Would you let strangers design your kitchen?
Emily Henderson’s answer to that is a resounding yes. The designer just revealed her stunning kitchen, which is part of her ongoing (and highly anticipated) mountain house renovation. While fans of the designer’s signature effortless look will undoubtedly notice the style of her new kitchen first, there’s another element of the makeover that’s equally interesting: Almost every part of it was influenced by her readers.
Through feedback, comments, and an “I Design, You Decide” voting series, Henderson included reader input every step of the way—even if she herself was a little initially hesitant at the results.
“The biggest initial surprise was that the readers chose the black-and-white kitchen 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, design-wise.”
Slowly, over the course of a year and with help from a team, the kitchen came together. It puts natural wood at the forefront, lending a calming, almost Scandinavian feel to the sunny space. Yet 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, who questioned whether it was going to be too much of the same. “I was obviously wrong to question the choice because it nearly takes my breath away every time I walk into the room.”
Ahead are three styling tips to steal from Henderson’s gorgeous kitchen transformation.
Go au naturel
The first thing anyone will undoubtedly notice when they step into Henderson’s kitchen is the reclaimed wood. The designer worked with LA-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 unfinished look. You don’t even have to sacrifice color; look to Henderson’s kitchen island, which is coated in a deep black hue but still emulates the natural vibe thanks to the matte finish.
Make your sink a centerpiece
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 unexpectedly positive repercussions for 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,” Henderson explains of her island sink. “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
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 natural, wood-heavy vibe, as Henderson has.
In her kitchen, a simple striped rug bridges the floor between the island and the sink, adding a bit of layered texture without detracting from the overall simple style of the space. When considering a rug for your own kitchen, be sure to opt for something machine-washable—after all, this is the kitchen, and a mess is bound to happen.
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