Podcast, Ep. 207: design duo Lauren & Suzanne McGrath

How to Decorate Lauren & Suzanne McGrath

Designers Lauren & Suzanne McGrath

Mother-daughter design duo Lauren and Suzanne McGrath of McGrath II join the show to share their love of the classics. We talk about the way they approach their client spaces, investing in antiques, floor plans, and more.

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • Trials & Triumphs this week
  • Why Suzanne and Lauren fell in love with classic design and how they approach their client spaces
  • Why taking chances is an essential element of designing a traditional space
  • How they often tweak or even transform old furniture for their designs
  • Why old houses often make their jobs easier
  • We talk all about kids rooms — how to design with longevity, style, and comfort
  • Bedrooms in general and why they think of the primary bedroom as one of the most important spaces in a home
  • Lauren gives us a lesson in dressing the bed

How to Decorate Lauren & Suzanne McGrathDecorating Dilemma

Hello ladies of Ballard & distinguished guest! I love listening to you every week & I have learned so much. I have a design dilemma and look forward to hearing what you recommend for my space! 

We moved into our house 7 years ago & brought our college furniture with us because we had small children & the furniture is leather. Now our kids have grown & we are ready to invest in some nicer furniture!  Our house is a 1905 foursquare farmhouse that has had walls taken down to open up the main level. The living room is our one and only space for entertaining and relaxing as a family of 5. I am stumped on how the furniture should be arranged. I used your online room planner to test various furniture layouts, but I’m still not sure which layout will look best, as well as be the most functional. I can’t figure out how to pull the furniture away from the walls without blocking the hallway and walkway. It just doesn’t seem to make the best use of the space to pull the furniture away from the walls, so I am leaning toward getting a sectional to tuck into the corner.  There is an angled wall that was original to the house & could not be moved, so that throws off the “center” of the room. The TV is centered on the wall next to the angled wall, but the light fixture is centered to the ceiling beam, which is where the original wall was located.  For reference, the current rug is 10′ x 13′, but I used a 12′ x 14′ rug in the room planner. The room is about 15 feet across to the ceiling beam, about 11 feet across to the angled wall, and 19 feet from the TV to the opposite window.  (Everything is currently so dark and so brown, I’m fairly confident I want a linen look, oatmeal color performance fabric.)  I included 3 of my many floor plans. My husband would prefer the one with the recliner for obvious reasons. I think the one with 2 occasional chairs might look the best, but perhaps would not be as functional for our family & how we use the room. The kids would like the one with just one giant sectional & ottoman, of course.  I am open to any & all suggestions for the furniture layout! 

I am also open to suggestions for window treatments. The windows are too shallow to have anything mounted inside the window frame. I don’t really want to do an outside mount and cover the window casing, which leads me to drapes, maybe? We don’t need functional window coverings as we live in the country, have no close neighbors, and almost no traffic past our house, which sits quite far back from the road.

Lastly, I would love a new ceiling light fixture. Our ceiling height is 9′. In 7 years, I have never once used the fan so that is not needed. Maybe I should just put can lights in the ceiling instead of the “centered” fixture (on a dimmer of course!)? At night, we never use the ceiling light fixture, we only turn on the lamps. 

Thank you so much for all you do!  You have been such a bright spot during this past year. 

All the best from Iowa,


Show Notes:

Please send in your questions so we can answer them on our next episode! And of course, subscribe to the podcast in Apple Podcasts so you never miss an episode. You can always check back here to see new episodes, but if you subscribe, it’ll automatically download to your phone.

Happy Decorating!

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Abbey Nolte

Abbey is a homegrown Georgia peach who loves a fresh take on Southern design. When she’s not working behind the scenes of the How to Decorate blog and podcast, you can find her cheering on the Appalachian State Mountaineers and spending time with her wheaten terrier, Charlie.