Before choosing interior paint, McDonagh suggests looking at furnishings and fabrics. "Once you pick a paint color you're committing" to a color palette for the room, she says. "It's better to choose your fabrics and materials first. It's easier to line up fabrics with chips and pick the right paint color."

Jackie was clear on her preference for traditional-looking furniture and fabrics. "I'm using things that are simple and classic, not overly prettified," says McDonagh. "Jackie evokes a warmth, and the house needs to do that, too."


Janet is especially enthusiastic about the coordination and flexibility of McDonagh's choices. "It's all so cool!" she says. "My mother told Tricia from the beginning that she likes traditional-looking things. Tricia chose elegant fabrics that would look like they'd been there for a while, nothing too bold or too overwhelming. There are paisleys, velvet, and a beautiful butterscotch leather on the dining room seats. And she focused on versatility, so that there's a double purpose for everything. The kitchen banquette has two side chairs, and there are four chairs in the dining room. Their fabrics are complementary so you can bring the two extra chairs in to seat six in the dining room. In the living room, the desk chair can be turned around and used for seating as well, and the dining room chairs can be brought in, since all the fabrics work together. The desk chair can also be brought into the dining room. The fabrics are all low maintenance, easy to care for, and should age well."

Then it was time to choose colors, and McDonagh waxes surprisingly eloquent about her choice of... beige. "People think beige is simple and boring, but it's quite nuanced," she says. "There are so many shades. Some beiges can be so beautiful—they have real depth, they're just gorgeous. For the walls we picked a historic beige that feels like taupe next to the white trim."

(If you've ever agonized over the tiny color chips in a paint store, only to choose the wrong shade anyway, McDonagh has some advice. "In choosing paint, the secret is restraint," she says. "Whatever you think is right, take a step or two back. It's more intense on the walls, and more intense in contrast to colors around it.")

Finally, McDonagh added the finishing touches —the lighting fixtures, drawer pulls, door hardware, everything. Janet has become her biggest fan. "A lot of people fancy themselves decorators, and they're good at picking pillows, but Tricia can coordinate everything—fabric, pulls and knobs, even the door hardware and keyholes. There's not a single area she's not concerned about. She labors over absolutely everything, and she files things away in her brain. She'll come back to something you mentioned ten minutes ago and talk it through. Even the door hardware is hand forged, so it looks old. You just want her to come and take over your life, pick out your clothes for you!"
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