Tastemaker Tuesday – Tish Mills

She’s an interior designer with an impeccable sense of style. But, she’s also an unbelievable artist, working with natural mediums in ways we’d never imagine. Tish Mills seems to be able to do it all, and we’re thrilled to have gotten the opportunity to get to know her better over the last year!

Some of Tish’s creations grace our shelves here in the steve mckenzie’s showroom, although they never last long, catching people’s attention as soon as they’re near. Her agate accessories have been fast movers here, and some of our own, personal favorite items carried in-store.

Tish Mills’ custom creations on display at steve mckenzie’s

But, first and foremost, Tish Mills is an unbelievable designer in her own right and creates some stunning, and totally awe-inspiring spaces. We’re absolutely honored Tish agreed to let us feature her as a Tastemaker, here on the blog for steve mckenzie’s, and we’re excited to share a bit more about Tish with you today:

Tish Mills
Tish Mills

Since forming Harmonious Living in 1999, Tish Mills has become known for creating highly peaceful spaces that are a true reflection of the homeowner’s personality and the way that they live. Tish uses a mix of color and materials from the surroundings to create balanced spaces that are seamless from interior to exterior. Project results have been recognized numerous times within the design industry. Tish Mills has received 13 design excellence awards from the Georgia Chapter of the ASID; one project winning three national ASID awards. Her work has been featured in magazines such as Elle Décor, Traditional Homes, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles and Atlanta Magazine as well as several books on interior design. Tish Mills is a graduate of the University of Georgia and studied Feng Shui at the American Feng Shui Institute. She is an active member of the American Society of Interior Designers.

1. Three words that describe your aesthetic? 

No Boundaries, Thoughtful, Organic

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2. Would you please share a little about your favorite space/project to date? 

It is hard for me to have one favorite project since they are all very different and a reflection of each homeowner, rather than me.  Having said that, I’m very proud of the house that was featured in the May issue of Traditional Home Magazine.  This was an especially challenging and rewarding project for me because the client pushed me more than a client ever has.  She only wanted to see the very newest and most trend-setting design in a very bold color palette.  That is very different for an Atlanta project, which tends to be much more neutral.  Coupled with this directive, the client also wanted the spaces to feel calm and soothing.  It was quite a tall order.  The outcome, speaks for itself.  It was beyond anything she had hoped for.  And, we are now working on a new ground up project for the same family.

I am also just finishing a project for a long time client that is very neutral, yet not safe at all, that I am so incredibly excited to photograph and share.  We’ve worked on this project for about four years, including a full year before we brought in an architect or builder.  By the time the team was assembled, we had an incredibly clear vision for the project.  The client and I recently pulled out the concept sketches we did at the first meeting on this project and were both amazed at how true the end product has stayed to our initial conversation.
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3. What’s the source(s) of your inspiration?

Like almost every Designer would say, inspiration comes from everywhere.  It is almost a creative person’s curse as we look at the world differently.  Travel is always a key source.  I was in Marrakech a few years ago and that really shifted my design approach. The level of detail, patterning, and imagination in every corner of that country is breathtaking.  The flip side of that is as simple as a weekend at the beach.  I could sit every day and watch the colors shift during sunset or the tide wash over the sand.  My children tease me that I only like colors associated with an oyster shell or a sunset.  Needless to say, they were surprised by the project I mentioned above.  Cooking is another source of inspiration as I approach it from a very free space not limited by any recipe.   For me, cooking engages all of the senses to a higher level.  As I said, inspiration comes from everywhere…

4. Name three people (alive or dead) you’d invite to your dream dinner party…

My Grandmother (Gran Gran), as I miss her every day.  She was a cowgirl who lived way before her time.  If she were my age right now, watch out world;  Oprah because she is a trailblazer and shows no fear; Axel Vervoordt because studying his design approach taught me to never over think, but rather design from the deepest place in my soul.

5. A piece of/type of furniture you couldn’t live without?

I have several pieces I’ve collected over the years that mean a great deal to me, such as a pair of antique doors from Portugal.  Until recently, I would have said something like these.  But, for Christmas this past year, my now fiancé, painted a piece for me of two horses.  The emotion of the painting, the body language between them and the look in both of their eyes, spoke volumes.  I’ll love that piece of art, and the love behind it, for the rest of my life.

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6. Do you follow a particular set of rules when mixing textures, finishes, etc. – how do they work for you?

I don’t really believe in rules for the most part.  I’m a firm believer in following my intuition.  If you love it and have an emotional response, buy it.  We will find a place in the home for that special item.  However, having said that, I do also believe there are  some things in a room have to be quiet and set the stage for the more special pieces in the space.  Not everything can be the star fighting for attention, or the result will be anything but peaceful.  Actually that can be quite frenetic.
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7. Trending… What is something you are currently “into” and something you are “over?” 

I’m really enjoying working with the influx of concrete tiles.  The patterning and color combinations are very inspiring and have been a great launching place for design.  In color, I’m really loving strong blues such as navy which can be very crisp.

I’m over safe design.  Seeing the spring collections from the manufacturers have been the best in years.   The industry, as a whole, is again pushing the boundaries and much stronger and creative products are hitting the market.  I’ve been adding resources and new patters/textures like crazy as a result.
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8. How does artwork fit into your designs?

Artwork is often the star or jumping off point for spaces for me.  It is typically the item in the room that really pushing the color and emotion.  I rarely shop for art without the client because they have to have an connection to the artwork in any space since it really helps push the soul of the room.

9. What would be the one thing you would have if you were stranded on a deserted island?

Ok, I admit it… my iPhone.  I couldn’t survive without talking to my children.  And, on the practical side, I do tend to take pictures of anything I see out in the world that I want to remember.  The creative inspiration on an deserted Island could keep me going for a long time.

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10. Please share a piece of advice you’d offer to someone looking to break into the interior design industry. 

Get to work.  Get out and see and do everything you can.  I am immediately turned off by people who are not self-starters and are not hungry to learn.  If you are breaking into the industry, it is important to understand that design is very hard work with lots of hours.

Hard work and lots of hours indeed, Tish is spot-on with that piece of advice for up and coming designers!

And a BIG thank you to this maven of interior design for allowing us to feature her as a Tastemaker. We hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know Tish Mills better!

Sherwin Williams & the Cultural Influence of COLOR

Earlier this week, we hosted a great two-day seminar with local designers here at the steve mckenzie’s showroom and some fantastic folks from Sherwin Williams, who taught us all about the impact color has on cultures. It was an eye-opening and vibrant course, for sure, and we’re so happy to have been a part of it!

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We began with the exploration of diverse cultures and how these cultures perceive color – giving us better insight into how to better serve these potential clients.

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We then learned to identify the historical color significance of color families, which was seriously interesting! To look back and see how colors trended throughout history and how they worked together. It really opens our eyes to how we view and use color today!

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Finally, we learned how cultural similarities and disparities worked among color families, keeping in mind our goal, which is to make better educated choices related to color selection. Thinking about color on a global scale and how it impacts the world we inhabit and how we can use color to better our world was refreshing way to consider colors and cultures.

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We hope to host more of these seminars in the future, so if you’re interested in learning more – and earning some ASID GA CEU credits – please reach out to our team and we’ll be happy to fill you in on what’s coming up!

Who you NEED to meet: Mary Catherine Folmar of Cotton+Quill

Bold, fresh, adventurous and brilliant. These are just a few words that come to mind when we think about the fabulous designs by our friend, Mary Catherine Folmar and her Cotton+Quill textile and wallpaper collections.

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Both Mary Catherine and her designs are a breath of fresh air. We’ve so enjoyed getting to know her better as of late and are looking forward to sharing her beautiful collections with you in the steve mckenzie’s showroom!

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Mary Catherine and her designs are such a wonderful addition to our showroom, we thought you’d enjoy getting to know her a bit more. We can guarantee you’ll be hearing a lot about Mary Catherine and Cotton+Quill here in the near future!

Mary Catherine Fulmar
Mary Catherine Folmar

sm’s: Can you please share a bit about your background/how you started Cotton+Quill and how you gained the courage to break out on your own?

MC: I attended Auburn University to study pre-med…..but my love for design got the best of me.  I have always loved fashion, graphics & interior design, but I didn’t want to be pigeonholed into any particular field.  That is why I chose to study Industrial Design; it gave me a good base for just about anything design related.

Cotton + Quill came about as a way to continue my design after leaving my design job in Atlanta to move to Birmingham to marry my college sweetheart.  I have been extremely fortunate to have a supportive husband and family to make Cotton + Quill a reality.  I have always been interested in textiles and interior design and have always had a passion for art, so starting a textile company was a natural fit.

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sm’s: What inspires you/your designs?

MC: I would have to say Taiwan and Hong Kong have been my biggest influences for my designs.  There is just such an abundant amount of inspiration and history found in the Asian culture from architectural details and murals to koi fish and fashion.  I love photography as well as sketching, so I often look back to photos I took while studying abroad and traveling for inspiration for my designs.  The coast has also influenced my design style – more so for color rather than actual designs.  And travel isn’t the only thing that influences my work – often an exciting time period in history influences my designs, like the Roaring 20’s & the Great Gatsby for the Deco Collection, as well as certain design styles, like old Hollywood Regency & Palm Beach for the Regency Collection.

sm’s: What your vision is, not only for Cotton+Quill, but also the individual pieces you craft?

MC: My vision for Cotton + Quill is that the person receiving our products is as much in love with our designs as we are – I really want our designs to speak and mean something to the person receiving them…..like  a piece of art.

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sm’s: What do you see as mainstays in your textile/wallpaper collections?

MC: If you are referring to our textile/wallpaper collections in general, I would say the mainstay for my designs is that they are all 100% completely original and that you cannot find anything else in the marketplace like them.  If you are referring to a particular design, I think the Shishi (foo dogs) and Koi (chinoiserie) are here to stay…I think both of these include classic design elements that will never go out of style – they can always be modernized with color.

Cuckoo in Lotus Metallic Grasscloth w Dynasty in Orchid panels & Bombay and Shishi pillows in Orchid on Cotton Sateen

sm’s: What are the differences in your collections – i.e. how do you create such unique designs that still work together under the Cotton+Quill brand?

MC: My collections really depend on the mood I am in or the particular thing(s) that are inspiring me at that time.  I have been fortunate enough to have been able to travel a lot, so that is where most of my inspiration comes from, but I also love different periods of time and the designs that came out of those periods – a good example is the Roaring Twenties with the likes of Ernest Hemingway, The Great Gatsby, and a little bit prior, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and his celebrated Art Nouveau work including his inspirational tea rooms in Scotland.  I think because pretty much all of my designs are hand illustrated, they all work together because they are all comprised in the same style – also color has a lot to do with making different patterns work together.

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sm’s: What do people need to consider when looking to purchase a design by Cotton & Quill?

MC: I think the people who purchase a Cotton + Quill product need to first and foremost know that all of our designs are unique and custom and cannot just be found at any fabric store down the road.  When purchasing a Cotton + Quill product, in a sense, you are purchasing a piece of art.  And with all of our customizable options, you can really make that piece of art or design your own and unique to your home and lifestyle.  Another important fact to note is that all of our textiles and wallpapers are made right here in the USA.

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sm’s: What’s on the horizon for Cotton+Quill?

MC: Well, our mind never stops thinking.  Currently we are working on a collaboration with a home accessories company which has everything from catchalls to trays and ice buckets.  Also on the bucket list is offering a couture clothing line featuring our bold textiles on clean, fresh silhouettes.  We just introduced a line of trimmings which will be available in late July and also hope to soon introduce a collaboration featuring our designs in rugs and possibly even furniture….the options are limitless!

Mary Catherine's three dogs - Marley, Butters and Sookie
Mary Catherine’s three dogs – Marley, Butters and Sookie

sm’s: As an artist/business person how do you recharge?

MC: Just coming home at night and turning off the phone or shutting down the computer while spending a few hours with my husband, our three dogs and a glass of wine is my day to day recharge.  Ideally, a long weekend at the beach is the best way to recharge.  And actually, I just spent a few days in Charleston, one day was for business, and I had a wonderful visit and met many wonderful people as well…it was only a couple of days but during those days I was able to catch my breath. 🙂

If those vibrant colors and brilliant patterns from Mary Catherine’s Cotton+Quill collections don’t inspire you to go bold in your home, we don’t know what will!

Shishi Pillows in Orchid on Cotton Sateen

If you’d love to introduce a bit of the Cotton+Quill style into your home, but aren’t entirely sure how to accomplish that, the team here at steve mckenzie’s is here for you! We now carry the full range of Cotton+Quill textile and wallpaper collections and would love to create a space unique to you and your family/lifestyle, incorporating some of Mary Catherine’s fabulous designs!

Happy Father’s Day from steve mckenzie’s!

Our best wishes for a wonderful day to all those dads out there… Whether you’re fathers, grandfathers, uncles or father figures, we think you’re pretty important and are grateful for you every day!

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And a special shout out to Steve’s dad, Francis, who, pictured above, obviously inspired Steve’s love of painting… Maybe not as much drywall, but on canvas, for sure!

Happy Father’s Day!!!

Library Friday: Rex Ray Art + Design

This week, we’ve asked our newest steve mckenzie’s team member, Xavier Neuner, to share his thoughts on a favorite book for a “Library Friday” post, and he’s graciously obliged.

Before we share his pick for this themed post, we’d like to share a bit about Xavier, as we’re sure you’ll be hearing more about him in the future!

Xavier Neuner
Xavier Neuner

Xavier was born and raised in Lafayette, Louisiania and graduated in 2009 with a BFA in Production Design and a minor in Exhibition Design from the Savannah campus of Savannah College of Art and Design. Before joining our group here at steve mckenzie’s he worked in the special events industry for four years, but has always had a passion for designing interior spaces. His history with visual merchandising and photo shoot styling has become an asset here and we so appreciate his passion for marrying southern heritage with new modern traditions – what a great fit, no?!?

Xavier is inspired by movies, fine art and his travel. He’s personable, creative and a total southern charmer. We invite you in to the steve mckenzie’s showroom to meet Xavier in person and learn even more about him and his personal style – we’re so excited he’s a part of our team! But, in the meantime, we hope you enjoy his pick for “Library Friday:”

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Today’s “Library Friday” post features Rex Ray Art + Design. He was well known for creating fluid forms with vibrant colors. My first impression of his work from the front cover is playful and whimsical.  It can be appreciated by both the young and young at heart.  He understood how to incorporate texture, shape, color and pattern.

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Looking through the pages, I immediately thought how stunning his work would be translated into the home of a family of four.  I see a family room with an adjoining playroom in brightly saturated color with various textures in the upholstery with lots of layers in the space.

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And we absolutely concur with Xavier – doesn’t the space he describes sound absolutely delectable?!? And smart thinking when considering the living/play space… It makes sense for the way many of today’s families live.

We hope you’ve enjoyed Xavier’s take on this “Library Friday” post and would love to know your thoughts on Rex Ray… If you’re looking to add some vibrant and colorful style into your home, look no further than the design group here at steve mckenzie’s – we’re ready to work with you!

Fantastic Finds for the Finicky Father

Are then men in your life tough to buy for? Join the club.

“What should I buy for my father/husband/brother (etc.)?” is a frequent question we hear – especially this time of year, with Father’s Day right around the corner.

Fret no more! We’re here with a curated list of the most fantastic finds for even the most finicky man in your life… And best of all, they’re all available in-store at steve mckenzie’s, ready to be gift wrapped and enjoyed!

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So many options in one image… Pictured above is a plethora of fantastic Father’s Day gift options; a hand made leather bag, custom leather-covered igloo coolers (great for school colors), leather and cow hide flasks, vintage bottle openers, and Native American pillows made from vintage U.S. Army surplus goods.

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For the Don Drapers in our lives: martini buffet hand crafted in Asheville NC, and cow hide pillows.

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Next up, Taki watches. Sure, watches may be a traditional gift for the men in our lives, but these fun accessories from Taki offer an exciting, yet casual twist to the otherwise stuffy timepiece our guys may be wearing. This will be a gift they’ll enjoy every time they slide it on their wrist!

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Make this Father’s Day one the man (or men!) in your life will remember for years to come and make a visit to steve mckenzie’s today to select the perfect gift for them. Our team will be happy to guide you to just the right item that’ll be sure to fit you and him!

Steve McKenzie – Curating the Perfect Guest Room

Our friends at Matouk, purveyors of fine linens, reached out to our own Steve McKenzie to learn a bit from him about creating the most welcoming and comfortable guest suite possible for out-of-town visitors, and his responses were recently shared in their “Perfectly Outfitted Guest Room” blog post.

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Some of Steve’s highlights shared in the blog post are:

  • Provide guests with a phone docking station – and, if possible, a music-loaded iPod
  • Share the home’s guest wifi login information
  • Outfit the guest room with a small flat panel tv, as guests may enjoy a bit of private down time

Click here to view the full post, as it’s chock-full of fantastic tidbits on making the most of your guest space from a number of experts.

And beware, by taking some of this advice, you may be hosting guests who’ll never want to leave the comfortable and cozy space you’ve created just for them!