1) Did you always want to be a designer?
No, I wanted to be a professional horsewoman but lacked the
talent (even though I still have the desire.) Design runs deep in my genes. My
family on both sides is filled with artists, inventors, engineers, and the like.
My parents, as a hobby (that was really an obsession,) bought and restored old
stone farmhouses in historic Bucks County, Pa. The very essence of
architectural integrity was a daily experience as they did project after
project bringing these magnificent homes back to their original splendor. They
would then go to antique auctions in the surrounding areas and furnish these
I can remember my mother on her hands and knees using
Johnsons Paste Wax to polish the old pegged floors. When she was done, she
would always ask me to hop on her electric buffer and get a “ride” while she
buffed the floors up to a shiny patina. She said she needed the extra
weight for a good shine.
2) What’s your design philosophy?
As a tag line: Creating environments that nurture the soul!
My Design philosophy is really simple; there is nothing new
under the sun… just another viewpoint on the already well-known wheel so to
speak. So it has to be beautiful, it has to have a purpose and it has to be justifiable. I use as many organic materials as I can. And if the project
dictates...I have to have the inside of the home transitioning with the
outside, or I go mad!
It's not about me...its about my clients. I want it to look
like their home and feel like it’s them. if it’s a commercial project, I
aim to give it a shot of soul.
3) From where do you draw your inspiration?
My Inspiration comes from God. The master creator… look
outside yourself and your questions will be answered.
Then of course my family and all of my memories and
experiences [bring inspiration]. I think a lot of personal life experiences play into
developing your taste and style. I had a Grandmother that painted and gardened
daily. Her home was always a great inspiration to me. She had this greenhouse
that opened into the foyer in this redone carriage house in Yardley, Pa. It
smelled like turpentine and hot dirt. It was quirky, but cool. Then she had a
studio in the back of the house where the light was best with a hallway that
connected the two areas; so when you would enter you got that whiff of turpentine and dirt. It sounds
weird, but it’s comforting to me. She always had fresh flowers and lots of light streaming in everywhere. Her husband, my grandfather was an
inventor, very much a southern gentleman; birds would sit on his hands and take
seed when he fed them. He was very gentle... He impressed me a lot.
My inspiration also comes from being an equestrian, along
with many trips abroad foxhunting in Europe and seeing the world.
4) Is there a specific design feature you like to use or
feel fits in almost any situation?
Oh yes, I would say a signature piece for me for an interior
would be something antique ... every room should have one; even if it’s a book.
An exterior signature piece could be a serpentine
wall of some organic composition such as brick, stone or a fence line. It just
undulates with the lay of the terrain.
5) Tell us a little bit about your first solo design job,
was it smooth sailing, or a nightmare? What did you learn?
My first project was a dream project. My clients had just
purchased a home and it needed a lot of cosmetic renovations along with an
addition, and then total furnishing. The wife wanted to keep the wallpaper and
save money. The husband didn’t give an opinion but eventually asked me what I
thought. I was afraid to give my honest opinion. I was sweating the idea of
having to tell them what I thought because I simply wanted the job. I
finally advised them to do it right the first time and to get rid of the
hideous wallpaper. He said, “Good, the jobs yours!”
To be honest, clients are paying me for my opinion, and if a
designer is afraid to give an honest opinion than they aren’t being true to
themselves as a creative individual or to their clients. If that happens, then
the integrity of the project can become compromised.
6) What other profession do you think you would love or be
There are quite a few: Set design, the old fashioned way (they
never told us about that at career day in school.) Loving history as I do, I
wanted to be an archeologist at one point. Honestly, if I could go back in
time, I’d love to be an architect; one who draws by hand not in a cad program,
which I feel takes the design evolution away from the process.
7) What’s your greatest achievement to date?
My greatest achievement would be still having a business
after the horrible recession we have all been through. I’m still young enough,
energetic enough and passionate enough to get out of bed each day and enjoy my
work and the many wonderful friends I have met in this business (whom I am so
grateful for and to!)
Having your own business is a challenge. When I would
complain about the trials of having your own business, my good friend Randall
Tysinger would say to me “H, if it was easy, everybody would have their own
businesses.” I am grateful to be self-employed. I never ever would have
believed it if anyone had told me that one day I would have my own firm.
Holly Carter is a designer located in Aiken, South Carolina. She offers complete interior design services...as well as the finest American and English furniture, European antiques, luxury gifts, and accessories.
www.hollycaterdesign.com phone: 803-226-0025 facebook fan page