The holidays are here and Suzanne’s at it again. Whether you’re dreaming of a white Christmas laden with silver and gold (just like Suzanne) or you’re craving the warmth of festive tartan plaid, you can make it magical with her holiday collection. From glittery branches to bronzed gift wrap and snuggly throws, there’s something for everyone. We talked with one our favorite interior designers about her new holiday collection and just what inspired her this year.
Ballard Designs: What’s getting your holiday spirits up this year?
Suzanne Kasler: What we’re all loving right now is all the sparkle. There is sparkle in everything, from my glittery branches to the tinsel wreaths and the mercury glass urns. I’m always inspired by fashion, and I wanted to bring that sparkle into decorating. It layers beautifully with the white plaid I’ve designed this year. It’s really all about that sparkly, neutral palette for me this holiday.
BD: Why is that?
SK: I think it’s a whole other way to do Christmas, which is beautiful. A lot of people have a very neutral palette that they live with, and the silvers, golds and ivories mingled together add another layer to that neutral palette. It’s an easy way to change the house for the holidays without completely changing your look.
BD: Was this neutral palette the driving force behind your collection this year?
SK: Yes. The main addition to my collection was this beautiful white, taupe and camel plaid. It’s in the wrapping paper, the beautiful throw, even the ribbon on my Boyds Bear, which is a taupey gray. We also picked up those colors in the totes in the gray and the beige. People don’t know how striking these colors are. These neutrals are gorgeous! In fact, for gifts this year I’m giving out my white tote with the white plaid blanket and the Boyds Bear.
BD: You’ve extended several of your holiday lines this year, such as the branches and wrapping papers. How do those work in with previous seasons?
SK: It’s important to have that touchstone of things that remind you of what your Christmas is. And what I’m providing is a very classic collection that you can add to and build upon each year. A lot of my items return every holiday — they’re not just a one-time thing. So you don’t have to change everything from year to year. But at the same time, we want to freshen up our look. We’re showing you different ways to use those same things from year to year and perhaps add one or two special things to your collection.
SK: You can insert them in the tree for a little extra sparkle. I also like to add them to a vase of fresh greenery. I love to bring in greenery and other natural elements whenever possible with my decorations. Of course, these branches are beautiful on their own in a vase, too.
BD: We love your oversized Mercury Ball Snowflake Ornaments. They make a big impact.
SK: We did some really big-scaled ornaments this year. Sometimes people want to put fewer ornaments on a tree and they want them bigger. And sometimes you have a big tree and you want to have larger scaled ornaments. I’ve also taken these ornaments and put them in a big silver bowl. We’re showing them in the catalog tied with ribbon from my collection and hung from a tree branch. The colors — white, silver and bronze — bring a chic sparkle and really look great mixed in with the metallic branches. They’re also gorgeous in a tablescape with the Mercury Urns and Votives. Again, you get this whole sparkly neutral look.
BD: And you’ve also got the shimmering glow of candlelight from your new lanterns.
SK: They’re based on a vintage lantern I have. They’re so chic and look great on a mantel, table or anywhere. You can use them in so many different ways. One year we monogrammed them with a marker in hand calligraphy and used them as little place cards at a table setting. They make perfect hostess gifts, or you could use them as an ornament. It’s rustic and elegant at the same time, which is how I like to decorate for Christmas…kind of like my antlers.
BD: Let’s talk about those antlers. They’ve become your signature. Why is that?
SK: The antlers have been so universally appealing, and so what we did for the holidays is create these darling antlers that are weighted — and they really work — to hang your stockings on. Of course, we also put them on the wall. Antlers are the kind of imagery that reminds people of winter and the holidays. We do use them year-round, but we especially bring them out with our decorations for the holidays.
BD: They look especially striking surrounding your newest sunburst mirror. We happen to love this mirror, which leads us to our next question: can you have too many sunburst mirrors?
SK: What’s great about the Elite Bone Sunburst mirror is the round shape, so it gives you an opportunity to create a composition when you’re hanging things on the wall. It’s one of the few things that are different from a rectangular or square piece of art, and I think that’s why it continues to be a classic piece in interiors today. Even though we’ve used them in our projects for years, they certainly have become more en vogue. People tend to move on to the next big thing, but we consider them as a great classic. And this one is really exceptionally beautiful. It’s based on my own vintage bone mirror. We especially love the juxtaposition of the white mirror and antlers against the green tartan plaid.
BD: Speaking of, your Mackenzie Plaid is back. Now it’s in papers, throws, welcome mats — and on walls, thanks to your Fabric By the Yard.
SK: I’ve developed this beautiful plaid collection over the past couple of holidays. We’ve got the red plaid, green plaid and now the white plaid. I love plaids and I love them for the Christmas holiday. It’s a classic Christmas look, and it never goes out of style. And you can use it year round if you upholster something in it. I think the most exciting thing is that we’ve got the Fabric By the Yard back. It sold out last year! You can just do so much with this fabric, and it’s always interesting to me to see how people make it their own. You can even do something as simple as staple it onto a bulletin board and hang Christmas cards on it.
SK: I love velvet. And we worked really hard to get the red and green colors just right. With the reverse, you can get a bigger color statement with the whole stocking in color. I also love the burlap stockings with plaid trim. So you can have a color statement or a more neutral look.
SK: These ideas are meant to give you great options for whatever Christmas you might want. Each year I pick a theme based on how I’m feeling that Christmas. Sometimes I’ll have years where I want everything to be wrapped in the red, burlap and bronze, and I carry that through my decor. The next season I may be in the mood for classic green. And then some years I want to have an all-white Christmas, like this year. The metallic decorations and bronze papers are perfect neutrals that work with everything. This year I especially love the bronze paper with the embossed antler design: it’s so chic and graphic. I’m going to use that in combination with my white plaid paper.
BD: How are you decorating your tree this year?
SK: I actually have three Christmas trees. In my formal living room I decorate the whole tree with the ball ornaments in the vintage colors that I have. It’s more neutral and subtle. In the family room I have a huge assortment of decorations and I have more red and green. Then I have a tree upstairs with just lights and no ornaments and I put my whole collection of bears around the bottom on the tree skirt. They each relate to the different rooms. I love to keep my trees up the entire month, so I use faux trees and mix in fresh greenery. You put in so much effort to decorate that you want it to last.
BD: You mentioned your bear collection you’ve had since childhood, which has inspired your Boyds Bear that you do for Ballard each year. Tell us about the newest bear.
SK: Every year I think, “this year may be my favorite,” and this year is no exception. I named him Henry and he’s got the white on white plaid bow that represents the theme of my collection. I’ve already ordered 85 bears this year to give as gifts to my friends and put them on every one of my packages. I also give them as hostess gifts, and it’s always a fun thing to put under the tree. This bear can be for children, but it really is for all ages. It’s about having something that recreates that magical feeling of Christmas. And they really do last as a collection forever — I should know!