Anatomy of a Design - Studio McGee

Although Studio McGee has well over 2 million instagram followers today, I've been following Shea since she had just under 10k followers. It's been amazing to watch her business grow, and I certainly have a new appreciation for what she accomplished now that I'm a part of the industry. Although I haven't done one of Studio McGee's spaces for my "Anatomy of a Design" series yet, it was only a matter of time before one worked its way in.


For this study, I chose Syd's office from The McGee home. I have been getting a lot of requests to do home offices lately (gee, I wonder why?!) and this is one that has always really stuck with me.


It isn't hard to find a moody room in a designer's portfolio these days. Whether it's an office, sunroom, guest room, bathroom, bedroom, or even kitchen... darker hues in saturated tones are EVERYWHERE and they are AMAZING. What may not be entirely obvious, however, is that a good-looking dark room isn't all that easy to achieve. Light is one of a designer's biggest concerns when looking at a space, and painting a room black or navy is going to instantly throw challenges in the way of most lighting goals. With that in mind, I've taken this gorgeous office and focused some of my "anatomical findings" specifically around what makes this room work from a light (or lack there of) perspective.


  1. The first thing I notice about these black walls is the sheen. Although the aren't a full gloss, they do appear to at least be a semi-gloss (Shea says in her blog post that the color is Green Black by Sherwin Williams). In my opinion, the sheen of this paint is doing almost as much work as the color itself. With a big picture window in this space, the light is reflected beautifully which allows this room to feel moody without feeling too heavy.

  2. The shiplap ceiling, trim and molding are doing some heavy lifting here as well. Close your eyes and imagine the space without them, for a second. The whole room falls flat, right? When going tone-on-tone, adding in little details goes a long way.

  3. Dark furniture, dark window treatments, and dark walls is not a combination you see often... at least not done well! Subtle details, like keeping the linen curtains unlined to help light pass through, makes all the difference here.

  4. The large brass chandelier adds a slight touch of femininity to such a masculine moody space. Brass is a much warmer metal than say, chrome, which is intentional. That's not to say a chrome or nickel fixture wouldn't have worked here, it just would've pull the room's color palette more cool and less warm, which can sometimes make a space feel cold when using dark paints.

  5. And finally, probably the most important aspect of this space is the light wood floors (and door). It's not that you can't do a dark room with dark wood floors, but it's going to impact the space dramatically more than if your floors are lighter. Again, it's all about reflecting light. The subtle details in the space are what makes it feel light and moody as opposed to dungeon-like. Personally, I'm a fan of the dungeon-esque look... it has it's place in design just like anything else! But if you're going for a dark and moody office that still has a sense of brightness to it, light floors are the way to go.

What do you think of this office space? Are you a fan of dark walls (and ceilings, and furniture, etc)?! Let me know in the comments!


And naturally, the best way to achieve this look is to shop at McGee and Co. Below are a few sources, as well as a few budget finds from around the web. Happy shopping! :)


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