Lively and bold, with a globe-trotting spirit: It’s a description that could apply as well to Roberta Freymann’s fashion and textiles line, Roller Rabbit, as to the woman herself. Born in London, Roberta grew up on Manhattan’s Upper East Side and has spent decades exploring far-flung locales, from Argentina to India—collecting artwork, learning languages (she speaks five), and developing a serious passion for global textiles along the way. She launched Roller Rabbit in 2003, and the brand’s vibrant block-printed tunics, accessories, and linens have been garnering devoted fans ever since.
Roberta’s current home, a high-ceilinged apartment in a grand 1900s Manhattan building, is an embodiment of this glamorous, worldly aesthetic. And she happened upon it by chance. As empty-nesters living in a larger unit in the building, Roberta and her husband were looking to scale down just as a young family in a neighboring apartment sought to go bigger. A simple swap left both parties happy, though Roberta immediately spotted a few necessary fixes. The most practical, a lack of closet space, was quickly remedied, but something else was also missing: color. “They were very minimalist,” says Roberta of the previous homeowners. “And you can see I definitely am not!”
“The entrance to me is like an art gallery,” says Roberta of her apartment’s foyer, where several large works have pride of place. “You should be able to just sit down and look at the paintings if you want to.” Rich burnished woods and a velvet-upholstered settee—backed with a vintage Indian textile—warm up the crisp white walls and mosaic-tile floor.
Bringing in richly saturated paint, yards of fabrics, and a collection of vibrant artworks, she set about infusing each room with her signature bold color. As with her line, Roberta drew inspiration from her travels and from her extensive textiles collection, which includes vintage examples from Central and South America, India, Russia, and beyond. But while each season of Roller Rabbit brings with it new patterns, new colors, and new designs, the major decorative moments here are complete. “My house is a reflection of my taste and of my eye,” Roberta says. As her brand’s devoted fans can attest, it’s a world that’s a delight to escape into.
White Venetian-plaster walls (done by Roberta’s sister, as are many of the other finishings throughout the home) give the living room an airy feel—and create a clean backdrop for artwork. “I decided that I needed something that would bring out the paintings as opposed to bury them,” Roberta says. Color comes instead from the works themselves, along with an array of brilliantly hued textiles.
In a corner of the living room, a pair of paintings flanks a bust covered in pennies by the Colombian artist Federico Uribe. Roberta and her husband share a serious passion for art, particularly Argentine and Uruguayan art from the 1950s onward. “Art is very important to me. I think I started buying art when I was in my 20s, and my husband did also,” Roberta says. “It’s something that’s just part of our life. We have more paintings than walls!”
Art is very important to me. We have more paintings than walls!
The Freymanns love to entertain, so a proper dining space was a priority. A striking Baccarat crystal chandelier (found at auction and once owned by the Mexican movie star María Félix) presides over lively dinner parties, where Roberta, an avid cook, serves up seasonal favorites—fresh fish in summer, pastas and risottos in winter.
Against the bright dining room walls, painted in Benjamin Moore’s Capri Seas, Roberta’s antique furnishings take on a fresh, modern flair. “I always paint my dining rooms a very fun color,” Roberta says. “When you’re entertaining, your surroundings should be entertaining.”
Roberta’s dinner-party essentials include “good food, great wine, hopefully fun guests, and a beautiful table.” The latter is accomplished through a lively mix of old and new: She pairs her family’s heirloom crystal, china, and silver with colorful block-printed table linens from her line. “What I’ve inherited is very serious,” Roberta notes. “It can look kind of stuffy if you don’t bring it down a notch with something whimsical.”
Many of the apartment’s windows are finished with a swathe of richly hued silk. Roberta spotted the sumptuous yards of fabric at a market in Bangkok, and with a loose color scheme in her head, “I started just picking out silks that sang to me. The price was so reasonable that I said, ‘What’s the worst that can happen if it doesn’t work?’”
I always paint my dining rooms a very fun color. When you’re entertaining, your surroundings should be entertaining.
If there were any doubt about Roberta’s love of color, the home’s jewel-box office would prove otherwise. Coated in a poppy-red lacquer (“I can’t remember how many coats they did, but it was quite a lot!”), the walls seem to pulse with energy—and cast a warm glow over everything (and everyone) in the space. “My attitude is that all colors go together,” Roberta says. “You can just have fun.”
The hallway is dedicated to artwork, from the bird sculpture by Antonio Berni that hangs overhead to the collection of smaller framed pieces that line the walls salon-style. The paint color is what Roberta calls “museum gray,” a dusky greenish gray tone that makes the small paintings—and Roberta’s black and white Scottish terriers, Alfa and Romeo—stand out.
My attitude is that all colors go together. You can just have fun.
The guest bedroom is the home’s one “totally Roller Rabbit room,” Roberta says. From the sheets to the pillows to the fabric tepee, every textile boasts the brand’s signature block prints. Even the walls get in on the pattern play, decked out in a hand-stenciled design (courtesy of Roberta’s sister) modeled after a palace Roberta visited in India.
With her well-earned reputation for beautiful linens, it’s no surprise that Roberta has mastered the art of making the bed. There’s a little work involved—”at least the top sheet has to get ironed because otherwise your bed will look messy”—but the payoff is major. Unsurprisingly, these twin beds are highly coveted by guests.
Each bed gets its own mix of Roller Rabbit textiles—Roberta keeps things fresh by switching up the linens and experimenting with layered patterns. “I don’t think that there’s problem with mixing prints as long as there’s a harmony,” she says.
Velvety Venetian-plaster walls give the master bedroom a sense of serenity. “You don’t want something too unharmonious in your bedroom—you don’t want something that doesn’t calm you,” Roberta says. One bold stroke: the magenta silk curtains, another part of her haul from the Bangkok market.
Roberta cozies up with Alfa and Romeo in front of one of her most treasured possessions, a large-scale painting that she and her husband unearthed in Buenos Aires. It’s now a striking focal point in the couple’s living room. “When I walked into the apartment I said, ‘That’s where the painting’s going.’ It found its place immediately.”
When I walked into the apartment I said, ‘That’s where the painting's going.’ It found its place immediately.