If you check out the blog on a regular basis, then you know about our new series #MakeoverTakeover. It’s where we, the team at EHD, let you sneak a peek through the keyhole at all the trials and tribulations of decorating OUR OWN HOMES. The pressure is on! Cue me, Ginny Macdonald: Interior designer, Anglophile, and puppy whisperer. . .
For those of you who know of me, but don’t know me, in brief: I moved from London to LA in November 2012 to start a new adventure with my main man Patrick (or PC, as I often call him), an actor/writer and lover of all things Irish (and British, so it seems), and our two dogs, Bubba and Theo (or Ma-fweeeedo, as I like to call him). I come from a retail interior design background, and started working with Emily on The Fig House just a few short months after moving here.
Until a year ago, PC and I were sharing a house with a dear, dear friend. But after two years (and wanting a kitchen of my own), it was time for us to get the heck out of there and start fresh. Which meant I could start decorating! This month marks the three year anniversary of my arrival in the U.S., and the one year anniversary of PC and I moving into our first (and most current) home together.
When we were apartment hunting I wanted our new place to feel like something you’d find back home. The house I shared in London was a large Victorian terrace in Brixton (South London) with all original fixtures: high ceilings, detailed cornicing and fireplaces in every room. Pretty standard features in London (an aesthetic I miss terribly), and although we decided on a 1930s Spanish duplex, it still has some of that old-fashioned charm that feels, to me, a little bit like home.
Funny sidebar story: Unbeknownst to us at the time, the previous tenants happened to be one of Brady’s best friends. We found out a few weeks after signing our lease. Small world indeed! They’d painted the living room and dining area a very dark grey (which I actually loved, especially because it highlighted the white cornicing and fireplace). I toyed with the idea of keeping it, but decided that painting the apartment white throughout would give me the neutral, fresh-start canvas I was craving.
I’m interested to hear what you think, whether you would have kept the grey or painted it white (or an entirely different colour altogether?)
What I love most is the amount of natural light we get from the large window on the front-facing wall. And even though it’s faux, I do love the detailed fireplace and the cute, built-in bookcase cubbies. The flooring is neutral too, and light in colour, which I prefer to darker-toned floors.
When I moved to the U.S. I literally came with four suitcases and nine boxes (shipped on those slow moving freight boats) that mainly consisted of clothes, books, and small accessories. And, stupidly, a Marks & Spencer’s all-season duvet insert, because you can’t buy duvet inserts anywhere in America!!! (of course I am kidding – but I couldn’t leave that sucker back home) One of the main differences of renting in England to renting here is that most places come furnished, so all you have to do is show up with your PJ’s, toothbrush, M&S duvet, and ’Bob’s your uncle‘.
When I came here our home had been furnished by PC and, well, for all his talents, let’s just say that his aesthetic was. . . masculine. As evidence, check out the sofa sectional above. I will say though, that the piece was super comfortable. It just wasn’t quite my cup of tea. So, the sofa was the first thing on our list of ‘in need of replacing.’
Next up, I bought the wingback chair and ottoman from an antiques mall in Pasadena, which I love, and the Target pouf (which the dogs LOVE to snuggle on). We also put up some dreadful temporary curtains because PC fell into a frightful panic of not leaving the inside of our home exposed while we were away for the Holidays. Is that a guy thing ? (Sorry PC, called out!)
Now, there’s nothing I love more than designing for a client, and since working with Emily I’ve had (and currently have) the sweetest clients on the planet. But when it comes to designing FOR MYSELF, I am, quite literally, my own nightmare client. PC will tell you. I buy things constantly and return them as quickly as they arrived. My preferences change as often as my socks. It might come down to the fact that I have an impulsive shopping habit (even that’s an understatement) and spending money on things for the home helps fill my soul. I’m working on it, I swear. When we moved, I made it my mission to have my house featured somewhere, a chance for me to showcase my eye for design.
I’m not naturally a very “showy” person, and the idea of putting out the work I’ve done on MY OWN HOME is still daunting. But when Emily suggested Makeover Takeover, I knew this was a great ‘kick-up the backside’ to get the apartment finished and featured!
When I started to pull my pinboards together, a certain theme began to reveal itself. Like a complicated math formula, the visuals boiled down to a canvas of whites, greys, and blacks. Linen, wood, and leather. And, it should probably go without saying, that I LOVE blue. Believe me, it’s not a prerequisite at EHD to love blue (but it helps!). I’ve just always, and will always, have a place in my heart for blue.
My eye is attracted to natural things, so I tend to like simple, organic materials like linens and woods. I’m an Earth sign after all, so I’m best suited for calming tones, serenity, and homeliness. There’s the flip-side of me too, where I love a wild, floral Liberty print (but I think that’s my English roots talking). I also have a rather strange magnetic attraction to all things coastal. I love stripes and have a growing collection (and obsession) with painted seascapes. Then there’s the country cottage look which I’m drawn to, and somewhere inside of me is a “shabby-chic” freak longing to be set free. And, lastly, Scandinavian that bodes white oak and clean lines, which gets me giddy every time. It’s like if that adorable kid’s movie Inside Out was governed by a cluster of interior styles, my head would be all over the shop!
Funnily enough, I recently took the quiz in Emily’s Style Book and got Scandinavian (if I said yes to liking clean lines), and Zen (if I said yes to decorative edges). No Granny-chic floral to be seen!
So, new-found friends – I encourage you to join me on my journey to finding out what my style really is, what it says about me, and whether Scandinavian/Zen is what I was able to achieve as the makeover unfolds. Join me next time as I delve into choosing the right sofa for the space and how I configured the layout of our living room! Starting fresh, how exciting!
Love Ginny xXx
You can see the beginning of Brady’s living room redo here and Sara’s bedroom here.
I loved the dark gray, especially against the moldings. However, based on your inspiration, I can see why you went white. I love the inspiration pins. That’s how I always think I want my house to look, but then I realize that my inner toddler demands bright colors to be happy.
I love the grey also, but you’re the one actually IN the room and can best judge what you need. Can’t wait to see how your process goes.
Great post, Ginny! I agree– painting white was a great decision, emphasizes that fantastic LA light. I can so relate to your love of many different styles– honing in on my own style has proven very difficult as I seem to love all styles! (or maybe I’m just such a restless spirit, it changes VERY OFTEN. It’s like trying to hit a moving target!) Anyway, I’m intrigued to see what you do and how you narrow it all down to your own style. 🙂
Yeah for me the white washes all the beautiful details out which is so sad. Though, knowing me I might choose a color. But for now I loved the grey.
I really like your “voice”, will enjoy hearing more.
I’m a designer too and doing my own place is crazy. Definitely relate to buying and returning and home shopping for the soul!
Can’t wait to see what you do with this room, love the inspiration!!
Sidenote: The style quiz in Emily’s book seems off to me, I feel like I’m doing the math wrong because I get styles that I really don’t like. How do you score the second portion of it?
Yes! I got confused as well, until I figured out that you answer EITHER questions 1 – 10, OR questions 11-20…at least I think that’s right? When I answered all 20 questions, I ended up with a high score, and a style that is not me at all!! Hope that helps!
I agree, I think you answer only one set of questions to get the correct result (could have been clearer though).
I agree. When i took it i got bohemian… which I dont think is me at all. I was hoping for Scandanavian. haha.
I did only one set of questions but the answer still seemed way off. I went back and double checked and it’s impossible to get “traditional” the way the scoring for the second part is explained.
adoro seu blog – Rosicler – Brasil
Great post! I love your writing, Ginny!
Thank you Lauren 🙂
Can’t wait to see the progress! I am also guilty of the buy a variety of home items, see which works best, and return. It’s not the most efficient, but it seems to get the job done.
“My preferences change as often as my socks.”
Yes. This. I know this statement all too well. I also know many other statements you made too…Liberty, Cottage, Scandinavian and Shabby Chic freak. Oh my! Looking forward to your living room results and more of your writing Ginny!
Nailed it Ginny! Love your style! xoxo
I love a wall with a lot of molding and detail that’s totally white washed. It gives you that fresh, clean back drop to work from, but it also has some texture and soul. I can’t wait to see what you do, Ginny!
You did an amazing job! I’m always so impressed with the things you pull together! Please help us do our living room in the spring after we buy our new house!
Yes yes yes – email us and we’ll help you out!!
Ohh, the molding details in that room are beautiful! The grey did look nice, but I totally understand why you went white. I very well may have done the same.
Can’t wait to see more!
Oh I love gray walls, but I think that a lighter shade would’ve worked highlighting the architectural features as well as bouncing natural light. White is a great start, and there’s always time to change them in the future!
I am VERY excited to see how this unfolds! It makes me feel LOADS better than even interior designers start with not the sexiest couch in the world, and have to work their way up to great pieces. Also excited to see how you manage your evolving/ all over the place style because that is something I struggle with as well! Would love if you would delve into that a bit because my strategy of every “big purchase” being neutral(ish) – (i.e. rug/sofa etc) with pops of pattern/color around ‘so they can be interchangeable’ is falling a bit flat.
Can’t wait to see what you do with it – and holler if you need any hardware 🙂
Love the white paint.
You should write more often. Like reading your post and your thoughts. Also vote for white and your mood board. Have done my own living room in similar style.
Love the look and inspiration you provide.
1. The dark gray looked so cozy, and the contrast was really nice. But, all your Pinspiration shots have white walls, so it looks like you made a great choice for you!
2. I almost guffawed when reading about your temporary curtains. I think it is a guy thing. Our temporary curtains involved using masking tape to adhere an old Christmas tree skirt to the window. Classy.
3. Am I the only one thinking “ScandinaviZen” might be about to happen? 🙂 Can’t wait to see your process and results!
YESS. I totally understand the M&S duvet. They are better there. I spent a year studying in England and I brought mine home with me in a duffle bag.
Haaaa glad it’s not just me !
Love this series, so much fun to see the whole process and good to get to know the team too, really enjoying it!
We have really similar taste, based on the inspiration photos you showed here, so I’m excited to see the final result!
Your style of granny-chic souns a lot like me and I can’t wait to see where you go with this room! I also agree with the other commenters who say you have a great writing voice/style.
I liked the grey. The moldings, which are great, were highlighted against the grey, as was the fireplace. But looking at your Pinterest pins, white is the route to go. Did you ever consider painting just the fireplace as a focal point?
Yes I totally did consider painting the fireplace – I contemplated black which sounds harsh but could work, I just don’t think I could live with it like that. Maybe I’ll do it for a shoot one day, Halloween 2016 🙂
As a fellow British ex-pat, I thoroughly enjoyed reading your takeover. Cant wait to see the finished result!
Yay! So excited to see this post from you! You and Emily sound like a great match. I really look forward to seeing more of your room – you always seem to be dressed so classy, and I imagine your design style is similar!
I recently got my EH book and took the Styled design quiz. One thing I was thinking as I went through it was ‘I would love to see Emily’s staff take this diagnostic and tell us the results’, so I was thrilled to see you do just that! I did the quiz both ways too, because I don’t strictly like clean lines or decorative edges, but a little bit of both. My style tends to be extremely subjective to circumstances. 🙂
Thanks for being such a fabulous ‘right hand gal’ for Emily!
Paint it grey, doesn’t have to be dark, you can pick a neutral grey but please DON’T do white because some color on the walls will make your cornices and fireplace pop (like you’ve said). White will make those beautiful features get lost!
Bluish grey can work too, like the colors in your mood board. Colors with muted tones works great with the earthy vibe you’re going for!
Can’t wait for reveal. 🙂
Can’t wait to see the new sofa, congrats on your new place!
Looks cozy and natural. Love it!
I absolutely love your new crisp white canvas! It will really showcase all of the beautiful textures you put into your space. I’m so excited to follow your design journey and can’t wait to see what’s next!
Nice to meet you Ginny, and excited to see the makeover! I’m trying to read this post in a British accent so I can imagine you properly 🙂
Haha love this!
Too funny Ginny! I totally love all of your inspiration pictures (to the point that tons of them are also on my boards) and then I saw your quiz results. There must really be something to that quiz, because I got the same results as you, despite the fact that I never considered myself very ‘zen’ and wouldn’t really say that the shared pics are zen. That Emily is really on to something with that style quiz…
Lucky you..love the charm of this 1930s duplex (that’s pretty much considered historic in l.a.) I always imagine the Hollywood starlets & other creatives living in these back then so it has that kind of romantic, magical feel to me when I see these homes. I’m not big on lots of gray & that was especially dark so I think It was a good choice to paint over that. Yeah, I have too many styles I love..English cottage, granny chic, mid century modern, farmhouse, etc. so I don’t know what I’d be called.
The apartment has great bones and your inspiration board is, well, inspiring. 🙂 I can’t wait to see it as it unfolds.
Love the white! What color is it?
Never mind the paint, I’m shopping for an English roll arm chair like yours and I want to know where you sourced it, please! PB and RH come to mind… But maybe yours is different ?
And thank you 🙂