gets to find hardware that fits them. We definitely considered doing some options without hardware, but ultimately loved the detail and jewelry effect that the hardware brought. Big handles are great for appliance pulls and heavy drawers, but normal cabinets can just use a finger ledge, while uppers are perfect for a knob.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Render 06 6.20.18 Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Render 08 With Copy

Where it got tricky was the far left food pantry: two double pull outs that might be kinda heavy. We may still play with the knob versus ledge there. We made the surrounding cabinet panel on this side of the room 2 inches versus the 1 1/2 inches that is on the lowers so we can fit the fridge pulls. And the reason that we didn’t make the stiles bigger on the lower cabinet side is that if the panel got bigger, the drawers would start to look silly (although we could just make them a flat panel). We think that you won’t notice the difference and it keeps the function working on both sides for the best. And if you are wondering how we are working that microwave drawer, we are likely going to do a vertical hinge up and then the door would open out. More on that later. We were going to put it above, but once we shifted to glass, I realized we didn’t want to see it through the glass but at the same time we need easy access to it because we microwave a shameful amount.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Render Plan 6.20.18

Now, if I could go back in time this is what I would do: Put the sink, dishwasher AND the cooktop on the window wall. A few of you mentioned that you loved having a clear island and I agree – I have one now and love it. We played with both being on the other side and they are super awkward with the current size of the huge window. They would have to be pretty far apart in order to put the dishwasher in between and where they would land would basically be right in front of the window frame. The plumbing and gas lines are already in and that massive window from Marvin is arriving next week. To move all the plumbing/gas, reframe and reorder a bigger window (or divide into two) would probably be $6 – $8k. I also don’t know if a window THAT big would look good or just massive. Plus, we’d have to redesign all the cabinetry underneath and on the island. At a certain point, you just have to call it. We will survive having a sink on the island. But if you are early in your stages of remodeling, I agree with those commenters who sang the benefits of a totally clean island for a food buffet and prep.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Ps Option2

Enough with the regrets because MAN I LOVE THIS KITCHEN. Who doesn’t want to have a full tour to help with their decision making?

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper I Design You Decide Kitchen Render Walk Through Option Two 01

So which one do I want? I think I’m leaning a little harder into the black island. I think it’s more of a departure for me and I love that Katy Skelton pendant SO MUCH. We thought about even giving you four options: each cabinetry design with each lighting design because they can definitely be intermixed, but at a certain point, we have to control the options and really just give the two that we think are the most successful.

I think either of these will be beautiful and do what we need in the house.

But you’ll decide. So dear god, please be a CLEAR decision. If its 49% to 51%, I’ll be wondering for the rest of my life if just a few of you didn’t weigh in and the kitchen should have gone in a different direction. You don’t have to enter your email to vote if that’s a deterrent. If you do enter your email, though, we can track you for the vacay giveaway (it enters you to win a week here for $1k toward travel…it’s going to sleep like 12 by the way, so bring your friends…hell, have your friends vote so you have more chances to win; and when you share it on social or email, you get entered every. single. time. It’s an IT nightmare, but we have a source that is doing it so don’t worry, we’re keeping track).

OKAY, IT’S TIME TO VOTE. Option #1 – Dramatic, high contrast, black and white OR Option #2 – happy, friendly a little more glam but still ‘mountain’. We’re all anxiously waiting to hear what you all think and where this vote goes

I Design, You Decide

The Kitchen

Option 'Edgy'


68 %

Option 'Friendly'


32 %
(Vote by Wednesday, July 4th to have your voice heard.)
You did it!

Thank you for doing your daily design duty.
Your vote has my vote 🙂


Now enter to win

A five-night stay at the cabin in 2019 (with some blackout dates, of course, because our family uses it) with $1,000 towards travel expenses (if you live driving distance then it’s just fun money, or if you live internationally then we will cover up to $1,000 of your expenses. So, all the international readers please feel free to participate and enter as well). We’ll make it a dream trip! Including cocktails out on the lake with me.

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  1. That black reclaimed wood is the deciding factor for me. It is just SO pretty even on renderings so I’m hoping it wins so I can see it IRL. If it doesn’t win can you use it somewhere else?? Pleeeease? (Bathroom island or wardrobe or something?)

    1. Ha. We are in the guest bath that you guys chose! Apparently it might be a theme 🙂

  2. I love both designs as well as the functional changes you made. This kitchen is going to be so much fun to hang out in! I would suggest rethinking the pull out cutting board, especially in a house you will be sharing with others. They are so tough to clean and often get shoved back in wet, making your cabinets gross and water damaged. We had them in our old house and found them inconvenient so we really didn’t use them much but our neighbors house had been a rental where they were used and really did a number on their cabinetry,

    1. I agree about the cutting board – we took ours out because over time it started to smell like old onions and “wet” every time you opened the drawer and we could never seem to get it clean enough.

    2. My parents had pull out cutting boards and they were used often. The house is now 20 years old and they are still used. Just make sure you wipe dry with a dish towel.

    3. I second this. Also, it’s oddly difficult to cut on a surface that’s an inch or two lower than your normal countertops. It makes a task that is usually mindless and automatic into one where it’s just slightly weird and you have to really concentrate in order to not cut your finger off. Haha!

      1. Kelly, I totally agree! My in-laws have a board like this, and I find it impossible to use. Their other cutting board is made of glass(?!) or something similar which is also horrible to cut anything on, so I always volunteer to set the table and keep wine glasses filled and peace out of the kitchen!

    4. I totally agree about the cutting board. Plus I think that would be a really awkward spot to actually be cutting stuff, and how sturdy can it really be when it’s pulled out all the way? Seems like it would wobble a little.

    5. I agree with Kelly! Cutting two inches lower than you’re used to is surprisingly hard. My parents had one in the house I grew up in and my dad cut himself FOUR TIMES WITH STITCHES REQUIRED before they took it out.

      1. HA. you guys are BLOWING my mind and I thank you so much. Ok done. I rarely cut anything but why would I design something purely for function that just isn’t. 🙂

    6. I agree 100%! We had one growing up and man that thing was gross. Plus over the years it warped a bit meaning you had to shove it hard for it to go back in which left wood shavings in the cabinet shelves below.

    7. My parents have a pull out cutting board and we used it all the time for cutting bread and vegetables (never for meat). Usually it just needs a quick wipe with a damp sponge or dish rag before it’s pushed back in. My dad did make a replacement cutting board some time in the last 15 years but the house is 35 years old. However the pull out cutting boards in my last house (1952 original kitchen) and current house (1925 original kitchen) are disgusting and gross and I will never use them. BUT, because I have to replace the lower cabinets on the sink wall to put in a dishwasher I will be adding in new pull out cutting boards.

      I think the difference between the gross cutting boards and the usable ones is how they’re used and cared for. The gross ones have rancid oil on them which is sticky and attracts crumbs and dust and they get warped and stuck.

      Now as far as having a hole in the cutting surface that leads straight to the garbage? I think you loose prime cutting real estate and risk loosing your food into the trash way too easily.

    8. We have one and I don’t use it cos I think it’s gross

    9. I live in a new rental (I’m the first one to live here) which has a pull out cutting board and I newer use it. Honestly it’s just waste of space in my little kitchen. Every other apartment I have lived in has had pull out cutting board and they have been nasty. I agree that they are also impractical.

    10. Wow! I always thought they looked so great on Pinterest, etc. and was planning to ask our kitchen designer for one! My germophobic husband would definitely melt down over a wet, smelly board so thank you (and everyone else who weighed in) for the 411!

    11. I think pull-out cutting board is a must for cutting bread! In my family it’s always been used for cutting dry things only, so it doesn’t get wet. We vacuum the crumbs off every once in a while and put some oil maybe every couple of years.

  3. I was sold on the ‘Edgy’ option because I love the light fixture over the island so much. That leather in the middle is so nice.

  4. Ok I know you said you didn’t want to give us all four options but before you even mentioned that I was thinking AH I so want lighting option 1 with cabinet/counter option 2. But really it’s all amazing! The renderings are endlessly helpful!

    1. Me toooooo!! I love everything, I’m breaking my mind as if I was choosing my only child’s name. Arrrrrgggghhhh

    2. Me too! I wound up voting for Option 2 because of the cabinets. I’m sad my option is currently losing, but I’ll get over it.

      1. Agreed, I am rooting for you #2! But it will be gorgeous either way.

    3. Me too! I went for option one because of the lighting- but if you could combine light one with cabinets 2 then I would be happy! Whatever way, its gonna be beautiful 🙂

      1. Yep! Same! Lighting from option one with cabinetry from two.

      2. I agree. I loooove the lighting in option 1 and the black wood, yet I prefer the dark perimeter with the lighter island IF the space has enough natural light to support the extra dark cabinetry.

    4. Yes!! Option #2 but with lighting from #1 is the winner for me! Either way, both are lovely and so well thought out!

      1. SHOOT. I knew I should have given you both options, but it just got so convoluted and doing the renderings of both was time consuming (not for me – THANK YOU GRACE!). So I was like, ‘no, we can curate. we can narrow it down’ but now i wonder if we should have given you multiple options. Although what am I saying, I love option #1. 🙂

      2. Yes, my thoughts exactly! Cabinets from #1, lighting from #2.

    5. same. Lighting from #1 with cabinets from #2

      1. I am opposite! Option edgy with friendly’s lighting.

      2. Ha! Option 1 and switch the island lighting with the dining table lighting. :))

    6. Same! I do not like the lighting option in number 2, but the cabinetry is gorgeous.

      1. I voted for option #2. Love the black island in #1, but the lighting options ruined it for me. Lighting from #2, with cabinets from #1!

  5. Option 1 for sure! I love that light over the island. Love this post. Thank you so much!! Ya’ll have been working hard to give us some great content!

    The one thing I do not like is that the stone comes up the window wall past the bottom of the window. I know that is the popular thing to do, but it has always looked like stair steps to me that start up, then down, and then go back up. In my head, I want the stone to be in line with the bottom of the window. That keeps everything in line and maybe it makes it visually calmer. I think when there are uppers on another wall, then it makes sense for the backsplash/stone to line up around the whole kitchen. So that is why it is done in other kitchens with the backsplash coming up around the window. But in your kitchen maybe it does not make sense. Just a thought! I am excited to see the finished result!

    1. We did this and put it in the rendering and I wished I had more stone. But the renderings don’t really reflect reality, aka the stone looks boring in the renderings so by adding more stone you can at least see it vertically … but i’m interested in thinking about this….

  6. Option 1 is SLAYING me with its fierceness. I’m voting from beyond the grave. 11/10 killin’ it.

    1. Thank you Anna. Favorite comment today. xx

  7. This is the most anxious I’ve been for the vote results! I love the first kitchen so much and all my fingers and toes are crossed everyone else does too! This is so fun, Emily – thanks for letting us participate in this with you! XO

  8. It’s so great to see this- I have wanted cabinets in a color similar to option 2 for a while- but I was surprised to find myself drawn much more to 1! My much more modest cabinet painting and lighting remodel might benefit from you and your talented renderers 🙂

    The stained black is reminiscent of shou sugi ban and I am hoping to achieve that look on some paneling in my new home. I love it.

    1. I love shou sugi ban so much and am wondering why you didn’t use it on island. The stained black looks wonderful also, but just sayin’.

  9. Oh man, I hope option 1 wins. So much cooler and also more cabin-ish.

    You asked about pull-out cabinet shelves. If you can’t swap out those 2-door cabinets for more drawers, DEFINITELY install pull-out shelves. Bottom cabinets are nearly useless; you have to lie down on the floor to get anything out of them, so they become dark pits of despair. I installed almost entirely drawers in the best kitchen I’ve built: The entire work-side of the island (and yes, it’s a shame you can’t get the sink out of the island; I think having cooktops or sinks in islands is such a mistake for so many reasons, but oh well) is nine big and smaller drawers, holding all the cookware, knives, silverware, etc., plus there’s another set of four (two little top ones, two big bottom ones) for junk drawers, dishes, and paper plates/big trays/etc. for going down to the pool and a small set by the stove for aprons, pot holders, etc. Oh, and two more under the wall oven for cookie sheets and the like! Having dishes in drawers instead of upper cabinets means the kids can set the table and empty the dishwasher themselves. Drawers for all! Drawers everywhere! Ban cabinets! (I mean, there is one under the sink and for the trash pull-out, and of course big pantry cabinets with pull-outs in them! I’m not crazy.)

    Anyway this is gorgeous but #1 is by far the best. Whee!

    1. Totally agree about going all drawers! SO much more functional than lower cabinets!

    2. I agree INTENSELY -bottom cabinets without pull-out shelves and/or drawers become useless, back-breaking, “dark pits of despair”!!! I am practically desperate to instantly convince you to install the pull-out option -like, FOR ABSOLUTE SURE! But beyond my bizarrely intense emotional reaction (what is wrong with me.!?) to the idea of not installing them in an otherwise BEAUTIFUL and almost poetically functional kitchen, I wonder if perhaps there is a consideration we are not aware of..? But then, it just seems soooo simple to install them as part of this grand kitchen renovation rather than leaving it as TBD..? taking a few deep breaths now ; )

      I voted for option EDGY without a moment’s hesitation.
      omg, that stained black reclaimed wood island is exquisite!
      the lighter cabinetry lets my eye travel beyond the actual walls to the greenery outdoors before stopping -clever way to expand the space!
      the balance between all the lighting fixtures aaand the way they visually pull you into the space -brilliant!
      though I do prefer the marble from option 2 (I assume it is my lack of exposure/design education/experience etc. but so far I am not “feeling” almost any of the marble options offered throughout this ‘mountain fixer upper/you decide’ process..? I appreciate that you are taking possession of /maintaining your Artistic Freedom for the final choices of stone throughout the Mountain Fixer Upper. I looove your kitchen marble at home and I have utter faith your final choices will be lovely, cohesive and impactful once installed in the space : )

      ps. these renderings are supremely helpful -for the immersion factor but also as an expression of everyone’s hard work…

      1. I have a massive island and put in drawers on either side and then decided to add a cabinet with pull out shelves for visual interest and every time I have to open the doors AND THEN pull out the shelf, I kick myself for not putting in a bank of drawers instead of the dang cabinet. #totallyfirstworldproblems

      2. Agree with this so much. I couldn’t understand why I didn’t like the dark cabinets in #2, especially because I HATE white kitchens, but the dark island is a focal point that allows you to look at the space. The darker cabinets suck attention, and I don’t know where to look. I’d rather look outside at your beautiful view than your beautiful cabinets (as amazing as they are).

    3. Hello,

      I am a designer in Denver and I love all that you do.
      However, just a heads up that those BELL lights…I personal bought for my kitchen are a BEAR to clean.
      You have to unscrew the entire glass…from the hanging mechanism and it takes two people! I am cleaning them about every 6weeks. I love them so much so for me it is worth it but wish I knew going in.

      Jonna Mulqueen
      Uncommon Nest Interiors

      1. This is useful information! I love the look, but when I saw them I was wondering about how much dust would collect in the bells…

    4. Yes! We put only drawers in our new home (except for the trash bin and under the sink) and I will never go back to cabinets with doors!

    5. Yes! You MUST have pull outs in your door cabinets! No question!

  10. Such a hard decision! I love them both! I love the lighting in option 1, but the cabinet colors in option 2.

  11. I really like everything about the edgy kitchen especially the lighting …..except the pendants by the window. They are seeming a little too 80’s exterior and clunky. Great job on all the renderings!!

    1. I agree about the pendants flanking the window; I love everything else, but they did seem a little “outdoor lighting” to me as well. Maybe they look cooler in person? But the amazing light over the island was enough to secure my vote for option 1!

      1. same! totally exterior vibes. they seem weird for indoors.

      2. Agreed! I almost voted for option 2 just for those lights by the sink. *love*

    2. I agree with you that the lights by the window scream outdoor 80’s.

    3. Yes! I’m all about option 1 but the sconces look like outdoor or bathroom lighting to me.

      1. Loooved and voted for Option EDGY but am not fond of those sconces framing the window either…

        1. Same

  12. #1 is just so, so cool. We get way more opportunities for “friendly” design, but how often do we really get to go edgy?!

  13. I’ll be honest, I was pretty split on this one with a slight leaning towards #2, but you seem to truly want #1 more so I voted for that. 😁 It bums me out to think of you not getting the kitchen you really want in your heart.

  14. Edgy, for sure! That black island is perfection. All the light fixtures, heck, all the elements in this kitchen are gorgeous, but please consider the glare factor of bare bulbs and clear glass over areas where you’ll be working/hanging out. I have clear glass pendants over my island and while I love the look, I NEVER turn them on because they are just not pleasant to be around when lit. I have plenty of other light for the work space, so I don’t need them to see what I’m doing and they’re really more decorative, but even with a low wattage bulb and dimmers etc. they are basically an annoying distraction and a migraine waiting to happen.

  15. I voted option one because I love 99% of it. But I prefer the option two island light.

    1. Molly’s comment made me laugh because that was my voting logic too, except it was the option 2 sconces that 1% swayed me. (I also love the option 2 dining room lights but those can go somewhere else in the house.)

      Our current house has a cooktop with downdraft and two pot/pan drawers beneath it, facing an outside wall (with glass blocks under the upper cabinets, because built in the 90s) and the only thing I don’t like about that situation (other than the cooktop not being gas) is that the downdraft takes up a lot of the pot/pan storage area of the top drawer. We’ve made it work and for a vacation house you probably don’t need room for things like a wok or multiple stock pots, but depending on the size of your fan and drawers, your organization plan for those drawers may need to include nesting and a lid rack.

  16. The pendant over the island and the black wood in #1 have my heart, but both are stunning! Great work, as always!

  17. Of course, both designs are spectacular, but I adore all of the unique details in the Edgy kitchen (#1). It’s beautiful and also feels very special, one-of-kind. 🙂

  18. Loved both pretty equally but I chose option two because I love the cabinet color. It’s just such a great color for a mountain retreat.

  19. Is the window going to be the color in the renderings? It kept sticking out to me as this random beige. Maybe making it white or black (for the first edgy option of course!) would make more sense?
    Love love the stained black wood, such a cool material and very unexpected.

    1. I kept wanting the window framing to be black also.

  20. Hi Emily,

    Wow such an amazing post and such gorgeous work. I voted for the first kitchen although both were fabulous. I do have to say though that I found the sink in the island on both designs to be jarring. My eye kept going there instead of the rest of the kitchen which has so many beautiful and “eye” worthy elements. I understand your thinking in putting it there but from a design point of view its pretty distracting. Im not sure you really want the sink to be the focal point of the space. I thought the lighting fixtures were fabulous on both kitchens. k

  21. Where will you use the ledge pulls?? I love that style of hardware but have only seen it on slab front cabinets. We are re-doing our kitchen as we speak with shaker style doors and I kept wanting to use ledge pulls for hardware but haven’t seen it done and cant picture it. Is it possible to ledge pull with shaker?!?!?!?!

  22. I voted “Edgy” because I LOVE the dark black island. I guess its not really on the table, but I don’t love the vertical wood details on the cabinets in both choices. I feel like this is will add a lot of ridges needing to be constantly dusted/cleaned and it doesn’t look very modern or fresh. Much like I don’t like the panelling in Charlie’s current room, I think it looks quite dated, but could just be my take. I love the lighting and leather finish on the marble will be gorgeous.

  23. Option #1’s lighting did it for me. Though I love the cabinet color in #2.

    What about putting the microwave in the pantry cupboard? I feel like you could put in the pantry and that would be a great way to not have to squat down to use it, but also have it concealed. The microwave space can be additional pantry storage like another drawer.

    I recently did my kitchen and went with the “old school microwave out in the open above the range” due to the limited amount of wall space, it was there or the island. The person doing the renderings wanted to KILL me, she kept saying “your design is so beautiful you can’t ruin it with a microwave above the range” but we too use our microwave an embarrassing amount, and I just couldn’t have it low in the island. We are tall and squatting to reheat leftovers or cook pre-made Trader Joe’s meals would be SO obnoxious. I chose function over form and am happy with my decision.

    1. Agreed on the crouching microwave thing being awful. I’m a parent of kids similar ages to yours, Emily, and we also use ours a ton. I know there are microwaves that are pull out drawers themselves. Could you use one of those and somehow get the custom front on it or build a drawer to put the pull out microwave inside?

  24. While I love Marble did you know cambria can hone their slabs now? Our rep came by and told us they will hone any of their slabs for maybe $3 a sf? just something to consider.
    I dont mind a house that ages too. Just wondering if you would ever ‘rent’ this house out as an income property
    Or let friends use it you might want something more durable than marble since its not your primary residence.
    but I love the marble too. Im sure you considered everything.

  25. OPTION 1!!!!

  26. Option #1 is definitely my favorite, even without having to compare it to another option, as a stand alone design I absolutely love all of it and specifically love it for this house. But I share your passion for the dining lanterns in Option #2 so please, please find a place for those. Maybe the foyer and/or stair landing?

    (P.S. I was extremely excited when I saw what looked like a panel-ready microwave drawer – why don’t those exist???)

    1. They do! Yes a drawer! Though i still worry about the little ones having access to the microwave. I think it is dangerous. :((

  27. I voted for Option 1, but I really want to mix/match the lighting choices. I feel the island pendant from #1 is the best thing I’ve ever seen, but want it paired with the rest of the lights from option 2. They feel much cleaner. The other fixtures from #1 are too heavy with the airy, lightness of the Katy Skelton island pendant. I’m sure you’re worried about both Katy Skelton lights being too matchy-matchy tho.

  28. I voted for “Friendly” and it wasn’t even a hard decision – it’s so much warmer, feels more casual somehow, and still feels like “Emily” but with new finishes I haven’t seen you do! I wish I could see the designs styled out with art and accessories and maybe some plants? Those things can change the look so much. Also, I’m struggling with the shades on the Chiltern light fixture. I wish they could be switched out with maybe a metal shade – zinc, copper, even old brass? Or even a light woven.

    Either way, they’re BOTH beautiful and I know from all the previous “you decide”s, there will end up being elements of both in the final design. Ha! 🙂

    1. I think she actually mentions that the Chiltern light fixture comes with metal shades!

      1. Yes, I just saw that! On the lighting company site, it shows it in both white and a green enameled metal and it’s SO much better than the black.

    2. I agree with you about the accessories. I also feel many people chose option one because subconsciously they perceived option two to be dark. Unfortunately all but the last rendering don’t show how light the rooms are. I also feel that being in the middle that’s a perfect place for color in the home. Also it’s a mountain home and not a main home which suggest too do something other than white. Either way both options are beautiful.

  29. You really can’t go wrong, Emily – both kitchens are amaze! But if those dining room pendants are a dream come true for you, then lighting of option 2 (obsessed with those sconces) with the cabinets of option one! it’s not too late!

  30. Incredibly hard choice but ultimately that black island won me over! I still love the lighting of option 2 best though!

  31. #1 all the way!!! And that’s coming from someone who always votes traditional! Ugh it’s just SO good.

    Something about the darker island and lighter outer cabinets just seems to work better in the space, I think? Also, I think my eyes are starving for some NEW styles, and #1 is giving me life.

  32. Interesting that you said your only regret right now is the sink on the island. With everything worked up and 3D, I feel the same way, but I understand about just calling it when you can. We had a big mistake in our house when we designed the kitchen (bar height), and even today I was thinking about how I wish I could change it. But it’s been 11 years, and it’s fine.

    BTW–option 1 has my vote. I hate how many scuff marks my white wall has under my bar. Black would eliminate that completely.

  33. Both are beautiful!! I’m TOTALLY SWOONING

  34. Do you mind commenting what program you are using for the 3D kitchen renders? I am looking for a computer program just like that to help design my kitchen. Thank you!

    1. Sketchup is pretty good, and open source

  35. Love this series. Every IDYD post I feel so strongly about one of the options! Fun to see the thought you put behind things, and always exciting to see which direction gets picked (even when I lose).

  36. I’m selfishly sad that there isn’t tile anywhere. You always source the most amazing tile. I agree that the sink in the island isn’t ideal but I totally appreciate your make it work mentality.

    I voted for one. I really like it – but because this is the internet and I’m a human, I have feedback I feel compelled to share. 🙂

    I’d rethink the glass in the small appliances cabinet. Isn’t the point of a small appliance cabinet to hid away your toaster, blender, etc? I think those cabinets are genius because of the function which you are essentially erasing. You have tons of windows – you don’t need glass cabinets. An entire wall of beautiful cabinetry is cool.

    Also, the enclosed island feels heavy and like a missed opportunity to open up the sides and show off some amazing stools. I understand not wanting to waterfall the counter, but why add that clunky end cap? Even a simple reclaimed beam at each end holding up the counter overhang would lighten it up and add more rustic modern detail while still allowing it to be more open.

    1. oooh!!! LOVING the idea of a stained black reclaimed beam at the corner of the island counter : )
      I do like the addition of the glass cabinets -especially in a thick “blurry” glass as Emily mentioned- and think they suggest a pleasing ‘syymetry’ to the windows across the way.

    2. I agree about the glass showing the appliances but there is glass that would give the look and also be less clear. the blurry glass is still too clear to hide the appliances. I hope you can find another glass tho I love the blurry glass. It may be called “granite”.

  37. I adore what you’re doing with the edgy/sleek/alternate Emily – I hope the house goes in this direction. Option 2 is a little too similar to your current kitchen, even though it’s darker green the overall feel is the same.


  38. I’m in the minority. I voted #2. If there had been more of that gorgeous reclaimed wood in #1, I would have been ALL OVER it. With just the wood island, though, it seems like yet another white kitchen. I’m sure either will be beautiful in person, but I have a strong preference for what I think will be the more dramatic kitchen.

    1. My choice and reason EXACTLY. So over white kitchens.

      1. Agree. Less white !!

    2. Agreed. I wanted to see an overall dark kitchen as well. With all the windows she has the kitchen will still be bright! Love the darker cabinets and the lighting overall, especially around the window for Option 2!

  39. Emily! Whichever option you go with (but, obviously it will/should be the “edgy” one right?), please please please swap the window flanking pendant options. The boxy lantern sconces want to be with the boxy lantern dining fixtures SO BADLY… and the curvilinear sconces want to live with all the curvilinear light fixtures in the “edgy” world SO BADLY. These families should not be separated! Think of the children! Design with heart! (Sorry, I am not trying to make “light” of real world events.)

  40. I voted # 1 but both are beautiful. I like light and airy so went with the white cabinets. I am not a fan of the grooves though – wondering what others’ experience is on how much dirt/grease gets trapped in those grooves over time. I do a lot of stir-frying so this may not be a concern to you but especially with a downdraft vent which is not as good as overhead vents (I think this is what you are getting but don’t remember for sure), cooking grease and other stuff could accumulate in those grooves.

    1. I absolutely agree and have the exact same concerns. As a mom to three Littles who lived with those cabinets for a year – it was a cleaning nightmare. Also a bad idea for anyone with pets, anyone who cooks with oils, and anyone who deals with dust – so basically everyone. I would reconsider flat front cabinets or simple shaker style. Just imagine cleaning spilled smoothies, yogurt, dust, grime, and so on out of EVERY single grove; and then the cleaning cloth getting stuck and leaving lint in the groves. Every single grove. Seriously.

    2. I agree. The v-groove doesn’t really make sense to me, but I think it is a done deal regardless of the color scheme.

  41. I voted option one. I love the white and black, especially the black stain! As for the pull out bottoms for the cabinets on the window wall – YES, always yes! It just makes life easier when you need the item on the lower shelf in the back.

    Also I’m with the others that said no to the pull out cutting board. A disaster every time, especially when you have renters. They don’t clean them properly it gets super gross and then stops sliding in and out or gets stuck permanently sticking out half way (it happened once). The idea seems efficient, the reality has always been anything but.

  42. I love option 1 so much i didn’t even want to look at option 2! but then i love learning about your process and all the possibilities so much, so i did in fact read it. they’re both lovely but option 1 is so unique!

    ps – just thinking about making the lighting decisions makes my head spin. you gals (and brady) are so talented!

  43. I really love number 2, but I would 100% use the Katy Skelton fixture instead of the shaded one, I just kinda hate the shaded one. I don’t know why, I just do lololol. Honestly both are BEAUTIFUL!

  44. I voted Edgy. I wasn’t initially sold on the sconces around the window, as I too got an 80s vibe from them. However, once I saw them in the room renderings, I like them. The Friendly option looks very EHD. I like that you branched out with the Edgy one to something we don’t typically see in your designs.

    Also: I LOVE the black reclaimed wood. Painting it with white paint would lose the depth and richness of the wood.

    1. I don’t like the wall scones at all for some reason … the rest of the lighting in both options is great. The scones in both? Not so much.

    2. This is perplexing to me. I loved the sconces and am not getting an 80s or outdoor vibe. Just wanted to cast a positive vote for that choice…

  45. I also love the Urban Electric dining pendants in the ‘Friendly’ option, but I wanted to mention hanging two square pendants side by side is tricky! Unless they are hung from a rod [which I’m sure Urban Electric could customize] they will twist and turn and never hang straight next to one another! Some may be OK with that, but it would drive me crazy! I am an interior designer and have made that mistake before, and we ended up eventually switching them out for round fixtures.

    1. Option #1! Love that black island and lighting option!

    2. Thanks for the tip!

  46. Love Option 1! But both designs are great.

    Two thoughts, would you consider running the stone on the window wall all the way up to the ceiling? Where it stops now seems to break up that wall too much. Also, the sconces in Option #2 seem like they would go so well in Option #1. I agree with some of the comments that they look a little “outdoor.”

    No matter what, the finished product will be beautiful!

  47. I sounded like that orphan from Annie while reading this because I just kept going “oh my goodness, oh my goodness!!”

    Both options are STUNNING. I had such a hard time deciding! I finally leaned toward option 2 because the “friendly” feel just made it seem more welcoming- but either one would be a knockout.

    I can’t wait to see how it turns out and who wins!!

  48. I LOVE the ledge pulls! So functional and unobtrusive and totally wonderful. I’d put them everywhere! They come in all finishes and all lengths, and you can install them vertically for cabinet doors. My fantasy kitchen has pale wood slab doors with ledge pulls so the beauty of the wood grain is unobstructed.

    My current kitchen has the edges of cabinet doors and drawers routered so they stand out from the frame a bit — no hardware needed at all, and it’s a lovely clean look that I also like a lot. No problem with fingerprints, either.

    At all costs, avoid cutting a hole in your countertop for garbage to fall through. It’s going to be constantly icky, and what if you decide you don’t want your garbage cans inside that cabinet? Maybe you someday want a step-on can that resides next to the island? Then you have a hole in your countertop for no good purpose.

  49. I actually prefer the lighting in #1 but I didn’t vote on it because it is such a hot look RIGHT NOW, that I worry in a few years it will feel dated. That type of edgy lighting is so great, but is so popular it might burn out as a trend. The other is a little more classic.
    Love both, though!

    1. Yeah, I have a feeling that that sho sugi ban look is going to get really hot and look dated really soon. When something is that dramatic it has immediate emotional resonance, but it can pall quickly, too.

  50. I love both styles! But the sink location vs. cooktop location need to be switched, IMO. I think a cooktop in front of a huge glass window is an odd idea–and you will forever be cleaning muck and splatters off the window. I wonder if anyone else had the same reaction..?

    1. This was a major point of discussion in earlier kitchen posts 🙂 Emily’s rationale (which she thought a lot about if memory serves) was that they don’t cook that often and she was more likely to be spending time at the island doing dishes and wanting to see/lookout to open space. I think that’s right, but many folks shared your thinking…

  51. Love them both!

    Also, would love to see the post on the modern/current wood maple cabinets. I just moved into a condo with them and need some inspiration for kitchen styling and how to work with them.

  52. I really really love the 2nd lighting scheme!!! I also like bringing in another color besides black and white. I do hope, however, that you will still do the black wood somewhere!! I think its perfect for modern rustic cabin!!

  53. #2 and here’s why….this is a cabin in the woods which calls for a more casual rustic vibe. You have a stone fireplace and lots of wood in living room which is great for the casual rustic look. I feel the first kitchen option is too contemporary and sophisticated for the cabin and would not relate as well to the nice changes made to the living room. Option #2, as you’ve named it “friendly” is more rustic and more in keeping with the environment. The elements within option #1 are gorgeous, but I’d save them for another house.

    1. I completely agree with Lawson. Option #2 fits the house more. Plus wouldn’t you rather have “friendly” at the mountain house instead of “edgy.” I think the softer version will stand the test of time better. Option #1 is fab, but save it for a different house.

    2. Ugh I think you guys are right 🙁 I voted for #1 because WOW but on further consideration it does seem that option 2 suits the whole house plan/fixed finishes like the fireplace/mountain location better.

      However, Emily offered these as options and being the professional she is, I’m CERTAIN she didn’t just design kitchen #1 in a vaccuum but had other elements of the house and the whole “feel” in mind.

  54. Honestly torn. Love love the lighting from option 1 but love the more classic and warmer feel of the cabinets from option 2. Regardless my vote for option 2 is prolly gonna lose. Ahh c’est la vie. 😆

  55. I love the black reclaimed wood, but I just don’t dig the white cabinets. I love the darker cabinets enough to choose option 2!

  56. Option 1…is the one for me. If you could make one change, please take the Peninsula sconces from Option 2 into consideration, I think their scale and shape will work better with that stunning island light fixture in a predominantly white kitchen.

  57. I love both of these EXCEPT for the Katy Skelton fixtures in both. LOVE the first kitchen, but my immediate reaction was that the island pendant was completely out of place and distracting. Then I LOVED the second kitchen and again noticed the sconces were bugging me big-time…realized it’s the same lighting designer. I don’t think they go with the rest of the design, so I would nix them. BUT, I think either kitchen will be so beautiful!

    1. Same here. Think the pendant in 1 will date FAST and not a fan of those sconces in 2 at all! I really like the lantern sconces in 1 though. Was torn between the designs as they’re both lovely but leaning towards 2 overall (with different sconces)

    2. Agree! (In general I’m so over exposed lightbulbs.) The Skelton fixtures are nice in concept, but it seems more appropriate for a commercial setting…like a coffee shop or restaurant. Feels the opposite of homey family cabin.

  58. I think you are doing a disservice to option no. 1 because you’ve included an old rendering in the main write up that doesn’t have the trees or the warmth of lighting that option two’s rendering has (but in the vote box pictures they are both looking good?!?)

    Also, I’ve done renovations, picked countertops (used soapstone which I loved) but I still feel like I need some clarification on the leather/honed etc on countertops. Maybe I just missed the memo but might be useful to show how different finishes affect the look and feel. Thanks!

  59. #2!!! It seems so much more cozy and cabinish vs. the first one that seems a bit too cold with an uber modern light over the island.

    I do have to say though, it’s super obvious that you want option #1! I felt this way with the last “I design you decide” as well — not only did your description make you sound more passionate about one option over the other, but then you also told us which one you are leaning towards! While we definitely support you having the kitchen of your dreams, it feels like adding in your own bias defeats the purpose of the “I design you decide” process… Regardless, still an avid follower who loves your style more than any other designer 🙂

    1. Yes, I totally agree with this! Since the whole concept is your readers deciding, I think you should honor that and let them decide without such obvious steering.

  60. I’m really digging #1! I’m with someone else though that I don’t understand having lighting that’s “decorative” over functional. The island pendant is SO beautiful but I really think that filtered down light (like the shaded pendant) over the island would add to the function of the lighting. For that reason I would swap in the #2 island pendant (or similar that coordinates with the whole design) and the window wall sconces while keeping the other lighting from #1.

  61. I have not read the other comments, so this may have been addressed already. I think the window/range wall is lacking. Have you considered bringing the marble to the ceiling?

    1. that was what really stood out to me too…. that wall feels really strange to me too! either bring the marble up or panel the whole wall in 1 inch panelling to match the cabinetry… it the moment to marble just seems to stop with no rhyme or reason

      1. Maybe some shelves are planned above the marble?

  62. Love both options! It was hard for me to pick between the two! Would you please share who is making the cabinetry? Thank you!

  63. I found this super hard, but really went with my gut from the first pic w/ both of them in it. But the rendering of option 2 that looks more realistic (lighting wise) had me second guessing as I kind of worry it’ll be too much white, texture and all. I think I can’t help but factor in your preference, especially since both are beautiful. I wonder how much that factors into others’ voting habits.

  64. I voted for Option 2 (the light fixtures really won me over), but I would LOVE it if you swapped that white island out for the black one, and still went for a color on the cabinets! As it stands, they are both KIND of facsimiles of your current kitchen–which is GORGEOUS, but I think combining the designs will decidedly take you away from that all together! Good luck!

    1. Yes I love the black island and wonder why you couldn’t put it with the colored cabinets?

  65. I love LOVE option 1, but option 2 feels so much more Emily. If you want something different for sure go with 1, but I think you’ll be happier with 2. Sometimes I feel like people unnecessarily push themselves to do something different. If they’ve never spent time developing their aesthetic that makes sense, but if you have, and you certainly have, your style is ‘you’ for a reason.

  66. I like The lighting much better on number 2, and that is the main reason I voted For number 2.
    Will be excited to see the end results!

  67. How fun is this post, and I know how much work it was to put this post together…brava! I love it all, except the polished brass. This I know is from being a teenager in the 80s, and living through that polished brass era. Unlacquered or satin brass I do love, but that’s me. I also don’t wear neon…if you’ve already lived through it once, that’s enough, right?

  68. The black stained island and lighting are the deal breakers for me! I love the surrounding + base cabinet color on option #2, but the black is so encouragingly powerful, you have to! The island Ellis pendant is also so much fresher it makes option #2’s pendant light look dated with the shades (WHAT? obviously it’s not, but whatever). Amazing, amazing content. Thank you for all the insight and thoughtfulness put into this post!

  69. I may have considered Option B/Friendly for a hot minute if you had shown that first. But the very first rendering of the pendant and the black wood – Sold! Edgy it is!

  70. To be taken with a grain of salt:

    First thought, seeing first side-by-side rendering: “edgy!” That is not how I ultimately voted.

    Except for over the peninsula I don’t really like the lighting in “edgy”. Too many bare bulbs. And then I started thinking that looking over from the living room, maybe “edgy” wasn’t as captivating as “friendly”.

    I just went back and looked at the two renderings that take a look around the whole room and, really, both are beautiful. The island lighting may have hugely swayed me toward “friendly”.

    Thanks again for doing all this. It is so much fun and completely interesting. No detail too small!

    1. P.S. Low microwave will be annoying, I think.

  71. Black island for sure…prefer the lighting of plan 2 but the overall look of plan 1…tough choice

  72. I’d say ixnay on the pull out cutting board – especially over the trash. I see the convenience aspect but who wants to prep their food over a stinky trash can? Good in theory but gross in reality.

    I voted #2 but would really love it more if the accents/island were a greyer one versus cream. I know, not helpful unsolicited advice.

    1. Totally nix the hole in the counter top, I mean aren’t you using a garbage disposal or are you doing compost?

  73. 2, but one’s light fixtures

    1. Ha! I say 1, but 2’s light fixtures.

      Go figure.

  74. Option #2 hands down. If you want a reason, it’s because that big wall of white cabinets is too boring.

  75. They are both great but I am partial to the “friendly” version. Also wanted to say, we have Taj Mahal leathered quartzite counters in our kitchen and we love them! I have found they are very easy to maintain using Puracy all-purpose cleaner (an Austin, Tx based company), which you can order on Amazon or directly from Puracy. I have absolutely NO affiliation to the brand – I just love their product and now use it everywhere in my house!

  76. Boy, this was a TOUGH choice! I love them both but I ended up voting for Option #2 because I love the cabinets. I really don’t care for that island light though–looks like a 90s dining room light to me. Everything else was awesome! I honestly wouldn’t be disappointed if Option #1 wins though. It’s also beautiful–especially the black stain. Good luck!

  77. Emily, I am struggling a lot with this design. I like option two regarding cabinet colors, but option one in terms of everything else. I STRONGLY dislike the window frame color, and I think it is throwing off the entire design for me. Personally, I LOVE your work, but both designs are not wowing me and I cannot pinpoint why. I’m sorry, please don/t hate me.

  78. I wish that you had picked a different door style for each option. oh well. I think you might regret not putting banks of drawers on each side of your cooktop. In Canada you can’t put a range or cooktop under the window, it’s against code. Weird hey.

  79. I just have to say this was the hardest vote I’ve done so far — both BEAUTIFUL and can see both working great.

  80. Option 1 for sure!

  81. If not too late, please rethink the 1″ beadboard look on all the cabinets. Not only do they collect grime, they collect DUST and dirt and food and when in the mountains with more dust and on vacation, you and your guests don’t want to feel as though they must be cleaning with toothpicks and q-tips every single slat. However, it is a great punishment for kids…”Go clean all the slats on that section of cupboards…And I WILL check. If not done correctly, you have another section to do!” 🙂

    1. My thoughts exactly! I saw design #1 and said “ok, scroll down to vote for the one that doesn’t have impossible-to-clean cabinet doors”… scroll, scroll, scroll… “ah, we’re all-in on this nightmare concept.” Hope this kitchen doesn’t see too many spaghetti nights.

  82. Wow, tough choice I love both of them so much! I went with Option 2 because it somehow seemed more “mountain cabin” to me, but I love Option 1 as well. In fact, I’m planning a kids’ bath re-do that has black-white-caramel/brass as it’s color scheme, so I’m totally on board with it.

    (And you moved the fridge – yay!)

  83. I vote for #1. I especially love the lighting you chose. The one thing I don’t quite get is why you are hiding the double oven. It seems like you will have the cabinet doors open a lot and will be walking around them. Just a thought.

    1. The doors retract. Brilliant …but takes up space.

  84. What I loved the most about Option 1 (my vote), is how the green outdoors played into the kitchen design. The kitchen itself is gorgeous, and the green outside makes it all the better (and doesn’t have to compete with colors inside.) The lighting choices are spot-on in option 1 as well. If I’m an AGT judge, I’m giving Option 1 the golden buzzer!

  85. I would really like option 1 lights with option 2 cabinets.

  86. I’m sure the windows are amazing – but with both renderings they keep throwing me off color wise – I just want them to be black. And I voted for #2 but kind of would like to combine them both.

  87. I thought it was going to be a tough choice, but once I saw the final renderings side by side it was clear. Number 1 is my vote, largely because of the lighting combo (even though I’m normally fairly traditional, I strongly dislike the sconces with shades for the island). But also because I think a lighter kitchen just makes sense and is more likely to fit the EHD style throughout the house. Side note, I have voted and commented EVERY TIME but didn’t realize until now that I had to register my vote by entering an email. Damn. But thanks for clarifying the rules.

  88. I do like both designs but the “Edgy” one just looks more interesting and fun overall. Except for the Allied Maker flush mounts in blown glass: those are so gorgeous that I would like to see them in the lighting design regardless.

  89. Number 2 is beautiful, but reminds me a lot of your current kitchen! I want edgy Emily! Thus, voted for option 1!

  90. omg, the first one is to DIE for. it has to win. it just has to!

  91. Don’t think the high gloss is going to work, stay with a matte or satin sheen. Try it if you want but I would be advising against to any customer.

    Concerned you may regret all those 1″ lines in the not too distant future for several reasons. Cleaning, yikes, lots of lines for dirt to get caught in. Busy, all of those cabinets with 1″ lines may seem great now but not sure about the long run. Simplify, a flat panel center will be easier to clean and will age better.

  92. I can’t imagine you’ll regret having the sink (or the cooktop had that been the plan) on your island. We have everything lined up on one wall in our condo and I hate having my back to everyone seated at or standing around the empty island as we cook or prep or clean up. Our house has a prep sink and cooktop on the island and I enjoy it so much more – the interaction with my family and guests is so much better. Love that you and your family will have this cabin to enjoy!

  93. WAIT!!! mistake not to use all drawers – especially on either side of the stove. it’s an extra step every time you need items there.

  94. I voted friendly because I’m loving that lighting but I really wanted to vote for cabinetry of ‘edgy’ with lighting of ‘friendly’. Let the world know that I was split. 🙂 I love the overall lightness of the cabinetry in the first one but the lighting threw me because I almost thought the mostly dark cabinetry worked better with the edgy concept.

  95. I usually lean a little more traditional, but I LOVE the edgier Option 1! Even without seeing it in person, I’m extremely excited/intrigued by that black stained wood.

    I can see why you struggled with finalizing the lighting plans. So many good options, and it seems like you could mix and match themalmist endlessly and still have it look cohesive and balanced. For what it’s worth, I was really feeling the sconces and dining pendants from Option 2, even though Option 1 was the overall clear winner for me. I wonder if there’s a way you could work those back in (or use them somewhere else)? Really loving how everything is coming together so far!

  96. I probably would have voted for option two if you had used a different lighting option. That island pendant just feels too traditional with that brass ball in the middle.

  97. On your “All-wood/maple cabinets are back, it’s just done differently. Perhaps a whole post on that is due (you tell me what you think)” – YES!!! Please help me!! I have these all-wood/maple cabinets and want to paint them white every day but my husband will NOT let me paint “good wood!!” Please give me/us some guidance on how to make them less hideous (WHY DID I THINK THEY WERE PRETTY??

    Also, a question. You have the wall oven in a larger space than the one flagged for the pantry. Seems that it would make more sense for the wall oven be higher and to have more pantry space as well. And then your pantry would be next to the slender pull out pantry. Can you share the reason you designed it this way?

    I LOVE the black kitchen so much. The other is way more traditional for me but both are gorgeous!!! Cannot wait to see posts on all the choices and how you narrowed them down. Those will be design GOLD!!

  98. I voted for #1, but I like the sconces and dining room lights of #2 better. One thing to add from experience about using ledges instead of pulls or knobs….they can catch on clothes or bang you when you come around the corner by them. With kids, I’d be concerned about them getting sliced in the eye when they come zooming around the corner. Just a thought. They look so nice and slim, but I ruined a few sweaters with pulls from the cabinets.

  99. I never comment on anything but I am because OPTION 1 IS SO F-IN AMAZING! Please make it happen so I can live vicariously through you. Great post, as per the usual.

  100. one more thing…put in the pull outs in the cabinets. you won’t be sorry. The stuff in the back of the cabinet, especially on the bottom shelf will be lost for a long time without it.

  101. Well done! Super impressed with your lighting options. A peaceful/interesting harmony lies within each.

    I’ve been unable to launch our dining room renovation because I can not come to a decision point re: the kind of chandelier I want and what kind of sconces would work well with it. If I go with the 3 armed Serge Mouille chandelier, what kind of sconces riff fabulously with them? Feel free to respond to that style issue in any upcoming lighting posts you do. 🙂 I’m very much looking forward to seeing your discarded options.

    I’m especially drawn to the less traditional Option One. But with either, you’ve done a masterful job choosing the lighting options that for me, really pull this room together and make it the modern rustic mountain kitchen you’ve been hoping for.

  102. Edgy all the way! I HATE the over island light in ‘friendly’, fabric shades feel super dated to me especially cone shades with a sharp taper. I’d swap out the wall sconces in ‘edgy’ for the katy skelton ones too, the glass ones don’t seem like they fit with the dark curves of the other lighting fixutes in the room. That black wood island is going to look so amazing with the white marble top!

  103. I really love option 1, but I LOVE the sconces (both flanking the sink and above the peninsula) for option 2.
    If I could make ALL the decisions, I would do option 1 with those sconces. Would probably skew it a more edgy..

  104. That rendering is soooo beautiful! I loved the first one. If you had just designed #2 without ever seeing number #1 I would have loved it too but that black in the middle grounds the space so beautifully and the lighter tall cabinets make it feel really light and spacious, the darker cabinets on #2 felt a little claustrophobic to me, but again, only because I could compare it to the other option. No 2 is very mountain housy, I just loved #1 though!

  105. Designs are great. Just wondering if you have extraction for the cooktop?

  106. So many great comments but I’m “old school” and think both designs are very very modern and not rustic for a mountain cabin home. I don’t like #1 because I feel no mountain vibe at all with this design. It is very stark and too modern for me to think rustic mountain home, but I realize that you and Brian both gravitate toward modern and clean lines and perhaps these designs feel rustic to both of you. If there are no other choices, then #2. Go with as many drawers as possible, much easier to use and access everything.

  107. Option 1 is 100% the kitchen I would want to hang out in. Number 2 feels dark and not as special (but I do like the window sconces and dining room lights).

    I’m surprised you didn’t consider soapstone or a white/gray quartzite for the counters. Soapstone could have been so mountain-y! Would have loved to see some non marble options for the kitchen.

    I’m totally on team solid kitchen island, but a sink is definitely better than a cook top for both safety and comfort. I think it’ll be fine! And I’m actually a fan and f the below counter microwave 🙂

  108. Loved the edgy kitchen so much… I know the layout is done done done but (and sorry if this was on the earlier post) the oven seems super far away from the working zone of the kitchen. I get why the fridge needs to be where it is but could you put an underbench oven below the cooktop. Having to walk around the island to go from cooktop to oven (which happens more than you’d think) seems quite dangerous. You’ll also need to turn around to get things out of the oven onto the island. It really stood out to me in the 3Ds. Other than that it’s gorgeous!

  109. have you seen the wood stain in this house? bit lighter but AMAZING! https://thedesignfiles.net/2018/06/architecture-awardwinning-armadale-home/

  110. Yay I was right 🙂

  111. I already voted for number one but another commenter said that number two would be easier to live in, and now I might be changing my mind! Emily – I don’t know how you are going to choose!

  112. Beautiful!!! Gosh, my vote is option 1 with the lighting from option 2. Love the island light and dining room lanterns-just beautiful!

  113. I really wish you had given us the four options. The black island is the bomb! And what I voted for, but I want the square lanterns so bad. Could you do the more traditional lighting scheme, except for the island pendant? Keep the Katy Skelton piece while incorporating the preferred lanterns?

  114. I was reading through the first option going Ok, ok… maybe neat; then I hit that natural color photographic rendering at the end of it and my jaw sagged in delighted shock! Ohhhh hell yes.
    So there’s my gut response, but also in the side by sides the second option’s walls seem to close in a bit and the eye slides past the white island to the darker dining area objects. I love being stopped by the gorgeous stained black wood and PHENOM fixture you chose for that island.

  115. The combo of the Katy Skelton pendant and lanterns are so.damn.good. Also – i’m Team no cutting board. While it sounds like a good idea i think it can be wasted. First, its lower than the actual counter top so you’re cutting down and to the side – especially as youre moving around the kitchen or bringing items down and back up to the counter top. Plus i don’t like that the only cleaning it gets is a wipe down (maybe you could pop it in and out if you really want it).

  116. Lovely!! My only concern is that you absolutely must do pull out shelves in the lower cabinets that flank the cooktop. I live with fixed lower shelves and it is incredibly difficult to get anything out of the back! Deep drawers would be the most functional but I understand if you prefer the aesthetic of cabinet doors instead of drawers.

    1. And by “absolutely must do” I mean “please consider”😉

  117. Gah! Amazing! I picked Option 1 as it’s really light and grounded by that island. But the lighting was a clincher. The Option 1 lighting is simple, modern, cool, everything lighting should be in such a space. Option 2 lighting is so traditional it bothered me so much. It feels too old and traditional for the style of the kitchen. Dark cabinets are amazing and I could go with either Option 1 or 2 in terms of cabinets but Options 1 lighting to be used for either.

  118. I love everything about No 1! That dark island is just gorgeous. I did like the cabibet colour of No 2 but that white island just looks wrong to me. No 1 – so beautiful!

    1. **cabinet**

  119. Hands down option 2. I think the stained black wood is really good, but I don’t that you’ve nailed it with the lighting on that option. The combination feels off to me. I like everything about option 2, it just seems easier to live with and more appropriate for the space.

    PS: I’m not sure the voting option is working properly. I didn’t vote yet and got the “you did it” messsge

  120. Edgy but with the double-black shaded light fixture of the Friendly over the island. Soooooo cool.

    I can’t imagine the work it took to come up with two such gorgeous designs. AMAZING work, you guys! I’m in awe of you.

  121. I’d love to see the Edgy option with the more traditional lighting. That black island just sells it. Surely the white island would be nice in person…it just pales (ha!) in comparison in the renderings. Sorry if I’ve repeated…will read the whole post ASAP. You put so much work into this to create two solid plans!

  122. The downfall of both options are the light fixtures for me. They both have those awesome modern exposed bulb fixtures but then they’re paired with boxy traditional light fixtures in both renderings. I don’t get it, just stick with the sexy modern options!

    Furthermore, I think this project should step away from gold/brass finishes. It’s SO overdone at this point. They come off as super girly to me. Why not all black for this one?? The brass seems very out of place in a mountain house.

    If those two things were different, both options would be A++ in my book!

    1. It’s funny, to me it’s the modern exposed bulb style lighting look that is so overdone but I’m still good with brass!

    2. I couldn’t agree more about the light fixtures! It’s just not jiving for me…

  123. Both are great–but that black island won me over, so great!

    Also, my goodness, this post was a lot of work! The final renderings look lovely. Not sure what software you are using–maybe sketchup with vray or 3dsmax? Have you tried Lumion? It works with sketchup and Revit and others; it’s a bit weird to learn, but it renders really really fast. Renderings from the older versions looked a bit cartoony, but the current version is much better and it has quick options for interiors or exteriors, so you don’t have to do much finagling if you don’t want to. I am not affiliated in any way, just like having an option for speedy renderings!

    Great and wonderful work team!!

  124. I would like the gray with the black island. I’m tired of white kitchens. I’m sure either would look great.

    1. Like this idea too

  125. Option 1 is SO beautiful and different, and I can’t wait to see it realized. That’s my vote! But we know whatever you do, it will be beautiful.

  126. I love the 2nd option but with 1st option lighting (particularly the dining room pendants)

  127. I have grays harbor in my powder room and it is a gorgeous color so that swayed my vote. Plus lighting choices are SIGNIFICANTLY better in Friendly option. Black wood is cool for sure—use it elsewhere.

  128. Man, I am in the minority AGAIN! I guess since I am probably your mom’s age, that makes sense. You have the golden oak that we used to remodel a row house in 1992. We followed that with maple in our next remodel in 1995. By the way, we were just looking at those interiors tonight (on Zillow), and they still look pretty nice. Although if I were to flip them again, I’d do a white shaker. Which was our 1997 kitchen and our 2017 kitchen. It’s my classic now.

  129. I was immediately drawn to the edgy design, even though I, myself, am not very edgy. The first inspiration picture, I loved the copper pots against the dark backsplash. Could you paint that little wall a shade of black/charcoal and do a longer pot rack with all copper pots to mimic that?

  130. Please do a post on how wood cabinets are back in style! I just bought a house with very nice all wood cabinets and I can’t help but feel like they are dated because all I see online are white cabinets! I need some inspiration.

    1. Yes! We also have very nice wood cabinets! Would love to see a dedicated post. 🙂

    2. Agreed! Would love to see a dedicated post on this too!!!

  131. Hi Emily,

    I love the option 2 cabinets but love the lighting of option 1. I vote for a combo :).

  132. I love seeing the thoughtfulness that goes into the 5,000 decisions you need to make this kitchen functional and beautiful. It’s going to be amazing whichever result wins although the island light in option one had me at hello. You mentioned something about durable cabinet finish. We just did our kitchen and I wanted a wipable cabinet but with a matte finish. Thankfully, Benjamin Moore had a newish product out called Advance and they just started offering it in matte. Our cabinets look fantastic and are not shiny which is great because of all the natural light we have coming in. We also have two toddlers so they are definitely wiped down regularly and are holding up great. Other companies may offer this finish too but when I was doing my research I had trouble finding a cabinet finish paint in a matte finish so thought I’d offer my two cents.

  133. I like components from both…but please for the love of the mountain don’t do the smokebell pendants! They look so trendy and like the popular lanterns in every new-build house. A nice glass orb light would be spectacular and could fit your overall style. The light fixture in #2 over the countertop feels very Connecticut country. I love the floor-to-ceiling cabinets and the clean lines and texture.

  134. I LOVE option #1 BUT those lights don’t “light me up”. So I voted for option 2. I can see that #2 will probably not win, so I’m crossing my fingers you opt to change the lights to option 2 lights with option 1 cabinets. I also thought option #2 felt like a home, but I understand the draw for the more editorial look of #1.

  135. Option 1’s white walls opens up the space, and the black island makes it a bold but contained statement of gorgeousness. Plus I love the lighting of #1, so it’s a sealed deal! (Also, I was scrolled on my phone and hit the VOTE button, thinking it would take me to the poll – but it submitted a vote for #2 by error!! I’ve been visiting this blog on every device since to counteract the vote to be #1, but the percentage isn’t changing – cooincidence? If not, please count one for team 1. <3) 😀

    1. coincidence!* 😉

  136. Both designs look amazing but I voted for option 2. With that said, I would change the island pendant to Ellis pendant from option 1. Good luck!

  137. Love the options but FRIENDLY (don’t you love how i’m shouting that) has my vote. Would really love to see the island light and the two dining lights swapped. I think the clear glass lets you see to the dining area in a more breathable way.
    Really enjoy your posts and your insight with todays tribulations.
    a fellow oregon girl

  138. I would love the lighting option from 1 with everything else in option 2.

  139. Emily,
    I’m late to comment but have been following you for years… we remodeled our kitchen last year and my favorite feature is my 2 full size dishwashers! They are Miele with integrated fronts- one on each side of the sink. You could still add that, if you could find a place for your garbage. It will help keep the island clear and is amazing when entertaining. We can do wine glasses and plates in one and the larger or awkward items in the other. I can send you a photo 🙂

  140. Option 1 has me drooling! Hats off to your team, the final rendering really helps and is amazing to see.
    One point, would it at all be possible to take the stone by the window all the way up to the ceiling? I know that’s a ridiculous amount of stone but I love the extended look vs cut off.

  141. I voted for Option 1 and I especially like the sconces and the dining room
    lights. I don’t need a kitchen to be white, but I love it to feel light and I think
    Option 1 feels good.

    I agree if you use the microwave a lot you should put it at the safest and most
    comfortable height and make it work.

    And I have a kitchen with double cabinet doors you have to open to pull out shelves with the pots and pans on them, and I HATE having to do all that to grab something.

    What a lot of fabulous hard work you folks have put into this! It’s going to look and feel wonderful.

  142. please do option one and all of its dark, dramatic glory. we’re getting ready to start designing our kitchen renovation, and after seeing the rendering… i think we will NEED dark cabinetry!!

  143. Look at what you’ve named the kitchen choices. Good names as it describes them accurately! And here’s the thing that makes design fascinating to me. It’s about how aesthetics meet values. Sure, it’s about taste and what I think is pretty, but also why I’m drawn to something. I voted hands down for Option 2. I’m sick to death of “edge”. Putting value on “edge”, “cool”, “tough” is part of what’s gotten is into this pickle we’re in. In my books what each and every one of us needs today is FRIENDLY. Warmth. Soft edges. And when you have a chance to put more friendly energy in the world you GRAB it. ❤️

  144. I voted option 2 because I love the green gray color and the dining pendants. I didn’t care for the island pendant though – the black shades are too visually blocking

  145. Love the designs! Option one is killer 😍 just enough rustic and modern!

    Random question, what do you use to make the Sketch Up renderings look so real? Or is that a different program?

  146. LOVE option ones black reclaimed island. Where do you find reclaimed wood for projects like that?

  147. I would go with the darker cabinets from the ‘friendly’ option, but with all of the ‘edgy’ lighting. Edgy lighting is a no-brainer for me 🙂 And then, I would have to decide for the island: #option 1- painted in a beautiful greenish-blueish-grayish color, to pop out; #option 2 – stain it in beautiful lighter, but still warm oak, to match the window – but then, you’ll have to see how it goes with other wood elements in the space; #option 3- stain/paint the island in rich, deep, matte off-black, to give it an even more edgy look. But do use edgy lighting, for sure. And darker cabinets. And non-white island 🙂. And please, match the handles on the pull out cabinet; I would ditch the knob on the upper door. 🤷‍♀️

    1. Gordana, I said nearly the same thing about the lights. I love the island light from the first option, the best.

  148. I love them both! But I can’t deal with the island pendant in option 2, so I voted option 1.

  149. Checking out and voting on your various options is fun design fantasy. But any posts on accommodating less-than-current design options (shiny maple cabinets, for instance!) might be more helpful for most people. How many full-gut kitchen remodels do most families do in a lifetime? I’d like to see options for a slightly dated kitchen (mine is 10 years old) that has cabinets, coutertops and flooring that are still in perfect shape, just not the latest and greatest style. Who among us can afford to go in and change out an everlasting granite,for example, just because styles have changed in the last decade?!

  150. I voted for the first option, I have to say though that I don’t really like any of the lightning options, I think they all feel way to fancy/chic and sophisticated for a cabin/house in the mountains. I would definately choose simpler options… The current ones don’t have a rustic oder scandinavian look at all to me.

  151. First comment. Normally just a lurker but I’m finally emotionally invested enough to weigh in.

    Please, please, please pull an executive decision and go with the friendly kitchen and edgy lighting. I think they will balance each other perfectly, and it’s just enough edge to be a departure from your usual work but just enough friendly that it’s still “on brand.” Also, the pendant above the sink is amazing, but so is the green/gray paint color. Please don’t make me choose.

    On second thought, do whatever you want because I’m pretty sure I’m ordering both choices (or something very similar) for my own kitchen remodel in a few months.

  152. I like the second kitchen, but with the Katy Ellison skeleton pendant over the island instead of the Chiltren double lantern. Or may be it’s the bulk and squareness Chilsom laterns over the dining combined with the round lantern that I’m not a fan of, they just all seem so heavy compared with those super cool sconces by the window. I can’t wait to see the finished room, I’m sure it will be fabulous, no matter the direction you take.

  153. I like option one with some of the lighting in option two.

  154. Ok I love the edgy option BUT hate the square sconces and I think the ones from the second option go with the edgy scheme much better

  155. Edgy! Reading through, I was 49/51 (or maybe 51/49?). I know I would walk away from that house with #1 raving about it whereas #2 is lovely but perhaps not quite as impressionable. I almost chose #2 on the grounds that “less memorable” is likely to translate to “more classic / timeless” but then I slapped myself up the head – the islands are the most permanent choices and the lighting can be swapped out / cabinets repainted when the kitchen gets a refresh. You know the cabinets will have to be repainted someday – and even the lovely greenish gray in #2 would go with the edgy black island. Whereas a white island is a white island. Comment about the sink in the island – I really do love how it’s a single, discreet focal point for the eye. You are really not losing much countertop space for food prep / setout and overall the kitchen looks that much more spacious for the sink and cooktop to have their own homes instead of jamming up against each other. Great job!!

  156. I like the edgier design better, but I hate the lighting over the island and the three lights about the peninsula. If you swapped those with the lights in those sections form the Friendly version I think you’d have a real winner.

  157. I think both spaces are beautiful, but as a designer I am really struggling with the lighting. I think mixing lighting styles is very difficult. All the pieces are individually beautiful, but I think there are too many things happening, too many different stories. Can’t wait to see the finished product though! Good luck.


  158. It bothers me the pulls and knobs that are not similar and placed different in each cabinet. Love the #2 molten sconce.

  159. I love the edgy but I’m just not feeling it for a a mountain retreat. The friendly is the vibe you want to go for – other one feels too urban.

  160. I feel insane for saying this, but I think I prefer option 2. Option 1 just looks a little too stark (I think it’s the lack of color, especially on the wall with the window and stovetop). I ADORE the black wood and I am sick of blue kitchens, so I’m a bit conflicted between the two, but option 2 is just a bit cozier and that’s the feel you want at a cabin. Since I am not 100% for either of them, let me suggest 1). friendlier lighting and more color in option 1, and 2). black or green cabinetry (not blue!!!!) in option 2.

  161. I voted friendly, but only because the sconces and pendent on the edgy version just don’t seem to fit AT ALL with the rest of the house. The black stain is everything. I would love to see the black stain without those light fixtures.

  162. Although the edgy kitchen is the clear winner- i prefer the Katy Skelton sconces flanking the cook top window- more sleek, less bulk and they don’t draw my eyes away from the overall look of the entire kitchen itself. They also don’t compete with the dining table lights, like it seems the urban electric sconces do. But maybe you are worried about too much Katy lighting being too matchy with the island chandelier, (which I LOVE LOVE)? Either way, I’m just so thrilled to be introduced to Katy Skelton design- her stuff is exactly what I want lighting to be right now! So, thank you!

  163. That black stained wood is so dreamy and I have been wanting to see a kitchen used with this!!

  164. I will vote for whatever option uses that black stained wood. Gorgeous! And I like the brightness of the rest of the surrounding kitchen versus a light island/dark cabinets. Also, the lighting in option #2 is reading a little spooky to me.

    Any chance we can get a round-up of mini flush mounts? Seems like a great alternative to track lighting (what I have and hate) and recessed lighting (which I don’t mind, but also don’t want to pay an electrician to install).

  165. I am loving what you’ve come up with for this kitchen. It is going to be amazing! I am in the minority but I voted for the Friendly kitchen because at the end of the day, it is still Emily Henderson’s kitchen. I love them both, actually would pick Edgy for myself, but something about it just wouldn’t have your signature on it if I came across it in a magazine.

    Friendly still feels different than other things you’ve done to me, but I think it is much easier to picture you and your family in this kitchen. Either way, you’ve nailed it and cannot go wrong!

  166. I’m digging #1 but I think I prefer the lighting from option #2. But you NEED to use that skelton pendant, it is divine.

  167. Aghhh, perhaps an unpopular opinion, BUT I think the light over the island in #1 is horrible! It seems too sparse and skinny to balance out the solid island, and reads too modern. Seriously, love everything about #1 except for that!

  168. Wow, definitely #1!!! Love it!!

  169. I really hope the edgy look wins. Also, we’re in the design phase of a kitchen remodel and we’re looking at beadboard cabinetry fronts. Are the ones pictured here totally custom?

  170. I loved Option #2! The wood tone with the gray green cabinets was stunning. In fact, I would opt for an island in that tone of wood (lighter vs darker) in the first picture with the cabinets. For lighting changes, I preferred the urban smoked pendants over the dining table. Great job on the kitchen plan!

  171. I immediately got excited when I saw Option 1! The island pendant made me take a deep breath. I love the way ALL of the lighting works in this option! Also, the light cream color highlights the cabinet inserts, providing another texture to the kitchen. It’s just so dang pretty!!! That being said, when I saw the cabinet color in Option2, it immediately felt cozy and warm. I love that green gray color too! So, it’s understandable that you all considered offering more options. Thank you for using sconces for the peninsula as it opens to the living room. I’ve grappled with that issue, and it made me crazy! And, the mini dome sconces are perfectly scandi and modern!

  172. I voted for Option 1 and love everything about it, but before you order and install the scones intended to flank the window, you might want to consider how dirty/greasy they will get being so close to your cook top. Even with good ventilation and minimal cooking, the glass on those might not be a great choice. The sconces in Option 2 are awesome and might not pose the same issue.

  173. Could I love your designing anymore? It is only rivaled by your excellent commentary/blog writing. I feel like you write as if we were part of your design team or a bestie discussing all the decisions and the how’s and where’s of it all. The things I feel like I have max 10 minutes to get out of my dear husband.

  174. I voted for the first one simply because that Katy Skelton pendant above the island is STUNNING. I do love the warm gray in the second design (and the Katy Skelton sconces by the window), but that pendant is just too gorgeous to pass on.

  175. I love option #1 so much! The only thing that I would change would be the sconces-I love those (also by Katy Skelton, I believe?) in Option #2…so I would use those instead of the current sconces in the Edgy Kitchen. Just my 2 cents! 😉 i LOVE seeing the full tour rendering (with light)! Amazing! So helpful for those of us with lacking visualization skills. Well done all at EHD!

  176. Edgy, bc the friendly looks like all the other kitchens you design.

  177. The island with black reclaimed is so fabulous and a clear winner IMAO. <3

  178. Love option 1, but the sconces fall flat compared to all the other great lighting in the room. Don’t stop hunting for the perfect sconces.

  179. I voted for the first option, and stand by that, but am curious as to what the first option would look like with the window sconces from the second option. Just a thought.

  180. I like friendly – but with the black stained island 🙂

  181. You had me at the black reclaimed cabinets and that island lighting fixture Option 1!

  182. I usually encourage my clients to put the sink in the island because is do much more comfortable to be in the middle of the space while doing dishes. That being said, I would never recommend a cooktop below a window. It would be a nightmare to keep it clean and I mean the glass, frame and trim. That is not a practical location.
    Also, option 1 the island light fixture will not give you enough light at 40W max each bulb.

  183. Option 2 except for the sconces by the window. Those are weird. They look like sideways towel bars with a light bulb on top. On the plus side, the lanterns over the table are DIVINE!

    1. I agree. Wouldn’t that bulb be kind of blinding when turned on? I’m not a fan of exposed bulbs

  184. Black island but I like the other light better. I think the edginess of the black island needs some of the more Scandi/rustic/traditional elements to tie in with the rest of the house.

  185. Questions..What are other peoples thoughts on a single VS double bowl sink??And why did you choose the shorter apron? I love the look but I think a single bowl is not as useful.

    1. A single bowl sink has enough space for really big, hard-to-handle dishes (I immediately think of my huge glass ikea bowl or stovetop pressure cooker). Double bowl is never big enough, unless you sacrify a lot of work surface.

  186. How about the black island from option one and the dark cabinets, not in gray, from option two? That black island with the rough wood is fantastic. Reminds me of shou sugi ban, a Japanese technique for preserving wood by burning it. Usually see it for exteriors but would love to see it used inside. No more gray or bare bulb light fixtures for me.

    The comments on the Instagram post about these choices was interesting. All the people who did not like black countertops due to fingerprints and stains weighed in, but I think your use of white countertops really makes the difference here. And what do all the people with stainless steel appliances do but constantly clean them? And the people talking about dust on dark surfaces? I have a small bathroom with marble wainscoting with deep, dark teal walls and ceiling. Love it. Only time that bathroom has ever looked decent and really expands the space. Had to dust the walls when it was painted light colors and have to dust them now.

  187. I love both of them but I think I’ll go with the first one because I like the pendant light so much 🙂 it’s perfect with the “Edgy” theme of the design.

  188. I went with Option 2. I think the dark cabinets fit better with a woodsy/ ‘mountainy ‘ house.
    Although I would switch out the lightining fixture over the island for the simpler one in Option 1. I think the current one competes with the fixtures over the dining table and it’s too traditional. But if you really really really don’t want to give up the black wood island option 1 is pretty good too. Hard decision!

    1. I think the Vic sconces look like outdoor lights.

  189. Overall, I like option 2 better but prefer the over island light and pendants in option 1 – and look like they’d go well with option 2.

  190. I couldn’t scan through all the comments to see if anyone else mentioned this, but can you explain the decision to only go (what seems to be about) 12″ up with the stone above the sink? I felt my eye stopped in a weird place. It was too high to be like the old fashioned border you see in kitchens a lot, but it was too short to be a statement stone wall. Curious what the motivation was. I like either design, but I voted edgy because I love black 🙂 I also saw on instastories that you are thinking of doing a simpler cabinet design and I voted yes on that. I find the v-groove stuff I’ve had in the best gets dusty and crusty over time. Love this series!

  191. I’m late to this voting party but HOLY COW I’M SO GLAD #1 IS WINNING. Both are obviously gorgeous, but I’m dying over the edgy black stained island and modern lighting. All the heart eyes, y’all.

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