Some may know Milou Mackenzie as an interior designer, but she also considers herself an artist.
As a child, Mackenzie was inspired by exposure to the artistic talent of her grandfather as well as the interior design sense of her mother. Although she has an English degree from Cedar Crest College, Mackenzie believes she’s been training for her career as an interior designer for most of her life, and she considers herself an artist first and foremost.
“All the principles of art--balance, color, proportion, scale, form, etcetera--come into play when decorating and designing a room,” Mackenzie explained. “Someone else may be a Picasso…I think of myself as a Monet. It’s all a matter of taste.”
She has run her design business, , for almost 30 years with most of her clients based in the Lehigh Valley.
A Lehigh Valley native, Mackenzie decided to open her retail store in Hellertown when she married her husband several years ago.
“My husband grew up on Main Street in Hellertown and wanted to come back to this area,” she said.
After moving to Lower Saucon Township, VM Mackenzie operated out of a small shop in Hellertown. Mackenzie considered it more of an office/shop where she met clients by appointment only. Most of her inventory was stored in her Lower Saucon home. As more and more people asked about store hours, she decided to offer her furniture, fabrics and other interior décor in one place with limited hours during which she would open to the public.
In November 2010, Mackenzie made an easy move to her new location at 403 Main Street, just across the street from her original location.
Mackenzie prides herself for being unique.
“I love the creativity of doing something special and different each time. All of my designs are rooted in tradition--even the contemporary ones. I love to go out of the Lehigh Valley to Philadelphia and New York to find interesting and beautiful things that you just can’t find in our area,” she said.
Mackenzie said she considers each project unique.
“I enjoy tailoring each design to the individual client. Not everyone will have the same dining room table or living room chairs," she said. "I don’t paint everyone’s dining room red and family room beige like so many other designers do. I like each client’s house to reflect them, and not so much me and my ideas.”
Although Mackenzie has one assistant, she makes the ultimate design decisions on behalf of her clients.
Word of mouth advertising is about as far as Mackenzie has gone with her marketing efforts. She hasn’t invested in much print advertising, although she recently decided to place a couple of ads in Lehigh Valley Style magazine.
Another marketing approach has been her presence at the Allentown Art Museum’s Designer Showhouses. “That always gets me new clients and lots of attention,” she noted.
This year, Mackenzie has been invited to decorate a room in the Bucks County Showhouse, part of the Bucks County Designer House and Gardens program that has been in existence for 35 years.
She will be given the opportunity to design the Sun Room in a farmhouse in Doylestown as part of a fundraiser to benefit Doylestown Hospital. Tickets can be purchased through her at the store or by contacting her at 610-217-7822.