Designer Q&A: Margaret Donaldson Makes Room For Life

Here at Chaddock, we love sharing the work and behind-the-scenes stories of our favorite designers. For today’s blog, we caught up with the busy Margaret Donaldson, proprietor of Margaret Donaldson Interiors. While based in Charleston, MDI’s beautiful work knows no boundaries – geographic or aesthetic. Let’s see what drives the look and the vision.
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CHADDOCK: “Make room for your life” is a theme on your website. Tell us about what this means.

MD: This phrase is really sort of a professional and personal motto. It’s all about living well in your space – in the fullest sense, a beautiful aesthetic with, very importantly, functionality that matches the client’s lifestyle. Frankly, beauty is the easy part! Beauty fully in sync with the way you live takes design to a new level. That’s what we do at my firm!

CHADDOCK: You ask a lot of questions to get to the heart of a client’s heart’s desire for their home. What is the most important question you ask?

MD: There is not really one question that reveals all. No silver bullets. It’s a conversation and a process with a lot of active listening going on! Many of my questions get at exactly how the client wants to live in the space. I need to know how they live life.

Cozy

CHADDOCK: What is the role of social media in today’s design landscape?

MD: Social media is huge in two respects. First, Pinterest and Houzz have revolutionized client interaction. Back in the day, we might encourage clients to pull tearsheets from magazines to understand preferences. Today, clients dream – and research – on Pinterest and Houzz. So many actively assemble ideas, mood boards and wish lists. This accelerates the creative process. Secondly, social media – primarily Instagram and Houzz – is a great tool for us to share our work, our design vision and our creativity with potential new clients.

CHADDOCK: There are so many choices for interior designers today. What attracts you to Chaddock?

MD: Great style, of course, but there’s more. Chaddock designs are simply well thought out. The scale and proportion work. I can see the time and attention in every piece. The finishes are also wonderful. I’ll add that in the few instances where there has been a service issue, Chaddock’s been totally on top of it. How we deal with problems is a test of any relationship!

CHADDOCK: Do you have a favorite piece of Chaddock? An item you covet?

Marais

MD: I love the Mary McDonald Marais dresser. It’s a great example of what we just discussed – a beautiful product that is also beautifully thought out. Frankly, 73” dressers can be a bit of a bore. Mary and Chaddock designed Marais with faceted drawer fronts to add interest and diversity to the horizontal shape. It’s brilliant.

CHADDOCK: How does travel inspire your work?

MD: Travel is stimulating! It opens your eyes to new cultures, plus colors, fabrics, textures and combinations.

CHADDOCK: What is the biggest risk you’ve ever taken?

MD: Well, I had just left a professional partnership of 3 years, I was expecting my first child in 3 weeks, and I decided to start my own business, Margaret Donaldson Interiors. I’m so glad I did! I always like to be moving forward!

Act Two

CHADDOCK: Abandon your humanity for a moment and pretend you are a piece of furniture. What would you be?

MD: I see myself as a beautiful living-edge dining table. In this way, I am a place for family and friends to gather, and my very nature – the living edge – shows my history, my story. I am also the platform for new memories.

 

MARGARET’S QUIPS

CHADDOCK: All things in moderation – but even moderation. Can you share an excess or passion?

MD: ART! When my husband and I travel, we don’t bring back souvenirs, we look for original art.

CHADDOCK: My favorite clients are ….

MD: Those who trust my expertise. I want my clients’ homes to look and live as great as they do. Creative trust and a bit of latitude is needed to make that happen.

CHADDOCK: Good riddance to ….

MD: Colorless spaces. It’s time for color! It might be an accent color pop or something more daring.

CHADDOCK: You heard it here first. The next great thing in design is…

MD: It’s about paint and color. Look for walls and trim painted in the same color. I’m loving lacquered walls, and I am drawn to a new palette of jewel tones. The hues are crisp, cool and very today, not a 1980s throwback!

LR

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