‘I Could Live Here’

Drawing much of his inspiration from meeting new people and traveling to off-the-beaten-path locations, Drew McGukin designs interiors that incorporate a touch of the unexpected while evoking a sense of comfort and ease.

By Sarah Binder

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Drew McGukin, of Drew McGukin Interiors, graduated from The New York School of Interior Design in May 2010 and promptly launched his own firm in October of that year. Known for tackling his projects with a unique level of energy, great pace, and high integrity, his Manhattan-based firm currently has projects in Manhattan, the Hamptons, North Carolina, and the West Coast. He cites his continued relationship with the American Society of Interior Designers at the national level as a notable achievement of his already-storied design pedigree, which is poised to achieve new heights.

How did you realize that you were destined for a career in interior design?

I sold real estate for 10 years in Atlanta. I bought, renovated, and helped conceptualize a lot of properties with clients over that time. It was really through that process that I became interested in design and realized that it seemed like a good match for me.

How do you balance a client’s needs with your unique design style?

We start with the client’s needs and try to tailor each project to exactly what the client is hoping for. We try to get into their heads to understand what they see when they close their eyes and envision their space. Often, there’s a bit of figuring out what the client truly wants. Our own personal approach is combining functionality with comfort. We want our clients to enjoy being in their homes; we try to guide what they want in order to achieve something that is both comfortable and functional.

Do you have a favorite room in the home to work within? What is it about this space that motivates you?

It’s always hard to have to choose a favorite. I don’t think that I have an exact favorite, but I do really enjoy spaces where people are actually going to live, such as a small den or a living room. I like places where you’re going to curl up and cuddle up with people. I do feel like I have a knack for bedrooms, as well. I’m always surprised by how much I enjoy bedroom redesigns. They’re clean and serene. I’m always drawn to the master bedroom. I think, ‘you know, I could live here.’ Bedrooms need layers of texture and light, as well as different variations of fabrics and textiles.

 

Can you tell us about your favorite project thus far in your career?

I would have to say the Chelsea High Rise. The client was young; she was 26 years old. She just got design; she didn’t hold back and she let us do our thing. She loved that and loved the process. The elegant use of bold colors is the highlight of that project.

Give us an example of an “aha!” moment on a project.

I think budget is always an example of that; I think you always come up against the client wanting more than they can genuinely afford, especially on big renovation projects. But in the end, you always hit a point where you think, ‘Wow. We pulled it off. We found the compromise.’

What is your favorite element of your own home?

One of the aspects that I really love about my own space is that we designed a lot of custom furnishings for it. Every once in a while, when I create a piece for a client that I think is really great, I create a second one for my own home. If I were able to design a dream home for myself, it would be in an exotic, warm place that is very remote and quiet. One of the things that I would really love is a general openness of both indoor and outdoor space.

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

I travel a great bit, and I’m a wine collector. I’m a huge fan of aged Bordeaux wines; that’s my number one wine choice. I love exotic places. My next trip is to the Galapagos Islands. I love going to places that I haven’t been before; I don’t know that I have a specific favorite, but I prefer places that can teach me something. I’ve been to Paris a million times, and I love it, but I’m probably going to chase something more interesting on most trips.

With a relatively young career in interior design, what’s next?

We’ve completed a variety of different styles of homes and a variety of different styles of work. I do like that part of our business. One thing that has been a surprise to me is the amount of furniture design that has grown out of what we have done for our clients. I didn’t realize I had that kind of knack in me. We’re looking to just continue to get ‘bigger, better, and more’ in terms of the scale of our projects. Also, stay tuned for some furniture line opportunities that are in the works and brewing.

An East Hampton living room redesign features a custom coffered ceiling, millwork detailing, and a fireplace surround. In addition to the interior finishes, McGukin designed the central daybed as a custom furniture piece to complement the client’s existing collection of Mid-Century antiques.

This East Village townhouse renovation married existing historic plaster ceiling details with a fresh “California Modern” design direction from the client. McGukin created a fresh spin on traditional New York by contrasting clean-lined walnut and blackened steel interior finishes with traditional molding throughout the space.

McGukin warmed up this Industrial SoHo loft by adding softer, artful layers. He weaved together sculptural lighting and one-off furnishings in a way that feels approachable and sophisticated, without losing a sense of true loft living.

The loose back pillows and refined proportions of this custom McGukin “LT sofa” create a perfect mix of comfort and beauty.

**All photographs used in this blog post courtesy of Brett Beyer**