Known for creating layered spaces filled with patterns, texture and style, Meg Lonergan has an obsession with interiors that started at an early age. As a young girl, she spent her days selecting the ideal color for her bedroom and hunting for deals at neighborhood garage sales. Today, international sophistication and Southern elegance are the cornerstones of Meg’s designs. The Louisiana native honed her style while living around the country, in spots like Singapore, New Zealand and France. In each space she designs, a combination of fine antiques, flea market finds, color and texture come together harmoniously to pack a visual punch. This Houston-based designer is quickly gaining recognition for her highly livable, eclectic and timeless designs. Meet our latest interior designer crush!
Tell us about your design background.
I was always obsessed with interiors. As a young girl, I remember being particular about the paint color of my bedroom (yellow — rich with a hint of gold, like a buttercup flower). I spent my Saturdays riding my bike around the neighborhood hunting for garage sale deals so that I could decorate my room. In college, I worked in fine bedding and for an Asian antique dealer. I was constantly merchandising the shop! After college, I worked for a very talented designer who took a chance and hired me, even though I had little experience. That leap of faith gave me my start. I will forever be grateful for his belief in me.
What is your design aesthetic and how does it set you apart?
My designs are rooted in tradition; being Southern it is something I rarely depart from. I’m inspired by the English aesthetic of layered colors, patterns and soft cotton fabrics. I love saturated colors. I spent my adolescence abroad, surrounded by many different styles of decorating and architecture; I find inspiration in all cultures. I truly appreciate the experiences and opportunities I was given. For my own home, I always come back to a classic “Southern” look and feel. Antiques always! Most of our work is client-driven, and we try to create spaces that look layered and collected.
How do you marry Southern design with multi-cultural influences?
I like mixing an odd chinoiserie accessory or furniture in my spaces — I love a “British Colonial” look and style. I really try to work in my clients existing pieces (as long as they’re pretty!). I dislike it when rooms look like everything arrived on the same day. I want my client’s homes to look like their own, not like “Did Meg Lonergan do this?” We recently installed a very modern German kitchen with a high gloss finish in a 1940s historic Houston home. That was exciting and truly one of my favorite projects, and I am loving the results. I find the yin and yang, or juxtaposition between styles, exciting. It’s always fun, and memorable to be surprised by something you see in a room.
Can you give us insight into Houston’s design community? How is it growing and/or changing?
When I first moved to Houston, everything was white linen, ruffled, slipcovered and seagrass with chippy French antiques — everywhere. It’s been so awesome watching Houston’s style transition over the past 10 years. There are so many young, talented designers bringing their fresh aesthetics to the Houston design scene. It’s a mix of colorful, modern, neutral and traditional; we have a little bit of everything. Houston is a vibrant and economically strong city. There are clients and designers for everyone here. I am so lucky to call Houston my home.
You live in a historic home in Houston but don’t shy away from bright colors and bold design. How do you incorporate contemporary elements into the historic space?
Using materials in unexpected ways makes spaces feel contemporary — for example, using wallpaper on a ceiling. I also love turning unusual objects into light fixtures. The use of contemporary things in old homes makes the home feel young again. I’m desperate to renovate my kitchen, a galley style in a very modern way. Sticking to one particular time period in a home would feel so flat. Mixing mid-century, French antiques, chinoiserie and brand new pieces is what makes a room sing.
What is your favorite room in your home, and why?
I recently renovated my master bathroom, with marble, wallpaper, aubergine paint and recessed medicine cabinets. I’m thrilled to have a very functioning room (in terms of how I designed it spatially), plus having all the brand new nice faucets is a major plus! The draperies, sconces and shower curtain are still in the works — the cobbler’s child has no shoes over here!
Do you have a favorite space in the home to design?
Powder rooms are always fun because clients are usually willing to be the most experimental. I wish most of them would take those risks and apply them to the entire home, but I will take what I can get! The hard part is usually eliminating our choices. There are too many amazing things in terms of lighting and wallpaper and tile patterns … it can be hard to commit when you like them all!
Where do you take chances in design?
Color. I recently plastered a powder room Klein Blue, which was hard to achieve but turned out gorgeous. In the same house we have a saturated English green paneled room and in another space an ivory lacquered ceiling. Mixing textures or finishes is a chance to experiment if color scares you. I spend a lot of time researching artists to present to my clients so they are introduced to people and art they may never have otherwise heard of. I always want to use art that I haven’t seen or used before.
If you could design one person’s home, who would it be?
Kate Moss. She has a fierce sense of style and is not scared to take risks, plus I think she would be really fun to hang out and have a drink with.
What has been your most challenging project to date, and why?
We renovated a big home down to the studs and fully furnished it in six months. It was crazy intense; we had to hold on tight. That was very challenging, but we had the most amazing detail-oriented contractor who made it happen and clients who trusted us, so we were able to make immediate decisions. When you have trusting clients and an organized and extremely talented contractor achieving the impossible is possible. (See images of this project below.)
What or who is currently inspiring you?
Isabel Lopez Quesada is a favorite. I adore her new book, and I love her real, honest approach to her career and her family and how she balances it all — she does it beautifully and effortlessly.
What are three household items you couldn’t live without?
My bathtub, set of mint julep cups (from using them as vases to holding toothbrushes, they have a million functions), and my collection of Tony Sly pottery from New Zealand, which I’m constantly using when we entertain (olives from the grocery store olive bar certainly look better in a hand-thrown little bowl!).
If you could squeeze your design philosophy into five words, what would they be?
Casual, layered, colorful, practical and memorable!
Learn more about Meg Lonergan Interiors and her inspiring spaces by visiting meglonergan.com.
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