5 minute read






(Captions written by John McClain)

I call this project my “Modern Loft Bungalow.” Of course, this home is not a bungalow in the traditional sense, but by combining the three words of modern, loft and bungalow, I was able to encapsulate what the word bungalow means to me: warm, cozy and inviting but with the modern aspects that my loft home also brings architecturally. The vibe is sexy, dramatic and masculine. I wanted the final result to have one foot in the past and one in the future. There are nods to midcentury design and nods to modernity all in one room. That is where design is today: a curated mix of several design styles but with continuity from color, pattern and form.

Clients come with all kinds of ideas, tastes and budgets, not to mention personalities, backgrounds and communication styles. So, what if you become your own client? That was the situation for designer John McClain, who spends time in Orlando and Los Angeles. “I have decided that I’m the worst client in the world! I’m half joking and half serious, but it was most definitely harder to design for myself. I have designed my own homes before, but never a full renovation and décor. Even though I can be completely decisive when it comes to a client’s home, I found myself hemming and hawing over some of my own decisions. Lessons learned: trust your gut instincts because the first choice I made was typically the best one; and make a decision and move on to the next. This experience has most definitely given me more empathy toward my clients’ decision making. They can fully see how I can put myself in their shoes now,” he explains.

(Opposite): I knew instantly when I saw the blank two-story living room that I needed to design a unique two-story fireplace as a focal point. The facade is a combination of large porcelain slabs and leather. The mix brings in texture and pattern and is also an artistic nod to art deco and midcentury motifs. Fun fact: the fireplace isn’t real flames but actually lighted water vapor mist with selenite logs. I also designed a pleated sofa and custom coffee table to coordinate with all of the other shapes in the room. I needed a bold piece of art to define my small dining area. The amazing piece you see is from Orlando’s own Tony Curry and perfectly defines the dining room while bringing in a gorgeous graphic element.

In the kitchen, small scale brass accent lights are used instead of typical recessed cans. The final result is reminiscent of star constellations. The angular waterfall edge is backed with brass.

The home was new construction in a clean, modern style, but without any real character — builder-grade finishes, fixtures and features. But the clean slate allowed John to “really bring my own vision to life with bold, colorful and undiluted design.” The 2,000-square-foot home saw every space upgraded or transformed in some way with special attention to the kitchen and main bathroom. “I decided to give every floor its own unique design-stamp; but it was also important to carry cohesive elements from floor to floor,” he adds.

John wanted the kitchen to be very functional but also unique in its design. “I used large-scale porcelain slabs for the countertops and backsplash. Most people think this material is real stone. To recreate a different take on the waterfall edge, we angled the end of the peninsula with the porcelain and backed it with brass. You will also see the brass accents carried throughout the kitchen in the drawer pulls, toe-kick, and inlay on the front of the peninsula,” he explains.

(Left): The guest bedroom also serves as my husband’s home office and I wanted it to be a contrast to the bold bursts of colors in the rest of our home, so it’s in a much more neutral palette. Pattern and texture are key to waking up the space, and the wallpaper, desk and rug are my helpers for this task. The art deco style sofa is also a comfy bed when pulled out.

(Below): The pièce de résistance is my commissioned artwork of Dolly Parton by artist Shawni Young. This very personal piece is made of memorabilia that I collected over the years. Bonus: It's the prefect Zoom background!

The open loft area is where he really had fun creating a hangout space in an old-school, ’50s lounge vibe with some contemporary touches. “The entire back wall is draped in a patterned fabric with warm, rich colors that brings to mind Frank Lloyd Wright while also disguising a patio door. Adding even more contrasting pattern is the area rug with its colorful and circular motif. As the loft is open to the living area, it was crucial to tie in some visual aspects of the living room, dining room and kitchen, and this was done with the cabinetry,” he says.

“The main message I want a homeowner to take away is to ask yourself what makes you smile when you enter a room and design around that without any mainstream influence or interference. I truly love my home, and at the end of the day, that’s all that matters. Listen to your heart,” John concludes. His home will be the first chapter (Listen to your Heart) in his new coffee table book, The Designer Within, coming out in September.

(Right): I used travel as my main point of inspiration in the main bathroom where heavily patterned marble was inspired by a trip to ancient Pompei and brass accents seen as I strolled through Harrods Food Halls in London. This bathroom became a completely custom space from the tile inset in the floor to the turned legs on the sink vanity base.

(Below): Powder rooms are always my favorite room to design, and I didn’t hold back with my own. It started with this wallcovering that is so intricate and colorful I knew I had to have it! To juxtapose the bold pattern of the wallcovering, I brought in embossed geometric tile on all the plumbing walls, and a rich blue vanity with marble top.

Travel further inspired my main bedroom. I designed the bed as my homage to Stonehenge with the simplicity and striking boldness of the stone slab architecture. I enjoy the scale of it positioned against the mica fragmented wallcovering.