Tastemaker Tuesday – James Wheeler

Our friend, James Wheeler, of J. Wheeler Designs has agreed to be featured as our latest Tastemaker for the blog for steve mckenzie’s and we couldn’t be more thrilled! His unique take on design often leaves us speechless and his use of color and texture is just phenomenal. Plus, he’s just a really nice person to boot. We feel so lucky we’ve had the opportunity to get to know him, and his work and we’re waiting with baited breath to see his next project! Please read below to learn a bit about James and to see his responses to our fun Tastemaker questions…

James Wheeler
James Wheeler

A Georgia native, James founded J. Wheeler Designs in 2012 after a decade of experience designing residential interiors. His classic meets contemporary style has been injected into small and large scale spaces throughout Atlanta and the Southeastern United States. James’ methodology is led by the philosophy that the home should be a haven and the primary centerpiece for life’s moments. His work has been featured in Elle Décor, House Beautiful, Real Simple, Rue, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles and other national shelter publications.

View More: http://rusticwhitephotography.pass.us/jameswheelerdesigns

1. Three words that describe your aesthetic?

Timeless, Livable, Sophisticated

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

I have a number of projects that I would consider my favorite and it seems that each project we complete quickly becomes my favorite.  I am particularly fond of a project we recently completed in San Francisco – a full remodel of a classic Bungalow in Berkeley which began with the kitchen and master bath.  The primary reason I love this project is because of the clients.  They are the most amazing couple with the best energy.  They are open to learning about all aspects of design and they really enjoy the process. Their energy and excitement has made this project easy and fun which can sometimes be challenging when living in the middle of a remodel.  The design is pretty amazing, too!


3. What’s the source(s) of your inspiration?

I try my best to remain open to everything around me since inspiration can be drawn from some of the most unexpected places.  Some of my go-to sources of inspiration include fashion photography, nature, travel, music and a really good hotel.

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

Jackie O for the history and sophistication, Joan Collins because I grew up watching Dynasty and it reminds me of a time of excess and I would want her to share those stories and Adele because of her humor and to provide some quality entertainment.

View More: http://rusticwhitephotography.pass.us/jameswheelerdesigns

5. A piece of/type of furniture you couldn’t live without?

A really good sofa.  One with great design but more importantly one that is comfortable.  Preferably an aged leather or upholstered down.

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

I am not classically trained in design so everything I know about the field is self-taught.  I do not follow any particular set of rules when designing a space and I am not afraid to mix things that are unexpected or that may not be technically correct.  My primary goal with any space is that it functions for my client’s needs and that it creates a sense of peace and order.  I want my clients to fall in love with the spaces they entrust us to design every time they walk through the door.

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

Loving – Color – it’s so wonderful to see a return to color in every aspect of design
Over – The color Gray.  A beautiful neutral that is timeless when used properly but completely overdone at the moment
8. How does artwork fit into your designs?
Artwork is a must for all of our designs.  When I’m meeting with a client for the first time I like to understand if they are collectors or if they are looking to build a collection and their views on art.  I find clients that are not collectors typically just aren’t as informed about art.  For these clients we have the privilege of exposing them to the importance of original art and how it can really impact a space.  It’s always fun to see them drawn to a particular piece or artist and then bring that into their spaces.  For our clients that are collectors, we have the great opportunity to incorporate these pieces into our work and it often serves as a jumping off point for our designs.  My belief is that art personalizes a space and makes it unique to that individual so it’s important to bring into any space we design.
9. What would be the one thing you would have if you were stranded on a deserted island?

A telephone with an unlimited battery supply and a strong signal so I could call for help and be whisked away to the nearest boutique hotel for a terribly indulgent meal.   

View More: http://rusticwhitephotography.pass.us/jameswheelerdesigns

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

Find a good mentor, someone you trust who can give you candid advice and be boldly honest with you.  A great mentor can make all the difference and I have found them to be invaluable in my career.  I would also say that you can never underestimate the power of relationships in this business.  Carve out time in your schedule to spend time really investing in relationships and cultivating them.  You will draw upon these relationships more than you will ever know in the design industry so be kind to people and really spend time getting to know who they are.

That fish wallpaper above a bold and amazing selection! It’s those kind of design elements that have made us true fans of James’ work. We can also attest that he follows his own advice on creating relationships… And we agree – especially here within our local design community, which sometimes feels more like a family, ha!

Thank you James for being our latest Tastemaker!

Library Friday – Living Traditions: Interiors by Matthew Patrick Smyth

steve mckenzie’s team member, Xavier Neuner is back this week with another edition of “Library Friday,” a blog post featuring a book from our stash of fantastic, beautiful reads!

Xavier Neuner
Xavier Neuner

This time around, Xavier selected a book featuring stunning interiors by our friend – and steve mckenzie’s Tastemaker – Matthew Patrick Smyth.


The book titled “Living Traditions” was written with Judith Nasatir and highlights some of Smyth’s amazing interior designs, as captured by Principal Photographer, John Gruen.

LT 2

From Xavier:

Matthew Patrick Smyth is a New York based designer who has a keen sense of visual balance.  Images of his interiors showcase Smyth’s unique way of incorporating furniture, art and collectibles in many different styles; yet his spaces do not seem cluttered or over worked. 

LT 4

Smyth’s rooms are timeless and showcase each client’s personality.  As you flip through the pages of his book, you will read his tips and rules on design while viewing an array of spaces, including a very traditional home in West Point, with oil paintings, floral wallpaper and colonial and federal antiques. 

LT 5

Another section invites you to a Park Avenue apartment, whose living room features a woven animal print rug along with modern colorful art on the walls. 

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He has a way with blending contemporary items with antiques to create a space that is both familiar and still forward thinking.  Overall it is a fantastic book to add to your library or place on top of your coffee table.

Thank you for the book review Xavier, and for selecting a work that highlights so many amazing spaces by our friend, Matthew Patrick Smyth!

We invite you all to visit the steve mckenzie’s showroom and peruse our library, where you’re sure to find something intriguing.

Creative Spring Projects from Houzz & McKenzie Interior Design

McKenzie Interior Design was recently featured in Houzz’s “15 Creative and Crafty Spring Project Ideas” list and we couldn’t be more pleased to have been selected!

Flip through the above images to see all featured ideas for springtime projects and get inspired!

For extra inspiration on how to freshen your home for spring, reach out to the McKenzie Interior Design team today.

Five Top Tips for Creating a Fabulous Gallery Wall – WCAF Expo – Part 2

As you all may remember, we were lucky enough to attend and host a fantastic group of Design Bloggers at the 2016 West Coast Art & Frame Expo (WCAF)… We’ve shared a bit about all of the unique things you can have custom framed, and now we’d like to offer some top tips on creating a truly fabulous gallery wall.

We’ve been seeing an explosion of beautiful gallery walls for quite some time now, and while many may seem haphazard, there’s definitely a few tricks to making them work. During our time at WCAF, we noted a number of similarities between the gallery wall displays we found most effective, and thought we’d pull our notes together and share them here with you:

image via House & Garden
  1. Keep the art in the same tone – With as many pieces featured in the space above, things could have gotten chaotic quickly. This large gallery wall works because the art is all in the same black and white tone. While the sizes vary slightly, they pieces all appear to be pencil drawings in tones of black, white and grey. Keeping the art in the same colorway allows one to appreciate this gallery wall as a whole and as individual pieces.

    image found via Pinterest
  2. Use same sized artworks – By using artworks that are all the same size, you’re able to create a symmetrical grouping, no matter how many pieces are a part of the overall grouping. The gallery wall above features an array of what looks to be Audubon bird art, all of identical size. Although there are may colors in the works of art, the sizing of the pieces laid out in this grid, allows for a visual appealing gallery wall.

    image found via Setting for Four
  3. Feature identical custom frame designs – Your custom framer can get creative with their custom frame designs for your gallery wall, as long as they’re all the same. The above image features a black and white photo gallery wall. But, what’e really special about this space is the unique frame design. Although they stuck to classic black frames and white mats, the custom framer bottom weighted the mats. This provides a truly custom look that offers a stylistic element this otherwise basic design craves.

    image found via Home DIT
  4. Use frame mouldings of similar width and finishes – The above gallery wall features the ever-popular “salon” style grouping, which incorporates different types of art all in different colors, styles, textures, etc. While glancing at each work individually, you may not think it could work in a grouping with all of the other pieces, however, using custom frame mouldings in similar widths and finishes unifies a potentially mismatched grouping.

    image found via One Kings Lane
  5. Know when to vary the frame finishes – Changing up the finishes of the custom frame mouldings in a wall grouping can be tricky. The trick to making this look work is hanging a thoughtful layout. The space pictured above showcases different types of art, framed in many different ways, however it works because they utilized the horizon line hanging technique. Note the bottom edge of the bottom row of artworks all hit the same sight line. This gives reason and rhyme to a totally unique collection of custom framed art.

*Bonus tip – your Interior Designer or custom framer will be happy to do the dirty work, and hang your gallery wall, just as you desire… However, if you’re looking to DIY this step – say, if you’re collecting framed art over time – cut butcher paper to the same size of each pieces you’re hanging, and lay them out on the wall with tape. This will give you the ability to move things around, and visualize the final product without lots of unnecessary holes in the wall.

We hope we’ve inspired you to get a bit more creative with your art arranging and displays, just like our trip to WCAF inspired us to share these tips with you. Gallery walls can provide a space with tons of style and personality, we encourage everyone to find just one place in their home for a gallery wall.

If you need assistance creating a gallery wall for your home, please contact the team at steve mckenzie’s and we’ll be more than happy to create something perfect for you and your space!

St. Patty’s Day Greetings from steve mckenzie’s

We hope you’re all experiencing the luck ‘o the Irish today… After all, it’s St. Patrick’s Day!

st patricks greeting

Come in to the steve mckenzie’s showroom today and take a gander at all of our green goodies available – you’re sure to find a special treat!

Vik Muniz at The High Museum

There is a fantastic exhibit currently on show at the High Museum here in Atlanta – featuring the amazingly creative works of Vik Muniz. Known as one of the world’s most innovative artists of the 21st century, Vik Muniz, works with unconventional materials, such as sugar, tomato suace, magazine clippings, dust, and junk to create what he calls “photographic delusions.”

Vik Muniz, self portrait
Vik Muniz, self portrait

Once his artworks are complete, he records many of them with his camera, often resulting in images that quote those from popular culture and the history of art.

Although this appears to be a line drawing, it's actually a work created using a single piece of wire. By Vik Muniz
Although this appears to be a line drawing, it’s actually a work created using a single piece of wire. By Vik Muniz

For Vik Muniz, it’s all about the power of the viewer’s process of perception. He explores matter in a way no one ever has before.

Vik Muniz's Mona Lisa, made from peanut butter and jelly!
Vik Muniz’s Mona Lisa, made from peanut butter and jelly!

This is an ideal exhibit to view with the family, as there’s something for everyone! The kids will love the unique use of materials, while expanding their cultural horizons. The Vik Muniz exhibit will run through August 21, 2016, and we strongly suggest making a goal of seeing it before it’s gone – it’s unforgettable!

Support Dress for Success by Shopping the O Magazine Collection at Talbots

Last year, we introduced our blog readers to Dress for Success, a non-profit organization that does a tremendous job of providing interview suits, confidence boosts, and career development to low-income women. They’re back on our radar now, with a fantastic promotion in conjunction with O Magazine and Talbots.


Seven new pieces were designed for Talbots in collaboration with O Magazine‘s Creative Director, Adam Glassman, and 30% of the net proceeds will go to benefit Dress for Success!


In addition to these proceeds going to Dress for Success, Talbots is also offering other ways to support this fantastic organization – you can bring in excellent condition, wear-to-work items to any Talbots location March 3-6, and they’re also offering to accept monetary gifts for the organization through April 3.

If you’re looking to do any shopping – or donating of work-appropriate clothes – please consider a visit to Talbots in support of Dress for Success!

Spend a night in Van Gogh’s Bedroom!

In an effort to commemorate their latest exhibition, Van Gogh’s Bedrooms, the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) – in partnership with Airbnb and ad agency, Leo Burnett – created a replica of the artist’s iconic bedroom, as seen in three of his most remarkable works.

Vincent van Gogh. The Bedroom, 1889. The Art Institute of Chicago, Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection.
Vincent van Gogh. The Bedroom, 1889. The Art Institute of Chicago, Helen Birch Bartlett Memorial Collection.

Van Gogh’s replica bedroom – available to rent via Airbnb!
The replica bedroom is actually available for nightly rental, via Airbnb, for only $10/night! Although it appears to be sold out through the close of the exhibit, May 10, 2016.

Detail shot of Van Gogh's replica bedroom.
Detail shot of Van Gogh’s replica bedroom.
The AIC’s “Van Gogh’s Bedrooms” exhibit offers visitors a view of all three versions of Van Gogh’s “The Bedroom” for the first time in North America.

Detail shot of Van Gogh's replica bedroom.
Detail shot of Van Gogh’s replica bedroom.
From the feature article on AdWeek:

“We thought the best way to help people understand Van Gogh’s life was to invite them to spend a night in this room,” said Burnett associate creative director Pete Lefebvre. “What better way to give people a glimpse into his mind than to create a truly immersive, one-of-a-kind experience like this?”

Detail shot of Van Gogh’s replica bedroom.
We love interactive art experiences like these, as they seem to bring out the “Art Geek” in all of us – although some of the team here at steve mckenzie’s may not have to try very hard…

Detail shot of Van Gogh's replica bedroom.
Detail shot of Van Gogh’s replica bedroom.
Airbnb’s description of this rental reads:

This room will make you feel like you’re living in a painting. It’s decorated in a Post-Impressionist style, reminiscent of Southern France and times gone by. Its furniture, bright colors, and artwork will give you the experience of a lifetime.

And the “host” is none other than Vincent himself!

Vincent van Gogh. Self-Portrait, 1887. Joseph Winterbotham Collection.
Vincent van Gogh. Self-Portrait, 1887. Joseph Winterbotham Collection.
If you’ll be in the Chicago area by May 10, be sure to check out “Van Goh’s Bedrooms” and experience his works in a way not possible in the US before!

Here’s to the “Art Geek” in all of us, and to one of the greatest Dutch artists of all time – Vincent Van Gogh!