Celebs know it, fellow A-list designers know it, industry icons like Schumacher and Robert Abbey know it: there’s just something about Mary. Based out of L.A., Mary McDonald is as buzzed-about as interior designers come. Racking up not only top drawer projects, but roles in hit TV shows like Bravo’s Million Dollar Decorators, Mary is known for fashioning devastatingly chic rooms with a serious tah dah! factor. With a personality as exuberant as the rooms she creates (not to mention, a 10-out-of-10 eye for fusing modern sass with classic canon), it’s no wonder she’s been pegged both an industry and fan favorite. To go along with her recent collection of Chairish favorites, we asked Mary to hit us with her best design dos and don’ts. Ahead, Mary sounds off on everything from the power of patterned floors to the design-centric Instagram that always busts the blues.
What do you love about shopping on Chairish?
I can find things from every category as if I am shopping one of the vintage/antique collectives…
Is there any particular product category where Chairish is your go-to?Accessories… I end up buying things I never intended because so much new inventory crops up every day!
Three favorite items on Chairish:
A Pair of 1950s French Directoire-Style Carved X-Stretcher Upholstered Benches, 19th Century Directoire Painted Bookcase, 19th Century Grand Tour-Style Ancient Greek Urn Copy.
Favorite way to create a statement making moment in a room:
A patterned floor.
Favorite iconic piece of vintage design:
The Lalanne bird bed.
Design element that works in almost any space:
Favorite design cheap thrill:
Hand-painted ceramics from West Elm this year.
Favorite fabric or textile to use for upholstery:
Anything from my Schumacher line, of course.
Favorite paint color:
Benjamin Moore’s Pink Cloud.
Favorite type of wallpaper pattern:
Chinois Palais by Schumacher.
Favorite color palette:
I could never truly love one of anything, but today I will go with an old classic: any pastel and taupe-y browns…or bright yellow or pink with taupe-y, chocolate-y browns.
Designer from the past you most often turn to for inspiration:
Design book you most often turn to for inspiration:
David Hicks or Colefax and Fowler’s.
Design destination every decor lover should visit at least once:
Malmaison outside Paris, or the Royal Palace in Madrid.
Best piece of career advice you’ve ever received:
“Just keep going.” Not sure I always listened.
Favorite vacation destination:
Alec Baldwin’s Here’s The Thing. I love listening to how people rose up when they were just out there trying to make it like everyone else.
Favorite way to unwind at home:
Listening to John Barry tracks with a glass of wine and pouring over old design or fashion books.
Favorite Instagram account to follow:
I love so many fashion and interior accounts; I could never pick just one, BUT I love a laugh more than anything so @pleasehatethesethings might be my winner. It never disappoints when you need a chuckle.
Favorite home scent:
Manuel Canovas candles. Any of them. I worked for the famed antique dealer Joel Chen in my late twenties and he always had them burning; I have been hooked since.
Favorite thank you gift:
An earnest and thoughtful note.
Favorite style icon:
Could never choose just one! I am an icon hoarder; Dior, Chanel, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Francoise de la Renta, Carolyne Roehm. Actually, Carolyne is probably the most current, all-encompassing one in both interiors and fashion.
Favorite bit of life wisdom you’ve learned or received:
I am not sure I have….
The decor piece you cherish the most in your home and why:
A pair of antique marble French urns with dore bronze mounts of my grandmother’s, or this life-size 17th Century Spanish portrait of aristocracy of my mother’s. We are neither Spanish nor French, but the urns remind me of little girl dreams and my family, and the portrait was something my mother loved, so it reminds me of her.
Local Favorites: Los Angeles, CA
Giorgio Baldi down by the beach.
Favorite hotel to recommend to visiting friends:
I still think the Beverly Hills Hotel gives the most L.A./Hollywood bang for your buck. There is always the old school aspect to it, plus such rando star sightings that it’s sort of fun for an out-of-towner.
Favorite local culture hub:
Favorite local attraction:
MY garden. I like to stay home.
Favorite local flea market or vintage hunting ground:
We have quite a few. The Rose Bowl, Long Beach Flea Market, Santa Monica Flea Market and then there are these shows called Bustamante that have a bit of everything, from fashion to textiles. I sort of stopped going to all these as I cannot help myself buying things I don’t need, except for fashion. I love this shop on La Brea called Recess, so much so I don’t even want to tell anyone. I get so much great vintage jewelry there. We also have a vintage show called A Current Affair that has amazing things.
Lead photo by Jean Randazzo