Creative Style by Lizzie McGraw, published by CICO Books (£35) Photography by Mark Lohman © CICO Books
Interior Designer Lizzie McGraw on How She Designs Spaces
Interior designer Lizzie McGraw understands that, when designing a space, one should thoroughly understand the lives of its inhabitants. She talks us through one of her inspiring projects, where unique ideas combine with an emphasis on craftsmanship
Beka and Ben are a dynamic young couple with eclectic tastes and a penchant for interiors that celebrate creative, innovative ideas. They welcome contemporary visions with a sense of glamour and a playfully daring spirit—rock star meets Southern belle. They are both in the music industry and run their own company, so the house is in constant motion with not only meetings and parties but also with their children and pets. Their energy and creativity are infectious.
I call their style ‘haute home’, as it reminds me of the distinguishing qualities of haute couture: It is luxurious and one-of-a-kind, with an emphasis on craftsmanship. Their new 425-square-metre home, complete with a pool and tennis court in a beautiful setting, offers the ideal solutions tailor-made for their busy lives and love of entertaining.
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Juxtaposing items, colours, shapes, and artworks that are visually stimulating gives this corner its edgy, modern-glam mood. The emerald-green curvy sofa is made even brighter by shimmering gold pillows, elongated black sconces and circular tables, and a poster that alludes to owner Ben’s French roots.
The rug’s artful bold motifs pull together the dining-room palette into a strong, tactile statement. A graphic 1940s chandelier hangs above the shapely table with its chairs dressed in white cowhide.
Gold accents from the table base and chairs highlight their chic and smart design.
In the living room, glass, metal, and wood are unified by their sleek forms and finishes, and by a cream-and-black palette. The colour combination continues with the black shelves and displayed accessories.
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The design concept was to create spaces that would reflect their preference for modern bespoke furniture and accessories with sumptuous touches, plush accents, and refined materials for an unabashedly glamorous interior. To achieve our goal, we turned to palettes ranging from warm neutrals in the living room and bedroom to the jewel tones of the dining room and office.
The living room has a rich yet restrained palette that works in contrasting pairs, in both colour and texture. A warm creamy colour is the foundational hue that we lavished on the sofas, chairs, and curtains, while an ebony shelving unit grounds the space. The combination works to highlight the room’s contemporary feel, but Beka and Ben don’t shy away from strong colour elsewhere in the house.
Case in point: the dining room, in which vibrant hues are pulled together with the multi-toned splashes of the rug. And let’s not forget the office with its crimson velvet wall – inspired by an interior that Ben had seen in Paris – and golden chairs. I am proud to say I introduced Mkayel to the red velvet. In return, he brought Beka, Ben, and me endless joy with his design choices, including the dining room’s green velvet sofa, which I would love for my own home.
Mkayel is responsible for elevating the master bedroom, as well as the bathroom, the family room, the living room, and the bar, which was an existing built-in. I suggested painting it black and adding mirrors and gold bars, then Mkayel took it to another level with gorgeous vintage hardware and styling. We all worked together on the entry – the Muscle Shoals wallpaper idea was Ben’s and we just executed it. The photo of the legendary Alabama music studio holds a special meaning for Beka and Ben, symbolising their connection to the music world. It is also a sentimental reminder of a place that was once a recording mecca for rhythm and blues, rock, and pop artists in the 1960s and 1970s.
The wet bar was revamped by Mkayel and comes in handy for entertaining, and as a place for mixing cocktails. The gently aged cabinets, mirror, and bar stool are a fitting match for the gold bars and vintage hardware.
The foyer heralds Beka and Ben’s connection to the music world with a vintage mid-century record cabinet and a wallpaper mural honouring the Alabama building that housed the famed Muscle Shoals Sound Studio.
The pampering bathroom feels luxe, serene, and lovely with an inviting tub that commands centre stage and an artful mural that brings nature within reach in the form of an exotic design. The tropical plants signal the laid-back ambience of an island getaway. Floating shelves are subtly chic, the rug adds a vintage feel, and the coral chair strikes a vibrant note.
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Beka and Ben formed a deep bond with Mkayel during the design process – it could even be said that once Mkayel fell under Beka’s spell, I became the proverbial third wheel in the relationship. It was clear that Mkayel had a great deal of passion for this project. Beka and Ben wanted to be surprised and he delivered in spades – even going as far as to ‘borrow’ some of my French posters for them.
This whole project is the result of a priceless collaboration between Mkayel, Beka and Ben, and myself. My team and I were very lucky to meet this creative couple when we did and we have enjoyed such a productive partnership with them ever since. I firmly believe that every home should have its own point of view and this one certainly does. It exudes vibrancy, diversity, and personality, and is a mirror image of its owners. It is the happy place for their delightful, happy selves. And the beat goes on!