Studio McGee is on a roll… a big one. A vast social media audience (1.6 million Instagram followers), a design line at Target, and a brand new Netflix show are just a few examples of their meteoric rise over the last six years.
Shea and Syd McGee, the two minds behind their eponymous Studio, began by tweaking the interior of their one-bedroom Southern California rental. Since then, the couple has spent the last six years designing homes for others and building their business, finally culminating with the building of their own dream home.
They have been using clé tile in their projects along the way, but it is the recent installation of our tile in their home that has heads turning. Shea recently showcased highlights from their home build and also shared some renovation tips specific to tile selection.
Start with Color, Texture
One of the first steps Studio McGee incorporates when advising a home remodel is to begin with a color palette. Shea suggests compiling inspirational images of spaces you love and identifying consistent colors in each. However, she encourages you to take your time. It’s important to “sit” with ideas until the perfect vision appears. Instagram and Pinterest are great places to start, but a traditional coffee table lookbook may also elicit some surprising revelations.
In her approach to design, Shea describes how she met daughter Wren’s request for a white and pink themed bathroom. Using a combination of Liberty brick tile in Chatham on the walls, Carrara in a herringbone pattern on the floor, and a rosy pink accent of vintage rose zellige along the base of the shower, she created a soft, feminine look.
Artisan quality is also very important to Studio McGee when it comes to design. “No matter which color we choose, we love that clé tiles have so much character, texture, and interest from their hand-formed construction. Every tile is uniquely different; the color variation adds interest and character to any space.”
Mingle Individuality with Continuity
What Studio McGee does so phenomenally well is to honor the uniqueness of each room, but also strategically harmonize spaces throughout. In the McGee Home, this is represented in a few different ways. They used zellige in weathered white on a section of the kitchen’s backsplash but also extended that design to the pantry. “This added continuity to the look and tied the two different spaces together.”
They had a similar approach to the en suite shower, using clé’s Architect’s Palette in Blotter, a creamy matte white, which reminded them of the matte brick on the exterior of the house and in the entryway. “We love that the look of imperfection carries into different areas of the home to create a flow that doesn't feel too one-note.”
Achieve a Custom Look by Diversifying Scale
We often talk about scale and how it can make a dynamic impression within a space. For example, a large 8x8 floor tile in a small space generates an optical illusion that expands the room. Using different patterns, such as herringbone with 2x8 rectangular planks, produces a wider appearance to a narrow room.
Studio McGee agrees that varying scale is an easy way to invigorate spaces of any size. In their guest bathroom, they changed the scale of the tile on the walls and floor by cutting down slate tiles into 4x4 squares and arranging them in their desired patterns. “If the tile on the walls and floor were all the same scale and size, it wouldn't have that same thoughtful and custom look, and we love the result.”Layout is another way to bring depth and character to a room. “In the girls’ bathrooms, we wanted to make them different enough but also bring in similarities for a more cohesive look. In Wren's room, we made a herringbone pattern in her tile, and in Ivy's, we created a fun mosaic pattern using clé’s Carrara hex tiles,” shares Shea.
Give Thoughtful Consideration to Grout
Grout is often underestimated as a core design element, but it significantly impacts how tile looks and how it's installed. clé’s recommendation is to always enlist the help of your designer or installer, which is something Studio McGee also keeps top of mind with their versatile home remodel projects.
“In the McGee Home, we didn't go dark with most of our grout but chose to keep it light so the tile stands out. However, in some of our homes, we do contrast our tile with the grout. It's easy to forget about experimenting with your grout, but it's a great way to make a home feel more custom, especially if you're already ordering custom tile.”
A Mutual Appreciation for Artisanship and Artistry
Studio McGee has highlighted clé tiles in the past and, with their own home project, the couple have really embraced an artisanal feel using hand hewn terracottas and slate, adding a textural layer to their surfaces. As Shea notes,
“clé stands out because they feel artful in their approach to tile. They’ve sought out heirloom quality from across the globe and put a lot of looks on the map here in the U.S. I love their artisanship and the passion [they have] for the craft. We’re in love with their unique, hand-formed selections and their approach aligns with our vision and aesthetic so well. We couldn’t be more grateful to have them as an option.”
For more tile insights, download clé’s guide to selecting the right tile for your project.