Creating Unique Spaces: Shopping with Chris Roughan

Whether she is working on her 200 year old home in Weston, or on a client’s home in the city, designer Chris Roughan always strikes the perfect balance of a space that feels well curated and yet totally personal. After having started her career at Polo Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger designing their retail stores, breathing life into spaces which could traditionally feel corporate and transforming them into warm, interesting and welcoming environments, she turned her eye to home interior design where this well-honed skill made her a sought-after designer of beautiful homes from the city to the country and even beyond to include beach and mountain properties. Her work is layered, complex and yet feels completely natural and easy. We caught up with the designer to discuss her process, how she integrates antiques and vintage into her work and get tips on how the rest of us can add a bit of her know-how when we look at improving our own spaces.

The designer’s studio – Photo by Sean Litchfield

One striking aspect of Chris Roughan’s work is her divine use of color. It no doubt takes an artist’s eye to add color to a space that is enough to be satisfying but still allows the other design elements to shine. She explains, “Color is everywhere and creates different emotions and feelings when used.   I always find out from our clients prior to designing what their favorite colors are and what is each room to be used for.   That information goes hand-in-hand with how much saturation should be used in an interior.  The goal when designing a home is every room be different yet is derived from the same family which creates balance.  One can achieve this by starting with a simple palette and creating layers of gradual color.”

Photo by Read Mckendree

Color is, of course, only one aspect of design, and when considering all that goes into designing a space, it can feel overwhelming without the knowledge of a professional. Even when redecorating a single room, one wonders “where to begin?” “We always start with a furniture floor plan to understand the spatial elements, then we study the architectural elements of the structure and light filtration.  You need all of these elements to understand how the negative and positive space will be used.  Do we have to add millwork, create texture on the walls, ceiling, or floor?   Color comes afterwards as does furniture, lighting, window treatments, art, decorative smalls & curiosities.”

Photo by Jane Beiles

Of all these elements, the designer is particularly drawn to the many final touches that go into a design. “I Love styling and choosing decorative smalls, sculpture, art with clients as without these special items, a room can become quite cold and lack life. I love finding special pieces that have a history and tell a story.  It could be a piece of art, marble sculpture, candlestick or furniture.  An object that adds warmth to its environment and can be handed down through generations.   A room should embody the people living there and represent who they are as an individual or a family.     A room has a soul and should reflect as such.    Your environment matters whether its small or large, high or low budget.  One distinct piece can create layers of conversation, visual texture and love.  No one wants to be placed in a cold space with lack of intention.”

Photo by Jane Beiles

One important element of her design process is simply to stay interested and continuously evolve. “I’m inspired by so many eras and cultures, my taste keeps evolving which is so important to develop new ideas and inspiration.  That’s not to stay I am forever drawn to Paris culture 1940’s, Italian mid century, or American 1970’s.  It’s a combination of always searching for new and innovative way to incorporate the old and the new.   For example a large vase may now become a planter on a marble column or an antique cigarette stand is now a candy dish.”

Photo by Jane Beiles

Finding these unique and special pieces can often lead to vintage and antiques. “In a newly built home it is so important to add decorative pieces that add personality.  For example, a modern kitchen that is a newly built needs character, add wood and metal sifters on the wall to add depth and contrast.  This creates a modern traditional ambiance the evokes warmth.    Rooms should invite people in and celebrate, adding the right amount of antique layers will do that.” She shares how to blend this type of piece seamlessly into the home. “Purchase what you love, just make sure the item can breathe in your space.  The key is to strike proper balance with each object.  Not too much of one thing unless you have a collection and that is a different conversation.”

Photo by Jane Beiles


Shopping The Local Vault with Designer Chris Roughan

We asked the designer to share a few of her curated shopping collection and explain what she loves about the pieces.


“I just love screens that separate a space, hide a door or create a headboard behind a bed.  This screen is in perfect condition and the scale is perfect.”

Shop the 19th Century English Mahogany and Mirror Four Panel Screen



“The lines of theses Vladimir Kagan chairs are just beautiful and can be added to just about any room as accent chairs.  They are incredibly comfortable as well.”

Shop the Sculptura Chairs by Vladimir Kagan



“These blue shadow antique terracotta vases are excellent for planters and will look amazing on a table as a center piece or kitchen counter.”

Shop the Antique Terracotta Vases


Photo of Chris Roughan in her office by Sean Litchfield / Text by Liana Hayles Newton

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