PHOTOGRAPHY BY Sara Hanna
Mixing a dash of glamour with an approachable style, Danielle Rollins recently shared her flair for gracious living and stylish entertaining with Peachy. A native of Dallas, Danielle now lives in Atlanta with her children and a menagerie of animals. She is passionate about travel, cooking, gardening and all things design-related. According to Danielle, “I love the lights, camera, action of a party! I enjoy every second of entertaining from the initial spark of inspiration and the preparation logistics, to the final zip of my dress, the greeting of friends, and the sound of tinkling glasses blending with the music. Celebrations allow me not only to express myself but also to express my love for family and friends. Entertaining enables suspension from the real world and escape from the near-constant digital onslaught; it gives loved ones a chance to truly connect in the moment and create lasting memories.” Danielle doesn’t believe in a right or wrong way to entertain. With a little effort and imagination, simple ingredients used abundantly and a sense of humor and humility, she believes that entertaining can have a truly transformative effect.
Are their certain childhood experiences or people that have influenced you?
I was born with the design gene, and I was that odd little child who soaked up visual inspirations from all sources like a sponge. I spent hours daydreaming, used my allowance to buy beautiful things and was constantly creating. My parents were (and still are) very supportive and gave me free rein, as both appreciate my flair, but neither have it. They would walk through rooms and say, “Oh, I like what you have done this week,” when I had repainted the entire room and reupholstered all the furniture using sheets. My mom encouraged my experimentation in the kitchen and tolerated being redressed head-to-toe to go to the grocery store. I attended Catholic schools which are not exactly the aesthetic center of the universe, but I sometimes think that lack of any design stimulated my ability to see the what if and possibility of a room now. My grandmother was a big influence on me in my early years, and to this day when I feel elegantly attired or particularly glam, I think of her.
Did you cook or entertain with your mother or grandmother?
My grandmother owned Bob White’s Bar-B-Que, one of those old Dallas fixtures, and I thought going there was magic. I grew up with her recipes, watching my mother cook and then cooking with her. I am more adventurous only because I cannot follow a recipe to save my life. The saying in our house is that, “if you like it you better eat as much as you can because it won’t be on the table again!” An exaggeration—but I do love trying new things just for the joy of experimenting. My mother and I still cook together a lot, and holidays are all about the kitchen; we plan the menus in advance and spend days cooking. It is something I really treasure.
When did you realize your love for entertaining?
When I was a child, I begged my grandmother for a tea set, and she bought me a beautiful porcelain set from Spode at the downtown Neiman Marcus. I subjected everyone to daily tea parties. I think I love the suspended reality that entertaining provides, the temporary stop of the real world and the connection with one another. A pretty table setting, no matter what is being served, just makes everything better.
Tell us a little about your book.
I love my book, Soiree Entertaining with Style, because it has so many layers of sentimentality to me. I wrote this book as my marriage was falling apart. It stands for everything I believe in. At the core, it is who I am, how I feel and what I believe, and it makes me so giddy and happy every single time someone picks it up and experiences a moment of joy! I never thought this would happen—I didn’t write it for any monetary expectation and only wanted other people to see the possibility of beauty in all things and with others.
Where is your favorite place to eat dinner?
Right now I am in a very small and limited rental home while my new house is being renovated. I cannot find my underwear let alone a cloth napkin, so it is all about the prospects of what will be. I can’t wait to have dinner outside with my mom, my children and Bill Ingram, my architect and partner, when this is all said and done!
What is your favorite weekend getaway?
At the moment…Chicago! It is a smaller, more beautiful and refined NYC, and the people are fabulous. If you don’t know Chicago you are missing out.
What is your go-to hostess gift?
I have the luxury of ribbon-wrapping a signed copy of my book. But I love to give cocktail napkins, vintage bar accessories and hard to find liquors with recipes.
Do you have a style icon?
Grace Kelly, Grace Kelly, Grace Kelly.
What is something that most people don’t know about you?
I am actually quite shy. I think I love entertaining because it gives me the chance to orchestrate, direct, participate and observe. Or maybe I should have been a dictator? Same skills just better taste!
What is your favorite lunch spot with friends?
I love going to Anis Bistro. It is so quintessentially French to me.
What is your next project?
I am renovating a 1970 red brick Georgian, and it is now stripped bare, down to the studs, completely being redone, much like I am personally. We are rebuilding brick by brick—watch out world!
Tell us a little about the beautiful fall table that you have set.
I don’t believe in a single use for anything or any room. The table is a console/desk from a bedroom. I love the fall tones, so I brought it outside for a dinner table. I didn’t have proper chairs, so I used a chambray sheet to cover hay bales for seating. The rest is all things pulled from around the house and things that I love! Use what you have and have what you need, let nature be your guide, recycle, reuse and reinvent, buy what you love and you will find a place for it, use it or lose it. Really that is all you ever need to know!
Recipe inspired by the fried pies served at Holeman & Finch