Design Diary: Frank Roop’s Studio

Last year, interior designer Frank Roop purchased a 725-square-foot condo on Newbury Street to serve as his studio and office. I popped in last spring to go over the details on the gorgeous Nantucket house that I wrote about for the Boston Globe Magazine (and this blog). While I was there, I also got the lowdown on how he transformed it into a perfect workspace; one that showcases his signature style without overwhelming the designs he puts forth for his clients. I wrote it up as a Q&A for Stuff Magazine called “Interior designer Frank Roop’s functional and fashionable studio”. And, I took extra notes and pictures to share here.

“I definitely went all out.  My studio is simple and clean, with notes of exotica, pops of color, and a lot of texture. It communicates my aesthetic, but is neutral enough so that the design doesn’t overshadow my presentations to clients.”

The space originally housed three separate offices. Roop kept a plan with three distinct spaces, but opened up the wall between two of them,  adding large custom metal-and-glass doors. That’s where his desk and computer are. He presents design concepts and swatch boards in the adjoining room with the fireplace. The third room is a work area for making models, with doors he can shut if it gets messy.


Roop’s desk is vintage Danish from a dealer in Paris. The wall behind the desk is a high-gloss lacquer with “a million coats of paint” that were sanded between coats and then sprayed with a high-gloss finish. Roop adds, “It took about a week to do that one wall.” The stripey painting is by local artist David Moore, represented by the Kidder Smith Gallery.
Roop-office-detailsLeft: Roop often uses vintage Curtis Jere wall sculptures. An array of sea anemones hang behind his desk. (He used similar sculptures above the desk in the Nantucket family room.)

Right: Detail of the overhead light fixture that he designed. About it Roop says, “It is essentially a light box made of silk with top-stitched suede tape.”

roop-bookshelfLeft: These open rectangular bookshelves hang on the wall to the left of  Roop’s desk. He used similar shelves in his home too.

Right: Roop favors fancy minerals as objets d’art. The hunks here are actually slag glass. (I scoured ebay for a hunk (of glass) of my own as soon as I got back to my computer.)


Right: The main room adjoins Roop’s office. The walls are covered with a superfine hemp cloth in a neutral color, which is important because he displays the design boards on the ledges here. The wall behind the fireplace is a micro-mosaic tile in a polished white Carrara marble that’s sort of sparkly. The Plexiglass globe chandelier is from an antique dealer in San Francisco.

Top right: A mesmerizing slab of rock with clear crystal formations, from China, sits on the mantle. Bottom right: Another painting by David Moore hangs above a decorative screen with nail head detailing.


Left: “My super-duper high-end treasure is this ’60s-era George Nakashima coffee table.”

Right: Roop designs most of the upholstered pieces in his projects. This chair is one of his early prototypes. He also designed the star side table with a shimmery veneer that’s made from paua shell imported from Hawaii. When the Nantucket client saw it, she insisted on having one too. The star table in Nantucket has more of a bluish tinge.

design displayThe presentation ledges. These boards are for an over-the-top condo in Miami. I got a sneak peek of the photos, but sorry, can’t share them yet! They’ll be published in a national glossy soon.


Details from the inspiration boards. Shiny, velvety, nubby, geometric, metallic. Delicious. The colors and textures are pure Roop, but revved up to stand out in South Beach.


“I love light fixtures – I think of them as sculpture.”


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Get the Look: Frank Roop Style DIY

Loved the Nantucket house we toured this week? Designer Frank Roop reveals ten insider tips that you can pull off yourself, no matter what your budget.

curtains daybed

Cover cushions in contrasting fabrics. Instead of re-upholstering your whole piece, slipcover just the cushions, in a contrasting color or coordinating pattern. Roop, who covered the cushion of the daybed in the living room says, “I love that it looks almost like a mattress.”

Choose pieces that do double duty.
Invest in pieces like x-stools, cubes, and poufs that can be dragged from room to room and used as a stool, side table, or ottoman. In the living room, Roop designed x-stools upholstered in a silk canvas fabric.

Cut and sew pre-made curtains for a custom look. Buy inexpensive panels in different colors, cut lengthwise in thirds, and have your dry cleaner sew back together for a new, multi-colored effect. Roop had three soothing colors of linen stitched together to create the living room curtains. In the sitting room off the dining area, he had three different colors in varying horizontal widths sewn together for a more stripe-y effect.

br lamp

Trim lampshades with ribbon. Use a glue gun to affix grosgrain ribbon around the top and bottom edge of a run of the mill lampshade for a custom upgrade. Roop has all his lampshades custom made – the one on the vintage Danish chandelier is trimmed in suede while the linen shade in the master bedroom is trimmed with grosgrain ribbon. curtains and lamp

Frame far away trinkets. Be it a kimono from your trip to Japan or a feather you plucked off the ground in the Everglades, framing a sentimental piece preserves memories and adds an exotic touch. Roop had a child’s dress that the homeowner brought back from India framed for her daughter’s room.

Put new tops on old bases. Swap out a ruined tabletop with a remnant slab of stone, or top a wooden cube, stone pillar, or other architectural gem with a custom cut piece of glass. For the sitting area off the dining room, Roop designed a Moroccan-shaped lacquered base to which he added a bronze top that is stamped with a Moroccan pattern.

entry tableUse natural objects as accent pieces. Celebrate simplicity by displaying a specimen that occurs naturally in nature, like a gnarly hunk of driftwood , a chunky mineral, or a spiky piece of coral. Roop filled a huge clamshell with hydrangea and placed it on the dining room table with a piece of old driftwood, on a brightly colored runner. In the entry, a simple glass vase is filled with branches beside a piece of quartz.

Collect pieces of the similar objects in the same color. No matter how mundane an object may be, a grouping in the same color scheme elevates then from plain to polished. In the kitchen, the homeowner displays blue and green seltzer bottles she had been collecting over the years.

mosaic Paint old furniture a spunky new color. Any old piece of furniture can be transformed with glossy paint – try chartreuse, tomato red, inky black or bright white. Roop had vintage faux bamboo chairs (the homeowner loves faux bamboo) re-lacquered in celery and reupholstered in a neutral stripe for the dining room.

Use several small mirrors to make a mosaic. Instead of hanging one large, pricey mirror, collect a number of small ones, and arrange in a mosaic pattern for maximum impact. In a niche off the entry, Roop hung mirrored-back sconces in a bulls-eye design to echo the round mirror off to the side.



Montgomery Curtains ( offers made-to-measure and ready-made curtains and accessories.

Design Diary: Frank Roop in Nantucket (Part II)

If you read my last post, you know that Sunday’s edition of the Boston Globe Magazine featured “Living Brilliantly”, the piece I wrote about a Nantucket house with interiors by Frank Roop .I know I promised Part II of this dreamy spot yesterday, but life (well, kids home on summer vacation) got in the way. Three doctor’s appointments, a teacher conference, a trip to the playground, two playdates, a four hour hair appointment (hey, straight hair takes time) and a massive Target trip later, here’s the other half!

Photography by Eric Roth – Courtesy of The Boston Globe

1 Globe Frank Roop Great Roomthe dining room

Don’t you love the chandelier? It’s a very heavy commercial piece, probably from a restaurant, from the 1960s. It resembles of mass of tangled twigs, or maybe coral. Roop calls its look “a nod to the ocean without being corny.” The antique table came from a Paris flea market. The homeowners bought it on a trip years ago, and had been storing until they had the space for it. Roop added the vintage faux bamboo chairs that he had lacquered in celery green (I know, they look white here) and reupholstered. Roop filled a huge clamshell he found in the basement with hydrangea for the shoot.

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2 Globe Frank Roop Kitchenthe kitchen

The perfect kitchen. The sea colored glass tiles are divine. Roop ordered them in an array of custom color arrangement from Ann Sacks. They make a perfect backdrop for the wife’s collection of green and blue seltzer bottles, which she’d been collecting over the years and acquired mostly in Paris and at Brimfield. She says, “I have a bunch of them; some have old wicker around them. They’re antique and very heavy. I love them; I have been hoarding them for Nantucket.”

The cabinetry is from Dalia Kitchen Design in the Boston Design Center. You can’t tell here, but the base of the island is stained a light blue color to break it up and bring in more color. The cooktop is Thermidor, with cobalt blue knobs, similar in color to the vintage Greek fisherman pendants that were acquired by Roop through a dealer. The countertop is jet mist honed granite from Gerrity Stone in Woburn, Mass. (a popular source around here). They wanted a honed stone because they felt is was less formal than a polished stone, and it also created a soapstone look without the fragility. (Soapstone is pourous and stains easily.

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3 Globe Frank Roop Sitting Room off DRsitting room off the dining room

This is the room you see in the background in the dining room shot above. How great is that 1950s driftwood lamp? Of course, Roop added a new shade, white linen, I think, trimmed in khaki grosgrain ribbon. Even better are teh 1820s blue opaline glass sconces from England. Love, love, love. Roop designed the side table, using a Moorish shaped-base to continue the exotic accents theme. The top is bronze, with a Moroccan pattern stamped on it. The coffee table is by French Modernist Jacques Adnet. It has a tile top in its iron base. (You can find some similar pieces by Jacques Adnet on 1st Dibs.) And, by now you’ll recognize Roop’s signature drapes. These are made from green silk that looks like linen (imported from Thailand), white linen and khaki linen. I’m thinking of trying this look in my Back Bay bay living room bay windows.

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6 Globe Frank Roop LRthe living room

Let’s start with the rug. Like pretty much everywhere else in the house, the living room rug is sisal. The family has two dogs (a chocolate lab and a mutt) and three cats, so they needed a pet friendly solution. The husband wanted Oriental rugs. The wife said no way. She had some rag rugs. Roop was less than charmed. So the sisal was a practical compromise. (The husband got an Oriental in his office.)

The fireplace surround is Costa Esmerelda, which is a pale green granite from Brazil. Roop designed the niche bookcases, above which are mounted sconces with sky blue pleated silk shades. Roop designed the coffee table. The open detail Moorish shape was inspired by a Robsjohn Gibbons stool he has. The top is inlaid paoa shell imported from Hawaii, which is a super shiny and lustrous veneer that Roop uses whenever he can. He has a star-shaped table covered in it in his design studio, and when the wife saw it, she insisted on his designing a piece using paoa shell for the Nantucket house. The finish is unique and gorgeous. The side table in the foreground is vintage faux bamboo. Roop designed the X-stools as well; they’re covered in a green silk canvas by Jim Thompson. The drapes are custom, but this time vertical panels are stitched together rather than horizontal swathes of color. They’re linen, with some shine, in three different colors.

Roop also designed all the upholstered pieces. (The sofa and chair were actually prototypes.) Roop uses McLaughlin Upholstering Company in Everett, Mass. to make them. The sofa fabric is a very heavy grayish blue linen, and the chairs are in a linen awning stripe. The daybed is upholstered in linen too, with a linen velvet cushion in a bluish green. Roop loves to do a contrasting cushion on a daybed, so it almost looks like a mattress. He cleverly used a daybed in front of the window because a sofa with a back would have blocked the view. The husband wasn’t crazy about the idea of seating sans back, but it’s the wife’s favorite seat in the house. She says,  “I love to sit there with a cup of tea and look out at the sky with the sun shining in on me; I can see the water in the distance, I love that seat, it is my favorite place.”

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4 Globe Frank Roop Game Roomthe game room

This is a little room off the living room where the family does puzzles. Their old house did not have a television, so they did a lot of puzzles, and wanted to be sure to fit in a dedicated round table for puzzles here. The table was found by the homeowners in a Paris flea market. The chandelier is thoroughly amazing. It’s funky Danish piece from the ’60s that Roop got from a dealer in New York City. It’s iron, embellished with handmade glass tiles. The wife adored it immediately, but both she and Roop were certain that neither the architect or her husband would like it. Surprise! They both loved it. Roop designed the chartreuse shade, which is made out of at least 100 yards of cotton cording, and trimmed in suede around the bottom edge.

5 Globe Frank Roop Game Rm Chandelier

Design Diary: Frank Roop in Nantucket (Part I)

This week’s edition of the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine featured “Living Brilliantly”, the piece I wrote about an absolutely beautiful Nantucket house with interiors by Boston über-star designer Frank Roop.

Roop designs much of the furniture he uses, as well as the draperies and lampshades. And, he uses local artisans to do it. Roop explains, “For me, it’s not about going to design center showrooms. I’d rather support local craftsmen. I think I am one of the few designers that stick to that principle of design.” If Roop hasn’t designed it, chances are the piece is vintage or antique. He hardly ever buys anything new. Eco-conscious and chic.

I’ve split this story into two parts. Today you’ll see the first floor rooms; tomorrow, the upstairs.

Photography by Eric Roth – Courtesy of The Boston Globe

exterior roop

The neoclassic Shingle Style house, located on two acres in the Cisco area of the Island, is owned by a Newton couple with three daughters, ages 18 to 23. It’s 5,000 square feet, with an upside down layout (the bedrooms are on the first floor and the living spaces on the second, to take advantage of the water views). Previously, the family spent their summers in a more cottage-y sort of place that they had purchased about nine years ago, with plans to renovate. But when they were able to buy a little more land next door that had a better view, they decided to commission local architect Nathan McMullen of McMullen and Associates to design a brand new dwelling. (It was built by Kris Perez’s Falkon Building Co.)

Instead of calling in the bulldozers to demolish their old house, they gave it away. The wife told me in a telephone conversation, “Guys came, cut it in half, moved it to the new site around the corner, and put it back together.” Apparently Nantucket requires that you try to do that before tearing down a house. It’s actually a less expensive alternative to demolition, and, more importantly, it helps keep rubbish out of overcrowded landfills. While this family arranged the transfer directly with their neighbor, real estate can also be donated to organizations like Housing Nantucket, which provides affordable housing solutions on the Island.

As for the interior, the homeowners wanted the decor to work with the somewhat formal architecture, but still have it feel like their at the beach. Comfortable, but not too casual. Take the tour; I think you’ll agree that Roop’s approach was a success.

Globe Roop Nantucket Entrywaythe entry

The airy entryway, complete with swooping staircase, is anchored by a painted, Swedish neoclassical table, above which hangs a faux bamboo chandelier Roop found in Upstate New York. A tableau of earthy items, both ordinary (pieces of driftwood in a glass vase) and a little glam (a hunk of quartz from Brazil) are arranged on the table with a small succulent. The asymmetrical bamboo bench dates from the Aesthetic Movement of 19th century England. It’s real bamboo, and the husband is less than fond of it. Roop acquired it from an antiques dealer in Connecticut. (Nope, he won’t reveal his sources, I tried!)

Notice the sconce to the left of the pocket door . . . Roop made them as a housewarming surprise for the owners. They’re made from natural coral that’s been lacquered and Tahitian mother of pearl. When the votives are lit, the candlelight reflects off the mother of pearl gorgeously. I wish I had a closeup shot; we can’t see them very well here.

As you can see, the architectural details are pretty traditional, with a plank wood floor, exposed, unpainted beams, and wainscotting halfway up the walls and on the ceiling. The wife told me that they agonized over whether to leave the beams au naturel or to paint them. Her husband won that one. he says, “Guys are all about wood but it looks structural, and good.” She appreciates that it provides some warmth to the cool color palette. The flooring, as well as the posts and beams are Chinese elm reclaimed from palaces in China.

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Globe Roop Side Table Vignette niche off the entry

If you look at the entry photo again, you’ll see a little niche cordoned off by the posts. That niche is what you’re seeing in this shot. The distressed console table is sheathed in old, patinated zinc sheet metal. The green glass jar is vintage Venetian, the white container with the coral branches on it is a matte ceramic pottery mold, and the pot filled with hydrangeas is 1960s vintage. The bull’s eye design is comprised of colonial mirror-back sconces that would have held candles mixed with small mirrors, all found at various antique shops. The shape echoes the round window off to the right, which is actually the house’s only round window.

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Globe Frank Roop Office Vignettethe family room

You can see this half of the family room through the glass pocket doors in the entry. Paired with the white faux bamboo desk is what Roop called a “California chair with free from wood” from the a 1970s. On the wall are framed vintage shell collages done with old paper and calligraphy that the wife found in a Paris flea market. Roop added the anemone wall sculptures to the mix. The drapes are in Roop’s signature style, from multiple fabrics stitched together.

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7 Globe Frank Roop girls bedroomyoungest daughter’s bedroom

The homeowners wanted their daughters’ rooms to be reflect their individual personalities, so they were allowed to choose their colors “to a certain degree,” says the mom.

The youngest wanted a lime green bedroom so Roop found a pale shade that the daughter liked and that the mother could live with, and using a more acid bright in the niche. Roop came up with the idea to carve out a reading niche to make use of the dead space in the room. The Moorish shape echoes the silhouette of the custom designed, linen-covered headboard, and adds an ethnic note that’s found throughout the house. The niche cushion is a woven Donghia fabric with a Moroccan pattern and the 1960s metal branch sculpture above is by Jere. The green pillows on the bed are made from a burnout velvet gofrage linen. And, yes, that’s a vintage Saarinen table with a rosewood top. On top sits a 1960s studio pottery lamp with a custom shade white linen shade trimmed with grosgrain ribbon, a Roop signature touch.

The middle daughter’s room is done in corals, with white walls and a headboard and pillows made from orange silk that they brought back from Cambodia, to which Roop added a Moroccan wedding blanket embellished with tiny mirrors. Roop had other items from the couple’s travels framed for the room, including a child’s dress from India, camel decorations, and a pony bridle.

The eldest daugher’s room has ice blue walls, a bright teal cut velvet chaise, and a vintage surfing poster her mom bought at Brimfield years ago, as well as a photograph of her diving with dolphins on her 21st birthday during a family vacation.

8 Globe Frank Roop Master Bedroommaster bedroom

I love this room, with its touches of pale and clear seaside color.

The faux bamboo bed is a piece the homeowners found a while back in Maine. The green porcelain vintage lamp on the far side of the bed looks like strops of bamboo. Roop designed the slipper chair, which is covered in an Anna French gofrage linen velvet. The antique Syrian sidetaable is inlaid with mother-of-pearl, acquired  by Roop from one of his Paris resources. He uses them a lot – they’re great for drinks and can be moved around easily.

In the back of the room stands a jardinière planter to which Roop added a concrete vessel and blue glass balls that the homeowner already had. The floor lamp is a faux bamboo Jacque Adnet piece covered in Hermes leather and finished with a custom lampshade constructed from string (another Roop specialty). The Roop-designed sofa is covered in sand-colored linen and the vintage faux bamboo stool is topped with a cushion of silk canvas. Finally, like most of the rugs throughout the house, this one is a natural, no-nonsense sisal.

9 Globe Frank Roop master bathmaster bath

This dreamy bathroom has the only tub in the house (it’s a Bain Ultra air jet tub). The homeowners had picked out the fixtures before hiring Roop, but Roop chose the tiles and custom-designed the watery palette and pattern. The tiles, which came from Tile Showcase, are all marble and very shimmery, and were designed to look like rugs.

The homeowner chose the shell chandelier from a lighting store in Nantucket. She says this about it, “I wanted something borderline tacky; something I wouldn’t do anywhere else, like over my dining room table. It is kind of kitschy, since it’s made out of shells, but I think it’s perfect for the bathroom.”As for the rattan shades, the windows were originally bare, but they needed a little privacy, and she likes the warmth of the woody accents.

Check back tomorrow to see the upstairs living spaces!

ARTmonday: Didier Massard

Today I interviewed interior designer Frank Roop at his studio. But more on that later. Since it’s ARTmonday, I thought I’d show you images by photographer Didier Massard, whose work I discovered hanging in Frank’s living room. (He hosted a Boston Home party there last spring to celebrate the cover story about his place, “Material Witness.”  I adore Frank’s work and was excited to see his sumptuous showpiece. And I had a small piece in the magazine too – my first for them – “Some Like It Hot.” ) Here is Frank Roop’s living room. Didier Massard’s photograph I fell in love with is hanging on the left.


Photo by Eric Roth

Today I finally had the opportunity to ask Frank about the work and the artist. Turns out Didier Massard’s work is shown in Boston right on Newbury Street, at the Robert Klein Gallery. I haven’t been in there in quite a while, (my husband tends to prefer painting over photographs) but Robert Klein Gallery represents a number of photographers I love, including Sally Gall, Sally Mann, and Tom Baril.

Didier Massard’s photographs are surreal, romantic, otherworldly landscapes. Contrived landscapes. He builds models in his Paris studio, which he then photographs.

Didier Massard Autumn Tree Photo

Autumn Tree, 2001

Didier Massard Spring Tree Photo

Spring Tree, 2002

Didier Massard Tree Top Photo

Tree Top, 2002

Photos courtesy of Robert Klein Gallery