Bravo recently premiered Million Dollar Decorators, a new show that follows five of L.A.’s most sought-after interior decorators work and personal lives. SheKnows interviewed each of the designers to give you the inside skinny on what makes them tick. The always outspoken Mary McDonald opens up about her design process and inspirations.
Known for her bold style (and her strong-willed opinions — it’s rumored that she was the inspiration for Karen’s character on Will and Grace), Mary McDonald combines old-fashioned elegance with a modern sensibility in her work. Her signature look is eclectic, classic and clean while maintaining a strong sense of glamour and sophistication.
SheKnows: What inspires your design process?
Mary McDonald: Absolutely everything — fashion, art, history, nature, food. Once you start looking at the integral beauty, colors and patterns in everyday life, it is easy to be inspired. The inner shades of a pinky coral conch shell can be the birth of an entire beach house or a simple lacquered side table.
SheKnows: How would you describe your personal design style?
Mary McDonald: Hmmm. I actually love everything from haute Bohemia to high-polished drama, but I would have to say there is always a bit of theatrical drama to my style, even if it is a linen-laden beach house.
SheKnows: Which of your celebrity clients’ design styles matches your own personal style the most?
Mary McDonald: Well, my own style is a little more East Coast. So, to be honest, I have a few from the Forbes list that match me the most.
SheKnows: Is there a certain celebrity you would love to work with, and why?
Mary McDonald: Not sure they are “celebrities” per se, but I would love to work with Prince William and Kate. I am really a big fan of the English country house and would love to incorporate some of the beautiful family heirlooms they have at their disposal in a younger, hipper way. They both seem so happy — and truly nice, as well.
SheKnows: For those of us working with more modest budgets, what design elements are worth splurging on?
Mary McDonald: Vintage pieces and antiques you can have a lifetime. Let’s say an antique chest or buffet that can stay with you through the trends of changing upholstery, which must be redone every so often.
SheKnows: What elements do you think we can save on?
Mary McDonald: There are quite a few great companies out there doing affordable reproductions of more expensive prototypes. There are some great simple jute rugs online and simple modern lighting, all at affordable prices.
SheKnows: What design trends do you wish would go away?
Mary McDonald: Kind of sick of bright lacquered everything. It can die now.
SheKnows: What new design trends can we expect to see come out on Million Dollar Decorators?
Mary McDonald: Over-scaled painted floors for sure — other than that, I haven’t seen all the episodes actually, so I’m not sure myself!
SheKnows: Which castmate’s portfolio do you admire the most?
Mary McDonald: We are all so different — I like them all. I can relate to the Bill Blass-type classicism of Jeffrey Alan Marks, but also love the various takes of Bohemian English from Martyn [Lawrence-Bullard], Kathryn [Ireland] and Nathan [Turner]. Don’t think I can choose.
SheKnows: Can we expect to see some competition among the designers?
Mary McDonald: Not from me, so I will have to stay tuned to see!