If you’ve followed the blog for steve mckenzie’s for a while now, you know we’re fans of a great – and many times, beautiful – book! But, what you may not know is that we’re also lovers of fun, beachy reads. Specifically, just about anything by Kathy Hogan Trocheck, or as many of you may recognize her pen name, Mary Kay Andrews. Her novels are lighthearted, fresh and an absolute pleasure to read.
Because Kathy is a native of St. Petersburg, Florida and she’s worked in the Atlanta area, her novels take place throughout the Southeast. Oftentimes, her books reference great design and delicious food – along with a dollup of trouble and maybe a smidge of romance. They have it all, folks! And thanks to her love of “junking,” Kathy has developed quite a keen eye for interior design… Just check out her Instagram feed for evidence.
We are absolutely delighted to have Kathy as our featured Tastemaker and think you’ll thoroughly enjoy getting to know her and her style with this fun Q&A…
Mary Kay Andrews is the New York Times bestselling author of 25 novels, including The Weekenders, Beach Town, Ladies’ Night and Summer Rental. A former features writer for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, she is a self-described decorator in denial and habitual estate sale devotee. Her Tybee Island vacation homes have been featured in HGTV magazine and Better Homes and Gardens magazine. This May, St. Martins’ Press will publish her first non-fiction release, The Beach House Cookbook. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
1. Three words that describe your personal style?
Cluttered, Classic, Quirky
2. Would you please share a little about a favorite space of yours?
My favorite space is currently my kitchen and adjoining breakfast room, designed with my longtime interior designer and pal Clay Snider of Clay Snider Interiors and Robin Pittman of Robin Pittman Designs. We took a narrow, dysfunctional galley kitchen in our 1920s era home, and expanded it into what had formerly been a den, and transformed an awkward pass-through room into a breakfast room with a custom-built butler’s pantry inspired by an antique Welsh cupboard. Now my kitchen has enough space for both my husband and myself to cook together, a roomy island that houses favorite cookbooks, a wine fridge and storage, as well as a fabulous Wolf range with a custom hood supported by chippy antique corbels. And counter-height seating for four.
3. What’s the source(s) of your inspiration?
I’m inspired by movies (Nancy Meyers’ movies like Something’s Gotta Give, The Holiday and It’s Complicated) and television (Downton Abbey) and shelter magazines and books. Also? I make a pilgrimage every Christmas to the Ralph Lauren flagship homes store on Manhattan’s Upper East Side just to imagine moving in there.
4. Name three people (alive or dead) you’d invite to your dream dinner party…
I’d love to have dinner with Nora Ephron, Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham and Harper Lee.
5. A piece of/type of furniture you couldn’t live without?
For our 30th wedding anniversary my husband and I bought a gift for each other, an antique Welsh cupboard. It displays part of my large collection of blue and white porcelains, stores my silver flatware and some table linens and, at Christmas, displays my collection of vintage bottle brush Christmas trees. The new kitchen was designed around that cupboard.
6. Do you follow a particular set of rules when working to design a space of yours?
I’ve long believed in the value of buying classic antiques. That trendy greige Belgian-look console table in the latest Restoration Hardware catalog may be calling your name today, but the day after you bring it home automatically becomes “used furniture.” Whereas a well-made, true antique never really loses value. A fan once called me “a decorator in denial,” which is a pretty apt description of me, as is “a hoarder with good taste.” We are a close family with two young grandchildren who live around the corner and are in and out of our house all week long, so our house has to be comfortable, livable and low maintenance. I buy only what I love, shopping mostly estate sales, trolling high-end antique stores to see how the pros design rooms like movie sets. A designer friend once told me the recipe for a great room includes beautiful hardwood floors, beat-up, colorful Oriental carpets and meaningful art. Add in neutral slipcovered sofas, lots of books and tons of pillows covered in antique textiles and that’s a room I want to live in.
7. Trending… What is something you are currently “into” and something you are “over?”
I’m over poorly-executed chalk-painted furniture, and am into refining and editing to make our home a statement that reflects our taste and lifestyles. These days I practice “catch and release” upgrading our existing furnishings and “releasing” the placeholder pieces I bought while waiting for that one perfect thing. It helps tremendously to have a designer on speed-dial. I’m forever texting Clay photos of things I see at estate sales or at Scott’s Antique Market. “This?” Seventy-five percent of the time he texts back “God, no!”
8. How does artwork fit into your designs?
I tend to like landscapes and portraits with some antique prints thrown in, and I usually group art in a room according to theme. My husband accuses me of buying the same painting over and over again, but I know what I like! Our living room in Atlanta is mostly hung with oil paintings of European villages and landscapes, while the stair-hall features beautifully matted antique bird prints. The downstairs powder room has a blue and white toile paper depicting bird dogs, so the art consists of watercolors and prints of bird dogs. At our beach house on Tybee Island we have long picture ledges in the living room displaying my collection of vintage oil paintings by amateur artists of seascapes and river scenes—most of which show a full moon reflected in the water.
9. What would be the one thing you would have if you were stranded on a deserted island?
A yellow legal pad. I guess I’d have to MacGyver something to write with, but I can’t imagine a life where I’m not scribbling something.
10. Please share a piece of advice you’d offer to someone looking to break into the writing industry.
My motto is “you can’t fix what you ain’t wrote.”
Once you’ve started a piece of writing, forge all the way ahead to the end of your story before beginning serious revisions. Too many beginning writers succumb to the idea that every paragraph must be perfect. They erase and polish for months on end—ending up with one exquisite paragraph but no story. Bash out your story in rough draft form. Let it “marinade” as an editor of mine once called it, then go back and revise and rewrite.
We love Kathy’s take on design and the relaxed, laid-back, yet refined vibe we’re getting from her responses. And we cannot wait to check out her cookbook next year – it promises some classic cuisine, done with Kathy’s unique, fresh take on cooking. Keep an eye out for an update from us on The Beach House Cookbook, due out in May of next year!
A huge shout out to one of our favorite authors – and “junkers” – Kathy Hogan Trocheck aka. Mary Kay Andrews – we’re so honored to have had the opportunity to feature her as at Tastemaker for steve mckenzie’s!!