John McClain just can’t help himself when it comes to design. Even as a child he loved rearranging the furniture in his home. Today his designs grace homes of distinction across the country, and he has a new shop here in Winter Park.
McClain first worked in advertising before making the leap to pursue his dream job.
“Good design is the one thing I’ve always been passionate about,” he said. “This is what I was meant to do.”
In 2009 he caught his first big break as a featured designer on HGTV’s “First Time Design,” a program that gave new designers a chance to show off their skills for a national audience.
Following that success, he joined a design firm in Los Angeles where he spent three years honing his skills, developing his distinct East Coast – West Coast hybrid style and learning the art of custom furniture design.
Longing for the charms of home, McClain returned to Orlando to set up shop, bringing with him a home design philosophy he has dubbed “kicked-up traditional.”
“Coming back just felt so right,” he said. “This is where I wanted to be.”
In May, McClain opened his first Gilded Home retail location in Hannibal Square, right next to Dexter’s.
The office doubles as a showroom where clients and passersby can stop in to see McClain’s work first hand and chat with the designer himself.
“It’s important to me to be here as often as possible. I want clients to feel comfortable to stop by and get to know me and my work,” he said.
Nearly all the furniture pieces in the showroom are McClain’s own designs, featuring clean lines, graceful proportions, and an understated attention to detail.
“I worked very hard to find a furniture builder who could work to my exacting specifications,” said McClain.
After a diligent search for just the right manufacturer, he settled on a family-owned business in North Carolina that turn his designs into one-of-a-kind master works.
The pieces are meant to be heirlooms, McClain said, and all come with a lifetime warranty.
“I want my clients to feel special, to feel like their home is unique, designed just for them,” he said.
This attention to detail allows him to work in little surprises into his designs, like the time he incorporated a homeowner’s eclectic magnet collection in a room.
McClain is also a big believer in using local artists and craftsmen whenever he can. He frequently hires a local ironworker to craft one-of-a-kind pieces, including the stunning aged pecan and iron shelf in the showroom.
“I love texture in a room,” McClain said. “Nearly all the rooms I design feature some sort of metallic element alongside organic elements like woven wallpaper or natural wood.”
The style feels edgy, yet sophisticated in a very livable sense.
“I’m constantly reeducating myself and trying new things,” McClain said. “You have to, to keep it fresh.”
“The best compliment I hear when people visit the showroom,” he said, “is that they want to move in to the store.”