Designing your dreams

The “wow” effect.

“When we reveal a project to a client and they have that ‘wow’ expression on their face — that’s what we’re aiming for,” said Kathryn Greeley.

As head interior designer for the Waynesville business of her namesake, Greeley looks at every client as a clean slate to not only create, but also tailor a project to the exact needs and traits of the individual.

“I’ve never wanted my design products to look like they were just rooms out of a furniture store,” she said. “Whether they’re commercial or residential, I want each project to reflect the client’s lifestyle, passions and travels. I don’t want any two of my projects to every just be alike, just like each client is different from the next.” 

Born and raised in Bryson City, Greeley was an only child, something she says provoked an imaginative mindset and personality at an early age that still holds true today. After she received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in interior design from Western Carolina University, Greeley kicked off her career with short stints in Sylva and Lake Junaluska. Eventually, she found herself on Haywood Street, where she has remained for the better part of her 35-year career. 

“It’s about creating a space rather than just filling a room,” she said. “Whether it is a single room or an entire house, you need to understand your client. We have an extensive interview process to find the best ways to meet their needs, and we work side-by-side with them throughout the entire process.”

And in her time, Greeley’s built a quality, word-of-mouth company, one where she’s now designing spaces for children and grandchildren of former clients. 

“It makes me feel old,” she smiled and chuckled. “But, I’ve always felt the best source for a client is a good client, someone you can get to know and create a lifelong relationship with.”

So, what does being in business for 35 years mean?

“Thirty-five years means a lot of hard work and perseverance,” Greeley said. “I think as a woman — or anyone running a small business — you have to push ahead. It’s been a rollercoaster, where in my time I’ve seen recessions, interest rates at 18 percent, interest rates at zero, and so you change with the times, but also stay steady to your philosophy and ethics.” 

As a pillar of the Haywood County business sector, Greeley enjoys mentoring young women in the pursuit of their dreams. It’s a personal duty she takes seriously, and also encourages other to follow suit. 

“The community here has been very supportive of women in business,” she said. “There are all kinds of networking opportunities, with many of us mentoring these up-and-coming women. It’s about sharing knowledge and nurturing those passions, something I enjoy being an independent woman who was raised a mountain girl.” 

And though she recently turned 65, Greeley feels like she’s just getting started. In 2011, she released her book, The Collected Tabletop, which has spurred her interested in a sequel. Until then, she continues to head out into the world each day, excited as day one to create and inspire, where her motto “collected, not decorated” holds true. 

“The creative mind never rests,” she said. 

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