Optimism isn’t just about looking forward. It’s also about the here and now. These design trends put our new collections, inspired by our theme for the season, The Art of Optimism, in the moment while staying true to the timeless joyful spirit that will always be MacKenzie-Childs.

Earth tones anew
Our key colors—emerald green, marigold yellow, and the richest jewel hues—come directly from a palette painted by nature. These saturated shades are trending in home design and decor because they let you proclaim your personality while pairing well with calming neutral bases.

Prints that pop
We’ve always been the proprietor of pattern play, masterfully mixing unexpected combinations that make an impression. Complementing our key colors, we focus on emerald luxury with a bold geometric fabric in shades of green that resembles a prism and is mixed with complementary smaller-scale, textural prints in charcoal and gold. Meanwhile, another key fabric has rich florals and paisleys popping from flannel grey, which are paired with rose-colored patterned accents.

Textural touches
Texture has a language all its own. It speaks directly, inviting us to experience every piece of our collection through touch, from beaded pillows to sculpted handmade rugs to pumpkins embellished with dimensional decoration. It’s our tactile details that make all the difference.

Take a shine
Metallic accents are important because they provide stability and make a classic statement that has a modern edge. We mix the subdued shine of gold and antique brass with our green and marigold earth tones, and we add the polish of pewter and silver to colorful floral and paisley pieces grounded in grey.

 

 

Oh, how we anticipate autumn! Colorful leaves, freshly picked apples, a comfy oversized sweater, and the bright orange pumpkins that signal the transition to Halloween.

We’re also anticipating our fall and Halloween collections, which reflect our theme and inspiration for the season, The Art of Optimism.

What’s optimistic about fall, you ask? Well, Rebecca Proctor, our optimist in chief (and creative director and chief brand officer), is happy to tell you.

Autumn is a time for appreciation. We find beauty in the changing seasons and everything around us—from the colors of the leaves to the crisp, cool air. “We’re taking in everything that makes us feel good, and that makes us optimistic,” says Rebecca.

And Halloween? “Our point of view is to always look on the bright side of things, so we see Halloween as a happy Halloween,” says Rebecca. “It’s bright, cheerful, and joyful.”

Let’s fall for fall

One of our key fall groups is Walk in the Woods, which was inspired by just that. “We got the palette turned on by literally taking a walk in the woods after the leaves have a blanket of color, like a carpet, when the sun is shining, and the leaves are a little wet and a little luminescent. Everything we gathered for this collection reflects that,” says Rebecca. Walk in the Woods focuses on rich autumn colors with fun accents like acorns, mushrooms, and squirrels that embellish everything from candle holders to salt and pepper shakers. Texture is important, too, so there are beaded placemats, lavishly decorated pillows, and cozy throws.

As usual, there are pumpkins, pumpkins, and, yes, even more pumpkins. But because our pumpkin patch is unlike any other, some are accented with dimensional metal flowers and some have Courtly patterns on the bottom, with everlasting succulents or ethereal jewel-tone leaves on top. There are also topiaries that have pumpkins stacked on pumpkins that will give your home some spectacular seasonal splendor.

Here’s to happy Halloween

For Halloween, which Rebecca calls “a magical time of year that’s all about mystery, intrigue, and fun,” we look to classic literature and the midnight skies for inspiration.

The Nevermore collection is our nod to Edgar Allen Poe’s classic poem, “The Raven,” with ravens on black feather wreaths and in tabletop decor. Golden keys are included in this theme, reflecting the belief that ravens and crows are magpies, attracted to shiny objects. Crows, the smaller cousin of the raven, pop up on other fall items too, including pumpkins and pillows, wearing crowns and witch’s hats.

Meanwhile, Cosmique is our group of decorative objects, including witches, pumpkins, and owls, with a moon-and-stars theme. The palette is simple—shades of ivory, slate grey, midnight black, and gold—with touches of Courtly Check and Stripe.

There’s also Halloween fun from Patience Brewster by MacKenzie-Childs. The highlight is the Patience Brewster Spooky House Display, which is decorated with hand-painted whimsy from top to bottom. Perfect for displaying the set of eight Patience Brewster Spooky House Minis, it’s sure to create happy Halloween memories for years to come.

Introducing Modern Naturalist

Last, but not least, there’s Modern Naturalist, a group that reflects the adventure of autumn. This collection is built around a confident muse whom Rebecca calls an adventuresome urban girl. She considers her home to be her diary and surrounds herself with items that are colorful, crafted, and tell her story.

The key fabric for Modern Naturalist has jewel-tone paisleys and florals, popping from a rich grey that mimics flannel. “The fabric was a very deliberate choice that reflects how people love to live in a more colorful way,” Rebecca says.

You’ll find this print on the furniture pieces in this collection, including the cozy Modern Naturalist Reading Chair and the Modern Naturalist Setting Seat. There are also rugs and beautiful textural pillows inspired by the same palette.

Are you an optimist? Someone who always looks on the bright side and sees the glass at least half full? So are we, and this fall, inspired by the power of positivity, we’ve created a new collection called The Art of Optimism. You can look for its debut on our website on August 30.

Rebecca Proctor, our chief brand officer, creative director, and, yes, our optimist in chief, defines optimism as what propels us forward. It’s optimism, she says, that “keeps our heads up high, looking out for the next smile with style, grace, and anticipation.”

You’ll see optimism reflected in this new collection. Among its key colors are trending warmer earth tones like emerald green and marigold yellow. Green, by the way, is perfect for an optimist because it’s the color of renewal. The marigold yellow just feels like sunshine. There are also jewel tones that add a positive pop to a grey background, plus the shine of metals like gold, antiqued brass, pewter, and silver. And, as always, many textural touches.

You might find it a bit ironic, as we do, that just as Rebecca and our design team started working on this collection nearly two years ago, a worldwide pandemic was about to test the very idea of optimism. But perhaps what we have experienced is a reminder that optimism isn’t just about the future.

“It’s also about the best of the moment of the now, and ultimately, it’s about hope,” Rebecca says. “I think it’s a good way to live, to believe deeply and to find the joy in things.”

And so, over the last 18 months, we did find joy and an appreciation, perhaps much deeper than ever before, of what surrounds us, including our families and our homes. And now, no matter where we dwell—a big city, the countryside, or small-town USA—more than ever, there is a renewed feeling of optimism that says simply, “Welcome, home.”

 

Wow! Wasn’t that fun?! We had more than 350,000 people visit the online Barn Sale, and we hope we made everyone’s Barn Sale wishes come true.

Our top seller, by the way, was the Courtly Check Enamel 3 Quart Tea Kettle with Bird, followed by the Courtly Check Cork Back Placemats, the Courtly Check Enamel Abundant Bowl, the Patience Brewster Nativity Mini Figures Introductory Set, and the Courtly Check Enamel Beverage Hostess rounding out the top five.

First, we sincerely thank you for your support. We so appreciate each and every one of you. You inspire us with how you embrace the products that we design to invoke joy and bring love to every corner of your home.

Rest assured that we’re packing and shipping everything ASAP, and employees throughout our company are pitching in.

Like you, we’re waiting for our Barn Sale orders, too. So, let’s find out what some of us ordered.

Todd Bundy, Tour Center and The Outlet associate:

First and foremost, ANYTHING in the Poplar Ridge pattern since it is my favorite.  Also, Courtly Check plates … “I can never have too many of those.”

Courtney Gervais, customer service lead:

  • 2′ x 3′ Courtly Check Floor Mat. “It’s a perfect pop of Mackenzie-Childs for the kitchen and it complements other Mackenzie Childs pieces.”
  • Small Courtly Check Cow. “I always love cows and the Courtly Check design, so this is a fabulous combination. It’s an adorable piece to have on your wall, especially if you live in the country, like I do.”

Tammy Dorward, vice president product development:

Courtly Check buffet plates. “They are the perfect start to any table setting but are large enough to use as a serving platter for desserts, a small charcuterie plate or a plate for a small wreath and a pillar candle as a centerpiece at the holiday! Endless uses!”

Deborah Dabek, Aurora Warehouse Receiving Department:

Courtly Check Enamel Petal Charger. “This platter is my favorite gift as it always brings smiles to everyone no matter what time of year!”

Sarah Hart, associate product manager:

  • Small Fish Serving Board. “It’s perfect for entertaining and adds fun and delight to the table.”
  • Bunny Toddler’s Dinnerware Set. “My go-to gift for every baby shower!”

In the 20-plus years that Tammy Busce has worked for MacKenzie-Childs, she’s painted a lot of furniture. Hundreds of pieces, she thinks, from armoires to benches to tables of every description.

Her personal favorite? The playful and colorful Freckle Fish Chair, which she swears she can paint with her eyes closed.

Recently, Tammy, who is our lead furniture decorator, completed her biggest project yet—a mural of our farm’s landscape in the dining room of our historic Farmhouse. The crown jewel of our 65-acre estate, the Farmhouse has long been the most visible link to our past, dating to the 1860s, when the property was a working dairy farm. Now, with a lighter and brighter dining room and the completion of several other renovations, this elegant Second Empire structure hints at our future, too.

For years, the room and its draperies were a deep shade of mauve. The first step in its makeover was to prime the walls and paint them a fresh coat of linen white. Then, Tammy stepped in and added her mural, drawing inspiration from the views the room offers.

Gaze out of the room’s two front windows, looking westward toward Cayuga Lake, and Tammy’s mural follows that same horizon with painted trees dotting the rolling landscape. Look north, through the bay window, and the wall just to the right shows our studio, complete with the iconic archway to the courtyard garden. Finally, on the wall next to the library entrance, there’s a re-creation of our Chicken Palace.

“It’s a traditional MC-style landscape that is tone on tone,” says Tammy, who painted the mural over several weeks, using just two ivory hues—Shaded and Shadow. The difference between the tones is just as subtle as their names imply, with Shaded being just the tiniest bit richer and darker. But, by varying the amount of water mixed with the paint and the pressure applied to her brush, Tammy added layers of dimension and detail.

Incredibly, Tammy, who painted the mural almost entirely freehand, doesn’t have formal schooling in painting. What she does have is an obvious natural ability that she has nurtured since childhood and has expanded on since joining our company.

You might be wondering why we made such a dramatic change. Felicia Rocker, our assistant visuals manager and Farmhouse coordinator, says the refreshed room is part of a move to present our products in simplified settings, so they can speak for themselves. The same design aesthetic has been adopted in our on-site retail store, The Outlet, which opened in May.

“We are toning down our wall colors and fixture colors to really highlight the beauty in our products, and we thought that this lent itself nicely to the Farmhouse to highlight the Diorama Table,” Felicia says.

That table, long the room’s focal point, offers a bird’s-eye view of our bucolic setting. Says Felicia, “The landscape on the wall is a direct reflection of the Diorama Table. With all the other elements being so neutral, it allows the Diorama Table to sing. We anticipate the eye to draw to the center of the room and really appreciate the artistry that goes into making that table.”

Complementing the mural and table are new custom-made draperies and rug, plus the chairs are reupholstered in coordinating textural fabrics. Felicia thinks the changes will be especially beautiful when our holiday collections are on display, allowing them to shine even brighter.

We can’t wait to show the dining room and the other Farmhouse renovations to you. The exterior, which had been white, is now a welcoming sunny shade called Friendly Yellow, trimmed with olive green. Inside, there are playful pink stripes on the kitchen walls, new wallpaper in the laundry room and back upstairs hallway, and refinished hardwood floors throughout.

Free tours are offered daily, and reservations are required. To reserve your spot, sign up online.

You’re invited to join our Barn Sale party tonight on Instagram Live at 7 p.m. EST @mackenziechilds.  It’s hosted by CEO John Ling, Creative Director and Chief Brand Officer Rebecca Proctor, and Customer Service Manager Carol Ryerson.

They’ll share what’s on their wish lists, offer tips on shopping and ordering, and reminisce about Barn Sales past. And, of course, watch to see how they’re decked in checks, too.

If you haven’t made a wish list yet for our annual Barn Sale, it’s time to do so. The sale starts online only in just two days, and we’re here to help you get started.

First, print our downloadable wish list, which will help you get your thoughts organized with (MC) style! You’ll find two versions: Barnwood and Piggie.

Second, if you need suggestions for your list, then you might find inspiration from our MC super fans. Many recently attended a pre-Barn Sale party hosted by our first MC Maestros, Drs. Thomas McCue and Sean Bresnahan, also known on Instagram as @thecourtlycheckbears.

Here’s what our hosts will be looking for:

Tommy McCue 

  • Glassware for entertaining. “Since this world is opening back up, we need to start celebrating with family and friends, and what better way than with a toast in an MC glass.”
  • Always frames for gifts.
  • Ceramics, ceramics, ceramics!

Sean Bresnahan

  • Décor for a new outdoor pool area/pool house project.
  • Dish towels and kitchen accessories.
  • Gifts for family and friends, especially for his father, who has become a SUPER Mackenzie-Childs fan.

Other party guests:

Kristina Choinski, of Marlton, New Jersey:

  • Anything Parchment Check, which is her favorite pattern.
  • Gifts for friends. “I’m always looking for wedding gifts.”

Tracey McGrath, of Rochester, New York:

  • “If the stars aligned, I would probably go straight to the ceramic Courtly Check Floor Lamp. It is the only piece of MacKenzie-Childs that my husband was really impressed with, and to me that means full steam ahead!”

Colleen Hathaway, of Seneca Falls, New York:

  • Champagne flutes. “I have the Blooming wine glasses and I must add the bubbly glasses! Such great weight and so beautifully decorated, they make any beverage special and match beautifully with all the MC patterns ceramic and enamelware on the table!”
  • Pagoda Birdhouse. “Even the birds need some MC style! Classic whimsy and Courtly Check. A must-have for my garden.”
  • Taylor Odd Fellows Great Vase. “What a hand-crafted beauty. A true statement piece. Taylor ceramics are always on my MC shopping list.”

More fans, who couldn’t attend in person, joined the party via a Zoom link. Here’s what is on their lists:

Cynthia Williams, of New Orleans, who, with her daughters, Enjoli and Erica, are known to their MC friends as the “Nawlins Ladies”:

  • The Christmas Carol Tree. “It lights up, has beautifully wrapped gifts, plays ‘Jingle Bells,’ and best of all, is topped with an iconic Courtly Check star!”
  • “The Cutting Garden 6′ Round Rug has always captured my heart. It has scalloped edges, colorful blooms, and black and white stripes. It would make a perfect addition to my bright and sunny breakfast nook.”
  • SoHo porcelain dinnerware for her dining room table. “The SoHo collection is stylish and modern. It has texture, Courtly Check, and is trimmed with gold lustre. Midnight is my favorite, but Cloud and Mist would win a place on the table, too. As with all Mackenzie-Childs items, I know I can easily match or mix this pattern with other dinnerware collections.”

Susan Grelick, of Buffalo, New York:

  • Breezy Poppy outdoor furniture for her patio.I have the Greenhouse outdoor furniture and recently purchased the Breezy Poppy Chaise. The colors of the Breezy Poppy mixed with the Greenhouse furniture is so vibrant and fun!”
  • Big Blue collection.I purchased the Big Blue Whale Planter and I want to add to the collection. Looking to purchase the canapé knives, Big Blue small plates, Big Blue nesting bowls, platter, pitcher, and salt and pepper shakers.”
  • Tartan Trio Planter.The Tartan Trio Planter will look stunning in my sunroom with the Mackenzie Childs Parchment Palazzo Furniture. This is definitely on my list. And anything else to help freshen my sunroom, maybe something from the Super Pink collection. I love the Super Pink Coffee Table.”

 

When it comes to dressing and decorating for Barn Sale shopping success, you can’t beat a combination of black, white, and florals. And, of course, anything in checks certainly checks all our boxes.

Guests at a recent pre-Barn Sale party hosted by our first MC Maestros, Drs. Thomas McCue and Sean Bresnahan, also known on Instagram as @thecourtlycheckbears, took that advice to heart. Many made a fashion statement from head to toe in all three, including Jake and Ike, the Percheron draft horses that transported guests to the gathering. They had Courtly Checks decoupaged on their hooves and had Courtly Check roses and ribbon woven into their manes and tails.

Party guests were dressed to impress as well. Colleen Hathaway, of Seneca Falls, New York, wore a swingy black and white checked dress, plus a hat embellished with Courtly Check flowers and one of our legacy miniature ceramic teapots. Colleen, who has collected our ceramics for years, also wore earrings that she made from the lids of our miniature teapots. On her feet were our Tall Flower Market Rain Boots.

Kristina Choinski, of Marlton, New Jersey, also had MacKenzie-Childs on her feet (our Short Courtly Check Rain Boots) and wore a beautiful black dress and vintage hat. Also donning a hat was Jennifer Townes of Auburn, New York, who wore a fascinator that she purchased online and her aunt embellished with black netting and some of our Courtly Check ribbon.

Laura Lowery, of Scottsdale, Arizona, showed her MC love with sneakers she hand-painted with checks and a checked shirt that she embellished with our logo from one of our dish towels. Her black and white mani-pedi featured tiny checks on each hand and foot.

We know that you’re just as creative and will rock your Barn Sale party outfit, too. You’ll find inspiration to get you started with this blog on Barn Sale Style.

Here are tips for creating four different looks:

  • Courtly Checks: Accent your checked attire, which could also be Parchment Check or Royal Check, with rosettes that are made from our Courtly Check Ribbon.
  • MC Your T: Tish Gibson, our lead ceramics decorator, who’s known around the studio for her funky fashions, shows how to add embellishments, including beads and fringe, to a T-shirt.
  • Flower Power: Be inspired by our Flower Market pattern and make a fabulous floral wreath for your head from faux flowers.
  • MC Time Travelers: Pick a costume that represents a moment in time—the 1960s, the Middle Ages or a galaxy in the future—and give it the MC treatment with our patterns.

As for decorating the site of your party, get out the black and white balloons and the party streamers.  You can assemble a balloon garland, using the tips from this blog.

Finally, this blog shows you how to make our double-sided Courtly Check Wallpaper Pennant Border with a step-by-step video.

A fabulous party always includes fabulous food, and that was certainly true of the epic pre-Barn Sale party hosted by our first MC Maestros, Drs. Thomas McCue and Sean Bresnahan, also known on Instagram as @thecourtlycheckbears.

Dr. Sean, who loves to cook and has his own Instagram account, @cookingwithdrb, planned the party menu. For this gathering of about 50 people, Sean considered everything from what was in season to balancing sweet and savory dishes that included some healthy alternatives like fresh fruit and cheese. He also wanted to keep the flow of the party going, so he focused on finger foods that guests could serve themselves and eat while mingling.

Many of his dishes are available at the deli counter or the bakery of your local grocery store, so they’re super-easy to prepare. Here’s the party menu, with two recipes for dishes that you can make at home:

  • Chili-Lime Watermelon Skewers
  • Mediterranean Melody
  • Sean’s Famous Cinnamon Buns
  • Tropical Fruit Bowl
  • Various pastries and charcuterie boards
  • Chicken Teriyaki Dumplings
  • Pan-Seared Pork Pot Stickers
  • Silver Dollar Sandwiches with various Italian meats
  • Various sweets and desserts

Chili-Lime Watermelon Skewers

Watermelon
Chopped cilantro
Tajin (a Mexican seasoning that’s a blend of chili peppers, lime, and sea salt)
Bamboo skewers

Cut watermelon in chunks about 2 inches square and thread onto bamboo skewers. Sprinkle with a little cilantro and Tajin.

 

Mediterranean Medley
Bruschetta
Tapenade
Tzatziki
Hummus
Olives
Pita wedges

Arrange the pita wedges on a platter (Courtly Check, of course), and add the dipping sauces to small bowls.

Sean also created two signature drinks for the party. The Twin-tini is named for the sons—Thomas V and Grayson—he has with Tommy. The Cruella is named for the Disney character who dresses in black and white.

At the party, the drinks were served buffet-style in our Beverage Hostesses and guests added their own garnishes. They were able to see how the Twin-tini changed from blue to pink with the addition of ice cubes infused with lemon juice.

The recipes below are for making the drinks in single servings.

The Twin-tini
2 ounces fresh lemon juice
3 ounces club soda
2 ounces blueberry vodka
2 ounces simple syrup

Combine ingredients with ice and shake. Pour into a martini glass and garnish with a lemon or lime slice.

 

The Cruella
2 ounces raspberry vodka
½ ounce Triple Sec
1½ ounces white cranberry juice
½ ounce fresh lime juice (for rimming the glass)
Black rimming sugar
White rimming sugar

Pour a circle of rimming sugar—half black and half white—on a plate. Dip glass edge into lime juice and then into rimming sugars.

Combine drink ingredients with ice and shake. Pour into a glass and garnish with fresh raspberries.

 

 

 

Our annual Barn Sale is almost here (online only), and we’re kicking off a five-day countdown. Share in the excitement with this video featuring Chief Brand Officer and Creative Director Rebecca Proctor and Customer Service Manager Carol Ryerson. On your mark, get set, it’s almost time to shop!

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