Text: Lauren Gentry Walker
Photos: Laurey Glenn
When interior designer Matthew Bees’s mother called on him to help transform his childhood home, he took on the project with more than a little hesitation. “My father built the house for my family in 1986, and it’s the only home I’ve ever known,” he says.
“Growing up, my mother would often indulge my design whims by allowing me to rearrange entire rooms.” While Bees claims these experiences planted the seeds of his future career in design, he also knew that his mother—like so many Southern mamas—would expect nothing less than exactly what she wanted.
Bees was challenged with creating an abode cozy enough for a person to be comfortable living alone in while also allowing enough space for hosting family, friends, and the occasional party.
He began the project by taking most of the house down to the studs. The dining room ceiling and doorways were raised, windows added, and moldings upgraded. When the time came to address the interiors, Bees asked his mother to make a list of items she wanted to keep before he started his process. “I believe she offered only five things she wanted me to reuse,” he says.
The use of plenty of color was imperative, but the rooms also needed to remain light and airy to keep everything comfortable and livable. “It’s important to weave color from room to room,” says Bees. “I have never liked a stark break from one room to the next.”
The opportunity to apply his hard-earned knowledge and lessons learned to the place where his first design experiments began is a privilege not lost on Bees. The creative collaboration between mother and son resulted in a tailored, beautifully arranged space the duo can be proud of and continue to tweak and perfect together. And when it comes time for Christmas decorations? “My mother loves the holidays, but the décor has always been my responsibility,” says Bees.
The designer begins the festive process by looking for ribbon and other details that match the fabrics and finishes in each of the home’s rooms. His mother has an extensive holiday collection, so Bees loves that they never have the same décor two seasons in a row. He typically begins planning the next round of decorations as the current season’s is being packed away— which is always after Epiphany. This way, most of the items are ready to be displayed as the boxes are taken out of storage. “Things are always moving, joining new collections, and being presented in different ways,” he says. “What would be the fun in the same look every year?”