University Park-Raised Designer Talks Kips Bay Decorator Show House

Cathey received inspiration from homes, supportive community while growing up

Ashley Cathey’s University Park upbringing sparked her interest in design from a young age. 

She describes it as an “easy place to think you can realize your dreams” due to the supportive community and creative inspiration from beautiful homes and interiors across the city.

“One friend in particular — her father had a really spectacular and early American federalist antique furniture collection that was smattered throughout their home, so I was always really inspired through some of the more beautiful homes that my friends lived in,” Cathey said.

Cathey, founder and principal of Dallas-based interior firm Avrea and Company, has been involved in the design industry for more than 20 years. This year, she was one of 24 designers selected for the Kips Bay Decorator Show House, open in Preston Hollow from Sept. 22 to 25.

She was assigned to one of the upstairs bedrooms, which she opted for the theme “Pretty in Plaid.” Inspiration came from a design by Mario Buatta in the Manhattan show house in 1984, and she placed the fabric he used in his room on her bed in the reimagined version of the space.

“When we found out we were going to be in Kips Bay and we had a bedroom, we started researching the old Kips Bay books, and that was our inspiration because we loved that fabric and we wanted to do our twist on his iconic room,” Cathey said.

She was urged to apply for the Kips Bay Decorator Show House by one of the Dallas chairs, so she submitted a bio and portfolio images to show her chops.

Upon selection, designers had eight to 10 weeks to pull together their rooms, but two weeks were lost because of permitting issues. Due to this quick turnaround, many design choices were based on available supplies instead of their top picks.

“With this type of project, you don’t have the same type of lead times that we traditionally have for a ‘real room,’ not a pretend room,” Cathey said.

During her time in the show house, one of her favorite parts was connecting with the other designers, creating a fun camaraderie.

Avrea and Company has another designer who assists Cathey and two project managers. The team has worked on projects across the country, including in Manhattan, Wyoming, and Blackberry Farm in Tennessee. They’re looking forward to finishing a renovation in Highland Park that is set for completion next year.

“Our goals are to expand and do projects in cities that we would aspire to do projects in,” Cathey said. “We’re really grateful for clients who let us be creative for them and realize their visions and the best version of their vision.” 

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