As we ring in 2023, many of us are taking inventory of all that needs to be accomplished. From the events we need to plan to the spaces in our homes we want to upgrade, the first few months of the year are the perfect time for the reset we desperately crave after the hustle of the holidays.
Renowned event designer, florist, and interior styling consultant, Erin McDonald finds this to be the perfect time to refresh your space and make accommodations for the celebrations in your life to come over the next year. Whether you are redesigning a space very personal to you or planning an event for a huge milestone in your life, the process is very similar.
Regardless of what he is designing, clean and classic elegance is always top of mind. McDonald views each new project as a blank slate. “Starting with a vision for what you want to create is the first step. From there, you can pull in the right partners and materials to bring it to life,” shares McDonald. To help you prepare for the year ahead, he shares his tips for creating breathtaking spaces.
1. Proper Lighting is Key
“Lighting is often overlooked but can really transform a space,” shares McDonald. He emphasizes the importance of lighting and how much it adds to the overall ambiance of a space. So important, in fact, that this year he is introducing an innovative line of contemporary lighting for tabletops, which helps to highlight centerpieces for an event and create a much more intimate experience.
2. Avoid Angles
“No angles!” McDonald advises. Angles cut into a space and are not necessary whether on the table or as the whole of the room. They tend to confuse the layout and take up space. Instead, he suggests utilizing the shape of the room to balance the overall feel.
3. Don’t be Afraid of Color
McDonald encourages his clients to find their style and stay true to that, while also incorporating colors and materials out of their comfort zone. “Focus on being classic and timeless, that always wins,” shares McDonald. Leaning into all of the local elements that the region has to offer can be a great way to incorporate natural authenticity and color, especially those that are in season.
An Event Visionary
Esteemed designer and Rochester native, Erin McDonald moved to Chicago at a young age where he planned events of every caliber, becoming the VP of world-renowned event planning company, HMR Designs, before going out on his own. Over the course of his career, he built a reputation for impeccable style and elegant features, known to be one of Chicago’s tastemakers. He has had the honor of working with two Presidents of the United States, several celebrities, and many professional athletes. His work ranges from large events such as weddings and galas, to small events such as private parties and showers, but those experiences also often lead to designing other areas of a client’s life such as their home or business. His work has been featured in some of the top wedding and design publications.
More Space to Celebrate
In 2019, McDonald left the big city and moved back to Rochester to continue building his legacy and be with his family. Since returning, he has played a crucial role in the opening of two unique event spaces – Fuse and Anchor and Evento – and hopes to expand even more in the future.
Fuse AND Anchor is an open loft space located on State Street near High Falls. It has a quaint, studio-style, farmhouse feel where groups of up to 50 guests can comfortably gather for brunches, dinner parties, tastings, rehearsal dinners, showers, corporate events, and more.
He also recently worked with the DiMarco Group to help open Evento in the Street of Shops at BayTowne in Webster. This space fits up to 500 guests and is perfect for weddings, private events, conferences, fundraising galas, and more. “It really is a blank slate where the possibilities are endless,” shares McDonald.
Over the course of his career, McDonald has transformed countless venues, commercial spaces, and home interiors. His spaces are works of art that stand the test of time. While he has been fortunate to work with clients all over the world, he chose to establish himself here and has quickly become a distinguished, yet very approachable, designer in the Finger Lakes area. His work can be seen throughout Rochester and the Finger Lakes, including the Inn on Broadway, Lincoln Hill Farms, The Strathallan, Arbor Venues, Genesee Valley Club, and the highly anticipated Hotel Canandaigua (opening 2023), to name a few.
A Collaborative Approach
Above all things, McDonald prides himself on collaboration and the mentorship of others. He has taught many how to create breathtaking events and several of his past assistants have gone on to achieve great success. He truly believes in the importance of lifting others up and showcasing new talent. As a small team, he values collaboration and has built many relationships in the industry that help bring his visions to life.
Visit Erin McDonald @erinmcdonaldco on Instagram and Facebook