How do you bring a 1930s Spanish-style home into the present? According to interior designer Ginny Macdonald, you honor the home's history while injecting a sense of modernity and personal style. The English native (who also happens to be Emily Henderson's design director) typically "errs on the side of traditional," but in her recent living room makeover, she fused her classic style with a Californian vibe while keeping its heritage bones squarely intact.
"I wanted to make this space feel like a home away from home and bring in some of my English roots," she told MyDomaine. "The molding details reminded me of the Victorian terrace house I used to live in London, and I wanted to bring some of that essence in."
Sustainability was also key to Macdonald's décor decisions; she opted for antiques where possible. "I try to have a mix of vintage and new because it brings a layer of personality, history, and eclecticism to a room," she adds. "Also, bringing in vintage gave it that layer of Old World that I was going for." Ahead, Macdonald shares her style notes behind this striking redesign.
"The greatest find is the oversize map in the dining room," she said. "My husband Patrick and I were at an antiques mall in Venice Beach, and he spotted it hanging up on the wall. It caught his eye because it has Lancashire printed at the top, which happens to be my home county in the UK. I can literally point to the small town I grew up in. We couldn't not come home with it that day."
"My style is a mishmash of different things, and this project helped me hone in on my style even more," she said. "I tend to err on the side of traditional, with my eye being drawn to more timeless pieces. I also love the classic midcentury style, but I try not to go too Danish (or now too Californian) with that. I like a room to feel calm, cozy, and fresh; put together without being stuffy."
"Since we live in a rental, we are limited as to what renovations we could make, so we just painted in the two rooms," she said. "The landlord offered to put in an AC unit, which would mean removing one of the French windows. I had to politely refuse and risk overheating all summer because I couldn't get bear to lose the character of the windows in the living room."
"The first thing we bought was the sofa," she said. "I'd been itching for an English roll-arm for a while, so I took my time researching which styles and fabrics I liked best and also what we could afford within our budget. We opted for the bench cushion, which makes it perfect for lounging on, watching TV, and snuggling with the pooches."
"I love how calm it feels in here and how much natural daylight pours in," she said. "We lived with the rooms being white for the first year, but painting the dining room took that space to the next level. Even though the living room color is subtle, it really makes the white moldings and fireplace pop, and it reminds me of my London house."
"I always try to support local artists, and I have a growing collection of handmade ceramics," she said. "Some might say it's an obsession, but there's nothing more special to me than holding a piece of pottery that's been made by an individual artist and not mass-produced."
"Both colors are Farrow & Ball, and I love the depth and richness they bring to the rooms," she said. "To me, that blue is the perfect shade; it just makes me so happy, and I wonder why we waited a year to paint. In my opinion, old houses with beautiful molding need wall color or wallpaper."
"While I love to collect beautiful pieces, I don't get too precious about them since we have two small dogs who snuggle down on almost every soft surface available," she says. "I'm also not opposed to adding a touch of coastal into my spaces either, and I have a love of all things striped."
"Like my wardrobe, I have my base colors of blue, white, gray, and black," she said. "Those colors mixed with varying tones of wood and brass are the perfect palette for me. I ended up falling in love with a set of pillows by Rebecca Atwood that had a coral tone in them. Those pillows were the only things in the room with any other color other than my base palette. I had to decide whether to bring in more of it or get rid of the pillows altogether, and I wasn't quite ready to do that. So I brought in pottery, flowers, and another pillow from Jillian Rene Decor in orange and peach tones to further enhance that warm color."
What tips do you have for styling a modern living room?