"Designer Blackjack - Denise McGaha . . . "


We have a new player here at the Designer Blackjack Club this afternoon.  Please welcome my good friend Denise McGaha (MacGayHay!) from Dallas, Texas.  We have both been friends for so long - I'm not quite certain that either one of us remembers how or where we met!  Her style is incredibly chic - and like any good Texas girl . . . she can add that little sparkle (whether it's a hint of lucite or the perfect cabinet hardware!) to any home!  

Let get to know her better . . . 

1.  Tell me about the house where you grew up?  
I grew up in a typical ranch, built in the mid-70s.  What made it different was that we lived in a rural area of Texas with cattle, horses, chickens and many other animals.  My room was yellow and white gingham check with an antique bed and dressing table.  Mom had our drapery made by JC Penney as this was all that was available at the time.  I loved my bedroom and furniture and the wall of butterfly paintings and pressed flowers created by an artist friend of the family.

2)  When did you realized that your future was in the interior design business?    
Design is a second career for me, but it was something that was always discouraged by my parents and others.  Being a “business person” had much  more potential so I followed that path in corporate America for almost 10 years before finally switching to design after 9/11.  We had built our first home and it was truly all I thought about.  I loved it so much and when it was time for a career shift design was a natural plan.
Denise McGaha - Southlake, Texas
3)  How and where did you learn about the interior design?  
I am self-taught and say that my education came from the mistakes I made, the craftsmen and builders I worked with, and years of experience working with our clients.  

4)  How did you start your business?  
I fell into design after the Dallas office of the telecom company I was placed in was closed after 9/11.  My new job (with a 2 month old baby) was now in Kansas City and it was the perfect time to make a life and career change.  I began consulting for a builder/developer on their design and marketing operations and before I knew it, I was managing their design selections with clients and needed a staff to keep up with the volume of business.
Denise McGaha - Breakfast Nook
5)  Tell me about your ideal client.  
They trust me.  They are involved in the process and provide great vision and communication, but they let me bring the ideas to the table and execute them within our design process.  They believe in paying for our firms experience and service and they are kind and respectful to my team.
6)  How do you begin designing one of your projects?  What's the first step in your process?  
DISCOVERY:: We start with a vision and work with our clients to develop mood boards and design vision from the start.  Once we are on the same page, we set forth a design scope, a design proposal for our services and specific budgets for the project.  Then, and only then, do we begin the work of designing their project.

7) What was you best client feedback . . . and maybe your worst client feedback - lol?   
Best client feedback was just last week when a client was asked by her friend why she was working with a designer?  She has access to the same buying power that we have and she told her friend this:: 
“I have purchased maybe 5 sofas in my life.  My designer completed 30 projects last year.  Do you know how many sofas that includes?  She knows scale, has buying power, understands how to put a room together and handles all of the details.  Why would I want to spend that much time purchasing one item when she can manage an entire home for me?  It lets me travel, go to the gym, spend time with my family and truly enjoy the process.”
8)  What one piece of advice would you give any new designer?  
Don’t be afraid to take on one or two room projects at first.  These are where you develop trust with clients, learn how to develop your design process and create one of a kind rooms without feeling overwhelmed with a whole home or large project.  Some of my best clients have come from small projects we started when they were young and just buying properties.  Now we do large projects together and their trust in me is a given. 
9)  Tell me a bit about your favourite project!   
My favorite project is one we completed last year.  The client was in her 70s, owned properties all over the country and was ready for a modern design and a simplification of life.  We completed a ground-up new construction home and furniture installation in 11 months.  She was decisive, appreciated high quality, had great ideas and was fun.  She saw life differently and didn’t sweat the small stuff.  She was generous with her time and her feedback and we always knew where we stood.  She liked quick answers but also gave them in return.  It helped that we had a great architect and builder on the team and healthy budgets to achieve beautiful results.

Denise McGaha Interiors

10)  Tell me about that one mistake that you will NEVER make again . . . ?  
 I think mistakes are a good thing because they let us get used to failing and failure is such a wonderful opportunity to learn.  I don’t know if there will ever be a time that I won’t make a mistake again.  We work hard to create processes to prevent the same mistakes from being made over and over again, but mistakes are inevitable in this business.  It’s how you handle them that matters to me.
11)  What are you working on right now?  What new projects are in the pipeline?  
We are actually in the middle of moving our design studios.  Our current location, which has been home for us for over 5 years has been sold and is undergoing a historical renovation that will last over 5 years.  As a result, we have found a new home and are currently retro fitting it to provide not only a space for our team to work, but a space where we can showcase our licensed product designs for Materials Marketing, Currey & Co. and Design Legacy.  We also have several other product categories we are exploring for product design and hope to announce those in late 2020.
We have projects ranging from a new construction home in Ft Worth, Texas with a Moroccan flair, a new construction home with a European style including a Great Hall with 24 ft ceilings, the renovation and re-furnishing of a home that was hit hard by the tornados in Dallas last Fall (right after we completed the original design work) and a full renovation of a home in Cottonwood Valley in Las Colinas.  Peppered in there are various other design projects with furnishings and decoration.

Denise McGaha Interiors - Home Office

Lightning Round . . . 
1)  Favourite Wallpaper?  De Gournay
2)  Favourite Movie?  Who watches movies?
3)  Favourite Iconic Room?  any bedroom by Bunny Williams
4)  Favourite Podcast or YouTube Channel?  Business of Home
5)  Favourite Textile?  Scalamandre Le Tigre Velvet
6)  Favourite Car?  Land Rover Defender 110  - Right Hand Drive
7)  Favourite Movie Star (past or present)  - again, who watches movies??
8)  Favourite Meal? Charcuterie Board – I prefer snacking to meals
9)  Favourite International Destination?  Anywhere with a Beach
10) Favourite Piece of Furniture? The vintage 70s lucite cocktail table in my living room

Keep up with Denise

Follow her on Instagram
Check out her Website



Popular Posts