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Meet John McClain’s Design in Downtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to John McClain.

Thanks for sharing your story with us John. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there. As a child growing up, my family-built homes. I would always tag long and became so intrigued by the process. Fast forward to my teenage years when I started to redesign areas of my childhood home, anything from rearranging the furniture while my parents were out shopping, to a complete renovation of my bedroom including adding on a bathroom! I also was very active in providing free design services to my friends and family (whether they wanted it or not) and bought my first home at 21– an 1886 Colonial that needed remodeling. I knew this was my calling in life, but I wasn’t sure that someone could actually make a living doing something that, to some, seemed frivolous. My big “aha” moment came when I was cast on an HGTV show, “First Time Design,” in 2009.

After the show began to air, I began receiving calls from all over the country, and just like that, my design career changed from a hobby to a profession. I jumped in head-first, started working on paid projects (what a novelty!) and even went back to college for a proper interior design education (my first degree is in the practical, but not so fun, Business Management). As I started my own little design business in Florida, I met some amazing designers from a firm in LA. Soon thereafter, I was hired to work with them and began an amazing and educating adventure designing furniture and celebrity homes in Los Angeles. My passion for design has always been a constant in my mind, but I wasn’t ready to take the plunge until all signs pointed to it. My design career is actually a second career for me, not having started until I was 32. Let me tell you, I wouldn’t change a thing about the path because I learned from each part and applied all of that knowledge to my current flourishing business that includes myself and two additional designers and my husband, Peter, who is a (non-designing) partner in the firm as well.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome? Honestly, my business degree and a past career in advertising sales, allowed me to apply tons of business knowledge to my current business model and made the road much smoother. Lots of people do not realize that being an interior designer is 20% design and 80% business. It’s not all pillows and area rugs! Early on, I learned lots of things by making mistakes. Things such as the need for proper contracts, managing tradespeople and just general knowledge of running a design firm. I tend to look at each “mistake” as a learning experience and always try to write it down and commit to memory the issue and how I resolved it. Life is about growing and enjoying the journey and not to beat yourself up, but to pick yourself up and keep moving!

Please tell us about John McClain Design. My firm, John McClain Design, is an interior design firm specializing in high-end residential design. We provide services from decorating to full renovations and remodels. My background in renovations definitely helps me cater services to clients and avoid potential pitfalls. When I see a home, I see the finished product-all the way to the last furniture piece, not its current state. I am fortunate that I have found employees with those same skills, My approach to design is timeless, classic, and non-trendy. I have a stack of design magazines from decades past, and the constant component that I notice is that the rooms that hold classic elements are the rooms that would work in any decade. We strive to always utilize my client’s investment in a way that they will get a return on it for years in the future. Our clients trust us, so we must put thought into each and every decision. Design is a blend of all periods and styles, not one era or genre; and I feel that John McClain Design clients realize this and see the difference in our approach. We are not for everyone, but that’s OK, we want to make the customers who appreciate our aesthetic and talents as happy and satisfied as we possibly can. John McClain Design has offices in LA and Florida.

I also started my own home furnishings collection of lighting, furniture, and accessories, called Gilded Home. I design all of the pieces and it’s a blend of things I love, combined with other pieces that began as custom pieces for clients. Gilded Home has a showroom in Atlanta at America smart and is also available online at I have also been fortunate to design a chair for the Haunted Mansion collection at Walt Disney World. From a kid whose family never made it to Disney, to designing a chair for them is a full circle moment.

Do you look back particularly fondly on any memories from childhood? My favorite childhood memory is not design related but is from Christmas morning. My two younger brothers and I walked downstairs to see a 12 ft Christmas stocking hanging! As a kid, this was the ultimate in “wow” moments. Maybe that’s where I began the concept of always making sure each clients’ room has a “wow” moment in it as well.


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Image Credit:

Stephen Allen Photography & Leah Langley

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