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Mountain House Reveal: How I Transformed an Awkward Space Into My Dream Work Loft

MOUNTAIN HOUSE REVEAL WEEK, DAY 3! (Quick catchup: So far, we’ve revealed the living room and entry, as well as the downstairs guest bed and bath suite.) If you want to know where I’ve been many weeks of this summer, it’s here, in the loft writing these posts and attempting to write my next book, due VERY SOON (check out the living room, and guest bed and bath reveal if you missed it). Despite being distracted by five groups of friends visiting over the summer, I’ve gotten a decent amount of writing done because this space is honestly inspiring. I wake up at 6 am (on a good day, the night before determines the exact hour) and write/work until 11 am which isn’t a full workday, nay, but for someone who is trying to enjoy the fruits of my labor (I’m turning 40, it’s about time) I feel like 5 hours while on “vacation” is pretty darn good. Welcome to the loft reveal. You get it. It’s my writing space and it’s everything I’ve ever wanted.

For anyone who’s been along on this journey the last year and a half, you’ll likely remember this “before”…orange wood ceilings and all:

Emily Henderson Mountain House Home Office Loft2

The light was always so great up here, this lady just needed a makeover.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Home Office Loft3

Our Goal for this Space:

I wanted to create a peaceful, calm room for me to write the blog and book, while being able to take breaks and stare at some trees, all while engulfed in beautiful wood. It’s a space that is free of clutter, with beautiful light and oh so cozy.

It’s quiet in every way, that is until those two children wake up, realize I’m working and then I have to make the following choice: let them manipulate me into putting on Wild Kratts (but mom, just until you are done working or daddy wakes) or they ask that I play princess/kitty/ninja with them (which I can’t say no to). By the way, isn’t life hilarious/ironic/cruel that there seems to be a few hours a day where you seem to be best at everything? For me, from 6 am to 11 am is when I’m the best mom, the best writer, the best leader, the best housekeeper, the best athlete…it’s the only time I like to work out and it’s definitely when I’m most creative. My brain often shuts down at 4 pm (only to wake back up at 9 pm) but at 6 am, I’m on point. So when they wake up at 6 am, it’s a real reckoning of choices. Workouts go out the window. Writing is disrupted. Parenting is hard.

But hey, I have a gorgeous writing space for hopefully one hour a day.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Home Office Loft4

How We Accomplished It:

1. A neutral color palette. You walk up the stairs, turn the corner and ahhh. It’s so lovely and quiet. Most of this is due to the light and trees, so we didn’t want to distract from that and add a ton of color or pattern. It’s why we called this the yoga loft for months. I did approximately 12 minutes of yoga here one day, and thus birthed the name, but there is something that feels so peaceful about this space so it needed a neutral color palette to let the trees sing.

2. The desk is huge. I have a condition that I’ve historically referred to as “clutter body.” It stems from growing up driving in a car with six kids and so much stuff in every corner of the car, and you think you are fine. you think that all the stuff at your feet won’t bother you. But the longer you drive, the more your feet move and you kick things, and they shift, and you just want to stretch out SO BLOODY BAD but you can’t because you have so much stuff surrounding you, engulfing you. I called this clutter foot. Not sure if other people have this syndrome or if I invented the name. But it has grown into a much large problem—CLUTTER BODY. My team knows it well. While I create chaos, I also am allergic to it. It’s a form of claustrophobia. That’s all to say I need a big desk so I can spread out, and this one (from Article) is perfect. It’s actually a dining table, but if you are like me and like a big desk, IT’S GREAT. I LOVE it.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Home Office Loft5

3. Seating. While technically I won’t be joined by many people up here, I like looking at that black vintage chair (previously seen in the living room but we realized it was PERFECT for this corner so we moved it up). In the other corner, we have my Target wingback (released last fall and it’s SO so good) and just creates a cozy vibe.

4. A cozy rug. This area would be far too echo-y without a rug, and this rug is one of my favorites that I’ve used many times (here in Portland, and also Jess picked it for her living room). We shipped it down after the Portland project because I loved the way it looked in the living room there. I didn’t know what we would use it for, but alas it’s found a home.

5. Storage. I need somewhere to house all of my parenting and self-improvement books. That cabinet from Skagerak does it. Plus, it’s so pretty and has gorgeous hardware.

The Challenges:

The wood. This space was pretty easy to decorate, the biggest problem was the tone of the wood. The original wood was so dark orange and after a year of trying to come up with a solution (remember when we walnut blasted it and then it created a super deep texture and became pink AND orange?). Brian Henderson was the one who figured it out. We recladded the tongue and groove (the horizontal wood pieces in between the rafters) and just sanded down the texture of the rafters (or beams). We used the same reclaimed beech wood as the flooring and cabinets throughout the house, from Ross Alan Reclaimed Lumber. I think this ended up costing about $7k in labor—or at least that is how we were quoted, but since we paid “time and material,” it might have taken more time and thus cost more. If it were on a normal ceiling, it wouldn’t have cost nearly as much, but because it’s so high, it required scaffolding which means you have to hire a company to bring it in, and then doing any work over your head just takes so much more time than say, recladding walls. But I’m SO glad we did it.

I love how the floor and ceiling meet now; it’s just so seamless. And the light in this space is south facing, and just incredibly dreamy all day every day. It never gets blasted.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Home Office Loft6

The windows up here are obviously the star, and if you are just tuning in, they were replaced by Marvin, in their white oak. Obviously, they are stunning.

HOT TIP: Know the direction of your windows before you buy a house. There are so many houses on the lake that we drive by in our pontoon that get blasted by the sun all day every day so they have to keep blackout shades down all day. It’s not something you really think about when you are shopping for houses at 10 am, but especially in these houses with massive windows, it can be a real bummer to have to close off the house during the most beautiful times of the day.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Home Office Loft7

I have been following the artist Joelle Somero for a while on Instagram and love her work, and after we featured her, she offered to make a piece for the house, which I LOVE. It’s pretty perfect up here on this quietly stunning Skagerak cabinet.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Home Office Loft8

I snagged the mobile from the Atlanta project, and boy do I love it. The desk chair is vintage, from Midcentury LA and the lamp I’ve had for a while. If you are wondering where we plug it in, we snake it down the leg and we snipped the rug and fed it through to the outlet that we had placed below. You can’t tell at all.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Home Office Loft9

Emily Henderson Mountain House Home Office Loft10

I write mainly on a laptop so no need for a monitor up here, so while we did take it out for a few shots, you can see it above.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Home Office Loft11

One of my favorite things about the house is the railing. It’s not something that most people notice, but I just think it’s so beautiful. My team, this time led by Velinda Hellen, helped execute the design and we had to find our own fabricators for it which was a challenge. It was installed directly into the wood flooring, and due to code (and safety which we were big on), it is as minimal as possible while still being safe. We put supports every few feet, and topped it off with maple (which was the same tone as the beech flooring).

Lastly, that Allied Maker sconce is so simple, modern and yet warm. Again, warm minimalism, modern mountain. That’s what we did here.

Emily Henderson Mountain House Home Office Loft12

Where We Saved:

Most of the pieces up here are high end; I’m not going to pretend it’s a budget room, but the Target wingback chair and the IKEA side table are elevated by the rest of the pieces, and affordable. In this house, we tried to find a place for a lot of leftover furniture and rugs from other projects, so the rug, and vintage mobile and vintage lamp made their way into another space (this one).

Emily Henderson Mountain House Home Office Loft13

How We Live In It/Has Anything Changed?

It’s pretty much exactly as you see it here. I might swap the lamps because the white mushroom lamp (from West Elm) I think is a better contrast with the mobile than the black vintage one, plus it gives off better ambient light. Otherwise, it’s EXACTLY the same. I love this space very very much.

Now, time for some side-by-side before and afters:

Emily Henderson Mountain House Home Office Loft14

Emily Henderson Mountain House Home Office Loft15

Emily Henderson Mountain House Home Office Loft16

Emily Henderson Mountain House Home Office Loft17

If you are into anything that we used to design it, here are all the resources:


White Oak Contemporary Windows by Marvin | Beechwood Flooring and Tongue and Groove Ceiling Cladding by Ross Alan Reclaimed Lumber | Antique Bronze Light Switches by Forbes & Lomax | Wall Mounts by Alpine Metal Design (no longer available) | Beechwood Hand Rails by 3D Stairs & Wood Works | Balusters by 3D Stairs & Wood Works | Beechwood Stair Treads by Ross Alan Reclaimed Lumber 


Jut Cabinet by Thomas Jenkins from Skagerak | Seno Dining Table (Desk) by Article | Guido Faleschini Desk Chair from Midcentury LA | Wingback Chair by Target | Side Table by IKEA | Black Tubular Chair from Pop Up Home

Art & Decor:

Citra Rug by Dash and Albert | Mobile from Antique Factory in Atlanta | Emily Abstract by Joelle Somero | Vase by Rejuvenation (no longer available) | Black Footed Tray from Lawson Fenning (no longer available) | Tall White Vase (on desk) from Lawson Fenning (no longer available) | Printed Throw Pillow by Target (coming soon) | Faux Fur Throw by Target (coming soon)


Bella Table Lamp by West Elm | Concentric 10″ Sconces by Allied Maker | Black Task Light (vintage)

Of course, I wanted to give a great big thank you to my incredible team who made this house a possibility: Julie Rose, Velinda Hellen and Grace de Asis. Photos are by our own Sara Ligorria-Tramp, styled by me with help from Emily Bowser, Erik Staalberg and Veronica Crawford. Our contractor was Jeff Malcolm and our architect (that we used at the beginning of the project) was John Lyles.

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 Kids’ Room | The Hall Bath | The Upstairs Guest Bath | The Dining Room | The Family Room


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4 years ago

Such a soothing yet inspiring space. And love the elevated tray on your desk.

4 years ago

It’s such a power office AND so serene. The mobile is perfect, too.

4 years ago

Such a beautiful space! Lucky you to get to work up there. It’s all just so perfect.

4 years ago

The mountain house is another fabulous lesson in design cohesion just like the Portland project. Really fabulous! I work from home and downsized recently and realized I really didn’t need much in my office at the same time I still need my bulky all in one scanner and short term extra printer paper storage. Long term paper storage is in my garage. Where’s the guts of your office space? I’m thinking your office would be filled with vision boards, drafting tools, color swatches etc.

4 years ago
Reply to  Tiffanie

its more of a writing space than an office. We keep all of those tools/fabric, etc at our studio – so this is literally just where I sit and write this blog (and these comments). Our printer is in the cabinet but we don’t need it much up here (yet). xx

4 years ago

I love it and also this post is so, so relatable. I’m finishing my first book and have been tempted to retreat to my in-law’s A-frame lake house up in Northern California, but I wouldn’t be able to take my kids and husband and that is probably a deal breaker! It is so great when you finally reach a place where you have some semblance of balance, with time and space carved out to honor your priorities. Well done, you are so inspiring to me on a bunch of levels!

4 years ago
Reply to  Katie

thank you so much. What a nice thing to wake up and read. good luck with your book 🙂

4 years ago

Just wow.

4 years ago

I looove it! Wouldn’t have thought to do a dining table as a desk – very smart. I definitely notice how much better the new railings look than the “Before” railings – yay, Velinda & team! Didn’t know I wanted a vintage mobile before this post, but I kind of do now. All the high-fives!

4 years ago

I miss the posts that included a “get the look!” would be great for this mountain house series considering these are all high end/vintage pieces.

4 years ago
Reply to  Veronica

oh good idea. Maybe we’ll do a budget version? We honestly found that not enough people were clicking on the ‘similar’ items when they were vintage, so it felt like not the best use of time to scour and find them but if its something that you’d like we could do a whole post that is more about a budget version of the house. Inidividual pieces that are available (like the table, rugs, cabinet, target chair, ikea table) are all linked up though!

4 years ago
Reply to  Emily

the ‘Get the Look’ posts were always my favorites! I can’t afford practically anything you post now.

4 years ago
Reply to  Ellen

I recently purchased that West Elm lamp on sale for $89, retail $149, and thought that as a pretty good buy! it’s all glass and very similar to a vintage mushroom lap that I wanted for hundreds more.

4 years ago
Reply to  Emily

Yes it bugs me when anywhere does “get the look” and the look is really at all the same thing. Just do those with target posts, etc.

Tanja Epners
4 years ago

I would love to work in that office. It feels so quiet and inspiring.

4 years ago

Very beautiful! Would you say the Target wingback is more of a light gray or an oat/creamy color? Having a hard time telling on their website!

4 years ago
Reply to  Kali

I think more oat/creamy – but a cool version? its not a boring beige, it feels more modern than that. xx

4 years ago

It’s beautiful. That black vintage chair, for me, along with the windows of course, makes the room.

I know I’d want an old Persian rug, or a Tibetan, because I always do, but I get that’d really change the overall look.

I also know I’d want a chair with wheels – does it not bother you to have to pick that chair up to move it? Don’t you squirm as you write or is that just me lol?

4 years ago
Reply to  Lisa

ha. i’m sure i’d love a chair with wheels but when I found this one I fell in LOVE and no, it doesn’t bother me but i bet wheels would be lovely. xx

4 years ago

I love the look of the table/desk in the middle of the room, but where do the cords go? Do you have a hole in the rug for the lamp cord? Or are they strategically arranged to be out-of-sight for photos? (I totally understand if they are!) Just wondering if you have tips for how to keep cords under control for this desk arrangement in real life, because it’s so lovely and totally beats having to stare at a wall all day!

4 years ago
Reply to  Abby

I think i addressed it in the post but basically the lamp snakes down the leg and yes we slit a hole in the rug to the outlet that was placed below. I charge my laptop in the outlet under the cabinet so it goes across the rug.

4 years ago
Reply to  Emily

Oops, you did…I’m sorry, I definitely just missed that sentence. Thank you for the reply! That’s such a smart solution.

Molly S
4 years ago
Reply to  Abby

The answer’s in the post. She says they snaked the lamp cord down the table leg, and snipped the rug and ran the cord into the outlet below the rug.

4 years ago
Reply to  Abby

Hi again…to whoever is moderating, would you mind deleting this post? I posted too quickly without reading closely enough, and I’ve been feeling bad/embarrassed about it. I can’t seem to find a delete option anywhere.

4 years ago

Love this room!! I could be SO productive there. I’m certain 😉

Total random side note, but since you mentioned times of day you’re creative/productive… do you know about the Chinese Medicine organ clock? I learned a lot about my body’s design/health when I started paying attention to times of day I was productive or sluggish or _____. Could be fun for you to look at since I know you’re into natural health! (The doctor who taught it to me is releasing her new course for families online tomorrow so it’s fresh in my mind! United Medicine Institute, if you’re curious!)

4 years ago
Reply to  Jordan

OOh, i will definitely check it out. I’m very into this kind of stuff. thank you!

4 years ago
Reply to  Emily

Dr. Cabral also has a cool podcast on it, I think if you google “ayurvedic body rhythms” you should find it. I found it spot on, and its also backed up by scientific research showing when our hormone levels spike and fall. (There’s a reason you feel best and brightest at 6 am!). Going to bed between 9:30-10:00 is when our melatonin production is highest, so that is best for our sleep cycle.

Awesome job with the design, as always. My writing office is our dining room which is surrounded by floor length windows and trees. I want to re-paint the walls (they are green from the previous owners). This whole white/wood/black/grey look is really awesome, I may go for something similar. Thanks!

4 years ago
Reply to  Jordan

I can’t find that reference. Is the name correct? thank you

Paige Cassandra Flamm
4 years ago

You did an amazing job! I wish I was working up there!


Jordan G
4 years ago

It turned out so beautifully! We just DIY’d our staircase makeover, changing out its 1980s wood spindle balusters to simple iron ones like yours, with a similar modern banister. It made an incredible difference in the entire feel of the house. I feel very proud that I picked something similar to you!

4 years ago

My favorite room thus far! And that’s really saying something. Love that you used the table as a desk. Almost went that direction myself only to fall prey to the idea that I’d actually use a sit/stand – whoops. This room is like jeans and a white top – the person looks amazing and effortless in that way that’s super hard to attain.

4 years ago

Dream work space. So gooooooooooooooood!

4 years ago

Beautiful! Where do you plug in your laptop charger?

4 years ago

I LOVE LOVE LOVE THIS HOUSE!!!! You NAILED that Scandinavian vibe.

Roberta Davis
4 years ago

It’s a little bit nicer than it was before. (lol) Love it! I love that sconce, but, ouch! the price. The custom art is amazing, as is everything in the space.

4 years ago

This space turned out so beautifully and I love everything, except that mobile is bugging me sooo much! It is beautiful, but seems like it is really competing with the stunning view. It makes this otherwise really calm space feel busy to me.

4 years ago

Pretty sure my comment on every room is going to be *Exhale* Its so gorgeous and perfect. THAT WOOD!*
Also: I know the clutter body phenomenon well. LOL My husband doesn’t understand how my own clutter can drive me so crazy.

4 years ago

It is lovely, fresh, and calm. I absolutely love the view from the window down the hall, with all of the quiet wood and tiny hits of black on the fixtures. Gorgeous, and you will get some seriously creative writing done in the space (as long as the kids are entertained elsewhere1 :))!

Julie S
4 years ago

This is a GREAT space to work in. I’d say well done at figuring out what you need to do the work you do. Lighting question – is there anything besides the two table lamps and sconce by the staircase? I get that you don’t work much after dark but I am wondering if you can get more light over there at night or do you just find a different, brighter place to get stuff done.

4 years ago

Do you know who designed the mobile piece? I love it

4 years ago
Reply to  betsy

She has a link to the mobile in the Art and Decor section.

4 years ago

The space is really beautiful – so far, from the rooms you’ve shared on the blog, it seems you have totally nailed the cohesive calm while still giving each space its own personality. Really lovely!

But I have to know… how do you write in a space where you can’t close the door and get some quiet & privacy?!?!? Are noise cancelling headphones part of the deal here? 🙂

Aneeqa Ishaq
4 years ago
Reply to  Rachel

I was wondering the same!

4 years ago
Reply to  Rachel

Agreed! The space is lovely but maybe not the most practical. Because of the stairs, I’d feel like I had to keep the desk clean at all times and I’d worry about the noise from below.

4 years ago

This is what my writing dreams are made of! Can’t wait to see it in person on Saturday!!!

4 years ago

This is my favorite space thus far and the living room was DREAMY. That light, those windows, the calming vibe. Everything is perfection. ??

Dying to know how the railing was installed with out feet safely. I’ve been looking for someone to install a similar design in my home for the last year with no luck. I keep hearing it’s not possible and too dangerous. It’s such a simple minimal look.

This house is my dream house. Congratulations EHD team!! Beautiful job!!

4 years ago

What a dreamy and soothing space!

4 years ago

Congrats again on the lovely space. I noticed there are HVAC vents on the hallway wall that weren’t there before. Did you write about the work you did to the “guts” of the house somewhere?

4 years ago

Love the space! Also, you managed to find a balance that is both peaceful and interesting, styled and not overdone-just beautiful. 🙂

I also really resonated with your productivity comment with kids around! SO TRUE.

4 years ago

This entire house is dreamy perfect. The wood, the textures, the minimalism, the vintage….. You were already my favorite designer, but you have outdone even yourself with this gorgeous house!

I read the post carefully and I understand your laptop and lamp cord situation. I wish I could write on a laptop, but I need to have multiple screens open simultaneously and I need a PC rather than a Mac and the cords are horrendous and the monitor is big and ugly! I’m currently building a new house and thinking about my office space. What would you do to keep this minimal look as much as possible if you needed a computer with a big screen? Almost no design post I have ever seen by any designer shows a computer. I know they are ugly, but how can I make the best of it? I can’t be the only one…..

Thank you!

4 years ago

You mentioned in the first reveal post that you had gone 2-3X over budget. Was this because you didn’t really have a good idea of costs to start with or were there (a lot) of unforeseen/unavoidable costs that came up through the build. I understand that this is your job, so it needs to look great, but was there a time when you just said -no, we can’t keep spending money? The result is fab but not many people could afford a 300% blowout. Interested to hear your thoughts on budget – making one and sticking to it.

4 years ago

Emily…this is the third time I’m writing…….I hope you have the time to respond! I’m 4’ 9” tall, and I need a small red/pink sofa bed or chair, and am despaired of finding one. Could you please advise me where I might search?
Thank you so very much, jay

4 years ago

It’s not even noticeable how there are so many different types of wood. That’s incredible. What a dreamy spot to write! Favorite room so far.

4 years ago

Gorgeous room! I don’t understand though if your room faces south, how is it not blasted by sun all day? I don’t get that comment as south facing rooms receive the most direct light all day, north facing the least.

Soo Soo
4 years ago

I love the office. The chairs, the light fixture, the rug-all of it!

4 years ago

The room is absolutely stunning! You must be so happy. I love the light at the corner of your desk and I’m very intrigued on how you plug it in when the desk is floating. I have always wanted to do this in my home but cannot figure out how to have a light when the wall plugs are always far away on the wall. Thanks for your comment!

4 years ago

Dreamy is the word. xo

4 years ago

I really like that rug and am curious how you feel it would hold up in a more heavily trafficked part of the house. Seems like of your friends also put it in their homes, maybe in busier spots, but thinking they might not have kids…. Hope you’ll post feedback on the rug. xo

4 years ago
Reply to  kathryn

Kathryn, I have that same rug in our rec room, except in the color denim. It gets a ton of traffic. It’s sooooo soft and awesome to lay on. We’ve had it for 8 months or so and it’s still shedding, although not as bad as it did in the beginning. That’s really my only complaint – my 10yo son will wrestle with his friends on it and they stir up a lot of wool, and you can’t lay on it still without having wool on your clothes when you get up. I’m hoping that ends one day.

Oh, and it might be because of our rug pad, but our Roomba is mad at it all the time – it has a hard time getting from the wood floor up onto the rug (and then, because of the shedding, the bin fills up quickly). I am a little paranoid about mud/food/stains because the rug is expensive and there’s so much white in it, so I don’t let the kids eat a lot in there or wear shoes on it, although the food rule will eventually get loosened, I’m sure.

Sherri Harris
4 years ago

Love love love everything about it!! I can see why you find the loft so inspiring. The black clad bathroom is amazing as well. I’ve been a huge fan since your first day on Design Star. Well done! Hopefully you can take some time and really enjoy what you’ve created. Happy 40th too!

4 years ago

This room is so beautiful that I actually had to put my phone down halfway through and stop looking for a few minutes, because I was getting legitimately upset that I’d never be able to own a home like this.


4 years ago

You know, I didn’t “get it” with the ceiling changes you were going through last year, and even with the living room reveal. I thought the orange-ish wood was just fine and couldn’t understand the investment to change it multiple times. But now seeing that beautiful wood up close in this room, and especially the side-by-sides, I understand! It looks gorgeous now and totally changed the vibe. Well done!

4 years ago

What an amazing space, I love it! It looks so calming and beautiful, just like the other rooms you have revealed so far. There is so much inspiration here!

4 years ago

that black parsons type chair is everything. I was eyeballing it in the living room!!
def a lovely calm space to get some work done.

Susie Q.
4 years ago

Question: I noticed that in the “before” shot, there’s a railing in front of the window. In the “after,” there isn’t. Is there a gap between the edge of the floor and the window? I guess you decided having a railing in front of the window was unnecessary? Just curious.

4 years ago

Question….Love the cabinet but from what I can tell on the website it doesn’t look like it is available in the US. How/where did you purchase it?

Michael Forsberg
4 years ago

soothing, calm, woodsy, very emily,

4 years ago

Love all of this. Perhaps this is a goofy question – but I’m struck by the branches/leaves in several vases. Are these “fresh” – clipped from trees on the property or are they faux? Thank you!

Antoinette McNulty
4 years ago

Maybe it’s mentioned elsewhere, but in case I missed it – is the book on the Mountain house makeover? I’ve enjoyed many of the spaces.