Q&A with Local Design Personalities


Walter asked seven Triangle-area interior designers and architects with varied design sensibilities to share some of their favorite things.

Your design philosophy?

“My philosophy is to keep things classic, simple, and timeless.”
–Rodolfo Gonzales of Rodolfo Gonzales Interior Design in Raleigh’s North Hills

“Beauty is found in handcrafted imperfection.” –Amy Jeffries of Minta Bell Design Group in Chapel Hill’s Meadowmont Village.

“I have two: One, If you love it, use it. Don’t worry about what anyone else thinks…and two, start from the ground up – rugs, carpet, fabrics, then paint. My mother, a designer for over 40 years and my business partner, drilled this into me from as early as I can remember.” –Betty Nelson of Eatman’s Carpets and Interiors in Raleigh.

“My design philosophy is a simple one: Good design is priceless.” –Carter Skinner of Carter Skinner Residential Design in Raleigh.

The best place to find a design bargain?

“Studio 123 or the Warehouse at 1107 Capital.” –Katherine Connell of Katherine Connell Interior Design.

“Sunflowers at 1515 Highway 751. It’s such a treat to visit, and Marie Corry, the owner, always has new, lovely finds.” –Amy Jeffries.

“Ebay is great for vintage items, and I am obsessed with Viyet.com.” – Betty Nelson.

“I have had good luck at Father and Son (in downtown Raleigh) before.” –Patrick Hobgood of Kenneth Hobgood Architects.

“How about Target? Sounds funny, but they have some great stuff, and it’s accessible to everyone.” –Paul Hobgood of Kenneth Hobgood Architects. (“Wow, great answer,” said his brother Patrick.)

“The best design bargain is an excellent design. Poor design is a thief. It takes time from you and causes frustration, creating difficulty in what should be effortless. There is no bargain in bad design.” –Carter Skinner.

Aimee Chair

Aimee chair

Your favorite style of chair?

“Biedermier…Classic simplicity at its best.” –Katherine Connell.

“Hickory Chair’s Eton chair…clean lines, and just enough detail.”
–Rodolfo Gonzales.

“The club chair. My personal favorite chair at home is a wonderfully worn leather club chair.” –Carter Skinner.

“Maarten Van Severen’s chaise is my favorite piece of furniture. It’s primarily made of foam rubber.” –Paul Hobgood.

“The Aimee chair by Thomlinson Erwin-Lambeth. A great chair for reading a book, visiting or watching TV. The rounded back is very comfortable and the lines and details of the chair complement different design styles.” –Amy Jeffries.

“I have always admired the furniture of Poul Kjaerholm. If I had to choose one it would be the PK-20.” –Patrick Hobgood.

“My current fave is the Caldwell tub chair by vanCollier. It can go traditional or contemporary, dress up or down depending on fabric. And it is extremely comfortable.” –Betty Nelson.

Guglhupf exterior night3


Your best local place for inspiration?

Duke Gardens  –Rodolfo Gonzales

Dorton Arena –Paul Hobgood

Hayes Barton –Katherine Connell

Guglhupf in Durham –Amy Jeffries

Downtown Raleigh –Betty Nelson

Thomas Phifer’s North Carolina
Museum of Art –Patrick Hobgood


“Jacaranda” by Quadrille

Your favorite fabric?

“Linen. It’s so essentially Southern.” –Carter Skinner.

“Quadrille. I love everything about this line.” –Katherine Connell.

“My own. I recently launched a fabric line (RGID) from around the world that has my heart and soul.”
–Rodolfo Gonzales.

“I am currently flirting with various wool felts. The colors and textures are quite intriguing.” –Amy Jeffries.

“Anything by Manuel Canovas and Kelly Wearstler. Talk about two extremes.” –Betty Nelson.

The best local place to buy flowers?

Jagg Classic Wholesalers –Carter Skinner

Kelly Odom –Katherine Connell

Any farmer’s market –Rodolfo Gonzales

Whole Foods –Amy Jeffries

Fresh Market –Betty Nelson

The farmer’s market. –Paul Hobgood

Fresh Market –Patrick Hobgood

mccandle betty

Manuel Canovas Fleur de Coton

Your favorite scented candle?

“This kind of seems like a trick question. Is there a safe answer here?”
–Patrick Hobgood.

“I can’t stand those things, they give me a wicked headache.” –Paul Hobgood.

“Actually, I can answer this question, my wife used to get an incredible Diptyque candle in the winter time that smelled like firewood. I don’t remember the particular name in French, but I thought it was interesting to have a typically feminine object that produced a very masculine smell.” –Patrick Hobgood.

“I can’t believe you have a favorite scented candle.” –Paul Hobgood.

“Lilac blossom from White Barn Home/ Bath and Body Works. The scent is just like a sun-warmed day in Michigan, where I grew up.” –Amy Jeffries.

“Manuel Canovas.” –Katherine Connell.

“I recently bought a candle curiously named
‘Rodolfo’ that I took a liking to…seriously.” –Rodolfo Gonzales.

“Manuel Canovas Fleur de Coton. Love the clean, crisp fragrance.” –Betty Nelson.

“Bayberry.” –Carter Skinner.


Aim lamp

Your favorite lamp/ lighting?

“Visual Comfort, especially the new Aerin collection.”
–Katherine Connell.

“The Aim lamp by the Bouroullec brothers is a really spectacular object.” –Paul Hobgood.

“Baker’s Mercurial lamp. I love the way it spreads light and creates an interesting reflection.”
–Rodolfo Gonzales.

“The function and form of a wall-hung, swing-arm lamp is hard to beat. Perfect for reading in bed!” –Amy Jeffries.

“I wish I could afford one of Serge Mouille’s lamps. He was an amazing industrial designer in France in the 1960s.” –Patrick Hobgood.

“Visual Comfort is one of my favorite lighting lines we carry in the store.” –Betty Nelson.

“My favorite lighting is ambient lighting. I love gaslight fixtures as well as candlelight. At home my favorite fixture is an antique bronze gaslight chandelier which has been electrified.” –Carter Skinner.



The best place to buy a hostess gift?

Furbish Studio –Katherine Connell

Bailey’s Fine Jewelry’s home department –Carter Skinner

Sunshine Lavender Farm, in Schley, N.C. (Orange County) –Amy Jeffries

Depends on the hostess –Betty Nelson

Raleigh Wine Shop –Patrick Hobgood

Escazu Artisan Chocolates –Paul Hobgood

photo 5toned

Skinner’s poodle, Corbin

And finally…Pets on furniture?

“Yes” –Amy Jeffries, Katherine Connell, Rodolfo Gonzales,
Betty Nelson, Patrick Hobgood, Paul Hobgood.

“Where else are they supposed to be?” asked Carter Skinner.