Wanderlust Wednesday – Chicago

We’re blaming our recent want of a visit to The Windy City on the March issue of Peachy the Magazine, a now favorite digital publication we learned about at the recent Design Bloggers Conference. While attending the conference, we were fortunate enough to meet Blair Farris, Peachy’s Publisher and Editor in Chief, who told us all about this fantastic magazine, and sent us digital subscriptions.

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The first issue we received in our in-boxes was the aforementioned March issue, and not only is it chock full of beautiful design and lifestyle stories, trends, photography and products, this issue was all about Chicago! The various Chicago articles are truly a feast for the senses – from a virtual “tour” of the city with Cindy Trestman, wife of head Chicago Bears coach, Marc Trestman, to a beautiful piece on “Public Art in the Second City – Second to None;” Peachy had us thinking back… Way back to a favorite trip Jill took with Mimi, she and Steve’s youngest, and Mimi’s Grandmother to Chicago.


Although the primary goal of this girl’s trip to Chicago was to dine at the infamous American Girl Store (before the one in Atlanta opened), the trio enjoyed much of what this beautiful city had to offer – Millennium Park and all that green space right in the heart of the city!



And we have to agree – the public art available for all to enjoy in Chicago is second to none. Inspiration galore! Even Mimi, who was in elementary school at the time, enjoyed the art. She’s a McKenzie for sure!


When they did finally make it to the American Girl restaurant, you can imagine how surprised Jill was to be seated in a room set in the style of the iconic Dorothy Draper!


And, of course, the American Girl customer service was on par with that of a Disney theme park – complete with tiny dining chairs, perfectly sized for Mimi’s American Girl doll!


Mimi’s dreams came true that trip when her wishes to visit American Girl became a reality – but, the adults enjoyed the trip just as much, thanks to all Chicago had to offer. Now we’re thinking it’s time to go back!

Thanks to Peachy for inspiring our latest Wanderlust Wednesday post, and giving us a good reason to glimpse back to a trip we all remember fondly!

Tastemaker Tuesday – Michael Devine

We’re honored to have the opportunity to share the latest designer to participate in our Tastemaker Tuesday blog series – the brilliant Michael Devine! Not only is Michael an amazingly talented designer, his fabric collection is to die for, and he’s now an author! In fact, we carry Michael’s brand new book, An Invitation to the Garden, at steve mckenzie’s… So be sure to check it out next time you visit the showroom!

Now, we’re thrilled to share Michael’s Tastemaker Tuesday responses with you:

Michael Devine - steve mckenzie's - atlanta interior design
Michael Devine

Michael Devine was raised in Illinois, where his passion for all aspects of design was nurtured. He studied art history at the Ecole du Louvre, French at the Sorbonne and cooking at the Ritz Escoffier. It was during his two years of living in Paris that honed his eye and continues to inspire his work. He returned to New York and spent over six years as a style and party editor at HFN Magazine where he covered the glittering design world on both sides of the Atlantic. It was this experience that gave him the drive to create his bespoke fabric collection of modern traditional hand prints, which are known for their desirable chic hand crafted look. Michael left the magazine world in 2006 to pursue his design passion full time. He found a charming property in the upstate village of Kinderhook, New York where he continues to refine his aesthetic and craft in his studio.

1. What are three words that describe your aesthetic?

Layered, contemporary and classic

2. Would you please share a little about your favorite space/project to date?

My favorite project has to be my new book, An Invitation to the Garden. I really enjoyed the entire process, as well as the freedom to be totally creative. It was a rare opportunity to have to have so much latitude, which I owe to my amazing Editor Sandy Gilbert, and publisher Rizzoli International.


3. What’s the source of your inspiration?

My imagination.

4. Name three people (alive or dead) you’d invite to your dream dinner party…

Aerin Lauder, I love her style, Jennifer Boles of The Peak of Chic, her wit and charm make her an ideal guest, and Marion McEvoy, she is a constant inspiration and so much fun.

5. What’s a piece of/type of furniture you couldn’t live without?

A good bed- without a decent nights sleep the next day is a waste.

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6. Do you follow a particular set of rules when mixing textures, finishes, etc. – how do they work for you?

No, I just do whatever seems right at the time.

7. Trending… What is something you are currently “into” and something you are “over?”

I am into the very classic, haute French cuisine that nobody does anymore. The complexities of creating it are fascinating.

I am over Kale. Enough already with the kale. It tastes like rubber.

8. How does artwork fit into your designs?

I spend a lot of time in museums and am in constant in awe of the complex color combinations I find in the 17th and 18th century paintings.

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9. What would be the one thing you would have if you were stranded on a deserted island?

The complete works of Balzac.

10. Please share a piece of advice you’d offer to someone looking to break into the interior design industry…

Find a mentor. Their support and guidance are invaluable.

We’re so grateful to Michael for taking part in our Tastemaker Tuesday series – we’re sure our readers will find you as fascinating as we do. And to those readers, come in and check out Michael’s new book… The inspiration it provides is absolutely endless!

Scene Savoring – On The AristoCats & Parenting…

The other day, sitting at the doctor’s office with our youngest, Mimi, it hit me. Right there, while watching “AristoCats” and waiting for the nurse… After 28 years of visits to the doctor’s office for baby wellness checkups, coughs, sprains, strep throats, etc. this may be one of my last visits to the pediatrician.

Mimi will be going off to college in the fall, and then, Steve and my’s time as parents to children who live at home will come to an end. And, right then while watching this classic Disney animated movie, I became a bit sad.


While we’re so eager for Mimi to spread her wings and realize her full potential, as our oldest, Molly, and middle child, Carter, are doing, we’re also a bit apprehensive of what the future will be like when our services as taxi driver, short order cook, and cheer leader are no longer needed.

Grown and Flown has already become a fantastic resource for me as we look toward this next phase in parenting. Because, as many of you know, you’ll never not be a parent, no matter how old your children. Thank you to our dear friend MaryDell, whom I met at the Southern C Summit, who also writes for this fantastic blog about empty nest parenting, for opening my eyes to all of the wonderful things that come with parenting grown children.

And thank you to the doctor’s office for giving me that little bit of extra time with Mimi, watching AristoCats, and being unplugged, and present in the moment it was a scene to savor indeed.

~ Jill

p.s. As a self-proclaimed expert in picking out voices, a little question for our readers: Who is the voice of Duchess in AristoCats? – I knew it right away and you can find out by clicking here. Be honest… did you need to click, or did you know right away too?

Crafting + Whisky = A Few of Our Favorite Things!

We were fortunate enough to be invited to a fantastic bloggers event this past Friday, sponsored by The Balvenie, single malt scotch whisky, in celebration of the 25th American Craft Council‘s (ACC) Show at the Cobb Galleria… And let us tell you, any event that combines fantastic design with great whisky is a win in our book!

And even more fortunately, our friend and fabulous designer, Lori May of Lori May Interiors included furnishings and accessories from steve mckenzie’s in her beautiful space at the ACC Show, as a part of their Make Room, Modern Design Meets Craft-Let’s Entertain exhibit.

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Lori’s space, featuring furnishings and accessories from steve mckenzie’s.

A big thank you to Lori for including us! The ACC selected some wonderful Atlanta area designers to design a space inspired by some of the craft vendors at the show, and there were so many amazing designs. Handcrafted items add such a unique element to a space, and the designs featured in this exhibit didn’t disappoint!

Bill Peace, Jonathan Wingo, & Jill McKenzie
Bill Peace, Jonathan Wingo, & Jill McKenzie

The evening of the big event, celebrating the ACC Show, and their designer exhibits, was all about great design and whisky tasting… Perfection! In preparation of this night, the ACC asked the supremely talented Bill Peace, of Peace Design, to create a whisky-tasting room. Of course, it was a sight to be seen, so warm and wonderful!

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Two of the distinctive whiskys, by The Balvenie, which we tasted – delicious!

In addition to the wonderful whiskys featured that night, The Balvenie called out four other small, handcrafters whom they admire, including Hoosier Bats, from Valparaiso, IN, and Colsen Keane Leathers, from Charlotte, NC, which we carry in store at steve mckenzie’s!

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Bill Peace’s whisky-tasting room, with The Balvenie, featuring leather goods by Colsen Keane.

The ACC and The Balvenie certainly put on a memorable event and we are grateful to have been invited, and included in that fantastic space by Lori May Interiors. And a shout out to our friend Mary Jane Payne of Forever 51, who came along – you made the evening even more enjoyable! Here’s to amazing handcrafted art, fabulous design, and delicious whisky!

Wishing you all the luck o’ the Irish – Happy St. Patrick’s Day from steve mckenzie’s!

The steve mckenzie’s team here wishing you all the luck o’ the Irish on this St. Patrick’s day! Hopefully you’re donning a bit of green today and looking forward to a nice pint or sip of good Irish whiskey tonight.

steve mckenzie's Atlanta Interior Design
Some of our green offerings here at steve mckenzie’s.

We’ve been dreaming of green in the showroom, thanks to the holiday… Hopefully some of these items inspire you to bring a bit of green into your home this spring to help brighten your space!

Happy St. Patrick’s day to you and yours!

3 Simple Steps: Turn Your Outdoors into an Entertaining Oasis

We’ve been talking a lot about outdoor entertaining lately, and it’s no wonder… It all started with the outdoor room Steve designed for the Atlanta Homes and Lifestyles Holiday Showhouse, and now that the weather is finally warming (albeit slowly), it’s time to take those cocktail hours, dinner parties, and relaxed soirees with friends and family outdoors!

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Steve enjoying an outdoor cocktail hour!

But, after the harsh winter we’ve all experienced, your outdoor space may be lacking inspiration. No worries – steve mckenzie’s to the rescue! We have three simple steps to effortlessly transform your outdoor space into an inviting entertaining oasis:

steve mckenzie's Atlanta Interior Design
These steve mckenzie’s fabrics in the Ocean colorway would be add a wonderful POP of color to any outdoor space!

1. Bring your cloth napkins and other table linens outside. Don’t be afraid of a little dirt! The soft texture and pops of color fun linens provide will be SO worth the extra load of laundry. Get creative when looking for new linens to introduce during your outdoor entertaining – simple dish towels become the perfect napkins for casual, outdoor entertaining. And Grandma’s classic, printed tablecloth that’s always seemed too simple for your holiday gatherings? It’ll be the perfect, special statement piece for your next outdoor dinner party!

steve mckenzie's Atlanta Interior Design
Some strategically placed greenery will add THE perfect, welcome touch to your outdoor space!

2. Go green… Yes, even when entertaining outdoors! A smartly placed potted plant, or floral arrangement is welcome in any space – including your outdoor entertaining space. If you have an outdoor fireplace or fire pit, add some luscious green ferns for a breath of fresh air and contrasting texture. Including greenery withIN your outdoor space, is just as important as the greenery and scenery surrounding it.

steve mckenzie's Atlanta Interior Design
You can accessorize your outdoor space with pillows and throws just as you would indoors!

3. Add comfort and cheer with strategically selected accessories. A few vibrantly colored outdoor pillows will create the warmest welcome your guests could imagine! Who wouldn’t want to curl up and relax on an outdoor chair or sofa accented with the perfect pillow?!? And for those cooler summer nights… Offer your guests a soft throw to warm their laps; the party doesn’t have to end just because the temperature drops a few degrees.

Most of the suggestions we’ve offered up can be achieved with items you already have, and use, indoors. You just have to have no fear when entertaining outdoors, and bring the indoors out to create a truly comfortable environment your guests may never want to leave!

steve mckenzie’s & Design Bloggers Conference 2014 – Part 2

Thank you all so much for the positive feedback on part one of our 2014 DBC recap post! We’re so glad you enjoyed our little synopsis. We certainly had quite the experience and are excited to share our part two post, highlighting day two of the 2014 Design Bloggers Conference…

Day two started off with a BANG, thanks to the gal who needs no introduction in our book, Candice Olson!

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It was such a treat to hear Candice speak, and her “Before & Afters” were truly show stoppers! Her Keynote address shared some brilliant tidbits, including how to help clients understand the balance between the investment in an interior designer and the return on their investment. Candice also focused a good portion of her presentation on the importance of contrast in design – something we’re fans of here at steve mckenzie’s. Contrast is key, and her discussion on natural vs man-made contrast, contrast in color, textures, and styles couldn’t be beat!

One of our favorite quotes of the day also came from Candice’s Keynote: “Thank goodness for the 80’s – it supplied a lot of work for us!”

We really had a ball during the next presentation on “The Role of Social Media & Building a Luxury Brand,” thanks to the energetic Toma Clark Haines!

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Jill McKenzie & Toma Clark Haines

Her candid discussion had us dreaming of antique scouting trips to Eurpoe and champagne lunches… In addition to all of the invaluable information she shared – including, her key piece of advice to us bloggers on creating a niche for your blog. Something we’re certainly in the process of working toward.  We’re really taking her advice to heart and are looking forward to sharing what we learned from Toma (and the other 2014 DBC presenters) here on the blog for steve mckenzie’s.

Robert Neu‘s presentation on “Building a Blog Google will Love” was up next, and was absolutely fantastic. Robert is a great presenter with even better advice on a topic that has many of us miffed – finding and implementing the perfect Search Engine Optimization (SEO) formula for your blog. Utilizing SEO is so important, but many of us don’t know how to make it work in the best interest of our blog, clientele, readers, etc. We’re excited to begin implementing much of what Robert taught us, and hopefully making our blog readily searchable for all who may be interested!

The Dwell with Dignity presentation came up next – we touched on this phenomenal event in part one of this series here – and had us all practically in tears… Seeing their video of their Atlanta project was a show-stopping moment for us at DBC, and we can’t wait to work with them in the future, to continue supporting their campaign to create beautiful spaces for more deserving families! Check out the touching video they debuted with us at DBC here:

Speaking of a memorable video, the next time slot was devoted to “Growing Your Brand with Creative Videos;” presented by Stacey Bewkes and Susanna Salk</a the dynamic duo behind some of our favorite (and most inspired!) videos, from Quintessence.

For us, another big, day two, highlight of DBC was hearing HGTV’s Alison Victoria speak about using “Digital Tools and the Design Profession.” Our own Jill McKenzie was lucky enough to be invited to a dinner with Alison on the Monday night of DBC, thanks to the folks at HomeAdvisor – it was an evening to remember, for sure, and Alison was such a joy to dine with!

Alison Victoria
Alison Victoria & Jill McKenzie

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Alison touched on partnering with technology to work together, and to help work with clients in a more effective way. Now that people have greater access to technology and the internet, it’s important we embrace it and make it work FOR us, and not against us. Great advice!

The final presentation of DBC 2014 was, so appropriately, on “The Future of Blogging;” as shared by Tobi Fairley and Jennifer Boles. Their advice is truly worth heeding, and something we’ll be reflecting on as we continue to grow our own blog. Both Tobi and Jennifer have unique blog perspectives, and the respect they’ve earned through the growth of their own brands is something we greatly appreciate. Maintaining a successful blog now, and in the future, is a job, but one we look forward to. And, thanks to this presentation, something we have a better understanding of.

All in all, a fabulous conference indeed! We’re simply filled with a renewed energy and new-found passion for blogging… So, please continue checking back for fun and informative content with a steve mckenzie’s twist.

Cheers to the 2014 Design Bloggers Conference all of the wonderful people we were lucky enough to experience it with!

steve mckenzie’s & Design Bloggers Conference 2014 – Part 1

We’re just getting back into a regular routine post Design Bloggers Conference 2014 (DBC) – and after this whirlwind conference, regular may never be again. It was a motivating and an inspiring few days, for sure! Filled with fun, fabulous advice, and friends new and old. Attending this exciting conference cemented our commitment to the blog for steve mckenzie’s and we’re thrilled to begin implementing some of what we’ve learned and what’s inspired us here with you!

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We’re sharing all about our DBC 2014 experience with you in a two-part blog series so even if you weren’t able to attend, maybe you’ll feel as if you were there, even if it was just for a bit. Or, if you were lucky enough to go, hopefully you’ll enjoy hearing about it from our perspective…

For the steve mckenzie’s team, our DBC 2014 experience begun Sunday afternoon, at the party celebrating Dwell with Dignity’s first Atlanta makeover, featuring our friends Kerry Howard (yes, the same “Tastemaker” we shared recently!) and Brian Patrick Flynn, who worked on the design of the space, and a fantastic group of DIY experts and volunteers. We were thrilled to help this great cause, and look forward to doing more in the future! On our way out, we did have a little fun at the photo booth:


After the party, we were ready to get the DBC 2014 party started… literally, with the conference’s opening event at Atlantic Station hosted by Sunbrella and Traditional Home. It was a great time, and we met many new faces. The loft space Sunbrella had designed was just fantastic, and had us dreaming of in-town living!

DBC 2014 officially kicked off in a big way Monday morning with a Keynote address by Bravo TV’s “Million Dollar Designer,” Jeffery Alan Marks! We loved learning how he adds one thing in every space that’s an accident. What a smart way to keep things interesting!

In addition to Jeffery’s keynote address, we, like the rest of the DBC 2014 attendees, were greatly inspired by the floral on stage, including two of these amazing Ranunculus and Rose arrangements…

Stage floral at DBC

After ogling the floral, and absorbing all Jeffery Alan Marks had to share, we were ready to get to the “Business of Blogging,” an amazingly informative talk, which featured one of our all-time favorite bloggers, Palamoa Contreras of La Dolce Vita (celebrity moment!). We also met blogger, and landscaper extrodinaire, Jan Bills, of Two Women and a Hoe. Jan is a laugh and a half, not to mention brilliant. We have another blogger crush!

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The lovely Paloma, educating the DBC audience.
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Paloma Contreras and Jill McKenzie after day one of DBC 2014.

After another informative session on “Digital Content Marketing,” the 2014 Design Blogger Hall of Fame awards were announced. And, the big winner for “Best Overall Design Blog” went to none other than La Dolce Vita! Congrats to our friend Paloma on this much-deserved win!

The next session on “Building your Brand” was uuber popular. Our friend, and editor, Amy Flurry was one of the speakers and shared some secrets from her fabulous book, “Recipe for Press.” This was a session not to miss!

Celebrity designer, Timothy Corrigan offered up the next Keynote Address, and spoke to an enthralled audience on “Designing your Brand.” He spoke from such a unique perspective, sharing how he took his experiences from working in advertising to build his brand as a designer. He also doesn’t believe a room is well designed if it’s not comfortable – right on!

Day one of DBC 2014 ended with a wine tasting – yes, a wine tasting! And a fantastic talk on how to turn any topic into a lively and shareable story by Jeremy Parzen, who authors the wildly popular blog Do Bianchi, where he talks about wine and so much more!

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Each of the three wines we tasted represented a different time in Jeremy’s life, the story he told us, and how he made it shareable. Not only were the wines wonderful, so was his speech!

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Phew! That was quite a day… And to think, that was only day one. Day two was just as fantastic, if not more so. Like we shared earlier, DBC 2014 was quite an experience! We hope you’ll join us for our re-cap of day two, which we’ll be sharing here very soon!

If you attended DBC 2014, please let us know what you thought about the conference and who your favorite speakers were…

Adding Spunk with a Sputnik

A Sputnik chandelier always makes a statement.

A vibrant orange Sputnik chandelier always makes a BIG statement.


And that’s exactly what Steve McKenzie was going for when he had this especially funky Sputnik chandelier installed above the main gathering space in the outdoor living room he was charged with in the recent Holiday Showhouse for Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles.


Believe it or not, this spunky light fixture has a place in just about any style space. Check out the “Sputnik Love” board on the Pinterest page for steve mckenzie’s, just to get an idea of all the ways these astonishing pieces can be used.

Here at steve mckenzie’s we love using a Sputnik to offer a modern element and provide some creative tension with otherwise classical and traditional style. They’re especially beautiful over a classic round pedestal table in a foyer or even grouped at different heights in a soaring entry! Sputniks are fabulous over a dining table because of the openness it provides – never impeding sight lines. In a bedroom they are great over the bed, and depending on the style can really bring an element of fun (bright colors) or of luxury with crystal bulbs.

The biggest pitfall to watch out for when using a Sputnik to always keep scale in mind. If using a Sputnik over a dining table, make the longest arms 2/3 of the width of the table. Likewise, when scaled too small, they can look silly especially in a grand room. If you need more of a statement, group them!

Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles - Feb. 14_pg.17Our friends at Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles also have a love for the Sputnik! They picked the chandelier, selected by Steve for the outdoor living space, as one of the noteworthy items from their Holiday Showhouse, and highlighted it in their “New + Next” feature in the February 2014 issue!

In fact, a half-page spread was devoted to the statement made by a good Sputnik. Steve McKenzie was quoted in this piece, sharing…

“Lighting is to interiors what jewelry is to fashion; a statement piece that can set the tone for the room. A Sputnik chandelier adds instant energy, texture and a sculptural element – without overpowering a space.

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So, have you been turned on to finding the perfect Sputnik for your space yet?!? Or, if you’re lucky enough to already have your home bedazzled by your very own Sputnik, please share what you love most about it!

Here’s to the jewelry that is fabulous lighting and the timelessness of the Sputnik chandelier!