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Mountain House “Reveal”: The Dining Room Built-in Dilemma (+ The 3 Mistakes We Made)



Alright, I’m going to say this from the get-go: The dining room is less of an “after” because things are changing already and mistakes were made (but check out the living room and loft for two spaces with little changing). While most people would consider it “done,” there were some hiccups in the final install of the upholstery the week of the shoot that requires a redo. SUPER FUN. So this post will be walking you through this problem, process and potential solution. But we wanted to shoot it for the magazine so we pulled it together in time—more below.

But first, here is where we started.

Emily Henderson Home Lake House Remodel Intro 8

The dining room is attached to the kitchen and opens to the family room. The layout is DREAMY and incredibly livable, especially for entertaining. While I love an open kitchen/family room, having some separation for conversation is just awesome. I can watch the kids while cooking and able to have grown up conversations (although we all know they are ALWAYS LISTENING).

The Goal of this Room:

I wanted a really comfortable inviting place to eat big meals with our friends and family, a place where people could sit for hours and talk. Also, I wanted it to feel like a sunroom, surrounded by windows.

You may or may not remember that when we first moved in in January, we had a dining room floating in the middle, like so:

Dining Room With Table Before

But everyone wanted to sit at the end of the table near the windows, plus the table blocked the flow a bit as it jutted closer to the kitchen, so we figured, why not just do my dream built-in? So we removed a light, leaving just this one closest to the window and had a custom built-in made by Ross Alan Reclaimed Lumber—more on that later.

Here is how we shot it for House Beautiful:

Emily Henderson Moutain House Dining Room Lores17

I think it looks really pretty, for sure, but yes there were some hiccups and will have some changes. See this process post for even more back story of why we did this and how we ended up here.

Let’s break those down.

Mistake #1: The Back Cushion Size is Wrong.

These came in 2 inches too deep/wide, well, see for yourself:

Emily Henderson Moutain House Dining Room Lores6

How did this happen?

Well, first off, needing to make some fast design decisions led to us just choosing a standard rather boring taper back cushion style. Listen, it’s the most ergonomic and comfortable so we went with a safer more functional choice rather than doing something that would, frankly, look more interesting and stylish. The seats are deep so we knew that just a hanging cushion or whatever awesome trendy choice wouldn’t actually provide the back support anyone actually needs and might be too deep anyway. We were also working with someone we hadn’t used before (we needed to hire a local since it required templating and multiple job site visits) and didn’t know if they could execute something really complicated and custom. And frankly, due to all the crazy angles of the windows (that are not standard and each is different), we were fearful that it would turn out well, both design-wise and execution. We debated doing something hanging, or a horizontal channel tufted look.

See. She BULKY. Of course, it’s EXTREMELY comfortable, hits your back at the perfect place and even gives you an armrest on top, but it’s just so big, distracting and oversized. Yes, we had a drawing with very specific measurements and yes, our upholsterer made it bigger than our agreed-upon dimensions (2 inches deeper and higher—you can’t really see it in the photo but they hang over the bottom bench and also are slightly above the window) but honestly I’m not convinced that it would look good/interesting enough if they were smaller.

In terms of cost, we spent just over $1,500 on foam alone (but for both the bottom and back cushions), and another $700ish on the upholstery work (though that was a rush job, so it might’ve been cheaper if it didn’t have to get done so quickly). That’s a total of just under $2,300 WITHOUT the fabric (which was gifted, due to a partnership I have with Crypton). So not only did we waste the fabric but the labor time and foam expenses really added up. Cool! Next mistake?

Mistake #2: The Colorway Doesn’t Feel Right.

Emily Henderson Moutain House Dining Room Lores11

Regarding the fabric, we went with a charcoal black Crypton leather in a pretty matte finish to tie in with the kitchen island (paired with their “London” fabric in gray, well, technically “Atmosphere”). GREAT. We wanted leather because we knew that people would need to slide all the way around, but mostly for durability. We worked with Crypton because it’s a performance fabric that doesn’t allow for even oil stains. We’ll do a whole post on it and show you, but we tried it on the back of the cushion, rubbed it in and let it sit and it totally came out. I like black and I like gray, but together, they just don’t feel right in this room and the word “corporate” keeps coming out of my mouth. There is something too “board room” about it all, too cold. Not vintage-inspired. Not me. We went with two-tone because I like the style/look of it but also because that would be WAY too much black leather. And while I love this gray, the gray/black combo is just not happy enough for me.

I wanted green leather, Brian said absolutely not, saying that it would look to kitschy, dated and “diner” but I don’t think he had the vision. It would be a dark green, not a bright emerald vinyl but I couldn’t convince him. Then I wanted a slate blue leather but it wasn’t in stock to get in time for the shoot. So we settled on the black leather.

So for the shoot, we styled it with lots of pillows, which I think actually LOOK really cute, but, as most of you can presume, are VERY ANNOYING TO STYLE EVERY DAY. Our kids aren’t exactly mindful of their placement, and they fall down all the time.

Emily Henderson Moutain House Dining Room Lores1

We tried it with the back cushion AND pillows (below), hoping that the pillows would distract from the bulkiness.

Emily Henderson Moutain House Dining Room Lores14

It’s fine, and likely how we’d live with it for now, but nothing can hide those bulky generic cushions.

So what are we going to do? I don’t know. I kinda just want to get the slate blue leather that I originally wanted and wait for it to come back in stock, now that we don’t have a deadline. Then I think we do need to attach something more slim to the wall for the back cushion, so basically redesign it make it happier, more stylish and cooler. And then for comfort, we might need some custom cushions made in a kid-friendly fabric to break it up and for back support. It’s a whole thing, guys. I like the gray and can’t really go any lighter, but we might just choose one fabric and not two.

Mistake #3: The Light Fixture is Too Big and Yet Too Small.

Emily Henderson Moutain House Dining Room Lores5

Let me explain. As you saw earlier in the post, the table was originally planned for the middle of the room and thus we had two of these fixtures from The Urban Electric Co. They are stunning and feel modern while having a bent towards traditional, though perhaps too traditional for the rest of the house. We took away the one that was floating in the middle of the room, but lucky for us the junction box was about right for the nook so we left it. Scale-wise, it’s wrong. Essentially, it’s too narrow—not taking up enough of the horizontal space, while also being too large vertically. What I didn’t really account for is that these kinds of massive fixtures really need high ceilings.

Luckily for my friends, we have a place for these two pendants in a future project—a grand English Tudor with a big kitchen island and high ceilings. They were up last weekend and LOVE the fixture and since I’m helping them with their house and obviously don’t want to waste it, we’ll use them in that project. Meanwhile, I’m still searching for the perfect fixture that is both linear without competing with the Katy Skelton island pendant, minimal so it doesn’t black the window view too much while providing good light, and more horizontal without feeling huge. It’s hard.

There’s Good News, Though:

Our custom table is beautiful.

Emily Henderson Moutain House Dining Room Lores7

Every single person who walks into this house LOVES it so much. We commissioned Ross Alan (they did all the woodwork throughout the house) to make it and chose the same beech wood as the floor and base of the built-in. It was extremely tricky to figure out the size of it with all the angles of the bench, making sure that each person is close enough to it to eat in comfort, overlapping around 1 inch.

Emily Henderson Moutain House Dining Room Lores16

They even put these beautiful butterfly joints in 3-4 appropriate places. LOOK AT THAT GRAIN. It’s just so beautiful. There is even a live edge quality to the perimeter, not all the way around but on the front. There were no live edge oval tables out there, and definitely not in our specific size.

Emily Henderson Moutain House Dining Room Lores18

The table was originally fabricated with a big crack in it, intentionally, because we didn’t want it to feel too perfect or mass-manufactured, but the crack was bigger than any of us predicted and a bottle of wine certainly could have toppled over if set down near it. The solution (which admittedly I was nervous about) was to fill it with acrylic. It looks SO good and adds some depth seeing that darker tone, while being flat (you can see it on the table on the left side of the above photo).

More Good News:

The Marvin windows and the new interior window are beautiful.

Obviously, the white oak windows are stunning, and when you open them in the morning while drinking coffee, it’s so dreamy. We ended up putting an interior window where the pony wall was, which was YOUR idea, so thank you so much.

The chairs (from Industry West) are also awesome, so heavy, sturdy and the wood works so well with ours. They aren’t visually too heavy due to the open back, but they are so comfortable with the cushion and the arms. We also love that the shape of the arms works so well with the shape of the table.

Emily Henderson Moutain House Dining Room Lores12

How Do We Live In It Now?

Well, you know all the changes that we are going to make, but for now, we are going to live with the gray back cushions with some throw pillows to break it up. All those pillows you saw, by the way, we either already had OR they are from Target‘s new fall collection which I got my hands on early. They’ll be available August 25th.

Many of you were concerned about the size of the table/banquette and the people in the back being trapped. So far, since it’s summer, we eat almost all of our meals outside except breakfast which is just a small group of us. When it’s just the four of us, we use the chairs and sit at the edge of the built-in which is admittedly a little awkward. But I’m hoping that during the winter when we have a big Christmas dinner, it will be amazing to be able to seat so many people comfortably and I’ve already volunteered to be one of the interior trapped people. Passing food is admittedly hilarious and awkward—both people have to stand up to be able to reach across to pass something. We joke around about a lazy Susan when this happens. But it had to be this big to work with the space and shape of the windows/walls. I suppose I can give you an update next winter if the size of it and the “trappiness” of the back seats will bother us a lot or just be worth it.

Emily Henderson Moutain House Dining Room Lores10

One more peek at it before we go with some side by side before and afters.

Emily Henderson Moutain House Dining Room Lores17

Dining Room B&a 1

Dining Room B&a 2

I’d love to know ANY suggestions AGAIN regarding the back cushions. One more thought: if I didn’t have kids, I think a white back cushion would look best, but even if it’s Crypton, you have to wipe away marinara paw prints so we’d have to use leather and the notion of white leather is terrifying to me but maybe there is a pretty matte white leather out there? And then do horizontal channel tufting with a pretty wood frame around it?

Let the debate/advice begin, please. 🙂



Pure White by Sherwin-Williams | Windows by Marvin | Beechwood Flooring by Ross Alan Reclaimed Lumber | Banquette Bench Base by Ross Alan |


Beechwood Custom Table by Ross Alan Reclaimed Lumber | Cortina Leather Seat Cushion in Earl Grey by Crypton | London Back Cushion in Atmosphere by Crypton | George Armchair by Industry West

Art & Decor:

Round Blue Vase by Rejuvenation (no longer available) | White Pearl Bowl by Lost and Found | Norr Tray by Skagerak | Glassware by CB2 | Flatware from Target | Bowls by Sheldon Ceramics | Plates by Sheldon Ceramics | Throw Pillows (mostly from Target, coming soon)


Pendant by The Urban Electric Co.

Check out the rest of The Mountain House reveals here: The Kitchen The Kitchen Organization | The Kitchen Appliances | The Powder Bath | The Living Room | The Downstairs Guest Suite | The Loft | The Hall Bath | The Upstairs Guest Bath | The Kids’ Room | The Family Room


Fin Mark


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Table is amazing- that grain!!!. I love the idea dining nook: the windows hugging the table look so good and I bet it’s dreamy to look at while in the kitchen. I like the black leather bench seat too.


Man those chairs look like they qwere custom-made to complement all of the other wood, and things certainly look lovely with the pillows.

This was such a useful post because it highlights many of the challenges with doing a banquette and how easy it is for things to go astray. For my own small home, I’ve been templating and doing cardboard layouts for weeks, playing with the possibilities. I want it to function effortlessly when it comes to sharing a meal with a larger group of people.

I wonder if your back cushions would look less corporate if they were tufted (with as few tufts as you can get away with it) and had some piping added with a very faint contrast in color … anything that would give them a bit more of a designed feel instead of looking like generic foam blocks. Or maybe not full on tufts, but a buttoned row and cinched fabric about 1/3 of the way down from the top just to give them some form. Hmm.

Mary Lynne

I love the idea of piping – it seems to me that tufts are just crying out to catch food crumbs – or at my house they would cry out to catch food crumbs!


Food crumbs for sure! I think channel tufting would look stunning buuuut I have two channel tufted chairs in my living room and I had to dig out banana muffin crumbs from the channel tufts the other day because, well, my kid stuffed some banana muffin there. What possesses children to do these things???


Some great ideas. Somehow all that money in foam and fabric needs to be used but modified. Channeling would be my choice not tufting. Agreed on the dust and crumbs. I do really like the idea of piping with the black leather, modifying the slope of the back cushion to the most minimal of slope and maybe a faux hang in black? Or the black leather straps that I just remembered? Hmmmm

Cici Haus

I really like the idea of black leather straps on each side of each back cushion! It would look much more designed and less corporate, and it’s an easy fix. Maybe you could even cinch them tightly enough to fix some of the size issues?


I actually like the black and gray. Didn’t think I would, but the gray is clean and not fussy which is definitely something you don’t want to deal with when eating. It also matches the rest of the blues. I think as you get used to it, you will grow to love it. I’m loving almost everything about this house so far!


Love the table and nook.
Agree with you about the light fixture .
As far as the cushions…could the back cushion be attached to the wall? I am picturing a much less thick rectangular cushion under each window. Agree on what you have not working. Might also be nice to bring in some color.

Was it more difficult designing this home for you and your fam vs. a client? Was it the time crunch too bc of HB photographing it?


I appreciate all the discussion around the “mistakes” you feel you made. You have a design team and it’s still not possible to execute everything perfectly. I think it’s great perspective for non-designers.

It seems like the size of the back cushions was a mistake by the upholster. What do you do in that case? Two inches wider and deeper is a big variance. Can they be amended at all?

Also, I feel that if you could tweak the cushions and add a contrast piping, it would make a huge difference.


I had the same thought on the piping! I really don’t think it looks bad and if it is comfortable…then your shoot is already done and now the priority is for your family and friends to enjoy lounging around the table! Can your upholsterer cut down the size/scale of the foam and possibly redo the cushions, adding that piping, maybe in white or a pale, pale blue? The cushions look so comfy and make me want to sit there for hours, compared to the pillows against the drywall (which I know is not your final state…) Anyway, the table is GORGEOUS, the orientation of the table in the windows is perfection. You’ll get there – I think you’re closer than you think…


It’s seems like the foam was expensive and it would be such a shame to waste it. I feel like the upholster should rectify their mistake.

I think piping or even running some trim vertically down the back cushions could have a really cool effect. Potentially two vertical lines per cushion.

I understand why you are unhappy with it but think it can be corrected.


Absolutely agreee with piping and little resizing by the upholsterer – it cannot be a big problem to make the pillows lower. I think that this dining space is awesome, just needs few adjustments.


Personally, I wouldn’t totally abandon the back cushions. As you said, they are very ergonomic and comfortable. That matters so much.

Since the cushions are too large, what about trimming them? You could bring them to an upholsterer you trust. The width issue could be dealt with just by trimming two cushions, and for height, you’re still only trimming in one dimension and trimming the covers in one dimension too. Having them bee the right size would go a long way toward making them look less bulky. Maybe some tufting would help them look less like generic foam blocks too. But I think the black and grey looks fine together.


Totally agree! I think the grey looks great and in the spirit of making it work (and sustainability), trimming the cushions is a wonderful idea. The shape and color remind me of the living room sofa – cohesion!

Emily Jane Zarov

Oh Em (and EHD design team : ), I loooove the banquette and that exquisite, take-your-breath-away table snuggled into those windows…! But, had to make sure someone had suggested using an upholsterer you trust to simply alter the existing back cushions to your original design -but with an additional special detail you are craving! I’m with KP and like the gentle nod of cohesion with the groovy living room sofa (and hope you guys tried adding an anti-slip pad to solve the cushion migration issue there..?). Also, how does Brian feel about the green in the seat cushions of those charmingly curvaceous chairs? My sense is the friction (conflict?) here is in part due to the ‘safe and simple but not particularly special’ black leather of the base cushion -in which case, altering the back cushions and changing the fabric might not solve the problem..? Also x2 -before getting out of bed this morning I thought “I know it’s a ‘what I put on my body’ day but maaaybe the mountain house dining room will be revealed instead” -thanks for making my Saturday morning dreams come true ; )


Trimming the bottom of the cushion would actually make them narrower, increasing the seat depth. Not a bad thing.

Cf Betcher

How about, for now, just taking the two end back cushions off? Leave the three behind the table and fill in with throw pillows where you can see the most?
Personally, I loved the scale of the pendant. It was unexpected and really let you look out the windows.


I’m normally with you on so many things, but as far as the grey cushions – I love them! They don’t look bulky in the photos and they definitely don’t look “generic.” They look comfortable and chic IMO. Overall, I love the set up and think you’ve done a beautiful job! ?


The dining room is dreamy, but what I want is outfit details!


Yeah I agree on the scale and it sounds from the description like they are utterly ideal comfort-wise. I’d still be annoyed at an upholsterer disobeying my spec but chagrined that they kinda improved upon it haha


I’m totally with Meghan–Those grey cushions look like they make the banquette comfortable–I would not want shaggy, decorative pillows near food–those back cushions will be easy to keep clean–and because you’re not in love with them–you can change them when they do get dirty. The whole house is fabulous. I’m so glad I’m not in your business and have to nit pick everything. I hope you are able to relax more now that you have a wonderful cabin in the woods.


We have a banquette that seats prob 5 people if they squish and while it can be a bit of a production it really is so cozy and fun for big dinners! We always joke that the middle people have to be the ones who most recently used the bathroom ?.

Quite honestly at big family dinners btn kids who don’t sit for too long and adults that need to check on said kids, there’s a lot of getting up and down anyways and it always seems to work out in the shuffling that the middle people aren’t trapped for too long!

Good luck getting it just right and looking forward to your big dinners there! Sometimes it is just a process to let a space tell you how to make the most of it!

Vicki Williams

I love the idea of horizontal channelling, plus I don’t see any reason that the finished shape couldn’t mimic or be similar to the wedge for comfort. The bottom row a little deeper than the next up, etc. Please add a little color. I would opt for the deep green but some color, please. I think the bottom cushions too could have had some roundness somehow to the edges instead of just a box?
The table is awesome, the chairs perfect. The wood stunning throughout. I wish, for me there was a more mountain house feel to most of the rooms, though they are beautiful, the contemporary vibe is stronger than the Swedish and too much white for me up here but that’s just me.


That table and those chairs are ?? I love that the wood is the showcase of the house and the white allows it to really shine! And allowed for risks to be taken in smaller doses, like the bathrooms. It feels very cohesive, but not boring. I think the more subdued color palette fits the mid/late 20th century mountain homes up here. It allows the outdoors to be center stage. It’s what I have done with our early 90’s house. Lots of color just didn’t feel right. If the house was more Bavarian style, then color would have been a more comfortable fit. The upholsterer should make this right…trim down the excess depth and height to the original specs. They very well may work as originally intended. I do like the idea of a darker grey piping though, it would bridge the grey and black nicely. What about vertical channels that allow the slope to remain ergonomically? Add piping in between and on the outside edges to give it a more custom feel. Leave the top and bottom without piping at the seam. You could still add pillows for shoots and adult get togethers, but everyday living could be left… Read more »


I second this idea! I loved the channel tufting idea— it could work with the ergonomic wedge shape to keep function with the form!
I also had the thought that maybe the issue was more the blocky bottom cushion. I think both pieces are just lacking visual interest. They’re both blocky shapes of solid colors. If you went channel tufted on top I somewhat wonder if you’d need some rounder edges on the bottom, since that might exacerbate the boxy-ness of the seat. ??‍♀️ I have no doubt you’re going to find an incredible solution and we’re all going to go “ahhh, that’s better.” 🙂
Overall I love this dining situation and the pendant doesn’t even bug me! That table is to die for. Bravo!


Back cushions — hiding the end where you can see the width on the grey cushion bottom meet the black seat. Thats where it looks bulky, so covering that would distract and streamline. I think the top height is a non issue.

A wood post on either side, some kind of standing potted plant on one side, something creative to block just that area would work wonders.

Is it all one piece? Can you remove the two back cushions on the ends and leave the middles, or have the end cushions tapered to a narrower depth just so where they are seen in profile doesn’t look so bulky. I def think the side / end view is where it looks bulky, being able to see that bottom depth. When you cover that and look at the rest it’s really quite nice. You’ll get it. I really like the black leather


I think I agree with every single thing you’ve said here. 🙂 If I were you and trying to figure out the next cushion solution, I might redo those slanted cushions in a fabric like wool that could sort of serve as Velcro, and then put strips of the hook-not-loop part of Velcro on the back of any throw pillows that would make them sort of stick on it. That might help a bit with keeping throw pillows organised with kids. You’d have to test it in person for sticking power; fun assignment for someone on staff! Also, hear me out: years ago (I think in one of the Domino books?) I saw a family do dining chairs upholstered in an expensive designer patterned fabric covered in vinyl. Would you consider A PATTERN for the back fabric? Could that possibly even distract enough from the black leather to save you having to redo it? Is there such a thing as honed/leathered matte vinyl? ? (I get why you want to use Crypton especially with an amazing partnership, and I’m guessing you say you can’t go any paler with that fabric for functional mess reasons, but what if you did? I’m… Read more »

Jeanie G

Spot on Virginia!


Everything about the mountain house is so dreamy! The table and chairs are especially to die for! But I’m not convinced your custom cushions are a miss. I agree with the earlier comments about trimming them down to the correct size before giving up on them. While I see your point about the gray tweed and black leather reading a bit “corporate” in isolation, in this room they are surrounded by beautiful views and warm wood grain, so I feel it balances out. And if they are comfy, that’s really important!


I’m not sure how this would look, but you could easily do a prototype…what about creating a tapered wood back that extended up from the bench? You could then have thinner back cushions made that would attach to it. Not sure if this would give you the lines that you’re looking for, but it could decrease the bulkiness of the back and seat cushions.


I actually like the bottom cushion in black and how it ties in to the rest of the kitchen as well as the chairs. The table is to die for and the whole nook feels like a giant hug. I like the idea of consulting with a different upholsterer about reusing the top cushions so the foam isn’t wasted. The current look is really simple and comfortable, but maybe too simple for a design house? I’d think about a black and white patterned fabric (not too busy) for the back to create interest but not distract from the windows. The pillows are fine for photos but annoying for real life. Even with the “mistakes “ it is a dream space!


I love the way it looked when you styled it for the photo shoot. Is it too uncomfortable to just use a variety of pillows instead of the gray cushions?


I would hang narrowish matching black leather pads at the top of the wall, and use slightly larger loose pads/pillows in the space between the cushions and the new pads. The lower pieces would look wonderful in one of your possible colors. A bluish something would be my pick.

I think part of the problem with the big gray things is the shape. They look kind of orthopedic, and sleek and stylish would be way better.


So appreciate the honesty when things don’t work out quite right! It happens!
To my eye, the banquettes are just too visually heavy and the task is to lighten them up. A few possibilities:
– For the bottom cushion, a slate blue (or green) cushion would be great. But the shape is pretty harsh. If you’re redoing them, I’d love to see a softening at the edges rather than the totally squared off shape it is now.
-For the back cushion, given the depth of your banquette, I’m thinking the reality is that the only way you’re getting comfortable and stylish is a combo of permanent back cushion and throw pillows to get the full support some people will need.
-And for an idea that probably no one wants to hear…have you considered cutting back on the length of the banquette? Having it under all 5 windows makes it pretty bulky, and I wonder what it might look like under just the back 3 windows with more chairs added. If it worked logistically, I think it would be visually lighter with more focus on the table and less scooting.


Hastings, I agree with your final thought on cutting back on the length of the banquette. When Emily first talked about putting a banquette in this space, I thought it was just going to be under the back three windows, and I was surprised when I saw it was under all of them. More chairs/less scooting sounds like a winning platform to run on!

Erika Otter

I think you are right on about the combination of permanent and throw pillows. We have two couches that have seats like that; at first they had rectangular cushions on the back, then trapezoidal like you have now. Neither was really the ultimate in comfort. It’s weird how that slope doesn’t exactly solve the problem. Anyway, I think the best solution is flat pillows, and then throw pillows to fill in the small of the back at the end of the meal, during lounging time.

I also want to second the idea of patterned back cushions.


What about horizontal channel tufting but the bottom cushion is slightly deeper than the top? It would have the look of the channel tufting but maybe more comfortable? They could even be two separate cushions with a tiny bit of wood between?


I agree with the suggestions to taper the two end back support pillows. The color story is a bit business but once you get your fabulous light fixture of the proper size, all eyes will be on that. Not everything in a room needs to be the star. I’d consider your cushions supporting players.

I like your joke about the lazy susan but consider it for real life. I’ve seen huge spinners on round tables in Chinese restaurants that allow everyone a chance at the last egg roll…


What a beautiful dining space! I’m sure that you are going to make so many treasured memories here! For the back cushion, you could consider taking inspo from those linen headboards that are hung with straps of leather. Example:


I love the black cushions and wouldn’t change those at all. But I have to say that I’m not fan of the grey. Just doesn’t seem the right colour. I did like the collection of cushions. So maybe one of those patterns. Although on second thoughts, have you thought about a navy and white thread? You know, one that looks like a denim from a distance but close up you can see the two colour detail?

Loving these reveals!


Wait does foam really cost that much? Was it special foam?


Guess I’ll weigh in too… My first thought was “I wonder why she didn’t put Emily-blue leather on the dining chairs.” I think I would do that and have the existing gray cushions reworked to intended sizes. Also consider piping or tufting as earlier suggested in comments. That’s one crazy-beautiful table!


The combination of the black leather and cold gray is unfortunate. My Rx would be to reupholster the back cushions in a print—something graphic yet subtle, carefully chosen to play well with the black. The right pattern and color could give you a design moment that would make a memorable design moment. Something like this might work: (although it’s not possible to tell without swatches if this blue has the right tone to look right with the black).


I have to disagree with the notion that the back cushion looks generic and corporate. I don’t even think it’s too bulky- at least not for my personal taste. I think it looks custom and fantastic and the fact that it’s comfy and ergonomic is a huge win. However, maybe adding some contrast piping in a “happy” color might give you more of the look you want without having to start from scratch.

But, if you’re interested in the look of white leather, I highly recommend looking into some of the modern vinyl from higher end companies. Yes, vinyl! Hear me out. On Craigslist I found two pre-owned womb chairs that had been ordered in Knoll’s white vinyl and I almost kept scrolling because vinyl = gross. But I decided to go look at them in person and was SHOCKED that it looked and felt like buttery soft leather. Eleven years later, I can attest to the fact that this stuff is basically indestructible. I share the chairs with a very messy husband and our huge dog and despite their best efforts, the chairs are still unstained and unscratched. They still look new. Promise.


This post is SO helpful to me as we are planning a built in bench-dining book situation at our house. QUESTION: How does it feel to not have a toe kick in the bench to give your heels somewhere to go back a little? I’ve been researching tirelessly and see both ways often. Obviously yours looks more streamlined and way better than having a toe kick, but I wonder if that makes it awkward to sit. Would love your thoughts on this. Would also love a post detailing the dimensions and how-to achieve a perfect built in dining nook once you have it all figured out since these are so hot right now and many of us are wanting one in our house. Thanks!! Looks great!


Lots to love in this room, but the blocky massiveness of the bench makes me feel claustrophobic just looking at it. I suspect a toe kick, and perhaps an inch or two of seat overhang, might have made it more inviting, lighter, and considered feeling.

As for the back cushions, I vote white leather in a similar but smaller profile. No piping, no leather straps. Let the table, chairs, and view do their gorgeous thing.


Oh I love the solid wood banquette! I don’t think it’s blocky at all.


Oh gosh, I didn’t even think of this! I can imagine it being awkward to have something blocking your legs from tucking back. Doubt it’s changeable now, but I’m curious to know if this bugs them at all! It’s probably one of those “you don’t know until you know” things.


It’s all I can think of when I look at this – how many times you’d bang your heels trying to tuck your feet under :s


Love it all,the table is gorgeous and the low back of the chairs makes them perfect for the view the fireplace just gorgeous your home is beautiful!!
Thanks for sharing


Look at Momentum Silica Leather. I’m an interior designer that does mostly healthcare design and we use the Silica patterns all the time. They have a matte finish and are very durable in the most high traffic areas of a hospital.


That table is breathtaking! I have Targets discontinued Project 62 fury chairs in my dining room and they’re almost an exact match in shape and size! I’ve been looking for a table for >1 year just like yours. Light natural wood, Oval, no apron, so the high armed chairs can slide under. I’ve had no luck! So you know how much I LOvE that table! It’s so beautiful I’d custom order my own table from Ross Alan, if I had the budget! That said, I think the measurements of the table and banquette seating combines is off in your beautiful home! . If you think of a comfy banquette at a restaurant, the table should slightly hang over the seating! Otherwise, the table is too far from the banquette! For the back cushions, whether you go blue or black, why not tuft it like the back of the CB2 Seville sofa? I have that sofa in my home, lové thé look, and lové it even more dressed up with pillows! I think the key is matte slightly weathered leather! For the lighting, I think you need to go more horizontal than vertical. Increase the pendant width and decrease the height… Read more »


I think the edges of the bolster and cushion are what make them appear so orthopedic and cumbersome. Behind the table they look fine but on the sides the edges are sharp and make it glaring. If you’re going to scrap them anyway, what about trying to carve the edges into curves first. Or even angles that would distract from their true depth.

Also, Bryan was wrong about the deep green, would have looked great.


I like the back cushions too. They can be cut down on the ends. To make them a bit more funky, you could add a different, patterned or vintage fabric on the end panels that face into the room, or could add some bono inspired tassel fringe on the edges too. Or, you could get some vintage brown leather belts and “attach” the cushions to the wall by wrapping the belts around the cushions. I think you had similar ideas in your inspiration photos.


I had a similar idea. It may sound ridiculous – and certainly hard to explain – but what if you attached some sort of horizontal strap to the wall (it could be wall color to blend in or pretty leather if you want it to show). And then on the backs of the throw pillows sew a sort of belt loop that slides onto the strap. The cushions would not fall down onto the floor and also could be moved around, smooshed together, spread apart as the sitter prefers. Does that make any sense? If the belt loops were fairly loose the pillows could slide easily and also be a little messy so that it looks more like you have it styled for the magazine.

Regardless of what you choose, the house is BEAUTIFUL and this dining space looks incredibly cozy and inviting. I absolutely love it. And that table is a stunner for sure.


The table and chairs are stunning!!! I actually don’t dislike the back cushions at all but get if the scale and function given the size don’t work. Someone above said add piping to them which would be cool. I do agree on the light fixture. It’s a bit traditional feeling. I think something that is more like clear glass bulbs that that kind of disappear would be good. Nice work though and thanks for sharing the challenges!


The channel tufted backs sounds dreamy!


This is a beautiful space! I actually really love the black leather. Can’t the person who did the backrest incorrectly fix the mistake? I know you are a designer and want everything to look perfect but it seems to wasteful (moneywise and material wise) to redo it. Sometimes you gotta live with the not beautiful in the name of comfort and little children!! I don’t mean to criticize. You are an amazing designer!

Heather H

I do not like the two-tone look. I think you should do black back cushions in a similar style to what you have, but smaller, and then add in tufting or buttons for some visual interest.


Just chiming in to say I also like the gray back cushions – they don’t look too big or bulky to me at all!


What a dilemma! It’s so fun to read about your mistakes, thanks for being so open and sharing! That table is amazing. The black on the cushions and on the chairs feels/looks all wrong to me. I love the idea of the slate blue (and I reeally wish you could have done the green!). For the upper back cushions, what if you did really simple flat cushions in a matching fabric to whatever you decide on for the bottom. Horizontal channel tufting doesn’t seem fitting for this room (in my opinion!). What about instead of a solid fabric, doing a striped or plaid fabric instead – could help to hide stains a bit better too??


What about two round bolsters stacked together and tied to the wall with a leather strap a few inches above the seat?


The problem is not so much that the cushions stick out but that they are too high. The height of the grey cushions is what makes it look bad. If your going to have something that covers the entire back in needs to be half the height between the bottom cushion and the window. You need to see some drywall behind it. But the only thing I’m thinking that would work is pillows or some thin cushions that lay flat and attach to the back of the wall. It’s going to be tricky I think. Possibly a low small sofa cushion type back in flannel will work.


I know its probably silly but I think there is something so warm, cozy and lovely about being trapped on the interior.


Suggestion for a white leather option: ultra fabrics Brisa. It’s a commercial fabric, polyurethane, and it is so buttery soft and wipeable. It’s a matte finish and has a super subtle texture. As far as fake leathers go, it’s one of the best, imo. And it comes in a few shades of white. Good luck!


I absolutely love all of your design transparency. So refreshing and so many key learnings!

For the back cushions, I wonder if you could do something with leather straps, not unlike a headboard cushion? That could still look Scandi/mountain, but still add a little something design wise/visually to the back cushions so they look more custom. Hmm…


I would get rid of the light pendant altogether and not replace it. It blocks your beautiful view.

Tina Schrader

I love it! So pretty. But I do see what you mean about it being ‘corporate.’ And I do like the idea of the dark green cushions, which surprises me since that wouldn’t have been my first thought. But you could turn that situation to your advantage. Just think… Husband: “Ice cream! Chocolate or vanilla?” You: “I know you love Vanilla, dear, but I really wanted those green cushions, and…” / “So, it’s down to the Subaru or the Honda.” “Well, the Subaru does have room for your sports equipment, but remember that big Target bill a few months back? I cried for weeks over those green cushions and cleaned out its Kleenex aisle… “/ “Pizza sounds good to me.” “Yeah, well, I wanted green cushions. We’re getting Chinese.” … I realize that, if your husband reads your blog, I just blacklisted myself when it comes to MH invite contests, but my wisdom must be shared. 😉


Haha hahaha. Love that imagined conversation.

Tina Schrader

Also, does anyone else think of Superman when they see the name, “Crypton?” No? … So! Those green cushions…


One thing about design: you can’t be sure until you see it in the space. Ordering and returning or redoing is part of the process, especially when you are taking risks and trying new things. Even with a custom project there’s always going to be some adjusting on site. I wouldn’t call it a mistake. You just keep working until it’s right.

For the foam, maybe have them shaved down to the correct size and covered with a herringbone fabric? With a sort of black leather belt buckle detail on the sides facing the room?

If it were me I’d get rid of the benches altogether and go with a dozen low-backed matte black upholstered club chairs on casters. Create a new style: Scandi-Steakhouse! where playing cards and board games could happen on the table as well as giant, messy holiday meals. Or hot dogs! And definitely a custom super modern matte black lazy susan.

Kali Benbrooks

That table is stunning as are the chairs. I love the black leather and wonder if the back cushions could be a shade of green to play off all the gorgeous nature outside and spread a little more green throughout the house. Maybe in a slightly lighter shade though? Also I think the piping (as suggested in many comments before me) would make it busy, diner-y, and not the sleek mountain house vibe. Sorry for your cushions came back to huge! 🙁 I hope the event yesterday went well, wish I could have been there!!


I can overlook the back cushions (although yes, they do look quite bulky), what my eye goes to is the loose black leather on the bottom cushions. I’m wondering if the upholster didn’t stretch the leather enough, prior to making the covers? Leather is a stretchy material, it will relax with age. Your cushions are new, and should be quite taut to allow for the natural stretch. Did he use Dacron? It seems as though the foam doesn’t have a softness to it (but maybe this was by design?).


OK, maybe not for this kitchen but I do think Emily should get those chairs for some project because they are amazing.
How about commissioning The Citizenry to make you some custom long down-filled lumbar pillows for the benches? Use one of their amazing patterns that has some black in it?

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