Saturday, October 9, 2010

A Visit with Carolyne Roehm

BB and Carolyne Roehm (click on photos to enlarge)
Dear reader, your loyal correspondent recently had the wonderful pleasure of visiting with the designer and author Carolyne Roehm at home in her beautiful New York apartment. The occasion was the imminent publication in November of her new book, A Passion for Interiors (Clarkson Potter).

We leaned against plump gold silk-covered pillows for a cozy video interview which you will find at the end of this post. She talked about her love of novels like Gone with the Wind, Pride & Prejudice and Rebecca which feature strong heroines, and Carolyne Roehm herself presents a fascinating story. As an only child of educator parents in Kirkville, Missouri, she moved to New York to be a fashion designer and became an assistant for Oscar de la Renta. In 1985 she married Henry Kravis, cofounder of the private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co., and at the same time launched her eponymous fashion designer company, thus arriving at the grand pinnacle of the New York social and fashion worlds. In the early nineties after the marriage ended and her fashion house closed, she applied her exquisite taste, great intelligence, deep knowledge, and passion for flowers, entertaining, art and decorating to write books and lecture as a lifestyle expert.

This new book, her tenth, A Passion for Interiors, examines her love of classical architecture and decorating. "I am soothed and uplifted by the harmonious relationships between columns, capitals, entablatures and pediments, by the wisdom of classical order, the sublime perfection of proportion and scale," she writes. To illustrate her point, the tome presents her New York City apartment, her home in Sharon, Connecticut, and a house she designed in Aspen for her beau Simon Pinniger. This sumptuous book, which is richly photographed and elegantly designed, is an inspiring look at how one gifted designer has applied the classical style with flair in the modern age.

We met in Carolyne Roehm's living room in New York City, which features a double-height ceiling, eighteenth and nineteenth century art and furniture, and walls upholstered with chocolate brown velveteen.

(images from A Passion for Interiors)
Here is an artist's rendering of the room:

Her bedroom in New York also has upholstered walls, this time in a woven cotton of green and taupe flowers. She had her bed hand-upholstered in the same romantic fabric.

Carolyne Roehm's country home, called Weatherstone, is in the extremely picturesque town of Sharon, Connecticut.

In 1999, the house suffered a terrible fire and Roehm lost beloved art, furniture and antiques. The resourceful heroine found opportunity in the tragedy to build what she loves – a double-height living room. In the country, the palette is lighter: blue and green in a shell of white.

In the Aspen home she designed for her beau Simon Pinniger, I am recognizing Carolyne Roehm signatures: a double-height living room, bold color with white trim, and tantalizing textiles.

Carolyne was a warm and charming hostess, and we sat down to talk. "The things that bring life into a room – music, candles, flowers, dogs – that's what makes a room memorable," she said to me. And she told me what opera she listened to sixty times during one difficult three month period. I was lucky to arrange a visit as she was soon off with Simon for a month-long trip to Turkey and Egypt. Enjoy this visit with Carolyne Roehm:
Part 1

Part 2


Kathy said...

Thank you for sharing! What a terrific way to spend part of my Saturday afternoon. Ms. Roehm has always been one of my style models.

Madonna B said...

what a beautiful interview.
really fed my soul.

Ella said...

I like your warm, personal style when you interview together with Ted's camera movements. It gives a true and genuine feeling.

helen tilston said...

Thank you for sharing this interview. I felt I was sitting there with you in this tall ceiling room. I love her use of colour and uniqueness.
Bravo well done

Karena said...

Bart what a dream visit, I adore Carolyn's signature design style! Thank you for sharing such beauty!

Art by Karena

Reggie Darling said...

Hello Bart: Great interview(s)! Thanks very much for sharing with your readers. Reggie

The Sluice Box said...

What a pleasure to hear the voice of a woman I've read about for so many years. Thanks for sharing this.

Bob H. said...

Not to argue the point too much, but "Rebecca" did not feature a strong heroine, quite the opposite. The second Mrs. DeWinter - so mousey she never even is named - was completely defeated by the malevolent influence of Rebecca from beyond the grave. Rebecca was quite strong, but no heroine, and I doubt anyone would want to indentify with her.

Bart Boehlert said...

Thanks for all the comments here. This interview was really a treat for me.
Robert, thanks for your note about the two Mrs. DeWinters. I may have to amend my copy based on your observation!

Toby Worthington said...

Only just got round to reading this post and seeing
the interview. Marvelous. Carolyn Roehm is exquisite,
her apartment the perfect reflection of a style that
continues to evolve in the nicest way. Thank you

Lee said...

Thank you for this post. I love absolutely love Carolyne. Have met her, her mom as well, and been at Weatherstone three times for her garden tours. I loved your interview. I love your blog.

Gregory Piccini said...

thanks for sharing! the renderings are fantastic!


very very interesting and so many good suggestions..thx for share it

Lisa said...

not an opera buff but loved the music at the start of the interview, could someone identify the opera and singer?