For Shelly Rosenberg, life is a nonstop, dawn-to-dusk swirl of activity that revolves around family — husband Barry,teenage daughters Brinson and Campbell, and 2-year-old Ronen, who was born with Down’s Syndrome. Most recently, she began fostering her 11-month-old nephew. Add to that mix a husband who commutes out of state every week. “I’m really having to pull magic out of my hat to keep it all together,” she says. With a family of six and so many different needs, “it’s critical that my home be soothing, comfortable, and every single space has to offer multiple uses. No room can afford to be off-limits. And, of course, I want a home that is beautiful, too — I won’t sacrifice style just because skateboards and sippi cups dominate my landscape!”
Mom, designer, writer … in that order! I have dual degrees in public relations and interior design. I am a passionate advocate for the creative community … I love working on design projects, but I also feel strongly about strengthening my industry, taking some of the ambiguity out of the important work we do. Improving environments is a lot more than just creating a pretty space. I help my colleagues brand themselves in a sophisticated yet approachable way.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERSONAL STYLE WHEN IT COMES TO DECORATING.
Anything goes, as long as it is well-edited. I give a lot of thought to function and durability. A savvy client will want to make their design investment last, and I have perfected high design with families in mind. Style shouldn’t be scarified just because you have small children. There are elegant commercial-grade and outdoor materials that would really surprise you. Houses have true character when the client’s personality shines through, so it is just as important for the client to be moved in some way for me to include a product or idea. I know how to help clients co-create personal spaces they can connect to. I actually like the collaborative process. It’s not all about me.
DID YOU USE A DECORATOR? IF SO, WHOM? HOW DID YOU CHOOSE THEM?
I grew up with decorating in my blood. My mother is a nationally published designer and owner of Stockton Hicks Laffey, an Austin showroom that’s exclusively to the trade. I’ve been exposed to the best art, architecture and design in the world, and I incorporate that global view into my own home. I love clean lines, a rich mix of materials and modern art. I absolutely have to have objects with history. If everything is too studied or too new, there’s no soul.
GO-TO PAINT COLOR?
Paint is such a fabulous tool to create mood. I’m careful, though, to stick with timeless sophisticated color. I always choose a hue with a bit more gray in it than I think I want; choices always look brighter once they’re up on the walls. With an unlimited budget, I would use anything by Farrow & Ball or Donald Kaufman — their products have higher-level pigments that make for rich, deep finishes. My walls are Pratt & Lambert Seed Pearl white and Sherwin Williams Tricorn black.
ARE YOU A NEUTRAL PALETTE OR COLOR PERSON?
I have to say I am turned on by color! However, I respect how a neutral base will really showcase vivid shades. It is all about balance and composition. Bright, colorful rooms can be great fun, but it takes a well-trained eye to maintain harmony and keep that energy tolerable.
WHOSE NEST DO YOU MOST ADMIRE?
I am fascinated by other designer’s own homes … Perhaps it’s voyeuristic, but I’m intrigued by how designers like Miles Redd, Kelly Wearstler or Jamie Drake — artists that have access to the best of the best experiment and design their personal spaces so fearlessly.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ROOM IN THE HOUSE, DESIGN-WISE?
I have to say the airy living room inspires me most. That pure white canvas allows me to play with my compositions and make changes when the mood strikes. The furnishings begin in the 1800s and come all the way into this decade. And every piece has a story — many of them have had multiple lives in all of my past homes. Not only is there is a lot of sentimental history in this room, but new memories are being made everyday. My decadent mohair, leather and velvets wear like iron, so my children can have unlimited access to luxurious surroundings.
MOST COMFORTABLE ROOM IN THE HOUSE?
The den is a cocoon where my whole family loves spending time together. The custom sectional by Paloma Creations can easily hold all of us at the same time; we all dog-pile and watch movies. And yet, the room is super-functional with separate spaces for reading, eating, working on the computer … We can all hang out while working on different projects.
WHERE DO YOU SPEND THE MOST TIME?
Probably the kitchen. Doesn’t every mother? I am organizing and feeding a family of six, and we all eat at different times, so I am in and out of that area all day. I like to have a lot of room to move, and I don’t like an island in my way, so the galley style suites me. Plenty of storage allows me to hide almost everything so I feel serene and in control — if that’s possible! The watery blue-painted glass and sunny yellow accents make for a cheerful command center.
TELL US SOMETHING YOU SPLURGED ON (IN THE HOUSE) AND SOMETHING YOU SAVED ON.
I adore the floor plan of the formal rooms; both are open to the entry of the house. Your first step inside, you see that expanse of space. I knew I needed a “bride” for the room — the piece that all else centered around. I was very pregnant with my son when we purchased this great house, so I was not up for shopping as usual. I turned to trusted sources online and fell in love with the 1980s cobalt-blue Venetian chandelier from Jean Marc Frey. Despite the investment, I knew I would love it forever! With most of my budget spent, I refinished multiple pieces I already owned to get an entirely new look for less.
POINTERS ON DECORATING A HOUSE FILLED WITH KIDS?
I buy sturdy furnishings, tuck valuables into built-ins and incorporate soft materials that wear like iron: mohair, bouclé, scratch-resistant leathers and specialized outdoor or high-performance blends or velvets. You just wouldn’t believe the options available now. They cost more upfront but make it perfectly possible to have adult design with a houseful of kiddos.
FAVE TRAVEL DESTINATION?
A tropical locale with a sandy beach will always be my ideal getaway. St. Barth’s is a favorite because the island combines the best of an ocean-centered vacation with European shopping and French food.
WHAT’S ON YOUR COFFEE TABLE?
Always gorgeous books and something provocative to start conversation. Right now I have a Victorian-inspired collection including a heavy glass skull, seashell and scarab in Lucite, plus crystals, malachite boxes and an unconventional stoneware sculpture of large sewing needles by artist AM Martens, via Gallerie Noir.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THANK-YOU GESTURE?
A bottle of great wine from my family’s Healdsburg, CA, vineyard, Flax, is my go-to. But a close second would be beef tenderloin from the famous Perini Ranch in West Texas.
WHAT IS YOUR PERSONAL STATIONERY?
I have a classic heavy paper card by Vera Wang for Crane & Co. Monogrammed, of course!
WHO MADE YOUR BED LINENS?
We spend a third of our lives in bed, so I don’t bat an eye when investing in fine bedding. Right now, my sheets, shams and duvet cover are Egyptian cotton in lavender, with an embroidered monogram by Matouk.
NEXT PURCHASE FOR YOUR HOME?
I have my eye on some exquisite fine art photography from an emerging New Zealand artist I found on Etsy, of all places. If you have a good eye, you can find exceptional talent at all price points.
FAVORITE CANDLE SCENT?
I love La Marquise by Cire Trudon (at Grange Hall) and Blue Garden by Nest Fragrances, NY.