In 2014, Shea McGee and her husband, Syd, left their San Clemente home for Salt Lake City to launch an interior design company, Studio McGee. With their approachable yet chic aesthetic, they’ve amassed a devoted fan base and established an e-commerce store. Now with the April opening of their first storefront, in Costa Mesa, the design duo is experiencing a sort of homecoming.
Your store opening seemed to happen sort of serendipitously.
➜ Yes! A couple of years ago when Almond (Surfboards) opened its new location in Costa Mesa, my surfer husband wanted to check out the shop. While there, I wandered outside and saw a cute little place (Heritage Mercantile) that was covered in vines. I started chatting with the owner, Jen. In January, when she decided to close her store, she asked if we’d be interested in taking over the space because she wanted it to go to someone who would take care of it and do it justice.
This is a big step. Have you had any reservations?
➜ Because we are still located in Utah, we wondered if we could do a long-distance brick-and-mortar at first. But it really just felt right. I’ve always loved the space; so we came down, took a tour of it, and decided “Let’s do this.” We got to working on making the space our own.
Had you planned to open a shop?
➜ Opening a brick-and-mortar had always been in the back of our minds, but there wasn’t ever the right space, and we have so much else going on that we put it on the back burner. This is a small space, just 500 square feet, so it felt like the perfect start.
What did you do to make it your own?
➜ We redid the floors with hardwood from Warren Christopher, installed vertical shiplap, and painted with one of our go-to colors, Benjamin Moore’s Simply White.
What is it like opening a shop where you once lived?
➜We still have family here, and it’s an easy hour-and-a-half flight so we can hop back and forth. If there was any place we would do something from afar, this made sense because we’re familiar with the area and it still feels like home in a lot of ways.
What project do you think put Studio McGee on the map?
➜ The modern mountain home project right outside Park City, Utah. That was my first huge project that I designed from the ground up. I worked on it for years, even before we launched Studio McGee. I was working on that as a project just by myself. It was this sort of grand, magnificent home. It said to people “We can do this.” From there, the bigger projects started coming, and we kept building.
Where are most of your design projects?
➜ From Texas to Northern California, Washington, and, of course, quite a few in Utah. We really work all over the country.
Does the store offer only McGee and Co. items?
➜ A lot of what we have online will be available in the store, but we also have vintage one-of-a-kind items, too. We source from other vendors, but also design and manufacture a lot of the pieces and textiles in the shop.
What excites you most about the store?
➜ I keep walking in and thinking how cool it is that people get to feel our work in person. Not everyone gets to do this, but here you get to walk into the store and it has a special feeling. It feels exactly like how our interior design projects feel. It’s really cool.
1720 Santa Ana Ave., Costa Mesa, studio-mcgee.com