Birmingham-based decorator, Caroline Gidiere is one of the chicest and kindest people I know. Not only does she have the most beautiful home in Mountain Brook, the former attorney is smart as a whip and has a wicked sense of humor. Caroline and I first met a few years ago at High Point and have quickly bonded over a shared love of many of the same things, be it our adoration of all things French or our shared appreciation of bad reality television.
Raised in a small town in the South where professional decorators were not a thing, Caroline learned the important principals of interior design and fashion from watching her mother, who was a wicked seamstress and wasn’t afraid of a complicated pattern or roll of wallpaper, and knew how to match a seam. Her mother created stylish and chic interiors and clothing for the family on a budget, guided primarily by her strict adherence to all things previously sanctioned by Jaqueline Onassis, Colonial Williamsburg, Princess Diana, Vogue or Emily Post. As an adult, Caroline is sought after by her friends to help as equally with their daily fashion and entertaining decisions as with their interiors. Guided by her own creativity coupled with the principals that she learned first hand from her mother and in the pages of her enormous personal design library, Caroline turned away from a career in the business world and opened her own design firm when the interest and requests became a full time job. I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know this talent a bit better today!
Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?
PC: How has living in Alabama influenced your style?
CG: In the South, we are raised from the cradle with notions of hospitality and entertaining. Our homes and gardens take pride of place because they are the epicenter of this way of life. There is a real appreciation for classical architecture throughout the South. Especially in the old neighborhoods, you get a lot of beautiful Georgians. And, because of the temperate climate, our homes often have a direct relation to the exterior. We live half-in and half-out and our gardens and outdoor rooms are as much a part of the home as the den. All of these forces come to bear in my work: I strive to create houses and spaces that are beautiful, comfortable, inviting, with an eye to effortless entertaining, inside and out.
CG: That I go hard for interior design and also that I want you to be comfortable and have a good time while you are here.
PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?
CG: Certainly travel is the jumping off point. Different cultures have different color palettes, different textures, different smells and sounds. The plants are different, the doors, the food, everything. When I travel, I have a sense that I am cataloguing images in my brain for later use. And when it comes to pulling schemes together on a daily basis, I use the images in the books and magazines in my design library to jump start my own creativity, and help me to create new ideas from time-tested interiors.
CG: Humility and impeccable manners (they often go hand in hand).
PC: What is your guilty pleasure?
CG: Watching Keeping up the Kardashians.
PC: Who or what has been your greatest professional influence?
CG: Living in Paris during college and spending summers there with my family now. Also, my mother. As a child, my mother was so passionate for interiors that I was forced to spend endless hours entertaining myself in fabric and wallpaper stores (they did have those back in the day), and relentless summers touring the buildings and gardens of Colonial Williamsburg or roaming the aisles of the Williamsburg Pottery Factory just outside of town. All of those forces come to bear in most everything that I do now.
PC: What is your idea of “la dolce vita”?
CG: Cocktails and dinner in late June or early July at dusk on the terrance at the Bastide de Gordes in Provence.
PC: What can we look forward to next from you?
CG: Maybe publication in the not too distant future. Also, I have some new projects that are, for me, so satisfying – work that I am so proud of and that I can’t wait to share.
Go-to outfit: Chloé Camille sandals + denim or a skirt + a sleeveless t-shirt + Céline gold hoops
Style mantra: Keep it simple, less is more.
Scent: Aerin Rose de Grasse
Piece of Jewelry: Pendant necklace
Color I never tire of: Blue
Flower: Dahlias– my husband grows amazing ones in our garden
Indispensable Design Element: Bouilliotte lamp
Era for design: Adler + Elkins in the ’20s and ’30s
Dream project: Anything with a chic client and a large budget
Fabric/Textile: Right now, cotton chintz
Hostess gift: Horn salad servers. I buy a lot every summer in the markets in Provence and give them throughout the year with a ribbon tied around them. Everyone needs an extra pair and, no matter your style or your bowl, horn salad servers will look fabulous.
Meal: La soupe de petits pois at Yves Camdeborde’s Le Comptoir in Paris’s 6th.
Drink: An icy, Côte de Provence Rosé in the heat of the summer; otherwise, Titos and soda with lemon.
Way to unwind after a long day at work: Standing at my kitchen island, preparing an easy dinner for my family, cocktail in hand, good music playing, doors open weather permitting.
Three things I love about Birmingham the restaurants, the efficiency of living in a small city, the old neighborhoods with beautiful houses, large lots, and old trees.
Weekend Destination: NYC
Artist: Elliott Puckette
Song that always puts me in a good mood: Madonna, Holiday
Actor/Actress: Charlize Theron
Prized possession: My children (also my Charlotte Perriand rush side chairs)
Risk worth taking: Walking away from a successful law practice to follow my passion
Greatest extravagance: Time (also my D. Porthault linens)
Go to color palette: blue + green + a ton of white
Rule to break: Know all the rules. Know why they are the rules. Then, break any of them if it works better.
Movie set design: The Favourite
I can never have too many: Trips to France in a year