My name is Holly Hollingsworth Phillips. I live in Charlotte with my husband Marshall, Violet (17) a senior in high school at Charlotte Country Day school (CCDS), Bo (15) a sophomore at Woodberry Forest School and Gigi (12) a 6th grader also at CCDS. We also have two lovely rescue dogs, ‘Waffles,’ a Great Pyrenees mix and ‘Maple,’ an Australian Shepard/ Border Collie Mix. Two passions - animals and design - define my life. My earliest memories also happened to involve both these passions as well. I grew up with 3 siblings, one of which rode horses competitively and happened to be 11 years older than me. I spent countless weekends trailing along at horse shows from Blowing Rock to Devon.

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I was a regular at the show circuit concession stands. My passion for riding never really took off, as my family had ‘already done that,’ I didn't seem to have that drive to go all the way.

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I have never been a particularly competitive person which, I now realize in hindsight is really needed for this sport, yet my lifelong love of these majestic creatures has never waned. My other passion is design. My mother started importing antiques when I was 10. She would bring containers of antiques back from the UK and France 2-3 times a year and have home sales and eventually a shop. Because I was significantly younger than my siblings, I often ended up on these buying trips. In order to keep me engaged, my parents always gave me a task to look for dog paintings. I generally would get an antique 19th Century dog painting on each buying trip and I now have a lovely collection to show for it.

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My mother eventually turned to interior design as an expansion of her business as she has always had exquisite taste and friends were coming to her for help. She learned the craft from her interior designer and mentor, Mario Buatta. The “English Country Look” defines her style much like his.

While I have ended up on the same career path that wasn’t always the plan. I went to Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, as a studio art major which quickly became an Art History major. My love of art has never faded. I worked at Sotheby’s in New York and decided to continue the interior design path starting a second degree in Atlanta immediately after graduating from Rollins. I then did a stint in London, completing a Sotheby 17th & 18th Decorative Arts degree. I returned stateside and worked in design in Atlanta for 5 years before returning to Charlotte and joining my mother’s design and antiques business.

We eventually stopped importing antiques and my mother has since retired. I have preserved The English Room name and am the owner of the business. I have been creating eclectic and colorful interiors for almost 20 years now at my design studio and office on Fenton Place in Eastover. The name “The English Room” is to define a typical English interior that mixes furniture from different periods, styles and places. My design style is defined by a mix of traditional design combined with contemporary art and layered accessories gathered through lifelong love of travel. I adore what I do and love to shop. I have made a career of it. What could be better?

Designing homes for people and families brings me true joy. We should all have a place that makes us happy, comfortable and that is a refection of our personality. I believe my aesthetic and fearless approach to the use of color sets me apart from other designers. I love color and pattern and am not afraid to be bold.

We recently purchased my childhood home that my parents built in 1963. We are in the process of renovation and redecoration to reflect my aesthetic as well as being durable enough to put up with our inside dogs and three children. I have learned some tips and tricks for durable, yet chic, design while living with horses and dogs. My youngest daughter is an avid equestrian and rides at Cedarhill Farm in Waxhaw. We are currently leasing a precious medium paint pony coincidentally named ‘Gigi’ also with the show name ‘Last Look’ and a horse named ‘Tiger’ with the show name ‘Toulouse.’ This active (read dirty) lifestyle has taught me loads about design and ways to live beautifully without pushing the pooch off the sofa.

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Design tips for living with pets:

There are so many amazing performance and Crypton treated fabrics. They were once for outdoor but now can be used everywhere with a soft hand. White sofas are achievable.

Oriental and animal print rugs such as antelope are camouflage from dirty and extremely cleanable. Jute and sisal however are essential grass and dogs seem to be drawn to them. Stay way from them unless you love to replace your rugs regularly.

Buy extra fabric for all your upholstery and have your upholster make blankets in the fabric to cover your pooches favorite spots. Throws are your friend!

Keep a large basket for boots by the door.

Consider your pet’s color and shedding when choosing fabrics. Navy sofa and shedding white terrier can be a bad idea. Literally rug your pets with your fabric samples before you decide.

Make your dog’s beds blend in with your interiors. Make sure your pets have beds in the rooms where you spend the most time. An ugly bed is an immediate eyesore. Leopard is always a chic choice that also acts as a neutral.

Your pets should have rooms too. Design spaces where they can have beds, food and personal space. Do not make your mudroom and laundry room only functional. They should be beautiful too, because you spend lots of time in those as do most pets.

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Photographs courtesy of Dustin Peck Photography