Sunny Delight

The casual passersby of Martha and Robert Haley’s Crestline home see a traditional white exterior that perfectly fits in with its charming neighborhood. Inside, however, a vivid mix of colors spills into every room portraying vivacious personalities and a lifestyle that embraces family and friends with an open-door policy. 

Cathy Austin of Catherine M. Austin Interior Design in Charlotte, N.C., knew the Haley family well enough to convey their sense of style with panache. “Martha and her husband are bursting with personality and charisma, ” Cathy says. “They’re lovely people at the center of activity with family or friends.” The designer’s insight into Martha’s tastes began with a surprisingly simple question. “The first time we worked together in Charlotte, Cathy asked me, ‘What is your favorite thing to wear?’ I said an orange shirt, and everything revolved around that, ” Martha says.

ABOVE Children’s bedrooms are always a fun place to infuse color. In this already brilliant house, the designer layered on more hues in patterned fabrics, lamps, and walls. Here, as in the master bedroom, white accents such as the duvet and end tables offer a quiet spot among the kaleidoscope of color.


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Using Martha’s color preference as inspiration, Cathy commissioned artwork from North Carolina artist Windy O’Connor to express the exuberant spirit they wanted to exemplify in the home. “The overscale diptych sets the tone for the house and commands a presence in the two-story entrance hall, ” she says.

Beneath the paintings, ultra-modern curved chests are accented with lamps in an eye-catching blood orange hue—the sort of serendipitous splash of color saturating the rest of the house. 

The dining room off the entry hall reasserts the color pops, adding an underlying silver-gray pattern in the chinoiserie drapery that teams perfectly with an 18th-century Italian sideboard and a pair of architectural sconces. Silver gray walls (Pratt and Lambert Silver Mink in high gloss) create the perfect foil for vivid tangerine-hue chairs surrounding the round wood table. Playing to contrast, Cathy chose chairs with a white finish to stand out against the dark wood table.

Martha’s desire for vibrant colors in the kitchen and keeping room led to kiwi green bar stools and bold accents. “Every window in the house looks out onto something green, so we made sure to incorporate green touches throughout the interior, ” Cathy notes. Roman shades in a subtle burnt orange pattern bring additional color into play in a kitchen dominated by a central limestone island. 

The adjacent spaces of the media room and keeping room create a hub for entertaining. “This is the house that everyone wants to go to—kids, athletic teams, friends, ” Cathy says. Furnishings center on an oversized wood coffee table accented with a Greek key pattern and burlap-look linen fabric. “It anchors the space where they do most of their living.” Off-white sofas and russet velvet club chairs enhance a cozy atmosphere. Above the sofa, a sunburst mirror underscores the cheery interior.

Throughout, the design tends toward contemporary but reflects Martha’s preference for a mix of traditional and modern and Cathy’s proficiency in repurposing furnishings. “I loved that she could take some pieces from our Charlotte home and make them work here, ” Martha says. “Cathy is so practical and has such an amazing eye. She has kids herself and knows my family so well. She knew what we could do and what wouldn’t work. I love the open, comfy feel of this home. It’s perfect for our family.”

ABOVE The art in the entry hall sets the tone for the entire home. The designer comissioned the pieces and cued the bright oranges and greens in rooms throughout the house. A vibrant rug brings the color underfoot.

ABOVE Furnishings center on an oversized wood coffee table accented with a Greek key pattern and burlap-look linen fabric. Off-white sofas and russet velvet club chairs enhance a cozy atmosphere. Above the sofa, a sunburst mirror underscores the cheery interior.

ABOVE “I always like to mix a combination of old and new, high and low, and glossy with rough finishes, ” Cathy says. In the kitchen, sleek leather barstools and stainless appliances contrast the rough-cut beam above the range.


ABOVE LEFT  “Mixing modern pieces with antiques is a must for creating a layered, lived-in-look, ” Cathy says. Here, a new dining table and chairs reside comfortably beside an 18th-century console from Circa Interiors and Antiques.

ABOVE The master bedroom employs strong pattern and color in custom pieces such as the upholstered headboard and draperies. A white duvet trimmed in orange embroidery is a cool clean contrast to the rich hues.

Interior design: Catherine M Austin Interiors • Charlotte, N.C.,  704.517.8622 
[email protected]Foyer: art: Windy O’Connor; Hidell Brooks Gallery • Charlotte, N.C.,  704.334.7302; Chests: Studio A Vestavia Hills,  205.969.8998; Lamps: Bungalow 5 • 201.405.1800 bungalow5.comKeeping room: starburst mirror and lamps: Darnell and Company 704.376.6497; Sofa and club chairs: Lee Industries; Coffee table: custom by Catherine M. Austin Interior Design; Pillows: Cowtan and Tout • 212.647.6900; Dining room: console: Circa Interiors & Antiques • 2831 Culver Rd. 205.868.9199; drapery fabric: Mary McDonald for Schumacher 800.523.1200 • [email protected]; chairs: Hickory Chair Furniture Co. • 800.225.0265 [email protected]; chandelier: Visual Comfort; Kitchen: bar stools: Lee Industries; Roman shade fabric: Lee Jofa 800.453.3563; pendant lights: Visual Comfort; Master bedroom: headboard design: Catherine M. Austin Interior Design; fabric for bedskirt and headboard: Raoul Textiles; window treatment: Norbar Fabrics • 561.997.0800; Faux Bois gilded lamps: Made Goods • 626.333.1177 [email protected] 

Text by cara D. Clark • Photography by Emily Followill

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