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It all started when...

The story of CMT Designs began many years ago - in the house that I grew up in. As a young child, I found a love for re-arranging spaces and finding solutions for clutter. I had a passion for organization and laying out floor plans. It was not uncommon to find me moving furniture or adding my own flare to our décor, without ever asking for permission.

In grade school, I would hurry home in time to make the 4:00 PM showing of Trading Spaces. I would watch intently to see how the incredible designers and teams of D.I.Y.-ers would transform rooms into sanctuaries. I was mesmerized by the client’s reactions and motivated by how their new spaces made them feel. I would try the things they did on TV to my childhood home.

Growing up I wanted to be many things: a horse trainer, an orthopedic surgeon, an archeologist and even dreamed of being a country singer. It didn’t occur to me until late in high school that I had a real knack for design. And it just came naturally to me.

I was lucky that my high school offered electives like “Interior Design Fundamentals” and “Computer Aided Drafting.” I recall that I was the only girl in the CAD class. One girl in a group of about 15 high school boys. I remember my teacher became a fan of my bravery for staying in the class despite being the only girl and he allowed me to use the school shop during his class and after school. While the guys were goofing off in the computer lab, I was building 3D models of houses and horse barns and making tiny furniture to go inside. I loved every minute of it. And I also loved that I was also the only one to ace the final project.

Fast forward to my college orientation, my mother and I are walking around the Tate Student center at the University of Georgia – it was just weeks away from the first day of class. We were doing normal orientation things; getting my student ID photo taken and discussing my move in plans - when she stumbles across a pamphlet on a folding table in the hallway entitled “Furnishings & Interiors. Design for Residential Environments.”

The pamphlet was not a traditional 3-fold – but a triangle shaped piece of paper that opened into a pyramid. I fell in love with the pamphlet - but I was not in love with the idea of going to college for such a specific reason. I heard stories about people changing majors up to 7 times and going in a general direction is always better. So I stuck to my gut and declared my major as “Business Management.”

According to my mom, she wasn’t sold on the idea that business management was right for me. She was dropping not so subtle hints, like “Do you really think business is what you want to do?” And “If you don’t enjoy your classes you will struggle to stay focused and get good grades.” So very reluctantly, I changed my major.

For the next 4 years, I balanced the bachelor’s program of Interior Design and competing on a Division 1 Collegiate Equestrian Team. Classes were long studios and the project-based curriculum with a full-time sport was very time consuming.

Due to the crazy schedules during the competition seasons, I chose to take on internships in the summers and try to catch up on what I had missed. I interned for accomplished interior designer and business owner Breckyn Alexander of BMA Designs in Athens, GA where I honed my craft for southern design and trained my eye to find and appreciate great furnishings and details in design.

The following summer I worked for Alton-Brooke of London, England located at the Chelsea Harbour Design Center. This company was an esteemed textile distributer that sourced fabrics, leathers, rugs and wallcoverings for interior designers all over the UK and specifically known for their involvement in set design.

Each year, I became more passionate and frankly, obsessed with interior design. And all good design, in general. In London, I fell in love with the architecture and the fashion - and was gitty when my boss at Alton-Brooke told me that I had “really good taste” and “not just for an American.”

Following graduation from the University of Georgia, I accepted a position in Columbus, Ohio for the role of Associate Interior Designer at the largest interior design firm in the Northern Hemisphere – Restoration Hardware. Here, I quickly worked my way up at from rookie floor consultant to one of the most established designers at that location. I was taking on large corporate and residential projects and working with clients all over the world. I was training the new hires and was a leader in the opening of the Next Generation Gallery that has helped to establish Columbus, OH as a major design city in the U.S.

After 2 years with RH-Columbus, I transitioned to a new position with a smaller company called Clayton Boyd Luxury Barns based out of Valley View, Texas. This company allowed me to sharpen my skills in the equine industry and in horse barn and property design, specifically. With a very unique clientele, I was able to focus on giving each individual, their horses and their visitors a specialized and luxury barn design.

After years of working for prestigious design firms across the globe, it became evident to me that the “business management” skills that I lacked in college, was, in fact, the real-life experience I was gaining.

In order to start my own company, I knew that I needed to have a solid foundation of values. I understood and appreciated the importance of customer service. I understood the value of building strong client relationships. I understood that continuing education and having a passion for your craft is a must. And I understood that marketing, advertising, and networking is essential to the success and growth of a business.

My goal for CMT Designs is simple, “to bring great design and excellent customer service to my clients.”

With a clear goal and the knowledge and experiences I hold dearly, CMT Designs was born.


I want to thank everyone that has supported me on my journey to open CMT Designs. This would not be possible without the support of my family, my fiancé and my wonderful clients and mentors. I thank you for believing in me and giving me the opportunities to grow and learn from you. I am sure our paths will continue to cross.

I welcome you to browse through my website. Look at some of the work that I have done over the years. Share your dreams with me and let’s work together to make those dreams a reality.

Yours truly,

Charley Marie Thiel

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