Our story

Max Hugo Interior Design (formerly Sew Fine II) has been family owned and operated in Durham, North Carolina since 1988. When designer and founder, Paula Fullerton, and her husband settled in the Triangle, Paula was encouraged by her family and peers to open up her own boutique interior design firm. Paula was able to strike a successful balance between being a business owner and a parent to two young children – the rest is history!

Family loved & OPERATED

Fast forward to 2020 when Paula’s full-service interior design firm is thriving and she is confidently transitioning the business into the hands of her daughter, Katherine Gianakos. Katherine is now an owner and the business manager at Max Hugo Interior Design. Given that Katherine grew up in the business herself, sometimes even found napping in the design studio as a toddler, it was a natural evolution. Paula attributes the seamless transition to Katherine’s business acumen, her life-long understanding of the business, and the trust that the mother-daughter pair have in one another. Paula loves that she can continue her design projects while she takes more time to travel with her husband and play with her grandchild – who she also hopes will be involved in the business someday!

Full Service

One of the many elements that set the Max Hugo team apart from the competition is our own team of experts. The team at Max Hugo Interior Design has been meticulously trained in product knowledge and receives ongoing training to stay on top of industry trends. The team is also committed to using the highest quality suppliers, artisan fabricators, and trained installers. This is why you will always receive the best experience and quality product possible when you work with Max Hugo Interior Design.

Floor-to-ceiling Satisfaction

There is a reason that Max Hugo Interior Design has repeat clients for over 30 years. Not only is Max Hugo Interior Design a multi-generational owned business but it is also a multi-generational client fueled business. In fact, Paula still has clients she has worked with since 1988 and she now designs for their children. The reason for this longevity and customer loyalty can be attributed to what has always made Max Hugo Interior Design different from its competitors – the Max Hugo designers always listen to the needs of their clients before anything else. Paula and Katherine describe it as “setting egos aside” because ultimately, it isn’t about their personal design aesthetic, it is only about the client’s vision and needs. The designers take extraordinary care to get to know their clients and to design what best reflects them and their lifestyle.


…to provide exceptional floor-to-ceiling interior design by listening to our clients, putting experience into action, and delivering an environment that feels like home.

Our Vision is…

…to be known as a full-service interior design firm by continuing to work in close partnership with our clients – always listening and using our extensive experience to ensure client satisfaction.

CORE values


Professionalism: We are highly experienced professionals
who provide our clients with responsiveness, timeliness, and attentiveness to budget

Client Satisfaction: Providing a positive customer experience is a cornerstone of our work at Max Hu


Applied Experience: With over 33 years of experience, we are experts in our field.

Leadership: We hear it time and time again, our clients valuate our guidance from the start of a project to its completion.

Attention to Detail: When Max Hugo takes on a project, we evaluate a space from floor to ceiling, window to wall with no detail overlooked.


Communication: We are dedicated to being both proactive and responsive to our clients and always clear and timely in our communications.

Collaboration: We work in partnership with our clients to ensure that we create personalized spaces that accommodate their lifestyle and needs

Listening: We take the time to understand our clients’ needs then offer our expertise to achieve their visions.

Our team

Get to know our experienced design team!

Katherine Gianakos
Owner & Design Manager

Born and raised in Durham, Katherine is passionate about owning and running a business that has touched so many homes in the Triangle. Katherine oversees the day-to-day operations of Max Hugo Interior Design and loves that she is now an owner of the business that she watched her parents grow over the course of her life. Katherine lives in Durham with her husband, their son, and their dog Hugo.

Paula Fullerton
Owner & Lead Interior Design Consultant

In 1988, Paula founded Max Hugo Interior Design and since then has worked side-by-side with her clients to help them realize their dream living spaces. She loves building trusted relationships with her clients and believes that her ability to connect with her clients is why many of them become clients for life. Paula’s childhood was spent moving around the world as an Air Force “brat”. This life experience has provided her a well-rounded design perspective that incorporates regional, national, and international styles for her clients. In 1986, Paula and her husband chose the “heart of North Carolina”, Durham, as the place they wanted to put down roots and raise their family. When not working with clients, Paula enjoys being a grandmother, snuggling her dog Max, family time, and traveling with her husband by motorcycle.

Michelle Cortazzo
Interior Design Consultant

Michelle is a New Jersey native who has made the Triangle her home for many years. Her passion is textiles, and she has been sewing and tailoring since childhood. Michelle graduated with a degree in Textile Design from Philadelphia University. Her knowledge of both textiles and sewing gives Michelle an advantage in designing custom window treatments and selecting upholstery for her clients’ homes and offices. When not designing, Michelle spends time training and playing with her dog, a sweet rescue from Cause for Paws.

Samantha Mead
Assistant Studio Manager

Samantha serves the team and clients with care and excellence. She has a background in the special events industry and loves beautiful environments and the power of design to bring people together. Samantha and her family moved to the south in 2008 and have been charmed by the abundant sunshine and southern hospitality ever since. She now lives in Chapel Hill with her husband, two daughters, and their beloved dog, Omi.

Max Hugo Dog


Studio Dog Max is an Eastern European German Shepard that was rescued by Paula and her husband. He is a young, energetic dog who loves people, especially children. One of his favorite activities is going on his special day camp outings with his pack of friends. As a working breed, Max loves to have a job – we just wish he could sell window coverings! When he isn’t lounging around or wrestling in the design studio with his best friend, Hugo, he loves to go for rides in the family truck and chase balls.

Max Hugo Design Interior DEsign

HUGO Chief Greeting Officer

Chief Greeting Officer Hugo is a Chocolate English Labrador. Katherine and her husband brought him home in June of 2020 and he has been the perfect addition to their family ever since. After losing their dog Lucy, the original Max Hugo Interior Design “studio dog” earlier in the year, Katherine realized that their home didn’t feel complete without a dog. At home, Hugo is attached “at the hip” with Katherine’s son, Leo. When Hugo is in the Max Hugo Interior Design studio, he serves as the Chief Greeting Officer before quickly retiring for a snooze under Katherine’s desk. When Hugo isn’t greeting or sleeping in the studio he likes to swim in any body of water, including his own water bowl.


our community

Our team functions and feels like a family (and for some of us, it really is family!) We treat our clients and community as extensions of that family and we use our services and resources to serve and give back to the Triangle, a community that has given so much to us over the years.

We are proud to support the following organizations:

  • Center for Child & Family Health (CCFH)
  • Durham APS
  • Local Schools
  • St. Thomas More
  • Northern High School
  • North Carolina FOP


Ambella Home Collection
MT Company
Four Hands

What People Are Saying