Today, Hadley Court readers, we’d like to introduce you to a fellow member of Women In The Home Industries Today, http://withit.org, Kathryn Greeley. Kathryn is the author of the beautiful book on entertaining, The Collected Tabletop, and, after seeing her speak to the attendees at WITHIT’s Leadership Development Conference, we invited her in for an interview to share with our readers her tips on creating an entertaining and design style that’s all your own.
“I consider myself somewhat of a non-conformist,” said Kathryn Greeley.
Kathryn, the principal of Kathryn Greeley Designs, has long been an advocate of developing your own personal style for design and entertaining. “Don’t be enslaved by the latest trends or worry about what others are doing. Develop what is important to you and reflects your passions” – a sentiment we agree with here at Hadley Court.
For years, Kathryn has taught that “great spaces are collected, not decorated.” Her own home, called Chestnut Cottage, just west of Asheville, N.C., is the essence of her design philosophy to “make your home a collection of your life and experiences.”
Her timeless interiors and expert knowledge of antiques and hard-to-find collectibles set her apart as a major tastemaker. These passions are evident at Chestnut Cottage, in settings such as the one above with a treasured English antique sideboard as the focal point. The sideboard and hutch is surrounded by her collection of blue and white platters, including her family’s favorite turkey platter. Chestnut Cottage is named for the wormy chestnut throughout, adorning the ceilings and walls in her library, below.
“I love wormy chestnut because it is very warm and makes a room feel cozy,” she said.
Her kitchen, with pine woodwork painted white, is an exception to the wormy woodwork throughout the rest of the house. “I think a white kitchen is so classic,” she said.
“Style is a way to say who you are without saying a word,” said Kathryn.
“Surround yourself with what makes your heart sing.”
The author and designer recently gave a presentation on creative entertaining at the #Withit (Women in the Home Industries Today) Professional Leadership Conference, an organization that I belong to, as well as Leslie Hendrix Wood and Leslie Carothers.
Creative entertaining in a style that reflects your passions is the theme of The Collected Tabletop, Kathryn’s quintessential guide to memorable entertaining. The High Point Market Authority has invited Kathryn Greeley to conduct a book signing at the upcoming High Point Furniture Market on Monday, October 20. The Bienenstock Furniture Library, containing Leslie’s new Hadley Court Center for Design Collaboration, is High Point Marketing Authority’s official partner this year for all designer book signings.
This room designed by Kathryn in a friend’s mountain retreat, below, is featured in one of the most popular chapters of her book called, “A Study in Pink.”
In the spirit of creative entertaining, Kathryn was recently asked by an Atlanta showhouse to create a dining room for someone famous in history. She chose Winston Churchill. The portrait hanging in the dining room she designed, below, was loaned to her by Winston Churchill’s own grandson, who lives in Atlanta.
“Winston Churchill did a lot of entertaining, and he insisted on round tables, which he felt were more conducive to conversation. He also insisted on arm chairs for everyone, because they’re more comfortable. So, whether you are designing an imaginary space for Winston Churchill or for a client or yourself, it should include what you (or they) are passionate about.”
How do you develop your own style of gracious entertaining?
“Don’t use your weaknesses as an excuse not to entertain.,” said Kathryn. “For example, don’t use “I can’t cook,” or “I can’t do flowers,” or “I’m not good at setting tables,” to keep you from entertaining. Become confident in what you can do well, and enlist others to do the rest. If cooking is not your thing, establish a relationship with a good caterer.”
“Be comfortable in your own entertaining skin.”
“The most important ingredient to successful entertaining is graciousness,” said Kathryn. “It’s all about creating a memory and an experience that is a true gift to your family and friends. Being a gracious hostess is much more important than the flowers you arrange or the food you serve or the china you set.”
“The world of information has flooded us with intimidating images of what your entertaining should look like. Refuse to be intimidated. Search your own soul for what is important to you.”
The greatest skill as a hostess, said Kathryn, “is to make your guests feel like they are the most special person in the world. If you have a guest in your home, make them feel they are in a wonderful inn…leave a lovely carafe of water, some good books or a notepad in the guest room.”
“Gracious entertaining is not done on the fly. It takes time, consideration, effort and attention to details.”
The result, said Kathryn, is well worth it. “You give your guests a memory, an experience, a true gift.”
Kim Darden Shaver
Leslie Hendrix Wood
Founder, Editor In Chief