I never knew it possible to fall in love with the shape of a ceiling. But there it is, to the left of the Taylor’s front door. An upward sloping triangular arch—white, sharp, clean— a modern juxtaposition to an otherwise traditional space. This is Michael (Mike) Taylor’s favorite feature in his 1937 Spanish Colonial revival. And this simple love affair comes with a notable coincidence. The owner who added this feature some twenty-odd years ago worked alongside his father when both were starting in the design industry. Mike and his wife Katie had no idea there was a connection when they bought the home; they felt the home just suited them—spoke to them.
This unintentional falling in line with tradition has become, well, a bit of a tradition in Mike’s life. As the son of renowned local designer and gallery owner, Doran Taylor, everyone always assumed he would go into the business and he always swore he would not. While pursuing his University degree, he initially steered away from anything design related. But in the end, the pull of tradition and his interest in design and the arts won out. He graduated in Interior Design and after a four-year apprenticeship with his father, he recently joined his brother Paul as heirs-apparent to the Doran Taylor business.
Being part of a high-design legacy can impose a lot of pressure, especially when you’re young and raising a family like Mike and Katie. When asked how they balance fine design with the needs and functionality of a young family, Katie and Mike both responded that you can’t have it all—you should start with one room and do it well.
“Most people think they have to do it all at once,” surmised Mike, “but really, you should start with just one room. Make one room the showcase of your house—save for what you want.
“For us, it’s our living room. We made a real investment in an oriental rug; they are expensive, but it is the centerpiece of our showcase room. And it will hold it’s value—it’s an heirloom piece that we’ll give to our children and they’ll pass on to their children. We’ve also used a lot of hand me downs—timeless pieces of furniture that we’ve re-covered with indoor/outdoor fabric so they can take the wear and tear of kids.
“Then we’ve invested in a few new furniture pieces that suit both of us, and, of course, the pillows and other finishing touches that are the fun part, and uniquely ours. One of my favorite finishing touches in the living room is a Fortuny pillow; they’ve been producing hand painted silk for hundreds of years and their dye recipes are secret.
“The rest of our house, like our basement and our children’s rooms, it’s not high-end or sophisticated. We have a lot of Ikea. It doesn’t make sense to put a lot of money into those spaces right now.”
One of the other tremendous little-known benefits of working for Doran Taylor is that Mike and Katie also have access to a tremendous art collection. Original art rotates through their living room on a regular basis and there is always a new piece to consider for their permanent collection. Right now Katie and Mike are good-naturedly bantering about a piece of art over the couch.
When asked what it was like to be married to a designer, Katie was very complementary of Mike. “He has his opinions, and I have mine. But he always listens to me, and in many cases he will let me make the final decision.
“We recently purchased the light taupe vinyl armchairs near the back window. They weren’t Mike’s first choice, but he knew I loved them. Next to them he also had some paintings by my aunt framed, which I love and make the room very personal.
“Our styles are very similar but not exactly the same. Mine is probably a bit simpler, more transitional than traditional; but we both like a lot of light and clean lines.
“We definitely work as a team to make the house feel like a home for all of us.”