All in the Family
Designer Megan van der Kieft finds her niche at Margo Moore Interiors
The early spring sky is gray and spitting snow as I pull in to the parking lot of Margo Moore Interiors on Elm Street in Camden. Once inside, I’m immediately warmed and cheered by both the colorful, cozy shop and the friendly greeting from designer Megan van der Kieft, whose parents, Marcy and Peter van der Kieft, founded the business nearly four decades ago. Sensing my curiosity, Megan offers me a tour of the building, once a stately home, which has been added onto over the years. On the first floor, various rooms hold beautifully curated displays of home furnishings and accessories, including pillows, lamps, rugs, bed linens, blankets, glassware, and china. Soft pajamas, socks, and other clothing from Ugg are displayed in a corridor between the main part of the house and a barnlike space with cubbies holding decorative pillows and rug samples from Dash and Albert. I find inspiration for my own home everywhere I look.
Upstairs is the design hub, where Megan and Marcy meet with clients. What seem to be thousands of fabric samples are stored everywhere in books, hung on the walls and stacked on shelves and organized by color. On a table, photos and fabric squares offer insight into Megan’s design work. She is in the process of assembling a binder of ideas for a client on North Haven—suggesting window treatments, custom bed linens, and furniture to complement the rustic interiors of an old Maine cottage. “We don’t have a specific style,” she says. “There’s every walk of life here, and everyone wants something different. People come to us because we know our products.”
In 1971 Marcy and Peter opened a women’s clothing boutique named after Marcy’s mother Margo, with whom Marcy had run a similar shop in Darien, Connecticut. The van der Kiefts soon added home accessories to their inventory, and Marcy began helping customers and friends with interior design projects. A decade later, the shop was rebranded Margo Moore Interiors. Megan began helping out at the store when she was eight years old. “I was always underfoot, sweeping, organizing, dusting,” she says. After leaving Maine for college and the early years of her career, she joined the business eight years ago, bringing her status as an allied member of the American Society of Interior Designers to the family operation.
Thanks to her education and experience, Megan knows the interior design business from the supply side as well as the creative side. After her freshman year at Lasell College in Newton, Massachusetts, she switched paths and entered Wentworth Institute of Technology in Boston, where she studied interior architecture and facility management. Following graduation, she worked on retail store design for Sunglass Hut and Watch Station in Florida before returning to New England and a three-year stint with Home Depot, first as a designer and then as maintenance manager for 69 stores across Connecticut and New York. Tired of traveling and being away from her then-boyfriend, now-husband Frank Carozza, Megan became a private estate manager for a Boston-based family before returning to her native Camden.
“I already understood interior design,” Megan says about her decision to pursue a related but different path at Wentworth. “I understood spatial relationships, colors, and textures. What I didn’t understand was how to manage it.” She credits a year off working at the Boston Design Center, work that she continued when she went back to school, for insight into many of the processes involved in her current work. “Having experienced the stress on the other side, hearing a designer say, ‘I thought it was ten weeks?’ It’s actually ten weeks from deposit, and ten weeks from when we receive your fabric,” she explains. “I think now I understand the components, where it’s shipping from, who’s shipping it, and I can ask the right questions.” As an example, she points out a nearby chair, upholstered in royal blue with white piping. “There are two fabrics on that chair that came from two different vendors, and the chair itself is made by a third vendor,” Megan explains. “There’s such a level of chaos and so many unknowns to get that chair upholstered that way.”
The “chaos,” fitting all the pieces of the design puzzle together, is a large part of how Megan embraces her work. “I love it,” she says emphatically. “I love the customers. I love my relationships with my vendors, and I also love the construction people—the people that are making it happen for me, and pushing them to their limits. ‘How do I get that 200-pound chandelier up there? I have absolutely no idea, but you do, and you have the talent, so let’s talk it out.’” She also stresses that, while some of her work involves custom design projects, she will also do consultations on an hourly fee basis—helping homeowners choose colors, for instance, or to figure out placement of furniture in a room. “I enjoy sharing my information,” she says. “I don’t ever want to steer away somebody who says, ‘I want to come in and pay you for your time.’ I could end up finding a $250 pillow that makes their $700 bed look like a $5,000 bed.”
While Marcy has been a primary inspiration, Megan credits her curiosity to Peter, a realtor with the Camden offices of Legacy Properties Sotheby’s International Realty who is “secretly involved” at Margo Moore Interiors. “Dad is our backbone here,” Megan says. “He does our window displays. He loves going down on the buying trips with us to New York or Atlanta or going antiquing, or driving my mother to a client’s house and just wandering around. They’re a dynamic duo.”
When Megan and her husband first decided to move to Maine, he expressed interest in joining the business as well. But that would have been too much family, Megan says, so instead Carozza went to nursing school and is now the nurse manager of surgical care and endoscopy at Pen Bay Medical Center in Rockport. Married for 13 years, the couple has three-year-old twins: daughter Frankie, named for her father and grandfather, and son Lucca. “There’s something magical about this state, and even more magical about the midcoast; I would never want my children to grow up anywhere else,” Megan says. “The relationships that are made here—people are so open.”
In Maine, in Camden, at home, and at work, Megan is right where she wants to be. “This is my second home,” she says, gesturing around the shop. “Look at these colors. Look at this texture. Look at this beauty. This is inspiration.”