Weekend Getaway in Thomasville, Georgia

Thomasville antique show
Entry to Thomasville Antiques Show by Steve McKenzie

Anyone else compiling a list of weekend getaway trips? We so enjoyed our recent weekend trip to Thomasville, Georgia, that we must share! It started off with Steve receiving a coveted invitation to design the entry way to the 31st Thomasville Antiques Show.

Much like a showhouse, he could think out of the box and keyed off this over-scale artwork from Wendover Art. Watch for a later recap of how he formulated his design plan.

Thomasville Georgia
Exploring downtown on our weekend trip to Thomasville

Delighted that Thomasville is only a four hour drive from Atlanta, this charming village has something for everyone. We booked a charming VRBO cottage, perfectly appointed for us with super helpful owners. While much of our time was spent at the antiques show shopping and listening to the speakers, we did get a special tour one of the venerable southern shooting plantations, Pebble Hill Plantation.

Pebble Hill Plantation
Stately architecture of this magnificent Georgia Belle

No photography is allowed inside. But it wouldn’t have done the rooms justice anyway. The interiors are intact, down to the seahorse tortoise shell comb in the powder room, with Gracie wallpaper, over 20 sets of china, discrete bell pulls for the staff, and a lively family history.

Jill and Steve McKenzie
Jill and Steve McKenzie outside Pebble Hill Plantation

After soaking up the history and timeless design at Pebble Hill Plantation, we enjoyed a fabulous lunch at Sweet Grass Dairy Cheese Shop in downtown Thomasville. Are you a blue cheese lover like me? I highly recommend their Asher Blue.

Then we strolled along the bustling downtown sidewalks. We had to explore this amazing taxidermy shop, of course.

taxidermy Thomasville
Who can resist the taxidermy store?

Be sure to allow lots of shopping time, and don’t miss Firefly. It’s a magical place full of gifts for all ages, things you won’t see everywhere. Nan Myers is the mastermind of the magic, a talented event planner too. And there’s a local book store, toy store, clothing boutiques, and top it off with a chili dog from Billiard Academy’s walk up window.

Steve McKenzie Thomasville
https://www.cowtan.comSteve adding the final floral touches with simple magnolia branches.

Don’t you love that skirted table? Cowtan & Tout fabrics are a perennial design favorite of Steve’s. Easy way to update a hallway or side table too.

What cities and towns are on your weekend getaway list?

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Why I’m Part of the Influencers of Midlife Conference

Steve and I recently reviewed our calendars, looking ahead to the balance of Q1 and the opportunities in Q2. My eyes lit up at the Influencers of Midlife Conference, marked with colorful stars and underlines. It’s happening March 26 – 29 at the Hotel at Avalon, headed up by my dear friend, interior designer, over 50 fashion maven, Robin LaMonte. Steve wondered aloud and asked me why all the happy symbols (literally, in my journal)?

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Grandparents, Steve and Jill enjoying the view at La Fortezza Italy

So I stopped to think, why am I excited about IOM? Here are my top reasons, and I think some of them may resonate with you too.

Renew, recharge and replenish!
  • Hanging out with like-minded women for a whole weekend! Women who are life-learners, hard workers, active, and eager to share, and know where I’m coming from. My kind of peeps…
  • Learning from these women, everything from wellness to fashion tips to business advice. Midlife is a pivotal transitional point in our lives, many of us experience a spiritual and emotional renaissance.
  • I see myself through a different lens with these ladies. So much potential!
  • Sharing in a spirit of growth, support and kindness to each other and ourselves.
Speakers from all over the US

Quick peek at some of the fabulous speakers ~ Mitzi Beach, Vicki Gladle Bolick, Rhoda Vickers, Janet Coon, Linda Holt, Tonya Parker, myself and more. I’m making a list of all the questions – You Tube, podcasts, blogs, influencers – being intentional about learning from this fabulous tribe.

Design Bloggers Conference
Jill McKenzie Robin Lamonte
Jill McKenzie with Influencer of Midlife Founder, Robin LaMonte at the Design Influencers Conference

We’re in charge of what we do the rest of our lives. Invest in yourself at the Influencers of Midlife Conference this March!

Click here for ticket information. Hope to see you there~

How to Buy Art for Your Home

Now that the Christmas garland is stored away for another year, you may be staring at your walls and want a fresh look in 2020.

Perhaps adding art has been on your list, so maybe now’s the time. Then it occurs to you, how do I find some art for my home? As an artist and art collectors, we get this question a lot. I guess when your walls are full, and I mean chock full, of art, I guess it’s an obvious question. We’ve got some easy tips for you, breaking it into actionable pieces.

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Gallery wall in our living room as seen in Atlanta magazine HOME. Photo credit: Anthony Masterson Photography

Where do I find art for my home?

First tip, start local, explore your city. Now get out your calendar (digital or paper), as you have an amazing opportunity this month to see over 350 select artists in one spot at Spotlight on Art at Trinity school. Preview night is Monday, January 27 from 6 to 9pm. Another tip, make it a date night…it’s a very fun evening.

Many artists will be there (including Steve McKenzie), so as you are perusing the art, introduce yourself to them, ask about their process, say ‘tell me more about this piece’. 

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Cirque by Steve McKenzie which will be at Spotlight on Art

When I visit a gallery or show, I like to make a full run through of a gallery, then circle back to stop and ponder the ones that caught my heart. And that’s what it’s all about. What speaks to you. Don’t worry about investment, is it going to be worth something later – it’s about bringing joy into your life and home.
Two other favorite galleries are Huff Harrington Fine Art in Buckhead and Kai-Lin Art in midtown west. Sign up for their emails and get yourself out there, expand your horizons and see some new things.

Ready to go? Make a list…

Before you start shopping, make a list of places where you would like a new piece of art. Take measurements, even take a photo of the space. Does it need to run horizontally? Should it be a vertical? Could it be 3 dimensional? Keep this in mind as you look at art and remember you could always frame a small piece to be bigger. See how we added this vivid painting by Elias Rivera in an otherwise empty space!

Jill with a favorite painting by Elias Rivera. Photo Credit: CatMax Photography

Have fun with this! Art is good for the soul, mind and home. Show us what you find with the hashtag #inspiredtailoredauthentic.

Grateful for Home

Our collection of over 40 vintage turkeys sets the mood for November

As November comes to a close, we’re grateful for being part of so many homes, near and far. Whether Steve has had the privilege of enhancing your home’s interior or exterior design, or perhaps you’ve added a piece of his art to your walls, or given a chair a facelift with his fabric, know we are truly grateful for your trust in us and our team at McKenzie Design.

cozy home warm inviting living room
McKenzie Design is now taking clients for early 2020. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.
Photo credit: Gustav Wilde

Wherever you are, enjoy your time with family and friends this Thanksgiving.

International Coffee Day

International coffee day
Coffee makes the world go round.

Today we celebrate International Coffee Day, but isn’t every day a celebration of coffee? Having been a tea-only gal for years, coffee has grown on me, thanks to our three years of living in Colorado.

These days our favorite at-home method is Cafe Bustelo cold brew. How do you drink your coffee? Does it vary throughout the day?

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Big swig of caffeine at The Southern C Summit in Charleston.

Actually, the orange Illy espresso machine was our first love, and still is for a satisfying espresso or special cappuccino with steamed milk. It still holds a place of honor in our kitchen as you can see in this photo. Next time you visit our design office or Steve’s art studio, let’s sit down and enjoy an espresso together.

Atlanta magazine HOME
Pops of orange in the McKenzie kitchen. Photo credit: Anthony Masterson

International Coffee Day takes into account all methods from drip brew, espresso, instant, iced and cold brew, our favorite method. If there are several coffee lovers at home, you may want to try making a batch of this smooth-tasting liquid black gold. Here’s the link to our inspiration from the Pioneer Woman blog. Be prepared as it does take some time (overnight) to brew and some time to strain it into your pitchers. But it’s so worth it! Mix with your milk of choice, add ice and maybe a swig of vanilla syrup for a special treat.

International Coffee Day
Deliciously rich aroma fills the kitchen as the cold brew steeps.
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For sure! Photo credit Kalyn Johnson of Effie’s Papers

And as our talented friend, Kalyn Johnson says, Ok but first coffee. Now, go out there and slay the day!

Soothing Bedroom Retreat

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Steve McKenzie designs a soothing bed for Peacock Alley

Atlanta interior designer, Steve McKenzie had the wonderful opportunity to design the bedroom of his dreams in Peacock Alley’s Designer Bed Series, a soothing retreat. Drawing from his experience in channeling clients’ needs and wants and his own, he created a calm cocoon, a get-away from the daily grind.

 soothing bedroom
Cozy cocoon from the daily grind

Using his iconic loop fabric in a custom warm cafe au lait color, Steve created a cozy headboard to frame the setting. His fabrics are digitally printed, so easily customizable to work in any decor. The addition of framed artwork elevates the space and makes it personal. Remember it’s easy to change out seasonally too.

Peacock Alley
Steve created a soothing oasis for a restful sleep. Original art by Steve McKenzie

Peacock Alley offers so many choices of luxurious bedding styles, colors and fabrics. Steve had so much fun with their vast repertoire of sheets, blankets, duvets and more. White pique shams grounded the warm tones of the pillow shams, duvet cover and dust ruffle. As a special touch, a regal single monogram was added to the outside corner of the Grand Euro pique shams.

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Steve created the outer corner monogram for the Grand Euro shams.
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Steve and his signature monogram
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A layered bed with a mix of comfort, calm and sophistication

Many thanks to Peacock Alley (our go-to for quality bedding) for the Designer Bed Series collaboration. Give it some thought. What’s the bed of your dreams?

Friday | What We’re Loving

Delightful dahlias

On Fridays, we review the highs and lows of the week, pause to ponder, and then plan for the next few weeks.

This Friday, we are loving the buildup of excitement for the upcoming Fall Design Events at AmericasMart and ADAC, the Southeast’s most comprehensive dual-venue design resource, and Steve was tapped to highlight the collaboration between these two trade shopping destinations. Over the past month, he thoughtfully created luxurious curated vignettes at each location which will be open to the trade. AmericasMart is open from Sept. 23-25 and Discover ADAC is set for Sept. 24-26 – hope to see you there!

We love dahlias…that’s our September obsession, as you can tell from Steve’s instagram account. Thanks to the sustainably-grown flower and fruit farm, 3 Porch Farm, dahlias have graced our table for two weeks. Maybe we’ll see you at the Freedom Farmers Market on Saturday. While you’re there, pick up some fabulous heirloom tomatoes too, and then make Southern Living’s Tomato Pie recipe, a real showstopper.

Finally as we pause and look ahead, the holidays (can you say Hallmark movies) will be here before you know it. We have company coming this year and thankfully we are ready for guests anytime with our beautiful American Leather Sleeper Sofa. It really is superb because there are no bars, no springs, stylish and comfy. Find out more at Verde Home, and remember to #shoplocal.

American Leather
American Leather Comfort Sleeper Sofa at Verde Home

National Dog Day + Our Favorite Dog

Today is National Dog Day. Another made-up holiday? Perhaps, but let’s take minute to love on our furry friends, and our family favorite dogs is the English Springer Spaniel, a cheerful, intelligent, attentive dog. Read on about our three ESS loves…

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Oreo, guardian of the youngest or the oldest person in the room

When we moved from the Chicago area to Atlanta in 1990, we added our first Springer, Oreo to the family, and soon thereafter our son, Carter. That sweet dog let Carter and then baby sister, Mimi learn to walk by holding onto her fur and toddling along with them. When Oreo was done, she gave them a lick, making them squeal with giggles and let go, and then tucked herself into her kennel, her safe place. I can’t say enough about our Atlanta award-winning breeder, Karen Foster. She interviewed us, giving us the pup best suited for our lifestyle, and she was spot on with Oreo. Tip – Ask you breeder lots of questions about their processes as it could save you lots of time and heartache.

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Guard dogs? Not quite, but they sure were sweet shop dogs.

As Oreo aged, we got another puppy to bridge the gap, Biscotti or Bisi. And was she every busy! She could find a tennis ball in anyone’s yard. This cute girl was a star in our Traditional Home story too. See her peeking in the front door?

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Bisi looking for her kids Photo credit: Sarah Dorio

After Oreo’s passing, it was just Bisi and our three kids. So… 8th grade daughter, Mimi, sat Steve and I down for a powerpoint presentation on why we should adopt another English Springer Spaniel from Springer Rescue America. Guess what the answer was? You guessed it. Duke joined us one month later.

English Springer Rescue America has chapters all over the United States.
Bisi hanging out in Traditional Home spread. Photo credit: Sarah Dorio
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Bisi + Duke hanging out upstairs. Photo credit: Sarah Dorio
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Adventure Duke at Atlanta Memorial Park

Why do we love our dogs? They comfort us just by being there. We look forward to coming home to that wagging tail. My dog teaches me to be more patient. My dog teaches me to find joy in the little things. Dogs lift our spirits, they are natural mood elevators. They keep us socially connected at the dog park, running into a neighbor on a walk around the block. Whether you take your dog to a “yappy” hour at a local dog-friendly spot, or just give your pooch some extra love, celebrate time with your furry friend!

Artist in Residency Recap

A month in Italy to create art – a dreamy opportunity! How did this come about, you may ask. Here’s a quick art recap of how Steve’s Artist in Residence at La Fortezza came about and the fabulous results.

You may remember last fall, Steve taught a painting workshop at Annette Joseph’s 9th century villa, La Fortezza. It was full of creativity, laughs and exploration. That lead to this offer from Annette, be the first Artist in Residence, creating work inspired by the region. And he said YES! So, this past July, he did just that, creating a body of work that reflects the history, geography and beauty of the Lunigiana region. Truly a gift to focus on art for a full month.

If you haven’t been to this part of Italy, add it to your travel bucket list. Lunigiana is a historic region between Tuscany and Liguria, drenched in history, unique foods and breathtaking views.

Italy, art, Steve mckenzie's

Being familiar with the town and nearby art store, Steve knew what supplies he needed to take and what he could purchase there. So, with brushes and paint in hand, he spread out in the spacious studio, working on many canvases and paper pieces at once, as the inspiration moved him.

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Soldata Romano II

One of the benefits of being in one place for a longer period of time is you make friends with the locals. This was especially helpful as Steve wanted to make copies of historic rare books and ephemera at the local rare books archives, to incorporate into his paintings. With some patience and help with translating, he got more than he needed, including the Roman soldier seen above, an atlas of the region from 1785, and a lawyer’s goat skin bound book of contracts from 1635, all incorporated into various works of art.

It wasn’t all painting, there was cooking to be done, in Annette’s fabulous kitchen, plus visiting local museums, sites and an artists’ co-op. Check out Annette’s many workshops here.

Italy, food, Mutti tomatoes
A new favorite, Mutti tomatoes mixed with simple garden produce were the base for many suppers.

One of the artists shared some scrap chunks of Carrara marble with Steve. What an amazing new conduit for his art, another blessing from travels and learning from new friends.

Sculpture by Steve McKenzie – Carrara marble

How does one end such a wonderful month of painting? With a show of course! A downpour didn’t dampen our spirits either. The food truck brought the food inside the studio where our friends, local and from afar, ate, drank and danced into the night.

The next day, we packed up the art, said ciao to La Fortezza, and headed to the iconic beach town, Forte Dei Marmi, the perfect way to cap off a jubilant July.

Easy Icing for Steve’s Cake

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Steve McKenzie topping off the Sour Cream Cake with this easy icing!

We’re tickled at all the requests for this easy recipe, and happy to share. It will become part of your baking repertoire for sure. If you missed the Sour Cream Cake recipe, jump back to this blog post.

Add a special flavor with Jackson Morgan Southern Cream Salted Caramel

Good old Food Network and Alton Brown came to the rescue for a simple royal icing and here’s the recipe. Always looking to change things up, Steve decided to incorporate the delicious Jackson Morgan Southern Cream in Salted Caramel.

icing Jackson Morgan
Add a special ingredient to this versatile icing
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A couple of bowls, your trusty hand mixer, and fresh mint
icing Steve McKenzie The Preppy Stitch
Perfect for sharing with friends

Just add a few colorful touches like the Creative Candles votives, pretty Mottahadeh plates, and these darling monogrammed napkins from The Preppy Stitch, and you have a dessert party.

Let us know if you make this cake and icing, and if you use a special ingredient in the icing. Tag and follow us on Instagram and/or Facebook. Happy baking!