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Interior Outlook

By Nathan Coker
In Bayou Artist
Jan 2nd, 2014

KeithCarroll JAN14
A Look Inside Keith Carroll’s Creative Décor
article by Mary Napoli | photograph by Martin G. Meyers

Keith Carroll is home, but he can’t stay.  In only a few days, he will trade the bayou for the big city and return to his life in Manhattan.  Several years ago, the Wisner native embarked on a successful interior design career in New York City and quickly made a name for himself.  He began by moonlighting as a designer for friends and associates while working in corporate communication, but it wasn’t long before he transitioned into design full time.  Now, his creative talents and artistic expertise are sought after by high profile clients with recognizable names.

Carroll has a successful career in Manhattan, but he still has strong ties to our region.  He regularly returns to the area and remains close to family and friends who reside here.  The designer is dapper and stylish, and yet modest, approachable and relatable–an unusual combination, but a necessary one when dividing time between a world class city and rural small town life.  He is equally comfortable in either environment, an endearing and admirable trait.  Although his client base is in New York, his Louisiana roots continually provide creative inspiration. It is his southern upbringing that provided the foundation for his interest in interior design at an early age.

“Being from the South and Louisiana, that has had a big influence on me.  I used to go with my mother to Natchez when I was younger and tour all the Antebellum homes, and the neoclassical style was a big influence from way back,” he explains.
He may be a southern gentleman, but his bold design choices are far more forward.  The modern, livable environments he designs gracefully combine genteel antiques with stylish furnishings and contemporary art.  His unique point of view also resides in the alluring details and provides endless fascination. The designer enjoys working with vibrant colors and winsome patterns that appeal to his clients.  Carroll has a masterful talent of layering color, print and texture within a room.  His inventive designs combine intriguing elements of classic, tasteful sensibilities with a contemporary edge. He sets himself apart with the unique quality of possessing inventive elegance and restrained whimsy.  It is a recognizable mark that has become second nature as his career has blossomed.

“As I have gained experience, I find myself becoming more bold in my color and pattern choices,” says the designer.  “Attention to detail has become increasingly important to me – the construction of upholstery, trims – details hold so much value to a space.”

His compelling perspective and captivating style have not gone unnoticed by the design world’s elite. Carroll was invited to compose a guest room and bath in the Hamptons Designer Show House, orchestrated by Scalamandré, the leading purveyor of decorative fabrics, wall-coverings, trims, furnishings and accessories.  Carroll incorporates the fine fabrics that Scalamandré produces whenever possible, as they are known not only for their artful designs but also for their superior craftsmanship.  The Manhattan-based design house has a rich 82-year history and has been commissioned by countless landmark properties for their creative services, such as the White House, U.S. Capitol and the Metropolitan Opera House.  It is high praise to be recognized by and associated with the respected and esteemed institution.  Steven Stolman, President of Scalamandré, built a successful design career before beginning his career with the textile house and feels Carroll is an asset to the exclusive design world and that his talent is exceptional.

“What I love about Keith is his absolute grasp of tradition and propriety…contrasted with his ability to embrace the new with such skill…along with a very clear joy in the work,” says Stolman.

Carroll’s work was recently featured in the much anticipated publication Scalamandré Haute Decor, which illustrates in exquisite detail the history of the high-end textile house.  On December 3, Peggy Gonzales and Joyce Sims, chic designers and owners of Material Things on Park Avenue in Monroe, hosted an open house for Carroll.  The stylish interiors shop was crowded with locals who were eager to visit with Carroll and to have their copies of the elegant, voluminous coffee table book signed by the designer.  Ever gracious and obliging, Carroll thoroughly enjoyed chatting with the crowd and talking shop.

“I always enjoy my time here and working with Peggy and Joyce,” says Carroll. “People in Monroe definitely have a high level of taste.  There are some truly beautiful homes here.”

During his visits home, Carroll is often asked for guidance in designing and decorating personal spaces, and he is happy to oblige. He encourages friends and clients to use their walls to reflect their own personalities.  By viewing the collection of art in a person’s home, guests are able to determine a sense of the individual.  When selecting art, Carroll advocates an open minded look at your surroundings.

“There is so much to draw from in this area.  Consider what inspires you.  The natural terrain of the area is amazing.  Go to an art crawl and view the local artists. You never know what might appeal to you,” he suggests.

Decorating a home or room can feel like a daunting task to some.  However, Carroll advises to allow the space to develop over time and to invest in key pieces of furniture to begin.

“Most people aren’t able to redesign their entire home at one time.  Find a great piece of upholstered furniture to build your room around.  A good sofa and chairs will last, and antiques are always a great investment,” he recommends.  “A jute rug is consistently a great equalizer.  I use those from Park Avenue clients all the way to small apartments in Brooklyn.  Also, if you have a wood floor that isn’t in the best shape, consider painting the floor a solid color or in a pattern.  Don’t be afraid of color.  Let it reflect your taste and personality.”

He also places emphasis on composing a lighting design that enlivens the concept of the space. He encourages creating layers of lights within the room from multiple sources, and prefers “pools of light” from table lamps, floor lamps and sconces rather than strong overhead lighting.  Designing a lighting plan can soften the room, enlarge the space or create a dramatic effect.  Light is far from an meaningless detail in Carroll’s designs.  Every aspect of the room is significant and intently considered.

When working with clients, each project is an adventure.  Not only does Carroll keep his exceptional designs fresh and distinctive, but he also possesses the ability to assist the client in expressing their own character, taste and temperament throughout the space.

“Each project is unique and tailored to the individual client.  As a designer, I have to figure out who they are and how they live. There is a lot of psychology involved, as well as intuition.  Your home should be your refuge.  I want to design spaces that reflect the personality of the homeowner,” he relates.

The designer remains down to earth and approachable in spite of his flourishing career.  He is passionate about his work and enjoys providing his clients with warm and welcoming designs that represent their individuality and combining function and luxury.  While maintaining his client base in New York, the southerner endeavors to provide his  services in North Louisiana and in the New Orleans area.  The comfort and timeless style that Carroll effortlessly provides is an attainable luxury for clients above and below the Mason-Dixon.  To further explore his design aesthetic, visit www.keithcarrolldesign.net.

Photography of Hampton Showhouse by Jeremy Frechette.