CAROLYNE ROEHM'S SECRETS TO HOLIDAY ENTERTAINING Behind The Bend
by Eric Stauble·
With the holidays fast approaching, we have been putting a lot of thought into decorating for the season. Between Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years, there is a lot of pressure, for those of us entertaining, to keep your winter interior design fresh. Lucky for us with the help of Architectural Digest, one of our favorite tastemakers, Carolyne Roehm's is sharing her tips. From gorgeous winter table settings to festive decorations, Carolyne is helping you take your home from everyday to a chic winter wonderland.
Whether planning a garden or designing a table setting, anything can inspire me: a plate, a movie, a painting, a walk down a country lane, a flash of color. The list is endless and ever changing, and I’d guess that 85 percent of everything I create is born out of happenstance.
The table decorations shown here resulted after a trip to New York City’s flower market on West 28th Street, where I found myself distracted by something sparkling in the window of a shop that sold artificial blossoms. Retracing my steps, I discovered that the crystalline glints were coming from tall plastic branches whose spikelike blooms reminded me of eremurus, a perennial known as desert candles.
Right there the concept of my Christmas table was born: silver mixed with gold and red. It would be a glittering scheme guaranteed to pop against the darker elements of my living room, which is brown and chalk-white and rounded out with a gold-and-taupe fabric, mahogany antiques, mirrors framed with gilt-wood, shelves full of leather-bound books, and tables topped with antique bronzes. And the red notes of the holiday palette would be echoed in the gowns and ribbons seen in several paintings of women that also hang in the room.
Lighting would be another crucial element, since it creates magic, a sense of adventure, romance, glamour, and, for me, an atmosphere of comfort and warmth. When I was a child in Missouri, the multicolor bubble lights that I adored reminded me of emeralds, rubies, and sapphires. As for the twinkling white lights that became chic after I grew up and moved to New York City, they were like diamonds hanging in the air.
To this day I love walking or driving around town at night during the holiday season, taking in the magic of Christmas lights and candles seen through people’s windows. Simple pleasures like that inspire a childlike sense of wonder in me. This holiday party is my ode to shimmering crystal and mirrors, candlelight, the dangling diamonds in my mind, and to the power of red—all because I spotted some plastic branches in a shop window.
Pilasters frame one of a pair of Christmas trees I set up in my Manhattan living room; shelves of books provide a dark background that allows the illuminated tree to make a glowing statement.
My circular dining room seats ten people at most, but holiday dinners tend to be large events, so I decided to hold this one in the living room at a long table for 20, draped with a red damask tablecloth. Using an antique brass wine cooler, I created a main centerpiece of sparkling plastic branches mixed with roses and carnations; flanking it are smaller bouquets of the same flowers. Antique and contemporary vermeil candelabra provide additional touches of gold, as do the plates and flatware.
An 18th-century portrait by French painter Louise-Élizabeth Vigée Le Brun, one of my favorite artists, peeks through the branches of the main centerpiece—and the reds and pinks of the flowers pick up the color of the sitter’s gown.
Multiple sources of light—candles, the Christmas tree and its reflection, the windows of neighboring buildings—make a dramatic impression, as if you’re surrounded by stars.
Source: Architectural Digest
Text By: Carolyne Rohm
Photography By: Carolyne Roehm