Designer Spotlight: Emily Henderson

Emily Henderson, a professional stylist, designer, NYT best-selling author, and blogger, recently used Sunbrella fabrics to upgrade her mountain home’s upstairs deck. “My plan for this specific space was to create a little ‘outdoor parent’s retreat’ for me and my husband or when we have friends visit. It was the perfect area to be able to still see our kids play (since it’s above the backyard) but also have a little oasis where it could feel like we could have alone time. I also wanted a place outside to write because I LOVE being outside around trees. I’m a true Oregon lady at my core,” said Emily. 

 

 

Being family-friendly is an important factor to consider when beginning the design process: “I have two kids that have definitely changed the way I used to design and I now try to put function on the forefront. But with that said, I am VERY big on how I want my spaces to feel,” said Emily. “For me, that’s always completely comfortable, functional, and of course, beautiful. I love diving into design books and Pinterest to find photos that give me that feeling with the style I’m going for. Then I pick a color palette and start looking for pieces.” 
 
“I always start with how I want the space to feel. Head to books or the internet to find inspiration photos that give you that feeling and see what those photos have in common. Think about how you can implement that feeling in a way that’s functional and durable (for me, that meant going with an actual outdoor coffee table instead of a 1,000-pound stump that no one could haul up the stairs). After that, choose a color palette and go shopping, but leave some mental wiggle room to find those final ‘weird’ pieces that’ll really make your finished space sing.” 

 

 

Emily recommends approaching design for outdoor spaces in the same way that you would for indoor spaces: “I think comfortable seating with plush but durable fabric is a total must. I’m also big on lighting and plants because is there anything better than a nicely lit lush outdoor area? It really helps to create an awesome ambiance,” she said.  
 
Carrying on this approach, Emily recommends incorporating items like rugs and bar carts: “A rug not only makes the space cozier, but it helps to create a ‘zone’ for the area you are trying to design. I promise it helps. Then a bar cart can be used for anything - drink station, dessert area, storage, craft station.” 

 

 

Emily chose two of the Dog Days club chairs, sofa and Bumper small ottoman from Blu Dot to create her “zone:” “I love how the chairs and sofa were both modern but textured, creating a lot of visual warmth. I chose the darker fabric because it added a nice moody vibe that really helped to elevate the design, making it perfect for the ‘adult retreat’ feeling we wanted. Then to play around with the color palette, the gray ottoman was the perfect choice to have another seat, footrest, or little table,” she said. “The sofa is such a good size. It’s great for just me to swing my legs up and write but is also the perfect size for my husband and I to sit together comfortably when we are hanging out just the two of us.” 
 
The makeover has been a complete success. “I write up there all of the time which has been a total dream. My husband, Brian, and I have drinks or just hang out after the kids go to bed most nights. Then more recently, we’ve had friends come up to visit and it really is the perfect place to be able to parent (since we can see then from up above) but be able to have more privacy and talk about whatever we want.” 

 

 

Speaking of parenting, the Henderson family has benefitted from the easy-to-clean durability of Sunbrella fabrics: “I am so impressed with the furniture pieces (the fabric especially) with how easy it is to get out anything. I actually chose the darker color knowing we are not a ‘spill-free’ kind of family, but I honestly don’t think it would matter if it was a lighter color. The dogs also love lounging around up there but you’d never be able to tell - any muddy paw prints or white fur just wipes right off. They are just such great products,” she said. “An added plus that I couldn't have predicted with this sofa and chairs is that the squirrels can't rip them open and take out the stuffing for their nests, which they typically do to ALL of our other upholstered outdoor furniture. It was kinda adorable to see them stealing it last spring, but annoying. For whatever reason (likely the high quality material) they leave this set alone.” 
 
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