Text: Alice Welsh Doyle
Photos: Brie Williams
In decorating, good things often come to those who wait, especially when they wait for those defining qualities that make for a unique home. “After all, Rome wasn’t built in a day,” says Charlotte interior designer Kathy Smith. “We took the long view in the design and were in no hurry to have it ‘finished’ in that sense.” Smith and one of her favorite clients enjoyed the hunt and pleasure in locating one-of-a-kind finds and arresting accents.
Some of those finds grace the living room, which illustrates how an understated palette can be beautifully engaging with its mix of appointments—dramatic antique coach torches accompany crystal sconces; a multi-faceted large chandelier provides definition in a sitting area; a framed kimono serves as art over a custom sofa; while an impeccably patinaed bench holds court nearby.
In the family room, a color shift comes into play. “Here we decided to be a little brave,” says Smith. “We ventured out with a gold for the window treatments and a shade of chartreuse for the velvet upholstery.” The designer didn’t stop there, injecting a lively purple-hued silk damask for accent pillows. “While the room is still full of antiques, the chosen colors add a note of informality—a don’t-take-yourself-too-seriously attitude,” she says. Brushstrokes of green flow throughout the home, providing a link between the spaces.
The kitchen reveals a few surprises as well. While the footprint of the house remained the same, this space was completely gutted and reimagined to rid itself of dated everything. “I am not a kitchen designer, but my client was convinced I was a miracle worker,” says Smith.
“WHEN USING SO MANY ANTIQUES, IT’S IMPORTANT TO HAVE AN UNSTUDIED ATTITUDE—LIKE YOU DIDN’T TRY TOO HARD. WE INJECTED NOTES OF LEVITY THROUGH THE ART, DECORATIVE ACCENTS, AND CERTAIN COLOR PAIRINGS.”
Instead of a traditional marble-topped island, Smith selected a vintage French drapery table that elegantly defines the space, along with an unexpected antique chandelier in lieu of a more predictable pendant or lantern style. Open shelving added during the redesign brought a needed airiness to the space and provided an opportunity to highlight art and other decorative accents. The adjoining breakfast area shows off a custom gold-striped banquette, slipcovered chairs, and another antique chandelier.
While every room reveals layers of beauty, Smith imbued the elegant dining room with a special allure. In the dining room, the designer chose a luxurious muted silk paper for the walls and commissioned the well-known Charlotte artist Terry Reitzel to paint a botanical-themed mural in warm shades of green mixed with murky neutrals. To ensure this paper remained the star in the room, Smith painted all the existing built-ins and trim an earthy hue with yellow undertones reminiscent of the varied colors in aged bamboo, which draws the eye toward the mural.
The designer’s deft hand in pairing somewhat unexpected colors is on full display in the primary bedroom as well. Eschewing the classic mix of soothing neutrals, Smith joined a chalky gray tone for the walls with shades of tangerine and bright ocher and a combination of wood finishes. This mix envelops the room creating a cocooning effect, which is remarkably serene in its presentation. Noteworthy antique finds join in, such as an Italian chair, a Fortuny standing lamp, and an octagon-shaped floor mirror with intricate detailing.
“This home truly reflects the best of the best—we never compromised,” says Smith. Adds the homeowner: “It has been a wonderful journey with Kathy to see my home evolve into a place to relax as well as entertain and seeing everything come together has been magical.”