John McClain’s spaces hark back to the glamorous days of old Hollywood. Moody neutrals reign, metallics glint and plush velvet seating beckons guests to linger over cocktails. We spoke with McClain, who’s part of our Trade Program, on how he adds elegance and elan to projects for his eponymous design firm, with offices in Los Angeles and Orlando, Florida.
How do you remake vintage style for today? I love, love, love Hollywood Regency and Art Deco — that sumptuous period when extravagance was embraced. But a little goes a long way. Maybe only the fabric you choose is an ode to that era, like a super rich, delicious fabric you might not normally pair with a midcentury modern chair. Combining periods creates a fresh, new look for today.
Where do you go glam and where do you stay simple? I love juxtaposing different elements. I like to keep the bigger pieces simple and traditional. But then I might add a fabulous fabric, like mohair, or add a brass cone leg that changes the clean-lined look into something posh.
What about color? I try to do a beautiful neutral envelope with grays, creams and blacks. Then I elevate that with metallics, like antique brass with striations of black, and I mix brass, silver and gold to give a room depth. I once commissioned metal angel wings spread out on a gold wall that reduced the homeowner to tears when he saw them.
All your designs look so touchable. Texture is vital to a good room. Fabric is a great place to bring in texture, like with window coverings or plush velvets, as is wood in tones like cerused ebony. I also use wallcoverings to create focal walls or on ceilings. I recently did a powder room with peacock-patterned grasscloth and mirrored tiles. Texture instantly makes a flat room come alive.
For some extra sparkle? I’m totally addicted to lighting. It’s an easy way to add a touch of glamour to a room, like a little piece of jewelry in a space. Adding a fabulous Art Deco chandelier to a modern space instantly transports a room. Having fun with accessories in gold, silver and crystal also adds elegance.
You have your own line of furnishings? It’s called Gilded Home. I wanted to design things I feel passionate about in a way that hasn’t been seen before.