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Mountain House Mondays: Where We Are With The Family Room


One of the biggest surprises of my adult life is how much I came to LOVE this family room. Before we renovated, this was the ugly duckling of the house. Someone actually dubbed it the ‘creepy church day-care’ and they weren’t wrong. Here is what it looked like:

Emily Henderson Lake House Before Family Room 1 New 2 Emily Henderson Home Lake House Remodel Intro 8

We didn’t take photos of us living up there in this room but trust me that it was full of toys and just generally dark and because of the stairs. It was far less functional. Another problem was the two focal points and high pass-through traffic…basically another furniture layout nightmare.

Emily Henderson Home Lake House Remodel Intro 18

Remember when a few of you told me to get rid of the unnecessary second stairway (that one) and the biggest ‘light bulb’ ever exploded in my head? You were SO RIGHT. Bu-bye stairs that caused so many layout problems (for both floors) and hello new squared off room (and master bedroom above).

As a reminder this room opens to the dining room (that load-bearing column could not be moved) and kitchen, so it’s an obviously play/family room.

Emily Henderson Home Lake House Remodel Intro 9

I had no idea the potential that this room had. I knew I wanted it open to the backyard, but it was always more of a throw away room.

Now when I sit at the dining room and look into that room I just say to myself over and over, I can’t believe how pretty that room is now. 

To be fair, there were some hiccups. At one point we thought we were going to do this:

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Family Room Fireplace Final Design White Baskets

We wanted to put built-in cabinets on both sides of the new centered fireplace and benches, but then my contractor built the benches too long on both sides and the surround was bigger than predicted. They were already done and plastered. So we had to either demo out that beautiful plaster hearth/bench or just scrap the built-in idea altogether. If we demoed the benches it would’ve made them much shorter (and almost awkwardly small) and caused a huge delay. So “scrap-it” we did.

Emily Henderson Mountain Fixer Upper Family Room Fireplace Render 091

Don’t be sad. I’m not. Those would have cost $2500 each at least to execute and ultimately it wasn’t necessary (plus we were done, like physically, spiritually, emotionally and financially DONE with the renovation of this house). You guys didn’t want more custom stuff done here, and we were right there with you. We’d employed the more ‘make it work’ style of decorating which is far more my style.

The day that we moved in it looked like this:

Img 1696

And by the time we left we had lived in it more, added a rug and some makeshift storage.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Family Room Update 1 Fireplace Text Overlay

It’s such a happy room now, guys, I can’t even explain to you. The light is GREAT. That fireplace is so warm (and on a remote that is so easy and effective) and while it looks like the TV is high the sofa is far enough away (and so low and deep) that it is absolutely not too high. Plus I had been hoarding that Frame TV since I did that partnership a year and a half ago. I was SO excited to put it up there and BOY, boy boy boy boy I can’t explain to you enough how amazing it is to have a smart TV that turns into a lovely piece of art 22 hours a day (not automatic, but this is the house that the kids don’t watch TV). IS it a bit big for that fireplace? Maybe, but it doesn’t bother me AT ALL.

The rug was from the Portland living room and it’s so soft and cozy and disguises the occasional play-doh and food. Full disclosure, wool rugs SHED, so be prepared for that. It stops after months of vacuuming and wear, but just know that its normal.

The plaster turned out so pretty (and makes me want to do the entire living room fireplace in the same plaster), and while those benches were meant for seating we’ve found that there are enough places to sit besides the benches and the kids use them more to play.

To note: our architect at the beginning didn’t like the idea of those windows because they didn’t really look out onto anything pretty – the stairs to the upper deck (on the left) and an empty lot. But I’m so glad we put them in. The natural light is worth the slightly less perfect view you get.

Had we known the ‘flanking cabinet’ plan wouldn’t work we would have probably spread out those windows to be more even in the room or enlarged them but they are centered above the benches and it HONESTLY doesn’t bother me. Only in those photos did I actually even notice it.

Ok … next wall …

Emily Henderson Mountain House Family Room Update Credenza Text Overlay

In lieu of the cabinets we are going to do what I like to do most – a credenza vignette. This is probably one of the only walls in the entire house that can actually have a large storage piece with art and lamps. The easel might stay and our ‘store’ might stay or move locations and head up to the play attic. Regardless along that wall will be a piece of storage to house the games, puzzles, and toys that our kids need to pull out and destroy the room. When they are older we will likely make this more of a game room with less toys. But as they are small they still want to play near their parents, so the legos will be housed here.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Family Room Update Log And Chair Text Overlay

That flooring from Ross Alan Reclaimed Lumber is just ridiculous. Those scenic doors from Marvin are stupid good.

As of now there isn’t a CHANCE that we are putting logs under the benches. Might we for a shoot at some point? Maybe. But not for real life (I like to give myself outs and disclaimers on future Emily ideas at all times). It’s a room for our kids and us and not for the bugs and bark that logs attract and shed.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Family Room Update 3 Doorway Text Overlay

I have such a love and hate relationship with storage, but since this house has ample closets I’m going to TRY to not have any exposed hooks or areas that give permission in which to house a pile of coats. For the winter I might put a coat rack where the lamp is, but it pains me to look at it. I’m also considering a shoe org situation on that left wall, but I actually would much prefer a pretty basket. I really want the kids to hang up their own coats, but unless I provide low hooks for them I can’t expect them to. I feel like all I’m doing all day long is picking up after them and the common disease of ‘house pride’ is enflamed when I’m up there. I just want this house to be clean and uncluttered and piles of coats, gloves, shoes and hats drives me MAD. So I’m basically hanging them up all day every day. If anyone has an idea of how to provide warmth for my children outside without clutter inside that would be great. I’m considering medical surgery to seasonally attach coats/hats/gloves on their limbs and head (towels and swimsuits in the summer) to ensure that I don’t have to pick them up and put them away all day every day. We live in LA, surely there is a plastic surgeon for that.

There is a hall closet in the  hallway (duh) so maybe I should put a lower rod that they can reach and insist on them hanging them up all day every day. One of my best friends from Oregon was in town with her two boys last year and the second they come into a house they remove their shoes immediately and place them nicely. I was FLOORED by this, until I realized that if/when you live in a muddy climate “shoes off” isn’t an option (should it ever be?). So how can I brainwash my children (I’m pretty sure that’s called “parenting” and “teaching”) them to always hang up their coats, bags, hat, gloves and shoes??

Larger conversation, I know. But it was driving me NUTS over the break and last weekend …. just piles of clothes EVERYWHERE.

Anyway, part of the process of designing this space was me wondering if we should just use pieces that we already have and not get everything all new. So I asked Julie to pull together some mood boards with some options. These are in Keynote (it’s a Mac program we use before we take the time to put into Photoshop and make them look nice).

She sent through some options with what we had, but maybe changing a few things.

Mountain House Family Room Furniture Plan 1

The above is a lot of what we already have … with the addition of the credenza and a faux tree. Yes, I’m joining the faux tree trend. Do you think I can possibly own a tree after TREE-GATE at my Glendale house? The one that dripped sap over all my furniture and created more guilt than any child ever has? Nay. It’s a weekend house, meant to reduce my stress not add more of it.

Mountain House Family Room Furniture Plan 2 Mountain House Family Room Furniture Plan 3

She played with different rugs and coffee tables, and I liked some of them but not enough to change out what we already had.

Mountain House Family Room Furniture Plan 5

Also those shaker baskets are my favorite but at $90 a pop, I dare say that multiples of them aren’t happening to house my kid’s garbage, I mean “toys”.Mountain House Family Room Furniture Plan 6

The only real thing up for debate is the credenza, but I think I know what we want to do. But for the sake of debate here are all the credenzas we were thinking about.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Credenza Roundup 1

1. Oak Ligna Sideboard | 2. Lap 2 Door / 2 Drawer Credenza | 3. Bios Sideboard | 4. Shale 2 Drawer / 2 Door Dresser | 5. Mid Century Modern Style Eclectic Credenza | 6. Industrial Storage Media Console | 7. Grove Storage Cabinets | 8. Audrey Woven Media Console | 9. Nelson Credenza | 10. Rochdale Credenza | 11. Natural Wood Media Console | 12. Kinley Media Cabinets

Thoughts? Feelings? Opinions? The family room is good as-is, but I’d love any and all ideas on how to make it better. xx

Fin Mark


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Herself In Dublin

I love your floorboards! Often I find American floors, even wooden ones, very highly patterned and a little overwhelming, but these are gorgeous. Re the kids and clothes, I think you’re going about it the wrong way – not because I know kids very well, but because I know people. And the key to getting anyone to put anything away is have the place they drop it be the place they’re *supposed* to drop it. So you can have the snazziest coat cupboard in the world in you front hall, but if the kids are coming in the back door then that’s where they’ll drop their coats. And I had to laugh when you said “but there will be no coat closet there! Aha!” when there will be plenty of sofas, chairs and floor for them to drop them on. Which they will. My solution would be to put shallow coathooks (so you can’t have eight coats per hook) under that open window between the playroom and the kitchen. They are the perfect height for kid coats and adults jackets, they can’t be seen from the the kitchen and are not the first thing you see when you enter the… Read more »


Agree Agree Agree. I went against the advice of literally every person in our architects firm and insisted on a wall of hooks for the kids coats (‘but there is a big front hall closet!’). Kids do NOT put their coats on hangers, especially if they feel like they are going outside again soon. This is a fact. Make your life easy and find solutions that fit the problem, i.e. Kids come in this door and need a convenient place to put their things. It is so nice to not have to fight with anybody about this stuff, but especially on vacation. Also, guests like hooks because they feel free to use them whereas I find that they hesitate about opening a closet and taking hangers.


Agree! Much better to go with what’s already happening and make it as easy and pretty as possible than forcibly reroute habits, especially when it comes to kids and adults who aren’t highly meticulous.


Agree about the hangers. I installed hooks on the side of my coat closet for kids to hang coats. They are kind of smooshed in the side of the closet but they get hung on the hooks! I even put one higher for myself bc I don’t even like to use hangers!

Kate Flaim

We did this inside our coat closet, too!

Loveley of

yes, i absolutely agree with this comment. As a mom who lives in the midwest and has actual weather and weather-wear most of the year, this is just plain common sense. Yes, you want it to be beautiful, but it also has to function in reality. just get pretty hooks.


Yes to all this — you gotta have storage at the point of entry if you want your people to comply. We have a shallow closet at the back door with just coat hooks, a shoe rack and shelf inside for yard stuff (soccer balls, frisbees, etc.). You come in, you take off your shoes and hang your stuff — even young kids can consistently manage this. We did the same for backpacks right at the back door (but in a cubby system as they are way to heavy to hang). Less clutter and your floors will stay cleaner and wear better (no sandpapery shoe dirt!)

Mary Ann

Yes! Low hooks are the way to go. My little nieces and nephew used them every time and my grand kids do now. Make sure they are very secure, though. Let the kids pick from some “edited” cute choices. Then it will be their “own” hook. The room is great!


Another person who absolutely agrees! Hooks and shoe bins!! Maybe a bench for people to sit while they put on all their winter gear. I would add that if you allow your kids to help pick out their hooks and give each one a specific shoe bin they become more excited to try out their new items (aka hang their coats and put away their shoes). You do have to hang them low enough. Maybe some hooks above a cool bench and then some lower between the bench and the door for the kids to have their own area? After much trial and error the ikea shoe bins have worked best for our kids and several families that recommended them. I like that the shoes stay out of sight and they like their own place to be able to store and easily find their shoes because they don’t get lost in the bottom of a basket. Good luck!


DITTO on the low hooks for kids on the short wall under the kitchen window. Also, if each kid has their own bin/basket on the floor under the coat hook for mittens/hats/etc, then it’s really easy for them to access and really easy for you to tell them exactly where to put their stuff.

The alternate option is, of course, a mudroom, but that only works if you force the kids to come in through mudroom doors and not some other outside door. I forget — is there not a mudroom on the first floor for the kids to come in through?


I agree this would look best and be most practical. You could also do bins for mittens and boots so that looks a bit more tidy.The next step is to get color coordinated coats, hats, boots, scarves and mittens so they match your decor!

The plaster benches look really great! Can’t wait to see the evolution of this space.


I’ve resisted coat hooks in our entry because the front door opens into our living room and I didn’t want to see coats on the wall. So now I see them on the bench, floor, chairs, everywhere in our living room except on a hook! And I don’t have kids yet (pregnant with first)- this isn’t just the husband. ?
Finally got these from ikea and I feel like they have a good vibe for your cabin, too.


Love those IKEA hooks!


I have kid-level coat hooks in my hall closet, where my kindergartners hang their coats and backpacks. I put an 2×2 Ikea Kallax inside the closet, so we each have our own bin for mittens, scarfs, hats, etc. It’s easy for each person to find their own accessories, and easy for the kids to put their stuff away. (And if they don’t, it’s not much work for me to stuff them in.)

Shoes go in a tray by the door. It’s not pretty – but I’d rather have a designated spot than spend 10 minutes each time we leave the house looking for the kids’ misplaced shoes.


I love this solution. Could we see a ROUNDUP of coat hooks that are pretty enough to reside in an entry way or living room? I think I need more exposed coat hooks in my life.


I like Shaker-style ones because in the summer when there aren’t coats on them, they’re still unobtrusive. That’s my opinion 🙂 I also agree that you may have to make peace with seeing coats on the wall and just view it as better than on the floor!

Also, I heard a trick from somebody somewhere, that she started putting a piece of candy or other small reward in the pocket of a coat that got hung up without the child having to be reminded. She didn’t do it every time, but often enough to help teach the habit of hanging up. Also, I’ve had good luck with choosing one habit per month to work on. “Okay, kids, this month our habit is HANG UP YOUR COAT” 🙂 (And next month it’s clothes in the hamper, and after that it’s dishes out to the sink after a meal and the next month it’s _____. And that’s literally the only habit we work on that month. Less stress on me and they do learn!)


I love that idea of only working on one habit per month. Stealing this!

Erin Zubot

Agree! I have hooks by my back door and all kids use them. Pretty sure they have no knowledge of how to use a hanger, don’t they teach that at school? (16/13 year olds). I do go in there and clean it up/ hang up extra stuff in the closet occasionally so that when we are all gone to work/ school, the hooks are empty. They don’t look clutter-y to me that way, I just try to keep stuff to a minimum.


I agree completely that hooks are the only way to go – for kids or adults. Even if you use the coat closet, skip the hanging bar and install hooks on the inside. Just wondering – would you rather have your family room or your kitchen cluttered with coats? You could put the hooks on the kitchen side under the pony wall – I don’t think the kids having to walk around to the kitchen would be too big of an obstacle to put coats away.

SO happy you are sharing this while it is still in process!!! It’s exciting to see and fun to get to make suggestions. It is absolutely gorgeous and is only going to get better!


I wold probably just get rid of the kids, but that may not be doable at this point 🙂


Hahaha, Steven!

Another less permanent idea is to use a big basket for kids outerwear. Each of my kids gets their own basket and when the come inside, in goes coat, gloves, hat, etc. We dry our wet clothes by the fire before they go in the baskets, but since you are in California, you probably have less rain and snow. This method is easy for the kids and for me!


Totally agree- I have a 3yo and I don’t want her climbing to hang stuff up anyway because I’m worried she’ll knock the furniture on top of herself. What I do want her to do is get into the habit of putting stuff where it needs to go when she comes in. I have a basket next to the front door under a chair where she puts her hat/gloves/jacket & she puts her shoes on a tray next to it (we live in a muddy place too 🙂 ). I figure when she’s a bit older, I can ask her to put it in the correct spot and she’ll be in the habit that you don’t just come in, throw everything everywhere and expect mom & dad to clean up.

These are all great ideas.. THERE IS HOPE AFTER ALL


This is cabin decor I could enjoy as opposed to the everything-is-oranged-toned wood (walls, floors, windows, trim, ceilings, cabinets). It is a stunning, light-filled space.


Beautiful room!! The floors! The windows! The plaster. First things first, close that pony wall! It looks cheap with the half-cutout. You’re getting enough light in both rooms without needing the light that comes through that space. It’ll make the dining nook feel cozier and the playroom feel less pass-through-y, since it has a door/doorway on almost every wall. Also, the plaster benches feel like they’re an awkward length. I think, down the line, you should pay to have them extended to the surrounding walls and put a plaster horizontal support from bench to the floor coming in halfway between the fireplace and the wall. Right now it just feels like it ends kind of abruptly with an amount of space left that’s not really useful for anything.


I totally agree! Close up the pony wall cut out . You don’t need it and it will give you more space to create a storage area there. Not to be a downer but those benches are very awkward to me. I can’t stop looking at them because they seem off and I’m trying to think of how to remedy that??? Consider knocking out the benches completely and replacing them with wood floating benches that go from the fireplace all the way to the walls. Maybe tipping them with cushions? I dunno. That being said this is a great room! I love the floors and the doors. The fireplace wall looks a million times better than it did before. I think you are off to a good start with the sofa and rug. I like the idea of a wooden coffee table and a larger credenza on the big wall. I can’t wait to see what you pick!


Agree on the half wall. Why not close that up? Feels very 90s holdover in an otherwise gorgeous space.

Monique Wright Interior Design

I agree so much! Pony wall down and the benches need to be extended or need some sort of built-in cabinetry in those corners that extends up. It feels like a waste of space IMO and it’s such a pretty room. LOVE the floors and the natural light. Can’t wait to see it finished and styled out (my favorite part!!?).


I think you would miss the light that opening brings through the house. I’d figure out a way to dress it up (pretty window? hanging plants?), and put the kids’ storage solution under it.


When mine were littles… basket by the front door, and I sang a song (well a chant more llike–to a beat…) every time we walked into the house “shoes in the basket, socks in the hamper.” It worked mostly. Best wishes. ?. Ha! plastic surgery. I feel your pain 100%.

I love this post, love this room, love the frame, love the couch, and I love MHM!

HA thank you xx I will have to remember that singing does the trick 🙂


Definitely design Option 2 (new round coffee table) but with the credenza from Option 1. I think it will look great! The modern white coffee table that’s in there now sort of looks like a spaceship has landed in your mountain house and looks out of place to my eye, whereas the wood one looks more harmonious to me. Loved this post! So interesting to see a behind the scenes look.

About kids’ winter stuff, my solution was a simple IKEA hanging in-closet fabric shelf thing with seperately purchased clear conatiners that I use like drawers. One big drawer goes in each compartment, with a smaller square conatiner inside that one for just mittens / gloves. Hats go inside the larger ”drawer” around the small mittens square “box.” So, essentially I have a small conatiner in a larger bin in a shelf in a closet. But it works for us. And the IKEA thing is partially at kid height, so the only part I am needed for is coat hanging.


Totally agree re: the saarinen coffee table!


Me too. It looks a little too much like snow;). Love the round wood one.


Wow – what a lovely room! It has great “bones” and no doubt will be “ab fab” when fully styled out. In terms of the the space beneath the benches, to me they are screaming, “Fill me up with from LOGs!” Why not purchase ready cut silver birch logs which you’ll never burn (apart from in a crisis e.g. a three week snow storm and power outage!) Pretty sure they are fairly “clean” in terms of bugs and as the bark is smooth they are unlikely to have splinters. The bench tops needs sheep skins , wool blankets and cosy cushions to snuggle into whilst you look out over your domain – oh – and a candle on the mantle piece (think “hygge”). As it’s a family room and you want to store lots of toys, perhaps, rather than a credenza purchase something that is easier for kids to access and investigate. I know it’s not “high end” but there are some great IKEA hacks out there which cost pennies in comparison. When the kids are older you could then buy what you really want rather than it being a compromise. As to kids’ mess when they enter and exit… Read more »


Further to my comment above… in terms of “Gustavian-style”, I found this on “My Scandinavian Home” which has some examples of furniture that might work? (And, yes, funnily enough Niki Brantmark did the Frame TV styling with you – one my my favorite posts!)

Vicki Williams

So great to see things as they are and not all beautified. I mean beautified is great too but I enjoy so much more seeing the real process. I LOVE< LOVE< LOVE the Chairish credenza and while still not cheap quite a bit better than some of those other beauties.


I so hope you don’t buy a new credenza. Please find an amazing mid century vintage one instead. Beautiful room!


Wonder if you could build toy bins to fit in the firewood space and then glue birch wood rounds to the front? As long as you vary the size seems like it would achieve the look without the impracticality of logs.


Dear Emily, In regard to your entryway clothes-explosion quandary, I live in Wisconsin (the place that currently has 8 inches of snow, 11 inches on the way tomorrow, just got past -55 temps, and whose kids haven’t had a full week of school since December. December!) Needless to say, with two boys and two dogs, we have a lot of stuff that lands inside our entry door. I’ve spent probably way too much of my life ruminating on solutions to this problem, but this is what I have found: Baskets are the only thing that works for kids. At least mine, but most of my friends too. If you aren’t blessed with a mudroom with individual lockers, this is one of the easier solutions. They each get there own, and every time they walk in the door, anything they have goes in the basket…shoes, coat, hats, toys, etc. Have them clean them out every couple of weeks and you are golden. It’s easier to have a basket with a handle for pulling out and sides high enough that they just fit under a bench so you don’t have to look at the crap in the basket. I would put two… Read more »


Totally agree with using baskets or large crocks for kids’ coats. Even lifting their tiny arms 5 inches to hang a coat on a kid-level hook is too burdensome for my little mud puppies. We have a giant ceramic crock right inside the door, and they stuff their coats inside. It’s basically the same as throwing the coat on the floor, just slightly more targeted.


I was also thinking a vintage looking locker situation would be perfect!


Girl tell us more about that FLOOR! I know you said it was from Ross Allan Reclaimed Lumber, but can you talk about what kind of wood it is and especially what kind of finish they used? I cannot get over the floor!

The floors are beech wood and sealed with a clear matte finish not stained! And thank you xx I cannot say enough GREAT things about Ross Alan


I think hooks by the door are the most likely chance of success, but I put kid-level hooks *inside* our coat closet and that works much better than hangers for us. And hides the sloppy hanging things.


We have a big basket per kid tucked under the entry bench. It’s easy enough for them to jam their boots and coat in there and it makes me happy to not see piles of boots and coats.


“Also those shaker baskets are my favorite but at $90 a pop, I dare say that multiples of them aren’t happening to house my kid’s garbage, I mean “toys”.”

Please, please, please get wood shaker baskets! THEY WILL MAKE THE SPACE. Remember when Rejuvenation had some like the Schoolhouse ones? I picked several up for toy storage and they are perfect… sturdy and look SO pretty, especially under shelves (or in your case, benches) where you can’t see the kid garbage inside them. Rejuvenation’s were from the Peterboro Basket Co. Here is the one in that same size at half the price:


Yes you really do brainwash then into doing it! We live in NH so it’s snowy and muddy in winter but we do this year round. As we are driving/walking up to the house I say “Shoes off, coats off – in the closet, on the hooks. Go pee, wash hands!” EVERY SINGLE TIME. I have 4 yo twins and a 2 yo. The 2 yo now says it as we are driving up to the house. They just do it automatically. Come up with a little singsong phrase that includes everything you want them to do when they go in the house. Say it over and over when as you’re approaching. Do it every time. It will happen!


I forgot to take my shoes off the other day and my 2.5 year old dragged me to the shoe basket to take them off. Ha!

Like you every time we come home I say “We needs to take our shoes off and wash our hands!” As a bonus, she always knows where they are when I say time to get your shoes.


Can you tell me where that sofa is from. Looking for one just like it. Please:)


Same question- love that sofa!


Wondering the exact same thing!

Looks like the Maxwell from Interior Define –


Definitely the Maxwell. We have the same sofa and we love it!

Yep it’s the Maxwell from Interior Define 🙂


We’re thinking of ordering our sofa from them. I love that they have pet friendly fabrics my question is how comfortable is it?


This room IS beautiful! Architecturally, it doesn’t even look like the same room!! But, I agree that it needs some tweaks. The idea of putting some hooks on the pony wall for the kids coats is a good idea (or, a lower rod in your coat closet, if you can get them to hang them there). Maybe underneath the hooks could be a horizontal cabinet for shoes? I am with you… I don’t like visual clutter! ? I don’t mind that wood coat rack in place of the floor lamp. It is a mountain house, so something like that would be expected. When shooting the final photos, you could hang cool stuff on it. I also love the idea of extending the plaster benches to the walls with a vertical stile in the middle of each bench for support. I think matching storage baskets would be nice and an assortment of pillows on the tops of the benches. I like the idea of a credenza, but would an armoire type piece be better for storage?


Lovely!! Thanks for the in-progress post. I love that you are using things you already have. If you go with a coat tree, you might want to find one with low child-height hooks (or one you can add some to- we’ve found that to be helpful). Also, maybe the bench could be one with storage so hats, etc can go in there. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!


Of course I love it and the author (Emily). I would also really love to know more about the actual best fireplace ever…we are in the market and I’m confused by all the options. Will you reveal the details on this actual best one ever??? Thank you so much for being so generous and brave all the time (that comment is not related to the fireplace, but it’s just how I feel about you in general). 🙂


Em, can yo provide a source for the couch?


Well, speaking from experience, when the kids are finally in school, they will refuse to wear coats, hats, and gloves at all (another source of constant annoyance for many parents) and then you won’t have to worry about hooks or baskets. 😉


This looks beautiful! I have a question about Design 6 – do you intend to do the coffee table and pouf next to each other? I’m curious about that look and would love to know where they are from!


Where are the coffee tables in 2 and 5 from?? I’m on the hunt and those are both GORGEOUS!


Yes please tell us!! Would love to see these options with sources, I’m dying to know!


I had the same problem with the coats, shoes, backpacks!

Close the pony wall opening and get the IKEA Pinning coat rack.
Seriously check it out.
Hooks- bench- shoe disagree all in one! Great material, and looks more expensive than it is.

It works like a charm- plus it’s not permanent. Can be moved or removed.


As a women in her thirties, even *I* struggle to put my shoes straight and hang up my coats. Then I read an article on making it easy on yourself to do good habits. So I put hooks on the doors of my closet (after all, the closet is still the first thing i see when I come home) and instead of trying to make myself become the type of person who lines up their shoes, I added baskets under a bench. Sure, it’s not ready for a lifestyle magazine shoot but I no longer toss my jacket over a chair or have to stair at the jumbled mess of shoes on the mud rug.


YES kids can be trained so easily at this age. But the system has to be simple and make sense-one basket per kid under a bench.Those coat trees will soon become a hulking ugly scuplture of neon coats–I love coat trees when they dont have coats on them! Once I saw what my kids were capable of at preschool and how the teachers organize and create routines, and how much my kids loved the teachers and wanted to follow the program,I knew my kids were sandbagging at home! so I set up my art room, toy room etc like a preschool. Routines coming in and routines going out.

ahhh so true. If kids can do it in preschool there’s no reason they can’t at home!! thank you xx


I have no doubt the end result will look perfectly modern-mountain-y… but I’m so sad for you about those benches and built-ins!! That would have added so much warmth to the amount of plaster on that wall. It looks so cold and heavy to me. By the time you buy a credenza and add toy storage, maybe it would be worth the cost to reconfigure the bench/built-ins?
See coats and shoes sucks, but I agree with everyone else… low hooks are really the only solution for children. Or maybe a pretty trunk under that half wall that doubles as a bench to put on shoes?? But then there’s pinched fingers, sooo… minimal clutter or fingerless children? 😉
Love the progress posts. Not many stylists keep it this real and ask for reader advice. You’re the best.


I am also really sad about the windows/built-in situation. That room calls for storage and the earlier renditions were so beautiful. Is there any way you would consider knocking down the bench and building storage again?

I am surprised that there is no mudroom in the house? Or is it elsewhere? We moved from a house with no mudroom to one with a large one -10X10 and the difference in the overall appearance of my house is stark. My house actually looks elegant and beautiful now – something I just never managed in the old house. It is much easier to corral everything once you walk into a mudroom – shoes/coats/ school papers/ things to be signed/ letters etc. Mudrooms are the most important rooms when you live in a place with snow. I totally get the ambivalence with hooks – you simply can’t have a polished or refined looking place with hooks and coats all over the living room. So maybe see if you can build sophisticated looking lockers somewhere in that room or near another entrance?

Emily K

I hope I’m not the only one who had to scroll up and down numerous times in order to see the difference between the options. Even after I read the “played with different rugs and coffee tables” line I STILL didn’t see it. LOL

I agree with the first commenter about the shallow hooks under the pass-through. It’s the only thing that makes sense for coat storage in that room. If shoe/boot storage is also an issue look to Martha Stewart. She lives in the muddy northeast and needs somewhere to stash her perfectly muddy wellies after gardening in her perfect garden. A long pebble lined custom boot tray under the hooks?

As far as toy storage? Got me there


I agree with you that the tv seems too large in its current location. Did you try it on the credenza wall and rotating the couch to face it? Why did you choose that layout? I think you can size down with the tv. They make a smaller one now. Maybe that would help so it’s not making the windows and fireplace seem smaller and out of scale.

Jenny B

Gorgeous! 100% agree with others, you need to put hooks, etc on that wall. If you don’t want to see it, make it have a little side wall or cabinet side that sticks out so you don’t see it from the side.


What if you did built in shelves and closed lower cabinets all along the wall where the credenza is supposed to go?

Julie P

Ok I love this post. Love seeing how you’re going to make it work and then add weird. ? While I realize youre not necessarily going for your usual mid century here I think you must have a vintage credenza with character to help balance out all the new. I don’t agree with the poster that you should close up the pony wall, it would mean you can’t see your kids playing when you’re hanging out at the table after dinner. Love love love this kind of progress post! So inspiring!

Katrina Benco

Beautiful! Stick to your guns on designing a kid friendly family room! If you find some awesome, cheaper baskets, please let us know. The rug in option #5 is awesome, but the one you already have is perfect.

I am on the hunt for a credenza and the one in option #1 is beautiful! It isn’t in your round up – where is that one from?????


For the kids coats, add a coat rack on the inside of the closet door at their height. That way they can just open the door and plop it on the hook. You don’t deal with hangers and it’s out of sight!



Drawers in our entrance are our saviour. Yep a white IKEA Nordli system with marble looking tops from the Besta line. One unit has a sheepskin and pillows and acts/ looks like a bench. The other has plants and bowl for keys with a mirror above. Each family member gets their own drawers and kid gets organized ones: one for mitts, another for hats, helmet and bike gear, etc, etc. Then I have a big nice basket and he throws his coats and snow pants in that if dry. It works like a charm, keeps us sane and able to find everything and the visual clutter is reduced. These work in our dedicated entrance but would not necessarily in an open space, but some kind of styled dresser might. Also up north we need lots of space because winter gear and so many sports: skiing, skating, biking…

If nothing else, the large coat basket is a saviour, I just hope in a few years kid can transition that to hanging on hooks and I didn’t teach him just to throw in piles.


I really, REALLY love posts like this. You show where a room came from (fairly awful) to where it is now (architecturally done but not perfectly styled) and show some dreams for the future (stylistic perfection). Thank you SO MUCH for opening up the process like this!!!

Also HOLY COW those floors are amazing


Agree with all of this!

Thank you xx this is so nice to hear


The wood floors are so good it almost doesn’t matter what else you have in the room, for me:). I also wanted to applaud you and your team for all the posts since your retreat/the questionnaire – I think they have been brilliant, and I find myself so excited to check into the blog in the mornings. Thank you.


What a humongous difference from the before! Bravo! I think you are going to have a year round issue with storage in there. Yes, winter means coats, boots, gloves, and hats, but summer will bring the muddy shoes (guessing you plan to keep the “creek”), and various treasures and bumper seasons bring too much of both. 🙂 I don’t know how large the hall closet is, maybe a locker type situation in there would encourage them to put things away? Or, plan on that pretty bench on the half wall with individual baskets for each child to put the smaller things in, and a tray for their boots/shoes to sit in and drain. Coats could then go on a coat tree in the corner, or the dreaded hooks could live on that side wall… Easy living isn’t always pretty, especially with littles. Do you want easy? Or put in more effort for pretty? Ha, the eternal question!


Erin at Elements of Style just did a good roundup of faux greenery


I am in the process of remodeling a mountain house too and would like to know where your fireplace is from if you recommend it?


I want to hear more about the floors, which look so gorgeous!
One thing I’m a little confused about – from the mockups and what you wrote it seems the fireplace would be centered on that wall but it definitely looks like there is more space on the right than the left (of the benches, and windows)?


I am on the hunt for a pretty coat tree! Could you share where the wooden one from Option One/Six is from?

emily jane

Good Mountain House Monday to you ; ) I know you said you were done, done, done with the renovation process buuuut, I adore the earlier commenter’s idea of closing up that pony wall so a beautiful vintage, highly functional, tall-but-not-too-deep Scandi-vibe armoire can reside there (maybe one retro-fitted inside to perfectly fit your specific outdoor gear storage needs?)… LOVE the progress + here’s-what-I’m-thinking post!

Julie S

I love seeing the real in progress thing here! The Mountain House is just not a showroom and I’m so glad you backed off from treating its reveal like one.

Great suggestions so far for the kids’ coats solutions – I would add that if they forget, when you notice you call them over to do it right away no matter what they are in the middle of (don’t pick up for them) and they eventually learn it’s easier and more fun to put stuff away the first time.

I am not clear from the mood boards what is happening on the corners of the fireplace wall now that the built in cabinets are out, but it definitely looks half finished and sort of empty so I’m looking forward to seeing how you bring some life and balance in there!

Hannah Gokie

What about a combo of open and closed storage? Like a vintage trunk for shoes/gloves/hats that has a lid (aka hidden) and a small, low row of hooks for coats? I have a 5 year old who can hang up her coat by the door, and it’s adult-level hung (although she kinda has to throw it up there to get it to stick). But even helping her and my 2 year old put their coats on hooks is SO much easier than in the closet — which is literally right next to the wall that has my peg hooks on it. I stress what other commenters have said that you have to make the habit happen, and having it near the door you go in is wayyyy helpful (although ours is near the front door and we enter through the garage, I just find myself saying every time we go inside “go to the front door and take your shoes off!).


Try finding a Daniel Tiger video of him taking off his clothes when he comes in, preferably with a song (or just the theme song since he does this each time – Mr. Rogers does too). Then sing the song when it’s time to do it. It worked when one of the twins had a two week long protest to getting dressed and wanted to run around in her diaper all day. During the polar vortex when it was literally -20 out.


I read your comment and immediately got “Think about what you’re gonna do, and pick the clothes that are right for you” stuck in my head. I’ve used that one more than a handful of time 🙂


Love everything about this! We have a corner fireplace in our home, and we thought it wouldn’t be possible to demo it and put a new one centered in the wall next to it. How much did it cost for you to do this?!

Carrie Hurd

Kids can absolutely be trained to pick up after themselves! But, as you know, it takes much repetition along with positive and sometimes negative reinforcement. One of the tricks I used to teach my kids not to “touch” in antique malls and to be enjoyable at the flea market, is to give them 5 pennies for the day. They were told that if they touched, complained, wondered away, etc., I would take a penny from them for each offense. I was consistent to do this with instruction. They were told, if at the end of the trip they had at least one penny left, they would be able to buy and ice cream with it. We were all able to enjoy an ice cream at the end of the day. Never did I have one lose all their pennies. I was taking 6-7 children (ages 12 to infant) on an hour and a half trip to the very large Canton Trade Days. Because, they had been trained at an early age in the antique malls they were pleasant and it was a fun activity for all. I think you could use a similar system with the training to put away… Read more »


I hear where you are coming from about not wanting to install visible coat hooks, but your readers would love you if you found a way to do and shoe storage this well and with style, because this is how people actually live and stay sane: by putting storage/hanging solutions where they are actually needed instead of pretending that anyone (young kids especially) will walk to a closet, open the door, grab a hanger, hang their coat, replace the hanger and close the door when it is SO MUCH EASIER to hang on a hook by the door of entry. Please show us how to do visible coat hooks and shoe storage in a real-world (not magazine spread) way.

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