For years I have been living in the backyard of the colorful and imaginative home furnishing company MacKenzie-Childs. Just last week I attended a Camp MacKenzie-Childs for social media influencers and let me tell you it was the most amazing whirlwind of an event. I am excited to share my recap of this two day event that included a guided tour of the Inns of Aurora, a tour of the factory and all it’s grounds, a private lunch in the farmhouse and even painting our own MC pie plate. Come discover what’s beyond the magical curtain!
The Inns of Aurora: Rowland House
On a rainy Wednesday afternoon I checked into The Rowland House. The Rowland House was named after former MacKenzie-Childs owner Pleasant Rowland who purchased MC in 2001. (You might recognized her name from the iconic American Girl Doll Company.) All the furnishing and artwork belonged to Pleasant and her husband. As soon as I walked into my room I felt right at home with this pink and orange color scheme. It was bright, cheerful and happily decorated with her Florida vacation home furniture and art. It was serendipitous that this would be my room having just hit publish of our home with an unconventional Fall color scheme just hours before.
Right outside my room on the third floor was this bright yellow sitting area filled with MacKenzie-Childs furniture and a stunning 6-arm Grandolier Chandelier. Just out the window was the picturesque Cayuga Lake. The rain wasn’t going darken this room!
After unpacking, we all gathered in the lobby and took a 2-hour tour of the buildings associated with the Inns of Aurora. All of the inns have been meticulously restored and decorated for overnight visitors, conferences, and weddings. Below are just a few of my favorite rooms. Of course they all include an explosion of color and pattern. And in true Pleasant Rowland fashion each room has it’s own personality with no two alike.
When In Rome: Courtly Check
Here is the famous MacKenzie-Childs Courtly Check room at the Rowland House. This room was hand-painted and took an artist 17 days to complete! Can you imagine lining up all these rows of checks? I felt right at home wearing my vintage Courtly Check MacKenzie-Childs sweater.
After the soggy Aurora tour we headed back to our rooms and changed clothes for a cocktail reception and private dinner. But first a group photo out on the covered porch looking over Cayuga Lake with our hostess and MacKenzie-Childs assistant to the CEO Liz. Liz is in the black outfit on the right.
Setting the Table: Courtly Check Style
After drinks in the parlor, the dining room doors opened to a lavished tablecape for 12 completely decorated with MacKenzie-Childs dinnerware, flatware and home decor. Each place setting included a hand decorated mini white pumpkin and layers upon layers of MC dinnerware. The centerpiece was assortment of ceramic MacKenzie-Childs pumpkins sitting on candlestick holders and gold glitter leaves all intertwined with MC Courtly Check ribbon.
The chef’s family style meal was equally spectacular as the decor. For two hours we dined on squash soup, homemade breads, roasted brussels sprouts and bacon, harvest chicken, and more autumnal fare. It just kept coming out of the kitchen. We were stuffed but still had room for our own mini apple crisps served in a cast iron skillet.
After dinner we all went upstairs to get into our comfy clothes and then headed down to the living room to enjoy s’mores by the fire. I really had no room but had to try a s’more with soft homemade chocolate cookies, thick marshmallows and caramel sauce. S’mores will never be the same after this decadent combination. We chatted and got to know each other and around 10PM called it a day. I returned to my room to find a rainy day poem and chocolates on my pillow and the light and bed turned down. I was out in 5 minutes.
Camp MacKenzie-Childs Day 2
After one of the best nights sleep in what I’m sure was 1,000 thread count sheets I woke up still full and headed back down for breakfast with MacKenzie-Childs’ creative Director Rebecca Proctor. I previously met Rebecca in January in the MacKenzie-Childs showroom at the Atlanta Gift Mart. It was a treat to reconnect and hear how she has been with the company since the beginning. Her passion, energy, and inspiration kick-started our morning. We all were anxious to get to the MacKenzie-Childs Farm and begin the private tour.
Follow The Checkered Brick Road
The rain had lightened up but the wind was howling and the leaves blowing. You’d think we were in Kansas. Driving up the long brick road was better than heading to OZ. The MacKenzie-Childs compound was decked out for Fall. The Courtly Checked pumpkins guided our path to the tour reception room where we met our tour guide. These tours run 7 days a week. If you haven’t had the chance to take one sign up and make a day trip out of it!
Pottery Mold Making
Our first stop on the tour was the mold making room. Three artisans craft the model piece of pottery and cast these plaster molds. These molds keep the shape and size consistent with each piece.
The Clay Press
A special recipe of clay then gets molded into the piece. This was the beginning of a pie plate that we would later on in the day get to paint ourselves.
After the piece has been created an artisan carefully inspects the entire piece and smooths our any seams. Then they are set to dry.
This was actually my favorite room on the tour. Imagine a long warehouse room with fired pieces stacked floor to ceiling waiting to get painted and fired. I loved every piece in it’s raw form. I didn’t want to leave but the tour had to go on…..
After the initial fire, each piece takes a wax dip on it’s underside. After the wax dip, this casserole dish gets a bath in a base white glaze. The wax repels the glaze. It looks fleshy pink but this is the white base to all the pottery. Think of it as a blank canvas for all the color and pattern to come.
MacKenzie-Childs Newest Line
We were one of the firsts to see the newest line of MacKenzie-Childs pottery. A line of woodland creatures. These owl walls pockets caught my eye! I can’t wait to see how they are decorated.
I have to admit that I have been to some incredible brand events but this one takes the cake.
Each piece then heads to the decoration room where a dozen or so artists hand paint using MacKenzie-Childs signature colors and patterns. It was incredible to hear that a cake stand can be completed in under an hour! Once finished then off to the kiln. After, seconds are set aside for the famous MacKenzie-Childs Barn Sale where MC fans line up overnight for the best deals on their favorite patterns and pieces.
MacKenzie-Childs Painted Furniture
Ok, So I lied. The furniture decoration room is my favorite room. This bright skylighted filled open space is packed to the brim with color, pattern and energy. We even got to see next year’s line of furniture with an all new pattern that you all will LOVE! ( No pictures allowed)
The amount of detail and time that goes into each hand crafted piece is astonishing. Our tour guide told us that the fish chair below takes just 8 hours to complete.
Here is The Freckled Fish Chair painted and waiting for its final topcoat then off to get a black and white upholstered seat. Up close is one of MacKenzie-Childs artisans painstakingly adding gold paint to the legs of this side table.
Mixing patterns comes as second nature to MacKenzie-Childs. Below are table legs waiting on tops and tufted upholstered ottomans stacked up in the sewing department. It was so exiting to see the bolts and bolts of signature MC fabrics lining the walls. The factory tour had come to an end…. we then headed out to the Farmhouse for a special lunch.
The Farmhouse Tour
After an invigorating morning factory tour it was time for lunch in the farmhouse. Heck, I was still full from last nights dinner! The porch was artfully lined with mums and pumpkins in all shapes and sizes. As we ascended the stairs a weathered door adorned with a Fall floral and fruit wall pocket arrangement greeted us. To the left and right Courtly Check spindle chairs lined the front porch.
A Lunch To Remember
We all gathered in the foyer and waited for Liz and the MC family to slide open the pocket doors. Another incredible tablescape created for us! Joining us for lunch was MacKenzie-Childs CEO John J. Ling and President David Frankel. We all sat cozily around this incredible table and shared our blogging stories and our first introductions to the MacKenzie-Childs brand. Both John and David were so incredibly down to earth and made us all feel welcome.
Kitchen in a Cabinet
After lunch we then toured the farmhouse and saw firsthand the depth of this company’s talent and how the products are incorporated into a home. Every nook and cranny was MacKenzie-Childs. It was spectacular! At the top of the grand staircase landing was a kitchen in a cabinet. An armoire complete with a working sink, microwave and marbled mini fridge plus room for food and supplies. How genius! In the neighboring bedroom was a wicker and rattan bed made by hand in Indonesia and then hand painted in Aurora. The roosters at the top are crowing North, South, East and West. Now this is a bed fit for a Queen. Just look at all the details.
Every room in the farmhouse was prettier than the next. It is the MacKenzie-Childs museum of all its thousand of products. Every room has been touched with artistry and charm. There’s no way that on one tour you’ll see it all. I need to go back and discover more hidden gems. Now off to paint our own MacKenzie-Childs pottery!
One Of A Kind MacKenzie-Childs
The last leg of our Camp MacKenzie-Childs tour was painting our own pie plate. We had total artistic liberty and could use any of the glazes MC had in their palette. Here is my masterpiece and I say that loosely! Keeping in mind that the pinky flesh color would be white I still had a difficult time imaging what would look like after being fired. We shall find out! I will update this post when I receive it in the mail.
Thanks to the entire MacKenzie-Childs Family for a trip of a lifetime! Make sure you follow along on my Instagram page for a chance to win a Courtly Check Enamel Teapot or another great product of equal value. Now, what’s your favorite MC piece? Mine is my collection of glass Christmas ornaments my mom has been gifting my sister and me each Christmas. I might need a bigger tree!
What a trip! I have stayed at the Rowland House, and I agree that it is perfection. I need to do the MC tour; in the thousands of times I have driven by the factory I have never stopped for the tour! Thanks for filling us in, Amie.
Hi Nancy- This is a perfect stop on the way to Ithaca. I’ll go with you the next time. Mom too …. xo