A 1930s Fixer-Upper Gets A Much-Needed Makeover

We're no stranger to a Studio McGee project; their amazing before-and-after studio makeover is an all-time favorite. The husband and wife duo, Syd and Shea McGee, launched their interior design firm in 2014 and have since been inspiring us with their envy-worthy makeovers and fresh take on design. Their latest project came in the form of a 1930s fixer-upper in desperate need for a modern revamp.
Tell us about this project and how it came about.
I met (home owner) Ashley when we were in college and was so excited when she wanted to work together on their 1930s fixer-upper. It had been through a few bad updates over the years, but had so much potential. We wanted to give every inch a major facelift all while honoring the charm of the home.

What was the inspiration behind the decor?
Our clients weren't afraid to go bold; they threw out words like clean, cozy, rustic, modern, and eclectic. That's quite a few styles to roll into one, but I think we managed to blend them quite seamlessly.
We love the minimalist kitchen shelves. Can you share your tips on how to make open shelving work?
The open shelving in the kitchen was all about keeping with the existing color palette: white, green, gray, and wood tones. The green cabinets are so stunning that we didn't want anything to compete with them. Although most of the accessories are new, the vintage painting really pulled everything together and made the shelves feel collected.
Looking at the kitchen and back entry, it seems like the structure of the home isn't quite traditional. How did you maximize the space you had to work with?
The back entry also leads to the basement, so the stairs in the kitchen had to stay. We changed the configuration to more of a galley layout and widened the opening between the dining and kitchen. Although we lost a little wall and counter space, it made everything feel so much bigger and allowed for more people to be in the kitchen at once.
What was your favorite aspect of designing the dining room? Any challenges?
The dining room feels so special with the square paneling that mirrors the geometric shape of the light. This dining room is the only spot to sit down and eat, so it needed to strike a balance between casual and formal. There was very little room for any additional furniture, so we managed to squeeze a skinny console in when they need a little extra room for serving pieces.
The living room is decked in a neutral palette that features subtle pops of color. Delicate textures and plush details instill a warm and inviting element to the space.
Can you walk us through the elements of the entry and why you decided to incorporate the desk into that area?
The square footage of the home didn't allow for a separate office or entryway, so we carved out space for them in the living room. An "entry" can be as simple as a console and mirror, but a designated spot really helps welcome people into the home.
The desk placement is great because that chair can be turned around and used as additional seating in the living area.
The bedroom is a dream. What were the decorative elements that went into the design of the room?
I love how the bedroom came together. The space is so small that we opted for sconces instead of lamps to allow for more surface to put phones and accessories. When we first started the design process, we pulled a white paint, but it just felt a little too bland for a room that didn't have the space for a lot of layering (and that's coming from someone who loves white walls). We decided to paint the walls Newburg Green by Benjamin Moore and I'm so glad we did; it really allows the white bedding and window casings to pop.
Any key takeaways learned?
This home might be small, but the design choices are big. It just proves that going bold in a few select areas goes a really long way.
Gilded details and an intricate tile elevate the whitewashed scheme of the cozy bath.
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Published on April 20, 2017
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