Designer Friday: An aspire Exclusive Interview With Katie McCaffrey

Katie McCaffrey is the Owner and Principal of McCaffrey Design Group in the San Francisco Bay area. Wielding degrees in graphic design and industrial design, she has designed furnishings and lighting for homes and yachts around the world, and worked as Senior Designer and Design Director at Martha Angus, Inc. for over twelve years. In 2017, Katie joined forces with Martha to form Angus | McCaffrey Interior Design, and now continues to offer her contemporary style at McCaffrey Design Group. She is an avid equestrian and can often be found competing or working on her farmhouse with her husband, dog, goats, and chickens. Learn more about Katie McCaffrey in today’s Designer Friday.

Symmetry draws the eye inward and provides balance in this moody blue living room with accents of gold and violet. Fornasetti cabinets and gold-leaf mirrors from Paul Ferrante flank the fireplace, while Italian chairs upholstered in a luxurious Sandran Jordan alpaca boulcé offer the perfect spot to cozy up.

Symmetry draws the eye inward and provides balance in this moody blue living room with accents of gold and violet. Fornasetti cabinets and gold-leaf mirrors from Paul Ferrante flank the fireplace, while Italian chairs upholstered in a luxurious Sandran Jordan alpaca boulcé offer the perfect spot to cozy up.

Andrew Joseph: You’re the newest Crayola color. What color are you and why?
Katie McCaffrey: I would be a tangerine orange (I would need a better, less boring name) – I have a warm sunny positive attitude, I’m energetic, yet casual and despite being a bit different I am actually quite versatile and get along well with just about everyone. I can be kinda classic and equestrian in certain scenarios —just pair me with beige and grey that’s fine, I can be sporty & adventurous —pair me with bright white or olive green. I can also be a bit edgy playful and punk and can rock it out with hot pink, plus I always pair well with black.

AJ: What’s a guilty pleasure you have?
KM: Madeleines, I absolutely LOVE them. They are the love child of a butter cookie and a slice of cake. They are simple yet beautiful to look at, classy without being fussy. They are wonderful any time of day so they are never off limits in my mind and they are not too heavy so they coax you into having more than one. Completely dangerous! I can’t get too close to them or else I get into trouble.

AJ: What’s the weirdest thing a client has ever asked you?
KM: I was asked once to change out a toilet seat that was quite glamorous.

This kitchen is painted in a striking, deep stone gray that provides a cool contrast to the warm wood tones. The tiled backsplash adds a touch of elegance while the custom zinc countertop provides a unique and modern twist to this truly open-concept space.

This kitchen is painted in a striking, deep stone gray that provides a cool contrast to the warm wood tones. The tiled backsplash adds a touch of elegance while the custom zinc countertop provides a unique and modern twist to this truly open-concept space.

AJ: What was your first job?
KM: I used to clean stalls in exchange for riding lessons as a kid. I couldn’t afford a horse of my own so I did whatever I could to spend as much time at the barn as possible.

AJ: Are you a good cook? If so, what’s your specialty?
KM: I LOVE to cook and I really love being inspired by what is coming out of our veggie garden. One of my favorite summertime treats is an heirloom tomato and ricotta galette using homegrown heirlooms from our garden, or a homegrown Summer squash galette with rosemary and pine nuts. it’s so simple yet elegant and absolutely delicious. I also do a mean seared duck breast with cherries and port. My husband Niel and I also love to make Paella because its so collaborative and has a celebratory yet unfussy quality to it. It is meant for sharing.

AJ: Are you a pet person? Why either way? Dogs or cats?
KM: Don’t get me started! I am a total animal lover and I love all critters big and small. I live on a small farm and am a proud owner of a wonderful rescue pup, one horse, 2 mini donkeys, 6 pygmy goats, two mini pigs, and a slew of chickens. I’d have a whole zoo if I could. Animals have so much to teach us, they center us, bring us back to the moment and give so much love and joy. I can’t begin to tell you the love I have for our little gang.

AJ: Favorite app?
KM: Pinterest. I cannot live without it! Not only is it a huge tool for our business but it’s wonderfully soothing to decompress and flip through images of things that make you happy and inspired. It’s great for recipes, storing my favorite artists, planning trips, floral design inspo and of course design research and inspiration.

This bedroom features a standout zebrawood frame with a lustrous gray velvet headboard, complemented by bold emerald green pillows. Peacocks frolic in the background over hand-painted De Gournay panels, adding a touch of whimsy and exoticism to the jewel-toned room.

This bedroom features a standout zebrawood frame with a lustrous gray velvet headboard, complemented by bold emerald green pillows. Peacocks frolic in the background over hand-painted De Gournay panels, adding a touch of whimsy and exoticism to the jewel-toned room.

AJ: Favorite tea to decompress, and in what mug?
KM: I have a beautiful little tin of WG tea that I bought in Hong Kong called Midnight Hour and it’s wonderful. It’s a decaffeinated black tea with notes of tropical fruits and flowers so it’s heady yet has a soothing lightness to it. It’s like a warm alpaca blanket of teas. Best enjoyed in a rustically charming Astier De Villatte Adelaide coffee cup. I love all things Astier.

AJ: Where is the first place you want to travel now that everything is opening up?
KM: Once things opened up we immediately booked a trip to Morocco – we wanted to go someplace culturally rich and different, exotic, colorful, and filled with heady spices, music, architecture, food and music. Marrakech ticked all our boxes and we stayed in one of the most beautiful hotels I have ever seen, consisting of five historic riads each with a different theme beautifully decorated in traditional Moroccan style. We watched the sun set from the rooftop and heard the Adhan day and night which is truly soul-stirring. We learned some basic Arabic and made so many wonderful friends. We got lost in the Souks and enjoyed every minute of it. At night we would flop exhausted in our bed and fall asleep listening to the sounds of the traditional Berber musician playing in the courtyard. It was absolute magic. We also arrived to Morocco right before Eid al Fitr which is a Muslim holiday celebrating the end of the dawn-to-dusk fasting of Ramadan. Its a holiday when everyone comes out to celebrate and feast. The medina was filled with people, dancers, wafting smoke, the scent of grilled meats and veggies, vendors and musicians. It felt very symbolic after COVID lockdowns as we were all coming out from a period of inwardness and reflection. There was a wonderful air of celebration and togetherness that was intoxicating.


About the Designer | Katie McCaffrey, Owner and Principal of McCaffrey Design Group, is a San Francisco bay area native who infuses her client’s contemporary spaces with color, art, antiques and a joyful soul. Katie’s passion for fine art and design began early in life and led to a degree in Graphic Design and an in-depth study of Industrial Design for furniture from the Rhode Island School of Design. Her formative college years also included a uniquely personal time studying painting in St. Petersburg, Russia. Upon her return to the bay area, she worked for advertising firms such as Saatchi and Saatchi and Ingalls Moranville before returning to her love of creating furniture and designing interiors. Katie has designed numerous furnishings and lighting for homes from Palm Beach to Napa and yachts which sail the world. Her several years managing antique restoration and custom furniture at the leading restoration house and furniture manufacturer, Rossi Antiques, is where she first met her mentor and business partner, Martha Angus. Katie worked as Senior Designer and Design Director at Martha Angus, Inc for over twelve years designing beautiful custom homes throughout the bay area as well as notable wineries in Napa and offices in Silicon Valley. In 2017, Katie joined forces with Martha to forge a new company, Angus | McCaffrey Interior Design. Today, Katie continues to offer clients her iconic contemporary style at McCaffrey Design Group which blends fine art, great design and clients’ need for a comfortable space. Under Katie’s strong leadership, the firm has grown to become what it is today, continuing to delight with incredibly tailored, beautiful and functional homes. Katie’s bespoke designs are always client centric. Often referencing her love of nature and the great outdoors, Katie’s work illustrates a sense of Joie de Vivre in every interior she creates. Recently published projects can be seen in House Beautiful, Luxe Magazine, SFC&G and Inside (Australia). When not designing, Katie who is an avid equestrian, can be found competing in the jumper ring and working on her 1890’s Petaluma farmhouse with her husband, dog, herd of goats and an ever-growing array of chickens.

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