The 7 Essential Pieces of Furniture That Will Carry You Through a Lifetime
Good Bones, Great Pieces
Suzanne and Lauren McGrath are a mother-daughter design team hailing from Martha Stewart Living and Teen Vogue. When they are not blogging for Good Bones, Great Pieces , they’re collaborating on interior design projects for Suzanne McGrath Design.
Their first book together, Good Bones, Great Pieces: The Seven Essential Pieces To Carry You Through a Lifetime centers around the seven essential pieces for every home: the love seat, the demilune table, the bench, the dresser, the slipper chair, the side table, and the occasional chair.
To win a copy leave a comment after the interview about the pieces that you have carried with you over the years – from your first apartment to your family’s home. A winner will be chosen at random.
Suzanne & Lauren on Furniture Everyone Should Own
The Daily Basics’ family and design contributor Kate Hathaway Weeks interviewed Suzanne and Lauren about growing up in the McGrath household, mother and daughter flea market shopping trips to Brimfield and some of the essential pieces that every family should own.
Kate Hathaway Weeks: Suzanne, when Lauren was growing up how did you encourage her interest in design and collecting? I imagine the two of you at Sunday morning yard sales and scouring antiques stores for that next great find.
Suzanne McGrath: I didn’t intentionally encourage Lauren’s interest in interior design- but she was always a very observant, visual child. From the time Lauren was in elementary school, she would spend time with me on weekends visiting job sites to check on paint colors and construction progress. We moved often, so we were often finding ways to re-use existing furniture pieces in different rooms. And, yes, we spent a fair amount of time at flea markets and tag sales. She developed a sharp eye, which is reflected in her wonderful sense of proportion in both fashion and interior design.
KHW: At what point do you remember Lauren becoming a partner in crime in your shopping trips?
SM: Our first trip to Brimfield together four years ago was a game changer. Lauren was hooked. I couldn’t get her to leave the fields. She started scouring vintage clothing booths, vintage jewelry, then she began finding artwork, using her art history background, that would have gone undetected by less careful eyes. Now she has become indispensable finding key furniture pieces that add character and style to the rooms we decorate.
KHW: When you go into a flea market or antique store what are you looking for?
SM: We’re looking for inspired pieces with classical lines, but with a twist that makes them hard to walk away from.
KHW: What are a couple of pieces that have stopped you in your tracks recently?
SM: We recently found an amazing hand-painted dining room table, painted a gray wash with a pale blue inlay stripe around the inside edge, that also has an elaborate pedestal base, which came with three leaves. It’s a great find, and it is going to find a new place in a family dining room in Massachusetts.
KHW: Suzanne, how did you balance raising a family with maintaining your design aesthetic?
SM: It’s important to make smart choices so that you and your family can relax and be comfortable in your home- but not at the risk of making decisions that are too safe/ordinary.
KHW: What are a few tips you could offer to young parents putting together a family home, but still wanting to embrace a love of good interiors and design?
SM: It has never been easier to design rooms that are kid friendly. Many textile manufacturers offer fabrics pre-treated with stain-repellant. Having said that, check the fabric wearability code on the upholstery fabric you choose. The higher the number of double rubs a fabric can sustain, the more durable it is. Alternatively, you can have a professional cleaning company treat your upholstered furniture with Fiberseal to protect them and have pieces cleaned regularly to maintain their cleanliness. Rug manufacturers are now making wool carpeting which closely resembles the coveted sisal patterns we all love, but don’t generally stand up to the wear and tear of family living.
KHW: In Good Bones, Great Pieces you talk about how curating a home is a lifelong pursuit and it starts with your very first place. Suzanne, what piece have you carried with you from your first home up to today?
SM: I still have the first sofa I ever bought, while living in London in the 1980’s. It has traveled from room to room and from home to home. It started out upholstered in a pink cotton, then maize yellow cotton, then red glazed chintz, now taupe velvet. It’s a workhorse!
KHW: Lauren, what is the piece that you are determined to hold onto over the years?
Lauren McGrath: The tall dresser in my apartment was handed down to me from my paternal grandparents. I painted it Benjamin Moore Elephant Tusk, changed out some of the hardware with fun knobs from Anthropologie to modernize it. It has already moved with me twice. I also have a loveseat we purchased for my first apartment. It was how I came to understand that furniture pieces have “legs.” That loveseat will move with me wherever life takes me.
KHW: On your blog, you talk about your New Year’s resolution house list. If you had to advise our readers to add one thing to their own lists what would it be?
LM: We would suggest choosing one piece of furniture that is an unusual shape, like a demilune, for example.