Mix Masters: Suzanne and Lauren McGrath

The mother-daughter duo of McGrath II design a multipurpose room for today's reality.
Suzanne And Lauren Mcgrath Of Mcgrath Ii

Photograph by Brittany Ambridge

Imagine a contemporary space filled with a creative mix of furniture and accessories from many different periods. That was the assignment for the mother-daughter design duo, Suzanne and Lauren McGrath, of McGrath II. The pair were given carte blanche access to the resources of Avery & Dash Collections in Stamford, as well as Curator paint from Ring’s End, Carlisle wood flooring and Diane James Home floral designs.

“We shop Avery & Dash all the time and are familiar with the depth of options,” says Suzanne. “We wanted to create a room that spoke to today’s new work-from-home reality. The design reflects the need of multipurpose spaces, for living, dining and working.”

Mcgrathii Room Overview

The lacquered coffee table by Josef Weilhammer and a pair of persimmon 1940s Chinese consoles are fashioned in the Chinoiserie style. The ebonized Dutch mirror over the fireplace is balanced by a grouping of Picasso lithographs and an African ladder hailing from the Dogon tribe. Photograph by Ellen McDermott

How would you describe your style?

We are known for creating colorful, layered spaces steeped in tradition, with a comfortability that draws you in.

Who is your typical client?

Most of our clients are young families purchasing their first homes or apartments. They are usually first-time antique buyers, as well. We like to educate our clients about antiques and vintage pieces and show them how unique a space becomes when one-of-a-kind pieces are paired with colorful textiles and contemporary art.

What was the first piece you chose for the space?

We discovered a Swedish Ria carpet with a strong graphic border. From there, we curated a collection of diverse pieces.

Mcgrathii Tbale And Living Space

A Swedish Ria carpet anchors the living area, accompanied by a pair of Louis XVI-style Maison Jansen armchairs and a Karl Springer snakeskin table. Over the sofa, a lithograph by American artist Robert Motherwell holds court. Photograph by Ellen McDermott

How do you create a scheme relevant for today?

Making antiques feel relevant is all about how you mix them together. Using antiques from one period or one country can often make a room feel too serious or too formal. We find the key to living with antiques today is all about the combination of periods and provenances—that’s what makes a space feel fresh, but also timeless.

Which pieces give this space a contemporary tone?

We always look to art, as well as the actual furnishings, to give our rooms a feeling of freshness. The Robert Motherwell lithograph, Elegy Study, above the sofa gives energy to the space. And pops of black, like the oversized, dramatic Dutch mirror above the fireplace and the black ebonized dining chairs, give the space a contemporary feeling.

Mcgrathii Table

French pocket doors delineate the wall adjacent to a circa 1860 French walnut dining table and caned-back dining chairs. Photograph by Ellen McDermott

Can you talk about the palette you selected?

The color story for this room started with the Swedish carpet, which has a wonderful combination of dusty orange, olive green and blue. A pair of lacquered persimmon Chinese consoles add color interest. Farrow & Ball’s Dragged Paper wallpaper below the chair rail lends depth and some architectural definition, and Curator’s Wedding Day paint complements the art on the walls.

What is the secret to layering?

Experience! It takes a trained eye to know how to pair many seemingly disparate pieces together, to create a fluid ensemble that feels as if it were always arranged like this.

Mini Bar With Mirror And Lamp

The French faux bamboo butler’s tray and stand serves as a bar, brightened by potted poppies from Diane James Home. Photographs by Ellen McDermott

What is your favorite piece in the space?

We love the warm tonality of the wood and the graceful lines of the mid-19th century French walnut dining table. It has three leaf extensions and can seat 12 to 14 people, which is a rare find.

Describe the person you envision living here?

Someone who appreciates the mix of past and present, color and vitality.


The print version of this article appeared with the headline: The New Normal.