In this installment of our Behind Design series, we chatted with Connecticut and New York City-based interior designer, Christina Roughan (pronounced 'ROWAN') of Roughan Interiors. Chris, who has been designing since 1994, has extensive experience creating elegant, modern interiors for a wide variety of clients, and has been featured in Elle Decor, House&Garden, and more. Having partnered with her to assist in filling some of her stunning spaces with fine art, we wanted to chat with Chris about, well, her! We get in to how she got started with interior design, which design trends she's keeping an eye on at the moment, and what role art plays in her own creative process. Not only that, but Chris is also our very first Guest Curator! You can shop her Curated Collection here.
Our Interview with Christina Roughan
Tell us about yourself! Where are you from originally and where are you located/working now?
I was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, and moved to New York City after college. Right now, I have a satellite office in NYC and an office in Weston, CT.
How did you get started in interior design? What drew you to it?
As a child I was drawn to anything that sparkled and was visually beautiful. The way I visualized was different from most people. Fashion design was a love of mine, and I drooled over Vogue & Harper's Bazaar in the late 80s and 90s. From there, it snowballed to encompass interiors as well.
What services are offered at Roughan Interiors?
- Turn Key Design Experience
- Space Planning
- Furniture, Accessory selections
- Art Selections
- Custom Window Treatments & Bedding.
- Furniture Design & Procurement
- Finish Selections.
- Construction Elevations and renderings
- Construction Administration.
Our aesthetic and our process has grown because of the people we employee and the projects we take on. It is important that our clients' visions and expectations are always met through our discerning eye.
Most every project is a turnkey experience which is a completely finished interior, including art and carefully curated decorative smalls. When a client takes out their keys, opens the door and walks into their new home, that's why we do what we do. Wow, it gives us so much joy to see their faces lighten up.
What does your design/creative process look like?
All design is a collaboration with the client and I like to break ours down in to simple steps. Typically, we create a turn-key opening so the client can enjoy the last step, which is the reveal.
- Client Meetings: Two meetings, where we get to know the client, better understand their needs, create a direction and discuss the budget.
- Design Presentation: In this phase we present everything needed to complete the room. This includes a design board with everything from custom build-outs, flooring, carpeting, lighting, furniture, fabrics and estimated budget. What we do not present initially is art and decorative objects. That is done after the first phase of design is complete.
- Procurement & Installation: I call this the "behind-the-scenes" of our set, where we order, create, and collaborate to complete the design in a certain amount of time. This is when we select art and accessories for a truly curated process. We like to find one-of-a-kind pieces that mean something to the client and can be passed down through generations. Without soul, it’s pointless!
Where do you look for inspiration?
Inspiration comes from everything I do. Travel and nature are a big component for me. Visiting cultures that still create by hand or on a loom, seeing different types of architecture, art, and food. I'm all about color, scale, juxtaposition. I always want to be inspired and intrigued at the world and creativity that surrounds us.
What types of challenges do you run into during your creative process? Are there any particular ways you overcome creative challenges?
Keep walking, and work through those hills. Never give up.
What makes artwork or the involvement of a fine art gallery important to your work and interior design in general?
Not to sound cliché, but it's true: A room without art is like that little black dress without an accessory, a martini without an olive, an engagement ring without a stone. It can be the simplest or most elaborate of interiors, but without art, a space is never finished.
Do you have a favorite style of fine art?
No, I enjoy them all.
How do you select fine art for a space? Do you always love the art that you select or do you find you sometimes select a piece that works for a space, but that you don’t personally like?
It all depends on the client's taste - then the search ensues. There are times when I must integrate art into interiors and choose work that will blend with an existing piece. Some art, I may or may not like. Every project is different and I search accordingly. We work with different art galleries, like Sorelle, as the artists need to stand alone and be unique.
The pandemic had a drastic impact on so many industries. Did you see any significant changes in interior design, whether on an industry or company/personal level?
The Wall Street Journal and New York Times have all had articles on how people are nesting as a result of the pandemic. We were featured for our own renovation to our Weston Office, which was a great example on updating an existing structure to become an office. People are finding outdoor spaces, kitchens and home offices to renovate.
I don’t have one although I tend to use a lot of blue in my interiors. Color is inspired by the project. But, my wardrobe consists of camel, grey, black and choc brown.
Paint or wallpaper?
It depends on the application. Some wall coverings are a work of art. DeGourney, Gracie Studio and Fromental are incredible examples of artisans at work - everything is hand painted by artists in different countries depending on the design.
Favorite room in your home?
My library, as it has layers of art and intriguing objects. It’s a Fall/Winter room for sure.
Do you have any “design heroes” who have inspired you?
Gosh, yes - so many that I can’t name them all. Dorothy Draper, Diana Vreeland, Billy Baldwin, and Brancusi, to name a few.
What is a current design trend you’re loving at the moment?
Beautiful shades of rich greens!!!
This year’s Pantone Color of the Year was yellow (Illuminating) and gray (Ultimate Gray) – thoughts?
If that color integrates with what I have created, then it's purely serendipitous. I don’t really follow color trends - I love most of them.
What do you hope to accomplish for your clients?
Inviting, livable spaces that they love.
What do you do in your free time?
I spend time with my family - twin 10-year old girls, husband, and Boston Terrier, Cookie. We bike, vacation, and are film addicts. I also love to sing, and occasionally will contribute to my husband's band as a lead singer.
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Photography Credit (from top to bottom, beginning with designer portrait):
- Sean Litchfield
- Alan Barry
- Jane Beiles (featuring two paintings by Sorelle artist, Teodora Guererra)
- Read McKendree
- Jane Beiles