Interview: Suzanne Kasler
Suzanne Kasler is known for designing welcoming surroundings full of grace, and she’s not offended if people deem her work “pretty.” In her new book, Timeless Style (2013 Rizzoli), which features her own lush, Regency-style house in Atlanta’s Buckhead neighbourhood, she explains “I want to give the eye a treat.” A European sensibility and a deft hand with architectural elements are the hallmarks of Suzanne’s style. Named one of the top 100 designers in 2014 by Architectural Digest, her lines for Hickory Chair, Visual Comfort, and Lee Jofa demonstrate a knack for giving historically inspired forms a modern twist. Suzanne shares her advice on how to get the looks she bestows on her clients, and in her own home.
House & Home: Your style is very approachable, yet polished. How do you make a room inviting?
Suzanne Kasler: It’s the way you layer the materials, I love to mix linen, wool and silk. I think of my signature as using velvet, linen and sisal on all my projects. I’ll do linen drapes, and then I’ll edge all four sides of them with one-inch velvet. It’s amazing how that detail changes it up.
H&H: How to you make rooms feel and look personal?
SK: Thinking about what’s important to people: if they love cooking, then the kitchen is a priority. One thing I’ve discovered is the mudroom and closets are becoming more important today. We need more room in those spaces. I tell architects we need to make sure the closets and mudrooms really function — they need to include everything that people want to store because then they can keep everything organized in their life in the rest of their space. Just getting those spaces organized can make other rooms in the house function better.
H&H: How should someone accessorize a room?
SK: If you have a collection of something, put it all together in one area. If you have all picture frames, put all of them on one table, don’t have them on every table. I had one client who had a collection of delicate china. We ended up cramming all of it into this cabinet in the kitchen hanging on the wall; before she had it all over her house, and it didn’t look special, and looked more cluttered.
H&H: How do you go about editing?
SK: Design today is fresh and minimal, not overly decorated. Spring cleaning is a great time to edit. I’ll take everything out of a room and paint it, then start putting things back.
H&H: If you had to give advice to someone decorating their first home, what would you focus on?
SK: Paint is probably the best thing they can do. I love to paint the trim walls and ceilings all one colour, I call it the “architectural envelope.” I think that’s very successful in rooms you might not use all the time, such as dining rooms and butler’s pantries. You can use different colours in different rooms as long as you have the same value, or intensity. It’s all about the value.
H&H: Do you have go-to colours in your own home?
SK: I always work from white, especially Benjamin Moore Dove White (OC-17). That would be a signature for me. What I call clear colours: pink and blue, really resonate. People look at my work and think there’s a lot of colour, but I place it strategically. If you do a room that’s almost all neutral and then add a couple pops of colour, it almost appears as if there is more colour than there is. Whereas if you use colour everywhere, the room doesn’t have one colour that jumps out at you.
1. Miguel Flores-Vianna, Timeless Style (2013 Rizzoli)
2. William Waldron, Inspired Interiors (2009 Rizzoli)
3. Erica George Dines, Inspired Interiors (2009 Rizzoli)
4, 6. Erica George Dines, Timeless Style (2013 Rizzoli)
5. Simon Watson, Inspired Interiors (2009 Rizzoli)