My ongoing series of Instagram home tours continues, and today I am thrilled to introduce Meredith Lewis. The moment I “met” Meredith on Instagram, I knew we were kindred spirits… and I also fell madly in love with her home, located in North Carolina. So I was thrilled when she agreed to a home tour! With no formal design training, Meredith has created a home worthy of House Beautiful. She loves all things monogrammed, blue and white, and Chinoiserie. She collects silver, china, Herend, and Staffordshire… and she is a skilled needlepointer! Meredith is also an expert hostess, whether it is a pizza party for her children and their friends or a Christmas party for more than 400…. her motto is “have house, will happily host!” I will be right over! Let’s take a look inside and learn more about Meredith…
Q: Your home is so beautiful! What year was it built?
A: Thank you so much! We’re enjoying it! It was built in 1953, even though I think it feels much older. It was built like a fortress and has so many interesting things about it that just aren’t done in new houses, like a large curved staircase down to the full basement, and the attic that has several rooms including a huge cedar closet. (That’s actually one of my favorite parts!) We are only the third owners. It’s informally called the Williams house after the wonderful family who built it. The son of the original owners has come over several times and shared its history with us. He showed us where Ronald Reagan stood when he was here for the Azalea Festival, and the house was on the Garden Tour. He even told us that since he used to be the only surgeon in town, way back before pagers and cell phones, when there was an emergency at the hospital, the police would just ring the doorbell to the side entrance that went right to his bedroom and tell him that he was needed at the hospital.
Q: How and when did you become interested in interior design? Do you practice professionally?
A: I have loved “playing house” since I was a little girl and made curtains for my playhouse and hung plastic plates on the walls. I hosted my first party in the third grade when I had a surprise birthday party for my Mother. I called all her friends and politely informed them what they were to bring. Those sweet women went along with my scheme, showed up as instructed, and we had a great party! I am not a professional decorator by any means, but I do enjoy it, and have loved helping my friends over the years when asked. Sometimes we all need an extra set of eyes to help us see what needs to be done or an extra set of strong arms to help rearrange furniture. I adore doing that!
Q: How would you describe your decorating style?
A: I love traditional, classic, colorful, preppy, happy, with an English bent but all Southern. I love the layered look… pretty on top of more pretty! Although, when I visit a friend in their beautifully and minimally decorated home, I think, “How perfect! I love it! I’m going to start all over!” The reality is I could never. I collect, rearrange, and am constantly feathering my nest.
Q: Do you have any favorite furniture and accessories? Do you like hunting for vintage pieces, or do you prefer new?
A: I adore the thrill of the hunt and almost always buy things that are old. I love things that have age and patina, and a few scratches and cracks don’t scare me. They’ll certainly have a few more once we’re done with them! I enjoy collecting Staffordshire, silver (trays, dresser jars, and frames), Herend, old leather books, china, and all the blue and white. I am very sentimental so my favorite things have been handed down, given to me as gifts, or have my children’s finger prints or handwriting on them. The things I would grab in a fire are my children, their portraits and our dogs.
Q: Who are your favorite designers?
A: I love the elegantly layered look of Charles Faudre, the spectacular blue and white and flowers by Caroline Roehm, the wonderfully fun and beautiful use of color by Parker Kennedy, and anything by Ralph Lauren makes me swoon.
Q: What is your greatest source of inspiration?
￼A: I am usually inspired by color or fabric first and then work from there. I can type the name of a fabric I want to use or “green bedroom” into Pinterest or Instagram and find all the inspiration I can handle. I still have my old binder with tons of pictures cut out of magazines that I used for inspiration long before the Internet. I can look back at it and still see pictures that inspired some of my ideas. It could be a paint color that I have used or an arrangement of paintings on a wall that I particularly loved, but many of my tried and true decorating tricks came from those magazines from years ago.
Q: What are your favorite hobbies outside of decorating?
A: Does sitting in the bleachers at my children’s games count as hobbies? No? Well then, let me think… I actually love to needlepoint and have made several belts for my husband and son, and things for our daughters. I love to read, garden, bake, play tennis and walk with girlfriends, and travel as much as possible. If there’s time for those things, that’s great, but what I really want to do is play with my family. We have fun together and spending time with them is time well spent.
Q: What is your process for decorating your home, and what tips would you give to others?
A: I want our home to be beautiful and comfortable and a soft place for my family to land after they’ve been gone all day. It’s filled with things that are so “us”… things brought home from our trips, or handed down from our parents (or “neo- parental” as we call it), or are just beautiful to me. I was helping a girlfriend spruce up her living room the other day and while we were out shopping, we found something she loved. Instead of grabbing it, she lamented, “But I just don’t know where I’d put it.” I almost fell over! You can put something you love anywhere and everywhere! It can start out in one spot and over the years, move to several others. If you love it, buy it! I know husbands everywhere are cringing when I say that, but it’s the truth. If you buy what you like, everything will look good together. If you are not sure what your style is, boil it down to a few words… classic, modern, neutral, colorful… if you see something that fits what you believe your style is, or what you want it to be, get it!
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: We feel so blessed to live in this home and enjoy opening to others and sharing it. This house was made for that! I enjoy having friends over for dinner or having dinner in their homes much more than in a restaurant. I think you get to know people better that way. Our life is focused around family and friends and having people over is a large part of that. We are very social and love entertaining, whether it’s friends and their children for dinner, a church function, cocktails for 100, a Christmas Tea for 400, or being on the Garden Tour and hosting several thousand. I love the planning, the decorating, flower arranging, cooking, (let’s be honest, sometimes it’s pizzas), and then finally enjoying the results! The more you have people over and practice hospitality, the easier it becomes. I joke that I’m party ready at a moment’s notice, and that’s the truth. Have house, will happily host.
Thank you, Meredith, for inviting us inside your beautiful home! I am so inspired by your amazing style…. and your hostessing skills! For a further glimpse into Meredith’s charmed life, please follow her on Instagram.