Many of their loyal fans and viewers are asking themselves how they manage to juggle it all, and Shea has the perfect answer – “it’s a constant dance”. The McGee’s aren’t about splitting their time evenly, but about focusing all of their energy on the task at hand at any given moment. Keep reading to learn about this power couple’s incredible love story and how they built their home makeover empire.
Shea’s Brother Introduced Her to Syd McGee
When Shea McGee made the journey to Utah from Texas to help her brother move to a new apartment in 2006, her brother warned her: don't fall for his roommate Syd. But fate had other plans! As soon as she arrived and saw him in that parking lot, it was like love at first sight.
The feeling seemed to be mutual; Syd noticed right away how well their music tastes matched and asked boldly for Shea's number despite having an audience of family and friends. After just one date together the next day, these two were inseparable; now known all around our TVs with their "Dream Home Makeover" show on Netflix. They got married in 2008.
Their First Apartment
Shortly after their beautiful wedding in Utah, Shea and Syd made the move to California and rented their first-ever apartment in Laguna Beach. They were both in their early twenties and had very little savings, so they settled for a one-bedroom apartment that you would never believe belonged to world-famous design pros.
Shea remembers that it wasn't much, but it was theirs and they loved it. The design queen could only afford second-hand Ikea furniture and resorted to painting the few walls of the place herself. The McGees explain that the apartment was so small that if you stood at the front door, you could see the entire place without moving an inch.
They Came From Different Backgrounds
Syd and Shea grew up in very different places and with very different life philosophies. Syd was raised in a very laidback California family that always told him he could do anything, and not necessarily need a college degree to achieve it. His family and friends were open-minded about the fact that success wasn’t necessarily a result of years of studying. They encouraged Syd to follow his dreams and just do what he wanted.
As for Shea, she had a more conservative upbringing in Utah. Shea was taught from an early age that going to college and getting a degree was essential for success later in life – and that’s exactly what she did. What’s amazing is that despite their differing views about life, Shea and Syd made it work.
Neither of the McGees Studied Interior Design
Syd and Shea McGee may be two of the hottest names in interior design, but shockingly neither one has a degree from an art or design school or any background in the field. It was only after studying Public Relations at Brigham Young University that Shea finally mustered up enough courage (thanks largely to Syd) to pursue her dream.
Despite working full-time in public relations, she couldn't contain her passion for decorating — obsessively pouring over design magazines during what little free time she had left. Now, all these years later, they are leading forces in the modern home makeover industry thanks to their hit Netflix show "Dream Home Makeover".
Syd Encouraged Shea
After some loving encouragement and inspiration from Syd, Shea decided to dedicate most of her time to interior design and enrolled in some introductory classes at a community college. When she realized that it was possible for her to test out the industry without leaving her job, Shea got the idea to start her own design studio.
Although she may wish sometimes that she had dived into interiors earlier, enrolling in school helped hone other skills necessary for business growth which were vital when starting up — like promoting herself and marketing savvy — which paid off as discussed with Guy Kawasaki on his podcast "Remarkable People".
A Bold Decision
While Shea was busy with her design classes and PR job, Syd was working long hours at a digital marketing startup. It had taken him six years and a lot of hard work to develop his startup, and he suddenly realized he was no longer happy. His time with tech and marketing had come to an end, and so he made a bold decision and sold his company.
Of course, this meant he was unemployed, and now it was up to Shea to provide for the household. Being the sole provider for their family really did a number on Shea, and Syd started to realize it.
The Beginning of Studio McGee
In 2013, Syd realized he needed to step up, and together with the amount and dedication Shea showed for her new design dream, he decided to join her. They dove into work and gave it their all to open Studio McGee, which finally happened in 2014. Syd remembers "...we had our 5-week-old baby and didn't really know what we were going to do.” But taking the brave first step clearly led to big rewards.
After a lot of hard work, sleepless nights, and serious financial and emotional struggles, Studio McGee flourished into an internationally renowned interior design firm. And it all started with one Instagram account filled with photos from their own home!
The Stress Almost Broke Them
Syd and Shea worked tirelessly to make Studio McGee into a profitable business, and it wasn’t a walk in the park. To succeed, they had to make sacrifices — like cooking all their own meals instead of eating out, saying goodbye to gym memberships and cable bills; anything that wasn't an absolute necessity had to go. They were on a strict budget, which mostly went into the business.
But despite the efforts, money took a while to start coming in, and they went through some tough times. Finally, after a difficult year of financial struggles in California, the McGee family made the bold move to return home to Utah. Feeling there was no other way out, Shea and her partner let go of their dream for stability to start over with Studio McGee.
The Toughest Years
In the years following their move to Utah, the McGees were tested both financially and emotionally — but they kept holding on despite it all and made it through. Shea, in an interview years later, said that money problems can be enough to break two people. However, she also acknowledges that those same moments brought them closer together, as they worked through the hard times, all the while raising their baby daughter.
With strength and dedication driving every decision, the McGees slowly worked through their problems. It's clear that hard times can either make or break a couple and fortunately, these two made it through the tunnel and achieved incredible success.
One Big Happy Family
Syd and Shea’s daughters, Wren and Ivy McGee, are also the stars of Netflix's hit show "Dream Home Makeover". As the McGees continue to help families transform their forever homes, these spirited young girls take every step with them, and they have become an integral part of the team. And as any McGees fan will know, they make work a whole lot more fun.
So, it would only make sense they would add more members to the family. In July 2021, the McGees welcomed their third daughter, Margot, meaning "pearl" in French. As we saw in little Margot’s debut for the show’s third season on Netflix, this pearl has got quite the character and adorable personality.
Finding the Right Balance
The McGees have cracked the code: running a business is all about numbers. But when Shea and Syd McGee started out, their roles were not always so clear-cut; now, however, Syd’s firmly in charge of finances – from masterful spreadsheets to meticulous budgeting – and Shea’s the design guru.
Shea explains that people usually think it’s Syd who designs, but he is actually the CEO of Studio McGee. These two have certainly come a long way since their business partnership began. Despite the challenges of being both spouses AND joint entrepreneurs, they’ve discovered that clear roles — with minimal overlap — work best for them.
Syd and Shea Know Their Roles
While usually crackling with creativity in Studio McGee endeavors, Shea takes charge when it comes to selecting patterns or picking out beautiful paint colors while her husband finds his niche elsewhere. Sure, Syd and Shea are honest that there are still bad days, but these two know how to acknowledge each other's strengths and respect one another's boundaries.
It seems simple but obvious – the worst thing for a partnership is to micromanage. Although it can sometimes be challenging, having trust that your co-worker (and spouse) is doing their job in the best way possible is the only way to successfully move forward.
Not a Fan of the 80s
If you're dreaming of the perfect home makeover, then Shea McGee is your source for inspiration. However, don't expect to find any 80s flair in her designs; she has firmly declared her opinion of that decade — tacky architecture and tasteless design.
It makes sense if you just flip through some photos of the Mcgee's social media accounts. It’s easy to tell they have a more neutral style and loud, flashy colors aren’t really their thing. So, we guess it’s time to say goodbye to your shoulder-padded sofas and floral curtains, although you can definitely keep your Whitney Houston and A-ha records.
Drawing Inspiration From Films
Every great designer needs inspiration, and Shea McGee is no exception. Instead of drawing from the usual suspects, however, she prefers to get her ideas by watching classic Nancy Meyers films like "The Parent Trap," "The Holiday" and "What Women Want."
When it comes to designing spaces though, there's more than meets the eye; each room expertly blends traditional elements with modern design techniques for an effortless balance that always adds tons of value. We mean who wouldn’t want a Hamptons house like the one Diane Keaton has in “Something’s Gotta Give”? Or Cameron Diaz’s adorable countryside accomodation in “The Holiday”?
“Dream Home Makeover” Isn’t Their First TV Show
The McGees may have made their mark with "Dream Home Makeover," but it definitely wasn’t the first time they were filmed for reality television. When Studio McGee was in its early stages, they were approached by a production company that wanted to do a show solely about them and their family. Of course, they were flattered and accepted immediately. But they soon got disenchanted with TV.
Producers asked if Syd could pretend to be the studio’s contractor — something both he (and viewers) would quickly learn was far from his area of expertise. He later admitted in an interview that he could put up a towel rack and it would stay up, but that was pretty much it.
Starting Their YouTube Channel
The series about their life never aired, since the McGees realized that their freedom of expression was more important to them than fame from fake storylines created by producers. So, they decided to do it their way and stayed away from TV altogether.
Instead, they decided to start their own YouTube channel in 2016 and showcase their real-life story and design adventures online. Their fan base and viewership quickly grew, and so did their social media followers. This slowly started to get the attention of a certain streaming giant, and one day, Syd and Shea received a call that would change their lives.
Their Claim to Fame
The McGees were happy with their simple YouTube channel and had pretty much decided that’s as public as they wanted to go. Until, of course, they got a call from Netflix and were offered an opportunity too good to pass up; "You don't say 'no' to a meeting with Netflix!", remembers Shea.
Finally, in October 2020, the now Emmy-nominated show “Dream Home Makeover” premiered on Netflix. And we can certainly say that Syd and Shea always make sure it’s worth watching — no matter at which part of the episode you tune in. What’s more, considering they already had a loyal fan base from their YouTube days, “Dream Home Makeover” started with incredible ratings from the very first episode.
YouTube Prepared Them for Fame
Syd and Shea McGee have come a long way from their humble YouTube beginnings back in 2016. In fact, the success of their Netflix show "Dream Home Makeover" can actually be attributed to them having had an existing audience when launching it. And according to Syd himself, this also helped him become comfortable on camera!
Thanks to that prior experience with video content, they knew exactly what viewers wanted — making sure each episode was as entertaining as possible. The McGees explained that they never aspired to be celebrities. However, their skills as YouTube content creators inadvertently prepared them for television. By the time they filmed the pilot episode of “Dream Home Makeover”, Syd and Shea were very comfortable in front of a camera.
The Set of the Show Was an Unfinished Basement
Shea and Syd McGee may not look like the basement-dwelling type, but don't get fooled — that chic living room with its cozy couches and tasteful décor where they do interviews and share behind-the-scenes anecdotes? That's actually their unfinished basement!
The McGees chose their unfinished basement as a set for the show because an empty space to work with gave the production team the freedom was able to build the set exactly like they wanted – and it ended up looking amazing. And now that they recently finished renovating, the basement has officially become what the McGees call “the party zone” — complete with a gym, game area AND skate ramp built by Syd. Talk about awesome upgrades.
A Different Approach to Home Design
Apart from being the dynamic duo behind “Dream Home Makeover”, Syd and Shea have something that makes them stand out in the interior design world. They both have a passion for making home décor as beautiful as possible all while still ensuring it's accessible to any budget. They’ve taken people’s wildest dreams of the perfect abode from concept to reality, with budgets from anywhere between $15,000 and $2 million.
That’s a pretty wide range! Shea and Syd believe that a home should be tailored to each person’s unique style and needs; after all, the main goal of their studio is to make their clients’ “dreams come true”, which is literally their business motto.
The Next Big Thing
After rising to success with their design studio and appearance on Netflix, the McGees hit another homerun when department store giant Target gave them a call. Target was interested in featuring their design collection, and in 2020 they teamed up with Threshold for an exclusive collection that quickly sold out soon after its launch.
Shea beamed in an interview about the amazing response to their collection. She said that she stayed up all night just to see the first glimpse of their collaboration. She continued that she and Syd were completely blown away by the audience's feedback. After signing a multiyear deal promising more collections from the power couple, fans everywhere eagerly await what new designs are coming next.
The Wonders of Instagram
To this day, Shea always credits Instagram with playing a huge part in her design journey and ultimate success. When she first stepped onto the Instagram scene, it was more like a ghost town than an online hotspot – remember, this was the mid-2000s.
But she embraced this barren landscape and became one of the visionaries who saw potential in Instagram's untapped power for marketing her interior design business. Taking notes from fashion designers on social media, Shea slowly but surely grew into a bonafide design guru. She even got booked for an interview on Guy Kawasaki’s “Remarkable People” podcast.
Learning How to Make the Most of Social Media
Social media might have many downsides, but the fact remains it has become one of the most effective ways to market a business nowadays. And the McGees are well aware of this fact.
They have made a huge impact on the design community since they started posting photos of their own home with tips and tricks to recreate the spaces.
Shea worked hard, sharpening her photography skills to make sure each post was Insta-perfect — an effort that certainly paid off. Now with over 3 million followers under their belt, Studio McGee's reach and business extends much farther than just Utah. They have projects today in L.A. and New York, and they attribute that completely to Instagram's reach.
The Hardships Were Worth It
As with any new business, the hours and hard work are grueling for the first few years, and the McGees were no exception. Long before “Dream Home Makeover” had a home at Netflix, Syd and Shea went through a lot of hardships in order to get their Studio McGee business off the ground.
They took on every single project that came their way, and Syd said in an interview that they were agreeable to pretty much everything. They often worked 16 or 17 hours a day just to get their studio’s name out and get as many client referrals as possible. And it certainly paid off – big time.
An Impressive Net Worth
Shea and Syd McGee have certainly made a name for themselves in the home-improvement world. With a hit reality TV show, a collection at Target, individual renovation projects, and more, their business endeavors have ended up giving the McGees a whopping net worth of $5 million.
With this success comes overwhelming fanbase support that we're sure will only amplify as time goes on. For these two entrepreneurs, taking the plunge turned out greater than anything they could've ever imagined. During her interview about their big break, Shea exclaimed that they never could have dreamed of achieving all that they have.
The McGees Have a NY Times Bestselling Book
Design gurus Syd and Shea McGee had no idea that their personal motto and Studio McGee tagline, 'Make Life Beautiful', would lead to the title of their first book – which was an instant New York Times Bestseller. The McGees thought it was a perfect title for their memoir, since it detailed how they pursued their passion despite uncertain paths and hardships along the way.
With this honest portrayal, this couple wanted the world to know that there is far more to their story than what is seen on TV and social media. As Shea beautifully put it, they wanted to share the messy middle of their journey and encourage others to pursue their passions even if the path isn't smooth.
Sharing Some Hard Truths
Every honest memoir has to talk about life’s hard parts, and the McGees’ bestselling book does just that. In their “Make Life Beautiful” book, they talk about the time when they were a young couple so eager to accomplish their dreams that they nearly went bankrupt more than once.
They go into detail about the many times that they felt disheartened and without hope when they couldn’t make ends meet while raising two baby girls. Shea talks about having to cut down on groceries, living off cereal, not being able to pay the bills, and feeling like giving it all up. But they stayed strong and somehow managed to keep going.
Planning Their Next Book
Writing their first book wasn’t an easy feat, considering the McGees have an extremely busy schedule. They started to write the memoir during the filming of their show’s first season, and it soon proved to be impossible. Shea admits that the only way they managed to make some progress and finish the book was because the pandemic hit, and they were stuck at home and focused solely on their writing.
But it seems the stressful journey didn’t deter Shea and Syd from wanting to write a second book. They explain that “Make Life Beautiful” is a memoir of their lives so far, but the next exciting chapter of their story is yet to be written.
Design Runs in the Family
As is to be expected, Shea and Syd’s daughters inherited their creative genes, and are also quite interested in design. Shea has often said in interviews that her daughters have become pros at decorating their personal spaces. Shea proudly explained that they make their beds with care and add a decorative pillow or sheet – and that they’ve become so attentive to the details.
Apparently, Syd is the worst bedmaker in the McGee household! With his three young daughters beating him by a mile! There’s no doubt that if these girls get into the design industry, they’re going to skyrocket to fame and success like their parents.
How They Make It Work
If you’re looking for any advice on how to run a successful business with your spouse and have a happy married life, the McGees would be the people to go to. Working together has definitely taken a toll, but Syd and Shea both explain how they’ve made it work.
Syd explains that they just took turns believing in each other, always lifting Shea up when she felt hopeless and exhausted. Whenever she doubted herself, Syd was there to remind her of her talent and encourage her to keep creating. Likewise, Shea would always tell Syd that together, they can achieve anything, and that would clear any doubt or fear from his mind. These two seem to have it figured out.
The Fifth Year Was the Hardest
Amongst the many tough times the McGees have faced together, they both agree that their fifth year of marriage was the hardest. They had their first baby after a very scary emergency c-section, Syd left his job, and they didn’t know what their plan was.
They were deciding if they should sell their house in order to fund the launch of Studio McGee, had a newborn baby, and could not figure out what to do. Shea recounts that they were terrified and doubtful of taking such a big step, and they felt lost for a long time. Clearly, this weighed on their marriage and caused emotional strain. But they took a huge risk, and everything turned out better than they could have ever imagined.
A Beautiful Tradition
It’s already become clear that Syd and Shea McGee are not your typical couple, so it’s not surprising these two have a special tradition for celebrating their anniversaries. Many couples exchange gifts or plan fancy dinners, but the McGees always take a trip somewhere new.
Shea says that she and Syd love discovering new places, explaining that she never knows where they’re escaping off to next, but that’s the part of the adventure she most loves. These two have rented camper vans for cross-country road trips, gone hiking in beautiful mountains, and swam at stunning beaches – thankfully all is documented on their lovely Instagram.
Making Time for Each Other
We all know that running a business with your spouse has to be very challenging – making sure you have a profitable business through hard work and trying to maintain the romance and having time for each other is no easy balance to master. But the McGees seem to have perfected this through the years.
Syd confirms that it’s easy to slip into the habit of letting your business take priority over the relationship. He also explains how Shea and he have managed to avoid this by working very hard on making time for each other. No matter how swamped with work they might be, the McGees have scheduled date nights and trips that no amount of work would take priority over.
The Best Relationship Advice
Yet another thing we love about the McGees is that they keep it simple. When giving out advice to other couples that might be striving to balance business with personal time, they simply encourage people to make time for date nights no matter how busy they are. And while you’re there, don’t talk about business.
It seems the secret to these lovebirds’ success in marriage and business is to properly compartmentalize their time and activities. Being able to focus your undivided attention on what you’re doing at a specific moment is not as simple as it sounds and is definitely a practice that takes time. That is why the McGees are truly what we would call couple goals.
The Stories Behind the Names
It’s no secret that Shea and Syd love nature, which can clearly be seen through their designs and clean styles. So, when it came to picking a name for their daughters, it’s no surprise they got their inspiration from nature. Their first daughter, Wren, gets her name from the beautiful bird, and Shea says it couldn’t be more fitting – they say that she’s always been delicate and tiny like a little bird.
Their second, Ivy, is not only a plant but was also Shea’s great-grandmother’s name, so there’s an extra special connection there. Their third, Margot, is the French word for “pearl”, which is also an element of nature, and Shea says the name couldn’t be more perfect, because she really is a pearl.
Opening Their First Storefront
For the first four years of Studio McGee, Syd and Shea were building their portfolio with renovations of their own home and mainly doing design work for friends, family, and neighbors. When they started to create their own design collection, they did e-commerce and sold everything online. But in 2018, they finally opened their first store!
Located in California’s beautiful Costa Mesa neighborhood, the shop is filled with gorgeous designer collections and styles for home décor. Shea explains that the previous owner of the shop contacted them directly, since she had known the McGees for years – they used to shop there all the time.
The Long Journey Home
Considering their line of business, the McGees obviously have a huge, astonishing home that is decorated to perfection. But, this wasn’t always the case, and creating their dream home took a lot of hard work and many years. At first, when they were starting with Studio McGee, Syd and Shea used to work out of a spare room in their tiny apartment.
As they kept designing luxurious homes and mansions that were worth millions, they moved from one rental apartment to the next for over five years. Every bit of their earnings went into the business – now that’s true commitment!
Giving It All Up
Having to constantly uproot their lives and move from one rental apartment to the next wasn’t the only big sacrifice Syd and Shea made for their business. As they explain in their memoir, “Make Life Beautiful”, the couple had to sell practically everything they owned – including Syd’s truck, surfboards, bicycles, and some of Shea’s furniture.
They also had to stop going out to restaurants, cancel their gym memberships, their cable, and basically everything that wasn’t essential. Syd explains that Shea was his role model, staying awake up to late hours of the night, juggling tending to their first daughter Wren, meeting with clients, and curating their Instagram posts. She definitely sounds like a superwoman.
Building Their Dream Home
After years of financial struggles, planning, and hard work, the McGees finally built their dream home in 2019, in Lehi, Utah. And as you can imagine, every single room is breathtaking – from the astonishing kitchen to the luxurious master bedrooms, and even the laundry room!
Shea and Syd blended styles to create a gorgeous mix of wood and marble with minimalist designs to create the perfect space. They have a lush, green backyard where their girls play, and Shea does gardening. An amazing party room where Syd has a skate ramp, a huge pool, and a music and arts & crafts room. What more could one ask for in a home?
Celebrating 14 Years of Marriage
In October of 2022, Syd and Shea celebrated 14 years of marriage! Shea posted a gorgeous photo of Syd and her holding hands, walking out of the front door of their Utah mansion. They couldn’t look happier, and their more than 3 million followers seem to be equally as happy for them.
The congratulatory comments poured in, with thousands of people wishing them a happy anniversary and all the best of luck ahead. Many also wrote words of admiration for their marriage and the fact that they have not only managed to have a beautiful relationship for over a decade, but run an extremely successful business as well.
Adapting to the Ever-Changing Internet
One of the things about depending on the internet and social media for such a large part of your business is the fact that you must learn to constantly adapt. Social media platforms like Instagram are constantly changing and updating their algorithms, which means that Syd and Shea have to learn about any new changes to keep their business going.
Since social media was their primary source of media, content, and customers, they quickly learned that they had to adjust. The McGees are aware that failure to adjust means failure to grow and therefore bring in profits. Smartly enough, this power couple applied this adaptation to change to other aspects of their lives.
Change Is the Only Constant
The fact that they are constantly adapting to their social media platform updates has also come in handy when it comes to the McGees business. They started as a design studio, and as the years went on and their goals evolved, they became a business that focused on design and décor products.
This meant having to change operation strategies, teams, functionality, and how the McGees thought about everything. Syd maintains that you can complain about change and wish it didn’t happen, or you can lean into it and run with it. This has definitely been one of the philosophies that has led them to success.
An Important Trick of the Trade
As CEO of such a successful business, Syd McGee has a few tricks up his sleeve, and he is kind enough to share them with the world. Amongst all his pearls of wisdom, there is one that is key: “At first, always say yes to everything, and then say no to most things”, says Syd. He goes on to explain that when you’re starting a business, you need every client you can get.
At the beginning of Studio McGee, Syd would say yes to every new client and contract, because they need every last dime. But after a while, when things started to pick up, he realized they needed to start turning down jobs because they were about to burn out.
Understanding the Importance of a Team
Another very important part of any business is building the right team. Syd and Shea point out that it is crucial to know each and every team member’s strengths and faults, as well as to understand that there are people who will stay with the company for decades and adapt and change accordingly. However, there are people who will perform a very important job for a short period of time and phase out with any big company changes – and that’s fine.
Shea explains that making decisions around this fact is hard, especially when you’re a tight-knit company like theirs. For a family-run business, it must be very hard to see a team member go, but it’s crucial to accept this and move on.
Staying in Sync
One of the hardest things about managing a team is understanding that sometimes people’s careers and job goals are not in sync with the company. Syd and Shea explain that they’ve had to come to terms with this reality many times, but it's vital to their success.
The McGees say that having sometimes hard but honest conversations is the key to successful management. And considering they both have degrees and years of professional experience in the field of communications and public relations, this must have come fairly naturally to them. Of course, that doesn’t mean it can still be very tough at times.
Learning to Not Micromanage
A common mistake made by people who started their own businesses is micromanagement. After all, they did start off being responsible for every single task in the company and learning to change this mindset and trust other people to do their jobs can be hard. The McGees continue to explain that the secret is to employ people who are better at doing a specific job than they are.
Syd is honest about how hard this is for him at times. He says that sometimes it's easy to hand tasks off to other people, and sometimes it conflicts with your ego and is more of a struggle.
They Do Not Watch Home Improvement Shows
Ironically enough, these reality TV stars don’t like watching Home Makeover shows. You’d think that they would draw inspiration or see them with different eyes, but it’s actually quite the opposite. It seems that after becoming such professionals at designing new spaces, Shea and Syd can’t help but be critical every time they watch a home improvement show.
Shea and Syd’s fans and followers often compare “Dream Home Makeover” with Chip and Joanna Gaines’ show “Fixer Upper”, but Shea has made it clear she very rarely watches the show. Honestly, it makes sense – if you spend your entire day renovating houses, the last thing you would want is to get home and watch a TV show about it.
How They Handle Competition
When it comes to reality TV shows, home makeovers seem to be at the forefront of every channel. The industry has become so big that there’s even an entire television channel focused on home improvement – HGTV. As if that wasn’t enough, every streaming platform offers at least one home improvement show, so it’s safe to say that the competition is intense.
When asked how they handle so much competition and manage to keep their ratings up, Syd and Shea simply explain that they always focus on the work. Despite how challenging it might get, they constantly remind each other that the work is most important.
Maintaining a Successful Instagram Community
Another feat that the McGees have slowly mastered is keeping a solid, ever–growing Instagram community – something quite difficult in modern times. Shea explains that consistency is everything; posting every day, responding to comments and direct messages, and making sure you are always engaged with the community.
The McGees have also realized that following the right people is equally important. Engaging and learning from other designers, renovators, artists, real estate agents, and any other account that might be relevant to their business, is a huge part of their business’ success. Syd says not a day goes by when Shea doesn’t make at least one post on their account – now that’s constancy!
Design Is Always on Their Mind
One may call it a blessing, and others a curse, but design is always on the McGees’ mind. Shea, especially, explains that she is always thinking about design and how to better a space – whenever she walks into a restaurant, a store, or someone else’s home.
She says that it’s almost impossible to turn her design brain off, always paying attention to small details and getting inspiration for her next project. It’s taken some time, but she’s admitted to finally being able to control herself whenever it comes to offering an opinion about design. We bet that once she starts talking though, it’s impossible for her to stop!
A Combination of Talent and Hard Work
Shea McGee has often been asked about her keen eye for design; does she think it was a natural-born talent or something she’s acquired over time? She always replies that it’s a combination of both, all the while explaining that the technical side of design can only be learned through years of hard work and experience.
While it is necessary to have a natural instinct for style, and some taste, the intense and grueling process that goes into designing every space is something one can only learn from constantly doing. As opposed to what home improvement shows look like, design is much more complicated than snapping your fingers and suddenly having a million-dollar-looking kitchen.
The Importance of a Day Job
For many, the McGees’ story is inspiring because they’re the perfect example of two people who started out with nothing and risked it all to achieve their dream. Syd and Shea have often been asked if the only way to reach one’s dreams is to put everything on the line and just go for it.
But contrary to what many people would expect, their answer is always the same: keep your day job and carve out time for your passions, and eventually, that passion can become your full-time job. If there’s one thing that Syd and Shea always stress, it is the importance of having a day job to never feel overwhelmed by the financial risks or problems that starting a new business may bring.
Starting a Product Business
Syd and Shea went from designing clients’ homes to creating an entire product line, and people often want to know how they made the shift. The McGees realized that design offered a scalable profit to a certain degree, and they needed something that could grow exponentially.
Creating product collections offered them a way to do that, and with time, these collections have come to represent a huge part of their business profits. Not only do they have their own storefront but are also a staple at every Target store in the country. Shea is always thinking of new products, and Syd is always thinking of how to sell them – the perfect match!
Having a Professional Photographer Is Key
You would think that, since they post every day, Shea and Syd take their own Instagram photos. Well, you’d be wrong, since they actually have a professional photographer for that. When asked why they decided to hire a photographer for their social media posts, Syd and Shea funnily explain that it was a solution to their fighting.
Apparently, every time Syd took a photo of Shea, she’d get mad because it came out terrible and he had to do several more takes. This usually ended up snowballing into a fight, so they decided to call a truce and call in an expert. And voila! Problem solved.
It’s no secret that the McGees’ preferred social media platform is Instagram, but that doesn’t mean they haven’t considered, or even tried out, some other options. For example, Shea maintains a Pinterest account that is constantly updated with photos of home renovations, and it’s been a great marketing tool for their business. They also have a blog on their website on which they share personal stories, tips and tricks for DIY design, and many other musings.
Then, of course, there’s YouTube – where everything started. One thing the McGees point out is the need for entirely different content on each platform since the users and followers on each are different and expect to see different things. As for TikTok, many of their fans have urged them to try it out, but they have yet to open an account.
Shea Brags About Her Hubby
Shea is always quick to explain Syd’s vital role in their business. Shea explained that often people think that Syd only does numbers and budgeting, but it’s so much more than that. She brags about her husband being an amazing CEO because he always makes everyone feel at home. His laidback style makes the team and their clients comfortable, and excited about new projects.
His positivism and energy make people trust him, and that makes it really easy for their clients and employees to talk to Syd about anything. The McGees know that having someone charming and energetic at the helm of any enterprise is as important as the products that are put out.
Syd and Shea Are Mormons
Few people know that Syd and Shea are Mormons, as evidenced by many clues from their backgrounds. Shea attended Brigham Young University, which is a Mormon-affiliated institution, and she also attended a Mormon church growing up in Utah.
Although Syd’s early life in California suggests he was mostly atheist, there are several clues from his behavior on his Netflix show that suggest they have a Mormon lifestyle. Whatever their faith might be, the McGees seem to be down-to-earth, hardworking people who are committed to each other, their family, and their business. So, whatever they’re doing behind closed doors, it definitely seems to be working.
The Netflix Stars’ Wedding
Another detail that seems like a pretty obvious indication of Syd and Shea’s faith, was their wedding. In 2008, the couple got married in a Mormon Temple in Salt Lake City, Utah, and had a gorgeous reception. They rented out a barn in the Utah town of Mapleton and had a huge reception with family and friends.
For those who don’t know, Salt Lake City Temple is a temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in Temple Square. This place has quite a history since it was the fourth temple erected in Utah since the exodus of the Mormons from Illinois, back in the 1800s.
The Advantages of Working with Netflix
As is to be expected, having your own show on Netflix will demand at least 95% of your time – and that’s exactly what happened to Syd and Shea. However, starring in the show brought some unexpected advantages and positive effects.
The fact that they had to spend so much time focusing on the show meant that their team at Studio McGee had to get used to working without them. This caused the team to get comfortable making tough decisions and running the business sometimes, which in turn has been very beneficial for the McGees. So apart from the millions they’re making from the show, their other business has also significantly improved.
The Second Season Came Out Almost Immediately
2020 was a tough year for TV lovers, as their favorite shows from Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming platforms had to pause or completely cancel filming due to the pandemic. This left many viewers in limbo, either stuck re-watching old shows or desperately waiting for the return of their beloved series. The struggle was real.
But “Dream Home Makeover” was one of the few shows that managed to avoid putting their fans through the excruciating wait. It turns out that Syd and Shea McGee had already filmed season 2 by the time the first season ended. As soon as January 1st 2021 came around, the second season of the Netflix hit show premiered, much to the delight of viewers.
Shea’s Goal for the Show
Not only does she create home transformations with unmatched style and skill, but Shea also prioritizes “working on real homes for real people” – it’s not just for entertainment and profit. In a recent interview, Shea explained that her design firm is responsible for creating dream homes all over the country. Unlike other home shows that create homes just for television, the McGees are the real deal.
Shea’s number one goal has always been her clients’ happiness and making sure they’re satisfied with the results. She stresses the importance of never pushing a design choice on her clients because, at the end of the day, they’re the ones who will live in their homes looking at those choices every day.
Syd and His Doughnuts
Making it big in the world of reality TV is no easy feat. But one thing is for sure, being easy on the eyes definitely helps. Just look at couples like Chip and Joanna Gaines, who give “Dream Home Makeover" a run for its money in the looks department. While Shea and Syd are very good-looking as well, many may wonder how Syd manages to stay that way while eating so many doughnuts every day!
If you're a fan of the hit show, you've probably noticed Syd's fanatic love for doughnuts. But don't fret, he's not indulging in them every day — there's a strategy behind it. Syd says that when it's game time, he goes hard and doesn't hold back. So, the next time you reach for that doughnut, remember — it's all about timing.
Shea Wants to Make People’s Day Better
The McGees’ design business was founded on the idea of bringing clients' dream homes to life. Now, with "Dream Home Makeover" the couple is doing it in front of a worldwide audience. But Shea's ultimate goal extends beyond just creating beautiful spaces. As she shared in an interview, she wants to provide a bright spot in people's days. And we have a feeling she's succeeding.
The show isn't just about escaping reality; the couple wants to help people unleash their inner designer and become more creative. With their guidance, clients can constantly update their cozy and stylish living space, which will always make them feel happier.
The Show Is Totally Unscripted
As we all know by now, reality TV is often very far from actual reality. Most reality TV shows are actually scripted, so it makes it quite rare for fans and viewers to be able to watch the true behind-the-scenes of their favorite stars. However, this is not the case when it comes to “Dream Home Makeover” – per Shea and Syd’s request, the show is completely unscripted.
Shea has often said she feels lucky to share what their actual lives and work process have been like. Syd has explained that the show is a true representation of how they communicate with clients, work with contractors, and collaborate with their team. That definitely sets them apart from any other show.
Shea’s Design Style Has Evolved – A Lot
Shea McGee's design skills are truly unique; in just one episode, she can transform even the worst of spaces with ease. But, as a designer, Shea’s style has evolved with the years. The design guru has admitted that at first, she wasn't experienced enough to pay attention to textures.
And of course, there was always the issue of budget, which meant Shea had to adapt and find creative ways to design, which in turn led to her learning new tricks of the trade. Also, Shea has always been a huge fan of vintage furniture, but early on in her career, her clients didn't quite catch the craze. So, she’s learned to broaden her love and expertise for other design styles.
The Show’s Budget Has Raised Questions
When it comes to home renovation shows, there is more than enough to choose from. Whether you prefer watching "Fixer Upper," or "Love It or List It," you are guaranteed to find a show you love. But despite the variety in their formats, all these shows have one thing in common: adhering to a budget is crucial.
Undoubtedly, "Dream Home Makeover" is no exception, but one thing has raised curiosity among viewers – noticing the McGees usually work with much bigger budgets than other home makeover shows. Most of their clients seem to be very well-off. However, Shea clarifies that the cost projections are not as dissimilar from those of other shows. She says that the budgets may sound more extravagant than other TV budgets, but that's simply because they are transparently honest.
Family Is Everything to the McGees
Although Syd and Shea are the primary focus of the show, their daughters, Ivy, Wren, and Margot also make appearances. This is a deliberate decision by the McGees, as they want viewers to get to know them as a family. Shea is honest that their business is closely intertwined with their family life.
And honestly, in today's world, isn't that the case for most families? During the show’s first episodes, it was clear that the girls were somewhat distracted by the cameras, as any child would be. However, it didn't take long for them to get comfortable and be themselves again.
The Show Doesn’t Interrupt Their Family Schedule
The fact that Shea and Syd have been so open with their viewers about their family life doesn’t mean filming has interfered with their daughters’ schedule. Ivy, Wren, and Margot live out their lives exactly as they would off-screen, which is another thing that makes the show so authentic.
Whether it’s afterschool activities, a day at the park, baking, or visiting friends or other family members, Ivy, Wren, and Margot never miss out on anything due to their parents’ busy schedules. Now that is truly admirable – most people struggle to keep a schedule even without having to film a major Netflix show.
Shea Encourages DIY Design
“Dream Home Makeover” is undoubtedly great TV for escapism, but when it comes to reality, few people are able to afford to renovate a single room for over $20K. However, Shea has never wanted this to keep people, regardless of their budget, from living in beautiful spaces.
This applies to any living space, regardless of its size. Even if a person is living in a one-room studio, Shea provides tips that can be used anywhere. For example, she is a firm believer that getting rid of clutter and always having some nice-looking baskets around can do wonders for any space.
What the Future Looks Like
With three daughters, a design studio, a Netflix show, and a collection in Target, Syd and Shea’s future looks extremely busy. The McGees are excited about the possibility of a new season for their show on Netflix, although it hasn’t been confirmed.
The couple says that they would love another season of working with their beloved crew and meeting new clients – not to mention adding gorgeous homes to their portfolio. Regardless, the McGees are ready for whatever comes their way, and having one less thing on their very crowded agenda might not be such a bad thing. Whatever it is, the future is bright for these two and their family.