5 Under 4 2018: Calla McNamaraText by Erin Marvin
An eye for detail, light, color, and composition comes naturally to interior designer Calla McNamara, who grew up going to photo shoots for Elle Decor, Metropolitan Home, House Beautiful, and other design publication powerhouses with her father, architectural photographer Jeff McNamara.
This early exposure to the design world didn’t immediately shepherd her into a future career, however: she studied biology and environmental sciences before eventually drawing on what she calls the “unintentional education” from her father and formally pursuing interior design. McNamara then worked for Connecticut designers Lynn Morgan and Mar Silver before starting her own firm in 2014.
Through her eponymous Calla Studio in South Norwalk, Connecticut, McNamara often works with clients who have moved from New York City to suburban Connecticut, helping them find an elegant balance between the area’s traditional aspects and the modern style many of them crave. “Even if someone has an eclectic palette, it’s my job to edit what they’re working with so it’s clean and comfortable for the eye,” she says.
Whether in a contemporary restyling of a country farmhouse or a nineteenth-century colonial, McNamara believes in the importance of clean lines. She focuses on neutral palettes and natural textures, and recent work on a LEED-certified house has inspired a new consciousness in selecting healthier materials. With an emphasis on all aspects of design, from architectural details to furniture and accessories, McNamara completes her spaces with a carefully curated selection of artwork. “Art is a great way to introduce the client’s personality so the space tells more of a story about them,” she says.
New England Home’s 5 Under 40 awards celebrates our region’s finest emerging talent in residential design. The honorees—all of whom are under the age of forty—were nominated by their peers and then selected by a committee of local design leaders.
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