Stepping into Chestnut Cottage, I’m warmly greeted by sensational delights. A welcoming smile and hug from my friends Kathryn “Kathy” and Wells, the scent of popovers rising and turning perfectly golden in the oven, the sight of all my favorite patterns of blue and white porcelain, pottery and platters, and the sound of Duncan the Westie chirping his bark for me to pet him and scratch behind his ears. Walking into Chestnut Cottage is like walking into my own home with my family. And, my friends, that is the hallmark of true Southern hospitality – feeling completely at home away from home. My dear friends Kathy and Wells invoke and celebrate that hospitality with grace, ease and elegance! In turn, this elegance and comfort is channeled into Kathy’s design work, her books and special events.
Kathy and I met in the little hamlet of Cashiers, North Carolina, years ago at a Showhouse. We had adjoining spaces – mine a porch off the bedroom she was designing. It was instantaneous friendship. I noticed her monogram. The “K” and the “G” reminding me of Kathryn and Granade – part of my aunt’s monogram and spelling “Kathryn” in the same familial spelling. Southerners bond over monograms quite easily! In fact, I told her my Aunt Kathryn has a monogrammed dinnerware company! Kathy Greeley and I were using mixes of blue and white pottery and porcelain in our spaces, and bonded over that affinity, too! However, our bond and friendship rooted itself beyond the aesthetics and acumen of Southern style – we realized that our professional take on creating HOMES not houses was paramount to our practice.
Kathryn Greeley Designs is a full-service design firm that creates the types of homes that Kathy and Wells live in as well. From their home in the charming town of Waynesville, North Carolina, to their Chatuge Cottage on Lake Chatuge’s spectacular setting, each place is a “welcome home” moment for them, their family, friends and even those perusing Kathy’s books and Instagram. The feeling I feel when crossing their threshold is the feeling Kathy’s clients receive as they return home. Home tugs at the heartstrings. A house is merely a structure. Home is where we long to be when we’re away, and where we’re at ease and delight while there. Kathy creates homes for her clients.
From the sumptuous fabrics to the nostalgic notes, Kathy’s designs are made for living. Whether in town or country, on the lake or in the mountains, rooms filled with comfortable seating, gorgeous art and touches of whimsy are the perfect “recipe” for her clients. In the pages ahead, y’all will feel as if you’re on a house tour with Kathy! You will be guided page by page to inspiring images filled with all the perfect accoutrements that create a classic home. Kathy’s layers in each room invite the client or reader to linger a little longer, enjoy that second cup of coffee, admire the gorgeous dahlias elegantly arranged in just as elegant vases, pitchers and pottery or simply curl up in a handsome chair with a great read.
My last visit to Chestnut Cottage was the very day fall arrived to the mountains of Western North Carolina. These towns, villages, hamlets and outposts set within the grandeur of our country’s oldest mountains tell a tale of the seasons like no other place on the East Coast. It was summer when I left my home, Joe Pye Cottage, in Cashiers that morning. It felt like a jaunty spring morning by time we had lunch in the garden, and fall made its debut by that afternoon -with us having tea and dessert on the porch. I love a progressive meal – drinks here, supper there, dessert on the porch – and Kathy provided that for me in her effortless easy and elegant way.
Wells Greeley – resident “sommelier” at Chestnut Cottage – is, as I tell him, who I want to be when I grow up. Always the gentleman, dressed handsomely and perfectly mannered like no other, Wells is Kathy’s number one fan. He trusts her vision and beams with pride at their delightful home – a testament to her astuteness and design prowess. Fondly reminiscing about dinners past, he showed me some of his favorite menus they have framed in a hallway. Wells toured me around his wine cellar, too, and I learn more and more about his athletic tenure and some first growth vintages, too! A prince of a gent he is! The ease he and Kathy display in their elegantly appointed home is simply who they are – and a reflection of a life well-lived.
I think of Wells, dressed in tailored threads and always the consummate host, of Kathy in her chic, signature glasses and attire and I am filled with pride that I know these tasteful, stylish folks. Everything aside, Kathy and Wells Greeley are heartfelt and genuine people I’m even more so blessed to call my friends – true friends and supporters of me and my endeavors. I can count on them for warmth and encouragement, I can “talk shop” about the design business, fuss over hydrangeas and geraniums and enjoy the places they create and call home – as if these were my own.
For those of us lucky enough to have friends such as these, we are truly lucky enough! Whether its simple tricks of the trade, learning how to mix strawberry jam and butter for popovers or being inspired by artwork or art arrangements, Kathy is a delight and considerable joy to know and love. Here, in this new book, I encourage y’all to take a page from her playbook – be inspired to use your silver, invite your friends over for dinner and celebrate seasons and holidays in Southern style. A lunch at Chestnut Cottage was exactly what I needed upon my last visit. My Mimi, my grandmother, always said that “we eat with our eyes first.” And did we ever! From the beautiful flowers to the delicious food, it was truly a visual feast! Mimi also taught me that “we feed people – body and soul – at our tables.” This is a legacy I’m proud to uphold – and so thankful for friends like Kathy and Wells who do the same.
I know that your “house tour” with Kathy in this book will feel like a visit with a dear friend. Thank you, Kathy, for taking us all on a tour of your delightful designs. Save me some supper! I’ll be “home” with y’all again soon!