When Tommy Clements was growing up, he remembers watching his mother renovate or furnish new houses for the family again and again, as they moved every few years. That was because his dad — and namesake — is an NFL coach (currently for the Green Bay Packers). “I was keenly aware that each home had a very distinct feeling when it was complete, and I tried to understand why,” he says. “I think this is when I started to absorb the importance of scale, layout and palette, as well as to appreciate how the architecture of a house informs how its rooms are composed.”
All this decorating prompted his mother to open Sister Agnes, a small antiques shop in New Orleans, in the late 1990s, when her husband was with the Saints and her son was already a teenager. It was only then, Kathleen Clements says, that she “made a full-time commitment to design.”
As close as mother and son are, Tommy says they have very different design approaches, which he attributes to temperament. “I can really get obsessed with the minutiae and all of the small design details, which of course are hugely important,” he says. “My mom is a bit more macro, more visceral. No matter how perfectly planned and thought out every detail is, there still has to be something unexplainable, even magical, to give a home its character and soul. My mom is super-conscious of that feeling, and she forces me to . . . consider the big picture” — a role most mothers could relate too.
As for Kathleen, focusing on the differences between her and her son doesn’t interest her much. “From the moment Tommy and I began working together, we have always collaborated. We have a very similar sense of style, but each of us expresses our style in a unique way. . . . That’s not to say we don’t disagree, but generally the disagreements ramp up the creativity.” What are the they about? Kathleen is too diplomatic a mother to say, which may be exactly why she and her son work together so well.
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