Holly's parents exposed her to extraordinary houses, gardens, and museums throughout her life. She traveled the world as a child, having lived in Germany, Taiwan, Washington DC and Richmond, Virginia to name a few! Her parents moved over thirty-one times and Holly's mother prided herself in being able to host a formal dinner party within one week of moving! 

Holly’s formative years were spent in Richmond, Virginia. Here, she attended an Episcopal girls school and graduated from Mt. Vernon College and, then, the University of Richmond School of Business. It was here that the gentility of Southern culture made an impression on her, which is clearly apparent in her work. 

Holly’s great grandparents met at the Emperor’s Ball in Vienna, Austria. Eventually, they moved to Tientsin, China, where they designed their home, Neibelheim, replete with a “gentleman’s” horse racecourse. The Empress Dowager of The Forbidden City appointed her great grandfather to be a high official of Customs (a position equivalent to Vice Premier); he opened trade for China with European countries.