Plan an Atlanta staycation!

WalletHub recently shared a listing of 2016’s best and worst cities for staycations… And Atlanta came in as the 6th best city for a staycation!


Now, we know Atlanta is pretty fabulous – there’s lots to do, a deep sense of history, fantastic restaurants and shopping – the list could go on and on. Obviously, the folks at WalletHub agree. Their number crunchers compared the 150 largest cities across 28 key metrics. WalletHub’s data set includes such metrics as movie and bowling costs, golf courses, frozen-yogurt shops and spas per capita. Pretty neat Atlanta earned the spot as the 6th best staycation city on the list!

And we couldn’t agree more… Here are our thoughts of the top places to stay and things to do as you plan your in-town staycation:


The Mandarin Oriental Atlanta promises luxurious, fabulous accommodations and is currently in the #1 spot on TripAdvisor’s top Atlanta hotels list. The rooms are sumptuous and the attention to detail is stellar.


Now, if you’re searching for a cozier place to stay, look no further than the Stonehurst Place bed and breakfast. This hidden gem is located in Midtown and it will truly serve as your home away from home. The rooms there feature stunning furnishings and museum-worthy original works of art! Bonus – you don’t have to make the bed.

Atlanta Westside illustration by Nik Neves
Atlanta Westside illustration by Nik Neves

In addition to shopping at steve mckenzie’s and exploring all Atlanta’s Westside neighborhood has to offer, there are tons of amazing tourist attractions our team recommends…

GA Aquarium
Georgia Aquarium
Atlanta Botanical Gardens
Atlanta Botanical Gardens
Oakland Cemetary
Oakland Cemetary
High Museum of Art
High Museum of Art
Ponce City Market
Ponce City Market

And there you have it, a quick rundown of where we’d stay and what we’d do on our Atlanta staycation! Thanks to WalletHub’s listing of best/worst staycation cities for inspiring this post… We hope we’ve inspired some of our local readers to become tourists in our own city – or if you’re from out of town, we hope to have sparked some interest in planning a visit to Atlanta. Remember to stop by steve mckenzie’s while enjoying Atlanta. We promise the tea here is cool, as is our current selection of unique, authentic souvenir options!


It’s a must-see! The Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens… Part 2

Last week, we shared part one of Jill’s Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens tour highlights, and today, we’re excited to share a bit about the remaining spaces – the bedrooms and leisure spaces.

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Phoebe Howard’s master bedroom suite was sumptuously styled and a fantastic take on classic design. We’re ready to move right in!

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One of our favorite design elements in the showhouse was the gilt ceiling in Amy Morris‘ lady’s lounge space. That light fixture hanging from that stunning ceiling was a showstopper.

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Amy Morris’ lady’s lounge
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The feminine touches throughout the dressing room, designed by Alison Womack Jowers and Cheryl Womack, were so well thought out.

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The soft lines and mix of textures in the dressing room were such a lovely fit for the space!

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And Jonathan Savage‘s bedroom and bath were the epitome of “guy glam!” His masculine theme played well with luxurious touches any man would enjoy coming home to.

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The next bedroom we toured took us to an exotic locale. Andrew Brown‘s space really is a true escape and made us want to stay and enjoy the space for a while.

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Next up – a diversion to the game room. Our friend Ginger Brewton created a space filled with personality and we were thrilled to help accessorize the room!

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From one cheery space to another, the bathroom and bath by Parker Kennedy Living is abundant with chic, chinoiserie style!

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The last space we visited was by Mark Williams Design Associates and it was all about texture, texture and more texture! It drew us in and welcomed us home.

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It was a perfect ending to a fabulous home tour!

If our tour highlights piqued your interest, plan a visit to the Southeastern Showhouse & Gardens. We promise – you will not be disappointed!

And don’t forget… be sure to stop by the steve mckenzie’s showroom for discounted tickets. Enjoy and happy touring!!

Just as a reminder, here’s a full listing of all participating Southeastern Showhouse & Gardens interior designers: 

Pinspiring… Loft Living

Earlier this year, we shared a bit about how we use Pinterest – both professionally and personally – to inspire our designs and lifestyle.

We had so much fun revisiting our pinboards for that post, we thought we’d bring it back and focus on our “Loft Living” board for another Pinspiring post.

loft living

Loft living is such a desirable concept for so many. But, in reality creating a space that’s both beautiful and functional within an open loft space can be quite a challenge. When revisiting our “Loft Living” Pinterest board, we discovered quite a few common threads that were weaved throughout some of our favorite images…

Natural Light



A huge perk of loft living are amazing, oversize windows and/or skylights. However, these windows may only be along one wall in the loft space. Make the most of those industrial windows by using light and airy colors in the largest components of the space – like the ceilings, walls and floors.

Amazing Staircases




Staircases are another element that can really be played up in a loft space. Think of it as a sculptural feature, which often have multiple purposes. Sure, they’re a means to an end. But, they can also act as storage, a room divider, and so much more. Don’t settle for something basic when this one element can be made in to something truly amazing.




Traditional lofts can feel cold and sterile with their copious amounts of concrete and exposed piping and duct work, but vintage elements, such as exposed brick walls and hundred year old wood beams offer loads of warmth. If your space doesn’t already offer those components, add them! And then add those necessary soft items – a vintage rug and fun floor poufs (extra seating!) will be oh-so-inviting for your guests.

Although there’s so much more to designing a fantastic loft space, hopefully these tidbits will provide a bit of inspiration – or should we say Pinspiration – to your dreams of living the loft lifestyle.

If we can help you achieve your design dreams, be it in a loft space, Tudor home, or modern condo, please reach out to the steve mckenzie’s design team today!

Museum Monday: Whitney Museum

Recently, Jill went to NYC to visit she and Steve’s oldest daughter, Molly, who lives and works in the city with her husband. While there, the duo visited the Whitney Museum, which is now located in an amazing new building (designed by Renzo Piano) in the Meatpacking District, at the start of the High Line.
Whitney Museum
Whitney Museum

Some of the highlights of the museum/their visit…

  • It’s not too big, not too small – an ideal size to feel as if you can take the time to enjoy everything, while still making a bit of a special trip.
  • The museum features American art, along with public exhibits that will change out. While there, Jill and Molly enjoyed Laura Poitras’ “Astro Noise.”


  • There are lovely outdoor spaces, where you can experience the neighborhood, which includes One World Trade and the Empire State buildings.
  • Fantastic for families for all of the above, plus food is available within the museum with several food cart options right outside on the street.


  • It’s very accessible for all – including those who use wheelchairs or strollers.
  • There are plenty of very pleasant and knowledgeable staff members circulating throughout the Whitney Museum, who are happy to answer any questions.
  • The pair’s favorite viewings included all the Edward Hopper works, George Bellows and the Calder Circus!

If you’re planning a vacation to the Big Apple, or are fortunate enough to reside there, but haven’t yet been to the new Whitney Museum, we highly recommend planning a visit – enjoy!!

steve mckenzie’s Partners to Design Serenbe’s Tiny Artist Cottages

If you follow steve mckenzie’s on Facebook, you may have seen that over the past few months, Steve has been working with our friend, and fellow designer, Kerry Howard to create inspiring interiors for two brand new tiny cottages for Serenbe, slated to be used for their Artist In Residence (AIR) program.

(photo by Cody Guilfoye)
(photo by Cody Guilfoye)

With Steve being an artist himself, this project has been especially rewarding, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to share the completed design with you all! We first announced our participation in this project in this blog post, which offers a bit of background on Serenbe’s AIR program their partnership with Auburn University’s Rural Studio, where the goal of creating low-cost and inspiring living solutions began.

(photo by Cody Guilfoye)
(photo by Cody Guilfoye)

Many people had to join together to make this project a reality – after all, there were some lofty goals put in place for all involved! Not the least of which was designing the cottage interiors in a way that would inspire a plethora of artists who are fortunate enough to participate in Serenbe’s AIR program, while maintaining a realistic view of what future cottages would look like, when not given the opportunity to work with interior designers.

(photo by Cody Guilfoye)
(photo by Cody Guilfoye)

Because these cottages will work as examples for future Rural Studios dwellings, Steve and Kerry wanted to ensure their designs work to make the most of these unique dwellings. They donated their time designing and installing the interiors, while a number of vendors, including Verde Home, Selamat Designs, R. Wood Studio, Cherry Hollow Farm, Cosentino, Bosch, Workstead Design Shop, Marmoluna, TOTO, Top Shop stone, AuthenTeak, and Robert Allen, all donated products and materials to make the team’s designs come to fruition.

(photo by Cody Guilfoye)
(photo by Cody Guilfoye)

For a full look at Serenbe’s new artist cottages, check out this article from Atlanta Magazine. To learn more about Auburn University’s Rural Studio’s program and how these cottages provided a real-world example for them as the program expands, see this story on Finally, this article from Mother Nature Network beautifully highlights the cottages themselves. We’re so grateful this collaboration has been so well received and we’re honored to play a role in the project’s success!

(photo by Cody Guilfoye)
(photo by Cody Guilfoye)

If you love the artsy, eclectic feel of these cottages, and would like to bring a bit of this lovely look into your own space, please contact the steve mckenzie’s design team today!

Eight Sushi Lounge

Tired of turkey? Feeling humbug about ham? You can only eat so much holiday food before a change is in order. Enter Eight Sushi Lounge – our newest neighbors in Atlanta’s Westside neighborhood – and our newest craving… After all, Sushi is the perfect post-holiday meal!


While you’re looking for something for your family to do together after your holiday celebrating has commenced, shall we suggest a fabulous sushi dinner at Atlanta’s newest and most impressive sushi locale, Eight Sushi Lounge.


Steve and Jill were recently treated to a tasting menu, where they experienced Eight’s outstanding service, presentation and some extremely inventive dishes.


From the team behind Rice Restaurant in Cumming, Eight Sushi Lounge puts a modern, new spin on classic Japanese cooking. The combination of flavors experienced at Eight suggests a bit of a new fusion of modern flavors, while still respecting Japanese heritage and the art that is Japanese cuisine.


And, of course, we must note Eight Sushi Lounge’s impressive interior. It’s by Plexus R&D, who were also the architects behind the steve mckenzie’s showroom. It’s sleek and modern, while still being warm and welcoming.


The restaurant’s unique juxtaposition of wood and metal creates a contemporary atmosphere, but one where you can still hold an intimate conversation with your tablemates, something that is becoming scarce in the Atlanta restaurant scene.

Take a note from us and make a reservation at Eight Sushi Lounge and support our newest neighbor – we promise you’ll soon experience a meal unlike any other! And don’t forget, when you’re in the neighborhood, stop by steve mckenzie’s and see what’s new in store!


The Cottage at Cloudland Station

Last week Jill had the pleasure of visiting the north Georgia countryside, full of fall color, to tour the This Old House The Cottage at Cloudland Station in Chickamauga, Georgia. Not only is it set in a picturesque valley, this 1,998 square foot house packs a punch with refined colors, textures and design, thanks to the talented designer, and good friend, Yvonne McFadden.

IMG_5547Here are some highlights and notes:  Partial to these peacock blue cabinets combined with the Montclair Danby marble countertop.


Versatile seating in the family room, and that smart mahogany coffee table by Holland and Company with clever pull outs…must remember that…


Two inch thick stairs from homegrown wood on the property – conservation and recycling at its best!


Shot in the heart by this stunner!  Black penny tile on the walls and white penny tile in the bath, combined with the black tile border, black pearl marble countertop, blue cabinet color and then the arrow motif stencil by Cutting Edge Stencils.  Top it all off with a custom mirror, framed by the venerable Brooks & Black Fine Framing.

DSC_0024Outdoor living plays a huge part in this cozy cottage with a 10-foot-deep porch that accesses the family and dining rooms.  Yvonne and her team continued the relaxed feeling outside with the colors, textures and wrapped the spaces together with the Franklin Iron Works Hickory Point outdoor light collection by Lamps Plus.

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Make plans to visit this dreamy development this fall – pack a picnic to enjoy on the grounds, perhaps around the communal firepit, or the pool or the adult size tree house!  Thank you to Vicki Bolick (The Ace of Space) for joining me on this mountain adventure.  Happy Fall y’all!




Designers supporting artists, thanks to Serenbe’s Artist in Residence Program!

In partnership with our friends at KMH Interiors, McKenzie Design is excited to participate in Serenbe’s Artist In Residence (AIR) program by donating their time to design and install the interiors of the first two artist residence cottages. These cottages will serve as home base for two talented artists – one being designed with an eye toward painterly arts and the other with a focus on writing/composition.

AIR Serenbe 3

Steve and Marie Nygren (founders of Serenbe) have believed from the beginning art was important to the kind of sustainable community they wanted to create. Recently, a large 40+ parcel of land was acquired adjacent to Serenbe to found the Serenbe Art Farm. The Art Farm and the AIR program, conceived 7 years ago to bring artists to work and share their process and vision and work with the Serenbe community, are non-profit organizations. It is their vision to have a place where artists can live/work and find affordable housing. They have raised money via the showhouse, private donations and the art auction Steve McKenzie participated in, in conjunction with ASID, to fund the building of the first two artists cottages, with a goal of building them on a budget of only $20,000!

View of the picturesque site where the two initial artist cottages will sit.
View of the picturesque site where the two initial artist cottages will sit.

The Nygrens have joined forces with the The Rural Studio of  the University of Alabama to design the first two cottages. The Art Farm at Serenbe is the site for the first wave of 20K Houses built in collaboration with Auburn University’s award winning Rural Studio program, to be used as live-work artist cottages.

The relationship between The Art Farm at Serenbe and Auburn University’s Rural Studio is multifaceted. Serenbe’s institute for arts and culture, The Serenbe Institute, is limited in the number of artists it can bring and house each year and the collaboration with Rural Studio responds to this need. The Art Farm will be built out to house multiple artists and nurture the arts in the Atlanta region.

serenbe AIR cottage groundbreaking 2
Actual Ground Breaking at the site. Pictured from left to right: Rusty Smith, Associate Chair of the Auburn University Program of Architecture and Rural Studio Associate Director, Simon Shell, contractor who is building first cottage at Serenbe and Serenbe founder Steve Nygren.

Rural Studio is very excited about this program because these cottages will be the first two structures they have had built commercially, and not from within the program. The two cottages will serve as a place where artists can come and stay during their time in the AIR program to live and work for a period of time.

KMH Interiors and McKenzie Design are currently working to procure donations from vendors for the furnishings, as they work up their plans for the cottage interiors.

serenbe AIR cottage groundbreaking
Steve Nygren, founder of Serenbe, addresses the crowd at the groundbreaking.

Steve shares that he is “really passionate about this project because as an artist I know how important programs like this are to push your creativity and let you get away from the day to day and focus on your art. As a designer it is thrilling to create a space I know will be used by other artists.”

Original log cabin on the Serenbe AIR property.
Original log cabin on the Serenbe AIR property.

We’re excited for Steve, Kerry Howard, of KMH Interiors, The Rural Studio of  the University of Alabama program, and the Serenbe/AIR teams, to see this wonderful project come to fruition!

Please keep an eye out for future posts, here on the blog for steve mckenzie’s, detailing how these projects are progressing and hopefully, by the end of the year, what the finished cottages look like.

Alexander Girard – an Iconic Inspiration

The late Alexander Girard has been an inspiration to Steve since first seeing his iconic mid-century designs. When you think of mid-century design, chances are you envision a Girard design, whether you know it or not.

Girard 2

As a multi-platform designer, Girard is especially meaningful to Steve, as he continues to expand his own design platforms, from painting to textile and interior design… With style icons such as Alexander Girard, who knows what could come next for our own Steve McKenzie?!?

Alexander Girard (1907-1993)
Alexander Girard (1907-1993)

Here’s a bit more about Alexander Girard:

Alexander Girard was widely known for his textile design which introduced vibrant colors and playful patterns to mid century modern design.  Girard was born in New York City to an American mother and an Italian father, but raised in Florence, Italy. Girard studied architecture in Europe. He returned to the United States in 1932, and started a career as a designer. His career took off after designing “For Modern Living” exhibition at the Detroit Institute of Arts in 1949. Three years later, he was offered a position as the head of the textile division at Herman Miller, Inc.


At Herman Miller, Girard successfully introduced a new concept in textile design with his vibrant color palette and playful patterns inspired by traditional folk art he cherished. In early 1950s, fabrics were merely functional, but they tended to be dull and plain.

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His textile designs complemented the furniture designs of his fellow mid century modern designers, Charles Eames and George Nelson. Girard’s work at Herman Miller continued until 1975, designing hundreds of fabrics as a result. He also developed a seating collection for the company between 1967 and 1968. Originals from this collection are rare and highly desirable among many collectors today.


Apart from Herman Miller, Girard designed three restaurants in 1960’s: the La Fonda del Sol restaurant, in New York City; the L’Etoile Restaurant, also in New York City; and the Compound Restaurant, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He also contributed in a design project of Braniff Airlines in mid 1960’s, totally redesigning everything from the condiment packets to the planes themselves.

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During 1960’s, Girard and his wife Susan moved to Santa Fe, New Mexico where he founded the Girard Foundation to manage more than 100,000 pieces of his folk art collection. This enormous collection was donated to the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe in 1978 and recognized as the world’s largest folk art collection today.

An iconic Knoll table by Alexander Girard
An iconic Knoll table by Alexander Girard
In addition to his work with Herman Miller, Girard also worked on the Saint Louis Arch with Eero Saarinen, designed furniture for Knoll, designed the Irwin Miller, Cummins Engine offices in Columbus, IN (Jill’s family’s hometown), and worked with Eero Saarinen and Dan Kiley to design the Irwin Miller Home, one of the greatest pieces of iconic modernist aesthetic.
Irwin Miller, Cummins Engine offices
Irwin Miller, Cummins Engine offices
Recently, Alexander Girard designs are back on the current design scene, thanks to a new Girard inspired collection now available through Paperless Post. They’ve taken some of Girard’s most memorable designs and transformed them into digital stationary – something we think the designer would’ve gotten a real kick out of!
An assortment of Girard inspired designs for Paperless Post
An assortment of Girard inspired designs for Paperless Post
We’re thinking this fabulous new collection may be just the encouragement Steve needs to explore the stationary he has always wanted to create :-))
How about you – are you an Alexander Girard fan??

Five reasons you should plan a visit to the Cashiers Designer Showhouse…

Late last week, Jill had the pleasure of visiting the Cashiers Designer Showhouse and came away, not only with some fantastic ideas and inspiration, but also enjoyed an all-around wonderful time!

2015 Cashiers Designer Showhouse
2015 Cashiers Designer Showhouse

She shared some thoughts on the showhouse and why you should plan a visit very soon:

  • It’s a beautiful, scenic drive up to the Cashiers Designer Showhouse
  • You get to meet plenty of fun folks, as well as old friends, such as Patricia McLean, who Jill was lucky enough to sit next to on a bus ride* up to Cashiers
  • In addition to the showhouse, you’ll also have an opportunity to visit the Zachary Tolbert house
The Historic Zachary Tolbert House
The Historic Zachary Tolbert House
  • You’ll be sure to learn something you can incorporate into your home; be it a new color combination or ideas on how to style your cocktail table
  • The showhouse is only open until the 30th of this month – so plan a trip soon, it’s an ideal day, or even weekend, getaway!

Here’s a bit of design inspiration Jill found especially exciting…

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Mark Williams & Niki Papadopoulos of Mark Williams Design Associates designed bedroom in the Cashier’s Guest House, which featured an amazing metal framed and agate flanked headboard.  This space highlighted some very soothing colors, ideal for a guest space.

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In this image, Jill found the juxtaposition of abstract art and traditional wallpaper to be exceptional! It was a highlight in the space by Douglas Hilton of DWH Interiors LLC.

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This creative headboard by Gretchen Edwards, of Gilstrap Edwards Interior Design, was a fabulous focal point in the Cashier’s Guest House. It offered such a bright and cheery accent to the room.

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This amazing green chair was only one example of how C. Weaks Interiors used color expertly on the expansive porch of the showhouse.

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Jill so enjoyed this detail of the contrasting tape along the seat and back cushions of this chair in the showhouse space by Cathy Kincaid Interiors.

And there’s so much more to see. We encourage you to make a quick trip of it and check out the Cashiers Designer Showhouse for yourself – you’ll enjoy a refreshing trip to the mountains, as well as plenty of design inspiration for sure!

* Although there aren’t any additional bus trips from ADAC to the Cashiers Designer Showhouse, you can go ahead and make plans to visit the upcoming Serenbe designer showhouse, and take advantage of the bus ride from ADAC – it’s so fun and simple!