In our monthly Interior Designer Crush series, we sit down and chat with our interior designer crush du jour to ask them the questions we’re dying to have answered. Today, we visit with Certified Kitchen Designer Cyndy Craig Cantley of Cantley & Company, Inc. Her award-wining cabinet and kitchen design firm has designed kitchens in Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, North Carolina and, of course, Alabama. Many of Cyndy’s breathtaking kitchens have been published not only on StyleBlueprint, but also in Southern Living, Bon Appétit, Southern Accents, Birmingham Home and Garden and the list goes on. Cyndy contends that a truly well-designed kitchen is “not just a place for cooking, but a room to linger in long after the meal has been served.” We asked Cyndy to describe her design aesthetic, let us in on some tricks of the trade and give us a glimpse of her stunning portfolio. We hope you enjoy!
What is your design aesthetic and how do you translate that to a client’s kitchen?
My design aesthetic is simple. I want all my clients to have beautiful kitchens that reflect their lifestyles — sophisticated yet casual and inviting.
Why kitchens? What drew you to become the kitchen-designing maven you are today?
I wish I had a wonderful romantic story; however, I majored in interior design, and it was never mentioned to me that you don’t actually make enough money to live! By specializing in a particular field, you made more money, so guess where I got a job?
Are there any trends you’re loving at the moment and, alternately, any timeless aspects of design that you cling to?
I try hard to avoid trends and stay in keeping with each home’s architecture. Keeping the more permanent parts of a kitchen timeless with color, symmetry and the patinas you have always loved, it will never date itself.
What has been your most challenging project to date and why?
My most challenging project was learning you sometimes cannot make people happy. Learning if you can make 99% of your clients happy, you are doing a good job. You have to learn and accept this.
What brings you the most professional joy?
The most professional joy I can ever receive is simply having a happy client. It is a journey, very invasive in their homes, dusty and long! So, I just keep reminding them, it’s like having a baby — you forget the pain!
Describe Birmingham’s design sensibility.
In Birmingham design, there is a wonderful sense of home, family, traditions and values, which are all needed in the rooms we spend most of our time in.
Where do you get your inspiration?
For years, the highlight of many days was the day your favorite magazine arrived. I’m still very “old school” and love to turn the pages. I also have hundreds of books. Today Pinterest, design and fashion blogs and other online design tools provide inspiration … sometimes too much. Travel is so inspirational to me. I never visit a city without going to their museums, wonderful old hotels and taking note of their architecture and marble. And I’m of course inspired by my clients and their beautiful homes.
Who have been your industry mentors and role models and why?
My first mentor was during my college internship with Richard Tubb, and he still mentors me! My time working with Bob Moody was invaluable. Loretta Goodwin taught me how to begin an art collection. I love Furlow Gatewood for his collections, Miles Redd for his whimsical designs, Mark Sikes for his classic blue and white and Julia Reed for her ability to entertain so wonderfully with her stories about life.
Share one designer secret with us regular folk.
If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur! Seriously, success comes from truly loving what you do. I love to study plans and keep things symmetrical. Scale is so important and selecting the correct colors — this all becomes instinctual in time.
What elements make a space truly superb?
I would love for everyone to realize it takes a mix to make a room beautiful. You can’t go to a big store and “buy” your living room. Try and purchase one great thing a year, and in 10 years you will have a home that expresses your personality. There is absolutely no substitute for quality.
If you could squeeze your design philosophy into five words, what would they be?
Elegance, quality, symmetry, determination and happiness.
Thank you to Cyndy for sharing her impressive body of work, as well as her insights and inspirations. To view more of Cyndy’s work or to contact Cantley & Company, visit cantleyandcompany.com.
Thank you to Jean Allsopp for today’s beautiful photography of Cyndy’s many beautiful kitchens.
And thank you to Charity Ponter of Charity Ponter Photography for the lovely portrait of Cyndy!
See who else we’re crushing on in our interiors archives. Click here and enjoy a look around!