Article Line Long1

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



Never miss a single post and get a little something extra on Saturdays.

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

    1. 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!

      1. 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???

    2. 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

      1. 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?

  3. 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!

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

    1. 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…

      1. 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.

      2. 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.

  6. 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.

    1. 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!

      1. 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 ; )

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

  7. 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.

  8. 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! ?

    1. 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

    2. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

    1. 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 sans extras.

    2. 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!

  11. 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

  12. 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 picturing an incredibly pale white/ivory/beige with very thin widely spaced stripes of something darker, or maybe fine checks etc. It would read more solid at a distance so it wouldn’t be too busy, it would channel more of that Scandi vibe, it might negate the need for throw pillows and allow for the major comfort the existing foam dimensions seem to provide, and it would be very On Brand for this house and EH in general I think. You’d just have to figure out if you could handle… gasp… vinyl.

    Either way, I feel like since this is a higher end showhouse and you have the ability to throw some money at this area where you’re clearly quite dissatisfied, you should go bold in whatever your solutions are. Like my idea for a lighting fixture is yet another Kay Whoever expensive piece, which coordinates but is slightly different, so they relate and don’t have to compete. If your heart is on the slate leather, get those seats redone. You can afford to banish the boardroom look and really make it sing given the purpose of this house, so go for it and see if you can get it done before the holidays when you have guests because I too am eager for a “trappiness” etc. update after you’ve hosted a big meal here, haha.

    Thanks again for a wonderfully insightful post!

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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!

  16. 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?

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

    1. 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!

    2. 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.

  19. 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?

  20. 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…

  21. 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!

  22. 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!

  23. 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).

  24. 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.

  25. 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!

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

      1. 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

  26. 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

  27. 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.

  28. 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 of the light fixture. Honestly Restoration Hardware has three options that would be amazing!

  29. 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.

  30. 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.

    1. 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.

  31. 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!

  32. 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!

  33. 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.

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

  35. 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??

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

  37. 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.

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

  39. 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!

  40. 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…

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

  42. 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. 😉

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

  44. 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.

  45. 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!!

  46. 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?).

    1. 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?

  47. What a stunning view to have when you eat breakfast! I am in love with the table, partially because I am in the process of having a custom table built myself and would love if you shared the dimensions. I am less hung up on the upholstered bench mostly cause I know you will work it out now that you don’t have the pressure of a deadline. My concern is the oval table. Did you consider a custom wooden round table at all? I searched far and wide to no avail for an oval table with more tapered edges just like that one thinking it would fit in my similarly windowed dining area. I ended up with a vintage craigslisted bluish grayish painted oval table with not so tapered ends. Now that it has lived there for a year, I am thinking a round one would look so much better. But it’s so hard to (pun!) nail that decision down when your in laws 100 year black Walnut tree is what is to be used!

  48. I have to say I like the back cushions. They don’t look bulky in the pictures. Maybe the color combination is a bit ‘business/office’ and I really like the suggestions of piping or tuffing to make an interesting pattern. I think this corner can use some sort of pattern even within the same color pallet. I don’t like all those pillows, they are a pain to deal with and are always the first thing I put aside in a banquette. I’m so happy you did a banquette there, it’s the most dreamiest spot in the house (I think).

  49. That window in the pony wall was a brilliant suggestion, it really makes the space feel all cozy and comfortable. The grey cushions look really nice with the black… except for the parts which can be seen.. there they look a bit ‘blocky’ if you could find a better upholsterer to just finish those two cushions, it would be such a sustainable solution.

  50. Emily, trust me, what you and your team have done with that incredibly comfortable looking, sensational foundation of the eat in banquet area is AMAZING! I love it, I am shocked how great it looks especially for how economically you have done it. To think that you have made 5 mini custom sofas look so amazing for $1700 odd is off the charts.
    Trust me I am as tough and rigorous in design decisions as anyone, usually more, my judgement is you must be a little tired these last 2 posts (as that green bathroom was heavenly, it would have looked understandably economical at best if you choose not to tile the wall and use a little 4 inch off cut to complete that vanity wall. ) Give yourself a few days rest and have another look and see if you would prefer it done differently.
    Of course we know when we use restraint and go understated and seamless in the base, we need a few high lights to assist it to really sing. A few light colored sheepskins (the light highlight we are after (that are easy washable or replaceable), plus a vase of wild flowers near the greenery vase, a few of those great new target pillows, even next level.
    Plus if you want to get to beyond, beyond, get the photo with a few lucky people sinking into comfortable wedge pillows, with huge smiles on their face with sunlight coming in on their backs, capture that whole picture because that is what you created it for.
    Off the charts great job!

  51. I really love this space. I understand the issues, but I think living with it is always a good idea before pulling the trigger again. I agree that the black and gray are a bit cold, and it doesn’t really feel like your style.

    The lighting situation is super tough with the light over the bar being very similar to what would work well in the dining space. I am excited to see what you come up with. Design isn’t easy and deadlines make it extremely difficult. Thank you as always for sharing that challenge and your thought process. It is so helpful.

  52. Adore the table and chairs and love the comfort aspect – unlike most banquettes. Agree with other readers about trying to work with the gray cushions before scrapping and love their ideas. I think this space would be sensational with a thin, wide modern black chandelier. Like the ones in the recent sconce post, but hanging from the ceiling. You guys know what I mean, right? Wish I knew the right name – they are awesome. It would tie in with the Katy Skelton without competing, the scale would be on point and it wouldn’t impede the view. I think those benches have a lot of storage which is brilliant. I was concerned that there might not be enough storage for sports/recreation gear, kid stuff, and giant soup pots.

  53. I know the idea of using faux leather was nixed early on, but there are some great polyurethane vegan leathers out there that breathe, are soft, and are indestructible. Much better than the vinyls of yesteryear. Might be worth another look?

  54. One last thought – could the gray cushions be reworked to be more rounded to relate more with the chairs vs the harder angles of the windows? That might soften up the corporate look, along with trim etc. The house is amazing!!!


    Alternatively piping sounds amazing, but all my brain wants to see is a cute caramel leather using those super trending hanging techniques. And I agree the back foam to be re used and discount from the person who made them.

  56. It looks really beautiful! I agree with the scale of the back cushions looking too bulky but do not mind the color combination. How do you care for the wood table with heavy usage? Does it stain?

  57. Emily, I’ve loved your work since SFAS. I don’t exactly know how to define my personal style except to say that this house is it. Everything you have posted so far truly speaks to my soul. Thank you for sharing your beautiful home!

    I LOVE the big bulky back cushions. It just looks so comfy, I would definitely volunteer to be trapped there. If you recover them, I would love to see some sort of subtle horizontal pattern. I think a pattern would be visually interesting but it would have to be very small-scale and quiet. Something nature-inspired maybe. And it needs to run in a side to side orientation to highlight the glorious width of the windows. My opinion, FWIW. 🙂

  58. The table is stunning. I do like the roundedness of the light fixture mimicking the roundness of the table. I like the style of the back cushions but think you could pretty them up with a different fabric and also adding piping, etc. I do not like the grey and black and feel like this is the place to do something more feminine and soft. and even vintage fabric would be amazing. I remember my grandmother had some that were covers that came off for washing.

  59. What about replacing the back cushions with something inspired by the terrazza sofa style. So still a tapered shape, but more interesting. Maybe in a fabric/color similar to Brady’s headboard.

  60. Not to add to your woes, but to my eye the issue is that the banquette is just too big and long. The ends, especially with the problematic cushions, are monolithic and prevent the other elements in this beautiful room from harmonizing. The awesome chairs look scrunched in like an afterthought. I think shortening the banquette to the length of the three middle windows and adding a couple more chairs in their place would do more to resolve your doubts than upholstery ever will.

  61. Hi Em, you had made a wee mention awhile back about doing a back cushion like so – – which I think would look great but also be your jam. The straps could be black leather to tie into the seat cushions. I think EITHER the mossy green (to tie into the outdoors) or slate blue would look gorgeous. I don’t know if it would fit with the big windows, but I like the idea of it as something special. SOOO sorry to see that pendant going away…man, do I love it, but the size is not right and now it will go to a new home!! Cannot WAIT to see the English Tudor that it is going to be in.

    1. Love this idea of using black straps on hanging back cushions to tie in with the seats! Also, I really like the light fixture and think you should just leave it. The table and chairs are awesome!
      Thank you for this post, Emily. It made me realize that even pros can make mistakes so I need to stop being so hard on myself. Love your blog!

  62. I’d love to see your team customize the back cushion with some creative treatments, like camel leather straps. Do something cool on the side of the end cushions that makes the bulky side angle a fun feature, not a mistake. Some dining chairs have round pulls on the back – maybe add some warm wood circle pulls on the side to tie into the reclaimed table? It just seems like so much money spent to toss those cushions, and they really don’t look bad at all! I’m sure if you ask your team how you could creatively customize the existing cushions, lots of great ideas would pop up.

  63. Also one more thought. Our banquette has a wood back that comes up from the bench at an angle that then allows us to have much thinner (but v comfy) back cushions. And the cushion fabric part is simply rounded over the top of the wood back, so all you see is the back cushion.

  64. When it comes down to it, what jars my eye is that the construction of the front of the bench does not appear to be rounded, and yes, I see that it appears to follow the contour of the walls. If you look at placement of the throw pillows, they are in effect softening the angles. The resulting “boxes” look feels in contrast to the gorgeous table.

  65. I know it is not the look you want and I understand why, but, man, it looks SO COMFORTABLE!I want to curl up there with a book and tea and gaze out the window at the trees…

  66. I think that the basic problem is that the wedges look out of scale with the bottom cushions. If the wood bases were blackened like the kitchen island, the base and black cushions would read as one unit and would be in proportion to the chunky back cushions. Much like the living room sofa.

  67. I think the comfort of the back cushions will result in those amazing “talking around the table for hours into the early hours” moments you envisioned. What about some really fun slipcovers for the cushions in the slate or green, or a print? They would be great for a few years and you may find something that suits the space comfort or style-wise after you’ve lived in the finished space a year or so.

  68. REALLY like the black leather seat cushions!! You should leave those as they are perfect. If it were me, I would have the back cushions trimmed to the appropriate dimensions (should not be your cost to fix this problem) and would add big cheery down-filled pillows (the kind that almost have weighed bottom) that won’t slip down on the leather bench. It seems like this would solve all of your cushion problems for the least amount of money and you should be able to reuse the pillows you have in the photo in other projects. Get your color desire in the accent pillows!!

  69. Here I go……….(not worthy two cents) ? 1. Screaming how much I love the table 2. That said, it is all tooooo matchy matchy, Emily Henderson I cannot believe I am saying that to you. The floors, the chairs and the table the same. Boring. Each by themselves, stunning. 3. 30 years ago, I designed a banquette just like your with that classic shaped back cushion ? only mine, the table collapsed to make a bed. Seriously dislike the back cushion. I voted for the hanging -ish cushion I think. I do think I liked the grey tweed too. It didn’t translate well did it? Next…….4. Yup, to new pendant needed. 5. The “window” for the pony wall is amazing, love it!

  70. It looks too crowded in a tight spot. Yes the pillows are overwhelming. I thing 2 chairs instead of 3 and a stronger light. It needs to breathe more.

  71. It looks great for now, even if it is a work in progress.

    I would cut the back cushions down to the correct dimensions and reupholster them with a patterned performance fabric. The space is a little bland without all the cute throw pillows, but I think the throw pillows would be so annoying to deal with. Patterned back cushions would add style, look custom, and keep the comfort.

  72. Hey Emily!
    Ok, firstly I think it’s beautiful. What a transformation and I ADORE the table, chairs and windows. The size of it all fills the space really well.

    Sooo, I see what you’re saying about the back cushions if I was to be super critical because I do love it but One designer to another, I know how frustrating it can be when something just doesn’t work out the way you wanted it to/visualized.

    So I think the grey and black fabric combo on the banquette seating is really lovely, functional, practical and in keeping with the overall look, feel and vibe of the house. HOWEVER I do feel like perhaps the grey needs to be broken up (cushions doing this perfectly)
    To my eye, the only part that looks a little clunky are the sides of the back cushions at the ends.
    What would you think of this…
    How about you add narrow wood bars (same gorgeous beech as the floor) to the ends of the banquettes and run them to the ceiling creating a sort of ‘nook’ while also hiding the bulkiness of the back cushions?? I would only have maybe 3 or 4 of these vertical bars creating a sort of partition wall either side but perhaps only the width of the widest part of the back cushion or a little more so you’re not blocking the amazing view and light. They wouldn’t be visually obstructive as you can see through the bars.
    Ideally they’d be attached to the top of the wooden banquette but I know you have those seat cushions custom-made to size?

    You could do this with black metal bars either if you felt it would look too ‘woody’? And this would kind of tie in with the bottom of the main stairs in the entrance…

    I think the cushions you’ve used do a great job of adding print and texture and breaking up the large block of grey.

    It just would be a shame if you went to the trouble and expense of redesigning and redoing the whole thing to find that they weren’t as comfy as these ones are!!???

    I really love how it looks and in a way it’s nice that the angled back cushions resemble the back cushions on the sofa in the living room and also the colour!

    I am the exact same though I will be extremely tough on myself and if something is bugging me I will need to change it.

    Let me know what you think!

    Loving all the reveals! ??

  73. Just want to say you’re not alone in the banquet challenges department! We added a breakfast nook in our remodel. Although it looks beautiful, it’s really not very functional. The height of the built in seat with cushion wasn’t standard, so we had a table custom made, but then finding adjacent chairs/stools was a problem. And we also struggle with the back portion. Arg.

    Wishing you the best of luck in finding a beautiful and functional solution!

  74. I think it has to be white. When I first saw the grey I thought a white that disappears into the white of the wall would work even in the shape you have now. Maybe in a linen or something with texture. I have little kids too and hear you about white, but you can just have them sit in the chairs when you eat something super messy. Or eat outside

  75. I apologize if this has already been mentioned – but what about something like the banquette back in Ulla Johnson’s home (which you linked to here just last week). You have five comfy cushions – as others have already said – why note just improve on those a bit.

    My choice to up the style would be to cover the two exposed bolster ends in the black leather so it looks unified from the side, and then just add panels to the fronts of the cushions in a variety of interesting textiles a la Ulla Johnson.

    This gives you some of the variation that cushions do and you could even have the textiles fronts just attach over the existing fronts with hidden zipper all around so that you can take them off to wash them or eventually switch them out for different textiles if you want to change it up.

    1. This is a very good, if slightly elaborate, idea. I would simplify it slightly by shaving down the bottom surface of the back cushion foam so it doesn’t overhang, and then make slipcovers to go over each back cushion. I like the idea of different textiles to give it more subtle color, dimension, and character. I am picturing a few semi-solids that would appear like the textures in vintage wool blankets. This would soften the overall look without making it compete with the beautiful wood table and chairs etc. And it would negate the need for pillows to break it up. The leather straps tying the back cushions to the wood could work too. I am not really into the piping look, I think it’s more about the single expanse of the same smooth grey than it is about the shape of the back cushion. I appreciate knowing more about the process and how much more complicated it is than it seems in theory. Overall I really like this space and the tweaks seem relatively minor.

      I like the pendant light more than I thought I would but agree that the shape is off. I would like to see some hand-blown glass used in the new fixture because it’s nice to maintain that sight line to the outdoors. Two smaller hand-blown rounded or oval-shaped pendants could be really pretty instead.

  76. Gorgeous table and chairs; and I think with some adjustments you can build on the upholstery to make it all come tighter … I agree with others regarding getting the upholster to trim down the size. What’s missing is a better connection between the two materials given how much exists with the size of the cushions. Piping the back seems too traditional. What I would do is have a seamstress use the same black material to sew a stripe of material (running top to bottom over the entire cushion, including front and back); I can quite gauge the size, but perhaps 5-6 inches wide: something with dimension). On the cushions on the end, you could run a small connecting piece to the end pieces (ala a stripe going the other way, but thinner) to completely the connection. Good luck!

  77. So I just got a fantastic 72” round table and have also decided I actually need a lazy Susan for the same passing things issue. But I’m getting a custom made boned soapstone one and it looks so beautiful and rustic that I think it’s going to look good and not horribly 80’s utilitarian nightmare. Fingers crossed and just a thought for you. And this whole house is just unreal. Kudos.

  78. I honestly think you should stick with an angled back cushion, just maybe cut it down an inch or two so the scale is better, and choose a different fabric. If there’s a Crypton fabric that looks like a natural linen, that could be really beautiful. The black leather will work just fine once you figure out the right back cushion fabric.

    Check out the Yellow Brick Home blog. They recently built a banquette for their cabin that is really sleek and also keeps ergonomics in mind.

  79. I like the back cushions, but think a few patterned pillows would break it up nicely. Also, they will likely compress with use and become the dimensions you intended after all.

  80. Beautiful room and gorgeous woodwork!

    I think your initial instincts were correct: hanging cushions don’t work in your space, tufting’s too formal and piping is not modern. Comfort is SO important if you want people to hang out in the space–Holidays! Girls weekends! Board games!

    If the back cushions are going to work, they need to appear less monolithic. Things that contribute to this are:

    1) seeing them from the side, which reveals and accentuates the bulky shape
    2) the lighter color on top (above the black seat) which makes them look unbalanced
    3) top of cushion is too close to the window sills, making them look oversized

    All of the designs in your inspiration photos (in process blog) struck a balance between color and materials contrast and size/shape. It all adds up to reducing the visual footprint of the back cushions, either through use of contrasting materials or giving them more breathing room from the seat.

    After having the upholsterer re-make them in the proper size,

    1) Upholster the side panels in black leather, which would camouflage the cushions’ bulk, thereby reducing the visual space these cushions take up. This kind of sidesteps the breathing room issue by creating the illusion of one big cushion, seat and back.


    2) Create a rectangular wood panel big enough to hide the sides of the back cushions from the side. It would also create some interest/contrast of materials near the gray. And the black leather visible in between the bottom side panel and the top one provides breathing room. Pad the inside so it’s safe for the kids.


    3) If the first two ideas are too diner booth-y for you (or your husband) I would then suggest new fabric on the cushions to create texture and the illusion of breathing room: I would create a horizontal stripe fabric out of Crypton Raven (8437) and Moonstone (D336), making sure to have a lighter stripe on the bottom near the black leather and a dark stripe on the top near the oak trim and white wall. Maybe even a “mantle” in black (front top stripe and top panel) to make the whole cushion look smaller. Since Crypton should be really stain-resistant, the risk of the lighter color is minimal.

    Thank you for sharing all of your design goodness!

  81. The table is amazing and this is a beautiful, cozy area. I’m wondering how deep the bench seat is. From the pictures it looks like it might be quite a bit deeper than a standard dining chair depth. Is so, replacing your current bolsters with flatter cushions may not work. Diners will be sitting on the edge of the bench and unable to lean back.

    If the current bolsters bother you and you only use the chairs day-to-day, maybe you could store the bolsters and use them for dinner parties. The rest of the time the bench can be styled with pillows.

    You could also build out a back to the bench and add flat tufted or channel quilted leather cushions to it.

  82. I don’t know why, but I’m kind of digging the generic back cushions??? I LOVE that gorgeous table, and chairs, and the window between the two rooms. I also really like the black leather seat cushion, a lot. Although I don’t mind the back cushions, perhaps in person they appear bulkier; I’m sure you can do something else that is stunning. I love the idea of deep green or slate blue too. And I definitely agree on the light fixture… not right in that space. Looking forward to seeing how this transforms and hoping you share it all with us of course.
    Mountain house week has been STUNNING!!! You and your team have done a gorgeous job. Please tell me there are 29 more rooms to share with us. Ha ha. 🙂

  83. I think the banquette looks so much more complete with the back cushions in place, and a bit unfinished without them, but I agree that they are a bit stark and uniform. Could you wrap a fabric around just the bottom half of the grey cushions, to break it up? It would have to be sewn on, obvs. You could do a lovely dark green, or a camel-colored leather, or slate blue — something with a velvety or nubby texture would be great. Crypton definitely makes a velvet.

    Second idea: add a little triangle of that beautiful Ross Allen wood on each side, as in this picture (obviously not the style of your house at all, but hopefully you’ll see what I mean with the wood). That also might help to break up all the grey, while keeping all the comfort.

    Either way, it’s a beautiful dining room! You’ve never been totally happy with the light fixture, so I’m excited to see how you replace it.

  84. You do have that extra drywall space to the left of the “new” window you added; could you use it for mounting some sort of boom arm wall lamp/sconce?

    A top quality workroom could rework those existing cushions to match the as-designed, original dimensions, likely with no new fabric or foam needed. Honestly, if the cushions don’t match the submitted design specs, the original workroom should redo them at their expense.

  85. How annoying that you were so clear on the dimensions of the back cushions and they were plain made wrong!! I totally have to agree about the banquette colors though. It’s… not quite right. I think the slate blue would be great here, of all your possible suggestions. I’m surprised the boxy shape of the wood wasn’t mentioned – I recall a few suggestions after the fact that a cutaway angle on such seats is best to allow for heel room and comfort/not having kick marks along the bottom of the boxes. I guess it’s not turning out to be a problem? Hope you find a GREAT light fixture that ticks all the boxes! It’s nice not to have a deadline to work out the kinks.

  86. What an amazing space. The windows are heavenly. I’m interested to know how deep your banquette is overall. It looks pretty deep. I was told the seat area should be 18 inches, not including any back cushion, and yours looks much deeper than that, so I wondered if that was why your back cushions look quite chunky?

    We just built a banquette in my mother’s kitchen and made a ton of mistakes. Banquettes are hard, I’ve discovered! We made it 18 inches deep, forgetting to consider the back cushion part, and then were left with a decision – do we just have a straight up back so we can park our asses comfortably, or do we add a tapered cushion – much more comfortable ergonomically – but then pretty much ‘perch’ on the bench as there isn’t quite enough room, depth-wise. We’ve gone with the straight back but it just isn’t anywhere near as relaxing, even with pillows.

    Another thing we did that we got right, I think, was to set the very base of the banquette back by four or five inches, where our heels can tuck in. We have storage drawers under ours, but under the drawers, it’s set back. You do have the urge to put your feet in the gap when you sit there. It feels natural.

    Do you think anyone will ever sit right at the two ends of your bench? I don’t think they’d be able to reach the table if they did? I wonder if it would look less severe if they curved or tapered off a bit at the ends, rather than that stark right angle?

    With the benefit of hindsight, obviously, I think I would have done something to “cap it off” at either end, possibly building 2 L-shaped false walls, smooth plastered and painted the same white as the walls, or perhaps something in the same wood.

    Dying to see what solution you end up with. These are my absolute favourite posts of yours, where you break down everything into detail and spell out your whole thought process. So interesting, and I always learn something. So thanks!

  87. BRIAN HENDERSON, love you dude, but in this case Em was right – DARK GREEN LEATHER is the perfect seat solution, IMAO…. P.S. LOVE that table. xo

  88. So much of it is so beautiful! But I agree that the banquette has problems. However, if it IS really comfortable this way, I wouldn’t get rid of the back cushions. I’m afraid that if you do new cushions, you’ll end up with dimensions/back angle that won’t be comfortable. If it won’t goof up the angles, just have them cut down to the correct dimensions. I do greatly dislike the gray fabric (COLD; the black is OK but blue or green would be better) and the bulky look on the ends. Perhaps just a new, more colorful and/or patterned fabric will fix most of the issues. But I do think the idea a few people have mentioned to get rid of the two end benches entirely, replacing them with more of the beautiful chairs, might be the best option of all. The whole banquette does look pretty massive, and opening it up and adding movable chairs might make the whole thing work better. As it is, I think that winter visits will feel very stark and chilly, and throw pillows or loose cushions will just be a messy nightmare with children.

    I also wonder about the solid bottoms of the banquette pieces. Where do your feet go? Is it comfortable enough the way it is, or could that be slanted inward? Thanks for sharing all the process!

  89. At the first moment I was taken back too at the grey back cushions, but the more I went back and forth reading your thoughts and the comments, looking at the cushions again – they grow on me! In the end, I like them like they are and if they’re really comfortable, I’d keep them. On such a big table you sit with friends eating and talking probably for hours….and having a good support for your back, an arm rest and an overall feeling of comfort is much more important than anything else. As I said, the grey cushions grow on you…..I like them !!

  90. Part of what I think makes the cushions look corporate (nail on head) is that the edges of the foam are so obvious. You could try having someone shave the edges a bit and do a light layer of batting wrapped around them, probably without even altering the covers. It’ll fill them out and look less like a gymnastics mat. Sorry, that was way harsh, Tai.

  91. Lindsey Adelman’s branching bubble light would look beautiful above that amazing table. Black “branches” with clear handblown glass would not block the beautful view.

  92. Something I’ve done with a banquette was a tufted rectangle attached to the wall with a French cleat. Still room for pillows if you want them, and they stay in place nicely. We have a very large banquette in our current home and people do get trapped, but it’s not a huge deal. It’s just a meal, and maybe a card game. And people can move if someone has to visit the bathroom.

    I love your giant nook. Table is gorgeous!

  93. I personally think the grey cushions are better suited to the style of the room. I don’t care for the black leather, except on the chairs and I think the sharp contrast of the grey against the black is partly why the back cushions stand out so much and look so huge. I understand wanting to have a slippery, wipeable seat cushion, but the black just seems too heavy on the bench. Love it on the chairs, though! On the chairs it’s just the right amount of black. I’d almost like to see the whole cushion done in the grey to go with the black on the chairs. As far as the light fixture goes, I love that the one you have is so clear and you can see the view through it so well. But I agree that it does not fill the horizontal space well enough and I think it’s a little too traditional compared to the other fixtures in the house. The table is not my style but I think it’s gorgeous! Beautiful home! We can totally see your vision!

  94. I love this space, I’d be turned around looking out the windows all the time! When looking through the after photos the first thing that jumped out at me was the light reflecting off the black leather on the bench seating. Even though it’s in a matte finish. Something about the darkness of it doesn’t sit right with me. I agree that the grey backrest is too large, but I wouldn’t give up on it. I like the simplicity of the shape of it. I would reduce the size to what you had originally planned, and cover the bottom cushions in the same grey. The grey is beautiful against the wood of the table and windows in that close up photo, and it would allow the black of the chairs to stand out in front. Add a few cushions and the grey would be a nice gentle background colour. Anyhoo, just another opinion to throw into the mix! Well done with all of the house, it looks incredible! X

  95. I really admire the openness and honesty of this post, and costing info re. production.

    Thank you for sharing the complexities of the banquette. Looking forward to seeing how you & team resolve it and am sure it will be beautiful.

  96. I agree about the piping from previous commenters and having them narrowed down to proper size or what about having backrests hang from leather straps like the diy headboard?

  97. I think it’s hard to live in a “photo shoot”. You can always take the back cushions off when appearance is the main consideration, but I also think that skinnying them down just a bit, depth-wise and height-wise would help. It does look corporate with the black and gray and everything so boxy, so maybe making the back cushions disappear visually as much as possible is the answer, and then use a few throw pillows to make it softer and more interesting. I don’t think you will enjoy using that table with no back cushions. Is there an equivalent to Crypton that looks like white leather? The table is gorgeous and, hey, isn’t it a game for the kids to crawl under the table to get in and out in a crowd? (tee hee- my granddaughter always chooses that route)

    As far as the lighting- lighting is just hard. I don’t know if this would work, but I do like the style (although prefer something that is not just down-lighting):

    or this (except I hate bare bulbs!)

    I think linear would be awkward, but spreading out a bit might look and feel better, agreed.

    Still- a very gorgeous and luxurious-looking space to inhabit! In spite of all the things you’d like to do over.

  98. I wish we could go back in time to see what the reaction would have been if you hadn’t said you didn’t like it. I love the way the table looks so warm in contrast to the gray and black of the cushions. I think changing the color of leather would unintentionally make the table less of the star. And that table is magnificent. What if you start with changing the light fixture to something bolder and more horizontal? That’s what seems off to me. The table, bench, cushions are all heavy and the light fixture currently doesn’t even everything out.
    My favorite room so far has been your office. I love the tree house effect that room has.
    Your home is beautiful and I’m so glad to hear how much joy it’s brought to you and your family and friends. What a gift!!

  99. Could the person who built the bench add a built in back/shelf on the back of the bench? Say, 4 inches deep. Could either be upright or slightly angled like the cushions are now. Would make the sit of the bench more shallow and then you could do a flat cushion on the back of the bench (or none, if you like), and it could be anything you like, i.e. turfted or not. Wouldn’t have to deal with having an angled cushion made.
    It would end under the windows, be hidden by whatever fabric back you decided to put on it (would really only be able to see the closed portion from the side), and you could use it to prop frames/put small plants/etc.

  100. Yes to matte white leather with horizontal channel tufting and a wood frame around it!
    All jokes aside, if you had a Lazy Susan made to match the table, I don’t think you would regret it. I lived in China for a year, and Lazy Susan‘s are standard in many places. They are awesome for large round tables!

  101. All of this amazing content (I adore you!) but…this post leaves me with the burning question: where did you get your sweater?!? It’s fabulous! Please share! 🙂

  102. Oh I’m so bummed that table is custom because my heart stopped for a movement when I saw it!! We’ve been looking for a large oval table that is all wood (not veneer) with a more modern base/legs for nearly a year without success. Maybe that can be the next round up ? Seriously though, it would be awesome to have more sources that do all wood as it is nearly impossible to find.

  103. I think the tapered back cushions, which seem very 50s/60s to me, work well with your Scandinavian aesthetic. I think I might buy one in your original measurements and try it out at the banquette to learn whether it’s still comfortable at that size.

    Visually I agree that you need one color on the banquette seat and back cushions, and I’m with you on green or blue. I’m thinking the greeny-blue color from antique Verdure tapestries would be stunning and would pull the greens and blues outside into the room, in the same way that Japanese gardeners pull views from beyond their garden into their gardens.

    I love the light fixture, but since it’s going, all I can see there is a Serge Mouille multi-armed chandelier.

    The house is lovely, Emily. Congrats to you, your team, and your family.

  104. Even if you change nothing, this is a beautiful room! As one who truly hates to waste materials, I would try to salvage the back cushions. While channel tufting would look nice in the future, why not try to get some mileage out of the investment for at least a year or two? Yes, they are slightly too deep, but the main offense is that the top is too square. Shave the hard edge into a nice rounded profile. Then try a “belly band” around the center of each cushion with a great fabric. You’ll have to experiment with the best width but I think it’s worth playing around with. I’ve done a lot of home dec sewing/upholstery projects and you can almost always find a pleasing solution that doesn’t require scrapping and starting over. Great fabric can be transformational. I’ll be anxious to see what you do. Such a gorgeous home, congratulations,

  105. I actually like the color scheme in the banquet. I wouldn’t change the color of the seat cushions or the back cushions, but do agree the back cushions need to be modified either in shape or size and have some interested added. Large Black leather strips down the middle? Or black leather piping. I wouldn’t add any traditional elements, it wouldn’t go with the scandi feel you have so beautifully happening!

  106. Keep the back cushions and save your money. They look great and you say they feel great ergonomically. Isn’t that what a back cushion is meant to do?! I think they just look bulky because you haven’t styled them out with throw pillows. Day-to-day practicality is more important than a pretty picture (although I think these are pretty too!)

  107. I would trim the back cushion maybe an inch on the slope and then add not necessarily a tuft or a deep channeling but more of a horizontal dart like you might see in say a Gus Modern sofa. And for the fabric I would keep the black leather since it works performance wise and is not going to add much color to the room anyways being down below. Up top I’d go for a pebbled naugahyde in a light ochre or cream color / light light blush if such a thing exists. Warm tone to make it less corporate. Piping will be busy and might call even more attention to any poorly seamed (not straight) lines in the upholstery work. The other option could be a “performance velvet” which is technically like a micro suede (cringe) but much more chic looking and cleanable to a degree or at least “treatable”. And I think the upholstery needs to be tighter in general. And then it will look super custom and pretty.

  108. The nook looks amazingly cozy. I can imagine the laughs and conversations that have and will take place here. The table makes me sigh with happiness. I would have loved to see the cushions in the green….totally Emily. I think they would have been stunning. But this space is fantastic. Truly.

  109. I agree with everything you said! Back cushions def read corporate. I think, Living with it will help you come up with a solution. My favorite image is the leather bench seat with just the various throw pillows. Side note… Those kids will be styling those pillows, before you know it…i now have to run all design ideas through my 14 and 16 yo daughters ??. I absolutely LOVED the week of reveals. Your mountain house is DREAMY ????!

  110. Love the dining nook! That nook is dreamy and I’d be sitting in it every day. I think you should leave the black leather cushion and add a contrasting leather for the top cushion…maybe add in your green with leather ties?! You could always have a couple pillows if you need more back support, plus it’s cute!

  111. Wow, there is a lot to like! That table is gorgeous!! And I didn’t think I would, but I really like the grey tapered cushions. The black/grey color combination isn’t horrible. What I don’t like is the squared off shape just looks like a big piece of foam covered in vinyl. Looks too fast food restaurant booth-y.

    What if you took the black leather cushion off, but left the grey back cushions. Then made a thin tufted cushion to sit on (brown or green or blue leather? or even reuse the black leather?) for each section that the grey cushions didn’t sit on top of (hence lowering the grey cushion.) The seat cushions could attach to the grey cushions either from underneath the cushions so you wouldn’t see the attachments. OR visible straps around the grey cushion to add some detail.

  112. Re: the back cushions – my vintage dining room chairs came newly reupholstered in some kind of white faux-leather that is not only awesome looking, I can sponge any kid grime right off of them. True they don’t get daily use, but I’ve had multiple kid parties in there with no worries. Unfortunately I have no clue what the fabric source/name is, but this magical material does exist!

  113. I love how real you are and learning from your design dilemmas…not everything turns out perfect or how you pictured in your head. I think the black leather is throwing off the back cushions. If it was all one fabric, it wouldn’t look so bad. I could definitely see how they are comfortable. Also, the chairs with maybe the brown seat instead of black. I don’t know but looking forward to seeing what you come up with!

  114. Overall- this room turned out so beautiful and inviting! I get your point- but I still like the light fixture. I want to hang some long, skinny, subtle art on the wider gap between the two windows on the right to balance the lack of symmetry of the windows.
    I think the black leather cushions just need a little softening to be less blocky. Maybe some piping would help or maybe they will just get better with age/use? As far as the back cushions go, I think substantial dark green or blue cotton velvet lumbar pillows velcroed to the wall would be so pretty, washable and comfy.

  115. What if you cut 2″ off the top of the back cushion, reupholstered in a different light color, and then upholster just the visible ends in the same dark leather as the seat? Then it would work together a little more visually you wouldn’t have to start from scratch and I think the dark ends would minimize the bulkiness.

  116. OMG I think the window and that table are my favorite things in this house. In fact, I plan to copy both someday! I know crypton is your sponsor, but did you look into a scandi patterned fabric for the back support?

  117. I am likely the minority here, but I actually love the way it turned out, mistakes and all. It looks clean, modern, scandinavian. Given all the elements of the home, this feels perfect. I see where you would feel a corporate vibe, but I see Mad Men corporate and I like it!

Comments are closed.