The start of a new season is the perfect time for a refresh — indoors and out. And that is exactly what was on designer Suzanne Kasler’s decorating mind as she worked on her all-new collection for us. This season, it’s about making simple touches that add extraordinary style and comfort for everyday living. Whether you want to ready your porch or patio for outdoor entertaining or looking to lighten up indoors, Suzanne has everything you’re in the mood for.
Ballard Designs: Let’s start indoors. After the long winter we’ve had, navy and white strikes the right chord. It’s so crisp and clean.
Suzanne Kasler: This time of year is all about blue for me. It’s always been one of my favorite colors. Classic navy and white with pale blue sprinkled in is such a fabulous combination — and just right for summer. There’s this lovely image of the JK Place Hotel in Capri that served as my inspiration as I put these rooms together.
BD: You’ve even introduced a couple of new blues to your linen collection.
SK: We came up with a few new blues and narrowed it down to Indigo and Cornflower. They work so well together, so you can get that layered, tone-on-tone look. It’s as easy as adding a few new pillows or switching out your slipcovers. I used a lot of white on white and blue on blue in these rooms and the only pop of color is the bright pink peonies. I love it!
BD: All of the elements in this living room work together to build upon that layered look, like the table full of matte bisque Lamp Slips. It creates an instant collection.
SK: I always talk about the impact of pulling a collection together rather than spreading it out. This goes for family picture frames, too. When I’m decorating I love to focus on a cluster of items on one table — and maybe even overdo it — and keep it simple elsewhere. You get a more tailored, less cluttered look. In this living room, I piled on the vases, books and plants on one table and kept it minimal on the other tables.
BD: Speaking of the Lamp Slips, you’ve got a new lamp that echoes the shape of one of the bodies.
SK: I used the Gourd Lamp as my muse and borrowed the shape of one of the Slips to create a new addition to my lighting collection. I love the shape and scale of it. You can use both lamps in the same space — they share a timeless, polished look and go anywhere.
BD: Tell us about the bone mirror.
SK: I’m so excited about this mirror! It plays off the sunburst shape, but the bone gives you a more neutral color than the classical bronze finish. It’s hand cut, so you also get great texture. It’s my favorite new mirror.
BD: Your Market Baskets are back and really add to the texture story as well.
SK: We added a round shape this year. I just love the organic shape and texture of it. I throw everything in mine. They really help keep a room tidy and put together. Everything that’s out and floating around the room at the end of the day when everyone is hanging out — dog toys, kids’ toys, magazines, throws — can go into the basket and put off to the side. The key is having a lived in room, but still managing to keep it looking great at the same time.
BD: Let’s move to the bedroom. Greek Key is a signature motif for you, and it takes center stage with your new bedding. Can you explain your love affair with it?
SK: I love the Greek Key design. It’s very architectural and classic, and as a designer I’m always attracted to things that are tailored and yet things that are decorative. And because it is such a classic element, it easily mixes in with things that are more decorative. We went to Paris in the fall and connected with a wonderful bedding company, and it inspired me to expand my current bedding collection with more timeless pieces that never feel old or outdated. To me, that’s Greek Key.
BD: It has the ability to feel both modern and classic. We get the same vibe from the Lacquer Frame Message Board.
SK: Yes! It has that smooth lacquered frame with a flax linen background. I just love the contrast.
BD: Do you use message boards?
SK: I use them in every project. I put them in the back mudroom, the home office area, the pantry and in all of the kids’ rooms — they are just so useful.
BD: You’ve got a new tote, of course. We love the look of this one.
SK: We modeled it after my very favorite tote. It’s funny how hard it is to find a classic, natural-color canvas bag. We made the handles a little longer, so it can go over your shoulder. It’s just a really great bag that carries everything — and you can monogram it. When I first came out with totes for Ballard, I would monogram them with the zip code of our clients as gifts. And then I started doing “Town,” “Country” or “Beach,” depending on the project. It’s just a fun way of personalizing something, especially as a gift.
BD: Speaking of monograms, we featured a single-letter “K” on your bedding. Do you monogram bedding for clients, and do you have a preferred style that you stick with?
SK: We do a lot of monograms on bedding, but we do a variety of styles — there’s no one way to do it.
BD: Another signature look for you is the sisal rug.
SK: And we got this one just right. It has a bigger scale pattern, which I love. It’s a classic and one of my favorites for its neutral tone and casual elegance. This is a great sisal rug.
BD: You mentioned that you wanted to create new pieces for this spring/summer collection that are lasting classics that you can mix and match. Do you think its better to stick with classics rather than ride the wave of trends?
SK: Oh, I still love trends! I think that’s what creates style. But you have to start with some of those foundational pieces that are timeless and add touches that make it current and stylish. The trends end up being accessories, pillows and color. A great example is the outdoor rugs I did this season that are so on trend right now — a great black-and-white striped rug and the Ikat. They’re both so chic, yet you can easily switch them out later. And that’s what makes it so fun. Each year or every two years just update your classic outdoor furniture with a new outdoor rug and pillows — whatever appeals to you in the season — and it changes up the whole space.
BD: You just provided the perfect segue into outdoor living. Your Directoire Collection is a fine example of that timeless foundation.
SK: It’s both tailored and decorative. The “X” motif has always inspired me. You see it everywhere in Paris. It’s kind of architectural, but it works in any home environment. This collection is so versatile and now even more so with the addition of the sectional. You can add different seating areas that fit your outdoor spaces. And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that all of Ballard’s cushions fit on this set, so you can easily change up your look with seasonal fabrics.
BD: We are suckers for a good bar cart. We were excited to see you added one to your collection!
SK: It’s such a fabulous bar cart, and so versatile. You can roll it out and use it as a working table. Use it to help you set up for grilling, to pot flowers and, of course, to set up a bar. I designed it so it looks great no matter what you have on it.
BD: Your new Marseilles Teak Collection is gorgeous — an instant classic.
SK: I am so excited about this collection. I’ve always loved the director chair and we finally made a comfortable, sturdy version for outdoors. The dining table has this substantial, solid top. We also did a bistro table and chairs.
BD: The collection gives you a lot of entertaining options.
SK: Exactly! If you’re having guests over and entertaining, you can put two of the Stone Top Dining Tables together for one long table or add in the Cafe Tables for extra seating. The Campaign Chair and the Teak Chair both fold up, so you can easily store them. These chairs are surprisingly comfortable and sturdy for folding chairs. I’m going to order a dozen to keep on hand for parties. They’re great for extra seating, and then you don’t have to bother with rental chairs.
BD: What do you love about teak?
SK: Teak is such an enduring, natural material. It will weather outside and turn gray. It has a classic element that works over time. I love to mix the teak and iron together, so work in pieces from both collections. The Teak Trays are great serving pieces — use them with the Directoire Bar Cart!
BD: You have these beautiful Glazed Pots. It’s almost become tradition to introduce a new version with each collection.
SK: I love the ceramic pieces. They’re great for creating a collected look or for holding flowers. I found this beautiful vintage jar and we ended up making it in a couple of sizes and colors. They really look great with nothing in them or filled with flowers.
BD: One last question: how do you prepare for the new season?
SK: The same thing I tell my clients. I’ll bring in new pillows and cushions to change up the look. Sometimes I’ll add a new rug, create a new arrangement or hang a new mirror. You can do simple things that make a big difference. Outdoors, clean everything up and rearrange the furniture and add in a few new accent pieces. If you already have the big pieces, add a bar cart. And as I said, the teak and iron furniture mix beautifully for a collected look. Then have a party right at the beginning of the season. It forces you to get everything done early. Plus, you can enjoy it longer.