Design Eye Training : 111

Design Eye Training : 111 -
design: mcgrath II

How was your weekend? It was a hot one here! Today, I’ve got a new Design Eye Training post lined up to kick off the week. We’ll be analyzing and admiring a gorgeous high contrast living room designed by the talented duo, Suzanne & Lauren… the brains behind powerhouse design firm, McGrath II. This space boasts gorgeous furniture, a functional floorplan, excellent styling, and my personal favorite- dark navy walls, that are reminiscent of my own basement living space. I’ll also admit, Peggi’s monthly post highlighting red & blue last week probably pushed me to feature this space, as you’ll find both of those hues here! This room is traditional, a bit eclectic, and most certainly timeless. Click through for the eleventh post in the design series… 

To quickly recap… in our Design Eye series, we observe and admire design fundamentals like scale, texture, pattern, material use, lighting plans, color, floor plan & layout, and a variety of intentional styling & interior moments pulled together by the pros. It’s an exercise I used to practice often in design school, and one I still enjoy today. By discussing and breaking down well designed spaces in greater detail, you’ll begin to train your “design eye”, build upon the design fundamentals, and can apply some of these things to your own home, if they appeal to you. I also feel like this series can really help you hone in your personal aesthetic, determining what you like and dislike… and most importantly, why. Ready to give it a try?

Design Eye Training : 111 -
design: mcgrath II

The hallway leading into this room is equally as lovely… I love that it’s bright & welcoming, with the navy paint as a backdrop pulling you into the space- a definite focal point. From the vintage runner, rolled arm velvet bench, classic millwork, and creamy paint color- it feels like the perfect transition into a darker room.

Design Eye Training : 111 -
design: mcgrath II

The sofa caught my attention first, with its subtle pinstripes, rolled English arms, and casters. I was also intrigued by the unique art placement… one large modern piece above the sofa (to anchor the vignette), with two stacked pieces behind the side table. They feel cohesive and collected but provide enough negative space that it doesn’t feel like one large gallery wall. I’m also digging the layered rugs! This is how layered rugs should be installed… a vintage or Persian rug atop a neutral jute or sisal. It’s very well done!

Dare I say the cherry wood pieces also work quite well in this space thanks to the contrasting navy paint? It’s really the ideal pairing. Other things I noted that bring some softness to the room? Pleated lamp shades, soft textural linen window treatments, plenty of pillows and throws (in some fun patterns), and dramatic floral arrangements. Did you notice the millwork? It’s all monochromatic with the wall color… casing, base, crown, and even the fireplace mantel. I also appreciate the mixing of new versus old in this room… there is plenty of traditional furniture, but I also spy some modern pieces (including the art and coffee table) which provide a nice juxtaposition.

Design Eye Training : 111 -
design: mcgrath II

I often get questions about floor planning around two windows or windows that aren’t centered. This is the perfect example! If I had to guess… the windows used to be centered on the wall, but the built-in shelving was adding, creating more negative space on the lefthand side. While I love and appreciate symmetry- it totally works here thanks to clever styling and furniture placement. The mirror between the windows and the chest help to anchor that wall, creating a focal point. The oversized side table, lamp, and art placement next to the sofa also assist in filling the negative space in an intentional way. It works!

Design Eye Training : 111 -
design: mcgrath II

In terms of the styling, you know I love a built-in moment! I’m pondering why nothing was styled on that top shelf? Any guesses? I also noted one of my favorite accessories… a pillar candle positioned within a glass hurricane. Kudos! Doesn’t this space feel designerly, eclectic (like lots of these ideas could easily be thrifted), and intentional- all at the same time?

Design Eye Training : 111 -
design: mcgrath II

If you’ve missed any posts within the Design Eye series or are interested in looking back, I’ll link them below. I’m still very much enjoying these posts. Are you? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  1. A Kitchen by John B. Murray Architect (101)
  2. A Bathroom by S.R. Gambrel (102)
  3. An Apartment by Mikel Welch (103)
  4. A Kitchen by Leanne Ford (104)
  5. An Apartment by Gil Schafer (105)
  6. A Bathroom by Lisle McKenna (106)
  7. A Dining Room by W. Design Collective (107)
  8. A Kitchen by April Tomlin (108)
  9. A Bedroom by Andrew Brown (109)
  10. A Kitchen by Sean Anderson (110)

What type of room or aesthetic would you like to see next month? I’m always mixing it up! Let me know what sounds interesting in the comment section below. Click here to tour the entire home from today’s post… there is plenty more to discover and admire! Here’s to a good week ahead. I’ve got a little surprise giveaway lined up for you on Wednesday!

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  1. Good morning! Another beautiful room with so much to consider. The first detail I noticed was the monochromatic walls and millwork. (and that empty top shelf on the built-in!) The beautiful, but simple, chest with its understated cabriole legs and serpentine front caught my eye next. That orange tone against the navy paint is delightfully dramatic. All of the wood pieces offer a pleasing blend of smooth curves and angular geometry. That octagonal table with the chalky stone (or is it zinc?) top! Love it! As my eye moved around the room, the richly textured and patterned upholstery, pillows and throws really grabbed me. Tweedy, nubby boucle, embroidery and fringe, velvet, stripes and sisal. It’s quite a textile feast! While I’m certain the design is intentional, I especially appreciate how it doesn’t appear overly coordinated. The room holds four different chairs! As I was enjoying the layered warmth of the furnishings, I realized that the room above waist high becomes very clean and spare. The artwork, lamps and window treatments with the deep walls *almost* read black and white…a touch modern. Finally, I love the size of the room; it appears cozy but comfortable. Although I enjoy ogling ridiculously aspirational spaces for fun, this is a home I could imagine humans inhabiting. Thanks for a gorgeous start to Monday! I’m look at the list of previous Design Eye posts and thinking a library might be interesting, or maybe another dining room? I’m certain whatever you select will delight and intrigue! Here’s to a stupendous week! (Let’s not talk about the temperature, k?)💜🥵

    1. Hi Peggi! What’s with that empty top shelf?! I would love to know the reasoning there, too. Thanks for the inspiration from your red & blue post :) I loved virtually perusing this space. Your observations are spot on! So many gorgeous textiles to love and admire. This space definitely feels approachable and achievable. I noted all of your Design Eye post ideas- a library sounds amazing! I’ll try to search for one of those next. Hope you had a great day! xo

  2. Good afternoon! I enjoy your ‘Design Eye Training’ always! My first thoughts on this room is the color of the walls & trim in the beautiful blue color. Next would be the fireplace. I think they make a room cozy. Of course, I love the built-ins and all the options for sitting down and relaxing. I am not familiar with McGrath II and want to explore more. Overall, a cozy, relaxing room with nice lighting and touches.
    I just returned from a quick trip to my mom’s and back. I unloaded the car and now watching a rain blow in…crossing fingers and toes we get a good downpour. May have to go outside to enjoy the smell and celebrate. It’s been 102+! Ugh! Hope your weekend was good and you are getting good check ups. Hugs friend!

    1. Hi Danna! I enjoyed reading all of your awesome observations. I love navy paint and I love a good fireplace vignette. I hope you had a lovely time with your mom! Did you get your downpour after the rainbow? I sure hope so! I also hope it has cooled down a bit for you. It’s HOT here, too. We’re also in the 100s. Oof. I’m still having regular doctor appointments and I still don’t have many answers, but I’m keeping my head up :)

  3. I love this series! Would be interested in an analysis of a modern/minimalist room next time – I think the series to date has skewed towards unique architecture and millwork, which I’ll never not be a fan of, but not all of us have houses with built-in character.

    1. I love hearing that, Lisa! Also- great idea on finding a minimal space. Sometimes it’s tricky to find multiple images of the same room in a designer’s portfolio, but I’ll give it my best shot :) Totally agree that it would be helpful! Thanks again!

  4. Traditional curves meets modern geometry in the very best way! That’s the first detail to instantly grab my attention. Taken by themselves (in the right context) each piece of furniture in this space could read traditional. It’s the pairing of the curves and lines that strikes the balance between traditional and modern. Add in the modern styling pieces (that lamp?!! Good gracious I’m slayed), the modern art piece, and the marble fireplace surround serving as it’s own art, and you have a symmetry of styles that is undeniable. I rather enjoy these reddish/orange wood tones against navy in particular. It reminds me of leather and navy; always a winning combination. Another element of note is the color choices and tones that allow this room to feel like a nature walk of sorts. The lush greens, sky blues, gorgeous blush, pink, and red, all play on the senses. I love that those elements are the textile elements in the room, mimicked in the florals, adding to the textural experience created here. I’m also noting the use of varying shades of white and off white. It appears through my screen that the ceiling is the only bright white element in the room. Looking at the hallway image, it’s such a smart choice. The higher doorway leading in automatically draws your eye up when viewing from a distance- and the balance they created with the bright white staircase (also drawing the eye up) is pretty stupendous. It allows for the crisp line contrast the eye craves with a color like navy, but layering in other off white and cream tones keeps it from reading overly harsh. It also creates a sense of unity between two vastly different spaces in both simplicity and tone. I’m wondering if the overhead lighting is simple can lights that were photoshopped from images, or if there is no overhead lighting? Lack of overhead lighting would make this room feel even more secluded/close to nature at night, and I dig that kind of cozy! My stab in the dark at the empty shelf is simply the owner wanted room to layer in more collected pieces over time. Zooming in on the image the depth of the upper shelf seems to match the rest, eliminating the possibility that there is structural significance that would impede placement of items. Or, perhaps the negative space was intentional in both design and styling purposes. Terminating the shelves lower would adjust the horizontal and vertical sight lines in a dramatically negative way, while adding styling pieces to the shelf competes with the sparse vertical space Peggi noted when scanning the room…that’s all I’ve got! Ha!
    The spaces you choose for this series are always so lovely. I’d love to analyze an open floor plan, dual function space. The spaces we’ve analyzed so far are well defined or completely separated rooms. While I enjoy and prefer well defined rooms, I live in a reality that sometimes makes unifying different styles, spaces, color palettes, and finishes, difficult to say the least. I find (in my area) open floor plans tend to be “matchy-matchy” because of this- but you know I’m a rebel and I refuse. Lol. Your girl needs some inspiration! This was such a good one though, and I’ll likely come back to ogle and drool many times over! Have a lovely day Sarah. Xo