Roseanette Navarro: Tasteful and Textured

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The designer chats about her days at Ralph Lauren and what makes Houston stand out

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Roseanette Navarro, who started designing at the ripe age of seven, takes direction for her projects from her years spent working for Ralph Lauren Home in Houston, and from her 25 years working as an independent interior designer. Her style is elegant but not intimidating, perfect for the family dinners and holiday parties she remembers fondly from her own upbringing. She sat down with us to talk about her flair for layering fabrics, her love of fresh roses, and the lively restaurant scene in Houston.


I was taught how to put layers upon layers of different textures and patterns together and how to make them all work together[…] That was the most amazing thing of all because I don’t think anybody could have ever taught me that sitting in a classroom.

What was your path to becoming a designer?

I knew that I wanted to be an interior designer at a very very young age, probably when I was 7 or 8 years old. My room was always decorated completely differently from the rest of my family’s house. Around 15 or 16, I started working with Ralph Lauren, staging his first store here in Houston. When I did that, I just knew that that was my destiny, so I continued to work under the influence of Ralph Lauren until I went to college. I studied design at UCLA, and when I came back I started working again with Ralph Lauren and I worked with him for about 6 or 7 years here in Houston. I was working in the home collection department when clients from the Ralph Lauren store started hiring me to do their homes. From then on, in 1991, I built up my clientele and decided to leave Ralph Lauren to start my own business, and I’ve now been doing that for 25 years.

Tell us more about working with Ralph Lauren. Did that team-oriented experience influence the way you work today?

Yes it did influence me very much so and it still does. There were two or three of us in this little tiny space that was about three homes and views. One would be Aspen, another would be the Bahamas, and the other would be safari or the Hamptons, etc. In this collection there would be 50 wallpapers and 75 fabrics, and in each of those rooms, there would be a line of furniture designed according to each room’s theme. We had those rooms for about six months, and then we’d do a room changeover and there’d be another collection with a different location. I think the most incredible learning experience that I got from working there was the way I was taught how to put layers upon layers of different textures and patterns together and how to make them all work together. And I still do that to this day. That was the most amazing thing of all because I don’t think anybody could have ever taught me that sitting in a classroom. I still use a ton of patterns and a ton of fabrics and different textures, but they all work together. That’s really my forté.

How has your design philosophy changed since you began your practice?

Since leaving Ralph Lauren, I think the most important thing that I had to learn was how constantly things change. Everything has gone a little more modern since I left, so I had to move from a very traditional style to much more of a contemporary style. I still use a lot of Ralph Lauren; I still use some of his plaids and velvets because I do a lot of contemporary and traditional mixed in together. Over the years I’ve had to learn to adapt.

What do you do in your free time? How does this influence your work?

I get inspiration from just having alone time, so the most important time for me is in the mornings when I have quiet time and I have my books and my magazines. A lot of creativity and thoughts and ideas also come to me when I can run or walk while listening to music.

When and where are you most inspired?

I also get a lot of inspiration from travelling. I love to go to Palm Beach, and every time I go it brings me back to my Ralph Lauren days just because of the lifestyle there.

If I cold snap my fingers and have everything, every fabric, every piece of furniture, every accessory in one picture so a client could see it all that would be great, but it never ends up that way because when you’re in the midst of designing, things change.

What has been your most challenging/creatively rewarding project to date? Why?

One project that I did about 15 years ago comes to mind. I started with a client here in Houston when they asked me to do their home, and then they asked me to do their law firm, and then from the law firm they asked me to do their home that they were building in Santa Fe. And so, they would fly me back and forth to Santa Fe, but most of it I did from Houston. Just seeing the end product was so amazing. That was very rewarding. I think that was my most fun and most rewarding project.

Do you think working with this particular client led to your most rewarding project because you had so much time to get to know each other over three different projects?

I do think that, and I also think it was a challenge having to do a home in a different state. Doing it mostly from Houston and then flying over and looking at it and seeing the final product was amazing, when I could actually physically see it.

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What is the most common design problem you encounter? Is there a simple fix you can suggest for this problem?

The most commonly encountered problem would probably be the difficulty of actually getting the whole design idea to the client so that the client can actually visualize the design plan. I think that’s one of the most challenging things when working on a project. Not that I can’t make a detailed design proposal, but just getting the whole idea across to a client is tough. If I cold snap my fingers and have one whole picture with everything, every fabric, every piece of furniture, every accessory in one place so a client could see it all that would be great, but it never ends up that way because when you’re in the midst of designing, things change. So it’s challenging for me to not be able to fully provide that complete visualization, but I love the challenge. And once they do see the end result, clients love it, and that’s really why they’re hiring an interior designer in the first place.

How would you describe your style? How does it translate to your work?

My style is elegant. Classy, but not overstuffed. I use beautiful fabrics and I like beautiful things, but I won’t go for things that can’t be used. Very homey and very welcoming and very refined all at the same time.

When I go to a restaurant, I want to be in a beautiful space and to enjoy my family and friends or whomever I’m having dinner with, and I think it’s the same thing with people’s homes in Houston.

What has your experience been with decorating your own space? How is decorating for yourself different from decorating for other people?

There are so many personal things in my home that mean so much to me. And as I tell all my clients, I think it’s really important that no matter what you like, put it into your home because that defines who you are. I always ask my clients if there’s something they like to collect, because if there is, those things should be there. They should be able to put their own personal style in into their homes, since that translates into who they are.

What is one element that can draw a room together when it feels like nothing goes together?

When I design a room, I want the eye to continue to revolve around the entire room, like you don’t want to stop looking. I love to do that, and it really come naturally for me. I’m a huge accessories person, and I do think that using different fabrics and making them work with different accessories really does pull a room together, to keep the eye wandering constantly.

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I just moved into a new place and it’s a mess, but I’m having people over for a housewarming party. How can I make my space look put together in just a few hours?

I am a huge flower person. In all my photos of my projects, you’ll always see roses in my pictures and I constantly have roses and candles in my house at all times. So in a pinch, I think that those two things (flowers and candles) make a room fabulous, besides cleaning up! [laughs]

What makes designing in Houston special? Is there a common vein in the houses of all of your clients?

I was talking to a friend of mine about this the other night. Here in Houston, we are so big on our restaurants. We are all about going to a new place, and when we go to a restaurant it’s the ambiance that we want, along with the good food! When I go to a restaurant, I want to be in a beautiful space and to enjoy my family and friends or whomever I’m having dinner with, and I think it’s the same thing with people’s homes in Houston. To me it’s all about the ritual of going out to dinner. And it’s the same in our homes. Especially for me, with my Italian background, eating and cooking with family and friends was a ritual every Sunday. It was like Thanksgiving every Sunday, and I think people want their homes to be welcome and to be a beautiful space when they’re cooking and entertaining. They want the same thing with the beautiful ambiance and the family and friends to celebrate. People in Houston love their homes so much, and we do a lot of entertaining in our homes. There are a lot of dinner parties; we have friends and family come over and I think their homes are very important to them. So I think it’s important for them to be able to have a house that they’re happy with and when their family or friends walk in, whether it’s for a dinner party or for Christmas, they want to show their homes off.

Since restaurants are such a big part of the Houston culture, where would you recommend we go to eat out in the city?

There are so many great places! I went to BCN last Saturday night. It’s a Spanish restaurant with a chef from Barcelona, and it’s located in a 1920s Spanish Mediterranean home, so the setting was beautiful. It was just fabulous, a nice experience and very fun. Places like that are just really really cool.

Thanks so much for sharing your stories and your expertise with us, Roseanette!
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To get more hints and ideas like these from an interior designer, upload a photo of your room to the Roomhints App.

 

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