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Design

Mountain House Mondays: Our Dining Room Dilemma

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This is one of those posts that as I was writing it, ended up changing my mind about the ENTIRE room. But instead of deleting out all the “debates” at the beginning, I left in the thought process that brought me to a big TWIST at the end, so keep reading.

**But before I get into talking about our mountain house, I want to recognize a fellow family blogger’s fire tragedy. Chris Loves Julia were also documenting their mountain cabin renovation of which we have loved following along. Last week, it tragically burned down and well, it shook our office and our family, with almost everyone tearing up so I can’t IMAGINE how they feel. I didn’t want to continue going along, documenting our mountain project, without just recognizing their tragedy and knowing that it might be hard for them to read along. Not sure what else to say except we, like them, are so grateful that no one was inside. They are a great family to support, creating wonderful content and putting good things out into the world so if you don’t follow them, now’s a good time to start. We are so just so, so, so sorry.

It’s another “where we are and where we might go” post on the mountain house, this time in the room that ALWAYS CHALLENGES ME the most: the dining room. Why? Keep reading, but first let’s remind us all what she looked like before.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Dining Room Before

Besides this strange peninsula in the middle, it was kinda the same shape. We put in new GORGEOUS windows from Marvin (more on that later) and changed out the flooring (from Ross Alan Reclaimed Lumbar—the nicest family with the prettiest wood, so if you live in LA, please go check them out and say hi from us).

What you can’t see is that the walls all had a thick layer of orange peel spray and the corners of the entire house were rounded—like every window, every doorway, everywhere. Do you want to know the most annoying way to blow your budget? Smooth coating walls. More on that later (and we didn’t do that here, actually, they are a slight plaster).

Emily Henderson Mountain House Dining Room With Opening

It’s a pretty room with GREAT light, but it’s not there yet. A lot of the elements could change.

LIGHTING

Dining Room Options

First, once again I have a scale issue and I’ve finally learned my lesson. I, Emily Henderson, like smaller lighting fixtures over dining tables. Sometimes it takes three times, making the same mistake to really get it (Glendale house, Los Feliz dining room and now here). It’s like how I keep buying high waisted wide leg sailor pants and yet I always opt to actually wear a skinny jean. Always. So the other day I told my best friend as I was purging my closet, “I’m making a promise to myself and you that I will NEVER EVER EVER buy another pair of this style.” And then three effing days later, I bought low waisted wide legs as if that’s going to be any better!!!

Anyway. There is a reason for the larger fixtures. Originally we were going to punch through the ceiling and show the joists to match the kitchen, but once we decided on the plumbing in the directly-above master bathroom, we couldn’t. So the ceilings were supposed to be a foot higher. I also wanted glass as to not abstruct the view. They don’t look too overscale in the photos but when you are sitting at the table, they feel big above you. They are seriously beautiful, with black and brass detailing and they give great ambient light. It’s not ideal, as they were custom (from The Urban Electric Company) but I’m hoping my friend’s new 100-year-old huge Tudor will be a good fit for them.

Meanwhile, I’m still trying to figure out what should go there, and I may not know for a while until I for sure decide for or against a banquette going all the way around the windows. I’m leaning towards what we like to call a “micro pendant/sconce” like this:

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Trend Tiny Bubble Sconce 9 2500x3625

image source | design by studio joanna laajisto

Next, the ever-controversial pony wall:

Dining Room 2

A few facts about the pony wall: 1. Yes, the column is load-bearing and as we tried to move it, our engineer said the most we could move it is 12 inches to the right because our huge bathtub sits above it. At one point, we were going to get rid of the “pony” part of it and clad the column in wood, but then we thought that MAYBE we’ll still do a huge dining banquet in which case we’d want that wall. So it was one of those things that we thought to keep for now, deal with later.

But as the coats and boots are being strewn about (it’s right by the backdoor which is how we walk to the woods/lake), I was like ugh, maybe I should make this awkward wall more functional. Many of you shared my same woes on our family room update post, and we even polled it on Instagram Stories last week and it was 53 to 47 to close it up. We are so used to it being open and even though there is still a big opening directly next to it, it’s hard to close things up.

Dining Room 1

So I did what any professional stylist would do: I hung up a piece of fabric to see how it felt.

Dining Room 3

The idea would be that we would dry wall the dining room side of it and turn the family room side into a very shallow wall of hooks for coats. MAYBE a low shelf for boots. Kind of like a mini mudroom, similar to:

Mudroomstorage Studiomcgee
image source | design by studio mcgee

The pros of closing up the wall are as follows:

  1. It will be cleaner, architecturally. It makes the dining room feel more enclosed and we can put pretty art on there.
  2. We get some hooks for coats, therefore adding function.

The cons of closing up the wall are as follow:

  1. We like how open it is!
  2. I really don’t want to look at a pile of coats on the wall. Not having the storage means we are forced to hang them in the hall closet, of which I do three times a day.
  3. We would spend more money. We are SO done spending money on this house. I really should pursue a marriage with a handyman or a general contractor. I wonder if Brian would be open to that if he knew how much money our family would save?
  4. We might have to move the electrical unless we don’t take the niche down to the floor, which is annoying and yes involves dealing with an electrician and saving money and we MIGHT need it for code.

A lot of you want us to do floating shelves there which we had considered, but then I have to put something on them and I don’t want to create a space that I have to style. We already have a bar, so it would just be something that would just create visual clutter.

So where are we right now on the pony decision?

Last weekend, as we sat at that table with friends, fabric over the opening, everyone agreed that they missed the openness. Brian was pretty adamant about not closing it up and I was on the fence so I suppose that’s our decision for now.

I do think its a missed opportunity for function, and there is something a little dated about it but I will say this: There is STILL a chance that I will put in a big built-in banquette in which case we’ll want that wall.

Let’s talk about the real problem here…

TABLE & CHAIRS

Chairs Grid

Right now, we have this IKEA table (I know, it’s pretty darn good) chosen because the day before we were moving all of our stuff up there, we realized that we didn’t have a table and IKEA stocked this one. Turns out we actually really do like it. We brought all our extra dining chairs up there to play around (and sit on), so naturally, I took photos so you could see the difference between wood and black.

What do I really want? A GORGEOUS live-edge table and beautiful yet comfortable chairs.

Appleton Oct18 2404
image source | design by bachman brown design

BUT DO YOU KNOW WHAT DOESN’T ACTUALLY EXIST? REALLY beautiful + unique + REALLY comfortable + sculptural + kid-friendly chairs. It’s not that I haven’t looked, it’s that by nature of being a chair, it can’t actually be all of those things. It’s like trying to find really low-calorie/low fat + really delicious food. It’s just not how life works and you have to compromise somewhere.

I know this because our dining chairs at our Los Feliz house were in fact VERY comfortable but they were kinda boring. My next door neighbor/good friend has them now because I found my dream set of Cherner chairs at the flea market which are a 7 on the comfort scale, but every time I’m hanging out around her dining table, my bum being nestled by the padding on all sides, I regret choosing style over comfort.

So here I will NOT choose style over comfort. It’s a bummer, TRULY. Maybe you are wondering what level of comfort a family could possibly need and I’ll go ahead and say our’s is VERY HIGH.

What makes a chair comfortable?

  1. Upholstery and cushion on both the seat, back and, ideally, arms. Think a club chair at a bar. That’s what I want. But those are rarely if EVER in the style that we want up here, which is more sculptural and minimal, with mixed finishes (ideally wood and upholstery). But upholstery on the arms is by nature NOT kid-friendly. Even if it’s leather, you still have to wipe up the marinara and jelly hand prints.
  2. Large scale. Especially for guys, we don’t want a dinky, light chair.

I love these below, but they are everywhere and that back looks VERY straight.

Valle Dumbo Ad Skj 09
image source | design by giancarlo valle

These look more comfortable but I still don’t want to sit for hours and hours (I write at the dining table from 5-7 am most mornings).

Kungshöjdsgatan 9a
image source | design by grey deco

Something like the below could work, they are large scale and have upholstered seat and arms…but perhaps too contemporary for us.

Catherine Kwong San Francisco Home 03
image source | design by catherine kwong

Are you ready for this????

After writing this post for three hours on Saturday, I finally realized what needs to happen that will solve all our problems: the light, the pony wall, the comfort, adding style and interest, the need for kid-friendly…

PLOT TWIST IN THE DINING ROOM DESIGN!!

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We need to go back to the ORIGINAL plan which was to do a big built-in banquette on the three sides where the windows are and the pony wall. That’s what I ALWAYS wanted because EVERYONE loves sitting in a banquette. We’d make it deep and have a ton of pillows, so I can add much needed softness and texture. We’d likely do leather or a vegan leather for the bench.

Unadjustednonraw Thumb E5661

We’d obviously need an oval or round table, and then put three chairs on the front side, chairs that the kids can sit in with maybe an upholstered seat but not arms or back, thus checking off two of my boxes: sculptural + kid friendly. I’m not going to be sitting there, my spot is smack dab under a window. And yes I know that it MIGHT be annoying for everyone when the people in the middle have to get out, but it’s worth it. Who opts for a table at a restaurant when there’s a big comfy booth open? People who care nothing about coziness and comfort.

We had dinner there with friends on Friday night and it just didn’t feel good the old way. But by rotating the whole set up and eating breakfast by the window, it became such a happier, more inviting, more desirable space.  It’s a space you WANT to actually sit for hours.

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By doing a built-in along the window, it gives the pony wall some purpose. Our architect felt that there was a lot of wasted space in the middle up there, but we have kids and open space is FINE. It actually feels really, really good.

Lastly, it solves the light situation because we could simply get rid of the pendant closest to the kitchen and the other one is PERFECT for a rounded table/nook. Even the location of it is perfect.

I get my comfort, a place for me to sit and write and hang out on upholstered cushions. The kids will get their more kid-friendly chairs that are really pretty (I’ll probably just get cushions made for the Paul McCobb chairs that I have or mix up vintage). We keep the pony wall because we love how open it feels and we don’t have to change out the lights. Then we’ll put some low hooks for the kids’ coats on the other side of the pony wall.

BOOM. Even Brian was excited about this new plan.

Thanks for letting me externally process this all with you. I know not everyone will agree with this, but when designing a house, I really try to make EVERY single room as desirable as possible. A room you actually WANT to spend hours in and sometimes you don’t know what that is going to take until you live in a space for a while.

Thoughts? Feelings? Comments?

Fin Mark

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FivebyFive

I am Team Banquette. Always wanted one in my own house. That banquette will feel like that whole end of the room is hugging you as you sit down to enjoy a meal. Warm and inviting.

Peggy Lichtenstein

I like the new plan for a couple of reasons. 1. Of course you should enjoy the windows for their light and views.
2. The banquette will bring in some textiles which I think are needed. I probably like pattern more than you do but I think as it is now, the room is too bare. I realize art is to come. I also think the pony wall has function but looks dated. I am sure you will come up with a solution that gives you both function and look.

Rose

I think this solution is awesome!! It’s like a win – win! If it were me, though, I would not do hooks and instead do a pretty wood coat tree. I feel like the hooks are permanent, whereas, the coat tree can always be put away when not needed. I’m typically not a coat tree fan, but it just makes sense to me in your space and you showed a very pretty wood one in one of your renderings. I do still like the idea of a bench or something to put on shoes/store shoes.

Laura Turner

Ooooh- I really love this idea! Then you don’t have to stare at empty hooks all spring/summer/early fall! Totally agreed that a bench with some shoe baskets would be so functional as well.

Liz

Coat trees could be tough for little kids. What about making a shelf for the opening at the top of the pony wall that matches the flooring and only having it protrude into the living room.

Then you could put hooks in the underneath of the shelf and have a dedicated spot below for the shoe baskets and a spot on top for a try for keys, sunglasses, whatever.

We actually bought one that i haven’t put together yet that is two tiered – so low ones for the little ones. We’ll see … i also bought some pretty wood hooks so maybe we’ll try both. I joked last week that from now on only white winter coats/shoes, MAYBE gray and light blue. (but bright colors lets you see them in the woods so much easier so thats not happening).

lj

This definitely doesn’t solve storage issues but it would make the opening seem more purposeful? What if you got a piece of “mobile” art (with colored glass or something so it’s light and airy) and suspended it in the opening? You could still visually see through it while also adding interest and purpose?

Jessvii

What is your curtain situation going to be? Like with regard to glare on your laptop (assuming you’re not writing by hand with an old-timey fountain pen)? I find windows really challenging. Also, could you have a carpenter round off the corners of your existing table to create a rounded rectangle? That could suffice until the perfect table is found.

Aliyah

Genius!! Round tables are so amazing in the right space (yours!) and I love how you can see the one pendant that’ll stay through the pony walk. Love the idea by some to frame the open wall. And the Eames molded plastic are virtually indestructible and super comfy. I know they might feel ‘typical’ but there are some amazing vintage ones out there that can be mixed and matched and don’t feel ‘run of the mill’ at all. Congrats on the breakthrough 🙂

stephanie scherer

Don’t close up that pony wall! But, what about framing in the opening (adding some framing to the top) so that the opening is the same size as the windows surrounding the table?

Patricia

I had the same thought! It would make it look so much more intentional. I can’t tell from the picture if the dimensions are the same as the other windows, but it looks pretty close.

we totally thought about that, too. I think it is smaller than the windows, but ultimately doesn’t bother us enough 🙂

Mary

Third this – think it is a small change that would make a huge difference when looking at it from the dining room side!

Sarah Adams

Yes! I was thinking it would look better framed to match the window size, maybe even put in a window (but that might lead to a lot of window cleaning ?). I also love your new solution and think it will feel more balanced! Also very cool!

Charmaine

Exactly what i thought when i saw the pictures from the kitchen! The pony wall would look more intentional!

Kid

Yes, and trim it out in wood like the windows. It’s odd man out now.

Kylea

I was just thinking this when I was looking through this post. It would make so much sense.

Ashley

This! My main reason for being on team closing up the pony wall was because I felt like it looked a little awkward at the ceiling, this would help so much I think. LOVE the banquette idea!

Alexandre

THIS! THIS! THIS!

OOH i hadn’t thought about bringing the ceiling down to window frame height. INTERESTING IDEA. I like the idea of framing it out in wood, too. we’ll consider immediately. thanks guys

Mira

Yes! Yes! Yes! Bring the frame down to the same height as the other windows and frame it out in the same wood as all the other windows and doors in both rooms. Suddenly doesn’t feel 90s at all. LOVE the banquet.

Jana

I immediately thought of this too. Lower to the size of the existing windows, frame with that same frame. It’s a both win win situation – keeps the so loved openness, but at the same time looks intentional, more balanced and creates a little more visual separation from the back door entry. I am on the same boat with the banquette idea too. It just feels right. My whole dining area has always revolved around a beautiful dark round dining table by a large window. I only recently realised a banquette seating would be wonderful there too! Loved reading about your whole thought process.

Melissa

Yes, yes, yes for the banquette! And I’m so glad you are keeping one of the pendants because I think they are beautiful. I’m still not convinced about the pony wall. As much as I crave natural light, I think it’s crazy not to have a drop zone by the door.

Alice

I can’t believe it’s the same place. i scrolled up and down multiple times and still skeptical 😉
What a transformation! Turning the table was an excellent idea and like the light that the pony wall lets come in. The banquette with lots of nice cushions à la Emily is going to be perfect

Lashley

Great solution! Sounds cozy and solves a lot of conundrums.

I have a totally lame grammar feedback, that I’m ONLY posting bc it keeps happening. Most of the time “of which” appears in EHD content, “which” is actually correct.
“Not having the storage means we are forced to hang them in the hall closet, (unnecessary ‘of’) which I do three times a day.”

Don’t secretly hate me, ok? ?

Suzanne

Fellow grammar nerd here, and I was thinking of finally commenting about this today, as well! Lol. That extra “of” does not take away from all the amazing content, but it does jar me every time I read it.
As for the design – I LOVE the solution, and the open pony wall doesn’t bother me at all.

omg, that’s hilarious. Thank you for letting me know – a criticism of which I apparently needed 🙂

Christina

Thank you for that, Lashley, it’s mildly jarring to me each time too but I always forget a paragraph or two later.

I’m delighted the banquette will be in place, definitely the right choice for comfort and floor plan and everything. The existing table and chair already look better with the dining room table rotated; the first orientation was fighting with the shape of the room.

I really like the idea above of having the size and framing of the pony wall opening echo the windows and even though it doesn’t bother you enough I think you should mock it up in photoshop to see the potential improvement.

kayte

HAHA, Lashley, I am glad I’m not the only grammar geek around! Emily loves an “of which,” and I don’t fixate much, but this one got me this morning: “…also documenting their mountain cabin renovation of which we have loved following along.”

Glad I’m not alone in this AND that it has NOTHING to do with my love of Emily or her great content! Keep it up! (the content, for sure, and the of-whiching if you really want to 🙂 Do you!)

Kayla AKA Kilo Bravo

And this is why I need to talk about everything out loud to someone – I am all about this entire process and I love where you ended up! Can’t wait to see it all come to fruition!

Kara

It’s a perfect solution! Love it. Good work Emily and team!

Haley

Yay! I’m so excited about your decision. I just called my husband to talk about it (he’s an architect) and we agree that it will be so cozy and kid-friendly. I just added my less than ideal pleather desk chair to my dining table so I could do work, and it feels so comfy but so ugly. But hey! That’s where we are right now, and as long as I’m sitting it, I can’t see it, haha. Thanks for sharing your thought process with us!

Evane

we are planning to build a small dining banquette in our eat-in kitchen and can’t wait to see what you do for yours! I love this idea and how it answers the conundrum of comfy and beautiful. I’d love to see a round up of your inspiration, and any tips whoever builds yours has!

Stacy Hill

Me too!

Will do. Trying to figure out this week if we want/need storage or if we can save money and just have a simple box with cladding on the front. Maybe a flip top with summer outdoor stuff in side? but we have a garage so not sure its necessary and i feel like if I have the storage i’ll just find stuff to put inside of it. hilariously the only storage needs we have is for every day coats/shoes and lord knows shoving them in a banquette trunk doesn’t make sense.

christina

if you don’t need the storage than a floating bench could be cool.. reminiscent of the family room too!

Megan

Yes that space begs for a banquette. The second you turned the table it all fell into place. And the open pony wall frames the beautiful pendant perfectly. Win win win!

Marcia

I’m so glad you aren’t closing up the pony wall. To me, a mountain house is about taking in as much of the beautiful scenery as possible. I was kind of baffled that anyone would suggest closing it up. Can’t wait to see the banquette!

Melissa

I love everything about your plot twist plan! I love that you can see through the pony wall into the tv room and that you aren’t closing it up, I love that the table aligns with the pony wall window, I too think the dining room looks so much more inviting us a table on that access instead of the other. I also want to sit there in the window seat that I am imagining I too think the dining room looks so much more inviting with the table on that access instead of the other. I also want to sit there in the window seat that I am imagining, AND I love the open space because I also have kids. We had a large open space before we bought our coffee table in a very large living room and the kids loved to play there. I finally filled it with an amazing large square coffee table, but it left very little open space in the centre of the room and now they don’t play in that room at all. There is a large open space in my master bedroom because it’s been last on the list to decorate and… Read more »

Addie

I was hoping from the beginning that you would do the banquette. It will look and function better in all the ways you say. Once the seating and coat storage are built I don’t think you will be thinking back to that old pony wall. I look forward to seeing it. Yaaaaayyyyyy!

mariah

I would close up the pony wall. Especially if you are going to do a banquette. There is still a large opening into the family room but it will feel so much cozier. Also will block tv noise if adults want to hang out around tv while kids watch a movie or people watch sports. Could put a hall tree on other side for boots and coats that could be styled cute when you want and easily moved if you decide you hate it. Personally, I just really don’t like the look of the pony wall either.

maybe we’ll sit this week while we are up there in the ‘banquette’ position and with the fabric on the wall to see if we miss the openness. as of last week we definitely missed it.

Inês Seabra

Yes. I also think that closing it would make the banquette space cozier.

Emm

This is exactly what I was going to write – love the banquette, and think closing it would be cozier and cut down on family room noise. But I know I’ll be fantastic either way 🙂 Btw, dumping coats into baskets instead of hooks works well at our house in terms of compliance (but we don’t live in a wet/snowy climate, so they rarely need to dry out).

kat

That light fixture though….it reads so traditional/transitional. You are going so modern the rest of the house (that modern bathroom with the Allied Maker lights), this dining fixture isn’t at all in the same realm. You even said it would look great in your friend’s Tudor (i.e. traditional) house. I just don’t get it….

elle

Yes to drywalling the pony wall and creating a mini mudroom! What a great and FUNCTIONAL entryway! Yes to the gorgeous oversized pendants and yes to the black chairs!

I think whats hard to get is how ‘mini’ the mudroom would be. it would be literally 3″ deep and 20″ wide. I can’t believe this 3000 square feet house doesn’t have a mudroom. Insane. we tried to put one in at the beginning but no where made sense without blocking access to exits or light.

Professor

It is still insane to me that you didn’t block out an exit or something. I mean, mudrooms define mountain houses. The better the mudroom the better the chalet. This comes from someone who lives in a place with four very distinct seasons and loves her mudroom the most in the house – it is literally the best room in my house. I don’t mean to be a mean person and throw a spanner, but if I were you I would leave the table as it is – I actually think this goes more with the spirit of a mountain house than a banquet ever would. In fact I don’t even recall ever seeing a banquet in a mountain house – in a ski chalet or something of that nature you want to minimize soft furnishings and maximize visual space because you want to be able to maintain it – first and foremost. You want it to be clean and last long and show off the surroundings. Have you found pictures of banquets in mountain houses ? I would really be interested to see those. I would also leave the pony wall as it is – I like the light… Read more »

Steven

I have stayed in a lot of mountain homes at ski resorts and more than half ha banquettes, usually two- or three-seaters.

GJ

This seems like a pretty dramatic statement. Millions of people live in 4 season locales without mudrooms and do fine. Coats can go on a hook and boots can pile on the floor and life will go on.

Kellie

I am very confused by this comment. I have a vacation ski home and we added a banquette in our dining room because it maximized seating and comfort. Many of our friends with ski condos and mountain homes have banquettes. It’s definitely a thing here in Colorado.

Maresa

Brava!! ??????

Steven

This is an excellent solution. I do not know if they are the look you seek, but I will note that I find the Eames molded plastic chairs to be quite comfortable even without any cushion, particularly the armchairs. And they are virtually indestructible since they are so easy to wash.

Cf Betcher

I’m SO GLAD you are keeping one of the lights— they are so perfect!! How about a giveaway for the other?!?
A banquet is so perfect for a second home— so cozy and welcoming.

Sonja

I loved the thought process! And YES to the banquet and the light fixture is swoon worthy so I’m glad one is staying. Yay! I was in team floating shelves or indoor window (which can go badly so quickly design wise) so appreciated reading the bit about more visual clutter. V good point.

Era

Before I read the banquette part I was thinking lower the pony wall to bench height and make it a slim place to sit and put boots underneath. But you could still drop that wall and let the banquette bench pass through the opening to be double sided?? But maybe too convoluted. ?

Era

Ooh another option to add to the banquette is to frame out the opening with wood like the other windows but no glass. Just wood. It would give more continuity

Sarah Springer

Oh man, you are NOT wrong about the chair situation! I have been on the hunt for 6 chairs that are comfortable, kid-friendly, interesting and not a ton of money for our dining room. They just don’t exist! Our kids are 9 and 5 and I thought we could get away with upholstery now that they’re older – nope. Kids (and all their friends) are disgusting at every age. We ended up with 6 Prouve Standard chairs after reading your blog (and consulting the shop section). I think they’re going to be great in there!

The banquette is an awesome idea. It’s going to be everyone’s favorite spot in the house. I can’t wait to see it!

Lyndsay

So funny, as soon as you started to describe what you want, this picture came to mind … from the mountain house theme, live edge table to booth & your lighting would look stunning w/ this too …

https://pin.it/vwoxt5r7kmypfv

OOH that is VERY cozy. I can’t wait …

Delilah

I would love to see some posts on kid friendly furniture! I’m currently looking for a dining table and chairs for our house but can’t seem to find anything that’s comfortable, kid friendly, and not ugly! Great post, thanks for sharing your thought process!

Elizabeth

Love the idea of the banquette.

Trevor Peterson

I say close up the wall I think it would frame out the front doors better. I think the lights are incredible they way they are and the black chairs are a winner for me. I love the idea of a bench by the door but for clutter reasons it might be better to do a higher shelf as an entry table and style it with some art above. The house looks amazing.

Lyndsay

It’s funny, as soon as you started to share what you wanted, this image came to mind of what sort of situation you need to create. Perfect from your mountain house theme, live edge table, to comfy cozy booth seating. Haha love where you landed!

https://pin.it/vwoxt5r7kmypfv

Anna

I like the table being rotated, and I love the banquette, but I’m still opposed to the pony wall. The pony wall looks so ’80s or ’90s. I think you should seal it off, and add the hooks. That would be the most practical + it would look the best.

Teresa

I think the new plan is perfect. It solves the comfort and function delimma, and leaves breathing room near the kitchen. We don’t have to fill every space. My only suggestion, which does require spending some money ?, would be to mimic the window frame within the pony wall opening. Frame and drywall up top so that it visually lines up with your windows and frame the inside with matching wood for a cohesive wrap around the banquette. On the family room side, I would add a vintage foot locker for the boots and gloves. Line the bottom with a plastic tray, or a winter grade auto floor mat for function. Poof, the pile by the door is gone! And move the hooks to the little corner to the right of the door, or, maybe, a vintage single locker? Okay, more than one suggestion…ha! Designing with you is always fun ?

I think this is a very good idea and one that we might do (re framing the window wall). And yes, trunk with liner. great idea. Thank you Teresa 🙂

Julie S

I looove it. I’m so happy for you!! Ha ha but I am! Also, may I just say how refreshing it is to find a great designer deciding to go for comfort over visual style? Most of us decide that way because we want to live comfortably in our homes every day and it cuts out so many pretty yet unrealistic choices.
I love that almost every factor worked out for you (keep a light/placement, open pony wall, add low hooks, sit on a sofa basically while you write and eat, lots of space for kids to tornado) although you will have to be spending more $$ now on building that banquette! Love the way your mountain home is going. I was/am so shocked and saddened by C&J’s A frame loss too – we moved to a mountainish home in the Cuyamaca range east of San Diego a year ago so these two houses have been my most eagerly followed projects on the internet.

amber

Yes to the banquette ?? and basking in the warm sun from that window — super cozy town! With the table turned this way the pony wall looks intentional creating symmetry with the other windows — just need to drywall a bit at the top so that it’s the same scale as the windows. Also this will make it look less dated and more architectural. Boom. Everybody wins

Katie Kerr

I think it’s brilliant. The room felt blah or something before, now it will feel like a prime spot in the house.

Rachel

200% agree with the banquette and changing the orientation of the table. When I saw the first picture of your dining room, my first thought was that you needed a round table to take advantage of the windows. Plus, there is nothing more inviting than a “booth.” I also think it is the only way to make the pony wall work. What about adding wood or your kitchen countertop material to the top of the pony wall with a little overhang so it looks more intentional and not just drywall? The only thing I am struggling with are the lights. I feel like you only need one. Two distracts from the windows for some reason. Maybe it is the scale. Anyways, I love these Monday posts on the evolution of your mountain home. Thanks for sharing!

Elhatcher

It is great to hear the process!! Thanks for including it. Can’t wait to see the next phase.

ellen

YEAH!! I was so excited to first hear about a huge banquette (I was always on team banquette) and then terrified you skipped it. So this makes me VERY happy. I LOVE a banquette and this is the perfect space for it. Would be so gorgeous under those windows. It will be big, wide, comfy and beautiful!

Lucy

Banquette and add a Crittal-style window to the pony wall opening!

Paula Carr

O.k. I could go with the pony wall if THIS were the solution.

RK

Love the idea of a banquette. Maybe add millwork to the pony wall to dress it up a bit and make it more of a feature. Would definitely keep it open.

Hannah Gokie

YES switching the table instantly makes the pony wall seem intentional! I love it!

Marci Shaw

Your changes look great and perfect for your family! It definitely takes living in a home to know how a space functions.
I have a question on your wood floors – did you seal them at all or are they natural? If natural, how do you care for them with the snow being tracked it?

Peggy Dunn

Love the new plan!

Cynthia

I enjoyed the feature story but it’s the mudroom situation I can’t get over. Emily, you will NEVER be ok seeing your entryway strewn with coats, boots, shoes, wet towels (summer). It’s just too much clutter in a living space. What is OUTSIDE that entry door? It wouldn’t cost that much to create some kind of covered (doesn’t even need to be fully enclosed) mud room entry. Hooks, bench, some baskets to corral balls and sand toys and you’re good. No, it won’t look tidy every second but at least you can enter the sanctuary and have peace there. When you leave everything is put away inside and swept and you’re good to go next time.

Miranda Middleton

Loving these posts! I know this may stretch the budget but have you considered taking the pony wall out and actually putting in a wood built in that could be used for closet storage? That way you don’t have the visual clutter of having exposed coats etc but its still practical? Best of look. The house is looking great!

Jennette

I really don’t like that big whole in the pony wall, I think would be so much better if it was closed and you could just add some interesting details to it.

Martha

Reading through this, I was like “why not just do the banquette? I love banquettes.”

Yay!

Amanda

I agree 100%. There’s no way the kids will want the chairs over the booth, but still worth it, haha.

Lauren

LOVE hearing the process & REALLY LOVE where you landed. No need to compromise on design or your family’s actual functioning within the space.

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