10 design lessons from Studio McGee

Chances are you've heard of Studio McGee, either watched their hit Netflix show or came across their timeless signature style on Instagram. The US based husband & wife duo have taken the design world by storm, I mean do you even remember the world before we discovered their perfect mix of modern and rustic? They practically invented Modern Farmhouse look. 

I am taking a plunge and virtually flicked through hundreds of photos to try to pin down the main elements of Shea's style and see what we can learn and how to recreate that sought after aesthetic in our own homes. 

When in comes to the colour palette in Studio Mcgee's projects, the neutrals tones and muted colours are the one to look for. Instead of pop of colours in focal points, muted colours in complimentary shades are dotted across the room, pulling it together into one harmonies space. You will notice the same colour repeated in different ways around the room, on different materials and textures. It's really clever. With no bright, primary colours in sight, it's the the textures and patterns that bring the visual interest and depth to the space. Neutral colours fill the background (wall paint) as well as dominate the large furniture pieces while soft furnishing and décor brings the elements of playfulness and colours. Beige, ivory, taupe, black, grey, and shades of white remain the main hues in the room while muted ochre, soft browns, pale blues, pinks and greens add just the perfect amount of colour.

Neutral palette would be extremely boring and flat, if it wasn't for all the subtle textures, hidden in plain view in every single one of McGee's projects. From reclaimed wood pine consoles, clay vases, soft rugs and rich wooden pieces, the textures create the visual depth that makes the room feel both lived-in and well put together. The use of different textures in similar tones and hues makes for a wonderfully layered space that is effortlessly timeless. 
If you love the Studio McGee look, there is definitely certain elements in the materials and pieces used that repeat each time. Rattan (woven chair seats, trays, vases), terracotta and clay (antique textured vases), rustic oak and pine (consoles, dining and coffee tables), leather accessories & armchairs, linen &  cotton sofas and soft upholstery pieces, brass (mirrors and accents). I also love the glazed vases paired with fresh foraged greenery, as well as marble accessories.
Behind every neutral space, is a skilfully introduced contrast, subtly poking from behind the sofa. I noticed subtle accents of black and dark tones in almost all Studio McGee projects. Black window frames, side tables, cushions or vase, the subtle pops of black create the contrast that makes the whole space visually balanced and makes sure that the whole space is not a big sea of beige. I really admire Shea's ability of applying just the right amount of contrast into any space.
You will see them in every space that McGee has designed: a perfectly curated, full of beautiful unique items, filled with vintage goodies shelfie. It definitely makes for a beautiful statements in any room and can the whole space feel so much more curated and lived in. Think outside of the box when it comes to your shelfie and play around with different configurations to get it just right. Books, vases, beads, vintage and found pieces, wooden bowls, framed prints and baskets, they will all work. Try keeping the same colour scheme throughout and play with the heights and textures for that perfectly "imperfect" effortless look.
This one is a bit of an obvious one but I am going to say it anyway, you will not see a furniture set in any of the Studio McGee projects. Mixing and matching materials, wood and textures is definitely a skill but the effects can be quiet spectacular, in the most subtle of ways. Classic sofas are often paired with modern side tables, vintage leather chairs and wooden coffee tables and complimented by contrasting décor. It might take longer to find that perfect piece to fit your space but it will be OH SO worth it. 
Patterns can play a big role in creating a layered, lived-in feel into a space. Small scale stripes, soft florals, neutral check and organic abstracts are the ones you will most commonly see in McGee projects. They often look great together but keep the tones and colours muted and neutral so they don't overwhelm the space. Cushions, throws, and art are great way to introduce pattern in a soft, subtle way. 
One of the reasons Studio Mcgee's style is so unique and often referred to  as "Classic modern Rustic" is how they skilfully mix different interior styles into one comprehensive space. Elements of farmhouse and rustic are paired with elegant, otherwise classic pieces and brand new modern finishes create a perfect background for vintage and slightly imperfect ones. Think expensive marble worktops and old wooden boards, white console and vintage dough bowl or antique print in a brass frame. Those contrasting elements create visual interest and make for a space that feels curated and lived in.
One of the elements that I see constantly in Studio McGee projects is vintage artworks and vintage inspired prints. They add an elements of sweet nostalgia to any space and prevent any room from looking too "stuffy". You can pop them on a kitchen shelf, in a hallway or mantel for the extra interest and pop of subtle colour.
Lighting plan is obviously one of the most important aspects of the space and can be tricky to get right. But once you do, take example of studio McGee and make sure your fixtures are not only functional but also beautiful. Use the chandeliers and table lamps to add interest, texture and focal points in your space and play with different materials to compliment your existing décor. Brass, ceramic and even wicker lights can add that extra special touch to your room and another layer for the room to feel Pinterest worthy.

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  • Love this style, and am hoping to create it in my new home soon.

    Kim on

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