Acclaimed interior designer Katie Ridder comes to Charlotte for fundraiser

Katie Ridder has made a name for herself in the competitive world of interior design thanks to her fearless use of color, an emphasis on casual comfort based on her childhood in Northern California and a flair for adding refined but exotic touches to her interiors.

I recently talked with Ridder, 52, over the phone from her Bronxville, N.Y., home before her trip to Charlotte as the special guest for the Mint Museum Auxiliary's signature annual Room to Bloom series of fundraisers next week.

At the symposium, Ridder will share stories and photos of her projects, show off her line of wallpaper and sign copies of her coffee-table book “Katie Ridder Rooms” for guests at the sold-out event Wednesday at the Charlotte Country Club.

That afternoon, she’ll sign copies of her book for the public from 2 to 4 p.m. at Circa Interiors, 2321 Crescent Ave. A private cocktail dinner honoring Ridder and the Room to Bloom patrons and sponsors takes place that evening in a newly renovated home in the Eastover neighborhood.

Ridder will have left town before the Room to Bloom finale, Splendor in the Grass, takes place April 26. Tickets are still available for the elegant Southern supper on the lawn of another outstanding Eastover home that recently underwent a renovation by Don Duffy Architecture. Details are at

When I talked to Ridder, a mother of three who spends four days a week at the Park Avenue office in New York City that she shares with her architect husband Peter Pennoyer, she was excited about their newly restored vacation home in Millbrook where she loves to garden. (Ridder is the daughter of Tony Ridder, the former CEO of the Knight Ridder newspaper chain, which owned the Charlotte Observer until 2006, when it was bought by McClatchy. Her uncle, Peter Ridder, was the Observer’s publisher until his retirement in 2005. Katie’s cousin, Laurie Bond, is a Charlotte resident.)

She started out on the editorial design side working for Conde Nast Publications on magazines including House Beautiful and House & Garden. At the latter in the mid-1980s, she gained experience working for that magazine’s new buzzed-about editor, Anna Wintour, who later became a star in the international fashion world as editor of Vogue.

After years of accessorizing rooms for photo shoots, Ridder opened a home furnishings store on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Among her regular customers were Anthony Marshall, the son of the famous New York philanthropist Brooke Astor, and his wife, Charlene, who frequently dropped by the store to sit and chat. “They lived a block away, and they asked me to help them with some decorating,” Ridder says. “That was my first job that lead me to start my own interior design company (in 1995).”

Ridder is currently working on three big projects: a house on the ocean in Palm Beach, Fla., that the owners want to resemble Doris Duke’s famous home in Hawaii; a huge apartment on Fifth Avenue with 18-foot-high ceilings that the owners want to look like a French salon; and a downtown apartment whose owners want art deco details.

She cites her clients along with everyday sources as her inspiration. “I have young children at home, so I don’t get to do a lot of traveling, but I find inspiration from books, from looking through a magazine, from walking down the street, from going to a museum or seeing a color combination in my garden,” she says. “I think if you’re creative, you find inspiration everywhere.”