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Matouk Muse: Elizabeth Mayhew

Matouk Muse: Elizabeth Mayhew

Elizabeth Mayhew; Photographed by Annie Schlechter

The Matouk Muse is a blog series featuring individuals who inspire us with their creativity, passion, and personal style. In April, we featured Andrea Linett, founding Creative Director of Lucky magazine and blog I want to be her; we continue on our second muse in the series with renowned editor and media persona, Elizabeth Mayhew.

If decorating and design tips have been on your radar, well, ever, chances are you’ve come across the work of Elizabeth Mayhew. The veteran editor (and longtime Matouk pal!) has been a senior editor at House Beautiful and Real Simple magazines, as well as the Editor-in-Chief of Woman’s Day. She authored a decorating book (a cool flip book concept in which the rooms go empty to furnished with the quick-turn of a page) and is a longtime contributor to the Today show (we love her entertaining and makeover segments). She currently writes a design column for the Washington Post, does interior design work for private clients, and spearheads the editorial vision for Draper James, the new Southern-inspired lifestyle brand by Reese Witherspoon.

We’ve long been inspired by Elizabeth’s work, and her answers to our Matouk Muse questions below provide even more fodder.

First design memory? I have two. I very clearly remember being about 10- or 11- years-old and arranging and rearranging the objects on my bookshelves so that the items looked “just so.” Also when I was eight, my parents gave me an incredible dollhouse. It was a three-story white clapboard Colonial that had electricity (it even had a Christmas tree in the living room with working tree lights!). I was obsessed with decorating the rooms. I would pour over dollhouse furniture catalogs and put design schemes together. My mother needlepointed all of the rugs to coordinate with my “design.”

If you could move inside of any home, past or present, real or imaginary, which would it be and why? Again, I have two. I would move into the house in the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice (the one with Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy). I love how undecorated and real the rooms look—check out the mix of patterns in the dining room! I also love the garden—simple, but magnificent. I could also live in Frederic Mechiche’s apartment in Paris. Nothing beats his masterful mixing of objects, art, and furniture. Plus, I love his use of stripes.

Current interior design trend you'd love to test drive? None, as I am totally trend averse!

The collectibles you always hunt for at antique shows and flea markets? I look for items—especially etched glass and Ironstone—with a Greek Key pattern.

The day isn't complete if you haven't…? Had several cups of coffee/Nespresso pods.

Fashion "rules" may have loosened in recent years, but you, personally, find the following cringe-worthy: People who wear shorts, tank tops, and/or exercise clothing on airplanes.

We could stumble into an empty bedroom and know it was yours because... My monogram is on either my matelasse bed cover or on a boudoir pillow. I love a monogram, but think that one per bed is enough. Also, you will always find a huge stack of books next to my bed!

Your no-fail birthday or hostess gift? Cake or cupcakes for the birthday boy or girl—I usually bake my caramel cake. I never go to a party without bringing a homemade banana or apple bread wrapped in a pretty dishtowel.

Favorite hotel? I have two—again! I love The Dylan in Amsterdam and L’Hotel in Paris’s Left Bank. Both are architecturally interesting and beautifully decorated. At L’Hotel, my favorite room is the Saint Petersbourg. I am fascinated by the room’s interesting mix of patterns and colors, and the bathroom is incredible, too.

Best "undiscovered gem" in your NYC neighborhood? Silver Moon Bakery on 105th and Broadway.

Personal fashion uniform? I often wear dresses because they require little thought and you almost always look pulled together.

The most luxurious, indulgent bathroom you can think of would feature…     I have to say my own bathroom is perfect. It was designed by the architect Gil Schaefer and decorated by me. The bathroom is painted gray and white (even the floors are painted a gray and white checkerboard); the sink stands and medicine cabinets are from Urban Archeology; the sconces are from Ann Morris; and the fittings are from Barber Wilsons. My favorite part: the embroidered white linen café curtains that hang in the windows.

Movie, book, or show you find most inspiring from a fashion or design perspective? There is a series of design books by Herbert Yoma and shot by Barbara and René Stoeltie that I think are brilliant. My two favorites: Irish Georgian and Paris Flea Market.

Favorite flower or bouquet? All-white flowers with a touch of acid green Viburnum.

Daily reads? I’m an NPR junkie. I am also a voracious reader of books.

What are you most proud of? My kids!

Mantra or mindset you try to live by? I believe things happen for a reason.

Hobby or skill you'd love to pick up? I would love to learn to play golf and bridge.

Secret skill or talent? I have a sixth sense when it comes to time. I never set an alarm and I have an uncanny way of knowing when something needs to go in our come out of the oven!