Episode 1: McMakin Plans: Falling in Love with the “Simple” Furniture of Roy McMakin

For our very first episode, I interviewed Elaine Smith, a design lover in Oakland, California. Elaine is legitimately obsessed with the furniture of Roy McMakin, who is a well-known artist, architect and designer; she’s collected more than 30 pieces of furniture in the last 20 years or so. McMakin has honed his distinctive style—basic, colorful forms in an exaggerated scale, with idiosyncratic details—since the ‘80s.

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Check out these gorgeous photos of Elaine’s home!

Meet Elaine Smith, Roy McMakin collector extraordinaire!
Elaine’s love of art and design comes in part from her grandfather, the sculptor Frank Vittor, shown at work here. Before coming to America in 1920 and settling in Pittsburgh, Vittor studied with Rodin in Paris.
Roy McMakin chest, featuring various shades of white, natural wood and knobs in various sizes. The colorful vessels on top are by Peter Pincus.
The Roy McMakin chest in Elaine’s bathroom
One of Elaine’s favorite pieces is her Roy McMakin desk. When she first encountered this piece, she could not stand the pink color, but then, mysteriously, she changed her mind.
The living room in Elaine’s Victorian house in Oakland, California. The couch, which is upholstered in velvet, and the coffee table are by Roy McMakin. The “side table” on the left comprises a Roy McMakin drawer and some of Elaine’s favorite art and design tomes.
Roy McMakin coffee table
Close-up of the woodwork patches on the coffee table. The Santos head is from Tail of the Yak in Berkeley, California, one of Elaine’s favorite stores.

From left to right: “Floating candle” floor lamp by Roy McMakin, chair by Dutch designer Piet Hein Eek, “hatbox” table by Roy McMakin, Frances Palmer vase, Peter Pincus bowl, vintage lantern lamp
An Anish Kapoor print hangs behind the Piet Hein Eek chairs and Roy McMakin hatbox table
Elaine took a Roy McMakin drawer and made into a side table. “I have stacks of books all over the house,” she says.
Some of Elaine’s art and design books. Some of her Roy McMakin furniture is featured in the book House, by Diane Keaton.
Two simple chairs in Elaine’s dining room, beside another McMakin chest. “The blue and white vase, by Jeffrey Mitchell, was a gift from Roy, and he also picked out the pink taffeta window treatment,” she says.
Elaine’s parlor, with a McMakin ottoman upholstered in black wool boucle fabric, a McMakin reading chair and two McMakin cabinets.
A closer look at the McMakin cabinets and their floating circle motifs
A watercolor painting by David Moreno that Roy McMakin picked out for Elaine
A McMakin bench in the foyer, with a Charles Catteau vessel and a vintage painting

All photos by Elaine Smith.