Family’s East Village home is full of ‘good vibes’

The De Cabrol family: L-R: Bara (holding Wilfred), Annabelle, Sebastien, Roger with Ludwig on a chair that Roger designed, inspired by Dali. (Photos by Bob Krasner)

BY BOB KRASNER | Today, the East Village home of Bara and Roger de Cabrol houses their children Annabelle and Sebastien, the fluffy canines Ludwig and Wilfried, artwork, books, music and some fabulous furniture.

But back in 1905, their second-floor dwelling held nothing but horse drawn carriages. The first floor was a stable with an elevator, where the children’s rooms are now, that carried the carriages to the upper floors (there are six in all).

Thanks to an architect who renovated the building several years ago, the space was converted beautifully, retaining the brick walls and wood beam ceilings.

“We were lucky though,” says Roger (pronounced roe-zhay). “He ran out of money when he got to the upper floors – they are not as nice.”

Though the loft is filled with hints of their profession – they are interior decorators – it is not a stuffy designer showcase. There are striking elements throughout – such as their son’s bed tucked into an elevator shaft and the chairs designed by Roger that look like stiletto heels – but it is a comfortable, eclectic home filled with the warmth of their energy and ideas, as well as memorabilia of lives that were already quite full before they met, through mutual friends.

Bara De Cabrol in a swing that came from Colombia.

Bara, notably the daughter of singer/actress Petula Clark, was born in London and lived in Paris, but the family left during the riots of 1968 to live in Geneva, a place she is not particularly fond of.

“You have to have a lobotomy to live in Switzerland,” she casually remarks. She attended school in Geneva, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, but “officially resided” in Switzerland.

Roger (a Baron, incidentally) was born in San Francisco, but comes from a French family that can claim to be descended from the man who invented Toile de Jouy, the first French process for printing onto fabric.

He’s lived in Mexico, gone to boarding school in France, owned a recording studio in Ibiza, worked for Salvador Dali and luckily ended up in New York, where he met Bara at a party in 1995. She happened to be in the city, taking a break from her home in Miami, where she was working for a food magazine and studying psychology.

“I was never going to get married or have children!” she exclaims. Nevertheless, a year later they tied the knot during a snowstorm in the French Alps and began a family.

L-R: Roger De Cabrol holding Ludwig, Bara De Cabrol holding Wilfred.

Before settling into the carriage house east of Avenue B on 2nd Street twelve years ago, they rented various spaces in the East Village and did a stint on the Upper East Side. Like most people who live here, they love it.

“It’s the most relaxed neighborhood in New York – nobody judges you,” offers Roger, who, like the rest of the family speaks Spanish and French as well as English. “We actually say hello to people – not like the Upper East Side, where you say hello to your doorman and that’s it.”

“It’s very mixed, very creative,” adds Bara. “There’s good music – sometimes bad music – and there’s still characters running around. I’ve lived in a lot of beautiful places, like Paris, but what I love about it here is the people.” And, she adds, “Tompkins park has the best dog run in New York!”

Although she had a career as a jewelry designer, Bara now works with Roger in his interior design business. His work has earned much praise from his clients, some of  whom he has worked with for decades. His first pro gig was designing Paloma Picasso’s showroom and his work has been showcased in Architectural Digest, New York Magazine, Elle Decor, House Beautiful and even the New York Post, among many others.

His work is sometimes informed by the informal education he received from his years with Dali, but as much for the master’s work ethic as his aesthetics. When asked if he has a favorite story about his former employer, Roger notes that, “Dali was very normal, in a way. He had tea every day at five at the King Cole Bar.” Of course, his guests included people like John Lennon and Andy Warhol, but that was normal for him.

Roger De Cabrol in a tug of war with Ludwig.

The couples’ love of art and music is evident everywhere and Roger – who once managed Alan Vega – is happy to point out whose work is hanging on the walls, including their good friend Dustin Pittman’s images of David Bowie, Iggy Pop and Lou Reed.

Bara recalls that when they moved in a Buddhist monk friend blessed the home and its occupants and they “have only had good vibes here.” The space has endured many crowded parties over the years, with a guest list that includes a fabulous mix of uptown and downtown –  politicians, fashionistas, artists, astrologers, writers, drag queens, designers, photographers, musicians and, in a category of her own, Robin Byrd. Just in case, Bara burns a little sage after each celebration.

Now, with Sebastien going back to his sports marketing job in Paris and Annabelle finishing up her high school career and heading to college, it’s a time for a bit of reflection in the household.

“I haven’t seen the time go by at all,” muses Bara. “We are very happy.”

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