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.
international coffee day
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.
monogram pillow
Steve and his signature monogram
layered bed
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.

dog, English springer spaniel, Steve mckenzie's
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!

Easy Sour Cream Cake

As promised, here is Steve’s family recipe for this easy sour cream cake. It’s a family recipe from his Aunt Judy, awarded with the coveted placement in several church cookbooks. Beloved for its versatility too, Steve added this drizzle Jackson Morgan Salted Caramel icing, or you can take advantage of fresh fruit like strawberries and peaches, finished off with a dollop of whipped cream on top.

Sour Cream Cake

3 cups cake flour (we really did sift the flour per the instructions)
3 cups sugar
1 c. sour cream
1 c. butter, softened
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla
6 eggs, separated (You will beat the egg whites into stiff peaks)

Sift flour; add soda and sift again. Cream butter and sugar thoroughly, and add egg yolks, one at a time. Add flour and sour cream alternately. Add stiffly beaten egg whites. Bake in a greased and well-floured angel food cake pan or bundt pan. Bake at 300 degrees F for 1.5 hours.
Let cool 10 minutes, then flip on a cooling rack to finish cooling.
sour cream cake
Finished product!

When Paige Minear suggested this delicious collaboration, Steve knew exactly what cake he wanted to pair with the Jackson Morgan Southern Cream Salted Caramel deliciousness. So he called Aunt Judy in Kentucky, she texted the recipe, and now we get to share it with you. We baked it in a bundt pan like this one. Individual bundt cakes would be a fun at everyone’s place setting for a special celebration, or just because it’s Monday. Then you could set out separate toppings (think sprinkles, fruit, chocolate chips) and let everyone dress their own cake.

With a little planning, you can whip up this simple cake first thing in the morning, before the kitchen gets too hot, and then you’re done. Voilà you have dessert and you’re a hero!

cake Steve McKenzie's
Yes, please!

How do you showcase your desserts? I love to bring out one of our cake stands, either my grandmother’s pressed glass cake stand or a colorful Deruta Italian cake stand, a souvenir from our travels. As they say in show business, it’s all about the presentation.

cake Steve McKenzie
Summer Dessert table

If you do bake this Sour Cream Cake, please share a photo of your cake with us on Facebook or Instagram, using the hashtag #InspiredTailoredAuthentic #stevemckenzies. Happy baking!


Did Someone Say Dessert?

cake party dessert candles
Dessert Soiree with Paige Minear

Happy Summer! What better way to kick off summer entertaining than a simple dessert soiree? Paige Minear of The Pink Clutch Blog joined us for a homemade Sour Cream Cake, complemented with some of her favorite things, including her gorgeous collection from Creative Candles, Mottahadeh china and classic monogrammed cocktail napkins from The Preppy Stitch.

cake Steve McKenzie
Whipping up a simple icing with Jackson Morgan Southern Cream

Everyone enjoys a little dessert. For a simple icing, Steve whipped up confectioners sugar, vanilla, fresh mint and added Jackson Morgan Southern Cream in Salted Caramel for a little something special. Perfect!

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Steve adding the final touch to his cake
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Paige making ice cream with Jackson Morgan Whipped Orange Cream
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Refreshing dessert
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Ice cream all dressed up
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Easy entertaining with a twist, and aren’t those candles perfect with the flowers?

Wait until you try Creative candles! Honestly, we’ve used their Paris Gray candles for every occasion for years. After seeing these in person, we may change to Paige’s summer collection as it’s so cool, soothing yet vibrant.

dessert lifestyle
Paige lighting the candles, such a lovely touch~
dessert china Steve McKenzie
Sour Cream Cake with Jackson Morgan Salted Caramel icing, served on Mottahadeh plates
dessert Steve McKenzie
Summer Dessert table

Keep cool in the kitchen and enjoy a summer dessert with your family and friends. We’re happy to share our recipes and tips with you. Just send us a message!