Renowned Designer Suzanne Kasler Talks House and Home

The designer discussed inspiration, designing for herself, and the beauty of Washington this morning at the Design Center.

By: Natalie Grasso

“It’s such an exciting time to be in the design world,” Suzanne Kasler said, addressing a room full of design professionals as part of the spring Capital Design lecture series at the Washington Design Center. “It’s been a tough couple of years, but things are starting to open up. With all of the media and sharing, people are more interested than ever.” She added that more exposure creates more of a need for talented designers, because there is so much more out there to edit.

Kasler kicked off her talk by presenting photos of her own recently renovated home in Atlanta, Georgia, which was featured in the April 2012 issue of Architectural Digest. She confessed that during the house hunt she’d been looking for a Regency-style house and ended up with a Federal. “But that’s the great thing about being a designer,” she said. “You can change it!” Her first design move—one that has become a Kasler signature—was to paint all of the architectural elements white (Benjamin Moore’s White Dove and Bone White are her go-to hues). “This creates the architectural envelope,” she said. “If you get the architecture right, the rest is so much easier.”

Adhering to her mantra that “a room should be collected, not decorated,” Kasler showed off several items from her home that she’s accumulated over the years. “When you see something you love, buy it,” she advised. “You can worry later about where it will go.” Indeed, she picked up one of the mantels in her current house years ago at a Paris flea market, put it in storage, and nearly forgot about it until moving into her current house. “And wouldn’t you know, it fit the fireplace perfectly,” she said.

In Kasler’s own home as well as in the homes of her clients, items like the antique mantel are mixed in with more contemporary pieces to create the sought-after “collected” look Kasler is known for. “One of the things I love about design today is that random mix,” she said, pointing out how it’s the “mix” that gives spaces texture and depth (think antique books on a modern bookcase, or the look of freshly painted chairs pushed up against the beautiful patina of an old dining room table).

Kasler’s other projects include designing furniture for Hickory Chair and lighting for Visual Comfort Company. Most recently, she’s designed a fabric line for Lee Jofa. Her book Inspired Interiors was published by Rizzoli in 2009, and she’s currently working on a second book, out next year. As for what else is next, the designer said she’s always looking for inspiration. “This is my first trip to DC in ages, and it’s just the most beautiful city. It makes you proud to be an American,” she said. “There’s such spaciousness, a sense of place, and the buildings are so beautiful.”

“I’m always looking,” she said. “As a designer, everything around me is inspiring. Design is not just decoration—it’s inspiration that can change people’s lives."