Designing Duos

Pursuing careers that run the gamut from shop owners to interior designers, these eight pairs of mothers and daughters—having chosen to work together—give a new spin to the age-old adage 'like mother, like daughter'

Cheryl Womack and Alison Womack Jowers
Cheryl Womack and Alison Womack Jowers have tackled design commissions large and small, including primary and secondary homes, yachts and commercial spaces. When they aren’t working on client projects, the two are regulars on the charity show house circuit, frequently participating in high-profile show houses that give back to the community, including the Atlanta Symphony Associates Decorators’ Show House & Gardens. Cheryl’s background in art history and design initially led her into the field of interior design and she established her business, Cheryl Womack Interiors, in 1985. Daughter Alison studied business administration at The University of Georgia and interior design at Georgia State University. She joined the business in 2000, adding a fresh and modern approach to Cheryl’s traditional style. Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles voted Alison to its “20 under 40” list of highly regarded designers in 2007. As a boutique firm, personal attention is a hallmark of their approach and, most importantly, making the process fun is always their goal.


Margaret Bosbyshell & Clary Bosbyshell
Margaret Bosbyshell, of Margaux Interiors Ltd., started her interior design business in 1982 and last September her daughter Clary joined the biz, after graduating from the University of Georgia and working in fashion merchandising in Savannah. Perhaps it was meant to be, as Clary grew up going with her mom to the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center and antique stores, and being inspired by the homes her mother designed. Over the years, Margaret has designed residential and commercial projects all over the country—everything from a ranch in Colorado to a loft in Tribeca to a home in Nantucket. The firm’s mission is to create a chic and timeless look that emulates the lifestyles of their clients, whether that’s a Dorothy Draper-inspired residence for a Buckhead family (see Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles May 2008) or a more classically based residence like this Brookhaven home in which the two were photographed. “All of our jobs look different,” says Margaret. Working on projects where no two look alike is precisely what k eeps it interesting, not only for themselves but also for their clients. [email protected]


Teri Duffy & Megan Hamilton
Instead of “Like Mother, Like Daughter,” the headline for this story should be “Like Mother, Like Daughter, Like Granddaughter.” After all, design is a passion that truly runs in designer Teri Duffy’s family. Her mother was a designer in St. Louis, thus passing the design genes down to her at an early age. And, like Duffy, daughter Megan has also been immersed in residential design as long as she can remember—drawing house plans during classes in second grade, always in trouble for not paying attention to her school work. So it was a natural progression for her to enter the design field. During college, Megan realized her passion was too strong to ignore and, after an internship with Sims Patrick Studio, the mother/daughter duo came together to create a dynamic design partnership. Combining their different design sensibilities, the team merges comfort and practicality with sophistication while being mindful of a project’s architectural surroundings. And while Atlanta is home, they have also completed projects in St. Louis, Chicago, New York, Colorado, California and Florida.


Dotty Travis & Ann Travis Davis
Dotty Travis is a maverick of Atlanta design—first, with a shop on Peachtree Road and, second, as a pioneer of the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center with one of the leading trade showrooms. With one eye on the classics, Dotty has always kept the other on the cutting edge, looking for “the next big thing” to bring to Atlanta. It might be furniture from France, textiles from Italy or hand-painted wallpapers from England, to name a few. Daughter Ann Travis Davis has long been at the helm of their showroom, Travis & Company, which continues to be an inspiration for the local design community with classic fabric lines such as Manuel Canovas and Pierre Frey as well as fresh additions such as Fromental’s hand-painted wallpapers and textiles by Of the Young and the Rest less. The style-setting showroom displays continue to set the standard by which all others are measured.


Gail Dearing, Katie Dearing Newton & Betsy Dearing Berry
Actually, this mother/daughter duo is a trio! More than 30 years ago, Gail Dearing had no idea that her love for antique American wicker would mature into one of the longest-lived antique businesses in Atlanta. After her business partner retired, Gail was joined by her daughters, Katie and Betsy. Katie, who worked post-college at both Sotheby’s and Christies, is an accomplished source for French and English antique furniture. Betsy joined forces with her mother and sister in the late ’90s, swiftly taking the business onto the burgeoning world-wide Web. She not only developed the Dearing Antiques Web site but also partnered with noted antiques purveyor for an increased online presence. The sisters love buying trips, whether they’re headed to the South of England or a local antiques market. Today, the shop maintains an ever-evolving inventory of English period antiques, majolica, French country furniture and other decorative items.


Kathryn Leach & Willow Leach
Kathryn Leach is an internationally recognized interior designer and owner of Kathryn Leach Home, a home furnishings boutique in Buckhead. She began her career as an in-house interior designer for Turner Broadcasting System, where she designed the original CNN Headline News on-air set. Her next professional step was as director of design for Nix, Mann & Associates, in charge of all health care and corporate office projects. In 1988, she launched Leach Associates, Inc., specializing in corporate and residential environments as well as those in the health care and hospitality industries. Kathryn’s creative process led her to become involved with creative organizations such as The International Color Marketing Group. Serving as chairman of the group’s Color Forecasting Committee allowed Kathryn to hone her instincts and passion for projecting colors. In 2008, with her daughter Willow—who has an artistic eye and a background in theater—she opened Kathryn Leach Home, featuring luxury and original items that include fine linens, lighting, furniture, accessories and art.


Jane Marsden and Janie Marsden Willis
Jane Marsden has been in the antiques and interior design business for more than four decades, fascinating not only because of her longevity in the field but also because of her unique background in math, chemistry and accounting—not the typical college training for a designer (although it did lay the foundation for later business ventures). With a degree in business-economics, daughter Janie Marsden Willis also took a non-traditional path to the field. After working at her mom’s antiques shop during the summers, Janie joined the firm full-time in 1983. Looking to create interiors that are timeless, versatile and livable, Jane and Janie work together and separately on projects, with their passion for design matched only by their love of antiques. Jane Marsden Antiques and Interiors, located in the elegant 2300 Peachtree Road complex, carries one of the country’s largest selections of Chinese, English and Japanese Imari porcelains from the 18th and 19th centuries, as well as a wide range of English and European furniture and lighting.


Ann Platz & Courtney Platz
Designer Ann Platz loves beautiful things—houses, fabrics, rugs, paintings, clothes, jewelry, you name it. “I grew up on my father’s family Low-Country plantation, ‘Willbrook,’ about 60 miles inland from Charleston. As a child, I drank in my family’s ability to live graciously in this surrounding while often visiting my grandmother in Charleston.” As she matured, Ann discovered a talent for interior design. “I love color. I love pattern. I adore designing rugs so much that I designed 40 Lacey Champion rugs for one client. Every new client is a new palette, new ideas and new creativity—it’s never the same!” Likewise, daughter Courtney grew up in a world of color. “When I was eight, Mother enrolled me in art class. After one lesson I hung out a sign offering lessons and five children signed up. Enough said. I was on my way!” Citing her mother as her design mentor, Courtney notes their similarities and differences. “While my mother is classic and pearls, I like to play on the edge—eclectic.” In addition to starting a successful lampshade line, last year Courtney became a medical missionary to Haiti. “As director of strategic operations for Emergency Physicians International, one of my jobs is to design the interiors of the orphanages that I raise money to build. This has been incredibly rewarding.”