Jess here! Before Megan gets into the incredibly beautiful home she designed, I thought it would be fun to give a little back story to how we know each other:) Megan and I actually went to college together, studying theatre! Now years later, we’ve reconnected through design which is extremely cool and truly wild. She’s such a talented actor and as shown by this home (and her other designs – go to her Instagram to see what I mean) has built an awesome design career that’s full of fun, fresh, and boldly patterned spaces. A true creative. So when she reached out about featuring this project on the blog it was the easiest “yes”. Another easy “yes”? Wallpaper. If Caitlin didn’t convince you last week, she will. Take it away Megan:)
The road to building a career in interior design is much like any endeavor, at the bottom of the mountain you have no experience of the actual climb, the circumference is wide and varied and as a result, you will do anything and everything to start to make your way up. My first official solo client was in 2014, while I knew I had good style impulses and an “up for anything” attitude-I was so so so so very green-my greatest lessons along the way have not so much been in honing my skills (though I have of course improved), but rather in learning how to work with, talk to, and ultimately select clients. The thing about interior design that is so different than most other types of artists is that you aren’t selling a finished product, you are in a constant state of pitching ideas which is so counter to any sort of creative process. Imagine being a painter painting someone’s portrait, and before every brushstroke you take you are required to ask for feedback and ultimately permission before you put paint to paper. However, as time passes and steps are taken up the mountain the circumference becomes narrower and narrower, you learn what you love, what can’t work without and with that little by little you gain agency to work with clients who are in alignment. For me, all roads lead to pattern-any potential clients adverse to wallpaper need not apply.
I am what I like to refer to as a “person with a preference for cosmetic renovation”. Growing my career in NYC, it’s not as if I was ever in the position to rip down a prewar apartment building and start from the ground up. That coupled with the co-ops and building approval requirements galore, I got into the habit of creating spaces that had the most amount of impact with the least amount of invasive construction. I’m not sure which came first the chicken or the egg-but wall treatments, specifically pattern forward ones quickly became the heart of all of my work.
My client Sarah reached out to inquire about hiring me to help transform a recently purchased two-bedroom co-op built in 1960 (and not updated since), into a fresh and custom three-bedroom home for her family, which includes her husband and two young children. In the consultation phase, Sarah shared some images and thoughts on styles she admired, and right away I knew she was going to be a client who spoke my language and would be a privilege to work with. This project was entirely “from scratch” in that with the exception of one small side table there was nothing at all the family was bringing with them to their new home in terms of furniture and décor.
The entire residence was taken down to the studs, the bathrooms and kitchens were gutted, a third bedroom was created and from there we set upon the task of creating a custom home that not only fit the family functionally but was a fully realized comprehensive design where every room and space made a statement on its own but played nicely with the rest of the home.
This was the smallest room in the house that we created by walling off what was once a dining nook parallel to the kitchen. We wanted to create a soft whimsy pastoral vibe while not being thematic or juvenile. We opted for the illustration style floral wallpaper that allowed us to use big doses of unapologetic pink elsewhere in the room like the scalloped style velvet chair. I like this print a lot because of its versatility, at some point in the future their daughter might want to shift the look of the space, there are many ways this wallpaper could be built upon to entirely change up the design of the room without changing the walls themself. Throughout the home, we executed custom millwork to do double duty covering up the ever so common NYC HVAC units as well as providing some extra storage be that shelving or cabinetry.
THE KID ROOM
This room is probably my favorite in the home-I have been wanting to do an entirely aggressive plaid room my entire career and it finally came to pass here and now with this little boy. The large-scale blue plaid was one of my first suggestions for the space and Sarah was quick to confirm she was onboard. From there I layered in modern blue and yellow shapes and materials to create a light-hearted but super chic design. Favorite elements of the space include the quirky-cool blue pendant light and bright yellow one-piece desk chair, perfect for climbing all over and homework procrastination (or is that just me?).
THE PRIMARY BEDROOM
Very in line with our overall philosophy for this project, the requirements for this room were not boring, but ultra-luxe and relaxing. I’m a blue woman through and through and as such reserved my favorite pale blue hues for this room. We wrapped the walls in a surprising and abstract blue pattern grasscloth, textured natural fiber papers are an absolute must in my opinion when it comes to crafting a sanctuary-style bedroom. The wall treatment absorbs sound, so the space literally feels different when you step foot inside. We opted to paint our millwork in a blue to match and topped off the room with a custom size area rug so as to continue in the work of dampening any opportunity for unwanted sounds bouncing off the floor or walls.
THE PRIMARY BATH
In opposition to the community bath, the goal with this bathroom design was to create as clean and open a space as possible. Per NYC living we didn’t have an endless amount of square footage in this bathroom, so my goal was to stitch together a monochromatic design that created a sort of soft grey haze across the space without any jarring design decisions halting you in your tracks. It was imperative however to weave in a certain amount of variation through shape. So while we stuck to a consistent Carrara marble throughout, we played we shape, pattern, and scale in pairing herringbone, large and small square tiles, and decorative baseboard and pencil trim tile all together so as to have a thoughtful amount of variety within a singular highly consistent design.
We all know how the saying goes, “the foyer is the first impression of one’s home-it sets the tone”. I like to think of the foyer as being a sort of magical pass-through from the outside in where you are hit with a splash of something special all on its own. As I mentioned previously which wall patterns we intended to use and where were initial and core to the thought processes in the design of this home. In the end, we went big in the foyer selecting a graphic metallic brushstroke pattern from Schumacher. The paper was certainly a splurge, but using it in a small confined space allowed us to use less but on all walls for full impact. The foyer needed to be family functional so we went with a dark acrylic table that could stand up to bumps and bangs with no sharp edges, as well plenty of storage baskets that also provided a touch of whimsy (note the pineapple).
THE COMMON SPACE
THE COMMUNITY BATH
This is a term I made up for one reason or another for the second bathroom that would serve as both the kids and guest bath. However, the word “community” ultimately had a lot to do with the vision behind the design as I aimed to create a room that was both wildly colorful, pattern forward, and engaging for the kids while still being interesting and appropriate for adult eyes as they experienced the design as a guest. Essentially, I wanted to implement the fun of a powder room with the function of a kid’s day-to-day bath. One of the things I am most proud of in the home is the tile floor in this bathroom. We explored so many different options-painted tile, mosaic patterns but ultimately nothing was quite a fit. Initially, I was looking to source blue penny tile but wasn’t able to find a color that quite fit the bill when it occurred to me that blue grout might do the trick and did it ever. The combination ended up being one of the most clever in the space all while amazingly affordable.
By the time this project reached completion over a year had passed and I was a few more steps up the mountain. The opportunity to work with clients who are an effortless fit and are wholeheartedly open to implementing your ideas helps to expedite your journey up. This project allowed me to create a space in the way I know best, to follow my impulses, and to deliver on a design that not only reflected my clients but also me. I’m nowhere near the top of that mountain yet, but the further up I get the more of me I see, and I can only imagine what pattern I’ll find at the peak.