Designer Spotlight

Cloth & Kind Designs Interiors with ‘History and Heart’

Cloth & Kind Florida living room

For the living room of a young family’s home near West Palm Beach, Florida, Cloth & Kind and Bjork Studio created a custom double-sided serpentine sofa. The clients, who discovered Cloth & Kind on Instagram, already had a robust collection of art and vintage furniture for the firm to work with. Top: On the other side of the sofa is an Italian mid-century burlwood coffee table from 1stdibs and the clients’ own vintage chair, which the designers reupholstered in Rebecca Atwood fabric. Photos by Rustic White unless otherwise noted

“We literally met over a comment on Pinterest.” That’s how Tami Ramsay explains her professional equivalent of a meet cute with partner Krista Nye Nicholas and the origin of their design firm, Cloth & Kind. As a social-media platform, Pinterest is a go-to for people seeking design inspiration, not business partners. Nonetheless, having discovered they shared “an obsession with patterns” and a love of vintage furniture and one-of-a-kind pieces, the pair became fast friends, although Ramsay was based in Athens, Georgia, and Nicholas lived and worked in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It’s a “social-media romance,” Ramsay jokes.

They began emailing and talking on the phone regularly and decided to go to a design conference together, where they found that they liked each other just as much in person. “We left that weekend knowing we’d go into business together,” Ramsay says. That was in 2013, and the duo continues to maintain offices in both Athens and Ann Arbor.

If their approach to forging a partnership was unconventional, so too were their individual forays into design. Nicholas’s “first career,” as she calls it, was in advertising, serving at Condé Nast in Chicago as the Midwest advertising director for magazines like Glamour and Vanity Fair. Ramsay, meanwhile, worked as a nurse for two decades, adding an interior design side hustle in the last several years (she quips that she can “decorate and resuscitate”), before finally pursuing her passion full-time.

Tami Ramsay and Krista Nye Nicholas of Cloth & Kind

After meeting on social media, Tami Ramsay and Krista Nye Nicholas teamed up to launch their design firm, Cloth & Kind, which they run from offices in Athens, Georgia, and Ann Arbor, Michigan. Portrait by Jason Thrasher

“I’m more of a dreamer in terms of thinking that everything is possible, and Tami is more grounded and practical,” Nicholas says. Ramsay concurs, noting that her health-care experience honed her skills as a project manager: “Nursing is about managing details, and you’re managing the details of someone’s life, so you become exceedingly detail oriented.” With their complementary backgrounds, it’s easy to imagine how they balance each other out. “We joke that we couldn’t have planned it better,” Nicholas says. “Our skill sets magically coincided and converged.”

Cloth & Kind Florida dining room and guesr bedroom

Left: Cloth & Kind made the curtains for the home’s dining room, which also features the owners’ vintage chandelier, table and chairs. Right: In a guest room, Andy Warhol’s Life Savers (FS II.353) hangs over the bed, which is fitted out with custom linens by Cloth & Kind. The nightstand is from Traslucido.

Their design styles have also merged over the years. “I’ve probably brought Krista into color, and she’s helped me be restrained,” Ramsay says. Adds Nicholas, “Now, it’s almost like we have a blended aesthetic, and it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. ”It’s their confident use of color and patterns that attracts clients, although the partners don’t discriminate against those who aren’t interested in going bold. “We aren’t trying to push anyone,” Ramsay says.

Indeed, their aesthetic translates just as well to projects with more neutral palettes. In a renovated saltbox in Athens, Georgia, for example, the designers punctuated the mostly black-and-white color scheme with vibrant Persian rugs, re-covering a set of chairs in the living room in mud cloth the homeowners brought back from a trip. And in Michigan, the firm transformed a gut-renovated Tudor into an airy, inviting family home, retaining its architectural charm while updating it with light walls and their signature confident mix of patterned textiles, plus a few quirky touches, like gold-lobster-print wallpaper behind glass-front cabinetry. Still, Ramsay notes that they encourage clients to be open-minded. And when it comes to partnering with clients, she adds, “we are very selective in our process. We want them to feel that we’re the best fit for them. If they don’t trust us, they won’t get anything good from us.”

Cloth & Kind Interiors
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Cloth & Kind Interiors

In a renovated Tudor in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Cloth & Kind outfitted the living room with richly patterned textiles, like the Schumacher and Kravet fabrics covering, respectively, the side chair and its pillow, plus a hide rug layered over a sisal one. Mounted between the windows is a convex mirror by Carvers’ Guild. Photo by Martin Vecchio

In the Tudor’s kitchen, pendants from the Cloth & Kind showroom hang over the waterfall-edge island. Photo by Martin Vecchio

Left: The well-stocked bar features open shelving and brass hardware. Right: In the butler’s pantry, cabinetry is backed with a cheeky gold-lobster-print wallpaper from Abnormals Anonymous. Photo by Martin Vecchio

Cloth & Kind mudroom

The mudroom, which offers an abundance of closed and open storage space, includes a window seat covered in Hable Construction fabric. Photo by Martin Vecchio

Left: The dressing room contains another window seat, this one covered in Kravet fabric, and a vintage runner. Right: Cloth & Kind created the custom draperies for the master bath, which also includes a vintage rug from their shop. Photo by Martin Vecchio

Working with local contractor John McLeod, Cloth & Kind renovated the Lyceum, a former general store on the national historic register, to serve as the office of an Athens, Georgia, attorney. In 2017, the project was recognized by the Athens-Clarke Heritage Foundation as an exceptional historic renovation. Cloth & Kind anchored the meeting space shown here with a vintage pine table.

A collection of music photography and concert posters covers the lime-washed walls in this meeting area. Swivel chairs from Cloth & Kind’s showroom are topped with vintage throw pillows.

Left: The back seating area includes petrified-wood tables and a custom rectangular side table by Cloth & Kind. Right: The sunny kitchen features open shelving and a vintage runner.

Cloth & Kind was contracted to design a home near West Palm Beach, Florida, belonging to an art-collecting couple in their mid-30s with a toddler son and a baby on the way after the wife discovered the firm’s work on Instagram. The clients, whom Ramsay describes as “exceedingly game,” already had excellent pieces of vintage and antique furniture, so the designers worked with these while also creating custom items — among them, an ingenious metal installation in the entryway.

Cloth & Kind Florida entryway

For the entryway, Cloth & Kind collaborated with artist Lou Kregel and the St. Udio metalworking company to create this artwork, whose elements are backed with magnets and can be rearranged. It is mounted over a vintage metal console from Acorn.

The piece was a collaboration between Cloth & Kind and two Athens-based makers: artist Lou Kregel and the St. Udio metalworking company. “I went to [Kregel] with this concept for art that would be super colorful but also moveable,” Ramsay says, explaining that the two of them cut out cardboard pieces, which Kregel then painted and took to St. Udio to be fabricated in metal. The result is a colorful mélange of shapes, reminiscent of Matisse’s cut-outs, which are set on magnets so they can be rearranged. Mounted above a vintage canary-yellow console from Acorn, the work sets the tone for the house, which Ramsay describes as having “a very flirty, playful and youthful Florida vibe.”

In the living room, another bold custom piece by Cloth & Kind — a teal double-sided serpentine sofa — is paired with a burlwood coffee table from 1stdibs on one side and a bespoke ottoman on the other. The audacious use of color continues throughout the home, including a guest room where Andy Warhol’s Life Savers (FS II.353) hangs over a bed with groovy patterned linens and a nightstand from Traslucido. The clients were so pleased with the outcome that Cloth & Kind is now updating several rooms for their growing family in their Connecticut home.

Cloth & Kind Florida patio

Left: Graphic tile adds a punch of pattern to the outdoor kitchen. Right: A Paul Ferrante chandelier hangs over the outdoor dining area, which also includes a Hive table by Zachary A. Design and a set of vintage Pan Am chairs.

Despite the offbeat nature of their meeting, the two partners are buttoned-up when it comes to the business. They crafted a mission statement (to “create spaces with history and heart, with story and substance”), hired a consultant to set up their project-management and accounting software and worked with a business coach to learn how to manage the firm effectively. With an all-female team of 13 employees, offices in two states and projects nationwide, their commitment to staying organized is not just helpful but necessary.

This is especially true now that the firm has expanded beyond interior design client work. In Ann Arbor, the duo launched a showroom for the trade, which serves designers throughout a nine-state midwestern territory, and a home goods shop that’s open to the public. “We always liked the idea of doing something that allowed us to have a storefront,” Ramsay says. Nicholas took a step back from design work to get their new brick-and-mortar ventures up and running, but now, she says, she’s “dipping back in.”

Cloth & Kind Florida kids' room

Left: The kids’ room features custom bunk beds by Cloth & Kind and an Italian three-arm brass lamp from Minimal Concept. Right: The table and chairs in the play area are from Kinder Modern, and the canvas basket and collage art are from Hable Construction.

“It really has to be sort of like a marriage,” Nicholas says of their business relationship. “It’s hard, and there are challenges, but it can be rewarding beyond measure.” Which raises the question: If they hadn’t met each other, would they have sought out partnerships in their individual design businesses? “Absolutely not,” Ramsay says emphatically. “It’s so unlike us.”

Cloth & Kind’s Quick Picks

“We recently used a pair of these fabulous neoclassical sconces in a bar, and they make quite the statement. We love conversational pieces, and these fit the bill in any project.”

“The combo of chunky round legs and graphic tile top on this coffee table had us, full stop. We see this used in a big open-plan living room with deep-seat lounging sofas and a soft Moroccan rug underfoot.”

“We are suckers for game tables, and anytime we can work them into a multi-seating-area living space, we do it. We especially love the quirkiness of this parchment one, with its eglomise top and swiveling drink rests on casters. It can even serve as an additional table for guests, since it extends for additional seating.”

“Who doesn’t like to warm their bum by the fire on a cold day? We adore using fenders for this very reason, and also for the visual interest added to an otherwise traditional architectural and functional element in the room. Keep vintage ones with leather seats, or update them with a really cool textile.”

“The shape of this chair makes us weak in the knees, PLUS this high-back scoop style is super comfortable while being a total showstopper. We would use this sheepskin vintage chair in any project, regardless of the style and vibe, for the exquisite sculptural element alone.”

“We are major textile lovers and look for rugs that are art for the floor — the fifth wall. We adore this vintage Mashad, with its bright colors and delicious pattern.”

“We are on a constant hunt for interesting tabletop items and pieces for bookcase display. Bruno Gambone was a genius, and this dove bowl is a winner, with its little heart. It could easily serve as a small planter for succulents, a place for keys and extra change or just on display.”

“We gravitate toward abstract nude figures as a classic art form. Timeless and beautiful, this piece is invigorated with bright colors and bold brush strokes — perfect for any project.”

“Grape clusters have come into and gone out of fashion, but we never tire of them for a coffee table on top of a big stack of books. These alabaster grapes are substantial, classic, super chic and work across projects of every style.”

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