Mackenzie Horan is the personality behind the preppy life and style blog, Design Darling. I have followed her blog for years and it has truly been a joy getting to see her style and home evolve over time. I personally love Mackenzie’s crisp, punchy coastal style and had a feeling that you might love it to.
Mackenzie and her sweet husband Will (also a Dallas native woohoo!) just bought a beautiful, historic 1850’s home in Connecticut and just completed a stunning renovation of their kitchen, play room, powder bath, family room, and guest suite.
I wanted to feature their most recent rental home because Mackenzie already finished designing it before they moved out and I adore it. I can’t wait to see more pictures from their new home as they complete each of the spaces.
Before I get into showing you their former rental home, I thought we would hear from Mackenzie herself and learn more about her design process.
This interview took place before they officially moved into their new home. They have since moved in and completed their first renovation mentioned in the interview below.
How did you first become interested in interior design? Have you ever considered doing it professionally?
I’ve loved decorating for as long as I can remember and always looked forward to having a home of my own to put my stamp on. It’s not something I’ve strongly considered as a career but something I’m happy I’ve found a way to incorporate into my blog in a more personal capacity!
Which do you find more important in design? Functionality or Aesthetics? Why?
Function over form, for sure. For instance, I love the look of an all white living room, but with a very playful dog and a baby on the way, I know I won’t be trading in our navy sectional any time soon!
If you had to describe your design style in three words, what would they be?
Classic, preppy, and streamlined. I hope?!
I know that Nantucket is your home away from home. How has Nantucket influenced your design style?
Nantucket represents quintessential all-American style and I like to think my wardrobe and our home both reflect that sensibility. It’s funny to think that so much of what I wear now has been influenced by what my mom and grandmother have worn on the island for so many years — classics are classics for a reason!
After following your blog for years I know that it’s no secret that navy blue and hot pink is your favorite color combo! What tips do you have for someone trying to incorporate a beloved color combination into their home without it feeling overwhelming?
I do try to keep the hot pink to a minimum now that I’m not living alone! :) But there will always be a ton of navy blue in our home and in my closet. If you have a bold color combination you’re trying to work into your home, I’d recommend balancing it out with lots of white and negative space. A white wall with a piece of hot pink art is so much more interesting than a full hot pink wall!
What does your design process look like? Where do you start? How do you select the big statement pieces for a room?
We’ve invested in different pieces of furniture over time so I’m rarely starting with a blank canvas, but I have tried to move pieces from room to room as we’ve moved into different houses — the art above our bed in Connecticut used to live in our living room in Dallas and the prints in our current living room were originally purchased for our bedroom in Dallas. When we move into a new home, I’m constantly rearranging furniture, rugs, artwork, and books until I’ve struck the right mix. I wish I had a particular recipe I follow but it really is trial and error, much to my husband (and default furniture mover’s) chagrin!
Do you have a particular interior design or brand(s) that inspires your creativity with interior design?
I love following various designers and brands on Instagram — @amylberry, @arielokin, @becky_boyle, @lindrothdesign, @markdsikes, @pencilandpaperco, @serenaandlily, @shelleyjohnstonedesign, and @sweetshadylane are a few favorites that come to mind!
What is your favorite piece that you own? This can be art, furniture, anything!
That’s so tough! Either an antique quatrefoil mirror that my mom gave me for my birthday one year or the chaise lounge from my childhood home that I’ve had reupholstered in a peppy hydrangea blue linen.
I am so excited for you that you and your husband bought your first house! Are you planning on implementing a design aesthetic similar to your Connecticut rental (featured below), or mixing it up with the look and feel?
Thank you! We’re so excited to move in and get our hands dirty — we have lots of projects ahead of us! I imagine it will have a pretty similar feel to the style of the last few places we’ve lived together, but I’m definitely looking forward to having a little more square footage to experiment with! I think the thing I’m most excited about is being able to hang wallpaper — I’ve been saving favorites for years just waiting for an opportunity to use them!
Does Will ever weigh in on the design of your home? Or does he leave the designing up to you? Has your style changed since you’ve been married?
I’m fortunate that he’s very easygoing when it comes to design! He generally trusts the direction I’m heading in but I always give him the power of veto if there’s something he really can’t stand. He’s usually better off if I present him with two or three options I’m considering vs. asking whether he has a particular vision upfront. I do think my style has matured a bit since we first moved in together — hot pink chairs have been reupholstered in beige, a lime green dresser got a much-needed coat of white lacquer, etc.!
If you had to choose one of the following things to give up forever, what would it be? Slim Aarons photography prints, the color navy, Serena and Lily furniture, ginger jars, or monograms?
Ooh great question! I could probably live without ginger jars more easily than any of the others. I definitely wouldn’t want to live in a world without navy blue. :)
And finally, I absolutely love the Nantucket Print shop, an Etsy shop selling gorgeous coastal photography prints that Mackenzie and her brother Camden started this year. Do you have any more fun design related projects in the works this year in addition to designing your new house?
Thank you so much! Camden and I have a lot of fun with it. We figured we were always taking so many pictures on the island and it’s fun to see them live somewhere besides just a Dropbox folder! Once Will and I move into our new house, we’re starting with tearing up a bunch of carpet and refinishing and repairing hardwood floors, but we’re saving up to hopefully renovate the kitchen and the powder room sometime in 2020! That will definitely be the biggest design project I’ve tackled and I’m really excited to learn from that process.
Thank you Mackenzie for answering my design questions so thoroughly and insightfully! I had so much fun putting this post together for everyone.
Now that you know a bit more about Mackenzie and her interior design style, let’s get into touring her beautiful Connecticut home!
Mackenzie’s foyer is such a breezy, coastal welcome into their space and really sets the tone for the rest of the house.
One of my favorite things about Mackenzie’s design style is that she typically works off of a white wall “canvas” and accessorizes with pops of blue, green, and pink. This style of design works especially well in this smaller space because the white walls instantly make the foyer feel larger than it is. She further enlarges the space by utilizing a large mirror at the end of the hallway and a clear lucite acrylic table that takes up very little visual space.
| TABLE CB2 Console Table | BENCH Clear X Bench | UMBRELLA STAND Chinoiserie Blue and White Umbrella Stand | MIRROR White Mirror | MIRROR Pottery Barn Floor Length Mirror | RUG Serena and Lily Jute Runner | JARS Wisteria Ginger Jar Set | ARTWORK Coastal Art Print 1 | Coastal Art Print 2 | Coastal Art Print 3 |
The Living Room
I absolutely love the different shades of blue and pink incorporated into this large living room. The large Serena and Lily striped rug teams up with the navy sectional to really anchor the space visually.
The fun blues, coastal photography, and beachy textures create a gorgeous, summery mix of preppy coastal goodness. Mackenzie never goes overboard with color, but adds enough to achieve the look that she is going for.
| SECTIONAL Pottery Barn Navy Sofa | PILLOWS Greek Key Pillow | Blue and White Pillow | Dark Navy Pillow | Monogrammed Pillow | SIDE TABLE Serena and Lily Side Cart | COFFEE TABLE Wisteria Disappearing Coffee Table | MEDIA CONSOLE IKEA Media Center | FLOOR LAMP Ralph Lauren Floor Lamp | TABLE LAMP Pair of Ginger Jar Lamps (similar) | CANDLE Diptyque White Oversized Candle | MATCHES Ginger Jar Matches | STOOL Blue and White Garden Stool | ARTWORK Slim Aarons Photography Prints | RUG Serena and Lily Striped Rug | CURTAIN RODS Clear Acrylic Curtain Rods (such a good price) | LANTERN Pottery Barn Lantern | PLANT Pottery Barn Fiddle Leaf Fig | BASKETS Pottery Barn Baskets |
Mackenzie’s kitchen has a crisp colorful punch to it and I love that this space seamlessly blends into the decor featured in the rest of the house. Bright sunny windows add a cheerful feel to the open concept kitchen.
Some of my favorite pieces in Mackenzie’s entire home actually reside in the kitchen. She has a beautiful set of three matchbook photography art prints that coincide with the restaurants significant to her wedding. She had her wedding reception at Summer House, Millie’s food truck at her welcome party, and her rehearsal dinner at Chanticleer. I want to visit every single restaurant on this website and buy an art print to coincide. Such a creative way to document!
JARS Blue and White Striped Jars | STOOLS Serena and Lily Counter Stools | RUG Jute Runner (under $100)| DOG BOWLS Chinoiserie Dog Bowl | Blue and White Dog Bowl | ART Matchbook Art Prints | PLANTS Topiaries (similar) |
The Dining Room
The dining room takes on a more neutral color palette than rest of their colorful home. The soft tans of the chairs and rug have a calming effect and add a level of sophistication to the space.
Cane chairs are always a win in my book, and they give this simple dining room a subtle coastal vibe that I love in every way.
TABLE White Round Dining Table | CHAIRS Cane Back Dining Chairs | BAR Mirrored Tray | Mirrored Tray Stand | ARTWORK Slim Aarons Photography Prints | PLACEMATS Raffia Round Placemats | BOWL White Kate Spade Serving Bowl | Record Player | TABLE LAMP Serena and Lily White Table Lamp | CANDLES Clear Glass Candlesticks | TABLE COVER Custom Navy and White Table Skirt | TRAY Williams Sonoma Woven Tray | STOOL Blue and White Garden Stool | RUG Jute Rug (similar) | CURTAIN RODS Clear Lucite Curtain Rods | CURTAINS Sheer Curtain Panels | JARS Blue and White Ginger Jars (similar) | PILLOW Blue and White Greek Key Pillow |
The Guest Bedroom
Mackenzie’s guest room is a bright and punchy combination of her signature colors. The crisp white walls, dresser, and lamps provide the perfect back drop for some of the stand out pieces featured in the room.
I love that she also incorporates large scale photography prints from her Etsy store Nantucket Print Shop that she started with her brother Cameron. The summery scenes captured in the photographs paired with the bright color palette just screams warm weather magic to me!
HEADBOARD Navy Upholstered Headboard (similar) | NIGHTSTAND White Night Stand | PILLOW Monogrammed Lumbar Pillow | Lumbar Pillow Insert | ARTWORK The Nantucket Print Shop Photography Prints | LAMPS White Table Lamps | Clear Glass Table Lamps | Light Blue Lamp Shades | BENCHES Green X Benches (similar) |
Mackenzie and Will share this “cloffice” space, and she does a great job of keeping the design simple in order to relegate the potential clutter that might ensue from sharing an office with another person.
Sporadic pops of pink adds fun whimsy to this otherwise navy and white office. The closet system that she installed is such a neat way to add more function into an otherwise useless area of the room. She uses her bright clothing and accessories to adorn the shelves with something interesting to look at.
FILE CABINET White Martha Stewart Living File Cabinet | CLOSET SYSTEM White Customizable Closet System (very affordable!) | RUG Jute Area Rug (under $200!)| DESKS Modern White Desks (similar)| BOXES Navy Blue Stackable Storage Boxes | ART PRINT Slim Aarons Photography Prints | LAMP Clear Glass Fillable Table Lamp |
The Master Bedroom
Okay, so I sort of cheated. This is Mackenzie and Will’s master bedroom from their other rental in Connecticut a few years back. Mackenzie has yet to post pictures of their current bedroom, so I still wanted to include this older bedroom of theirs to give you an idea what it might look like.
The dark navy upholstered headboard anchors the space without feeling bulky or overwhelming. It accentuates the colors in the Slim Aarons art hanging above it nicely.
ARTWORK Slim Aarons Photography Prints | HEADBOARD Navy Upholstered Headboard (similar) | BEDDING Navy and White Duvet Cover | Navy and White Pillow Cases | Navy and White Sheets | NIGHTSTAND Wisteria White Nightstand | VASE Blue and White Vase | CANDLES Diptyque Candle | Large Jo Malone Candle | MATCHES Ginger Jar Matches | LAMP Navy Bamboo Table Lamp (multiple colors)| TISSUE BOX COVER Monogrammed Tissue Box Holder | TOWELS Monogrammed Towels |
I hope that you all enjoyed learning more about Mackenzie and getting a peek into her Connecticut home! I don’t know about you, but I am SO excited for all of the upcoming interior design posts and projects in the new house. If you haven’t already, head over to Design Darling to see read more about Mackenzie’s home, wardrobe, and personal life!