A Review of “Be Your Own Decorator,” by Susanna Salk
We’re big fans of Susanna Salk, so naturally we were excited to check out her newest book, “Be Your Own Decorator.” And once we learned that two of our own—designer Suzanne Kasler and stylist Jill Sharp Brinson—are featured inside, we knew we had to get our hands on a copy immediately.
Susanna had us from the first sentence of her introduction: “This is not a how-to book, but a why not book.” From the start, Susanna empowers her readers to make confident decorating choices and reveals her biggest source of inspiration: the pros. In short, if you like it, copy it.
Featuring more than 75 decorated rooms by some of the most iconic designers of our time, Susanna both celebrates and deconstructs the fabulous world of interior design. She pairs her own practical advice with insightful tips from the designers themselves. The result is a beautifully curated book that also serves as a fearless personal design guide—we may as well throw out those tears we’ve been saving for years!
“Be Your Own Decorator” is divided into seven ingenious chapters: Color, Mix, Arrangement, Balance, Whimsy, Accessorizing and Rule-Breaking. Featured in the Arrangement chapter, Suzanne Kasler said the book really demonstrates how much Susanna appreciates and understands design.
“So often, design books present the singular view of the author. But with this book, she has captured some of the best designers and some of the best rooms and compiled it all into one great resource. She really simplifies the design process, so you can take what you want out of it and repeat it.”
Jill Sharp Brinson, whose own home is featured in the Whimsy section, said the book is a great source of inspiration for all designers, aspiring and experienced. “The book is so relevant simply by the virtue of how she chaptered it. There are so many applicable ideas. This is the kind of book that you’ll hold onto and keep on your bookshelf.”
After devouring her book, we had a few questions for Susanna:
Ballard Designs: This book is a real treat for us and for our customers as well. How do you hope our customers, who may not have a lot of time or a big budget, will use this book to achieve the look they want in their own homes?
Susanna Salk: It’s a book to encourage you to take elements from any of the rooms that inspire you and apply them into your own space. Use it as a way to build confidence to decorate fearlessly and not worry about what “goes” with what. If you’re not lucky enough to be able to use a decorator, then lean on their confidence to translate the spirit of their ideas and tactics.
BD: We love the way you divided the chapters and found your approach to be incredibly helpful for aspiring decorators. Why did you choose to organize the book this way?
SS: Every great room has a little bit of each of those chapters in it. If you needed to repaint a room, then I thought you could just focus on the color chapter. If you wanted to rework a wall, then you could look at the Arrangement chapter for ideas. It hopefully makes the book feel less overwhelming and more useful.
BD: We love the rooms you chose. But with so many designers and so many different styles represented, how did you go about selecting the final room scenes that went into the book?
SS: Anything that made my heart skip faster, I used. Some rooms I remembered over time as being some of my favorites, so I reached out to gather them in my fold. As the production year went along, whenever I saw a new room I loved, I reached out. Designers are incredibly generous and there is no end to beautiful rooms out there. What I looked for is not just “pretty” but unique. Rooms that felt both accessible and whimsical. Rooms that felt like home no matter how fantastical.