Down to Earth

From a career of cabinet designing, it wasn’t hard for Carol Basile to interpret the best space use for entire houses. Photo by Tim Robison
From a career of cabinet designing, it wasn’t hard for Carol Basile to interpret the best space use for entire houses. Photo by Tim Robison

“Every piece at Silver Fox [Gallery] reflects our focus on mountain beauty,” says Carol Basile. However, she also insists that “we’re the farthest thing from a knotted-wood-laden log-cabin aesthetic as one can imagine.”

The in-house designer at the urbane Hendersonville venue whips up space plans and designs sophisticated, efficient rooms. Basile’s work has been featured in the country’s best-known interiors magazines, including Southern Living and Better Homes and Gardens. But her focus is determinedly local.

If mountain style doesn’t mean rustic anymore, how do you frame it?
[To us], “mountain contemporary” means that the colors, textures, and simple forms we choose as our merchandise are reminiscent of the mountains, whether it’s a horizon in a painting or a pillow’s earthy or sky-inspired tones. Shape and flow are important, too — the mountains are graceful, and so’s our aesthetic. We want what we sell to add elegance and ease to the home environment.

Speaking of home, how did you get here?
As a child in Birmingham and later Atlanta, I’d cut out paper dolls and furniture pieces and arrange them in room spaces I drew. I was a Daddy’s girl and constantly by his side. He built every house we lived in, and both my parents were art appreciators. I was a great seamstress as a kid, which led me to earn a degree in fashion merchandising.

Later I opened a cabinet shop in Birmingham with a partner; when I wasn’t busy, I’d go back and watch, and even learned how to build cabinets. I went on to a 30-plus-year kitchen-design career, and I’ve been [in WNC] since 1993. My friend Kristie Spino, [co]-owner of Christie’s Lighting Gallery in Fletcher, approached me about joining her team before she became Silver Fox’s new owner this past summer. It was a perfect next step for me.

Going from kitchen design to whole house is a big jump …
It is, but I love it. There’s always a solution to an inflexible space problem or house feature. I love figuring all that out. For example, a recent client’s house was covered in brand-new lavender carpeting, and they told me from the get-go they weren’t going to the trouble and expense to replace it, so we embraced it. I found rugs that incorporated the lavender but brought in earthy colors, and picked furniture and accessories that turned the carpet into a plus as opposed to a problem.

So you approached that project literally from the ground up …
I do that often. In the kitchen, I’ll design around wood or tile flooring, and in living areas I’ll think about rugs first. I encourage customers to buy quality — the first time. Handmade products with lots of integrity will always outlive cheap ones. I realized I bought a high-quality couch when I felt a little tired of it, I’d had it so long. But that’s not a bad thing — it just invites us to change things up, like switch out pillows or reupholster.

Now pan out to the bigger picture …
Lighting and space planning are foundational elements that lay a [room’s] groundwork. I love considering traffic flow and the effect that lighting will have on a space’s mood, which is huge.

You just returned from the furnishings trade show at High Point, NC — the largest expo of its kind in the world. Any dominating trends?
Textures are always hot, and this year it was animal hair: cow, zebra, and giraffe patterns. I also saw many geometric-patterned fabrics. There was a lot of black-and-white and gray-and-white — a big color was an inky, dark, almost black [shade of] blue.

DIY projects are still such a big thing, but those seemingly great ideas don’t always work out in real life like they do on TV shows or online. With so many trends coming from so many places, what are three things you wish every homeowner knew?
1) Realize that interior-design services save you money [by preventing time- and cash-gobbling mistakes]. 2) Understand that every home will have its great points and its challenges. 3) Keep things simple and uncluttered.

What’s your own most recent home improvement?
A new master closet. I remodeled it with better organization and solid shelving. It’s the last project I’m going to do on this house — it’s been under renovation one room at a time since I purchased it in 2014.

Where do you like to relax in downtown Hendersonville after a day at the gallery?
It’s a tossup between Never Blue and Umi. Since I don’t get out much, I’m still trying new spots, but these I have frequented more than once.

Silver Fox Gallery is located at 508 N. Main Street in Hendersonville. 828-698-0601. See for more information.