Style Court

Nine Years of Textiles, Art History, Gardens, and a Little Mental Traveling with Courtney Barnes


There's Something About Mary

Rizzoli New York 2010. Click to enlarge.]

Rizzoli New York 2010. Click to enlarge.]

Years ago I received a very funny message from the one-and-only Mary McDonald. With a terrific sense of humor, she generously offered some detailed instructions for recreating a DIY chinoiserie-paper-covered file cabinet similar to her own (published in Domino, January 2006), and right off the bat I detected a passionate, artistic spirit. Soon after, readers of this blog (and I!) expressed interest in a book about Mary's work, so it's been a treat for me to finally see Rizzoli's lavishly illustrated new edition hit book store shelves. (Currently in stock at three Atlanta Barnes & Noble locations as I type.)

Rizzoli New York 2010. Click to enlarge.]

Although Mary's book contains plenty of innovative ideas to steal -- my favorite probably being the bamboo waste baskets from Asian import stores turned upside down and transformed into lampshades -- it's not a step-by-step "how to" guide.  Back in 2001, in a House & Garden cover story about her Kings Road house, the L.A. native described herself as an old fashioned decorator; nine years later in the book she elaborates on her affinity for symmetry saying, "I am so advanced at pairs I have moved on to collecting pairs of pairs!"

Rizzoli New York 2010. Click to enlarge.]

There's no question that she can pull together a classically ordered, visually graphic room, but what always hits me first is her artist's approach to combining colors. Last week Mrs. Blandings highlighted Mary's ultra feminine side and attraction to pink. In contrast, and as a prelude to the upcoming Oasis catologue post, I wanted to share interiors from Mary's Grand Tour chapter. 

Rizzoli New York 2010. Click to enlarge.]

The equally kind Miguel Flores-Vianna photographed all of the rooms above and one vignette below. There's a hint of ikat in some shots and I think the images convey Mary's flair for working with earthy materials like burlap and bamboo (other sections of the book showcase her high glam side, with gilded chairs and glossy patent leather).

Rizzoli New York 2010. Click to enlarge.]

 [Photograph by Victoria Pearson from Mary McDonald: Interiors: The Allure of Style
Rizzoli New York 2010. Click to enlarge.]

As a whole, the book is a wonderful scrapbook of her most popular interiors with previously unseen (at least by me) rooms in the mix too. Whether she's doing a kick-off-your-sandals guest cottage or an Old Hollywood house with an entry as big as a hotel lobby, Ming bling, the designer's affectionate term for iconic large-scale Chinese blue-and-white, is a constant (she appreciates both the real deal and gift shop repros).  Most of all, Mary's enthusiasm shines through and that in turn sparks my imagination. Looking forward to some weekend projects.

Related past posts:
Elegant DIY
Scanning Fabric 


Kim@Chattafabulous said...

I cannot wait for get my copy. She is fearless and never disappoints. Love her brilliant use of color and layering. She is the best of the best!

Style Court said...

Speaking of layers and gusto, I should share details about the breakfast room pictured at top. In the book Mary says the walls are covered with raffia, and the canvas tablecloth is trimmed in a Ralph Lauren
super-wide linen fringe that looks like hemp rope. I love that fringe!

Kim, you'll really enjoy every page I think.

kelleyp said...

i die! too much goodness to ingest all at once. i love her style. i cannot wait to get my hands on this book. thank you for sharing. you must share the instructions of the DIY file cabinet. i still have that little nugget stored away to try someday. wish me luck.

Lacquered Life said...

I love that she admits to loving pairs ... I too am a total slave to symmetry! ... probably comes from my preservation background and love of georgian architecture ...

Style Court said...

Oh, and at the windows Mary layered pale pink linen, a raspberry cotton stripe, and what she describes as a
"a playful pink ikat."

Style Court said...

Kelley -- I'll look back through the archives :)

Olivia -- makes sense!

Style Court said...

If you click the images, enlarge and zoom in, hopefully you can see the trim detail on the curtains. said...

Oh I am swooning! I love the pic on top with the creamy walls and the raspberry colored window and chair treatments. To die for. Can't wait to peruse the entire book.


Mary Ellen said...

I'm a big fan of Mary McDonald. I featured one of her bathroom designs on my last blog post. She really has that "shine" that sets her apart from other designers.
I really enjoyed this post!

Mrs. Blandings said...

Hey! Thanks for the shout out. I keep going back to the book and back again. So sumptuous.

Design Elements said...

i agree with Mrs. Blandings. Very sumptuous. Happy weekend

Karena said...

Oh I adore Mary's design work. Her color palettes and taste is always perfect!


Art by Karena

somewhereinthyme said...

I am liking her designs that I have just recently seen. Unfortunately, I never heard of her until Bravo's recent release of the series "Property Envy".