Grace and Sensibility in a Southern Home

Sumptuous colors, patterns, and textures complement cozy pockets of comfort
April 2, 2021 Updated: April 2, 2021

When designer Caroline Gidiere renovated three often-used spaces in the home of an entertaining maven and grandmother of 14 young children, she knew beauty had to remain front and center and yet share the stage with practicality and comfort.

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A pair of persimmon-and-white chinoiserie vase lamps provided the starting point for the great room’s effortless-looking assemblage of patterns, colors, and textures that softly accent neutrals. (Laurey Glenn)
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Unexpected pairings of patterns bring delight and offset expectations. Here, two-toned floral upholstery with whimsical seams plays host to a tiger print footstool. (Laurey Glenn)

Beauty and Balance

Gidiere’s client keeps a busy social calendar that includes large fundraisers at her Mountain Brook home in Alabama. All the while, her grandchildren, who are no older than 11, stop in regularly after school. So the great room’s makeover had a balancing act to perform.

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A nook in the kitchen is now airy and inviting after a makeover. The tiny table juxtaposes the wide, tufted seat where the client spends focused mornings. (Laurey Glenn)

Perform it does, thanks to special fabrics and textile sealants throughout the room. Gidiere aimed for a neutral and sophisticated feeling here, beginning with a delightful pair of persimmon-and-white chinoiserie vase lamps. She then layered on patterns, textures, and colors. Sage green provides just the right complementary touch.

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Where does an entertaining maven go to get away from it all? Her private den, painted deep teal at her request, with a matching velvet sectional and all the trimmings. (Laurey Glenn)

In the Heart of the Beholder

Gidiere is a Southern belle who spent summers in Colonial Williamsburg, which is steeped in historical architectural design. She was also greatly influenced by her mother, a seamstress. Gidiere turned away from the business world in order to field a growing number of requests to design homes and wardrobes. The timeless and oh-so-livable arrangements in this Alabama home are the result of Gidiere’s partly painstaking, partly intuitive artistic process.

“I love color and pattern,” Gidiere says. “I start with a lead fabric usually, and then branch out from there. How do these colors feel or make me feel? How did they feel when you added in another color? Too much? Not enough? How do the patterns and colors feel at different times of the day? It’s an ongoing conversation … until I find that the room is speaking in verse and saying something beautiful and moving!”

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Designer Caroline Gidiere renovated this great room in Morning Brook, Alabama, for a grandmother of 14 children who frequently stop in. The home also hosts fundraising fetes. (Laurey Glenn)

The sumptuous result is apparent even in the microcosm of a kitchen nook, where her client spends quiet mornings reading and talking on the phone. A tiny table is just enough. Two sconces glow before the sun comes up. And a soft banquette is always cozy.

But the matron’s favorite place to escape to is her private den, off-limits to children and guests. The deep teal walls were her idea, which Gidiere loved and ran with, adding a velvet teal sectional. For ambience and comfort, she perfectly placed pillows, a throw, and a small sconce overhead, along with her balanced yet unpredictable mix of colors and patterns. It’s a designer’s dream room—a tactile experience of luxury and relaxation.