Emily Henderson Crowdsourced Her Kitchen Renovation

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Would you let strangers design your kitchen? Emily Henderson’s answer to that is a resounding yes. The designer’s stunning kitchen has a secret: Almost every part of it was influenced by her blog’s readers. Through feedback, comments, and her I Design, You Decide voting series, Henderson included their input every step of the way—even if she was initially a bit hesitant to see what the results would bring.

“The biggest initial surprise was that the readers chose a black and white design,” she says. “It wasn’t a very Emily Henderson design, so I was pumped but also terrified, because I wanted this house to push me out of my comfort zone designwise.” Slowly, over the course of a year, the room came together. It puts natural wood at the forefront, lending a calming, almost Scandinavian feel to the sunny space. But it’s definitely not one-note: Edgier details, like the cool matte black island and sculptural light fixture by Katy Skelton, bring dimension to the kitchen.

“It seems insane now, but I was very hesitant about going wood-on-wood-on wood,” reveals Henderson. “I was obviously wrong to question the choice, because it nearly takes my breath away every time I walk into the room.” From the natural look and beyond, here are three tips we’re stealing from the gorgeous kitchen transformation.

Go Au Naturel

Photography by Sara Tramp; Design by Emily Henderson

The first thing anyone will undoubtedly notice when they step into the space is the reclaimed wood. The designer worked with Los Angeles–based Ross Alan Reclaimed Lumber to achieve this pared-back look, and when taken in the context of an industry that tends to favor glossy, colorful finishes over something so simple, the cabinetry looks especially statement making. 

If you have the option to start from scratch, consider opting for a slightly undone look. You don’t even have to sacrifice boldness; note Henderson’s kitchen island, which is coated in a deep black hue but still captures the pared-back vibe thanks to its matte finish. 

Make Your Sink a Centerpiece

Sink and Faucet Design by Kohler Photography by Sara Tramp; Design by Emily Henderson

With an eye-catching golden faucet and a chic farmhouse aesthetic, the sink is more than just utilitarian. Per Henderson, putting it in the middle of the room instead of off in a corner also has an unexpectedly positive effect on her productivity: The dishes are always done. 

“I’m always standing there waiting for my soup to cook, talking to whatever guests are sitting on the stools, so I keep the kitchen clean all day,” explains the designer. “Whereas if it were along the window wall, I would put it off because I wouldn’t be able to talk and do the dishes at the same time.”

Consider a Rug

Window and Door Design by Marvin Photography by Sara Tramp; Design by Emily Henderson

It’s a divisive trend, but kitchen rugs are a great way to bring character and a bit of warmth into the space—particularly if you’ve gone with a wood-heavy vibe, as Henderson did. In her kitchen, a simple striped carpet bridges the floor between the island and the sink, adding layered texture without detracting from the overall style of the room. When considering one for your own home, be sure to opt for something machine washable—after all, this is the kitchen and messes are bound to happen. 

Tan Esse Leather Stool


Edgecliff Pull


Ellis Light

Katy Skelton

Torslev Rug


See other kitchen transformations we love: Bri Emery’s Stunning New Kitchen Features the Most Genius IKEA Hack Inside a Blue-Tiled Dream Kitchen Built From Scratch A Wow-Worthy Kitchen Transformation Plays Up Unexpected Color

Elly Leavitt

Writer and Editor

Elly enjoys covering anything from travel to funky design (tubular furniture, anyone?) to the latest cultural trend. Her dream apartment would exist on the Upper West Side and include a plethora of mismatched antique chairs, ceramic vessels, and floor-to-ceiling bookcases—essential to her goal of becoming a poor man’s Nora Ephron. You can probably find her in line at Trader Joe’s. You will never find her at SoulCycle.