Article Line Long1

An Update on My Dining Room

We’ve made some progress in the house. Nothing is done yet, but certainly due for an update in the dining room. We change things pretty often over here, so there is a lot to tell you about.


When we first moved in it was a pretty great room that really just needed furnishing. The light is amazing and the function of the room is simple – we need to put food in our mouths, comfortably with two toddlers (fine, a toddler and a preschooler). The priorities are comfort, durability … then style. I know what you are thinking ‘You’ve changed, Henderson, you’ve changed‘. Yah. I did. But I still think it’s pretty stylish, it just takes a little more work to successfully check off all of those priorities.

I don’t want to reveal the whole room yet (nor am I ready) so I’ll just go through the list of improvements and tell you the ‘whats’ and ‘whys’.

First – that table. As you might remember, I was searching for the perfect dining table for decades (or so it felt). I finally found a great table on Etsy in Indiana and had it shipped, as you might remember from this post.

Here’s what it looked like from the etsy listing:


When it arrived we realized that the top and the base were two different woods and someone at some point thought they should match so they stained the top to try to match the base and it looked orange and gross.


I was bummed.

I could either scrap the whole thing and sell it and start over, or invest $300 MORE dollars on refinishing it (which was a VERY good price as far as refinishing goes). I chose to keep investing in it. I loved the base and size, and wasn’t ready to start the search over again. At a certain point your time is worth something. When it came back from the refinishers I immediately didn’t like it – they did a great job, but by sanding off the stain, the wear and age of the top was sanded off as well.


Most people thought it was great and told me to live with it, and I did. THANK GOODNESS, because now that we’ve had three weeks to beat it up, I actually LOVE it. Is it my perfect table? No. But it’s really good and I’m happy. If you are wondering what my perfect table would be, it’s my original farmhouse table but one foot bigger in length and width. That first table is perfect (just not for me). I’m hoarding it for now (WHY??? SELL IT YOU DISGUSTING HOARDER) but it will probably be for sale soon. I used it as the food/drink table at Easter outside and it looked so pretty …. but now that I have that marble table I need to get rid of the wood table. Let me know if you are interested. It’s $1200 and so gorgeous.

The chairs have arrived! I know they don’t seem terribly exciting, but here’s the deal – they are a GREAT scale for being club-style dining tables. They are comfortable, petite and calming. They tuck in nicely and work well with that farm table. I love sitting and looking at them and that is a very good thing.

But remember this ask the audience where you all told me what to do?


The other chairs that most of you voted on ultimately weren’t ideal because the side chairs were super narrow, so I would have to put 3 along each side, which is FINE but sounds like a whole lot of chairs (and legs, and mess) on a daily basis. I think they were two dinky for even kids to really feel comfortable on. I loved those king chairs but buying 6 would have been too expensive, and the company Four Hands, was willing to give me a deal but understandably didn’t want me to reupholster them with a more kid friendly fabric.

Wait. I know what you are thinking – WHY WOULD YOU REUPHOLSTER BRAND NEW CHAIRS?? Well, because I found this fabric (Crypton) that you can literally rub smoothie, wine and coffee into and it cleans up SOOOOO nicely. Every mom commented in the last post – ‘you can’t have upholstered chairs with kids!!!’ and while I know it’s not advisable, Brian and I REALLY wanted comfortable chairs for long dinners (and working from home). So the key is to find absolutely stain resistant, nay stain-repellant fabric and we found it (still testing). I tested it by literally taking my smoothie and dumping it on the fabric, then rubbing it in. It wiped up completely in seconds with first water, then a tiny bit of dish soap. Not a trace to be found. They are currently being reupholstered by Calico and I am VERY excited – what color do you think I chose??????

But back to those chairs. I got them on ShopCandelabra for $99 each wholesale (they are being discontinued, don’t know why – but these are very similar). I’m extremely happy with them despite how simple they might seem to you.

The thing is, as annoying as my droning on about comfort is to everyone who knows me, my obsession is working. Every single room is extremely comfortable and every chair is desirable. This is not the case in all of our previous houses. This house is starring to feel just like I want it to – inviting, open, casual and comfortable. Every room is a family room, every room is a lounge and every room is kid-friendly. We entertain probably 3-4 times a week (playdates with friends who have toddlers), and virtually nothing is off limits. There are few rules about where the kids can and can not play/eat and it means they have more freedom and I can just lay on one of 19 sofas/chaises/chairs and share meltdown stories with my friends (don’t worry, out of ear shot of the kids).

I rarely leave this house. It’s my happy place and I think that’s because I’ve designed it to be so easy and comfortable to live in it, despite the chaos of having two young kids and shooting here 3 times a week.

So that’s why those chairs work – comfort, scale, simplicity, and soon to be un-stainable with the new fabric.

Next up are the window treatments.


Those curtains are just stunning. They have a tiny light green/cream stripe that gives it a lovely subtle texture. They warm up the room so much, add so much texture and a layer of happiness. I’ll give you the full story later, but trust me that this fabric is great and that the Calico team did an amazing job.


Oh that pendant. I’ve had a thing for pleated and fluted lampshades for a while and I was perusing a Rejuvenation catalogue the other day and was like THAT IS IT. We had a cheap ikea version ($7!) that was too small but we really liked the vibe of it (see in the photos above). So this is the grownup, higher end, perfectly scaled version. It casts great light (again, wonderful for our long dinners) and has that traditional/modern vibe.

target hutch

We then put in this Target cabinet for a shoot and it’s actually WILDLY better than the antique one we used to have there in the other photos. Its visually light and yet has more storage. It’s glass from the side so it really feels lighter, and it still reflects the light with the glass (plus is $197!!! … $153 when I bought it because it was on sale).

Next up is stool-gate.


Many of you didn’t think that these stools were perfect. I really like/d them but I heard your comments and kept my eye open for a more perfect stool. I, too, liked the idea of something wood but you can’t find antique counter height stools so I felt limited – I didn’t want anything too modern. (Go here for the full kitchen reveal and sources).

Well, I found them.


We found a company on Etsy, Hedgehouse, that made stools with different finishes of wood and multiple powder coating options. I said, “YES, these are MORE perfect”. We ordered them and man, are they great.


They feel classic and yet modern – without being too modern. Light, yet with the wood that we needed. They were heavy in weight (great for kids) and swiveled which I loved. They had tiny hits of black so they worked with the sconces as well. WAHOO.

So here is where we are now, but things can definitely change:


We still need to show you how I recovered the chairs in some very stain repellant fabric.


It’s coming along. It’s actually the most visually pulled together room in the house. I haven’t shot the most updated room because I’m waiting for the full reveal, but trust me that it’s a lovely room that I rarely leave (seriously – I work from here most days, staring at my pretty patio).

Thoughts? Approval? Criticism? Do you agree with  my stool choice?  Or do you still think I’m nuts for doing upholstered chairs with kids? (I just … may … be … )

***Photos by Sara Tramp and Tessa Neustadt

0 0 votes
Article Rating


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

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
6 years ago

Love the new stools!

6 years ago

It looks great and the counter stools are wonderful.
Charlie looked so much older in pix this weeks! Glad you aren’t calling him a toddler (he’s looking like a big kid). And patio is perfect.

6 years ago

You’re not nuts for upholstering chairs with kids, because you’re buying fancy life repellant fabric. I’d say any chair which has a seat joined to the back though… there is a channel that your kids (and my kids) fill with who knows what and how. Like vacuuming out the cracks of my attached sofa cushions. They purposely shove stuff in there, I’m convinced.

I bet the fabric would be wonderful though! And since you are a stylist and designed and you change things always, I feel so much better. We have a large family in a small space and I suffer plenty of criticism for constantly rearranging, but life requires it. Reading your blog makes me feel much better about this fact!

6 years ago
Reply to  Julia

Designer. Not designed. Whoops!

6 years ago

Crypton is the best! Have it on my dining chairs and 2 lounging chairs. Resists cat claws as well as stains! Have blogged about it a few times, including here:

6 years ago

Love, love, love the refinished table and new light! I’m less enthusiastic on chairs/stools-But they are still great.

6 years ago

I wouldn’t leave this space either! It’s such a fantastic room. Kudos on the stools, they’re such an improvement and I’ve been drooling over that gorgeous table light. So pretty. My only teensy wish is that you’d done two non-upholstered chairs for the table heads. And who else loved the bench! It rounded out the table so nicely. Though, agreed, I don’t think it would have made the final cut for me either. Chairs are best.

Thanks for sharing your lovely home, that patio view is To. Die!

6 years ago

Looks great!!!!
Is here a formula to figuring out the right size/number of lights to hang over a dining room table? I love this one! Our table is long (seats 10) so do I need 2?

Cris S.
6 years ago

Honestly, I think for me it’s less about the fabric wiping off, and more about the gross crude that accumulates between the back of the seat and the bottom of the back of the chair. But you probably have a housekeeping service that will wipe that out for you.

6 years ago

I don’t think you are crazy at all for the upholstered chairs, and I have two young kids of my own. Spot clean when needed and vacuum or brush the crumbs off daily/when needed. Not really a big deal. I think the whole dining space looks lovely. I was totally team those-kitchen-stools-are-fine-what’s-the-big-deal, but I think your new stools are even better. I look forward to every new reveal!

6 years ago

Love it, love it, love it all. Your dining room light has grown on me. No need to defend your choices re: style v comfort….. you are clearly succeeding at both!

6 years ago

It all looks lovely! I have simmilar chairs and had a stain repellant treatment added to the original fabric. You can also treat rugs, sofas…and if it exists here in Portugal, I’m sure that you have it in the US. 🙂 I have a 3 year old and a very clumsy father who spilled red wine on a chair 1 month after I got them and it all comes out either immediatly or with some water and dish soap.
Can’t wait to see the full reveal!

6 years ago

The stools are perfect! And no, you are definitely not crazy to reupholster new chairs…it’s really a matter of doing it now or later after the fabric is stained beyond repair. Save yourself the stress of dealing with that. The light in your house is wonderful and welcoming. Good for you for making comfort first. There is no point in having showcase rooms that you can’t relax in.

Sarah D.
6 years ago

It’s hard to believe it’s the same house that you bought; the dining room looks so good and comfortable. The curtain rod, the curtains, the table, the chairs and stools are all so good and happy together. The only thing I can’t seem to get on board with is that white lamp shade pendant….am I the only one that wants to change it???

PS- your house, your life…if you want to call Charlie a toddler, go for it…same thing about the courtyard:) I love it all!

6 years ago

LOVE the new stools! And I really like the dining chairs. I’m all for comfy seating. And with stain-repellant fabric? YES.

6 years ago

This all looks great!

Did you decide to keep the Target cabinet or the original?

How about a rug to soften the wood on wood of the table and floor?

The new chairs, stools, and table are great! Which colors did you choose from Hedge House for the stools? I see there is a walnut, white oak, and maple option.

6 years ago

The new stools are perfect for the space and add a needed warmth with the wood. I wasn’t sold on the upholstered dining chairs but now seeing them in the space with the table they really look lovely and inviting. Not too heavy like I had imagined.
Curious though, is it comfortable sitting at either end of the table? In the photos the leg room looks minimal. Either way, that table is just awesome, it adds so much character.

6 years ago

With regard to the stools, I think the new stools are more perfect, but I was also a big fan of the old white stools. I guess what I’m trying to say here is that although the new stools are awesome, don’t run yourself ragged trying to please everyone.

6 years ago

Those Barbican stools are perfection! Love Hedge House. Great company.

6 years ago

The patio tile is beyond stunning. Your best yet. I’m thinking you may do a green on the chairs even though traditionally from you it would be a blue. For me the only thing I don’t love is the pendant. I hung out with pleated shades too long. The stools are magnificent and like you , I would have looked til I found the perfect, stain-free, mess-free fabric. Good job! But that Tile! Wow!

6 years ago

love, love, love the stools!!!!!!!!!!!! probably going to order two for myself…

Charlie is totally becoming a big kid…but I totally get calling him a toddler forever! we don’t want him to grow up either!

6 years ago

We have Crypton too — it’s held up like a champ (all through messy little kids and now messy pre-teens and teens). We eat all our meals in the dining room and the seats look just as good as the first day they were upholstered.

6 years ago

Could you please give me some details on your curtain rods? We need something exactly like that! Thank you! (Love the stools!)

6 years ago
Reply to  Erin

I’m on the same page! I would love to know more about the curtains and curtain rods…. I’ll keep my eye out for more details. One big question: for the curtains along the larger/longer windows/wall, is there enough fabric there to completely close them? I have a huge window in the front of our house, and would like to be able to cover the window completely for privacy at night. Also, how do you decide how wide of a panel you get? Do you spit it into 4 (2/side)?….

6 years ago
Reply to  Erin

I’d like to second that request! Good french return rods are hard to find!

Carol McKee
6 years ago

I am all for comfortable chairs with stain resistant fabric, they just look a little short compared to the table (which by-the-way, looks much better) New stools look fine, but I liked the old ones too. Nice new light fixture and curtains.

6 years ago

I’m terrible but what I came here for is the name of that stunning MOST BEAUTIFUL TREE I have ever seen and please please please give me a hint what it is so I can track it down at a nursery near me?!?!?! Please?!!?! (Second image where you are sitting with Birdie in the lap)

6 years ago

Oh man, this is all so lovely. The witch hat sconces are still the thing that seems disconnected. So modern, so black, they stick out. Is this rude to even bring up my opinion on this? Not wanting to throw shade, and I am sure the other commenters will tell me where to go – nicely 🙂

6 years ago
Reply to  Anna

agree about the sconces

6 years ago
Reply to  jo

agree about the sconces, love love love everything else (except perhaps the table which seems a tad smallish for the space) and oh those stools! Perfection!!!

6 years ago

Looks great, love the clean simple look, so fresh 🙂

6 years ago

The new stools are perfect! I was among those who threatened to commit suicide if you didn’t change your stools so I’m happy to report that I will live (for now). I hope the new chairs are in navy blue. I’m not sure I’ll be able to get behind them. Yes, they are the right size and proportion. But they have nothing special or interesting about them. Personally, I would take your dress from the photos and turn it into upholstery for the chairs. Or, a blue-white china-like pattern perhaps?

6 years ago

I love the cream chairs. Wish they were still available.

6 years ago

It’s beautiful!! So wonderful to hear how happy you are in your new place!

6 years ago

I appreciate seeing you put comfort as a top priority, and still show that it can be stylish. What a dreamy, livable space!

6 years ago

Your dining room is so nice, but for some reason, I’m just not loving the choices as much as I normally love everything you do! The stools are an improvement, but I still don’t think they’re perfect. And I have something against pleated shades (reminds me of my grandma’s house). And I think I like the antique cabinet better than the white Target one, but maybe you can do better pictures of each to show why you chose the Target one. And whenever I see the kitchen, I still wish the knob hardware was more interesting. Also, there are 3 pictures of different tables, so I got confused when you’re talking about them, and talking about the marble one.

I realize what I wrote sounds full of criticisms, but I actually do really really like your kitchen and dining area. I think I’m just used to 100% liking everything you do, and this time I have a few things in the back of my mind that aren’t (to me) perfect. But of course it’s your house and your opinions which matter!

6 years ago

Love!! And thank you for posting links to kid friendly options- my children are hard on my house and I haven’t felt like decorating because why spend money on something my kids will just destroy?? But now I feel like I have options!!

6 years ago

I WAS interested in the original table. I’m not sure that comments are the best way to communicate that, but my inquiry went unanswered. I think it would have been perfect for our LA area mountain home. I did end up going to Round Top, since I just assumed you were keeping (or hoarding ?) your table. I didn’t hit Marburger till late, and the two tables I loved were sold. Anyway, I did end up finding something but PLEASE respond to your readers, especially in a case like this (I probably would not have made the time to go to Round Top if I knew your table was a possibility). I know running a business can be a huge commitment of time and energy, especially when you have a sweet, young family. But…perhaps someone could screen comments and inquiries more carefully…just a friendly suggestion! Your house is looking AMAZING. Your attention to detail is paying off, both as fabulous content AND in your enjoyment of the spaces!

6 years ago
Reply to  Debraj76

Hey DebraJ76, You answered your question in the very first line: The comments section of an extremely popular blog that receives hundreds of comments is not the recommended way to get in touch with said blogger. For future, try contacting directly via email. Or maybe just lower your expectations of someone who is juggling 8 million things as a professional and mother working ’round the clock. Maybe helping you furnish your home is not Emily’s first, second, third or 465th priority, nor should it be. So you “had to go to Round Top” but still found a table in the end to furnish your LA home in the hills? Boo hoo, lady. Your life sounds rough! Sorry if this sounds harsh, but as a fellow working mother, your criticism is truly unwarranted.

6 years ago

The art above the cabinet is giving me life. Where oh where should I be scouting (affordable) paintings like that? Flea markets followed by reframing?

6 years ago

REAL TALK: How are you going to avoid the stool foot rest from denting and chipping your island?! I need some real world suggestions… I am beyond tired of repainting nicks after dinner parties! 🙁

6 years ago

Count me among the readers who are thrilled with the new stools! Everything in this dining room is stellar. Great job! Looking forward to seeing what pattern (or solid) you chose for the chair upholstery.

6 years ago

What color is on the dining room walls?

6 years ago

Where is the drapery hardware from Emily? It love the clean lines! Oh and you’re right, Crypton is amazing! I have it on my sofa and it’s stood the test of 2 dogs and a cat over 5 years – looks brand new still! xoxo

6 years ago

I am so obsessed with how that table looks refinished! wowza! I’m kind of meh on the stools. They are a definite improvement over the white ones, I love the wood, but its a touch too modern in that kitchen (for me).

I like that you upholstered the chairs. You are conducting a great social experiment for all of us, and I quite frankly, thank you! Also I like that your all about being “Family Friendly” instead of “Kid Friendly”. There are more than just kids in a family, and grownups need comfort too!

6 years ago

It looks wonderful!! That target cabinet is amazing.

Would you do a rug in here ?

Char Lewis
6 years ago

I adore those dining room chairs!!! They are very charming and indeed look quite comfortable. I’m in love with the current fabric on them but you are a very smart mom to be having them reupholstered to save you time and frustration when it comes to adorable tiny gooey hands dining in those seats along with squished cheerios, spilled juices and the like. ?? I also, very much like your bar stools you chose. Kudos! Your table matches the beams on your ceiling… making everything very cohesive. I learn from your posts and am inspired.

Katie J.
6 years ago

Crypton for the Win!

6 years ago

Formula Continue from 1970 to 2017 Thai lotto result 01-07-2017

6 years ago
Reply to  Theo

I was going to say the same thing, tbh. ?

6 years ago
Reply to  Lashley


6 years ago

The new kitchen stools ARE perfect — so pretty and warm and cute! I’m skeptical of the whole concept of dining chairs with sides, since I hate feeling stuck in chairs, but they definitely look good in that room with that pretty table. : )

6 years ago

I love it. The new stools are definitely better, I’m sure it was a photos versus real life thing but the white was jarring, I’m glad you found such a perfect white/wood compromise. I do have a slightly unrelated question on cabinetry surrounding a fridge, if you have light uppers and dark lowers, which do you go with? I’m just now noticing you have knobs matching your uppers on your fridge cabinets so I’m guessing go with the uppers? We have dark navy lowers and white uppers, the fridge surround is our last spot to finish and I’m stumped.

6 years ago

Looking good and can’t wait for the reveal! The chairs and stools are definitely better than the old ones. I would be interested to hear more on why the Target cabinet is better than the antique one. Was it mostly a size thing, or did you like the finish better also?

I am so on board with your new comfort meets style mantra. That is exactly what I want for my house.

Katy DeBardelaben
6 years ago

Everything in this house is turning out so very lovely. Between this room and the patio, you can tell that this is truly your forever home. The design process is taking time and I like that you are sharing that process with us because it shows that sometimes you truly need to live in the space for a bit to really get the design just right for the long haul. I loved your last house too, but this house has soul. Congrats, its beautiful.

6 years ago

I think it is coming together very nicely!! I think the table/chair combo looks great, and both cabinet options really add something to the room. I need to see a shot of the dining area with the stools to see how it all works together. I would have never chosen your pendant due to all of the pleated lampshades my mom had in the 80s and 90s, but it really does look nice!

Lizabeth Sanchez
6 years ago

I think that you are so good at what you do!! Who cares what everyone else thinks.
Does it really matter??
Continue to go with your gut and what you like. That’s what I say!!! You are the talent here, and not necessarily those of us who enjoy learning from you!!!

Kim B.
6 years ago

Is it just me or do the chairs look like they sit really far under the table?