Principle designer at the Johnson City, TN-based Hausmatter Interiors, Katherine Thewlis, creates beautiful spaces that blend function with cutting-edge and chic designs and accents. Whether it’s her own ranch rental that she’s designing or an Airbnb project, Katherine puts her all into making the space look current and comfortable, yet timeless. Step inside and see for yourself the magic that Katherine creates. Enjoy!
Can you tell us about your space?
I live in a 1,200-square-foot, brick ranch rental. The beige rooms you see are from a client Airbnb project I recently designed.
How did you get into interior design?
I have been designing for as long as I can remember. I have childhood scrapbooks filled with floor plans and drawings of my parents home. I was always rearranging furniture as a kid, even for my friends, to the dismay of their parents! I studied classical piano and sociology in college but have always done something creative for income. After I gave birth to my daughter, I had to give up my job as a metalsmith for a jewelry line I created. I spent many long days at home wondering what would become of life, outside of the joys of motherhood. I started off selling vintage goods on Etsy and staging the pieces in my home. That’s when friends started suggesting I pursue interior design. I fell in love with Airbnb design in particular and started researching everything I could get my hands on as to what makes a rental stick out in a saturated market. With the recent impact on the hospitality industry, I’ve started to offer residential e-design and it’s been a lot of fun. Having this extra creative outlet brings me so much joy.
Your home has a lot of fun colors and textiles. How would you describe your personal interior design style?
I’m often grouped into the category of “color lovers.” While I don’t disagree with that one bit, I love neutrals just as much, so I hesitate to ever allow myself to categorize my style in this way. How I use color in a space depends entirely on the space I’m in. For me, a historic home, loaded with architectural details doesn’t need a lot in the form of color to make it interesting. If I were to move into a Frank Lloyd Wright home, my use of color would look entirely different than it does in my generic ranch with boxy rooms. I would say my style is eclectic but always with a focus for a clean, cohesive feeling. Even in my most colorful spaces, it’s always a goal for me to include moments in the room where the eyes can rest. I always include vintage pieces from my collection with a good handful of the new and modern. I think this balance is what makes spaces feel current, yet timeless.
What advice would you give for homeowners who love color and pattern, but are afraid of it clashing or feeling overwhelming?
For me, color is about suggestion. It offers a direction to how the viewer might feel in a room. A colorful wall is the biggest, easiest way to create a mood in a room. Want a dose of energy in a room you use for exercise? Yellow or orange is your gal. Want to be cradled in a womb of relaxation in your bedroom? A dark earthy blue or plum is your ticket. Want to set the scene for romance? Try a rich jewel-tone like a deep red or purple. It’s so powerful. And that’s one reason why I prefer not to use it in certain rooms. My advice is to avoid a bold (highly suggestive) wall color in spaces shared by multiple family members who may all perceive the same color differently. I also prefer not to use it in rooms used for creative purposes. Maybe color increases your creativity? But do you really want to feel that same energy every time you enter a creative space? Or do you want to be able to feel different each time you enter based on your tasks? Again, for me, color is about suggestion. So in my designs, the use of the room dictates my use of color. Use it in the right room, and it will never feel overwhelming. To avoid clashing within the home, try to pull one color into an adjoining room to create a sense of flow. So maybe I have a cornflower blue wall in one room, and in the next is a vase or accent in the same hue. This makes it all feel more intentional.
Do you have a favorite room in the house?
Currently, my favorite room is my bedroom. Since quarantine began, my daughter has been out of preschool and we’ve had a lot of time at home together, so after she goes to bed at night, I retreat to my room with hot tea and a chance to have some adult conversation with my husband. I painted this room a dark blue color and it feels so cozy and calming. It’s become my sanctuary.
Where are some of your favorite places to shop for unique home décor?
I do a lot of thrifting, but I also purchase from other vintage sellers quite often. The nature of thrifting is you don’t usually find what you are looking for when you need it, so I will turn to some of my favorite vintage sellers when I need a particular item for myself or a client.
Aside from design, do you have any creative hobbies?
I like to garden and pickle. We are currently growing a lot of hot peppers, so I will probably make a lot of hot sauce this summer. Cooking is stress relief for me and sitting down to a home-cooked meal with ingredients we grew ourselves is a big part of our family’s value to eat organically and sustainably.
Where do you find creative inspiration?
It’s probably cliché to say everywhere, but it’s true. Sometimes it’s a picture book I’m reading to my 3-year-old. Other times, it’s more direct, like a magazine or Pinterest. I even recently remember getting inspiration for a color pallet while watching an episode of “Tiger King.” If you have an open mind, you’ll find inspiration everywhere.
If you weren’t working in interior design, what would your dream job be?
Interior design is my dream job, but I would love to own a retail shop—a chic storefront, filled with vintage and handmade, local goods, with a space to hold client meetings. I would want it to be something I shared with the community during my off-hours, so I imagine poetry readings on Friday nights, nursing mama circles on Saturdays, seed swaps on Sundays…this is my dream.
Are you currently loving any podcasts or music in particular?
Lately, Unlocking Us is a good one. I definitely feel better after listening. It’s like quarantine therapy or something. I also enjoy Yoga Girl. For music: “To Cy & Lee: Instrumentals, Vol. 1” has been played pretty heavily lately when I need to zen out. Beverly Glenn-Copeland is great, feel-good/beautiful music.
Top 5 all-time favorite books?
Where the Red Fern Grows, The Art of Racing in the Rain, Not Without My Daughter, A People’s History of the United States, Braving the Wilderness
I am notorious for reading like…five books at the same time. Usually some kind of parenting/self-help book but I always try to have something just for fun, to lighten my mood. Currently, The Greatest Love Story Ever Told by Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman. Please listen on audible as this husband/wife duo actually reads their own book, and it’s almost like sitting in on the most hilarious conversation. Really good.
What is always in your fridge?
Butter. Lots of it! We keep some soft on the counter but always need our backup supply in the fridge. My husband and I put it in our coffee in the morning so we always keep it on hand.
Do you like to cook? Do you have a go-to recipe?
Yes. For me, cooking is life. It’s a form of relaxation, and it’s also something we share as a family. My daughter makes meals on the step stool alongside me. She very much knows what it takes for food to reach the plate, from growing to cooking. Lately, I’ve really been enjoying Antoni in the Kitchen by Antoni Porowski (“Queer Eye”). I do a lot of improvising in the kitchen but this is one cookbook I follow to a T. You can tell he’s a trained chef that knows what he’s doing but his recipes are very accessible. The turkey meatloaf stuffed with a block of sharp cheddar is one of our family’s favorites. It’s comfort on a plate.
What’s currently on your nightstand?
A vintage oil painting, a French fig and amber candle, The 12 Rules For Life by Jordan B. Peterson, earplugs and Weleda lip mask.
Favorite way to spend a Sunday?
With my family. We usually try to go on some kind of mini-adventure to a new hiking spot or river. Anything together in nature.
“Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it.” —André Gide
Shop Her Home:
Wall Color: Oregano Green by Benjamin Moore
Fireplace Color: Carrington Beige by Benjamin Moore
Abstract Framed Paintings: Clover Interiors
Bird Painting: ArtFable
Kelly Wearstler Graffito Pillows: Recreateyour
Dotted Pillows: MicaBlue
Turquoise Jar: Curiique
Upper Cabinet Color: Chantilly Lace by Benjamin Moore
Base Cabinet Color: Onyx by Benjamin Moore
Peninsula Paint Color: Retro Pink by Behr
Ceiling Light: Illuminate Vintage
Art Deco Lamp on Peninsula: Modern Lantern
Cabinet Hardware: Spearhead Collection
Stripes on Wall Made with Painter’s Tape tutorial here
Paint Color: Iron Blue by Ralph Lauren
Nightstand Chests (similar)
Lampshades were handmade tutorial here
Paint Color: Misty Air by Benjamin Moore
White Accent Tables
Paint Color: Kendall Charcoal by Benjamin Moore
Dining Chairs (similar)