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Our New Collab With Reclaimed Wood Company Ross Alan Just Might Save My Marriage



Brian and I were having one specific marital issue for almost a year that seemed unsolvable. I know in my post on Friday, I made it seem/sound like we have NO problems but obviously we do. This wasn’t about housework or finances or kids. It was the wood ceiling in the mountain house. Our adorable “debates” about it had turned into a legitimate consistent argument. But good news. That lovely couple up there on the left, Ross and Georgie, is helping to solve our marital woes. The joy that Brian and I share having that issue behind us is only matched by the gratefulness we have for this couple and their beautiful, wonderful, marriage-saving product.

The backstory: The wood on the ceiling was a dark orange/brown (see below), so we walnut blasted it and it was definitely better but it became so rustic that it was throwing off the entire vibe of our design.

The finished product is so busy and has so much texture and varying tones of pink and yellow. It just wasn’t my dream wood, or even close. Of course, we could stain it but in order to even it out, we would have to stain it dark which would make it look like the original ceiling. And of course I could work with it in another house, but at this point, the vibe of this house is more modern mountain, less rustic mountain.

You’ve seen all the bathroom fixtures—mixing in that amazing polished brass with this ceiling (even though they aren’t in the same room) was HARD. I started hinting that painting it white would be the easiest and cheapest solution. And Brian “Mountain Man” Henderson was NOT having that. If I could go back in time, I might consider making this house the rustic cabin that Brian dreamt of, but that pontoon has sailed.

Listen. We communicate well. We don’t really fight. But this, the tone of wood on unreachably high places, is apparently our Achilles heel. My handsome and typically reasonable husband of 12 years wanted wood on the ceiling, no matter what, even if it was the ugliest wood EVER, even if that wood was making my job so much harder and therefore my stress level so much higher.

Not to rehash the fight but for the record, I love wood, too as long as it looks beautiful. But yes, if we had to keep the same wood finish after the walnut blasting (check out that process here) then I wanted to paint it white so I could be proud of this project because I know how to design a white-ceilinged house. Refinishing it to be a tone that we would love is a fool’s errand, especially on scaffolding that high (see this post as to why). White washing was an option, but a scary, risky, expensive one. Besides, the extreme texture from the walnut blasting was going to be there no matter what (which I thought would actually look really pretty in all white). In the photos, it looked okay, but in person, everyone EXCEPT BRIAN said, “oh yeah, I see now. It looks bad.” Every time we brought it up, it would start out playful and jokey then slowly I found myself getting mad at his stubbornness and even when we thought we were over it, it would turn into an actual fight.

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What we both really wanted was to clad over it in a beautiful wood, but our contractor feared that it would cost $25k and we are so far over our budget that we had decided just to give it a year and not talk about it until we had lived there long enough to really experience the space. I would obviously do this with latent resentment—you know, the kind that is truly so great for a healthy marriage.

Until these two came along.

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And their shop full of beautiful reclaimed wood.

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Here’s how it went down. I found their info online, but the idea of typical “reclaimed wood” wasn’t what we were going for in the cabin because you guys (and myself) voted “refined” over “rustic”. What I didn’t realize is that you don’t always need to choose the rustic side of the wood where all the wear and tear is because once it’s re-sawn, it’s beautiful and fresh and still old and yet stunning. See?

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When I went in the first time, I was sold, partly on the wood, partly on them and partly on their story.

Here’s their deal:

Ross Alan is a LA-based reclaimed lumber company run by husband-and-wife team Ross and Georgie (that’s Georgie up there with me and that beautiful re-sawn wood) that specializes in wood from old Midwestern barns (barns that are already being torn down because they are unsafe). They turn the 200-year-old wood into flooring, cabinetry, beams, mantles, furniture and yes, it can even be used for ceilings of the mountain homes of crazy people. Basically, anything that wood can be made from, they customize.

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They are a true mom and pop company and I can’t say enough lovely things about them. Their wood has soul, it has a strong tight grain (it’s not tree farmed, it’s the real deal) and it’s perfectly imperfect.

Ross is a former actor (with a career path similar to Brian’s so they like to dish about that) and Georgie is a voice actor and still works a lot on animation series. A cute story about her is that she is the voice of Bear in Goldie & Bear, and the other day when Brian was showing me the video cut of them Charlie came over and said “Wait. That voice. I know that voice” and he was SO EXCITED when we told him that Georgie is Bear. His eyes grew HUGE and he was so excited. They had come over for a playdate with their three kids and some rosé a few weeks ago so our kids are even friends now. It’s just lovely.

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Emily Henderson Mountain House Ross Allan Reclaimed Wood701

Georgie and Ross met working at a cafe (thus such good customer service) as struggling actors and were roommates for years before they fell in love, hard. He realized that he would rather dumpster dive for wood and furniture than deal with auditions and thus his passion for reclaimed wood was born. They moved back to the Midwest, made contacts with barn demo vendors, then, four years ago, started their business in Burbank that is now booming.

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I went originally to talk about the cladding in the black guest bathroom, but as we chatted they were open to partnering up to clad our entire house in the wood. I was shaking with excitement when I told Brian. Giddy. My dreams—OUR DREAMS—were going to come true.

It’s a new form of commerce for the digital world and when it works, it WORKS. Over the course of the next year, we’ll be using Ross Alan wood in our projects and working with their team to create content for them and us (tons of videos from Brian, professional photo assets, social media, press, etc). We’ll get the ceiling, flooring and cabinets that we’ve always wanted, at a discount that we can actually afford.

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Emily Henderson Mountain House Ross Allan Reclaimed Wood18

They have a ton of different species—walnut, oak, beech, pine, and more—that can be applied both in the rustic form and re-sawn to be fresh and new like we are doing (but with such a pretty grain as it’s older non-tree farmed trees). The application can be as simple as a mantle or column, more custom like a bathroom vanity or rafters and collar ties, or as extensive as flooring (that they have milled for tongue-and-groove) and veneered for anything (like our cabinets).

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They sell their wood by the square foot (you can literally buy off the shelf) and price depends on the species, its availability and how it’s milled (again for flooring where it has to be tongue and grooved, it’s more expensive). Their custom furniture and slab tables are stunning, too, and they can truly make anything from cabinets to side tables.

They also make and sell a TON of floating shelving in standard sizes, and recently started selling their wall paneling online. This is sold in 20-square-foot bundles, is easy to install and can absolutely change the look of a place instantaneously.

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My favorite is the silver wood (“Lynx” they call it) on the top left, and I told them that they should even run it vertically. You can also stain this wood which has FAR more texture than new wood if you want more consistency in color (which is what we are doing in the guest bath).

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Emily Henderson Mountain House Ross Allan Reclaimed Wood58

This rustic stuff up there, when it’s re-sawn has SO MUCH character. It’s also more affordable than the wood flooring that we were looking at before joining forces with Ross Alan. Their milled beech flooring is $14 a square foot ($18 a square foot for walnut) and the wood that we were dreaming of but weren’t able to afford is $18 to $30 a square foot. So you are getting more character at less cost and conserving trees instead of producing. Being a reclaimed product (i.e. not engineered), you do have some limitations with length and width, but we are all good with that.

We plan on putting it on the ceiling, all the flooring and the kitchen cabinets (YAY!). If you think that is too much, then feast your eyes on these beauties:

Refined Reclaimed Wood Grid
clockwise from top left: image source | image source | image source | image source

It’s definitely a different look for a cabin, but it’s mountain-y in that Scandinavian way that I was always dreaming of. It’s going to be STUNNING.

Once Brian saw that he could have wood EVERYWHERE in the house and still remain married to me, he was as excited as I was and for the first time ever, he is doing a lot of the heavy lifting on this trade by doing a ton of video content for them. He gets to shoot lumber porn all day with them and he’s not upset about that at all.

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We are buzzing with excitement over here. Yes, it adds time and of course, it adds to the budget (we are getting a lovely press discount), but it’s going to be worth it.

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It’s funny what can really get to you. I guess for me I felt that he must not respect what I do and the time it takes to design a house to not compromise, even though, of course, that’s not the truth. The man was shockingly passionate about wood, and SO AM I, so I can’t tell you how happy we are to have a solution to this.

Here is a sneak peek on how it’s going to play out in the house (thank you Grace for these awesome renderings):

Emily Henderson Mountain House Ross Alan Collab Sneak Peek Grid 3

We’ll be documenting the whole thing, don’t worry.

Please spread the word about Ross Alan. As I said, it’s such a lovely small mom and pop company run by the nicest people ever who treat their employees like family and put so much love into each project they do. They’ve also been so kind and generous enough to offer EHD readers 10% off with code EMILYHENDERSON10.

We’re currently in the process of installing all of this beautiful wood in the next couple weeks (they’ve been busy in the master bedroom and bath this week), so stay tuned for some more process posts coming up.

For now, we put together this video to introduce you further to Ross, Georgie and their beautiful marriage-saving wood:

Fin Mark


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Love it all, but in particular, the kitchen cabinets. They fit in perfectly. Well done.


I can’t wait to see all that beautiful wood in your house, what a great collaboration!


THANKYOU, I love this post on a few levels. 1. A reminder….That even seemingly opposed sides, with a little patience and commitment can each get to an even better result than both individuals where originally thinking. Hooray 2. I love reclaimed old growth wood, once you have seen that full on character of tight growth, almost impossible to go back to insipid new growth that is being cut down prematurely. You are absolutely right, of course the top layer can be milled off, or use the other side for a more refined look, it still has the depth of grain… Read more »

Jennifer Gumbel

Is there an emoji for something you’ve had pictured in your head, crawling out and becoming real life? Because that happened.


Yes! Right? My dreams have come true.

Julie S

Oooh, I’m delighted that you were able to work out a tradesies deal with these folks and get so much lovely wood into the mountain house for barter! I’m still totally tuned in for every post on this place. I think I finally get how sour a note the pink and yellow spotted wood ceilings were. There was a shot in the upper staircase landing where I saw that the wood ceiling slope came right down to the floor – there’s no avoiding that at eye level unlike a vaulted ceiling far overhead that sort of blurs away from one’s… Read more »


We are too! Ross & Georgie are up at the house today working away on everything so we will be showing progress soon, I can’t wait to see it in person.


Yes, yes, yes!!!! Those renderings PERFECTLY capture the scandinavian cabin feel, and I’m SOOOOO glad you’re doing wood cabinetry in the kitchen!


This decision is really going to make the whole cabin design, isn’t it. Excellent. What a great find.


All the heart eyes.


I’m so excited for you that this worked out and for me that I’ll get to see it! Yay!!


I can’t help but be disappointed because readers overwhelmingly voted to “work with it”- not everyone can get sponsored by companies to produce their dream spaces, and it would have been incredibly helpful watching how you navigated this challenge. It seems now that all of your original content is “if I want, I get” which is very out of touch for everyone else.


But this is is a design blog by a famous designer. Not a DIY blog.


“Work with it” does not mean DIY. If a famous designer can’t make a few things work without demoing and replacing everything then there’s no point for the rest of us who don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars or the potential for sponsored partnerships. My last living room had warm yellow undertones in the wood and cool pink undertones in the brick. Did it make décor harder? Yes. But not impossible and I didn’t tear out or paint over anything to make it work. I was already feeling like home design had gone over the edge between creating comfortable… Read more »


We live a modest life and are very restricted by budget but, sometimes something drives you crazy design wise and no matter what you do around it you aren’t happy. Some things are worth saving up for or splurging. Not necessarily in the scale of Emily’s ceiling but most people have their own “ceiling ”
This blog is for design inspiration and I think it fulfills it’s purpose beautifully.


Well this is a large house, hence expensive. And she is a designer, thus she needs to make it up to her standard so that she can attach her name to it. I understand this. It would cost less in a small home. Also you can use $5-10/ sq ft wood if you can’t afford $18+. Finally you can search for a house that doesn’t have features that bother you. Or you can paint over wood or brick or tile if it is that ugly. Learned helplessness is ugly so is complacency. Sometimes it is important to quit, change, risk… Read more »


Seems to me that Joslyn demonstrated the opposite of learned helplessness and complacency in that she found a way to successfully overcome a decorating challenge created by difficult fixed elements. I believe that requires considerable decorating skill and resourcefulness, more so than starting from scratch. Strike that—I know it does. After building two custom homes, I am currently renovating a house built in 1969. The renovation is much more challenging than the new builds. We all get to decide where we spend our time. Perhaps Joslyn thought Emily and company would have some interest in knowing why she will spend… Read more »


I agree with you, Erica. It’s somewhat disappointing that we voted to “work with it” and now they’ll be throwing money at it, which is so out of touch with the rest of us. Also, how many of us can finagle a sponsored partnership in order to afford something? Kudos to them, but disappointing for those of us dealing in reality.


YAY. To all of it. The gorgeous ceilings. The beautiful floors. Especially the kitchen cabinets which will now be everything they were meant to be. Yay to small businesses and compromise and happy marriages that come through hard stuff stronger. I can’t wait to see this installed!

Vicki Williams

Oh My Gosh! It’s Emily’s blog, her life, her money, her house, her marriage! And Gee Whiz it seems to be working! If you don’t like it go somewhere else to get pretty pictures. Sorry my rant probably won’t get posted anyway. Have been following for years and don’t have any plans to stop until she does or I am under…. She writes the most interesting, insightful, informative interior design/personal blog I have seen out there and I am not even in her demographic. Well I am a designer but nearly 80. Nor is her personal evolving aesthetic necessarily the… Read more »


We have the same ceiling in the same locale spurring the SAME conflict! I’m so thankful for this resource!! Redoing the ceiling is just not in the budget now, but I will be filing away this information for the future.


This is extremely exciting, Emily and team! Not only will it look beautiful and rustic/refined, I love that it:

1) Is re-using wood and exposing people to this sustainable option that’s better for the earth.

2) Is supporting and highlighting a small business.

3) Brings Brian even more into the project with all the video content.

Win win!


Yes! I second what Courtney said, especially #1! I think it will look fantastic and definitely bring more refined Scandinavian vibes to the house.


Although to be fair, keeping the wood they already have is even more sustainable.

I don’t begrudge them getting what they want, and I’m actually really happy that this small company is going to get good publicity; however, if anyone knows of design blogs that actually address working with what you’ve got and fixing difficult issues without demoing, let me know. I’m not leaving here, but “replace everything you don’t like” is not an option for me, so I’d love to also follow a design blog that shows how to work with what you’ve got.


Re-using old wood is great, but working with the wood they already have would be even more sustainable. This is a design blog and I get that the point is to create beautiful spaces, but you don’t get points for being green when you are ripping out something that is in great condition just because it isn’t the color you like and you don’t want to paint it. I’m not saying they shouldn’t replace it; it’s their house and they can do what they want. I’m just saying let’s not pretend it’s the eco-conscious choice. More eco-conscious than new wood?… Read more »

Paulina Rodgers

hmmm.. looks cool, but did you save the wood you ripped out? .. if we are talking about recycling and ecco design.. maybe you used it on a fence or .. we are such a throw away society!


I haven’t been following the mountain house super closely, but WOW omg I am in love with this look!!! I’m so excited to see the finished product. Checked out the Ross Alan site and now I want everything thanks a lot. 😉


Wow – it’s going to be BEAUTIFUL and very very fitting to the mountain house motif.


This is exciting and I can’t wait to see the finished product. Good on Brian for holding out!!!! So much more interesting than white painted ceilings.

Paula Gooding

How are you using this as kitchen cabinet front – cladding??????


They took the wood and made it into a veneer so it’s as thin as possible and they are going to put it onto the cabinets, its going to look amazing!!! So excited!


Gosh, I love Marketing in 2018! I’m sure this will really help to grow their business (and help you out!!) Yay for small business partnership!

Paula Carr

Are Ross and Georgie the cutest couple EVAH? Well, after a certain other couple….


Yay!!! More wood!!!


awesome sauce.
Glad you found a solution that give you the look you both will love.


This seems like a great small business and I love their enthusiasm and yours, Emily, for reclaimed lumber. We at Montana Reclaimed Lumber, are also a small business, but we’ve been doing this for about 20 years so our collection has grown to millions and millions of board feet of reclaimed lumber. We ship all across North America and beyond! And we’re working on a new e-commerce site, coming soon… Thanks for reminding people that reclaimed doesn’t necessarily mean “rustic”–it can be quite refined and certainly add warmth and interest to the most modern of spaces. Check us out:


The end product will surely be beautiful and the Ross Allen folks seem adorable and wonderful. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention how saddened I am by this post and your continued reluctance to make things work in your quest for Pinterest perfection. I feel like the old Emily would be really disappointed by how wasteful it is to be recladding perfectly good ceilings that are already wood just to obtain the prettiest pictures rather than leveraging your ingenuity and creativity by making it work, and entertaining your readers in the process. There happens to be an advertisement banner… Read more »

Bethann G.

To everyone who is upset about this move and that she’s not “working with it”…this is what she does. She makes this “mistakes” and finds solutions so that she can tell the world about it…help us lessers avoid certain mistakes, or know what all of our options are. KEEP DOING WHAT YOU’RE DOING. Also, THANK YOU for putting the spotlight on what appears to be an absolutely adorable, hardworking couple who owns a local small business. Highlighting their work and the process that will follow is well worth (for them, at least) the changes to the house that others seem… Read more »


This is going to be so, so, so gorgeous and I can’t wait to see it all unfold. And agreed with another commenter…Ross & Georgie, you guys are the cutest and I can’t wait to meet you even more throughout Emily’s future posts!!


This is so exciting! Though my personal budget would likely never allow for something like this, I did kind of hope along the way that you’d find a solution to the ceilings. They weren’t bad, and I’m sure someone with your talent could have found a way to work with them, but YAY for finding a way to make YOUR HOUSE (not anyone else’s…relax people) your dream home.


Sure, it would’ve been great to have worked it out another way but I love that this is a win win win solution. I love white kitchens but the thought of all of that wood gets me much more excited about this project! I appreciate that it shows us what other remedies are out there and we can all check out local sources for reclaimed lumber and help out those small businesses too if it’s cost prohibitive to use Ross. Thanks again Emily for the honesty about this hot button topic between you and your honey.


I really appreciate everyone else’s comments actually, and just want to chime in that I totally feel BOTH (1) that I was disappointed not to see what a real designer could do to “work with it,” because I feel discouraged that I need to be able to drop more money to make my “wood ceiling imperfections” work, and (2) TOTALLY EXCITED that your house is going to be **most importantly** what YOU want — and the house I have been unconsciously wishing you’d design all along. Reading everyone else’s comments made me realize how I was hoping you could perform… Read more »


I love the renderings of what it is going to be! Such a great compromise of wood but “up to date” with style. I love it!


Nice article. I am all in favor of support a grass-roots company doing right things right.
I look forward to more postings, I’m be watching you.

anna maria

ok, this is completely unrelated to the wood, but the short sock + boot combo = LOVE


The renderings are always SO helpful. It’s cool to see what the vision is. What a great technical addition to this site.


That is really a great news. The Final product is really good. Thanks for sharing that.

Web site design

I’m so excited for you that this worked out and for me that I’ll get to see it! Yay!!

Suzanne Amos

I love all of this – the wood, the company but mostly the story! At the end of the day, we all know that whatever EH and Team produce will be beautiful. Your mountain fixer-upper will be stunning no matter what. But lifting others up along the way is wonderful.


Ah it is so beautiful! How wonderful!


Congratulations! I can’t wait to see the house finished and I just may be needing Ross Allen Lumber myself!!


I love all of the reclaimed wood. And the underlying story is just fantastic. Bravo!


Love the company
Love the concept
Happy for the marriage
Appalled at the waste

The existing wood ceilings have *too much texture* to be found acceptable??! So sad.


Hahahah for most of the article I was thinking “Looks like a great company but Emily, COME ON! Can’t you use the wood that’s already there??!?!?” Then you hit us with those inspiration pictures and I was like “YES come to mama!” I think there’s a lesson here about not settling when you know you’ll be unhappy. So, I appreciated this rollercoaster ride about wood that I experienced reading this post. Thank you for making me smile.

A. McNinja

YAS conservation, new friends, and lumber porn. Life doesn’t get much better! V excited for you guys!


I know you found a solution that you are super happy with (yay!), but I do want to mention that you have another option. I’m mentioning this in case someone else is looking for a super affordable option. You can bleach the wood! We have Douglas fir in our 116 year old house. This is old wood, brittle wood. But we left it in place, stripped it and then bleached it with wood bleach. It was easy and the results were great! Bleached, the wood was a light grayish, white color. Very pretty and as you pointed out Doug fir… Read more »


I *think* she did this on her living room beans and had mixed results.


This post is timely as we are trying to source wood for our house build. Quick question, are you wrapping the exiting beams with the beech wood? Are the existing beams fir? I think you may have mentioned it somewhere, but I can’t find it.


Please tell me they are demoing carefully in order to save so much useful wood!


This is exciting! When using reclaimed wood, will you be able to keep the same type of wood throughout the house? If not, will you keep the same wood type on all ceilings and the same type on all flooring for consistency? Do you have any tips about how to mix different types when supply on reclaimed wood is limited?

Also, most of the inspiration images look like birch, maple or pine. What types of barn wood are similar to the light color?


Love the post Emily. I am thinking of remodeling my home and would love to use reclaimed wood for flooring. But I live in the Washington DC area. Do you have any recommendations? I am thinking that getting the wood and shipping it across the country would be prohibitive? Any suggestions?

Ellen Ingraham

We just worked with a similar company ( out of Minnesota) on a custom mantel with iron straps. Also aweome service and products. Sent us photos of the whole process – from choosing the old barnwood to finished product.


I really felt for you when it seemed like you were going to have to ‘compromise’ your vision and the quality of the final project in order to ‘compromise’ with your husbands adamant opinion. I do not think i would have handled it with such grace (and I am not a professional designer using my project as part of my business!). So happy to hear you found a solution you are inspired by.


Ross Alan
beautiful marriage-saving wood

a marketing tagline waiting to be implemented

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