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My Design Journey: Kristy Woodson Harvey on Being a Bestselling Novelist With a Love for Design

Headshot of Kristy Woodson Harvey

Jay Ackerman

Kristy Woodson Harvey has figured out how to enjoy the best of both worlds. In addition to being a bestselling novelist, Harvey has a love for design, which she chronicles on Design Chic, a blog she co-authors with her mother. As part of our series, My Design Journey, we spoke with the writer on combining her passions, key elements of Southern design, and what’s next for her career-wise (hint: many more books!). 

On Her Lifelong Love for Both Writing and Design

Harvey’s creativity was apparent from a young age. “As a child, I used to carry around notebooks and make up little stories—and I also loved to redecorate my room and playroom,” she says. “I especially remember redoing my bookshelves very often.”

By the time Harvey was a teenager, she had settled on a plan for her future. “I got my first newspaper column when I was 16, and I knew then that I would pursue writing,” she says. While Harvey didn’t consider design as a career, it emerged as a passion when she and her husband were decorating their first home.

So, how would she describe her own interior style? “I love light, bright interiors with coastal flair and a nice splash of antiques,” Harvey says. “I live on the coast, and I like to live in spaces that feel inspired by the beauty all around me.” 

I like to live in spaces that feel inspired by the beauty all around me.

On Launching Her Blog, Design Chic

Harvey explains that her blog, Design Chic, was something that she and her mother launched on a whim. “Mom and I were both redoing houses—and I was doing tons of freelance work for successful blogs,” Harvey shares. “We decided to start our own, mainly to share our ideas with each other. I don’t think we even expected anyone to read it!”

And that was over a decade ago. “A few months later, the houses were finished, and, lo and behold, people were actually reading the blog,” Harvey adds. “We had also made so many good blog friends. Eleven years later, we’re still here.”

Authoring blog posts allows Harvey, a novelist, to enjoy a different kind of writing. “I love that it inspires and challenges me creatively in a different way from writing novels—and keeps me constantly engaged with what is happening in the design world,” she says. “We’re doing an addition on our house right now, so it has been wonderful to be able to incorporate what I’m loving lately into our design.” 

Right now, Harvey is juggling an especially demanding work schedule outside of the blog and is grateful for her mother’s support with the site. “There is absolutely no way in the world Design Chic would still be here without my mom,” Harvey explains. “I have three novels releasing in one year, and she has picked up so much of the slack created by my schedule right now.” 

When it comes to the pair’s design tactics, each woman takes a different approach. “Mom is incredibly precise where I’m more likely to eyeball something and decide it will work,” Harvey says. “As you can imagine, that isn’t a foolproof plan. We’re a good team because she’s a great planner and excellent with the details. But, I get her out of her comfort zone, which I think also leads us to some really great places.” 

On Incorporating Design Into Her Novels 

Harvey has been able to integrate her love of design into her fiction work, too. “In my Peachtree Bluff series, my main character is an interior designer, which was so fun to write,” she says. “For that series, we had a ‘home tour’ theme, and people from all over the country invited me into their houses, hosted book events, and then I got to write about them for Traditional Home’s website. It was so fun.” 

She has also used her blog to inform her other plot points. “The blog is also really helpful in allowing me to pin down setting,” Harvey shares. “I love to find a favorite space and base a character’s home on it. We feature all the inspiration design and house tours on Design Chic.” 

On Southern Design 

In terms of key elements of Southern design specifically, Harvey shared a few mainstays. “I love the incorporation of family heirlooms into design schemes,” she notes. “There are so many things that are in my house right now that I might not have chosen but are so meaningful to my husband and me and also add to the collected feel of our home.”

But, it’s still possible to introduce contemporary pieces while paying a nod to the past, she says. “I think there is a real sense of tradition in Southern design that can be mixed beautifully with more modern aesthetics. Sometimes it can be a challenge to combine the two in an organic way, but it adds so much charm to the end result.” 

There is a real sense of tradition in Southern design that can be mixed beautifully with more modern aesthetics.

On What’s Next Professionally 

“In terms of Design Chic, Mom and I are always trying to evolve, keep the features that are working well, and introduce new concepts when we can,” Harvey says of her blog. “For example, we started a ‘Blank to Beautiful’ video series that featured interviews with creatives that was very fun and successful. We’re always looking to work with different designers and photographers to showcase what’s new and next.” 

And Harvey’s writing work will continue to keep her schedule full. She is still touring for her latest release, Under the Southern Sky, and will release Christmas in Peachtree Bluff on October 26. “It is totally standalone, so If you haven’t read the series, you don’t need to,” she shares.

On March 29, 2022, Harvey will release her first contemporary/historical novel, The Wedding Veil, featuring Edith and Cornelia Vanderbilt, the first mistress and daughter of the Biltmore Estate. “Work-wise, it has been quite a busy year,” Harvey reflects. “But, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”