Posts Tagged: Inspiration


“Hope smiles from the threshold of the year to come / Whispering ‘it will be happier’…” ― Alfred Lord Tennyson

2018 has been quite a year of milestones.  I do not think I have ever worked harder or been more exhausted! We participated in our largest showhouse to date in Atlanta, completed our first retail boutique for Trina Turk, persevered though another year living with a teen and tween, and celebrated our twentieth wedding anniversary.  It was a sprint to get to the finish line of the holidays, deadlines, and end of year projects. I am incredibly grateful to the wonderful clients, artists, vendors, workrooms, colleagues, family, and friends that support me and allow me to do what I love everyday. 

New Year’s Day always brings with it a clean slate. I typically share my intentions on the first day of the year.  Looking back through past years, they stay pretty consistent so I here is a look back at some of my favorites!

Click HERE to see a fun video of the year’s adventures.


 Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change. – Brené Brown


What do you get when you combine insane talent, effusive charm and ridiculous good looks? NATE BERKUS.  I had the pleasure to hear him speak last week at the Design Bloggers Conference in Atlanta. As the opening keynote speaker, he set a perfect tone for the day inspiring guests with the ultimate pep talk.


Nate encouraged all of us to make ourselves vulnerable to realize our full potential as creative talents. He discovered his passion for design at a young age which was not the most popular pastime with his peers. With self-deprecating humor, he regaled many tales of forcing friends to help him rearrange furniture and accessorize their interiors.


In her celebrated TED Talk (link below), Brené Brown says that “Vulnerability is the birthplace of innovation, creativity and change.  Vulnerability is the core of shame and fear and our struggle for worthiness, but it appears that it’s also the birthplace of joy, of creativity, of belonging, of love.”


Nate applied this concept not only to his own career but also to his clients. He found that one of the reasons for his success was that he gave his clients permission to be exactly who they wanted to be. He does not try to superimpose a “look” or “trend” into their interiors, but discovers the essence of their personalities. He asks his clients who they are, who they are going to evolve to be, and how he can create a canvas for that life.


Throughout his career, Nate has remained true to himself by choosing authenticity above all else. He has given himself the permission to take risks, fail, learn from his mistakes, and follow his gut. He encouraged us to not to try to be everything to everybody, but to be everything to ourselves.


He stresses that, “Imperfections are where the real story lies in design. Chasing perfection makes you unbalanced in all areas of your life…Replace the word “perfect” with “permission”…When we put ourselves out there every day, we make ourselves vulnerable and ultimately give our best selves.”


Nate also shared that the reach of the blog community is larger than any publication.  As creatives, he feels that we have a responsibility to share our inspiration, but first we have to BELIEVE we are inspiring.


Nate concluded with a story of a client who lived on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. After her husband died, she started keeping feathers that she discovered along her neighborhood streets as a sort of remembrance from her departed spouse.  Nate framed one of the feathers and placed it in a prominent spot in her home. Although the memento had no real value, it was full of symbolic power for the homeowner. Ever since, Nate encourages his employees and clients to ask themselves, “What is your feather?”

Insert standing ovation!

















In her TED talk, Brene Brown concludes that when she lets her real self be seen, loves with her whole heart, practices gratitude, and leans into joy that her newfound vulnerability has allowed her live her life morefully and authentically. Be sure to watch the TED talk for the complete message!

For more of my design inspiration, please follow along on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter and subscribe to Bespoke Banter….Thanks for reading and please visit again!


The A-Ha moment is one of clarity.  It is a defining moment when you gain real wisdom that can be used to change your life. This moment can be inspiring, surprising, original, deeply personal and worth sharing. It often arises when there is an obstacle that needs to be turned into an opportunity.

Last week at Blogfest 2012, the editors from House Beautiful encouraged us to share an A-Ha moment from our design work.  Up and coming designers Michael Herold, Jill Goldberg, and John Call shared their A-Ha moments with the group and challenged us to do the same.

My A-Ha moment came while working on the Pink House, a unique respite for breast cancer survivors and the Carolina Breast Friends organization. The Pink House serves breast cancer survivors in numerous ways: Wellness Education, Library and Computer Research Center, Fitness and Nutrition Centers, Self-Image Services, Arts & Crafts Workshops, and Counseling Services.

When I first saw the house, it was a beautiful historic home that had recently been renovated, but there were no funds to furnish the interior. What seemed like an insurmountable obstacle at the time turned into the most wonderful and fulfilling opportunity.

Catherine M. Austin Interior Design/ Pink House Living Room
The Living Room
Upholstery from Charles Stewart
In order to raise funds for the interior, we held a ladies-only “Pink Party” in November of 2010.  In one evening, we raised enough the furnish the first floor of the Pink House. Then, we approached several vendors and workrooms to see if they would be willing to donate their time and talent to help with the cause. Many were cancer survivors themselves and were thrilled to have the chance to help out. Thanks to the donations of the Charlotte design community, we were able to complete the entire house which opened its doors in May of 2011.
Catherine M. Austin Interior Design/ Pink House Living Room
The Living Room
Accessories donated by Circa Interiors and Antiques

The organization wanted us to create a sophisticated, calming and feminine atmosphere.  This was a haven where women would come together for fellowship, support and inspiration.

Catherine M. Austin Interior Design/ Pink House Living Room
The Living Room
Re-upholstery donated by Design Services, Inc.

Albert Hadley said, “Decorating is not about making stage sets,…it’s really about creating a quality of life, a beauty that nourishes the soul.” We wanted the survivors that entered this space to feel like their spirits had been lifted and their souls nourished.

Catherine M. Austin Interior Design/ Pink House/ Artist Kate Long Stevenson
Painting donated by Kate Long Stevenson
in honor of her friend Neil Maddux Miller

We found several pieces at local flea markets and tag sales. With some refinishing, new paint and re- upholstery, we were able to turn others people’s cast off furnishings into beautiful pieces for the Pink House.

Catherine M. Austin Interior Design/ Pink House Dining Room
The Library
Window Treatments donated by
Custom Window Treatments
Several fabric houses such as Kravet, Lee Jofa, Cowtan and Tout, Jane Shelton, Pierre Frey and Schumacher gave us discounted fabrics so we could stay on budget.
Catherine M. Austin Interior Design/ Pink House Sunroom
The Sun Room
Carpet donated by Stark

When we first began this project, I honestly did not know if we would be able to pull it together. We had several different rooms that needed to flow together along with random assortment of found items and upholstery that needed some unifying element. I finally understood the expression “making a silk purse out of a sow’s ear!” Fortunately, we ended up with our A-Ha moment and we were all thrilled with the final product.

Catherine M. Austin Interior Design/ Pink House Exterior
The Exterior
Renovations donated by J.E. Dunn Construction
To make the experience even more satisfying, we were completely humbled by everyone’s kindness and generosity.  Not a single person we asked declined to help. This greatly added to our A-Ha moment- bringing a community’s talents together for a higher cause!!!
Yours truly with Newell Turner, Editor in Chief of House Beautiful
and Beth Greene, Executive Vice President of Marketing and Strategic Branding
for Kravet, Lee Jofa and Brusnchwig & Fils
To read the full blog on The Pink House , please click here.