When interior designer Shea McGee and her husband, Syd, built their home outside of Salt Lake City in 2018, they deliberately skipped some features due to budget restraints and to accommodate the timing of their hit Netflix show, Dream Home Makeover. But the celebrity design duo also insisted on living in the house and experiencing it before making final decisions on some of the more expensive design elements. It’s the kind of practical approach the couple often suggests for their own clients.
“You can plan and draw up all the ideas you want, but you’ll have a better understanding of what you need after you live in your home for a while,” says Shea, the creative force behind Studio McGee. (Syd runs the business side of the company as chief executive.) “Living in your space before you take on any kind of extensive renovations allows your ideas to come from a place of honesty, and that’s always important during the interior design process,” she adds.
That organic perspective informed much of the couple’s recent overhaul of their own home—a 10-month renovation project that included a refresh of many of the 7,500-square-foot residence’s original rooms, including the entryway, living room, dining room, primary bedroom, and two children’s bedrooms.
The pair also remodeled portions of the exterior, adding a porch with a copper roof and double columns, pulling the roofline forward to apply additional trim to the gables, and installing custom bifold shutters to the upper windows of the three-level home. Killowen Construction served as the contractor on the original building of the home and during the renovation. The couple worked with Steve Tiek of Tiek Design Group on the update of the front of the property.
“We had strong ideas of what we wanted when we originally built the house, so the renovation gave us a chance to see those ideas through,” says Shea, who reached celebrity status in the design world using Instagram to cheerfully chronicle renovations of her early projects. She eventually used the platform—and her nearly four million followers—to help launch a TV show and grow a business that emphasizes craft and materiality in its spatial designs. The company’s brand now extends to McGee & Co., a home furnishings business that blends modern and rustic-chic of the Mountain West.
The refurbishment allowed the couple to use their own furnishings to build a harmonious array of understated colors, organic textures, and strong, simple forms. For instance, a Hildegard sofa in pewter linen from McGee & Co. centers a living room that includes an oak Orla side table in a rustic woodgrain, a Noralee console with sharp corners and slightly rounded legs, and the firm’s Byron chair, which features a curved back and sloped arm with a blind seam.
An Orville extension dining table, created from solid oak and oak veneer, gives the dining room a decidedly contemporary yet organic feel. A pair of Sascha slipcover dining chairs anchor each end of the table. The Prudence chair in one of the children’s rooms has a rounded top and tapered oak legs that complement its curved arms.