In the Spotlight: Matthew Mead

By Kate Riley November 25, 2011

I think it’s exciting to hear from inspiring designers and stylists and I love doing interviews with them when I get the chance.  There’s no better time than the holiday season to hear from one of my favorites, Matthew Mead.  Matthew is a stylist, writer, author, and photographer who’s been in the magazine and publishing industry for years and someone I had the pleasure to work with earlier this year. 

Matthew is the former style editor of Country Home magazine, and last year launched his own magazine, Holiday with Matthew Mead. Currently, Matthew is the official food photographer for the Associated Press and a regular style contributor to and Better Homes & Gardens publications. I asked Matthew to answer some questions for me and he graciously agreed.     

CG:  Tell us how you got started in the business of designing, styling, and eventually authoring your own publications?

MM:  I wrote a letter to Mary Emmerling, Queen of Country Style back in the late eighties and was lucky enough to meet her at her South Hampton Long Island cottage compound overlooking the Atlantic.  She offered me work on her new magazine MARY EMMERLING’S COUNTRY and that was the start of my career back in 1992.  I’ve worked in the industry steadily ever since… that led to books, magazines, the creation of my own brand of publications and products.   

CG:   Where do you look for inspiration for all of your projects or magazine shoots?

MM:  I am very drawn to vintage items, antiques, collectibles, colors… you know that about me… when we met at your home the first thing we did was go out antiquing.  Its in my blood, its my soul… I feel so intimately connected to the past, the flea market, the much loved and used items. 

green swag matthew mead 
CG:  The holidays are upon is and as the song goes it’s the most wonderful time of the year, right?  People often feel the stress of the season and can forget it’s more about the celebrations.  What are some tips you can share for effortless entertaining?

MM:  Keep it simple… have several small parties over the month with a few couples instead of one big party.  Serve foods that you love, keep it comfortable and casual.  Consider just desserts and specialty coffees, or appetizers and drinks.  I like to pile colorful fruits on a platter and add greens for a simple centerpiece.  Embellish napkin rings and create lots of votive candles by adding spices, cranberries or succulents.

matthew mead cranberries on table white holiday matthew mead

CG: What are some of your favorite natural elements you prefer to decorate with every holiday season?

MM:  Bay and laurel leaves.. no shedding, fragrant and the perfect shade of green.  I also love seeded eucalyptus, boxwood, juniper and oregonia.  I love all shades of green so its abundant in my house during the season.

green wreaths matthew mead  pinecone wreath matthew mead
CG:  Can you share some tips for combining traditional or nostalgic decor with something new, fresh, or unexpected every season? 

MM:  I think its fun to inject some of the fresh colors that we use today.  I love very monochromatic color pallets so I might select my vintage items first and then coordinate to those colors with modern ornaments, garlands, gift wrap. 

white tree vintage ornaments matthew mead

And I LOVE giftwrap.  Select some fresh, modern and colorful designs to wrap luminaries, line serving trays, cut into pennants…  pretty papers have so many versatile uses… I even make ornaments with gift wrap. 

  glitter cones matthew mead


CG:   You’ve always been a brilliant crafter, can you give us a hint of a few ideas that are shared in the latest Holiday magazine? 

MM:  The crafts stores are filled to the brim with inspiration to work with and fresh, modern colors.  I am drawn to glitter paper, tissue, vintage patterned scrapbook papers – they’re all easy to craft into multitudes of designs, you’ll find several in Holiday

glitter medallion ornament matthew mead

We made the most beautiful vintage tissue paper flowers for our vintage holiday which even kids can make and with Stephanie Nielson of the NieNie Dialogues the most wonderful red and white paper ornaments and candy crafts that look spectacular on our cover tree. 

nienie dialogues paper tree matthew mead

And with you Kate, I was so inspired by your cookie cutter glitter ornaments, pink and green color play and of course, those lavender sachets from your garden.

CG:  We’ve all got gifts to wrap this season, what are your favorite ways to embellish treats for friends and family?

MM:  We use a mix of things to create nice gift tags and gift toppers … vintage jewelry, old twine and ribbons, antique ornaments, post cards, calling cards and all kinds of paper items.  Jenny loves vintage bling which is easy to find at the flea market… and this year Linda inspired us to use all types of glitter ribbons.  It really is endless, I like to pick a theme and then do it over and over again in variations. 

glitter ribbon wrapped gifts matthew mead

CG:  What can we look forward to from you in the New Year?

MM:  A spring magazine on Flea Market Finds and more products from my new collection  and hopefully the magazine becomes a real quarterly which would be a dream come true.   

matthew spring cover


Thank you so much Matthew for taking the time out of your busy schedule during this season to answer some of my questions! 

If you want to be even more inspired by Matthew’s work then you must grab a copy of the expanded issue of Holiday with Matthew Mead online now.  My personal copy just arrived last week and I loved reading each and every story photographed and told by Matthew and his team.  For a sneak preview of what’s inside, watch this.   

holiday mag cover

  Have you grabbed your copy yet? 

You don’t want to miss it!  .




  1. my mom bought the holiday magazine so i was so excited to get to look at it yesterday! it was amazing and the flea market finds one looks AWESOME!!! happy post-thanksgiving! :)

  2. Clearly Mattthew Mead is one of the great designers of our time. His ideas are always so fresh and clean, there’s nothing dated about him. You always feel current with his style. Thanks for sharing Kate! It’s also great to see you working with Matthew – you’re a perfect fit.

  3. I agree with everything Matthew says here. The holidays should be fun, not stressful and I think we all overdo at times. Simplicity with attention to detail is the way to go.

  4. What a great interview, and his work is so inspiring! I love the gift wrap (glitter ribbon!) and the tree made of paper circles. It’s so fun and anyone can do it!

  5. Just heard of Matthew Mead this morning when I was reading a blog. absolutely love his work. It’s clearly my aesthetic. He’s generous in sharing his wonderfully elegant ideas.

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