Those familiar with Emily Henderson’s designs will recognize her signature style. The details might change—light woods in one home, dark in another; nickel finishes here, brass there—but they always seem to capture a joie de vivre that is bright, warm, fresh, inviting and unassumingly elegant. But then, just when you think you’ve got Emily pegged, she turns out something like this—a dark, luxurious and dramatic guest bathroom in her mountain house.
While many of the room’s elements bear her trademark style, it’s the dominant feature—reclaimed wood plank walls stained a pure, luminous black—that marks her detour into moody, mysterious territory. Emily chose a rich black stain instead of paint because of the way stain seeps into the wood grain instead of coating the surface, which accentuates the grain pattern’s depth and character. Set against this raven backdrop, the whites, golds and greens of the rest of the room take on an opulent and indulgent quality we don’t normally find in her designs.
But this stunner of a room is more than surface deep. Thoughtful functionality abounds throughout, reflecting Emily’s goal of making the space accessible for anyone and everyone who might find themselves as an overnight guest. She opted for a bath to accommodate children, and after trying out a variety of baths at the KOHLER® Experience Center, she selected one with ergonomic lumbar support and a deep bathing depth that any of her grown-up guests will also surely appreciate.
The bath/shower trim includes a versatile handshower that can be raised and lowered or removed from its base to help with rinsing off kids or pets. Emily also used the same wood found on the walls for the bath apron, but noted that it needed to be sealed and recessed under a stone lip so that water doesn’t splash directly onto it from the bath.
The vanity offers storage enough for an overnight stay and more, and it includes interior power outlets for hair dryers, toothbrushes and any other electric devices. Above deck, Emily chose a wall-mount faucet and undermount sink (her personal favorite combination) for its abundance of counter space and ease of cleaning. Low maintenance practicality also informed her toilet selection, which features ContinuousClean technology to help keep the bowl cleaner longer and a skirted trapway with fewer nooks and crannies to scrub.
For all the care put into creating a highly functional space, it’s no surprise that an equal amount of effort was spent on aesthetics. Emily describes the handmade shower surround tiles as having “that perfect amount of shakiness that looks like it’s handmade without it being really wobbly.” For the floor, she found a single, solid piece of marble and had it cut into 12” x 12” tiles so that the veining pattern would line up perfectly.
Warming the coolness of the whites and moodiness of the blacks are the gold-finished faucets and trim, and the light-toned wood mirror frames. The deep, radiant hues of the finishes enhance the luxury and drama of the space, while the whimsical mirrors balance the scene with a playful trompe l’oeil in which the wood frames appear to be cradling and gently yielding to the weight of the round mirrors.
Leaving no detail unattended, Emily even updated the window during the remodel. The room’s original window was lower on the wall and narrower. To increase the room’s privacy while also maximizing the natural light—an important goal given the dark walls—Emily had the window raised and widened, no longer requiring a window treatment for privacy. Taking advantage of all that added light and bringing a hint of nature indoors are the vibrant green plants, adding an accent color to complete the room.
The result of all these subtle and bold touches is a coherent vision of luxurious minimalism that’s at once daringly modern yet warm and welcoming. It seems that even when she’s out of her comfort zone, Emily Henderson knows how to keep her guests in theirs.
Photography by: Sara Tramp