With the summer in full swing, many Manhattanites and creative people beyond are looking to upgrade their space to make it look fresh and new when guests show up to their house. Whether it is a place to crash for a couple of days, a great party celebrating someone’s birthday or your brand new renovated dining room to enjoy with your family, the home furnishing business is really in full swing. One business that is on the up and up and making quite the name for themselves in a very short time, is Roger + Chris, who are based right outside Manhattan in Sharon Springs, New York.
Roger + Chris, otherwise known as Chris Stout-Hazard and Roger Hazard, have a mission to as they say it, “unboring your home”. Roger has had quite the history being in front of the camera (how can you blame the audience for not wanting to see him? Giggity) for huge shows such as “Sell This House” and “Move This House”. Chris on the other hand, came from the world of c-level technology, who developed himself as a major web pioneer and someone who, thanks to his design and marketing, helped start-up companies become national brands in a short period of time. Then they met, and decided to shift everything they were doing to make Roger+ Chris.
Roger + Chris offers a variety of distinctive products for the everyday home, all made in the USA. Whether it is lighting, furniture, pillows or on the go, they pretty much have you covered to make sure the idea you have for your house comes to fruition. They also have a great web series that they do called “Roger That”, available on their website, where they transform homes with bright colors, patterns and more to give it a modern feel about itself. Essentially, from my point of view, they are the new dynamic duo of the home furnishing world, and in a short five years have taken a simple idea and have turned it into something so much bigger than that.
I recently spoke to one half of the team, Chris Stout-Hazard, about all of this from their beginnings, favorite projects, tips galore, and future of their business.
What inspired you to get involved in home furnishings in the first place?
We were frustrated with trying to find good furniture for our design clients. We found that most folks were resorting to buying furniture from the big names, where you could choose from just a couple of colors and sizes. We knew there was an audience looking for more variety, more colors, etc. At the same time, those big companies have to spend so much on their showrooms and catalogs and fake “sales” that they can’t deliver a very well-built product. We knew we could deliver higher-quality furniture if we focused on working one-on-one with our customers online. And that’s exactly what we did.
Was this a joint thing or did one of you have to convince the other somewhat to make this into a big business?
I think we were both excited about starting a new business together. The timing just happened to work out. Roger had spent over a decade on TV with all that that entails – flying around the country every week, living out of hotels, and not having much time to pursue design projects. I was a partner in a startup that was wrapping up. After a decade in the financial industry, I was ready for a change. Maybe we convinced each other a little bit!
Seeing as you both are a couple, do you find that the home furnishing business is pro LGBT, and have you ever encountered anything negative in your business due to your sexuality?
Yes, the furniture industry is pro-LGBT. There has always been a huge presence of LGBT folks in the world of design, including a lot of the biggest names in the industry. That said, as a group we’re very concerned about issues like North Carolina’s HB2 law (that’s their anti-LGBT “bathroom bill”). Much of the furniture manufacturing in the USA happens in North Carolina, and we collectively have to work to ensure the talented folks building our products are protected from discrimination. So there has been a lot of pressure from furniture manufacturers (along with most industries in the state) to get these laws repealed.
How would you exactly define “Roger and Chris” as a business in one sentence?
How about “serious designers that don’t take themselves too seriously”?
Is everything from your company handmade and domestic?
From the start, we decided that all of Roger + Chris’s products should be made in the USA. We think it’s the right thing to do for the economic health of our country, but it also gives us some important advantages – It means that we have the ability to custom build every piece to our customers’ specifications instead of mass producing overseas. Vegan or allergic to down? Not a problem; we can build your sofa with alternative materials. Want a lamp a bit taller or with a blue cord instead of a red one? We can do that. Just as important, we know exactly what chemicals are and aren’t being used in our products. It’s shocking to find out what goes into a lot of the imported furniture on the market. Building in the USA ensures not just the quality of the products but the conditions for the people crafting them.
What would you say is the biggest trend furniture wise for the summer and fall seasons?
The Bohemian look is everywhere right now. White walls, eclectic and colorful furniture, lots of Moroccan textiles, and tons of houseplants. For furniture, we’re seeing a lot of demand from designers for lighter, saddle-colored leather and olive green fabrics.
Do you have a favorite project that you have worked on so far, and why?
Every project has something exciting – we recently wrapped up a wine bar in Connecticut that featured a lot of our furniture and lighting that turned out beautifully, and we’re doing a number of residential projects that each have interesting features. But we probably have the most fun working on our own home. It’s a chance to really play and try out new ideas. Plus, when it’s finished, you get to hang out and enjoy it for a while.
What would you say are your biggest tips to new homeowners who really want to make their space flourish without it being too loud or dull?
Here’s the most important thing to remember when putting together your home or apartment. As a warning, it sounds simplistic, but it’s important nonetheless. IT’S OKAY TO LIKE WHAT YOU LIKE. We talk to many homeowners who struggle with making decisions, and much of the time they’re worried about impressing guests, or fitting in with what’s currently popular, or that they will be breaking some sort of rule if they deviate from what they’ve seen on HGTV. Design isn’t chemistry or physics – there are guidelines, but they aren’t laws. It’s your house, so give yourself permission to experiment, have fun, and surround yourself with things you love. Having a home that reflects your personality keeps you centered, and your guests will pick up on that too.
What would you say would be your biggest goal for Roger and Chris that you have your sights set on?
We just had our fourth birthday, but we’re still just warming up. Our goal at this point is to keep reaching new people, teaching them about design, and hooking them up with awesome furniture tailored to their needs.
What’s next for the two of you?
A nap sounds good right about now!
For more information on Roger + Chris, check out their official site.