Designing Havens

Cathy Maready reveals interior design trends, tips

Outdoor Living In Sky Blue

Much of CATHY MAREADY’s inspiration for interior design comes from her travels and surroundings.

Maready is the design director and founder of Elephant Ears, an interior design company in Wilmington that opened in 1996.

After spending time traveling to countries, Maready started an import business where she designed her own furniture and accessory line. But then, she wanted to work on a more personal level of design which is how Elephant Ears was born.

The name of the firm didn’t initially have a greater significance, she says.

“My late father gets credit for the name, and it actually had no meaning at the time. He was exasperated that I was chasing careers, and I had asked him what to name my new business,” Maready says. “He muttered an expletive and then ‘Elephant Ears’ and hung up the phone. The name has served us well, and few people forget it.”

Elephant Ears provides both residential and commercial interior design services.


“We are capable of handling anything from an electrical schematic to the last pillow on the sofa,” she says.

When it comes to interior design, Maready says the simpler, the better and to stay true to your passions, despite the trends.

Olympus Digital Camera

WILMA: What got you into interior design?
Maready: “I obtained a degree in aviation and a commercial pilot’s license, which got me to Hawaii working for a man that had a private fleet of aircraft.  He wanted a 737 ‘gutted’ to house a couple of bedrooms and an office, and I found my true love in design.”

WILMA: How would you describe your approach to design? How do you work with clients to come up with a design they enjoy?
Maready: “We operate under the premise that people, their passions, and their art are much more important than ‘things.’ We want them to feel at peace and comfortable and beautiful while they are in their environments. So, we have to get to know you and understand you in order to be of the best service. If you love travel or water or aviation or animals … we find this out and bring its nuances to light.

“We once designed a bank whose business is primarily to receive deposits. We took the color of the dollar bill from the U.S. Treasury and obtained all of the colors that it takes to print a dollar bill. We used this palette for the entire bank.  If you dropped a dollar bill on the ground, it almost disappeared. We met their criteria.”

WILMA: Do you have your own personal style when it comes to interior design?
Maready: “I love simplicity and clean lines. Clutter is against my religion.”

Pet CantinaWILMA: What are some trends that you have seen recently when it comes to residential interior design?
Maready: “For the past decade, geometrics have been quite popular … in fabrics, tiles, and lighting. Simplicity has been honored as well. New gadgetry for wireless technology has allowed for less clutter in living rooms and bedrooms. And, one of the best trends is seeing pet cantinas (right) and beds integrated into the homes.”

WILMA: Any trends you might see get more popular in the future?
Maready: “We are already seeing some pretty wild colors and patterns. While I think this is very trendy, we are seeing a lot of evidence of old revivals. Last week, I saw an article for ‘Grandmillenial Style’ in Better Homes and Gardens with talk about chintz and flowers everywhere. We will probably stay true to our design ethos and help people stay true to their passions with design.”

WILMA: For someone that may be interested in changing up a small area of their home on their own, what is some advice you have for them?
Maready: “Make it simple. Purchase investment pieces that last generations. Consider landfills when you purchase items for your home. And, above all, make sure you love it and it makes you happy. This is the soul of any environment.”

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Categories: Culture