Here are the photos and text (lovingly retyped!) of the fabulous article about Caroline in the July 2009 issue of CUE. It is such a thrill to see the personal style of the guiding hand and heart of the interior design shop Perch in New Orleans recognized.
You can see the photos I took HERE. Make sure to click on them for a larger view to see all the details.
Text by Lee Cutrone
Photos by Eugenia Hall
Styled by Jack Mayberry, Valorie Hart, and Caroline Robert
Editor Kara Nelson
Caroline Robert finds inspiration and fulfillment in lots of things. She loves good food, music, and design as well as being around her dogs and loved ones. She enjoys traveling, the outdoors, estate sales, yoga, painting, and gardening.
Originally from Texas, Robert attended LSU and moved to New Orleans nine years ago. She married Andre Robert, a stockbroker, became a step mother to Andre’s children Remy, 18, and Raphe, 13, then opened Perch, a Magazine Street store, where she and staff members Jack Mayberry and Valorie Hart bring together a fresh blend of antique and new designs for the home. Life was good.
Nothing prepared her for the life-changing experience of having a baby. Now, she says, life is even better.
“I could never leave the house and be totally happy playing with him all day,” says Caroline, whose sweet, soft spoken voice is still tinged with her seventh generation Texas roots. “I talk to him all day, and he gives me this look like he’s saying, ‘I understand.’ He’s so expressive. I’m certain he’s a genius.”
Caroline jokes that since her son ELi was born in April, she’s made a divot in the sofa, one of her favorite places to sit and enjoy the latest addition to the family. But it’s not likely she’ll sit still forever. She’s already introduced Eli to her business, bringing him to work and rocking him to sleep in a cozy space, which she’s dubbed “the butter-churning room.” Though thoroughly renovated by the Roberts, the 1860’s cottage that houses Perch still retains plenty of 19th-century charm, and tourists frequently comment that the shop offers an interesting window into the grand past of New Orleans homes.
Built in 1906, the Robert’s Uptown home is a wonderful piece of history as well. Designed by the architectural firm of Debuys and Levy, it features a deep porch supported by colossal white columns, high ceilings with ornamental plaster work, leaded glass windows that glisten like cut crystal, and plenty of green space for a child to roam. Caroline has touched both the house and her store with a light and airy hand that incorporates her trademark elements: natural motifs like nests and branches, touches of robin’s eggs blue (“I call it Perch blue,”she says of the hue used on her store’s logo), distressed antiques, sleek modernist pieces, custom curtains, fanciful lighting and a mix of antique and contemporary art.
She’s found her métier. Only now she looks at it through a slightly different lens - that of a mom. And her timing is right on the mark.
“I always think about a person’s lifestyle when helping with their home,” says Caroline, referring to the durability of things like washable slipcovers. “I want to make sure that whatever we do works for the way a person lives. But it’s interesting --all the things that are going on with designers and the children’s market. Almost every company is coming out with a line of baby stuff. I guess, as a result. I’m a little more drawn to to the whimsical.”
The whimsical is, in fact, where she started when designing her own nursery. The large room was already wired for two chandeliers, and Caroline began looking for two that would spark wide-eyed interest in a child. She settled instead instead for a crown like architectural remnant from a Catholic confessional from Bush Antiques, and a modernist chrome fixture she calls the asteroid fixture -- two completely different looks that typify her love for mixing periods. Caroline also included a Belgian carousel horse, a praying mantis rocker and a zinc-covered sideboard (used as a changing table), all from Perch, as well as the rocking chair her mother-in-law used with every one of her nine children, a photograph of her grandfather as a baby in 1910 and antique toys found by her mother, who passed on her love of antiques to Caroline.
Other aspects of the room are designed to extend beyond babyhood. Pale blue-and-white linen curtains are simple enough for any age, the sunny sitting room now uses as a space for mother and child to spend time eventually will become a playroom.
“I think it is very important for every home to have an area that is devoted to quiet time for mom and dad to bond with their child,” Caroline says. “For us that space is the sun room, which is part of the nursery. It has windows that overlook the branches of an ever-changing Japanese magnolia and an old live oak. I love that our little boy will grow up in a room that feels like a tree house.”
Nature is a recurrent motif in Caroline’s life. A self-described nature girl, she loves the outdoors and is pleased with the new pool she and Andre recently integrated into the existing landscape, which includes traditional New Orleans greenery like gardenias, crape myrtles, roses, hydrangeas, and sago palms. “I love the fact that the pool sits in front of our rose garden,” she says. “Now the terrace and the pool are just extensions of our home. We spend time there every day.”
In fact, there are few spaces in the house where the family does not spend time on a regular basis. Though grand in scale and history, the home is filled with things that are casual, comfortable, and approachable. The same goes for her wardrobe. On a typical day, she reaches for jeans and flip-flops, mixed with chunky necklaces and rings and Chanel No. 22 perfume, the same fragrance her grandmother wore.
“I suppose my style is about taking something simple and classic and making it fresh and unique,” says the new mom, who now more than ever values the extra moments that an easy approach allows. “Having a child gives you a new, clearer perspective on life. Everything that might have seemed important before gets put into its place. If I have an extra two minutes to spare, I’d rather spend it it rocking him to sleep for a nap than worrying about how perfect my house is or if my makeup is just right.”
PS If you liked this story in CUE please check out my story published last October HERE.