Tastemaker Tuesday – Patricia McLean

She’s an absolutely delightful person and award-winning designer… We first met Patricia McLean when she selected some fabulous Grange Napoleon chairs for her space in the ASO Showhouse earlier this year and were immediately smitten.

After learning more about her, and her work, we knew she’d be a wonderful “Tastemaker” to share with you all here! Luckily, she was agreeable, and her “Tastemaker Tuesday” feature is below – enjoy…

Patricia McLean
Patricia McLean

Patricia McLean founded Patricia McLean Interiors, Inc. in 1985. Considered a true, traditional designer, Patricia specializes in the customization of paint colors, finishes and fabrics and layering of antiques and accessories. Guiding clients architecturally through construction to ensure the “bones” are correct for furniture placement and flow is paramount to her design philosophy. A graduate of the University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Science in furnishings and interiors, Patricia was selected to restore the Georgia governor’s mansion ballroom. In addition, she has been featured in the Cashiers, North Carolina Designer Showhouse and the Atlanta Symphony Associates’ Decorators’ Show House for many years.  In 2013, The University of Georgia honored Patricia McLean Interiors with the Bulldog 100 Award for business, ranking 21st. She studied abroad and travels for inspiration but considers herself a true American designer. She takes an organic approach to the design process bringing her refined taste, fresh approach, vast resources and joie de vivre to each project.

1. Three words that describe your aesthetic?
Elevated, Enchanting, Enduring
2009 Atlanta Symphony Show House Master Bedroom at The St. Regis Atlanta. Photo by Lauren Rubinstein
2. Would you please share a little about your favorite space/project to date?
One of my favorite projects to date is the Spring 2009 Atlanta Symphony Show House Master Bedroom at The St. Regis Atlanta. I rarely enter design contests. This one did receive an ASID Design
Excellence Award. The palette was a pale green. I mixed the paint color myself and called it Tricia’s Show House green. I had to keep trying it in the high rise because things change when you decorate in the sky light. The cream silk window treatments and gold wooden pelmets were my custom design. I added moldings to the walls and a marble fireplace to the space. The room was large so I was able to designate a bed room, breakfast and living room area. Some visitors said they could live in that one room! The nice thing about that Show House is it lead to a very happy collaboration later with St. Regis Residences on two model home projects for them in 2011 and 2013.
I have been designing Show House spaces since 1995. I can honestly say that no two are alike. I love doing them..
3. What’s the source(s) of your inspiration?
Inspiration is all around us. I believe God designed the world with designers in mind. Nature holds the key to pattern, color, texture, composition. Whether you can travel to far exotic lands or only around your own zip code, there are keys to good design in every part of our surroundings. I am often quoted as saying there are no bad colors, just bad combinations. Working through the palette is the job of the designer. My way of bringing the pieces together for a harmonious whole is enhanced by travel and experiencing new and historic settings.
4. Name three people (alive or dead) you’d invite to your dream dinner party…
Thomas Jefferson – I think we would all enjoy discussing architecture, furniture, houses and History with him! And then I’d invite Steve and Jill McKenzie – I know they are very fun at dinner!
Bleu Azur  Grange Napoleon chairs featured in Patricia’s ASO Showhouse guest suite. Photo by Erica George Dines
5. A piece of/type of furniture you couldn’t live without?
I love chairs. I think of them as the holder of the people and their placement can often determine how the conversation flows. It is also the occasional chair that can add the most spice to the room because it gets used when the conversation really gets going and you need more seats! But standing alone it can be a show stopper with stand out fabric, color or both as was the case with the pair of bleu azur Napoleon chairs by Grange Furniture I borrowed from steve mckenzie’s for the 2015 Atlanta Decorator Show House.
6. Do you follow a particular set of rules when mixing textures, finishes, etc. – how do they work for you?
My rule is to stay true to my eye. Over the years I have realized that not everyone sees things the way I do. I remember telling  a group in a talk that I could see the colors in my head and remember them forever once I saw them. I had one friend that never forgot that and would quote me on it. People would offer me fabric samples or paint chips to take with me and I would just say I didn’t need them. I thought that was how everyone saw color. I always do paint samples on boards with clients. Fabrics are my favorite and getting the mix right requires use of various textures and pattern.  It’s all experimentation with each job. I guess my one rule would be don’t force anything.
St. Regis Atlanta Private Residence
7. Trending… What is something you are currently “into” and something you are “over?”
I love antique tortoise boxes (not trendy, just a favorite of mine) and de Gournay hand painted wall panels.
I am over bad furniture compositions. Everything does not work. It is sad what passes for good design these days.
Patricia’s ASO Showhouse Guest Bath. Photo by Erica George Dines
8. How does artwork fit into your designs?
It is often the starting point. It helps establish the mood and/or color palette. It can also be the finishing touches that bring the room to life. I actually have the artwork commissioned for some of my projects. I work with artists that understand what I need and are able to paint, draw or watercolor render what I want in certain spaces. The 2015 Decorators Show House had a collection of paintings and water colors on one wall.  I commissioned the art and the hand finished custom frames for that room. The effect was charming. It seemed as if the owners had collected the art over time. And the frames complimented the fabric palette beautifully.
9. What would be the one thing you would have if you were stranded on a deserted island?
No brainer- iphone. I could call for help, be tracked by GPS and keep myself entertained and stay in touch with family/friends while waiting!
2013 ASO Show House Living Room featured in “Scalamandre’ Haute Decor.” Photo by Emily Followill
10. Please share a piece of advice you’d offer to someone looking to break into the interior design industry.
What my father taught me in business – which is just good manners. Treat everyone with respect no matter their station. Many days I interact with a myiad of people in the trade. I have been dealing with some them for over 30 years. Every job is a collaboration and I so appreciate those that help me get there. Also, encourage new business but always appreciate your existing clients.
If that interview and those images aren’t enough to inspire you, we don’t know what will! Patricia’s spaces are all so graceful, but offer unexpected touches that truly make a statement. Each time we’re in one of her rooms, we see something we haven’t seen the time before. Magic.
Thanks so much to Patricia for agreeing to let us feature her as a Tastemaker, here on the blog for steve mckenzie’s! To learn more about her, and her interior designs, visit Patricia McLean Interiors here.