Like so many people, Dallas-based interior designer Denise McGaha spent the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic thinking — about her life, about her business, about what would happen “after.” She was already in a period of transition, having recently rebranded her business and knew she wanted to spend more time on product design. A fortuitous partnership with home furnishings source Wildwood gave her an outlet to do so, creating an initial collection of lighting, accent furniture and accessories that will debut at the High Point Market April 22-26.
“I really wanted (a partnership with a company) that represented what is important to me, and Wildwood has a wonderful family legacy. … They were looking at rebranding, and I had just recently rebranded our firm, so I felt like there was an alignment there. … They were looking for something different, and I had just started working on some things. I said, ‘I’ll show them to you when I’m done.’ And so, I did. And we showed them a lot, probably 50 SKUs. This is not my first licensing gig, so I assumed they’d take 15 or 20, and we’d go from there, but we’re launching a little over 30 SKUs,” says McGaha, who has a line of stone mantels, hand-carved stone sinks and mosaics with Material, and a previous lighting collection with Currey & Company.
In High Point, McGaha says, Wildwood will make a splash with the collection, building on her early career in apparel with “a big fashion window” and a gallery-style presentation in the front portion of the showroom at 200 N. Hamilton St., Suite 125. “I’m really excited for people to see the showroom,” she says. “It’s going to be completely different than anything they’ve ever done.”
The Wildwood collection mixes gilded modern, art deco and midcentury styles, informed by classicism and touched with warmth and soul, says Rocky Mount, North Carolina-based Wildwood in its announcement of the new line. Although she uses a lot of color in most of her interior designs, the founder of Denise McGaha Interiors chose to keep the Wildwood pieces more neutral and textural. Materials include marble, metals in darker bronze and brass finishes, and woods in white oak and walnut finishes. “I want to create things that have an artisan or craftsman story,” she says.
“I’m very excited about the collection. I feel like the essence of my aesthetic — natural and authentic — is here. (The collection) can really work anywhere,” she continues. “There are modern angles to it, but it can work beautifully in a traditional setting. There’s lot of flexibility for designers to be able to use pieces in multiple places depending on the spaces they are doing.”
McGaha drew not only on her favorite styles and materials in designing the line, but also was informed by her more than two decades of experience as an interior designer. She wanted the pieces to solve some of the problems she has when sourcing furniture and accessories. For instance, she wanted pieces scaled for large, high-ceilinged rooms because, she says, “I work in really voluminous homes.” That led to occasional tables large enough to anchor a foyer, and floor lamps that stretch to nearly 6 feet tall.
“I tell people all the time that they’re really hiring designers to get the scale right. That’s what designers know,” she says. “When I walk into a (furniture) showroom, I often think, ‘That’s a great piece. But I need something bigger.’”
As an interior designer, McGaha also prefers to shop families of lighting, so her Wildwood fixtures come in sconces, pendants and chandeliers, and are also available as lamps. She likes variable cord lengths that allow fixtures to be used in a variety of ways, in a variety of spaces, including those with high ceilings. So, customizable cord lengths are part of her new Wildwood collection, too.
“Wildwood worked really, really hard to understand my vision,” she says, and worked with her on other details like finishing the back of the Harper console cabinet so that it can float or divide a room. Other of McGaha’s favorite details include a detachable marble bowl on the Elgin table lamp, making it a perfect catchall on a bedside or entry table, and Emmons sconces that are available in brass and bronze but also polished chrome because she thought they would work well in a bath, too. “So much detail went into every tiny component of the pieces we designed,” she says. “I’m already envisioning them in our projects. I want the pieces to work for what we do — and I know they’ll work for other designers, too.”
More for You: A designer-turned-rancher
Some of the inspiration for the new Wildwood collection comes from Denise McGaha’s cattle ranch in Decatur, Texas, about an hour from Dallas. She spends four days a week there.
Her family has a long history in the business — McGaha’s grandmother was a cattle rancher — but McGaha never expected ranching to be part of her adult life. Then her daughter fell in love with FFA’s farm and ranch program during high school — and even more in love with her show cow. “I concocted this idea that we should go ahead and buy her show cow at the end of her senior year, and I told her, ‘I’ll find a place for it,’” McGaha recalls.
The recently purchased ranch, called Flintlock, is now home to her daughter’s cow, as well as a growing herd of show cattle, as the family builds its cattle operation and a genetics program for breeding.
Of course, McGaha renovated the farmhouse on the property, which was once a dairy, and is revitalizing the gardens. Next up: turning one of the rooms in the dairy barn into a guesthouse.
“If you set your intention, then boom!” she says. “Things happen.”