Carla Rockmore is good with surprises. Dubbed the "Carrie Bradshaw of TikTok," the 56-year-old jewelry and clothing designer has garnered a devoted social media following over the last two-plus years—carving out her own creative space online and lighting up TikTok on a scale she never expected. Now, she's leaning into her stylish second act.
While devotees turn to her account for fashion advice (Rockmore's short styling tutorials run the gamut from French Dressing 101 to How to Wear Your Clothes Backwards), glimpses into the influencer's fabulous Dallas home from behind the phone screen might be just as compelling. Rockmore’s signature "more is more" outlook on personal style spills into her approach to design. "They're the same animal to me. It's all about shape and opposition, putting colors and styles next to each other that aren't meant to be," she muses. "If I've got a traditional coffee table, I'm going to pair it with a crazy mid-century modern chair and, you know, leopard stuff on the floor."
Rockmore honed her eye for the eclectic through her early career in fashion design. "A big part of my job was working with makers overseas," she says. "Every season, I would travel to Europe to pick the styles and work on the design, and then I would go to Asia to bring them into the line."
The onset of the pandemic brought the designer's international treasure hunts to a screeching halt. "My girlfriends in Canada were really locked down," Rockmore, herself Canadian, recalls of those early days stuck at home watching endless episodes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. "They were like, make us laugh! So I just started doing these fun styling videos on YouTube."
By April 2021, her teenage daughter Ivy had a proposition: bringing those videos to TikTok. Rockmore was skeptical: "I said, what? That dance app?" But she took Ivy's advice, cutting her longform videos into bite-sized versions and hitting post. What did she have to lose?
The TikTok account blew up. At first it was a family inside joke: "Mom’s gone viral! How funny is that?" Rockmore recalls of those early hits, laughing as she remembers her kids' reactions. "But it just kept happening."
Rockmore's video vignettes follow a simple formula: styling an outfit in her cavernous two-story closet, which her 1.3 million followers have come to know as her signature backdrop. "The closet is what made me buy the house," she says of her archival wardrobe, a kaleidoscopic treasure trove of vintage designer pieces from Gucci to Lucchese. "I was paging through Zillow and I saw this vision of mint. It was originally a two-story mint green office! But then I saw the gorgeous spiral staircase." She instantly forwarded the listing to her husband. "I said, 'Michael, I think we can work with this one.' We sealed the deal because of that closet."
After moving into the three-bedroom Tudor, Rockmore's first instinct was to put it in neutral. "I love a white home because I use a lot of color in my life and I need a calming backdrop," she explains. But the original kitchen came with a deep navy blue backsplash and stacked glass tile. Rockmore decided the simpler solution would be to paint the cherry wood cabinetry a matching navy with a high-gloss finish than to rip out walls of tile and start over—white kitchen fantasies be damned. The realtor at the time called her crazy, warning that she'd reduce the home's resale value. But Rockmore decided to go for it anyway. "I'm glad I stuck to my guns, because it's really my favorite part of the house now."
Once the navy kitchen was settled, color poured in. Emerald green, Rockmore's favorite hue, envelopes the dining room. Sprinkled throughout the house are more of Rockmore's good surprises, a mix of thrifted wins and antique pieces passed down from her parents and grandparents. The chandelier in the dining room is one of her most prized local finds, a discovery which she likens to IKEA’s iconic "Start the Car!" commercial. "The woman is screaming to her husband to start the car because she had such a great find," Rockmore laughs, talking with her hands as she describes the scene. "She was sure that the store had mispriced it! That's how I felt about that chandelier."
As Rockmore's eyes light up, you can tell as this is her favorite part of interior design: the thrill of the chase. "I like the challenge of finding stuff that doesn't necessarily have labels, but brings character into a look through their differences. And the treasure hunt of it all," she says. "Finding that perfect thing, there's just no feeling like that."
"The couches are arguably too small for the space, but they are family heirlooms I reupholstered three times, so I was determined to use them," says Rockmore. "Because the delicious turquoise and green floral print is so large and saturated, they appear bigger and fit the space."
Couch: Vintage. Black leather chairs: Nienkamper.
Sculpture: Ideal Woman by Allie Pohl. Jaguar: Rockmore lacquered a vintage leopard to become a black jaguar.
"I was determined to replicate the exact same deep, navy blue color of the tiled backsplash," says Rockmore. "I took a piece of tile with me and sat at Sherwin Williams for hours! I chose a base dark navy blue, and then added a touch of cyan here and a dash of magenta there until I got the perfect match." Rockmore opened up the cabinets with glass and opted for white dishes for an Old English feel.
"I wanted the dining room to have a real Vegas, Tony Duquette vibe: that sort of slinky, sexy feeling," says Rockmore. "The space is an odd octagonal shape, so I mirrored three out of the four primary walls to allow for an infinity repeat of the chandelier through its reflection."
"I intentionally ordered this Stephanie Vovas photo in oversize to work in our Texas-sized foyer," says Rockmore. "The yellow in the photo, and the brass accents on repeat, bring a uniformed balance to the space." Chinoiserie chairs were a gift from Rockmore's mother-in-law: "She bought them at auction in the 1960s," says Rockmore. "I somehow mustered the courage to paint them a high gloss black for a more modern edge."
"My closet is a forever changing kaleidoscope of clothing I am obsessed with at the moment," says Rockmore. "I like to be able to see the entire collection when I work. The pieces are like my paint colors. The more options I have to play with, the more beautiful the painting."
Fuchsia chair: Inherited from Rockmore's grandmother and reupholstered in ultrasuade.