Moxie” is kind of an old-fashioned term for a Millennial, but Emory McKim has it in spades. Growing up in Dripping Springs, she insisted on redecorating her bedroom each and every year and developed her very own signature style along the way. (“Mistakes were made,” she allows. “I once applied hot-pink boas to the wall trim—and my computer—with a hot glue gun. It was not good.”)
Later, Emory majored in sociology while in school at the University of Texas, but she spent her free time interning for designers. After graduation, she took that hands-on experience to Dallas, where she ended up launching her very own business at the tender age of 24. “I was absolutely ready for it. I was qualified, and I believed in myself to the core,” she says.
It’s a bet that has more than paid off. Emory has spent the last five years bringing her signature blend of bold color to the homes of clients all over the city. “My style is super happy, vibrant, confident, and whimsical,” she explains. “I guess it’s also ‘transitional’ if you want me to use a boring word. I like all types of color and all types and styles of furniture.”
Emory’s business isn’t the only area of her life that’s in the pink. Her personal life is coming up roses, too, thanks to husband Macki, daughter Carlisle, and a baby boy on the way. Emory and Macki met as teens back when his boat broke down in front of her family’s dock in Horseshoe Bay. “He’s my biggest cheerleader ever,” she says.
He’s also often the voice of reason. When the couple began searching for a home in Greenway Parks back in 2021, Emory was less than pleased by a circa-1947, four-bedroom, three-bathroom residence. “I walked in, and within 10 minutes, I said, ‘Absolutely not,’ and I ran back to my car,” she says with a laugh. Macki followed and strongly encouraged her to give it another look. “He basically told me we could either take it or forget about living in Greenway Parks. I immediately headed back to the front door with a whole new mindset.”
They ended up buying that very home, and Emory put her imagination to work, reconfiguring rooms, totally renovating the kitchen, and layering in a dazzling array of emerald greens, bright yellows, bubblegum pinks, and more. It’s safe to say there’s not another house on the block that’s anything like it, and that’s fine by the designer.
“I love that it’s unexpected. It feels like a rainbow burst in here,” she says. “I want people to have a good time and enjoy themselves when they come over.”
And if they happen to leave as converts to Emory’s cult of color? Well, that’s so much the better. “It happens all the time,” she says. “By the time they’re walking to their car, they’re thinking to themselves, ‘We should try a pop of blue.’ ”
Setting The Tone
Whether you want to add a pop or a plethora of paint, designer Emory McKim can help.
Start with art.
If you’re feeling nervous about bringing in too much color at once, invest in a fun painting, textile, or photograph, and allow that piece to dictate some of your color choices going forward. “My husband became totally obsessed with a Mr. Brainwash piece when we were in the middle of renovating our kitchen,” Emory says. “It ended up being the inspiration for the red island.”
Fire up a formal.
A formal living is the perfect spot to take big swings. It’s generally not too large, which means you can invest in a wallpaper or paint without breaking the bank. It’s also often located right off the entry, so everyone will see it coming and going. “I always tell my clients to push themselves there,” says Emory. “You don’t sit in there every day, so you won’t get tired of it, but it can set the tone for what they’re going to experience at your house.”
Try, try again.
Finding the perfect wall color will likely test your patience, says Emory. In fact, the deep green in her library required repeated trips to the paint store. “We went through 15 green samples to create that specific color. We used everything in the book,” she says. When it comes to finding complementary textiles, she says fabric swatches are a godsend.“You have to bring them into the actual room where you’ll use them,” she says. “The light is going to be way different at home than in a bright showroom.”