Designer Emily Henderson's kitchen strikes the perfect balance between stunning and functional – these are her favorite features

Interior designer Emily Henderson's kitchen is the bright and airy redesign of our dreams, and these are the features that she can't get enough of

Three photos of Emily Henderson's blue kitchen
(Image credit: Kaitlin Green / Emily Henderson Design)

A kitchen's design scheme should be light, airy, and welcoming to all, and this culinary space accomplishes all three. Interior designer Emily Henderson's denim blue and sun-bathed kitchen redesign wrapped up a couple years back, but the style is still serving her family's daily needs. 

Emily just took to Instagram to share the parts of her kitchen decor that still have her smiling. From gorgeous custom cabinetry to expansive skylights, this space truly has it all – and it's hard to narrow down a list of favorite features. Here are Emily's top eight favorites, and what makes them so timeless.

Emily's favorite kitchen features

Emily's kitchen is a treasure trove of clever storage solutions and sleek design decisions, perfectly toeing the line between eye-catching and functional. Here are eight features she loves.

1. The antique kitchen island

An antique kitchen island made of wood.

(Image credit: Kaitlin Green / Emily Henderson Design)

The kitchen countertops consist of a low-vein white marble, but the kitchen island
doesn't match. Instead, Emily – along with the design team at ARCIFORM, which helped with the renovation – opted for an oversized antique cabinet. The piece is one-of-a-kind, and was stained and sealed by a professional before making itself at home in the kitchen.

'There’s this amazing vintage and salvage shop I love south of Portland called Aurora Mills and the owner Britney knew I was looking for a large island and send me a photo of this one. It was an immediate yes and I’m so glad because it’s awesome,' says Emily.

She adds that the family 'uses it hard' and it's still durable enough to last. While staining, the wood expert also added an overhang to the island to make room for bar stools, a detail that blends in beautifully with the original design.

2. The dishwasher's convenient location

A blue tile kitchen with windows, a sink, and wooden cabinetry

(Image credit: Kaitlin Green / Emily Henderson Design)

Another of Emily's favorite features is the conveniently placed dishwasher. When designing this kitchen, function was clearly front of mind for the designer, as she decided to place her dishwasher just beside the cabinet where her family stores daily-use plates and bowls. That way, when it comes time to unload the dishwasher, the process is streamlined and simple. And even better that the dishwasher is disguised in custom-built cabinetry, nestled unassumingly to the left of the sink, pictured above.

3. The light blue tiles from Pratt + Larson

A kitchen with wooden cabinets and blue tile walls

(Image credit: Kaitlin Green / Emily Henderson Design)

The kitchen color scheme truly steals the show, and the denim-blue tiles from Pratt + Larson take center stage. Emily says it's no secret she loves the color blue – 'it's practically my brand at this point,' she adds. And when deciding on a specific shade for the kitchen's backsplash and wall finish, she wanted to make things personal.

'Initially, for the tiles, I brought in my favorite pair of jeans to Pratt + Larson in hopes of color-matching them. But since their color selection was so vast, they already had a nearly identical color,' she says.

When it came to matching the rest of the kitchen color scheme with this gorgeous blue hue, Emily says it 'wasn't ever an issue.'

'Blue, wood, and brass always look together so everything felt very natural visually. And since the kitchen is open to the living room, that’s really where other tones of blue were incorporated and flowed perfectly together,' she says.

4. The custom, soft-close cabinetry

An at-home bar setup with wooden cabinets and a window

(Image credit: Kaitlin Green / Emily Henderson Design)

Another favorite of Emily's is the full collection of custom-made, soft-close cabinetry from Unique Kitchens and Baths. The function-forward drawers never slam, shutting softly even when the kitchen is at peak use. The cabinetry was also carried over into the home bar design, which is another of Emily's favorite features of the kitchen.

'Our family loves lots of beverages and pebble ice so having a separate area dedicated to that was a no-brainer, but a luxury for sure. Plus, it was a perfect opportunity to get to style out all of my pretty glassware on the shelves which makes my eyes happy,' says Emily.

5. The panel-ready fridge and pebble ice maker

A large wood-paneled fridge in a kitchen, with a vase of flowers on the countertop.

(Image credit: Kaitlin Green / Emily Henderson Design)

On the topic of the ice maker, it made the list of favorite features alongside the panel-ready refrigerator. This gorgeous full-sized fridge is a welcome presence in the kitchen, appearing more like a bespoke pantry than a large appliance. The wooden appliance and built-in placement make this a design detail to aspire to.

6. The lofty skylights

A blue tiled kitchen with an island and skylights

(Image credit: Kaitlin Green / Emily Henderson Design)

Skylights are a welcome addition to just about any space, and they shine in Emily's kitchen, adding height and light to the already airy area. Perfectly illuminating the countertops and kitchen island, natural lighting makes the room even more functional than before. It's easy to see why they make the list of Emily's favorites.

7. The cleverly placed cooking utensil drawer

A kitchen with white countertops, blue tile backsplash, and a bench in the corner

(Image credit: Kaitlin Green / Emily Henderson Design)

Emily took the functional aspects of the kitchen one step further by integrating a cooking utensil-specific drawer into the cabinetry. Fit into the lower level of cabinetry, the drawer pulls out to reveal three compartments, perfectly suited in size to store kitchen utensils like spoons and spatulas.

'I am a function-first designer, especially after having kids. Those guys really made you rethink everything. I am big on planning out what goes into each drawer and cupboard. But in terms of aesthetic, I was lucky that I didn’t really have to compromise,' says Emily.

8. The sleek storage ledge

A kitchen with light blue backsplash and white countertops

(Image credit: Kaitlin Green / Emily Henderson Design)

The last item on Emily's list of favorites is a small yet stunning detail – a storage ledge, tucked away in a corner and lined with an eye-catching gold railing. Mirroring the design of the kitchen's bar area, this small storage solution is a genius hack for stowing salt and pepper shakers, as well as personalized decor details.

'I love a beautiful oil cruet, special salt and pepper grinders, small and fun pieces of art, and even a small table lamp. Having decor pieces like these is what makes your kitchen unique to you,' says Emily.

Emily's kitchen offers a wealth of design inspiration, from its color scheme to its clever storage implements. We asked Emily if she could choose just one element of her kitchen to top the list – this was her response.

'That’s too hard. I really don’t think I could pick a favorite element because so much went into each and every design element decision. Let’s just say I feel so unbelievably lucky I get to call it mine,' she says.

Abby Wilson
Interior Design News Editor

I am an Interior Design News Editor at Homes & Gardens. Most recently, I worked with Better Homes & Gardens, where I wrote and edited content about home decor, gardening tips, food news, and more. Before that, I studied Journalism and English Literature at New York University. I’ve moved around quite a bit in the last several years, most recently making the trip to London, and love transforming each new space into a comfortable retreat that feels like home. When it comes to decor, I’m most drawn to unique vintage finds and calming colors.