Design Artistry


With her new book hitting the shelves, L-J Andrew caught up with award-winning interior designer and host of an EMMY-nominated Netflix’s series, Shea McGee

Shea McGee has become something of a household name, through her hands-on role presenting a smash hit home transformation show, and now, as a New York Times bestselling author. But the sparks of a love for design were lit at a much earlier age. “I remember my dad taking my brother and me to the Museum of Fine Arts in downtown Houston,” Shea recalls. “At the time, I didn’t realise these trips would serve as my first lessons in design.”

The seeds of this kindling passion were to be further sewn many years later in a one-bedroom apartment in sunny California. Shea explains: “I was relentlessly crafting the first home Syd and I shared together with hand-me-down furniture and gloss-painted cabinets. I rediscovered the art of home and set down a path to make my dreams of being a designer a reality.”

This was strangely, also to be the first chapter in her meteoric rise to design stardom. She adds: “I decided to document the flat makeover, posting to Instagram as I went. Whether it was sharing paint colours or where I sourced furniture, I found that my small Instagram following started to grow, and soon it became a community that was just as into interior design as I was.”

Building on this momentum, the couple launched Studio McGee in 2014. Fuelled by a mission for aspirational interior design to be attainable and a drive to become one of the leading innovators in the industry, before long, Shea was designing and renovating homes full-time. She laughs: “I became increasingly focused on curating products. I knew the pains of sifting through thousands of pieces, trying to find the perfect one for a space and felt confident I could offer a unique perspective to retail online as a designer.”

From there, Studio McGee has gone from strength to strength. The couple’s growing following and ever-expanding design portfolio have paved the way for the launch of their e-commerce brand, McGee & Co. Their popular Netflix series, Dream Home Makeover, is also now in its fourth season, whilst their company has become a premier online retail destination and continues to share a light-filled aesthetic with millions.

In 2020, Shea and Syd released Make Life Beautiful, their New York Times bestselling autobiography which offers fans an intimate look into how they built their business.

“During a busy, hectic year confined to our homes, we found that people were searching for ways to make life beautiful,” adds Shea, “It was a year of opportunity and stress for all. Writing the book added a layer of accessibility to our brand and brought even more people along for the ride. Our community has grown so much since and become such a huge source of joy.”

Shea divulges: “At the beginning of any design project, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the sheer number of decisions that go into making a home—it’s hundreds, maybe even thousands—and the order in which to make them. One mistake can feel incredibly daunting. Over time and through many mistakes of my own, I have established a design process that allows the entire project to flow, making it much easier to feel invigorated by the possibilities.”

In The Art of Home, Shea takes readers through every room of the house, starting with an explanation of the process and then guiding the way to a cohesive design for hallways, living rooms, kitchens, offices, kids’ rooms and utility rooms. With step-by-step guides paired with her own design projects and the power of her personal stories, Shea advises on how to transform the most important parts of our lives and how we live.

“I prefer to begin working with full-scale projects long before the air compressors ping and the trucks arrive to pour the foundation,” she shares. “Starting to collaborate—with architects, builders, zoning committees, and so on—this early in the process creates a cohesive vision of how we want the home to feel in the end.”

But further to pearls of wisdom on large-scale projects, she felt it was important to share all the details, down to the final touches, that she wants to inspire everyone to implement into their own homes. She explains: “Décor tells your story—it’s the photo from your wedding, the crock for wooden spoons you found at the thrift shop and the plaid pillow you are loving right now. After you have selected finishes and furniture to inspire living, styling is where you can really make a home your own. For a more collected look, gather meaningful accents throughout the process to be incorporated when the project is complete.”

The new book is as functional as it is inspirational, with 400 pages of stunning photography and useful style guides and top tips to follow for every room. Shea teaches us to dream and then shows us how to make it reality.

“What I love about design is the opportunity to dream and then will that vision into existence,” said Shea. “The Art of Home is the culmination of all of that dream work. I’m proud of the spaces we’ve designed over the years, and as you’ll see on these beautiful pages, to be able to share some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way is a privilege - so you too, can create a home that feels authentically you.”

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