Looking for a kitchen or bathroom boost? You’re in luck. This fall, Kohler will release an exclusive collection of faucets, vanities, accessories and more with Shea McGee of Studio McGee. Inspired by Kohler’s archival pieces and the interior designer’s effortlessly elegant aesthetic, the clean-lined, timeless assortment blends in beautifully with various home styles while also making a fresh statement. Here, McGee shares the story behind the creative collab.

Designer Shea McGee stands beside the Malin vanity, one of the pieces from the Kohler x Studio McGee collection PHOTO COURTESY OF KOHLER
Designer Shea McGee stands beside the Malin vanity, one of the pieces from the Kohler x Studio McGee collection

How did the collaboration with Kohler come to life?

I’ve been working with the Kohler team for several years now—we used Kohler products in our Netflix show, Dream Home Makeover, [in] my personal home, and we’ve collaborated on social content and events. Through those experiences, we developed a great working relationship and the idea of creating a collection together was born organically over time. What started out as a collaboration on a piece or two quickly evolved into the development of full collections across multiple categories, thus bringing the Studio McGee aesthetic to Kohler-quality products.

It’s quite a broad collection—lighting, faucets, vanities and more. What is the overarching theme, and how does it relate to the Studio McGee aesthetic?

I am always drawn to classic shapes and styles––pieces that will stand the test of time. I approached this collection the same way I do when designing homes, which is to always reach for a goal of bridging classic and current. I wanted to design a collection rooted in history but transitional enough to pair with a wide range of styles. Kohler has a rich history with decades of beautiful and innovative archival products, and we looked to those for inspiration when designing. We’ve pulled subtle details like coining, engravings and ribbed textures from the past and connected them with the present.

What inspired the look and feel?

After combing through archival imagery, the design team presented a wide variety of designs as a jumping-off point, and the bathroom faucet rose to the top as the piece to inspire the look and feel for the entirety of the collection. We also pulled from one of the heritage fonts that Kohler used in the early 1900s as the font used on the bridge faucet. I loved all of the detailing of the historic ribbed textures—coining, milk glass, engravings and interesting connection points—and marked them as elements I wanted t to incorporate. You will see those as consistent themes throughout everything from the faucetry to the lighting and mirrors to the vanities.

A faucet from the Castia bathroom collection. PHOTO COURTESY OF KOHLER
A faucet from the Castia bathroom collection

What’s the connecting thread throughout?

The threads that connect the collection are the thoughtful design details that take a simple piece of hardware and make it a statement piece. The curvature of the mirrors relates to the arc on the faucet and sconces—we’ve connected each piece for continuity without having overt themes that feel too matchy-matchy.

How do you see readers working these pieces into their homes?

We’ve created styles that are classic in styling and modern in function, which makes it easy to pair with a range of design aesthetics. My hope is that readers will be able to see the beauty that exists in each piece and also what it can become when incorporated into their own unique sense of style.

If a reader or client wants to upgrade a kitchen or bathroom but doesn’t have the bandwidth to do a complete renovation, what small changes can make a big difference?

Cabinetry and countertops are costly and require a lot of demolition, so swapping out plumbing fixtures, hardware and lighting is the best way to give your space a fresh look without a gut reno.

What was your favorite part of bringing this collection to life?

I flew out to Kohler about a year ago and thought I would see a presentation of printed designs, but the design team had actual samples to touch, see and feel. It was an incredible experience to see the process unfold of imagining a product design in my head and seeing it come to life in my hands. Another highlight was seeing the collection used for the first time in a home setting.

What were some of the challenges?

The process was surprisingly smooth, but, of course, timelines are always a challenge. We were very quick to give edits and feedback to stay on track throughout the process.

What are you currently working out outside of this particular project?

I am working on designing homes across the country, and I’m always thinking about new products to create to put in them.

Lastly, what’s your favorite part of being a designer?

My favorite part of being a designer is knowing that the homes we design and the pieces we create will elevate someone’s environment and hopefully help them genuinely enjoy being at home surrounded by the people they love most.