About Kathy Marshall Design

Watertown, MA

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“ It doesn’t matter if you mix old and new, or different styles colors, and patterns. The things you like will always blend by themselves, into a peaceful whole.” Joseph Frank

We strive to make this true on our projects.

In 1993 Kathy and her father, Ed MacDonald, started a very successful design firm on the South Shore of Boston, MA. Since then she has started her own firm, Kathy Marshall Design, Inc., on the North Shore, in Wenham, MA. Her extensive product and design knowledge has been developed by working on projects all over the country. From the distinctive, traditional designs of grand kitchens of the Northeast to the open, rustic beauty of some of the finest homes and kitchens in the Southwest, Kathy has been commissioned to design kitchens and interiors for homes ranging from $500,000 to $25 million. Her innovative and family-focused designs and use of custom cabinetry, furniture, tile and accessories have not gone unnoticed by national publications and design awards. Kathy has won several awards and has been published in numerous national magazines. In addition, she is an active design contributor on PBS’ home-improvement TV show, This Old House. She has been associated with This Old House for over 12 years and can be seen on over 6 project houses making her the the most popular kitchen designer in the program’s history. Kathy continues to provide homeowners with distinctive and unique designs that include out of the ordinary materials and a flair for fun and family to reflect a true vision of a well lived home.

Ten Questions

What’s your go-to classic color choice?
Oh gosh, this is such a hard question. Being a designer who has grown up in New England, it is hard to have only one choice. Blues for the oceans, whites for the snow capped mountains and dark greens for the beautiful state of Maine come to mind....But if I had to choose one color, it would have to be the color red. Red is a fantastic color to use in any room. It can hang as the star attraction or it can simply fade in the back as an accent. How ever you choose to use the color red, it will always be noticed. My kitchen at home is a simple farmhouse kitchen with painted white shaker cabinets and a bright red AGA stove. I have to say that every time I enter the room, I feel happy and at home because of that warm splash of color.
Is there a hotel that’s most inspired your work while traveling?
I love to travel. I make sure that I have several trips planned in a year to visit new places and old favorites like France for unique design ideas. I am very fortunate to have made friends from all over the world who, many times, invite me to stay with them in their homes. It is in these intimate experiences that I find the most inspiration. To experience a culture through the day-to-day activity of your dear friend is lovely. When I am not enjoying the hospitality of friends, I always try to stay in a boutique hotel that reflects the unique qualities of a region. One of my favorites is the Rosewood Inn of the Anasazi in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is a beautiful spot near the center of town that immediately makes you feel like you are home. This intimate Southwestern inn celebrates the region's creative Native American spirit, the city's rich cultural heritage as an early Spanish establishment and its ongoing legacy as an artist colony. The architecture, textiles, pottery and art communicate a sense of comfort which is very inspirational to me. I try to carry that same feeling with me into all the spaces I design, regardless of style.
Which pieces of technology do you use to document design inspiration?
Gone are the days of having a huge camera...I still have mine, and love when I have time to use it. But I have to say, my I-Pad mini has taken center stage. It is lightweight, takes great pictures which I can edit easily and upload to all my social media sites. I am always traveling, so having this powerful machine with me to take pictures has been an amazing tool.
Where do you go to spot new style?
I love adventure sports like horse back riding, mountain biking, skiing, road biking, surfing and mountain climbing. I think I particularly enjoy these sports because they often take me to remote areas around the world where I can be instantly immersed in a local culture. Many times these trips are "off-piste", so I am typically surrounded by outsiders, athletes and locals who often contribute to a region's unique architecture, clothing, music and food. It's not hard to be influenced by these trendsetters.
Do you have a favorite restaurant (for the design and the food, of course)?
My favorite restaurant is the Island Inn on Monhegan Island, Maine. The island is located 10 miles off of the coast of Maine, so it is out there! The Inn overlooks a beautiful harbor and is a perfect place to view spectacular sunsets. To experience a fresh plate of lobster, scallops and mussels or a delicious bowl of chowder in a place that captures the essence of Maine....nothing better.
What’s your favorite small museum in the world?
With out question the, Georgia OʼKeeffe Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico.
How do you usually start your weekend?
Winter weekends: Load the car, 2 yellow labs, one rag doll cat, 2 teenagers and a husband. Fill tank, head North to Maine. Summer weekends: Load the car, 2 yellow labs, one rag doll cat, 2 teenagers and a husband. Fill tank, head North to a lake in New Hampshire.
Who or what is your biggest design influence?
My biggest design influence has been my parents, Edward J. MacDonald and Jeanne Welch MacDonald. My father is a master craftsmen, businessman, lover of old houses, and the one of most creative persons I know. He is a lover of books, the outdoors, family and a firm believer of rising with the sun. At an early age, I would often tag along with him as we restored a 1900's English Tudor. Later, I was fortunate enough to study under him in his business. My mother is a creative spirit, who taught me that the essence of a home is created by sharing special moments with family and friends. Additionally, my parents taught me about accepting challenges. They always encouraged me to take a problem head on and never let difficult work take away fun and creative thought. My parents let me run away with my imagination at a very early age... and they always supported me in all my crazy ideas, good or bad. As a result, I am not afraid to trust my intuition and take a risk. Thank you M&D!
How do you keep it all together?
Great question. You learn very quickly in business to accept what you are not great at and then hire the very best to support you in those areas. I am fortunate to have assembled a fantastic team of people who share a common goal of providing every project with an exceptional customer experience. It is this core mission of focusing on the customer that keeps the company moving forward.
Design a garden: groomed or freestyle?
Honestly, I love to garden. There is nothing better than the feeling of your yard all cleaned up and tidy. However, my garden is always in a constant state of change. I trend towards a relaxed "English" style garden that has a mix of trimmed hedges and flower beds, large pots filled with elephant ears, birds of paradise and bright green potato plants running wild. It is a "structured" wild!
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