Principal at McGeehan Design, McGeehan has a weekend getaway in Lake Geneva that is both sophisticated and comfortable. He graciously invited At The Lake magazine into his home for a photo shoot, which is featured in the summer 2016 issue. To see more of McGeehan’s work, please see his website.
My background was originally in antiques. I was trained at Sotheby’s in London and returned to New York to be an antiques dealer. I took a great deal of pleasure in creating very elaborate room settings when I did antique shows, and clients then starting asking me to design rooms for them. So I came to interior design unexpectedly. My initial projects were creating historic period rooms for collectors. Two of my first projects were a classical 1830s townhouse in Greenwich Village for one of Malcolm Forbes’ sons and an apartment in the Dakota that was high Victorian. Since then, there has been a massive shift in taste toward modernism and the 20th century, and my work has been led in that direction.
Every project is a new beginning, a new story. There are several forces that come into play – the architecture of the house or apartment itself, the taste of the owner, the budget, and what strikes me as being interesting and chic and delightful given those particulars. The process is always a total collaboration. But in the end, it is a success if the owners feel that the new space expresses who they are better than any place they have ever lived – that is the goal. I personally like a mix of vintage and modern pieces – it creates a space that to me feels both fresh and intelligent.
Another question would be how would my choices for a lake house translate to a Chicago or New York apartment! I think it is interesting to bring some feeling of country to the city and vice versa – I personally like a country house that is relaxed and extremely comfortable but has an unexpected dose of high-style sophistication and style.
I wouldn’t say mistakes, but there are many commonly held assumptions that come to mind – that all ceilings need to be white, that every room needs to be a different color, that rooms with little natural light must have pale walls, that artwork must be hung all at eye level. Rooms are more interesting and exciting when some of the “rules” are broken, and that‘s often hard to do on one’s own without some professional advice and vision.
There is a lot of discussion and listening and intuition involved in the design process. Some clients have an expansive vocabulary when discussing furniture styles, etc., and some do not. But everyone can think about and describe how they would like to feel when they walk through the door. I also ask clients to look at various websites such as Pinterest and Houzz and pull images they are attracted to, whether it’s a color or a feeling or a particular piece of furniture they like. Then it’s my job to put it all together into a cohesive concept.
I think the pendulum may be swinging away from strict modernism and neutral colors. I will personally be happy to see more eclectic interiors with more color!
When I have some free time I like to look for the odd vintage piece at the Lake Geneva Antique Mall – I have found some wonderful things there for my house in Lake Geneva and for projects in other parts of the country.
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