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Friendships That Work
Mixing business with friendship makes a home in Wilson a true retreat.
By Maggie Theodora ∙ Photography by Carrie Patterson
The 3,000-square-foot log cabin south of Wilson where I meet gallerist Mariam Diehl and interior designer Jen Visosky does not belong to either woman, but both are as comfortable in it as if it did. The two longtime friends have collaborated countless times on projects, including this one. But it is not because this home’s interior design is Visosky’s work or because the work of Diehl Gallery artists hang on its walls that the women are relaxed here. “Our relationship [with the owner] blossomed from business to a friendship,” Diehl says. Visosky adds, “When your client is also a friend, projects turn out more organic and honest.” Visosky (who started Grace Home Design), Diehl (the founder of Diehl Gallery), and this owner have done several homes together.
“Since the first time we worked together, Jen has shown she has great instincts,” the owner says. The owner says she didn’t give Visosky any direction for this house, and not because all of her homes have the same look. “They’re all quite different experiences,” Visosky says. “Knowing her as I do and knowing where she is in life, I just knew this home needed to be a retreat.” And it is.
“There are days I spend twelve hours working, but at least the fire is roaring,” the owner says. When asked about her favorite spot in the house, she says: “I love standing in front of the fireplace and staring at the birds [the painting Come Fly With Me by Jeremy Houghton hangs above the mantel]. I walk closer and then the painting becomes abstract. I also love standing in the hallway looking at the butterflies [a painting by Diehl Gallery artist Hunt Slonem]. I love the texture and that they are suspended.”
“I love standing in front of the fireplace and staring at the birds [the painting Come Fly With Me by Jeremy Houghton hangs above the mantel]. I walk closer and then the painting becomes abstract.”
[ Homeowner ]
Diehl says she was brought into this project “late in the game. But that is usual. In most instances, art wants to complement the design rather than drive it. I know that very often Jen has a vision and sense of how a piece will play with the design. Because we’re friends, I trust her.” Still, Diehl wasn’t shy about suggesting pieces for this home. “I think that because of our friendship, that has relaxed me a little in making suggestions for her art collection,” Diehl says. Also, the owner’s style “has blossomed over the years from a more conservative and less vibrant approach,” Diehl says. “There were always undertones of that, but I like to think that part of it is how well we all know each other, too.”
But “as much as you think you know a client, and a friend, you can’t ever 100 percent know someone,” Visosky says. Case in point: The three women agree that the owner knows immediately “yes” or “no” about something, whether it’s a carpet or a piece of art. “I don’t change my mind in three days,” the owner says. “Things that aren’t ‘yes’ or ‘no’ are, ‘I love it, but I don’t need to own it.’ Jen’s shown me plenty of things that fall into that category.”
Wallpaper was one of the few things that fell in her design gray area. “I never did wallpaper before Jen,” the owner says. Visosky thought the biggest wall in the bedroom would be a fabulous spot for wallpaper, though; she would just have to find the right kind. Knowing that her friend loves texture, Visosky sought out textured wallpaper. She found one she thought her friend would go for, “But I wasn’t totally sure,” Visosky says. “I knew that if she did, though, it would look insanely good.”
That bedroom wall, and the gently ribbed, floral-patterned wallpaper covering it, is now one of the biggest statements in the house. “I immediately thought it was beautiful when Jen showed it to me,” the owner says, “but I wasn’t sure how I would do living with it. It turns out I love it. It begs to be touched and is so pretty. I don’t know that a designer who didn’t know me could have made that move.”