"Dubbed "Queen of Textiles" by Home & Decor Singapore magazine, Elly enjoys working in a range of styles from industrial glamour to beach house chic, though her personal design aesthetic is characterised by an affinity for authentic and natural finishes."
The next interview in our DESIGNER SPOTLIGHT series is with the sensational London and Surrey based designer, Elly MacDonald, who takes inspiration from her experiences of living in seven different countries and her passion for travel and different cultures. Elly has a deep appreciation for unique design quirks, natural organic finishes, and glamorous yet understated spaces, right up our Hunter & Co. street!
LET'S START AT THE VERY BEGINNING. WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO BECOME AN INTERIOR DESIGNER?
Well it is a long and multi-continental story! I started out my career qualifying as a tax accountant in London, but then embarked on what turned out to be an 8 year secondment in the Caribbean and Asia, and along the way I followed my heart and made the jump into retraining as an interior designer and setting up my own business. I’ve always been drawn to beautiful natural finishes, from hammered brass to reclaimed wood or sparkly mother of pearl, and unique artisanal products, such as the traditional handwoven textiles and hand-carved wood you find all over Asia, and discovered how satisfying it is to use the knowledge and skills I’ve picked up to help other people craft a beautiful, deeply personal and unique, functional home.
WHO IS YOUR BIGGEST INTERIOR DESIGNER CRUSH?
WHAT IS YOUR PROCESS WHEN YOU'RE STARTING A NEW PROJECT? WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT FIRST?
It really depends on the client and the project, as I take on commissions of all shapes and sizes. But generally I always ask my clients to give me three or four adjectives of how they would like the finished space to feel, and then use that as the basis of the project. I very commonly find that clients know exactly how they want their home to feel, but find it a challenge to translate that description into an actual design scheme, especially with the added considerations of getting things like the lighting, storage etc correct.
TELL US ABOUT A PROJECT YOU LOVE THE MOST AND WHY?
I recently completed a light and bright one bedroom pied a terre apartment in Covent Garden, which was an incredibly satisfying transformation from its original dated and dark form. The client is a very sociable character who uses the property when up in town at the weekends – it was my first time designing a second home so it was really interesting balancing the different requirements that entails with the need to keep an eye on re-sale value. And the client was a hoot to work with too!
WHAT IS THE NUMBER ONE MUST HAVE ITEM THAT YOU RECOMMEND EVERYONE TO HAVE IN THEIR HOME?
Artwork that’s personal and really reflects one’s character – my favourite items used in client projects to date have been framed vintage Asian textiles one client picked up on their travels, framed underwater diving photos taken by a client in Indonesia, and a pair of signed vintage Sean Connery movie posters for a James Bond aficionado.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP 3 FAVOURITE ITEMS BY HUNTER & CO.?
I absolutely adore the Hunter & Co. collection of vases and jars, they’re really unique in the UK market and I haven’t seen anything like them elsewhere, especially the Adana Vase and the Kira Jar. I’m also a massive sucker for indigo textile anything, so I love the Madera cushion too.
AS WE JUST ENTERED A NEW YEAR, WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR ANYONE LOOKING TO DECLUTTER OR REORGANISE THEIR HOME LIFE?
Well this is an issue that I’m perennially challenged by (ask my partner!), but I’ve learnt over the years that the trick is to make sure that everything has its place, and that ‘its place’ is preferably a beautiful cabinet, drawer or basket. I’ve found that it’s not an overstatement to say that getting storage solutions correct is transformational in terms of how well a home functions, and this is actually one of the things clients most often ask for help with.
NOW, FOR OUR QUICK FIRE ROUND!
- What are you watching on Netflix right now? I’m totally addicted to Ozarks, so much drama!
- Favourite book? Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres – I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve read it.
- Ultimate travel destination? I would so love to get to Raja Ampat in Indonesia one day.
- Guilty pleasure? Chocolate anything.