Creative Genius Podcast

Season 7 Episode 9

Collected Wisdom (Kathryn Greeley)

Collected Wisdom (Kathryn Greeley)

It takes a lot of perseverance, determination, hard work, and a bit of luck to operate an interior design business for more than 40 years. Where you end up may be very different from where you started. Along the way you come to realize that success comes from being true to your passions and following your dreams.

In this podcast, Erin talks with Kathryn Greeley, owner and principal designer, Kathryn Greeley Designs in Waynesville, North Carolina, a firm she has operated for more than forty years. She is also the author of two books on design and entertaining, as well as a sought-after speaker at art and antique shows.

Kathryn’s signature approach to her design projects is grounded in her design philosophy that they should be collected, not decorated. She is especially attracted to English country house design because of its layering of old and new, high and low, and use of the client’s personal treasures, some of which may have been passed down for generations.

Erin asked Kathryn about her two books and how she came to write them. The first book, The Collected Tabletop: Inspirations for Creative Entertaining, published in 2011, grew out of her love of entertaining and creating tabletop decorations for clients. The second book, The Collected Cottage: Gardening, Gathering and Collecting at Chestnut Cottage, published in 2022, draws on her experience designing her own home as well as her affinity for gardening, cooking, entertaining, and collections. It is a celebration of creating a home that supports one’s desired lifestyle.

A book can be a useful marketing tool, Kathryn explained, helping to attract like-minded clients who want the kind of look you design. (Although, she stressed, she works in many other styles of design as well.) She cautioned designers who are thinking of doing a book that they should not expect sales of a book to be a profitable revenue stream. She also noted producing a book is a difficult process, both physically and creatively.

Along with promoting her book and speaking engagements, Kathryn blogs and posts regularly to Instagram and Facebook to market her firm. Even with all her other commitments, she writes all of her own material because she believes it needs to be in her own voice to be authentic. 

Erin asked Kathryn what advice she might have for listeners. She offered three takeaways:

  • If you have a dream in your heart, follow your dream.
  • Sharing your home is the best, most unique, personal gift you can give to family and friends.
  • Don’t think your design career is going to be a straight line. Opportunities arise as you go along that may take you in different directions.

To hear more about Kathryn’s career path, how she has built a successful design business from a small, rural location, and how to get the recipe for her much-sought-after caramel cake, listen to the entire podcast.

If you’re listening on your favorite podcast platform, read the full shownotes here:

Mentioned in This Podcast

You can find out more about Kathryn, her firm and her projects on the firm’s website at

Although now out-of-print, you can order an inscribed copy of The Collected Tabletop: Inspirations for Creative Entertaining at Used copies and a Kindle edition are available from Amazon.

To learn more about The Collected Cottage: Gardening, Gathering and Collecting at Chestnut Cottage, and how to order a copy, go to

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