I love spending time sifting through various designer's portfolio. I find that the more stylistically different from myself the greater the inspiration. I seek out both extremes on the design spectrum from ultra modern to traditional classic discovering techniques and design concepts I wouldn't otherwise employ.
Matthew Monroe Bees is one of my favorite young designers to look towards for classical inspiration. His impeccable use of color, pattern layering and especially his ability to transform the smallest of spaces into gracious rooms really sets him apart.
A Charleston South Carolina-based interior decorator, he has an impeccable eye for distinctly Southern design mixed with eclectic worldly antiques; many of which he sells in his Charleston showroom.
Bee's designs reflect his love of formal interiors. He is skilled in creating gallery like rooms that optimally showcase furniture, art and collectibles all while remaining warm & welcoming. I am always drawn to his rooms and unexpected choices.
Known for transforming small and tricky spaces, Bees' employs techniques like painting out an entire room in a single rich color often in a specialty finish like ultra high-gloss lacquer. He himself lived in a 350 square foot apartment and painted the entire place in the same shade of a deep dark green to actually open it up and make it feel larger.
Bees grew up on a farm in Alabama where he 'apprenticed' under his grandmother, learning the ins and outs of hospitality and everything from table setting to baking all alongside actual farm work. It was there he cultivated his love of entertaining and honed his skillset in the 'art of living'. He later moved to Georgetown and then settled in Charleston where he grew his knowledge and expertise in antiques.
His furniture selections and pairings are always unique and thoughtful. He cleverly uses case goods traditionally for holding clothing as accent pieces like an armoire used as a bar or a classic period dining table dually used for a desk during the day and transformed into a buffet for evening entertaining.
In 2019 , Bees had the opportunity to bring his favorite prominent staples of Southern design to New York by creating a bedroom titled "grandeur reconsidered" in New York City Kip's Bay Charity Showhouse (room pictured above)
“It’s no secret that Charleston and the Lowcountry’s architecture and interiors have been the sirens call to those both far and near for the better part of the last two centuries,” the designer explained in his show notes. “Now, the evolved aesthetic of a once colonial capital to one of the world’s top travel destinations is arriving at Kips Bay Show House. Where other places restore dwellings to a certain time period, Charleston has led the charge in preserving history as it is found. Inspired by the preserved rooms of Drayton Hall, a concept was formed.”
In an excerpt from an interview on renowned designer Alexa Hamptons blog, Bees gives some further insight into his background, inspiration, and style:
What are three words to describe your style? 1. Timeless 2. Educated 3. Thoughtful
Tell us about your childhood bedroom? My mother selected a pale blue on blue vertical striped paper with navy curtains and bedding, all trimmed in white. Sometime in my teen years, we changed it to a green and cream scheme and I’ve almost always had a green bedroom ever since.
What’s the first investment piece you ever bought for your house? I purchased my first English chest on chest around 2009. Before then, having grown up in Alabama, I had purchased several American empire pieces. After moving to Charleston and gaining a wealth of knowledge about antiques, I tend to go to English styles for brown furniture. I’ve since owned and sold a half dozen chest on chest and it’s still one of my favorite pieces of furniture.
In the history of design, if you could hire any designer other than yourself, who would it be? Mark Hampton or John Fowler
No room is complete without Good art and a sprinkling of Blue & White porcelain
Things you omit from:
A flower arrangement strong smelling lilies
An hors d’oeuvre platter stinky cheese
A bar cabinet nothing!
A song for:
Dinner at home anything by Diana Krall
Working at your desk: 80’s music at a high volume
Going for a run: most likely something by Britney
Bee's work has been featured in Garden & Gun, House Beautiful, Southern Living, Coastal Living, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, & Home and Garden Television.
If you are in Charleston, be sure to swing by his gorgeous showroom on King Street. Until then, take a look through his project portfolio for countless ideas & inspiration.