The Soul of a Southern Spitfire
On the hunt for the next great style accessory with an HGTV star and self-described “modern cavewoman.”
My first thought after interviewing Abbi Williams was, “Man, I want her to take me thrifting.” My mind played a movie montage of us in a Goodwill dressing room trying on ’70s bellbottoms and ’80s wedding dresses then laughing like old girlfriends over coffee, bags of broken-in jeans and vintage t-shirts at our feet.
Williams’ warmth and openness invites this kind of social fantasy in strangers — you want her to be your best friend as she simultaneously designs your dream home. It’s probably what landed her a show on HGTV.
“Southern Spitfire” premiered this past May with an episode where Williams sketches room designs on her client’s walls and hangs a hog trough as a range hood. “I want to show the story of how the design was developed. I want to push the limits. I want to be surprised. I want to learn something,” Abbi says about the show. “I was adamant that we find an average home in Middle America, not a farmhouse on 30 acres. Those grand backdrops aren’t the reality for most homeowners. They end up buying this ranch-style house that looks like every other house on the block with no face, no detail, no history. We start the history with that family, that day.”
“We used Romabio Classico Limewash in Cristallo White because we wanted a more ‘organic’ white, as opposed to the brighter whites that are popular right now,” said Williams. “The Limewash was for a lake house, so we didn't want to create a stark silhouette in such a natural setting. And we loved being able to do samples on the side of the house to experiment and ‘control’ the application.”
“Things don’t necessarily go together because they match. They go together because I love them, I keep them close to my heart.”
Pieces like those Caribou horns, along with animal skulls, bird nests and tree branches inspire Williams, a self-proclaimed modern cavewoman. “I don’t know if it’s a south Georgia thing? I don’t hunt, but I love the texture a set of horns or a reindeer hide can create. They’re just exquisite. When I say I’m a modern cavewoman, it sounds crazy, but that’s what I’m stepping towards.”
She is a modern cavewoman, but one who knows the value of a crisp white button-down. She is unpretentious and wildly talented, folksy yet sharp as hell, and fiercely dedicated to cultivating her technical practice, drawing and sketching every day to push the limits of design. Those contradictions define Southern style for Williams.
After a while, that conspiratorial earnestness starts to evoke daydreams of shopping trips and, I imagine, of beautiful rooms in a house that feels like a home.
Catch Abbi on HGTV's "Southern Spitfire" hgtv.com