Now celebrating a milestone 10-year anniversary, Lake Forest-based interior designer Megan Winters and her eponymous firm have been described in effusive terms ranging from chic and dynamic to elegant and full of life. Known for her fearless use of color, playful touches of gilt, vintage finds mixed with modern pieces, and fresh pops of what can only be described as “wow,” Winters’ keen eye stands the test of time.
That said, her design sensibilities have continued to evolve as she grows both personally and professionally. In her May 2015 feature with Sheridan Road, we learned that Winters came to the world of interiors post a University of Chicago MBA, and via the high-end printing and packaging firm she co-founded with her father, servicing top fashion and lifestyle brands such as Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus.
In fact, it was during this time that Winters faced her first design challenge in tackling the brand’s expanding offices and warehouses. Spoiler alert: She’d then discovered her truest passion, one she did not have the impetus to pursue full-time until after a devastating brain stem tumor that left Winters with just six to eight weeks to live. After kicking that diagnosis—and eventually cancer itself—to the curb, Winters left the printing and packaging business for the world of design.
“I used to be a total workaholic and felt like I needed to be successful for my father, my family, and myself,” says Winters. “But things changed after I became sick. I had looked death in the face and wanted to do something more creative. I truly believe we have a responsibility to make the most of the gifts God gives us and to have the confidence to share those gifts with the world.”
Winters puts her words into practice. Ten years ago, while working from her spare bedroom, she landed her first project on Pembroke Drive in Lake Forest. Now, Winters’ work spans from a historical David Adler renovation in Chicago to a beachfront retreat in Florida with an aesthetic sharpened by a mix of both experience and its resulting confidence.
She knows what’s hot but doesn’t let it limit her. Instead she prefers designs that will last; has a refined and streamlined taste that belies the whimsy infused into each one-of-a-kind project; and has an easy, elegant attitude toward design that translates to comfortable yet sophisticated homes that reflect her clients’ daily lives.
“There are many answers to how a space can be beautiful,” notes Winters. “I like to create spaces that have layers and mix textures. What makes a room sing are the little things, like a great display of art on the walls or a perfect paint selection. Homes are multidimensional, and the design should reflect a bit of the personality of who lives there.”
A natural risk-taker with a fearless attitude, Winters plans to expand her business with a second office in Naples, Florida, where she already has a dedicated clientele desperate for her services and where her parents live. She credits her mother for her creativity and taste level and her father for her business acumen and explains, “I am the luckiest girl in the world for the gifts and opportunities my parents gave me and now it’s time I try to take care of them.”
In addition to creating standout interiors, Winters designed a capsule collection for Artistic Tile and has plans in the works to launch her own lighting and furniture collection at High Point Market next year. She offers these words to live by, “Never underestimate the importance of light fixtures.”
But the motto that guides her life is one passed down by her father, and it is grounded in the idea that life is too short not to have fun and to do business with people you like and trust. With that always in mind, Winters reiterates that she owes her success to her friends and neighbors in Lake Forest, who embraced her and effectively launched her referral-based career.
“I will forever be grateful for this special community and am so lucky to call Lake Forest home,” says Winters. “I am much more open now than I used to be and try to tell people I love them all the time. Without exception, I love my clients. Every project I finish becomes my favorite, and I literally go to my car and cry afterward because I will miss the people.”
Here to help make the world a more beautiful place, Winters also donates her time and talent to the Susan G. Komen Foundation, Lurie Children’s Hospital, the University of Chicago Women’s Cancer Research Board, and is also an active supporter of Catholic Charities and the United States Equestrian Federation. She recently started riding horses competitively with the North Shore’s Meagan Murray-Tenuta and calls the experience “the biggest gift” to her creative life.
“I try to give back in any way I can and feel so incredibly blessed and fortunate,” says Winters. “I care about people and want to make their lives better however I can, but I do not like recognition. God knows, and I know in my heart, and that’s all that matters. My life philosophy is an attitude of gratitude.”
But it is Winters who deserves all of the thanks—and recognition— for sharing her talents with us. Here’s to the next ten years!
For more information, visit meganwinters.com.