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Emily Henderson

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by Emily Henderson
Mjolk Cottage Remodelista 7
photo source | design by john and juli Baker

We have the big magazine reveal of the mountain fixer on the books (shoot in June for a September issue), so it’s time to amp up this house with special pieces. Which brings me to something I’ve been meaning to tell you (it’s the key to life/design, actually): the only way to get an interesting home these days is to make it personal to you, the people who actually fill it full of life (and things). Also this: you can decorate your home with 80% relatively basic and simple pieces, even from a big-box store and you really only need a few special pieces to make it interesting.

This mountain house is a challenge because I don’t want a lot of “stuff,” but I want it to be unique and historically, I’ve done this through accessories like art, lighting, textiles, knick-knacks. I’m going for a “quiet weird” which is harder to achieve through furniture that I actually want to sit on. Typically “weird” means sculptural, whimsical, odd and I want the majority of the house to have a very high comfy quotient.

Here’s what I’m after: vintage, sculptural, kid-friendly, comfortable, beautiful, unique, Scandinavian, a little weird factor (but not loud), oh and affordable. That request is up there with a “fast, cheap and good” which I realize is an impossible feat. So since we are having so much LESS in this house, I’m going to have to drop the “affordable” and potentially splurge on a couple of investment pieces (although I’m very much on the hunt at flea markets for steals). Amazing vintage pieces don’t just fall off the truck in front of your house, sadly.

As a reminder, the sofas and rugs are relatively simple and neutral. We have this sectional and this sofa, and the bed in our master is a very simple gray upholstered platform with this amazing white cloud of a rug. So the opportunities to amp it up exist in the chairs, nightstands and some lighting (and art, but we are trying to make a lot of art up there as a family).

Here are some chairs I’m thinking about. Most of them are designs or designers that I’ve loved FOR YEARS. It might be time to come home to me.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Statement Vintage Seating Lounge

Disregard the fabrics, obviously. The above are really comfortable and can go in the living room OR master bedroom next to the fireplace. They would almost all be recovered and I’m debating between doing something safe (linen or leather) OR going with a vintage plaid that I’ve been hoarding. The trick to this is making sure that the chair is streamlined enough to handle a plaid (aka if it’s a club chair, it could look really ’80s but a Scandi wingback could totally handle it—#3 for instance is so charming in that vintage fabric, although it needs to be changed but you get the vibe).

I think #9 could be awesome in a weird vintage plaid and while I’ll never afford an original Papa Bear chair (#5) I will love them forever (they are typically $10 – 15K).

Up next are ones that are more sculptural, less comfortable but I LOVE THEM.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Statement Vintage Seating Sculptural

I’m obsessed with 2, 3, 4, and 6 and I’m on the hunt for versions of these that are more affordable or need some work. #4 and #6 look actually super comfortable and YET sculptural so I feel like they are worth more of an investment. I suppose my rationale is that a chair that you actually want to sit in, which you extract joy from physically, has more value than a looking-at-chair (like #2 or #3 of which I LOVE). By the way, #3 is another great example of a vintage Scandi piece in a weird plaid. I have a place for that piece (the entry) that doesn’t require too much comfort so if anyone knows where I can get one of those for less than $4k, PLEASE let me know. I want it so badly, but can’t spend that on an entry bench, obviously. #2 is a dream. Just a dream but so expensive and not something you actually want to sit on but boy would it make the shot.

Est Living Darlinghurst Tommarkhenry Aida Awards Shortlist 2 1
photo source | design by lawless and meyerson

And now when it comes to lighting I want really awesome lamps, with the key being in our color palette, but weird and cool. Here is what I’m thinking:

Emily Henderson Mountain House Statement Vintage Lighting Natural

I’ve loved a popsicle lamp since I was 22. I love them. Full stop. And wicker. I LOVE WICKER. They are both weird and cool and odd. I love them all. Some of these are VERY expensive (like #2 from 1stdibs…I believe it’s well over $1,000 but eBay has tons of them for like $50-$60 (just search “popsicle lamp” and you’ll find a handful right now…but don’t buy them all before I get around to it, pretty please).

Emily Henderson Mountain House Statement Vintage Lighting Sculptural

I want and need a statement lamp. One with weird proportions and finishes. I’m tempted by all of these. I’ve really been into the pleated shade thing like #2 and while #3 isn’t actually wood (I think it’s a walnut veneer), the shape is just so, so interesting and like something you wouldn’t easily come across at a typical retailer. Obviously, same for #1 and #4 (I’m not even sure what’s happening there with #4, but it’s natural and organic feeling and I can just see it styled really simply in a vignette on top of a credenza or something and it would just be a WOW shot, for sure).

Emily Henderson Mountain House Statement Vintage Lighting Long Arm Sconce

More pleated shades (see, told you). I’m also on the hunt for a long-arm sconce or pull out sconce for an area upstairs and I like that none of these are glitzy or metallic. It’s not easy to find hard-wired lighting that isn’t brass or nickel these days, honestly, so vintage pieces are the best bet for anything made of mostly wood). Plus, three of these are plug-ins, so I wouldn’t have to worry about junction boxes if I wanted to add one to a place not hard wired-ready (because I’m DONE spending money on “construction” here).

Emily Henderson Mountain House Statement Vintage Lighting Double Head Sconce

We recently got a credenza for the family room and it’s crying for a big double-headed sconce. Brian and I both very much love #1#1. It’s so modern and special and editorial and pretty MASSIVE. It would look just so cool as “the piece” over it. The smaller wood one is very cool maybe for another spot in the house (maybe upstairs in one of the kids’ areas we’re tinkering around with).

And finally, to supplement all those chairs, sofas and beds, we need some side tables and nightstands:

Emily Henderson Mountain House Statement Vintage Side Tables

I’m REALLY into #1 and #3 (I love Paul McCobb pieces dearly), and, spoiler alert, I bought #2 already. It’s a pretty mango wood and the shape will look so great next to one of the more streamlined sofas, I think. We were considering #4 for the master bedroom because I like the chunky shape on them, but not sure they’re the right color wood. We’ll see…Also, what’s not to love about #5 with that WICKER basket and those tiny casters. I have a thing for sewing tables.

So there you go. These are some of the main pieces I’m thinking about to bring in some personality, some interest/vintage, some ME into the mountain house. Like I said, I really don’t want to get super weird up here for the sake of being weird, but I do want to introduce moments that make you (me) stop and smile. And because in general, I’m buying less up here, I know that I’ll likely spend/invest more into pieces I know I will LOVE because there is more room in the budget that way.

Let me know what you think, what else in the mountain house you’re interested in hearing about right now, and if there are any sites/dealers/brands in line with some of the things I’ve shown you today that I should check out with the design team here… HAPPY MOUNTAIN MONDAY, FRIENDS. 🙂

  1. i love that you’re bringing in some special vintage pieces! go vintage!
    so, here are my thoughts.
    1. I love all of the chairs you picked out, especially the one that’s like a sherpa all over (looks so cozy and my daughter would be hugging it all the time).
    2. i don’t get the pleated shade thing. i hope we never go back to that. blech!
    3. but love the double sconces, and the first is my favorite (for over a credenza, soooo good)
    4. for the side tables, #2, which you got, is amazing and i want it too! #6 is beautiful as well.
    5. who knew popsicle lamps were a thing? never heard of them. and honestly, don’t love them, but could learn to like #2.
    6. you should buy 1 or 2 of these: https://www.instagram.com/p/Bpz2LitA7As/

    1. Ha. i actually have ALMOST bought some of those Thonet chairs before but resisted because they don’t feel as comfortable as I wish they were. But I love the square arm, for sure.

  2. I know 90% of people are horrified, but I’m also delighted by the return of the pleated lamp shade. A patterned, pleated one is even better! Haha! A few years ago I would have NEVER been saying these things!

    1. Seriously…check out any british design book or magazine–modern included–and pleated shades are there. I’m not sure why pleats elicit such loathing! They’re pretty!

  3. As far as chairs go, Adrian Pearsall chairs are amazing, and you can usually find them (with a little searching) for a pretty reasonable price as long as you are willing to reupholster them. Also, they are usually done in two fabrics…solid for the body and patterned on the seat and back, which sounds like would look good with the plaid you have.

    1. ooh good to know xx

  4. Girl if you don’t buy that first plaid chair then please share because I have the most perfect place for it! It’s amazing and I actually LOVE the weird plaid. Such fun and interesting finds!

    1. Agreed! Thank you! That screams to me sculptural, comfortable and the plaid is perfect for the cabin vibe.

  5. Hi Emily. Does the magazine placement mean we’re not going to see much more of the house until September? That would be so disappointing and feels like it doesn’t take into account alllllll the feedback you got about people hating the big wait times and stop/start on project reveals. But, if we do have to wait until September, at least we got to see the kitchen!

  6. Popsicle stick lamps have always tempted me…. it’s the dusting of those buggers that holds me back.

  7. Love these!! Thank you! But, can we link to them?

  8. Really like the Bruno Mathsson chairs, used to have such at work and they are sooo comfortable to lounge in.

  9. Check out the beautiful burled wood nightstands at Homenature store. They have stores in NYC and Long island and online. They also have vintage things..

    How about a Saarinen womb chair and ottoman? they are so cool and comfortable. Those wing chairs remind me of the Ikea Strandmon chair. not really a fan.

    there is a new Ikea collection coming out in May called Overallt and there’s a curved bench that looks amazing. not sure what the wood is; looks like teak. I’d put it in an entryway…it’s curved though….

  10. This is what you do best! Can’t wait to see all the weird in place.

    1. thank you thank you xx

    2. I agree!!!

  11. Statement sculptural chair and lighting styles all the way!

  12. I LOVE #4 in the Statement Vintage // Sculptural Seating section! What is more “mountain house” than a rocking chair (or two)? I’d love to see a roundup of outdoor seating in this same vibe – we have a beautiful back garden and I want some chairs, a hammock, and a swing, but most of them are just ugly, or overly themed. Can a girl get an elegant swing with a cup holder already??

    Can’t wait to see how this turns out!

  13. Hi!
    Scandi design enthusiast here. Firstly, totally onboard with the pleated lamp shade. Perfect amount of eclectic in a neutral/modern space. Look into the Capriani floor lamp with a pleated shade.
    I really wish you indulged more into the traditional Nordic design brands more. If you look at the Mjolk home they are full of such pieces (I’ve actually been to their store and loved it). Carl Hansen/Ilse Crawford/Gubi/Marset/Louis Polsen to name a few. Without seeing some of the traditional elements it feels neutral and beautiful but not truly Scandinavian. I know some of it is a limitation to sponsorship but would’ve loved to see muuto/menu items for the more affordable pieces rather than article etc. please look into some of these brands more if possible

    Hugs
    Aliyah

  14. There is not a single thing here I would put in my house BUT that is not the point, is it? These would look fantastic and crazy in YOUR house and I love it! These are very outside the box and I love that the statement is in the shape and function instead of in bright colors. Wasn’t sure at first how you were going to bring in both weird and calm at the same time, but these would do it. Go for it!

  15. Ha, I’m obviously not cool enough for these pieces… I literally read the post, scrolled through the pics of the pieces you’re considering, and then scrolled back up to ensure that I had the date right and that you weren’t doing a late April Fools! These pieces are so obviously not my jam…

    But look forward to seeing it regardless…

    1. I did the same thing! 😂. Different strokes! Im usually 200% into everything I see here, but today for the first time ever…I cannot get on board. (I’m amused not mad. It’s not you, EHD, it’s me.) I spent too much of my 80s childhood trying not to let my legs touch the itchy plaid upholstery on the old 70s wing back chairs …

      1. Ha! I third that notion! There is only one chair out of all of them that I would even give a second glance to, and then I would still pass it up. I’m fairly amused as well, but sometimes it’s hard watching Emily continually reinvent herself. I miss the old Emily, and I have loved the posts again lately (thank you!) but I feel like Emily just needs to like what she likes, instead of always trying to be something else. I’m guessing there’s a lot of pressure to be edgy as a content creator. I feel like there’s a lot of overthinking and regretting happening, and it doesn’t have to be so difficult. Just love what you love!

        1. Agreed!!

        2. Debbie: Wow. Your remark is incredibly patronizing and rude — both to Emily and to anyone here who loves this style of furniture. You can express your view that it doesn’t work for YOU without accusing anyone else of “trying to be something else” and talking about how “amused” you are. Seriously?

  16. Chair 6 in the sculptural seating category immediately made me think of the ubiquitous Poang IKEA chair, for what that’s worth. And LOVING that mango wood side table!

    1. Me tooooooo!

  17. Emily,
    If you chose these things it’s because you liked them now.
    But what you really have to ask yourself is…
    Am I gonna love this as much next year?…. in 5 years?
    Then go for it!

  18. You may want to consider the Ny Chair. It’s a classic modern chair (they have it in the cooper hewitt). They still make it though and it is CRAZY comfortable. They sell it at Tortoise General Store in Venice. THey have a rocker version and a non-rocker and it comes with an ottoman. The canvas comes in different colors and can easily be replaced. And it’s super light and easy to move around. I grew up with this chair and have fond memories of racing cars down the back and ramping them off the front. And I bought one for my son’s room.

  19. Oh my love for pleated shades! I think Bunny Williams started it followed by Mark Sikes. I just ordered one and cannot wait for the warm coziness it will bring to my entry hall!

  20. Are these linked? Don’t seem to be working

  21. Please buy a Papa Bear chair! I’ve wanted one for over 20 years.
    What about giant cork lamps? I have one in our cabin and I absolutely love it.

    1. Ha! I’ve never cared for the Papa Bear chair. It looks too PeeWee’s Playhouse to me.

      But I would never turn down a Jacobsen Egg Chair. 🙂

      1. OMG I’ve never made the Papa Bear Chair > PeeWee’s Playhouse connection but now I totally see it. Won’t stop me from loving it though! HA

  22. Oh, I love wicker lamps! Especially, arts & crafts ones. There’s a company called Silver Bay Wicker Company that makes nice ones.

  23. Any chance you can link to these? Thank you!!!

    1. the links were interesting this time, becucase there are things Emily and the design team have saved along the way but a lot of the specific items have sold, so the links no longer work. But if you have specific questions about any of these, let us know. We can let you know if there is a designer attached that might help you on your search!

      1. Do you know the designer for side table number one or any more info on it? Thanks!!

      2. Do you have a link for the #4 etsy double-headed sconce? Thanks so much!

  24. Get the squiggle that Jess has!

  25. OMG – popsicle stick lamps! I sort of love them! I saw one at the Rose Bowl a few months ago and was THISclose to buying it, but my friend thought I was crazy…so I held off. Glad to see I’m not the only one who finds them quirky and interesting 🙂

  26. Emily, I love the mountain house kitchen and am wondering what your thoughts are regarding appliances if one can not afford integrated. Is stainless on it’s way out? WWED what would Emily do if she could not have done integrated in the mountain house? I’m currently in the beginning stages of planning a small retirement home, we plan to build next year and want a timeless, rustic, modern lake house. Also would it be possible to look into doing a post on IKEA kitchens ~ like quality and pros and cons? THANKS!!!

  27. I’m taking your word for it that any of those wingback chairs are comfortable, but I’m not optimistic. I have two sets of Kofod-Larsen wing chairs (very similar in design to some those pictured), a Kofod-Larsen side chair, and a Milo Baughman club chair, all vintage. I’m not an expert, but I didn’t notice any Kofod-Larsen in your choices, which seems like the vibe you might be going for. Anyway, my chairs all look amazing, but comfortable they are not. The back pitch is weird, the seats are low, the back support is off. They were made for people that were smaller than we are now. And I think possibly designed primarily for looks, which are incredible if you are trying to make a statement. No one in my house will sit in them but me. However, my cats love them, so that’s great! I think good designers today know more about ergonomics and how to make furniture more comfortable. Usually I go for new seating and add the personality in accessories, art, and wood dressers, tables, sideboards and desks. I’m a big fan of Blu Dot, and the Field Armchair has that Scandi look.

    Plaid possibly seems very on the nose for a mountain house.

  28. Do you have any info on #2 of the long arm sconces? Designer/producer? It’s beautiful.

  29. My friend from elementary school had a popsicle stick lamp and even back then I loved it so much!! I feel like whatever you want to put into your house will look great and you always mix so well!! Can’t wait to see.

  30. This is a great inspiring article
    Link KitaQQ

  31. These is what I would use:
    1. Chairs for fireplace #1 or #9. Don’t play it safe with the usual fabrics if you want that extra sass go for some vintage textile, something masculine.
    2. #4 & #6 , I also some really good/ similar ones on Charish.
    3. Wicker lamps scream nana house or nana beach house more than cool mountain house so I would skip them but if I have to i’ll Go for #4.
    4. These long arm scones are great and my pick would be #2.
    5. Double header scones #2
    6. Side tables #2 or #5. I feel like 1 and 3 are very much the usual retro mid century with wire legs that we see everyday everywhere? Go bold!
    Have fun
    S

  32. I personally am pretty into the look of what you are showing us but I BEG you- please make choices for your family and not for the instagram likes. It always looks forced and staged when you do this. Warm and comfortable comes across in the photos and I think that your readers really want to see you all enjoying this space.

  33. I am love love loving this series, and the reveals and discussions. I am INTO the lighting and side tables. Super cool.

    I’m really hoping you’ll be able to show us the outcome of the fireplace plastering. We saw it some on IG stories a while back, and some of the kitchen shots catch it in the background, but I’m really hoping we’ll get to revisit the whole discussion and decision-making process on that piece. I’m also really interested to see how you’ll use the little loft area, and what the entry way looks like.

    Like above, I really hope the magazine feature doesn’t put an embargo on these posts because I really look forward to them every Monday. I understand it’s part of building your brand, so, I’m not, like MAD about it, just really crossing my fingers we get to have it both ways!! Because I am in LOVE with this house and cannot get enough!!

  34. Having been raised in Sweden by two design-loving parents, I simply cannot keep quiet about Bruno Mathsson’s Pernilla design being relegated to the “sculptural but less comfortable” section! It is in fact incredibly comfortable, as are all of his designs that I’ve sat in (and that’s quite a few!) and there’s a good reason behind that which is why I felt the urge to speak up.

    Bruno Mathsson made extensive study of what he called “the mechanics of sitting” and he designed chairs suited to the seated human body, not the other way around. That is why the vast majority of people find his chairs so, so comfortable – it’s science really!

    If I may offer some suggestions for Nordic brands to look at that might be less known in the US, I’d say Dux, Swedese, Källemo, Fritz Hansen, Gubi, &Tradition, Fredericia Furniture, Artek, Carl Hansen and Fogia. Oh, and the reason I say Nordic and not Scandinavian is because I’ve included Finland in there – I personally think Alvar Aalto’s designs are fantastic and actually top most of Scandinavian design!

    1. Collector of Mathsson here and I second that Mathsson’s chairs are freakishly comfortable and ergonomic. Feel free to contact me if you need help sourcing Mathsson (or Møgensen even) or end up purchasing a chair that needs restoration as the chairs require webbing of a very specific width that must be bought from Sweden.

  35. I guess I am not weird enough because I loathe every one of the sculptural chair options. But the side table and long-arm sconce selections are lit!

  36. How weird! I like all the vintage statement/sculptural pieces EXCEPT the chairs. There I thought they looked like early model dentists’ chairs you’d see in a museum with the kids.

    For the “straight” chairs, I was thinking of Ikea’s reissue of one of their original 1950s pieces, a wingback that I think is called “Olaf”. Then I scrolled down and saw I was bang on.

  37. One freaky piece will save a room from that “big box” glow? Yay me then, because in our living room with the Ikea rug & lamp & Vantunan sleep sofa, I’m putting a hanging chair. A big bird’s nest looking one. It’s nowhere near classic enough for my son, who wants to follow the rules so everything looks “normal”. I wonder if telling him I’m following this rule will help, lol.

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