Home Design: Everyday Extraordinary

by Jocelin Diaz

MacKenzie-Childs opens in Georgetown.

Courtly Check (above) is one of the patterns displayed in the new MacKenzie-Childs Georgetown store. Photos courtesy of Daniel Swartz

When you think of MacKenzie-Childs, you might picture black and white checkers, bold patterns and hand-painted everything. The New York-based homeware company has opened a pop-up shop in Georgetown and Washington Life had a chance to chat with the creative director of MacKenzie-Childs’ Rebecca Proctor, about the opening and all things fall.

What are you most excited about for the new Washington location?

It’s the first pop-up shop that we’ve ever done as a company. It’s a small footprint and the idea is to keep it revolving and changing, so what we’re really, super excited about for being in the D.C. area is just the idea of being engaged with that kind of community.

[Washington is] a cultural city that is full of fantastic theater, the best museums in the world, the greatest restaurants, there’s just so much going on in the Georgetown, D.C. area and that to me is delicious.

Why did you choose the Georgetown area for the pop-up?

I would always go to Washington and always go to Georgetown. I remember when I just got my driver’s license and I would hop in the car with a bunch of girlfriends and the coolest thing in the entire world was to go to Georgetown for the afternoon and have lunch at some great place and look around. There’s something very special about Georgetown, it’s got all the surroundings of this giant, fantastic city but there’s something sort of intimate about Georgetown, it has a lot of personality, and it’s a wonderful culmination of peaks.

From left: Tami Azimi, Rebecca Proctor, Chelsea Santa, and Nicole Santa. Photos courtesy of Daniel Swartz

The new store is unlike anything you’ve done before, there’s a mural painted on the outside. What was the inspiration behind the new store in Georgetown?

I went and spent the weekend where [our visual director] and his partner live in Williamsburg, which is part of Brooklyn [N.Y.], and there’s this movement there where every single mural in all of Williamsburg and all of Brooklyn are hand-painted. They hand paint everything and so we thought, we are all about the evidence of hand painting in our work, that’s like a huge piece of who we are.

So, the idea of hand painting the façade was so natural for us. We hired local artists to do … our three-quart tea kettle painted on the front of the building. We just thought that would be a great way to just say ‘we’re here,’ and we put our website on the front of the building instead of the proper logo as a way of just saying, we’re a social company, come play with us. I think it’s going to be a hoot.

Do you have a favorite piece in the MacKenzie-Childs collection?

I have a favorite every five minutes, that will change, but because I love designing and I love this collection. I grew up in this brand and it’s like a part of my family and so I love everything that we do.

I think the go-to; my all-time favorite piece is probably the tea kettle. Not just because I love the shape of it, but I love what it has done for the MacKenzie-Childs community. I found a tea kettle, I think it was maybe [on] Portobello RD (a colorful street in London, England), something that seemed like ‘hey this might be interesting’ and that served as inspiration for the shape that we created ourselves, which we tooled and then decorated. It’s got a beautiful lid with brass accents and a red, bright red cinnabar bead on top of the Courtly Check [pattern] and so if you put one of [the kettles] on your stove, it literally smiles at you when you walk into the room.

It’s just a very happy design, it’s a little bit grand in scale. I love it dearly personally, but I also love how much our customers love it because it just says, we’ve done a good job. It’s an iconic silhouette for us. But I think the reason the tea kettle is important because it sums up home. It’s sort of cozy. It’s about nesting, it expresses tradition and ceremony and pattern and fun and it just says a lot about our whole brand ethos.

Speaking of cozy, what is your favorite season for decorating?

Fall is my favorite season. I love fall. I love the seasons changing. I love what happens to the air being so crisp. I love eating, really yummy crunchy apples on a cold fall day with a big hunk of cheese. I love big fluffy, wooly sweaters. I love nesting at home in the fall and it’s a time [for] cocooning and making your personal space special because you’re going to be spending more time indoors and the idea of surrounding yourself with the things you love; beautiful throws and pillows. Fall is a great time of year for decorating, I just love it.

A fun Christmas tree decorated with flamingos, teacup ornaments, and Courtly Check Christmas ball ornaments. Photos courtesy of Daniel Swartz

If you could pick three items from the collection to cozy-up with, which would you choose?

If you’re entertaining, lighting becomes important, so I adore our lamp collection. Lighting and creating a warm ambiance in spaces while you’re entertaining and being at home, the warm light and the autumn hues, I think that’s fun.

We make the most beautiful handmade ceramic mugs in the Taylor collection and they’re made right here in Aurora, New York so if you’re getting cozy for fall, certainly malt cider or hot tea or hot cocoa or a nice warm cup of coffee, whatever it is, our mugs are generously proportioned and they’re handmade, hand-painted, so they’re very personal and they feel good in your hands.

We have some wonderful throws that are houndstooth and very colorful and they are very, very soft and what’s nicer than wrapping up with a very soft, cozy blanket? We’ve got this outrageous collection of cookware so I would say our big quart stock pot for making a giant wonderful batch of chili.

The MacKenzie-Child’s pop-up shop is now open in Georgetown 1037 NW 33rd St.

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