Text: Andrea Nordstrom Caughey
Photos: Brie Williams
Creation of a soothing, restorative home is on trend today. Charlotte designer Kim Mauney, founder of Kim Mauney Interiors and her boutique/studio Maison, riveted on just that formula when she downsized into a cozy Southern cottage home.
Born in Texas, raised in Northern California, and now firmly entrenched in the South, Mauney’s regional blend helps contribute to her invigorating mix of styles. Her signature is a clean-lined touch, but classic and elegant. Serene hues of soft blues, grays, pinks, and creams prevail. Upholstered seating, graceful drapes, textural rugs, patinaed lighting, and antiques offer quiet grace.
“My style is best described as a clean interpretation of traditional design. I grew up in California during the reign of designers like Michael Taylor. While Southern design was focused on layering color, prints, and intricate details, I was being exposed to designers using the play of light, white, shadows, and texture to create their looks.
“The foundation of my style is certainly based in a restrained West Coast aesthetic, but then I have a part of me that loves antiques. My mother’s family was from the South, and as such, she exposed me to a love of old things.
“She always told me that ‘a room without something old is a room without a soul.’ Over time, my style has ebbed and flowed, but my baseline has always been about a mix.”
Furniture lines are kept simple in Mauney’s home. “I first focused on scale and a balance of masculine and feminine energies. Once the framework is established, I love soft colors, comfortable furniture, beautiful fabrics, and pretty draperies. Then, like my mother taught me, I add in the soul with antiques and some modern artwork when possible.
“I am forever drawn to the subtle colors we find in nature. I admire designers who can use bright, clear colors, but I often gravitate toward natural tones, with a dirty tinge. I joke that I never met a white I didn’t like, but the truth is that white has to be warmed up with woods and other soft colors in order to not feel cold.”
Texture is crucial in a stripped-down palette, she says. “If you aren’t using a lot of patterns, the texture and undertone of the fabrics are of utmost importance, so I pay lots of attention to that in the neutral colors I use.”
Antiques also add unexpected punctuation marks. “I have collected most of these pieces over the past 25 years. I bought most when I was young, and ironically as I grow older, I find myself mixing in more modern art and upholstered pieces. I was obsessed with antiques as a young designer because we so rarely saw great antiques out West when I was growing up.
“My mother actually gave me some as a young person, and they are pieces that I still adore. We have moved from east to west three times in the past 20 years, so those antiques have done a lot of traveling.”
Great lighting is another of her fortes. Mauney admits, “Lighting is tricky. In general, humans don’t like to be lit from overhead, so I prefer lamps and sconces instead. Lighting is jewelry and an opportunity to express personality. If it were up to me, I wouldn’t have one single can in my ceilings with the exception of the kitchen. Someday, I’ll give it a go and see how it works.”
In the end, Mauney insists that the best design evolves over time. “Layers that come from collected and mismatched pieces, old favorites and new, is what gives a home soul.”