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Decorator remembered as man of 'impeccable taste'

December 01, 2000

Decorator remembered as man of 'impeccable taste'

By DAVE McMILLLION / Staff Writer, Charles Town


SHEPHERDSTOWN, W.Va. - Friends of Keith Hugh Knost mourned the death of the well-known interior designer Thursday, remembering him as a man of "impeccable taste" who helped make Shepherdstown the attractive town it is today.

Knost, 61, died at his studio on Princess Street in Shepherdstown Wednesday.

Knost was attending George Washington University when he began experimenting in millinery - the art of making women's hats - as a hobby.

His line of hats soon became a hot item among Washington, D.C., socialites, and one was sold to Pat Nixon, according to Stewart Borger, a good friend of Knost.

When the art of millinery began fading, Knost turned his interest to interior designing.

Knost used fine materials like silk in his home interior designs and he was particular in his use of window trim, fringe and other touches, said Denise Campolieto, a Shepherdstown resident who worked with him.

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"He would deliver a complete package for people. His work was breathtaking," Campolieto said.

Once his reputation became known, Knost began decorating homes, hotels and other buildings across the country.

Among his accomplishments were decorating homes in Martha's Vineyard and serving as a design consultant to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in New York. His design work has been published in periodicals including Southern Accents Magazine, The Washington Post Magazine, Veranda Magazine and Town and Country.

After attending school in Washington, Knost moved to Charleston, W.Va., where he designed seven different collections of hats, including one especially for the Kentucky Derby in 1970, said Borger.

His connection with Shepherdstown was apparently happenstance, said his brother, Ron Knost.

Knost decided to visit the area and was instantly hooked on Shepherdstown's quaint atmosphere, his brother said. In 1973, he moved to Shepherdstown and opened a gift shop.

He later created two corporations, Keith H. Knost Fine Gifts and Keith H. Knost Interiors.

Friends credit him with being one of the first people to make Shepherdstown the attractive, tasteful town it is today.

"He could see it would boom, he was ahead of his time," said Ron Knost.

"He got ladies interested in arts and entertaining," said close friend John Schley.

Knost's shops became a mainstay of downtown, but his love for the town extended beyond business. He was known for his extravagant parties, which featured exquisitely displayed gourmet food and fine dinnerware.

In the summer, he would often stretch white material over his back yard on Princess Street for parties. Knost would incorporate special lighting and plantings under the fabric to create a striking effect at night."You knew you had been someplace special if you went to a party of his," said Borger.

Knost cared deeply for Shepherdstown and helped on projects in town like the renovation of the historic Entler Hotel, friends said. Knost always wanted to hold parties in town to celebrate holidays like Christmas and Valentine's Day, they said.

"He was just a man of impeccable taste," said Campolieto.

In addition to his businesses in Shepherdstown, Knost owned three gift and design shops at The Greenbrier, a luxurious resort in White Sulphur Springs, W.Va., and Homestead in Hot Springs, Va.

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