Expert Advice: Denise McGaha

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Dallas-based designer Denise McGaha knows how to go from zero to finished in ANY time frame. She’s here to share a few of her secrets with you today. You can find more of Denise’s inspiration and advice on her popular blog, “Designed with a Deadline.” xo, Tobi

Before I ever started my design firm, I had a career in fashion….sort of. I started out in my twenties at world famous Neiman-Marcus in Dallas. What a coup! This small town girl got a job in the big city and I was going to work for the amazing Neiman Marcus department store. I had a lot to learn.

I was an assistant buyer for a few years before moving into the customer loyalty and marketing department. My boss at the time was known for creating the first customer loyalty program in retail. He terrified me. I stood a few inches taller and I surely outweighed him, but oh my, was he a presence. The best advice he ever gave me was to follow your gut and know what you are doing is important. He never apologized for his point of view and his confidence in me inspired me to open my interior design firm and later create what I call “Designed with a Deadline”.

We have stayed in touch through the years and he tells me that I will never be able to work for a “company” again. I have been spoiled by the taste of entrepreneurship.  Thanks BP….you are right!

So, here is where the advice comes in…..When I began the project that inspired “Designed with a Deadline,” I was more than nervous. My years of “having a plan” and implementing it (this time without the support of a big boss) meant I HAD to follow my gut. My best advice to my clients comes from my own experience. I completed the design of our first “Designed with a Deadline” project in only 4 days. And once the decisions were made, I never wavered. When people told me I was crazy to try, I never wavered. When contractors scoffed at my selections and said no one had ever done anything like this, I never wavered. When told we couldn’t possibly achieve what I had designed, I found a way and…you guessed it, I never wavered.

The result was a showhouse built in a large tent, in sixteen days, and a look like no other.

One I am quite proud to call my own, and a testament to “Designed with a Deadline.”

There were clear acrylic open shelves on the walls. Leather covered cabinetry hardware.

A bright yellow range. A fabric-covered backsplash with large glass panels floating above it.  And that’s only the kitchen…  In. Sixteen. Days.


You can remodel your kitchen or bath, furnish your living room or master bedroom, or build a new home on a deadline with two things:

1). A timeline that you and those supporting you (contractors, interior designers, architects) commit to achieving.


2). The guts to never waver from your vision.

Since that day, I have delivered many projects in a short amount of time. From 30 days to 120 days, we have designed and installed single rooms and full-home remodels and new home designs. All “Designed with a Deadline.”

Without the advice and example from a certain man with a long-standing vision for delivering something that didn’t yet exist, I may not have had the courage to begin the path I have taken. I hope that I can also give some of you that courage today.  It can be done….on a deadline. I am proof!


Denise McGaha Interiors /

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9 Responses to Expert Advice: Denise McGaha

  1. Franki Parde says:

    You ARE a “wizard-ess!” That back splash OMG!! Stick to your wand!! franki

  2. What great advice … and a spectacular result in Denise’s show house!!

  3. JudyBelyeu says:

    Keep up the good work. Never give up on your dreams.

  4. Love it Denise! Great advice, and that drop dead gorgeous showhouse proves your vision. Congrats 🙂

  5. Tobi;

    I love reading your blog as it is full of energy, creativity and color. I never know what to expect each day.

    I also want to say thank you for this particular post as Denise’s words “commit” and “never waver from your vision” were really inspiring. Those words moved me to set deadlines for what I want to achieve over the next few weeks, months and years.

    Thanks again for sharing!


  6. paige ward says:

    Great series! Love meeting all the experts.

  7. Denise, what a wonderful kitchen , especially the pops of color! Your advice is spot- on! I recently filled a gut renovation from the walls out in 4 months. Having a unchangeable deadline ( visiting in- laws) to finish on time. Wish I knew how to post a picture. You’d love my dear Vivienne- she’s gorg!

  8. Thanks everyone for your sweet comments and thanks so much Tobi for allowing me to share with your readers. Dont give up and you may even surprise yourself….i truly did!

  9. Chelsea says:

    Would love to learn more about the flooring used! It’s awesome, but I cannot find sources or any other info on it? Help!