For anyone who’s ever wondered if traditional and modern styles can co-habitate in harmony, let us introduce you to McGrath II. The New York-based design firm, headed by the mother-daughter design duo of Suzanne and Lauren McGrath, specializes in creating serene spaces that masterfully blend classic and contemporary design elements. The result? Beyond-inviting spaces that beckon us to unwind, and—above all—stay awhile.
Since publishing their little black book guide to furniture, Good Bones, Great Pieces, in 2012, Suzanne and Lauren have been in overdrive, cranking out covetable interiors and fluffing their respective nests. Now, as they head into their next book project, they’re taking a moment to answer our most pressing design questions. From the power of asymmetry (yes, you read that right!) to the secrets behind their enviable pattern mixes (!), get the best of McGrath II’s swear-by tricks.
What’s your favorite thing that you’re selling in the Chairish sale?
The pair of Swedish painted cabinets are our favorite. They are such statement pieces in a room, and can display collections beautifully.
Favorite thing about designing with vintage pieces:
We always try to insert at least one unexpected piece of furniture in a room. Vintage items add character and charm, and these are the items that make room more interesting.
Favorite way to add drama to a room:
Color is by far our favorite way to add drama to room. We like to paint the ceiling a different color from the walls of the rooms we decorate, and often it’s an unexpected pairing, like the cantaloupe melon-colored ceiling we painted in a blue-paneled bathroom we decorated recently.
Favorite source for design inspiration:
Travel is the best inspiration, and that can mean to far away places as well as in our own backyard. Tag sales, bike rides, and long walks in towns we visit often are drivers for good ideas. We’ve been known to visit houses for sale on weekends just to have a look inside and see how other homes have been brought to life.
Favorite paint color:
Acadia White. It’s our go-to white. We also love Covington Gray. It’s a soothing light gray color that is a perfect pairing with carrara marble countertops.
Favorite pattern (and how you love to use):
We’re interested in the challenge of mixing patterns, not just in terms of florals and geometrics, but also scale. Getting this mix right is one our favorite aspects of the design.
Favorite design rule to break:
Break this rule: Pairs for symmetry prevail. We think odd numbers are always better than pairs. And, don’t be matchy match with pillows!
Favorite color combo:
Green and Blue. It’s classic but somewhat unexpected.
Favorite way to mix high and low:
Artwork by emerging artists and photographers with vintage carpets.
Favorite way to work a bit of vintage into a room:
We almost always purchase side tables that are vintage. The mix of a vintage side table beside a newly upholstered sofa or headboard is classically beautiful.
Favorite local flea market/vintage hunting ground:
Black Rock Antiques in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
Favorite International city to shop in?
Paris. Hands down.
Do you have a favorite trend that you’re loving?
We’re loving the trend of including Indian textiles with unexpected colors and fanciful historic floral patterns on window treatments and upholstery in rooms.
All photos by Lucas Allen, courtesy of McGrath II.