Interior Designer Katie Emmons on the art of Southern Style

Katie Emmons

Interior design can be about a lot of things: functionality, style, updating, modernizing… For Katie Emmons, the daughter of an interior designer and granddaughter of a woman deeply creative in her own rite, interior design has been a way for Katie to do something a little deeper: tap into a client’s essence and then reiterate that onto a tangible canvas.  

Emmons, born and raised in the South, is a licensed designer with extensive training. Her projects are both classic and modern, but what each has in common is an air of ease, sophistication, and the kind of style that’s just… effortlessly artful. Emmons met us at a client’s home one sunny morning, to show us in the ins and outs of her design process and to chat about the seeds of the business, what inspires her, and what’s next.  

You’ve said before that your grandmother had a big influence on your life and work.
She was a dear woman and, among many things, she taught me to create all things with love, intention, and gratitude. I find that the jobs where I am most in touch with these three things are the projects that I love the most.

When did the business officially begin?
I would say that my business had two beginnings – the first was in Dallas in 1995. Although I loved what I did, I never had the appreciation of owning my own business until I moved to Charlotte and had to start a business from nothing, without knowing anyone. In Dallas, my business grew naturally from friends, parents of friends, and friends of friends so I never really had to work at starting it, exactly. When we moved to Charlotte, we didn’t know anyone at first, and the recession hit Charlotte three months after we moved here. Now, I can honestly say that I am grateful for those scary and doubt-filled months. Without them, I wouldn’t have grown and my business wouldn’t be as meaningful and fulfilling as it is now.

A Katie Emmons bedroom design

Was owning your own business always the goal?
I think I have always known (maybe even intrinsically) from the time I was a little girl that I wanted to own my own business. As a child, I was always coming up with ways to make beautiful things or to make things beautiful and then try to turn that into a business. I made coasters, placemats, hair accessories, and sold them to friends at school. Having my own business has always been a natural gravitation for me… and looking back, was probably always meant to be.

Do you have a particular design aesthetic?
Because I want a client to tell his or her own story and show their own heart through their homes, I try not to direct to much of what will be revealed through a design. My goal is to bring it all together in the most beautiful and impactful way possible. Whatever the style or story, my natural aesthetic is always clean and classic. And, I believe that in a cleaner space, the meaningful items can be very impactful. It is very important to me that I enjoy not only the work but the people that are inviting me into their homes and into their lives.

Are there any items in your own home that are particularly special?
I have two pieces that I consider most sentimental and meaningful to me. Both are from two women in my life that were very influential: an occasional chair from my grandmother, Mamie. It is such a sweet little chair and so delicate, but very comfortable. The second is my great-grandmother’s Windsor rocking chair. She used to sit in that chair and crochet blankets.

Katie Emmons
A Katie Emmons space

What your favorite area of the home to design?
My favorite spaces to design are kitchens. It’s like working a puzzle, fitting all of the pieces together in a creative way. Plus, I love working on architectural design.

What’s one rule or tip you stick to with designing?
I don’t have a lot of rules when designing a space, because I’ve learned that many times in design we break the rules on purpose for the sake of visual interest. But the one rule that I try not to break is the first principle of design: Balance. Whether symmetrical or asymmetrical, it’s important that space have visual balance.

What about a take home tip – what can we do in our own spaces?
The quickest way to freshen up a home, is to declutter. Look at your space with a critical eye. If you don’t find something to be beautiful or meaningful, let it go.

If you weren’t a designer, what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t an interior designer, I would be an architect, an artist, or a character actress.