A Refreshing Approach to Design

Inspired by nature, designer Megan Clinton encourages clients to express their individuality.

By Barb Wilson
Photography by Anne Matheis

 

Megan Clinton is many things…a uniquely creative and resourceful designer; a Master Gardener; a devoted wife and mom to three preteen boys; a frequent hostess, known for her “fun bashes”; and quite possibly the least pretentious design professional you’ll ever encounter.

Fulfilling a lifelong passion, Megan launched her 15-year career by apprenticing with designer Gail Rowland, then struck out on her own as MC Design. Resistant to faddish trends and clichés, she puts her clients at ease, encouraging them to “be true to yourself, and make it a journey. A little light-heartedness and whimsy are perfectly acceptable. Fine antiques and great art don’t necessarily say it all, but good design is attainable by all.” 

The Clintons’ personal residence in Clayton is clear evidence of Megan’s philosophy. Having outgrown their previous home in Kirkwood, she and husband Brian purchased this stunning European-styled two-story nearly three years ago while it was still under construction. Richly clad in brick and stone, the home has a finished lower level and plenty of space for the boys to “hang out.”

Relaxing in the outdoor hearth room over glasses of cardamom ice tea and homemade plum tart, Megan recalls, “The asymmetrical features of this house spoke to me, and the timing was right because we wanted to finish the interior ourselves.”  She gestures to the immaculately groomed courtyard and covered casual dining area that connects the house and detached 3-car garage, adding, “I’m a very tactile person. I love texture and a natural, uncontrived look.  When it comes to color, proportion, scale and negative space, Mother Nature gives us the cues.”

In fact, every plant in this exquisite outdoor space was specifically chosen for its texture and color – an astonishing variety that ranges from false yew, espalier magnolia, wisteria and dwarf oakleaf hydrangea to black mondo grass bordering the courtyard’s crushed gravel surface. 

Moving indoors, the tour begins in the foyer, which showcases a Gothic-arched entry door, onion-shaped chandelier and an Italian bent glass étagère. French doors open to the formal dining room where, as in most rooms of the home, each piece has a story. A ‘50s-vintage Venini blown glass chandelier is suspended from the diagonally coffered ceiling. Antiqued mirrors blanket one wall, and the remaining walls are a deep chocolate hue, lacquered for a reflective quality. 

Purchased at an estate sale, the walnut-and-burlwood sideboard and dining table were originally a matched set, but the sideboard was refinished and glazed for an antique, patinaed look. French-style leather dining chairs from Louis J. Solomon surround the table. 

Much of the home’s artwork comes from the William Shearburn Gallery and represents anniversary gifts from Brian to Megan. Above the sideboard is his most recent gift, an eight-foot welded steel panel by pop artist David Buckingham that reads, “Me Love You Long Time.” 

Directly across the foyer, the two-story fireside sitting room is fairly formal, but has a soothing ambience and is used regularly. Megan’s objective for the décor was “classic, yet cool,” and she chose a palette of silvery blues with gold overtones and silver highlights, upholstering the walls below the chair rail in a Scalamandre fabric that establishes the color scheme. 

Proving that “formal” can also be “whimsical,” the space is filled with an intriguing assortment of furnishings, most notably a comfortable chocolate-colored mohair sofa and yak hide footstool, a ceiling medallion from a Chicago cathedral over the fireplace, ginger jars on the mantel, a Shaker rocker in lizard-patterned leather, an acrylic glass-topped table, a Don Wiegand bronze “Madonna” (8th anniversary gift) and a Turkish ottoman. Drapes in a gold silk Schumacher fabric are backed by sheers from the couple’s former home.

The formal living room overlooks the outdoor hearth room, and Megan notes that her design concept was inspired by the gold starburst chandelier. Reupholstered in gold silk velvet, the walnut-backed sofa came from their previous home.  The walnut is repeated on the fireplace paneling, which displays “Calla Lily,” a Tom Baril photogravure on paper and Brian’s first-anniversary gift to Megan, who carried a bridal bouquet of calla lilies.

Complementing the main seating area are an Amy Howard antique-mirrored coffee table, antique side chairs and a 1970s floor lamp from the Refind Room that mimics wood but is actually ceramic.  Other special favorites in the living room are a kidney-shaped ottoman “rescued from curbside and given new life” with an Osborne & Little fabric, a burlwood secretary that was a housewarming gift from Brian’s mother, and a 12th-anniversary gift, Richard Estes’ 110-layer silkscreen titled “Kentucky Fried Chicken.”   

Now an investor, Brian was formerly a restaurateur and the kitchen is as much his domain as Megan’s. Fully open to the coffered breakfast/family area, the kitchen features a large island topped with honed marble, soapstone countertops, a glass-tile backsplash in alternating matte/sheen finishes, and custom cabinetry disguising the separate refrigerator and freezer, dishwasher, warming drawer and trash compactor. Adjoining the kitchen is a butler’s pantry with a Carrara marble countertop, mother-of-pearl backsplash and cabinets by Robin Bretz, currently co-owner of The Jeweled Cottage, that are backed with iridescent mirrors.

Family meals are served in an “organic” environment. Woven-fiber linens blanket the table, which is encircled by cane back chairs, a rustic wood bench and lit by an artistic metal chandelier from Julie Neill Designs in New Orleans. Beyond the dining area is a sun-splashed sitting area, wallpapered in a horizontal “beadboard” pattern and furnished with a linen-upholstered sofa, faux tortoiseshell floor lamp, a wingback chair and a British Colonial leather chair, mirrored walnut side table, and a gilt wall mirror. “It’s the symbiotic relationship of these diverse elements that make the room work,” Megan explains. 

The tour concludes in the main-floor master suite, which is dominated by a Louis J. Solomon bed in walnut, with nail head-trimmed, ivory-leather head and footboards. Accent pieces include elegant bamboo chairs in a Scalamandre fabric; a ‘70s-vintage mirror in a goatskin-finished frame; a tub chair, inherited from Megan’s mother and reupholstered in a bold stripe and a handsomely carved highboy.

Delighted by texture, color, nature, and the pleasure of giving salvaged furniture new life, Megan’s styling reflects her irrepressible joie de vivre and free-spirited approach to design. Perhaps Brian describes her best when he says, “Some people visit beautiful places; other people make places beautiful.”

Resources
Designer: Megan Clinton, [email protected]
Artwork: William Shearburn Gallery, 314-367-8020
Kitchen cabinetry: The Jeweled Cottage, 314-966-9994
Living room lamp: The Refind Room, 314-962-7666