If you want to learn how to throw a party — a real, grown-up, cloth napkin, dressed-to-impress party — follow Danielle Rollins’ lead. This expert of entertaining has been dazzling Atlantans for years at her fantastic soirees, and she put all that knowledge of being the ultimate hostess to page by writing Soiree: Entertaining With Style. Those of us still having some WWDD (What Would Danielle Do) moments can visit her website and get her thoughts on design trends, fabulous recipes, lovely gift ideas and more that influence living your best lifestyle. Besides exciting endeavors like her own design firm, Danielle Rollins Interiors, and working on licensing her very own collection, she gives back. In fact, today marks her annual Women of Style and Substance Luncheon and Fashion Show, benefiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. We sat down with our newest FACE, the ever incredible Danielle Rollins, to share a little more about her life, her brand and, most importantly, how to be the best hostess you can be.
You’re originally from Dallas, went to school in Virginia and eventually came to Atlanta by way of marriage. How does Atlanta differ from the other Southern cities you’ve lived in? What’s your favorite part about living here?
Atlanta is a modern big city with old-fashioned, small-town, Southern roots. There is still that certain amount of politeness and formality that makes for comfortable living. My favorite thing about living here is being able to have a garden — the Southern climate is great for creating fast-growing landscaping that shows quick results for the effort.
Entertaining is in your blood. Are you a natural-born hostess or have you honed your entertaining skills over time? Would you rather attend a party or host it?
I think it is an innate love and a skill that I have honed over time as well, constantly evolving and adapting to where I am in the different stages of my life. As I have gotten older, I prefer smaller, more intimate groups of friends and I think it is reflected in the way I entertain now.
That second question made me laugh, because there is most certainly that part of me that enjoys the planning, creating and directing a party to a great degree. I think some of my favorite times are quietly sitting back, almost voyeuristically, and watching others have a good time. People can be intimidated having me at a party, which I also find quite amusing because I am not in the slightest bit judgmental of others’ effort, but rather appreciative of being included.
What are three adjectives you would use to define yourself?
Determined, inventive and resilient
You’re in the process of decorating your new Buckhead home. What are your favorite local décor stores when putting a look together?
I love Scott Antique Markets, and I love that it is accessible to everyone. If I have to pull things together quickly, my go-to for fast and furious shopping would be a combination of Jane Marsden, Parc Monceau, Bungalow Classic and Edgar Reeves Lighting, which could probably cover all the bases for takeaway chic. I also love ADAC for the myriad treasures available there. I think even if you’re not a designer, there is a lot of inspiration to be found there just walking through and seeing things in showrooms!
What’s the No. 1 rule hostesses-in-training should follow?
Focus on your guests’ comfort, enjoy yourself and keep a sense of humor — follow that and you cannot go wrong.
When not in your house, where’s your favorite place to entertain in Atlanta?
I am still more old school in that I love entertaining at home, but I do love a night of letting someone else do the work, too! I love exploring a restaurant out of the ordinary, particularly with an interesting cuisine or taking friends from out of town to the tried-and-true favorite haunts to share the Atlanta I know and love with them. It is not entertaining, per se, but I love taking friends to the Swan House and to the High Museum (of Art) — neither ever disappoints.
How did you get started on the Women of Style and Substance annual luncheon? Why is it important for Atlantians to get involved?
My middle child had a really bad accident in 2008, and chairing the event with Ginny Brewer, then Liz Lazarus and now Elizabeth Klump was a natural fit and a way to thank so many people who saved my daughter’s life. I think that experience, among all of the things I have been through, really shaped me into who I am today. I love that we recognize and honor women for their style and their substance for what they give to our community. It is a growing list, and I get such a thrill seeing the past honorees stand. I think giving back to the community you live in is important to make a dynamic city, and it creates a strong sense of ownership, strength and pride.
Your book, Soiree: Entertaining With Style, is a how-to guide to throwing and celebrating the perfect party from start to finish. Describe your process of how you go about putting together the perfect party, and where in Atlanta you go to make that vision a reality.
I am very organized about entertaining, but I am very relaxed about it at the same time. I tend to pick a “theme” or feeling, then decide on the look, pull everything together and lay it all out well before the event. I like to do as much as I can ahead of time so it is easy and enjoyable assembling it all on the actual day of a party. My favorite part is always doing the flowers. I love going to the Peachtree Road Farmers Market for inspiration. A few favorite shops are Star Provisions, Lush Life, Boxwoods and BD Jeffries for last-minute necessities.
How do the rules of entertaining in the South differ from the rest of the country?
People in the South love their homes and love making them personal expressions of themselves. More than anywhere else, entertaining in the South is still all about “home” and inviting others into your own special world. I think there is still a hospitality mentality here with an emphasis on putting forth the effort and making things special for the purpose of joyfully sharing what you have with others.
What’s your favorite meal (or top three meals) in Atlanta?
Umi would be at the tip top of my picks, and I love their special nigiri more than words can express. It is utterly magical. I love the ambience and local neighborhood feel of Anis Bistro. I still love Bacchanalia for special occasions — or no occasion at all — and sitting at the bar. I don’t go out a lot, so I think I might need to up my game to answer more. Maybe that should be its own interview!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
My mother passed down the best advice given to her from my very sensible German great-grandmother: Fifty percent of the world will love you no matter what you do, and the other 50 percent will dislike you no matter what you do. Don’t waste your time trying to change the ones you can’t. Focus on the good 50 percent.
What are three things you can’t live without, excluding friends, family and faith?
I don’t know if there is anything I can’t live without, but I really enjoy fresh flowers, creating gardens and my home.
We want to thank Danielle Rollins for joining the StyleBlueprint FACES family and sharing a little insight about her life and her professional and social endeavors.
And thanks as always to Catrina Maxwell of CatMax Photography for today’s beautiful photographs.