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Pure Allure

The seductive rooms of Mary McDonald command a closer look.

Mary McDonald designed this living room around her client’s art collection. To create a monochromatic look that complements the art, she pulled a watery blue from one of the paintings. Raspberry pillows, lampshades and curtain trim lend what she calls a “jazzy Parisian elegance.”

Like Coco Chanel before her, Mary McDonald worked as a milliner before she hit it big on her own. She brings to interior design a milliner’s sense of balance, drama, glamour, refined details and bold gestures—all of which have become her hallmarks. While she is strongly influenced by classicism, her rooms are never boring, rarely restrained and always pack some emotional wallop. “Really memorable rooms are seductive,” McDonald says. “They beckon you to

The showhouse room above is a brilliant study in contrasts, created by McDonald to evoke a haute couture Paris salon. The graphic painted ceiling, so modern in feel, plays off the gilt sconces, which McDonald designed. Other contrasting pairs: the acrylic coffee table separating painted fauteuils and the expansive chinoiserie screen separating photographs of Moscow’s Ostankino Museum.

enter and then they embrace you.” She describes seduction as key to her approach. Fair enough, but just what are her tools of seduction? “Well-thought-out ambient lighting for sure,” she answers. “There is nothing worse than going into someone’s home and you feel you are in some sort of surgery center. It’s helpful to mix in accent lighting to artfully accentuate certain elements. I also rely on alluring beds, cozy but curated seating groups, tabouret tables, lush rugs, one major statement piece be it art or chandelier, and of course a little sizzle and glam somewhere. A little bronze or brass can be finishing jewelry touches.”

This Californian’s main aesthetic groove might best be described as classically

In a dining room intense yellow urns serve as exclamation points. Other bold touches here are the outsized geometric pattern painted on the floor and the giant clam shell perched on the table.
A masculine living room conjures a London club, updated with modern touches. There’s also a hint of Savile Row, courtesy of gray flannel upholstery and silk necktie fabric used to line the curtains
Besides being a palace for pugs, McDonald’s own bedroom is her favorite place in the house, a quiet refuge where she can “just lie around and forget the world.” The ivory and pale blue color scheme, the fireplace and a sprinkling of Chinese Chippendale all contribute to the air of tranquility.

elegant, punctuated by the modern. Asked her favorite ways to add a modern touch to a room, she replies: “I think the easiest way to keep your home fresh and current without constant redecorating is, first and foremost, lighting and lampshades. A pair of contem – porary lamps or reading lights with a more current shade can really give a room a fresher edge in even the most traditional of settings. I also like to use a very clean and contem – porary selection of drinks tables, stools and larger scale table accessories to create the tension between old and new.” That tension is evident in all of the McDonald rooms seen on these pages. Each is composed mainly of traditional elements, which sit in conversation with one or more well-placed contemporary pieces. In the sitting room-cum-bedroom, for example, painted fauteuils flank an acrylic coffee table, while nearby, an oversized contemporary photograph is illuminated by a gilded flame-ball sconce. In her own home, McDonald’s favorite space is her bedroom, seen at left. “I find the space peaceful,” she says. “I have a fireplace I use in the winter and a big picture win – dow that looks out at green treetops in the summer as well as the city view at night. My Chinese Chippendale is just enough Old World glamour to assuage my feminine old school side, while the room is strictly ivory and pale blue—so all very serene and pleasing to just lie around and forget the world.” In real life, McDonald doesn’t spend much time lying around. She has a busy design practice, with client projects underway in multiple states. And she has made her mark as a furniture designer, with an elegant and extensive collection for Chaddock, which you’ll see previewed on the following spread.elegant, punctuated by the modern. Asked her favorite ways to add a modern touch to a room, she replies: “I think the easiest way to keep your home fresh and current without constant redecorating is, first and foremost, lighting and lampshades. A pair of contem – porary lamps or reading lights with a more current shade can really give a room a fresher edge in even the most traditional of settings. I also like to use a very clean and contem – porary selection of drinks tables, stools and larger scale table accessories to create the tension between old and new.” That tension is evident in all of the McDonald rooms seen on these pages. Each is composed mainly of traditional elements, which sit in conversation with one or more well-placed contemporary pieces. In the sitting room-cum-bedroom, for example, painted fauteuils flank an acrylic coffee table, while nearby, an oversized contemporary photograph is illuminated by a gilded flame-ball sconce. In her own home, McDonald’s favorite space is her bedroom, seen at left. “I find the space peaceful,” she says. “I have a fireplace I use in the winter and a big picture win – dow that looks out at green treetops in the summer as well as the city view at night. My Chinese Chippendale is just enough Old World glamour to assuage my feminine old school side, while the room is strictly ivory and pale blue—so all very serene and pleasing to just lie around and forget the world.” In real life, McDonald doesn’t spend much time lying around. She has a busy design practice, with client projects underway in multiple states. And she has made her mark as a furniture designer, with an elegant and extensive collection for Chaddock, which you’ll see previewed on the following spread.elegant, punctuated by the modern. Asked her favorite ways to add a modern touch to a room, she replies: “I think the easiest way to keep your home fresh and current without constant redecorating is, first and foremost, lighting and lampshades. A pair of contemporary lamps or reading lights with a more current shade can really give a room a fresher edge in even the most traditional of settings. I also like to use a very clean and contemporary selection of drinks tables, stools and larger scale table accessories to create the tension between old and new.”

That tension is evident in all of the McDonald rooms seen on these pages. Each is composed mainly of traditional elements, which sit in conversation with one or more well-placed contemporary pieces. In the sitting room-cum-bedroom, for example, painted fauteuils flank an acrylic coffee table, while nearby, an oversized contemporary photograph is illuminated by a gilded flame-ball sconce.

In her own home, McDonald’s favorite space is her bedroom, seen at left. “I find the space peaceful,” she says. “I have a fireplace I use in the winter and a big picture window that looks out at green treetops in the summer as well as the city view at night. My Chinese Chippendale is just enough Old World glamour to assuage my feminine old school side, while the room is strictly ivory and pale blue—so all very serene and pleasing to just lie around and forget the world.”

In real life, McDonald doesn’t spend much time lying around. She has a busy design practice, with client projects underway in multiple states. And she has made her mark as a furniture designer, with an elegant and extensive collection for Chaddock, which you’ll see previewed on the following spread.elegant, punctuated by the modern. Asked her favorite ways to add a modern touch to a room, she replies: “I think the easiest way to keep your home fresh and current without constant redecorating is, first and foremost, lighting and lampshades. A pair of contem – porary lamps or reading lights with a more current shade can really give a room a fresher edge in even the most traditional of settings. I also like to use a very clean and contem – porary selection of drinks tables, stools and larger scale table accessories to create the tension between old and new.” That tension is evident in all of the McDonald rooms seen on these pages. Each is composed mainly of traditional elements, which sit in conversation with one or more well-placed contemporary pieces. In the sitting room-cum-bedroom, for example, painted fauteuils flank an acrylic coffee table, while nearby, an oversized contemporary photograph is illuminated by a gilded flame-ball sconce. In her own home, McDonald’s favorite space is her bedroom, seen at left. “I find the space peaceful,” she says. “I have a fireplace I use in the winter and a big picture win – dow that looks out at green treetops in the summer as well as the city view at night. My Chinese Chippendale is just enough Old World glamour to assuage my feminine old school side, while the room is strictly ivory and pale blue—so all very serene and pleasing to just lie around and forget the world.” In real life, McDonald doesn’t spend much time lying around. She has a busy design practice, with client projects underway in multiple states. And she has made her mark as a furniture designer, with an elegant and extensive collection for Chaddock, which you’ll see previewed on the following spread.elegant, punctuated by the modern. Asked her favorite ways to add a modern touch to a room, she replies: “I think the easiest way to keep your home fresh and current without constant redecorating is, first and foremost, lighting and lampshades. A pair of contem – porary lamps or reading lights with a more current shade can really give a room a fresher edge in even the most traditional of settings. I also like to use a very clean and contem – porary selection of drinks tables, stools and larger scale table accessories to create the tension between old and new.” That tension is evident in all of the McDonald rooms seen on these pages. Each is composed mainly of traditional elements, which sit in conversation with one or more well-placed contemporary pieces. In the sitting room-cum-bedroom, for example, painted fauteuils flank an acrylic coffee table, while nearby, an oversized contemporary photograph is illuminated by a gilded flame-ball sconce. In her own home, McDonald’s favorite space is her bedroom, seen at left. “I find the space peaceful,” she says. “I have a fireplace I use in the winter and a big picture window that looks out at green treetops in the summer as well as the city view at night. My Chinese Chippendale is just enough Old World glamour to assuage my feminine old school side, while the room is strictly ivory and pale blue—so all very serene and pleasing to just lie around and forget the world.” In real life, McDonald doesn’t spend much time lying around. She has a busy design practice, with client projects underway in multiple states. And she has made her mark as a furniture designer, with an elegant and extensive collection for Chaddock, which you’ll see previewed on the following spread.