Abbie Lee Roehm knew at 8 years old what would make her happy when she grew up. Her mother, a geometry teacher, dabbled in design, and the hobby inspired Abbie Lee. “I loved reading through design magazines and Architectural Digest,” she says. “[During] my first trip to Europe, I was amazed by the architecture and the buildings around me.”
Today, Abbie Lee amazes others as owner and master designer for Paces and Roehm Architecture, a firm she launched in 2015 to bring her brand of custom residential design to Chatham County. Her firm, which is located near the main entrance to Governors Club, has designed 28 custom homes in Chatham County, and Abbie Lee works directly with clients and custom home builders across the state. Abbie Lee and her husband, Tom Roehm, have 12-year-old twins – John Beckham Roehm and Virginia Paces Roehm, who shares a name with the architectural firm. (Paces is the name of a street in Atlanta where Abbie Lee was first introduced to residential and home design.)
Her architectural aesthetic and style is both eclectic and fluid, modern provincial yet contemporary and edgy. The Alabama native is drawn to light, glass and nature. “Bringing the outdoors in,” she says. “I love all styles. If it’s done right, anything can be beautiful.” Working in Chatham offers fresh opportunities for Abbie Lee. “This was the spot to do my own thing,” she says. “I love how fast it’s growing, the creativity [and] closeness to nature. I like the people [who] are already here and the people who are moving here. It has good creative energy.”
Abbie Lee gained experience working on the 9/11 Memorial & Museum in New York City as an architectural intern for Davis Brody Bond. The firm’s projects also included designs of U.S. embassies and luxury apartments, and her work experience took her places from Key West, Florida, to Geneva, Switzerland. She also was an intern for the Nashville Civic Design Center and part of the Atlanta team of Niles Bolton Associates for Navy housing projects.
No matter the place, the process is the same. “It’s about combining my creative skills and the client’s vision of their dream home,” Abbie Lee says. “People come to me with these ideas, and I translate their ideas into reality, make them come to life … and it truly starts with a sketch. And it’s amazing to design someone’s dream home.”
Her talent has drawn recognition like the Best in American Living Award Gold Medal, National Award with Home Builders of America, Parade of Homes Gold Medal Award (for a Chatham County home she designed) and one of Chatham Magazine readers’ favorite architects the last two years. Additionally, Abbie Lee is a Governors Club architectural review board member.
She paves the way for other women in the predominantly male field of architecture. When she completed her bachelor’s degree in architecture at the University of Tennessee, 10 percent of architects were women. Today, a reported 23 percent of architects are women. “It’s changing,” says Abbie Lee, who is part of a mentorship program at NC State University for women in architecture, and at Lakewood Elementary School and West Lake Elementary School in Cary. “I try to inspire females to get into the profession.”
Like her own mother, Abbie Lee sees firsthand the impact she has on her children. “I’m most proud of being an inspiration to my own children and being a good role model and inspiration to my daughter, who says she wants to be an architect,” she says. “Yes, I’m most proud of my children.”