In their 38 years of wedded bliss, Rose and Richard Clark have lived in 14 houses throughout Oklahoma City – and Rose has worked her magic on each of them, as methodically as a surgeon and as magically as an alchemist.
Many will know Rose from her home décor shop, Red Chateau, which she established in Casady Square in 2003 and which she recently downsized and renamed. Now called Chateau Design, the focus of the enterprise has shifted from retail to design services.
“Before opening Red Chateau, I’d had a 20-year career in the staffing industry,” Clark says. “I traveled every week, Monday through Friday – and, honestly, missed out on a lot of my son’s childhood, which was very hard. One day I was reading Oprah’s magazine, and the article was about what you would do with your life if you could do anything, with no financial worry. For me, it was open a retail design store and business. I decided that day, and I’ve never looked back.”
Clark had two partners in the staffing business, and when she told them of her plan, and that she was sure she would be happier launching her new business, they were surprised and said not to make this big decision so quickly. “They encouraged me to take a vacation and think it over,” Clark recalls. “But I’d made up my mind, and I am so glad that I did.”
The business isn’t the only thing Clark has downsized recently. Her client list is carefully and regularly pruned, so as to be kept small enough that Clark enjoys the work and is able to focus on each client’s needs in real time.
“I am very picky about my clients. This is a very intimate process,” she says. “With any client, customer service is crucial. And so I make sure to stay in constant communication with them throughout the project. If I am entering the home to check on something, or deliver something, I text. When I leave, I text.”
Some of Clark’s tried-and-true techniques include keeping flooring consistent throughout the home. Its 3,500 square feet of floor space are all tile; it looks like pickled wood, but won’t scuff and is easy to clean. All of the baseboards in the house are travertine marble, which adds lots of subtle visual texture and helps ensure that the whole home is dog friendly. The Clarks have two Cavalier King Charles Spaniels: Mia, 8, and Bella, 12. In the dining room, a chandelier by Curry & Company adds bold, curvy sass to the space.
Rose and Richard Clark literally raised the roof in this home. Originally, the kitchen was a tiny room with 8-foot ceilings. “Everyone lives in the kitchen,” Rose says. She opted to enlarge the kitchen radically and brighten it up. She recommends doing a house little by little. “I left the stove backsplash blank for two months,” she says. The large buffet beneath the mirror has been reimagined in soothing neutrals by Rose herself, who is a huge fan of the miraculous transformative properties of chalk paint.
Keeping a smaller list of in-progress projects enables Clark to be flexible. A recent client needed a huge project – an entire re-do of the kitchen, floors, walls and furnishings in her home to be completed by July. Clark landed the project in May. “We did it,” says Clark, with no small measure of satisfaction.
A total overhaul is not always what’s needed, though. “If anyone wants to make a quick, noticeable change, start with the lamps and lighting, and switch out the pillows,” she recommends. “A chandelier is an easy way to transform a room.”
More smart advice from the master? Don’t go all contemporary or all traditional. Mix it up. Also, don’t buy anything unless you love it, and always keep the things you love. And for goodness’ sake, have fun!
The sitting room is the best spot for napping, says Rose. The chartreuse upholstered chair is now in its fourth iteration. “I have reupholstered that chair many times because I love it. It’s been mauve, red, leopard and now shades of green. The finish is original,” she says. The settee is a treasured Hickory Tannery piece that was a splurge when the Clarks bought it, but which will last for generations. In this room, Clark does what she does best. “Just layer it up. Don’t think too much about styles, just think about whether it will work.”
In the master bedroom, all of Rose’s expertise and design rules are in play. Note the mix of styles and materials, kept harmonious via a judiciously applied color scheme and a deft eye for shape and proportion.
A large soaking tub placed next to a picture window that overlooks the garden is a soothing respite after a long day of working major and minor design miracles. Large master closets ensure that no clutter need enter this pristine oasis. Overhead, the funky chandelier mirrors the one in the powder bath, providing subtle visual continuity in the home.