I am delighted to share this lovely article that appeared in Architectural Digest this past week about my passion for working with artists and connecting them with clients. Using original art and educating clients is a cornerstone of my design aesthetic. I am so grateful I found a profession that allows me to combine all of my desired careers (artist, art history professor, curator, and designer) into one! Thank you to Katy Olson for sharing our story and to all the artists and galleries I have had the privilege to work with over the years!
Austin works with artist Charlie Havanich, pictured here, who is represented by Hidell Brooks Gallery. “I adore Charlie and I just acquired one of his works,” Austin tells AD PRO. “The image in the picture is a commission for one of my clients that bears an uncanny resemblance to a young Jackie.” / Photography: Charle Hanavich
Cathy Austin began her career not in design, but in art, working at Sotheby’s across departments including European Porcelain, American Paintings, and American Furniture. “I assisted the experts cataloguing the works for the auctions, handling archives, client contracts, condition reports, and arranging presale exhibitions. I began as an intern and archivist and also worked as an administrator,” recalls Austin. When she transitioned into interiors, Austin kept connected to the art scene, attending shows like Maison et Objet and TEFAF—but also in a more tangible way, sourcing local Southern talent for her interior-design projects.
It is hard to believe this is the closing weekend of the Southeastern Showhouse & Gardens presented by Atlanta Home and Lifestyles Magazine. Many thanks to all who have come to see the showhouse filled with so much amazing talent. I will be at the house tomorrow from 1-4 for the final day for anyone who wants to pop in to say hello!
I have had many inquiries about items available in our space. Showhouses provide an amazing source to get incredible high end pieces, custom furniture, art and antiques…many of which are priced well below what they would sell for on the showroom floor. So, if you see something that catches your eye, make sure to look at the price list in each room to see what is still available. You might find the perfect Mother’s Day gift!
I think original art is one of the MOST important design elements in an interior. It reveals the personality of the inhabitant, elevates the other surrounding items, and adds a magical dimension to any room. Working on the art for the Southeastern Showhouse was a dream come true. Two of my favorite artists, Brad Thomas and Alexis Walter created works specifically for my spaces and my favorite Charlotte galleries, The New Gallery of Modern Art, Hidell Brooks Gallery, and SOCO Gallery allowed me to curate my own dream installation from the artists they represent, many of whom have become friends. The majority of works are by Southern contemporary artists with a nod to my NYC days represented by Stephanie Hirsch and Scott Duce seen below. By playing with scale, unifying colors, and juxtaposing different mediums, I tried to create harmonious compositions throughout the spaces.
We are delighted to be participating in the Southeastern Designer Showhouse & Gardens which opens this week! Not only am I glad to have a reason to spend more time in my hometown, but I am also beyond excited to spend time with so many other favorite design friends that are also designing spaces in this year’s showhouse. Atlanta is at her finest during April and May. When I first began contemplating the design scheme for our rooms, I wanted to incorporate the glorious spring shades that reveal themselves each week a new flower or tree begins to bloom. For the past several weeks, we have been feverishly working to pull together our bedroom, bathroom, and hallway that all began with this spring palette…
I wanted to create a fantasy bedroom where I would look forward to waking up each morning surrounded by everything I love. I am a colorist at heart…color energizes me, comforts me, and evokes joy for me. The palette was inspired by some of my fondest travel memories of the past year. I kept coming back to certain images I had taken where the indescribable colors stayed with me. I was continually drawn to the combination of spring green with shades of lilac and orchid.
I am obsessed with details. Finishing touches such as the trim on a drapery panel to how a work of art is framed can make or break the overall design. As a self professed art addict, I especially love working with clients, artists and my local framer to showcase the works of art to make them shine.
Later this month, I head to Las Vegas (my virgin voyage!) to attend the West Coast Art & Frame Expo as part of a Design Blogger Tour organized by Steve and Jill McKenzie. We will be seeing the latest and greatest introductions in framing as well as a variety of new forms of art reproduction.
See below for some works from my personal collection and client portfolio on how the variety of framing elevates the art.
A client’s colorful interior in Birmingham features large-scale works on paper by Windy O’Connor. The champagne toned metal frame pulls out the brushstrokes in the painting and still anchors the space. Dark oil rubbed bronze picture lights tie in with the stair rail and door hardware. A bold 19th century rug brings out the orange in the paintings and introduces the palette for the house.
In my library, a commission by Favorite artist Amanda Talley through Hidell Brooks Gallery provides a a focal point for the fireplace wall. A dark floater frame punctuates the darker strokes in the painting. The interior of the bookcases are painted to repeat this color.
This is the beginning of a gallery wall in my living room. A variety of watercolors and small paintings collected from our travels tells the story of our treasured memories. The wall has grown and been rearranged to include other paintings seen here…
A contemporary collageby Brad Thomas is placed in a gilded frame with a block motif to play off of the curves in the artwork. The work is floating on a linen mat in order the appreciate the intricate detailing and writing along the edges of the work.
Several of my favorite works have been found through Gillian Bryce who shows at 214 Modern Vintage in High Point as well as Scott’s Antique Market in Atlanta. This oil painting by Bernard Segal is in a vintage gilt frame and enhanced with a linen mat and fillet to make the work larger. The empty space of the linen mat gives the viewer a chance to appreciate the small compact bursts of color in the painting.
Another work by Bernard Segal, this is one of a pair of watercolors. I framed the works in a simple gold frame which pulls out the gold in the painting and floated them on a linen mat in order to appreciate the deckled edge of the paper.
A “pile” by Selena Beaudry (also through Hidell Brooks) is floating on a white backdrop and framed in a deep modern white frame giving the work a shadowbox effect. Our dirty pink entry hall walls enhance the pinks found in the watercolor.
One of my prized possession is an interior rendering by the Dean of American Design, Albert Hadley. A charcoal mat enhanced his pencil rendering and make it extra special.
I found this abstract encaustic at the Marche Biron in Paris. Maurice Morel came to Paris in 1927 to pursue his double vocation of artist and priest. He found a mentor in Artist-Poet Max Jacob, a Jewish convert to Catholicism, who was a close friend of Pablo Picasso and other artistic-literary notables of the period. In 1933, Morel helped stage a ground-breaking sacred art exhibition, Art Moderne d’inspiration religieuse, which included works by Picasso, Andre Derain, Tsuguhara Foujita, and Georges Rouault, who would become the priest’s lifelong friend and supporter. I fell in love not only with the work, but in the way it was framed….a frame within a frame. An ingenious way to add importance to a special work.
The starting point for the entire design scheme was this pastel confection by Kate Long Stevenson at the beloved “Pink House,” a center for breast cancer survivors herein Charlotte. She donated the work in honor of her friend. Again, we used a floater frame to set off the painting from the brick backdrop while pulling out some of the darker tones in the painting.
Be sure to follow along as we take in the sights of Vegas with my fellow design blogtour pals… Holly Phillips of The English Room, Tami Ramsay and Krista Nye Schwartz of Cloth & Kind and Vicki Bolick of The Ace of Space. We cannot wait!
The luxury bedding line Crane & Canopy asked me to describe my perfect “staycation.” I LOVE to travel so this proposition made me really question what would make me want to stay home?!?
We just returned from a fabulous trip to New York and stayed at the iconic Pierre Hotel. There is nothing like staying in a five star hotel to make you appreciate the attention to every detail…impeccable service, luxurious surroundings, stunning views and impeccable bed linens. Our room overlooked the Plaza Hotel and Central Park and the staff anticipated our every whim. I was determined to bring some of this luxury home and make our own home feel like we were always on vacation!
The beginning and end of every day should be all about comfort surrounded by your favorite things. High thread count, exquisite piping, beautiful embroidery, and gorgeous patterns make Crane & Canopy linens extraordinary. For my virtual bedroom, I chose a palette of coral and navy to create a fun bedroom that would be a joy to wake up in every morning. A large abstract work by Selena Beaudry from Hidell Brooks Gallery would anchor one wall providing the perfect focal point to gaze at lounging in my beautiful bed.
The next best thing to daily maid service is make sure you have cleaned up before your staycation.
It is easy to fall into the everyday routine at home. Planning is necessary to ensure you seize the day! After a 10 hour slumber, my perfect staycation would involve taking advantage of all the things I rarely have time to do in Charlotte that I love.
I never make time for brunch unless I am on vacation. An alfresco brunch overlooking the city at Halcyon would definitely make the cut.
For an inspiring end to my staycation, I would end the night with a world class performance by the Charlotte Ballet. It performs classic, contemporary and cutting-edge dance with virtuosity, energy, and artistic excellence. Always pushing their creative limits, Charlotte Ballet always takes my breath away with their imaginative choreography and impeccable techinical skill.
Ber sure to check out Crane & Canopy for more of their luxurious bedding for your own five star staycation!