The interiors designed by Maureen McDermott radiate a certain serenity and quietness. Most of the residences she is allowed to work her magic on, are in The Hamptons on Long Island. A place with many holiday homes, but also permanent residences that give the owners a summery and relaxed feeling all year round. However, the job can sometimes be a challenge: "We are part therapist, part friend and part designer," says Maureen. It's about finding the right balance but the woman sitting in front of us knows perfectly how to find that, both in her private life and at work.
Maureen McDermott discovered her passion for interior design while studying art history and went on to study at the New York School of Interior Design. She then gained experience with many different designers and architects – she worked for Vicente Wolf, among others – but by 2010, the urge to start something of her own started to take the upper hand. Right around the same time, she and her husband had also started a family and – now being a mom of two – Maureen wanted more freedom and the opportunity to make her own decisions.
In 2015, she launched Winter McDermott Design. ‘Winter’ is not only her middle name, but also the first name of her daughter. On top of that, she tells us the following about the choice to give the company this name: "I thought it was more memorable and catchy than using my first name". In any case, we are convinced of the projects that Winter McDermott Design realises with soothing colours, a mix of wood and metal, a predilection for texture and above all with a flow and good use of space. The images speak for themselves, but we would also like to put the spotlight on Maureen herself. When did you know you wanted to do this professionally?
“I’ve always been fascinated with architecture and how people live. However, I never knew anything about interior design. I discovered interiors and the prospect of turning it into a career as an undergrad student studying art history. After graduation I applied to the New York School of Interior Design in NYC and never looked back.”
How did the company evolve since starting out in 2015?
“In 2015 I started working on a large-scale project with a friend of mine. We worked from my dining room table and went through the business minutia together. It was a true partnership. Now I’m running my own company from a storefront studio in Sag Harbor with employees and much larger projects.”
“Our style is calming and serene”
What is your life/design/work philosophy?
“Balance is essential with my life, design, and work (I’m a libra!). Running a business while being a wife and mom means I’m constantly being pulled in so many directions. It’s important I balance my time and stay on track, so my energy isn’t going towards only one thing. Design wise, balance is key as it creates harmony and cohesiveness.”
What are the biggest challenges in this industry?
“Making people happy. Sometimes it’s just never enough. Luckily, we’ve been fortunate to have wonderful clients but it’s an everyday struggle. We are part therapist, part friend, and part designer.”
How would you describe your style?
“Our style is calming and serene. There’s a quietness that’s felt as soon as you walk into one of our interiors. I don’t use a lot of patterns and try to keep furniture pretty minimal so the beauty of the interior architecture shines through. When an interior doesn’t have great architectural bones, it’s always harder to achieve.”
How would you describe your work process?
“We usually start with inspiration boards and floor plans. I make notes on the floor plans of general ideas. We then start to source and see what pieces we can find to fit the space. Colour and palettes usually come last. For kitchens and bathrooms, I start with elevations and start mapping out materials shortly after that. I’m constantly drafting elevations to make sure heights and general scales are all in check.” What makes you say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to project requests?
“We usually only say no if the size of the project is too small or if we are too busy. The Hamptons is a small community, so I don’t like saying no to anyone. You never know where it will lead and word of mouth is our biggest marketing tool.”
Who or what inspires you?
“Mostly by my surroundings. There is so much beautiful scenery and architecture in the Hamptons. And of course the work of other talents – other designers, photographers, and artists. I mostly look up to Piet Boon, Vincent Van Duysen, Axel Vervoordt, Joseph Dirand, Vicente Wolf (I worked for him for 5 years), and Kelly Wearstler.”
What can we expect from Winter McDermott in the future?
“In five, ten or even 20 years I hope to continue the same growth we’ve seen in the past several years.”
This interview was originally published in Imagicasa Magazine June 2019. You can still buy this issue via our webshop.
All Images © Read McKendree