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Five Questions for: Anne Rainey Rokahr, Owner, Trouvaille Home, Winston-Salem, NC

Gang:

Every once in a while you stumble upon a small slice of wonderland, a magical place where everything is chic, gracious, gorgeous, and welcoming. Such was the case a few years back when John and I discovered Trouvaille Home, an incredible, beautifully curated home and design outpost in the heart of buzzy, fun Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

So who was the brains behind this world-class casbah of chic, John and I wondered. We finally met the grand poobah of panache herself Anne Rainey Rokahr, the owner of TH, and, naturally, we were instantly smitten and have become fast friends.

Anne Rainey Rokahr, the style siren behind Winston-Salem, North Carolina’s chic Trouvaille Home.

So what makes Trouvaille Home so exceptional? The mix, folks, the mix, the mix!

  • Vintage furnishings!
  • Gorgeous new finds!
  • Scintillating vignettes!
  • Surprise and delight!

Trouvaille Home offers the perfect pairing of old and new served up with gracious, just-right service. Plus, we are crazy for Anne’s dog, Henry, who is always holding court at Trouvaille Home, but that’s just an added bonus to the all-around chicté.

So how did the ravishing Madame Rokahr hone her spot-on sensibility?

Here’s Anne’s bio in her own words:

“After graduating from Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Virginia, Anne landed in NYC and began her career as a film and commercial producer in North America, Europe, and the Middle East. Her documentaries and features have premiered and been nominated for awards at the Cannes, Tribeca, and Dubai International Film Festivals. Anne relocated to Dubai in 2006 as the Head of Production for film company Desert Door Productions. While in Dubai, Anne was voted one of Ahlan Magazine’s “100 Most Influential People in Dubai.” Anne was also Agency Director of NYC Fashion and Beauty PR firm RED PR and named a top 25 Publicist by Women’s Wear Daily. Anne returned to her hometown of Winston-Salem, NC from Dubai in 2008 where she settled in working as a consultant for clients in NYC. In 2009 she purchased The Snob Shop, a high-end consignment boutique where she had once worked as a girl of 13. In 2014 Anne brought to fruition a longtime vision and passion by founding Trouvaille Home, an extraordinary interior design and home furnishings store in Winston-Salem, NC.”

So let’s learn a bit more about this peripatetic style maker:

The exterior of Trouvaille Home.

  1. MADCAP COTTAGE (MC): What sparked your passion for design? Did you rearrange your room as a child or teenager?

ANNE RAINEY ROKAHR (ARR): When I was around 7 or 8 years old my mother snuck into my room on Christmas Eve while I was sleeping. She somehow managed to put a new comforter and pillowcases on my bed and hung curtains that she had made out of a set of matching sheets. That Christmas morning—and that Springmaid riotous floral print—is etched in my memory. Waking up to a transformation of my little room was so magical. I think I’ve spent my life trying to recapture that feeling and deliver the same to my clients.

  1. MCC: You were in films for many years. How did that background shape your eventual foray into owning a home design store and crafting bespoke interiors?

ARR: Yes, my first career was as a commercial and film producer. I was always drawn to the art department. The way that a great Set Designer and Director of Photography can create such a depth of emotion with color, texture, and light—before the people, words, or music even come into play—is remarkably powerful. A well-designed room should evoke feelings the moment you enter. Creating an interior design shop in which every piece is selected and staged with the same level of passion and attention to detail was manifesting itself in my brain as early as I can remember. It took me years of experience, travel, living abroad, entertaining, historical reading, and conversation to develop the full vision and execution of the shop.


3. MC: Tell us about Trouvaille Home and the magical mix of new and old. What are you trying to accomplish at TH? What makes TH so unique and special?

The charming Henry, Trouvaille Home’s scampish mascot.

ARR: What makes Trouvaille special is the fact that every piece in the shop is selected by me. I only buy what I love, with no particular bent towards contemporary, antique, or mid-century. Each piece in the shop is inherently well proportioned and specific in its beauty. I sit in every piece of custom upholstery we consider to make sure it’s comfortable and functional. I don’t carry complete collections of new furniture, I carefully select my favorites. I never build a room or a setting from a neutral. I start with a spectacular piece and fill in the rest. The result is a pleasant tension between old and new, glamour and comfort, texture and form. It’s a complete departure from the pre-fabricated, neutral, and fearful design that unfortunately saturates the market currently. Plus, we serve champagne.

  1. MC: Favorite room?

ARR: My porch

MCC: Hotel?

ARR: Jumeirah Dar Al Masyaf in Dubai

MCC: Cocktail?

ARR: Old Fashioned

MCC: Destination?

ARR: Any capital city in Europe

MCC: Favorite interior designer of the past?

ARR: Tony Duquette

  1. MCC: Describe your perfect room.

ARR: A giant parlor with tons of French doors leading to a slate garden area and a vista beyond. Sunny and bright during the day and moody incandescent lighting at night. Citrus trees by the windows in winter and a baronial fireplace.  Dedicated to entertaining friends and family. Tons of intimate, lush seating areas. Sparkle and gold. Antiques and family heirlooms. Hand-painted scenic wallpaper. No TV. And a fully stocked bar, of course.

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Five Questions For: Hannah Alderson, Robert Allen

The talented and textile-minded Hannah Alderson.

Gang, meet Hannah Alderson, Director, Design & Merchandising, Robert Allen!

John and I are so lucky to work with the amazing studio team at Robert Allen (now the Robert Allen Duralee Group) to bring our fabric vision to life. Among the shining stars who help us on the Robert Allen design front: Donna Rinaldi, Lucy Maitland, and Holly Merry. We are also so very fortunate to work with the brilliant Hannah Alderson, the Director, Design & Merchandising at Robert Allen and a shining star in the glittering textiles world. Smart, creative, a visionary… and Hannah’s really darn cool, to boot.

So, dear Hannah, let’s unveil your stellar bio:

“Hannah Alderson has served as Robert Allen’s Director of Design since 2011, where she is always on a search for the next great color story. She grew up in Brooklyn, studied painting at Harvard, and received her MFA in Textiles from Rhode Island School of Design. Her work provides her an opportunity to touch and feel every conceivable fabric available under the sun as she seeks out the most inspiring linens, wools, cottons, velvets, and prints for Robert Allen’s collections. Her all-time favorite fabric is denim.”

Wow, impressive.

Let’s dive in!

  1. MADCAP COTTAGE (MC): Tell us about your position at Robert Allen and what a typical day is like for you.

HANNAH ALDERSON (HA): I am Design Director for all collections under Robert Allen’s residential division which means I play with fabric all day, and sometimes trim.

On a typical day I am meeting with textile mills that are showing their latest collections. Mills visit our lower Manhattan studio from Italy, Turkey, India, Belgium, and, of course, the US. I am usually looking for great embroideries, interesting wovens, textures, and, of course, pattern. When I start a project, I develop a creative brief, but I love to be surprised. Sometimes a mill will come in with something fantastic that we didn’t know we wanted and we will make it work.

When we find something we like, we will either develop it with a new piece of artwork or color it in the color palette we have developed for the upcoming season at Robert Allen.

My favorite days, of course, are when I get to work with the Robert Allen @Home team on the Madcap Cottage collection. I particularly love the beginning of a project when we scope wide and soak up all of your amazing influences. EDITORIAL NOTE: Swoon.

With every design project, I keep the ‘big four’ parameters in mind: Color, Pattern, Construction, and Application. I usually start with color.

While we develop our own color chips in our CAD studio, it is important to actually see how that color translates from a paint swatch into three-dimensional yarns and fabric. For example, a mossy green might be beautiful in a silk-velvet, and look dead in a cotton twill. That is why we have our mills develop color blankets, or trials, of each pattern that we want to put into the line. As for pattern: it’s all about the layout and scale (I always say go bigger). A great pattern should work on a pillow… or a stage curtain. Hopefully the repeating pattern creates a rhythm and environment that becomes something greater than the sum of its parts. Madcap Cottage’s Bermuda Bay pattern is the perfect example of this kind of drama!

  1. MC: Where do you find inspiration? Is there one city that is especially inspirational? A certain magazine? A favorite book? Movie?

HA: Ever since I can remember, a wander around the Metropolitan Museum of Art has been my go-to to kick start inspiration. I like to start with no particular destination and take turns into obscure galleries. Open storage in the American Wing has lovely vignettes of cups and glasses and can inspire color palettes. My favorite quiet spot is under the main staircase where you can see Coptic textile fragments from the 3rd century. The Arts of the Islamic World galleries are a must on every trip.

For the last two years I have visited Florence by myself at the tail end of my annual trip to Lake Como for a textile fair. I take the same wandering approach there that I take at the Met, going everywhere on foot with only a vague sense of my final destination. That process of getting a little lost, of looking, and, of course, taking pictures gives me so much energy for my work. I feed on it all year. This year I became fascinated with the engraved marble tombs on the floor of Santa Croce. I still haven’t made it to the statue of David, but rain brought me to the Uffizi this year (usually I like to be outside) where I saw Botticelli’s ‘Primavera’ for the first time. I almost died. That dress!

In all of my wanderings I try to incorporate some vintage clothing hunts. I am a sucker for a 1960s dress suit. I have collected over the years some very snappy pieces though they are getting harder to find (and fit into). My style icon is Ingrid Bergman in the film ‘Indiscreet.’ There is one scene where she is wearing this amazing printed opera coat and kisses Cary Grant on the banks of the Thames. Goals.

  1. MC: What do you see coming up down the road on the fabric front, any trends? Any colors?

HA: Great patterns are always in style. I think the lasting ones usually have some grounding in history. The history of textiles is like one long remix: styles and motifs get reinterpreted over and over again. As for color, I just watched a documentary on Fabergé and am obsessed with the cobalt blue on the onion domes of Russian Orthodox churches. They often have gold stars. I have to make this happen on a fabric.

  1. MC: Is there a designer from the past or a certain era that has really influenced you?

HA: I have some favorite textile designers I never get tired of: Vera Neumann, E.A. Seguy, and Leslie and D.D. Tillett. I have lately become fascinated with the ceramics Finnish designer Birger Kaipiainen. My favorite painter is Alice Neel.

  1. MC: Tell us about your home and your personal style. What would surprise us about your home?

HA: That my sofa is badly in need of new fabric! I keep saving it for the next Madcap line… I’ll need to consult with you. Chintz, please. I love a green room. My favorite room color is Gumdrop by Benjamin Moore. My favorite piece of art is a big vintage botanical print from Kabinett and Kammer in Andes, NY which was a gift from my aunt-in-law, Brooke Alderson. Pink, green, and sunny yellow are my go-to colors for a cheerful home. Is there anything more pleasing than a bookshelf full of Nancy Drew yellow- and black-spined books? My twin sister and I split our childhood collection—she got the even-numbered editions, I got the odd.

I love vintage ceramic lamps, too. Overhead lighting is the worst. When I was a teenager, I removed the ceiling light bulb in my room. Blanche Dubois, even at a young age. As for my personal style, I keep it simple (except for special occasions). When I’m showing fabric with a lot of pattern and color (like Madcap), I don’t want to compete!

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Five Questions for: Jana Platina Phipps, AKA Trim Queen

John and I are simply mad for Jana Phipps, a dear friend, the most knowledgeable person we know in the “trim” space, and the force between the Trim Queen blog and social media presence. Jana knows everything about trim. And we mean everything. So here’s a little more about this design-world force from her bio: […]

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Five Questions For: P. Gaye Tapp

John and I are crazy about interior designer and blogger P. Gaye Tapp’s incredible new book How They Decorated, a must-have design Bible from Rizzoli ($55) that chronicles the highly individual, incredible decors of the likes of Bunny Mellon, Georgia O’Keeffe, Fleur Cowles, and Mona von Bismarck, among many others, paired with stunning visuals.

Interior Designer and Blogger P. Gaye Tapp

Says John, “The book shows how real people live. It’s not decorators flaunting their homes. These are real people with real taste and a real sense of style. It’s about personality. Everything doesn’t have to match or be perfect, furnish your home with pieces that you love. Have a point of view. How They Decorated captures this sensibility that is too often lost in today’s beige world.”

Last week, John and I were lucky enough to have been invited to dine with the charming Ms. Tapp in Winston-Salem, NC, and we decided to get inside her head, if just a tad.

But first, a little bit more about Ms. Tapp in her own words:

“I have been an interior designer for more than 30 years and have an abiding passion for the original in design, fashion, and history. My blog, Little Augury, was born on New Year’s Eve 2008. It began as a way of continuing a conversation with a beloved mentor Sandford Peele and the promise to keep just a bit of his wit and wisdom alive by sharing it whenever possible. As a born-and-bred Southerner, I am passionate about things that have been passed down to me, and also to clients that I work with. It’s the backbone of beautiful rooms in the South. Traditions are important to me, with an eye always looking back to the past, in the hope of understanding what is authentic and what will endure in the future. My favorite quote is by 16th-century philosopher and author Francis Bacon, 1st Viscount St. Alban who said: ‘There is no Excellent Beauty that hath not Strangeness in the proportion.’

Perhaps I was born in the wrong era, but I make the best of it by living a bit in the past. From an early age I’ve loved reading, and in elementary school began reading biographies. Little has changed. Reading is like a lullaby—I cannot go to sleep without reading for an hour or so. My reading interests range from mysteries to British novels to history. I profess to being a bit of an Anglophile.”

So here we go with the Madcap Cottage queries…

  1. Madcap Cottage (MC): How do you define great style?
    • Gaye Tapp (PGT): Great style is personal style. To a large degree, it’s undefinable. My niece Liz is so self-aware and free from ‘fashion rules.’ She dresses to please herself and always exudes confidence! In rooms, as Gloria Vanderbilt says, ‘Decorating is autobiography.’ That says it all! Gloria Vanderbilt is the essence of authentic personal style. The word ‘authenticity’ is bantered about so much on social media, but to have great style it’s a must.
  2. MC: What is the most magical room you have ever seen, and why?
    • PGT: As magical rooms go—any room with books would apply. The most magical rooms are the rooms I’ve seen photographed by Horst—meaning rooms past. I find seeing rooms captured when they are ‘lived in’ fascinating. Pauline de Rothschild, who I write about in my book, had a small Paris retreat where the walls of her salon and bedroom were covered with old Chinese panels. Her bedroom at Mouton was her sanctuary—it might be the most beautiful room ever as observed through Horst’s lens.
  3. MC: Who is someone today who inspires you on the design front and why?
    • PGT: It would be hard not to include two great design—and life—forces, Charlotte Moss and Nicky Haslam. Charlotte’s passion for design is contagious. Her at-home library is filled with pieces of design history and photographs of women who have inspired her. Nicky Haslam’s joie de vivre resonates in everything he does, from his country house to his London flat to his passion for fashion and song. Both continue to be inspired and therefore can’t help but inspire.
  4. MC: We have been awash in beige and gray for years, do you see design moving into a more personal realm?
    1. PGT: I do hope rooms are moving to embrace personal style. It’s the job of designers to inspire clients to participate in the process. How They Decorated is all about personal decorating, even when the women I profile called decorators in to do their rooms.
  5. MC: What’s your favorite destination, cocktail, and hotel? Well, that’s three questions in one, but why not?
    • PGT: I love London, I don’t drink, and I’m not a hotel aficionado… Once you get there, does it really matter?

How They Decorated, with Mona and Harrison Williams in their Palm beach living room