The Style Files: Suzanne Kasler

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Suzanne Kasler is a designer I have admired for many years now. Her work is typically more traditional, but she does many styles so very well, always with her distinct European-inspired flair. Regardless of the inspiration for any specific project she has designed, those of us who love her work can always count on it to be elegant, timeless, and pretty. Drawing inspiration from the worlds of fashion, architecture, interiors, and art, Suzanne carefully crafts a unique vision for each of her clients and encourages them to incorporate their personal collections with new, bespoke pieces created especially for them. Defined by her effortless approach to casual elegance, Suzanne’s beautifully designed spaces have been featured in many important design publications including Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, Traditional Home, and Veranda. In addition to her design work, Suzanne has also collaborated with some of the top manufacturers in our industry to create signature licensed collections including furniture with Hickory Chair, fabric with Lee Jofa, lighting with Visual Comfort & Co., rugs with Safavieh, artwork with Soicher-Marin, and a retail collection spanning all of these categories for Ballard Designs.

I first met Suzanne many years ago when I had just started blogging and visited High Point for the first time. She has always been one of the loveliest, most gracious people in our business. Over the last year or so, I have had the opportunity to get to know her a bit better through our dear mutual friend and am delighted to share that she is extraordinarily kind. When we live in such a complicated world, what could be better than knowing that someone of Suzanne’s caliber of talent with such a significant body of work and inspiring career is genuinely nice and continues to create beautiful work?

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Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Suzanne Kasler: Defining style can be difficult because it can be expressed in so many different ways. My style is marked by unexpected juxtapositions, a European sensibility. I love to mix high and low– casual elegance– and a focus on the architecture and the space.

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{Chairs with a Beautiful Patina and Gorgeous Chinoiserie Wallpaper}

PC: Has living in Atlanta influenced the way you decorate?

SK: Atlanta is a big city, but it has been able to maintain a southern charm that so many people love. I like to design a room that is chic, but still comfortable which I think is just like Atlanta. We are a big, growing city but we still have that sense of southern comfort that attracts so many people. And in the South, it is all about creating a lifestyle, not just decorating.

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{Suzanne’s Beautiful Home in Atlanta’s Buckhead Neighborhood}

PC: What does your home say about you?

SK: It is my favorite, edited, and personal collection.

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{A Lovely Vignette in Suzanne’s Home that also Graces the Cover of her Second Book, Timeless Style}

PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

SK: Paris! Really, I am inspired everywhere with Paris being the most favorite for interiors and fashion.

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{A Snapshot from the Opening Night Gala for the Biennale in Paris a few Weeks Ago | Image via Suzanne’s Instagram}

PC: What trait do you most admire in a person?

SK: Honesty and a positive attitude.

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{A Pretty Moment in a Bedroom Designed by Suzanne}

PC: Who are your personal style icons?

SK: Miuccia Prada. Her collection always seem to set the tone for the rest of the fashion world.

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{Miuccia Prada}

PC: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement thus far?

SK: Personally, my wonderful husband and daughter. Professionally, I have published two books with Rizzoli, Inspired Interiors and Timeless Style.

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{Suzanne’s Books}

PC: Who has been your greatest professional influence?

SK: My parents, Martha and Jim who inspire me to be the best and to always have passion.

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{A Lovely Sitting Room by Suzanne Kasler}

PC: What is your idea of living “la dolce vita”?

SK: Living life with perpetual enthusiasm and never losing curiosity. Live in the present and make the most of each day. Also, finding a way in one’s life to be involved and give back.

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{A Chic Black and White Bedroom by Suzanne Kasler}

PC: What can we look forward to next from you?

SK: I am so excited to have designed another collection of fabrics for Lee Jofa that is launching this fall; a new collection for Hickory Chair launching Fall 2015, new lighting designs for Visual Comfort & Co., and a new outdoor collection for Ballard Designs.

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{A Photo I snapped in the Hickory Chair showroom during Spring Market in High Point featuring Suzanne’s Annsley Slipper Chair and Tuxedo Armoire for Hickory Chair alongside her Quatrefoil Floor Lamp for Visual Comfort & Co.}

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Go-To Outfit: Morgane le Fay

Style Mantra: Casual Elegance

Scent: Hermes Rouge

Piece of Jewelry: Hublot Watch

Color I Never Tire Of: White

Flower: Roses

Indispensable Design Element: Starburst Mirrors– Also a mix of high and low…

Era for Design: French Moderne

Dream Project: Working with a great team and a wonderful architect

Fabric/Textile: Velvet and Linen

Hostess Gift: My book from Rizzoli with a handwritten note

Meal: Caviar

Drink: Veuve Clicquot Champagne!

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Way to Unwind after a Long Day at Work: Reading the new fashion and interiors magazines

Weekend Destination: The beach on 30A

Hotel: The Peninsula in Los Angeles– They monogram my pillowcase.

City: Paris

Museum: Vaux-le-Victomte

Artist: Cy Twombly

Song that Always Puts Me in a Great Mood: Pharrell’s “Happy”

Prized Possession: My Picasso Lithograph

Risk Worth Taking: Unconditional Love

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The Style Files: Mark D. Sikes

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Today’s installment of “The Style Files” is very special as I am profiling my close friend and design mentor, Mark D. Sikes. Mark and I became fast friends a few years ago around the time that his home in the Hollywood Hills was first published and his blog was just beginning in late 2011. Since then, Mark has amassed a loyal following, created an identifiable look and brand, and has completed a slew of stunning design projects. Just last week, Mark’s newly redesigned home was published in the July/August issue of Veranda and I think you’ll find it to be a breathtaking evolution of its original iteration.

Mark spent two decades in a successful career in visual merchandising during which he honed his inimitable eye for style, scale, and attention to detail. Upon moving to Los Angeles in 2011 and subsequently having the home he and his partner Michael Griffin share published in the pages of House Beautiful, Mark’s focus turned exclusively to running his eponymous interior design firm and lifestyle blog. Mark’s work– whether in a room or on the pages of his blog, radiates beauty, authenticity, and genuine character– all of the same things that those of us who know him love most about him. Mark is endlessly inspiring. He is an eternal optimist with boundless energy and creativity who possesses the most generous and gracious spirit. All of that and he probably downs more Starbucks Iced Green Tea in one day than anyone else on the planet! I feel fortunate to have Mark in my life and could not be happier for his success. I know this is just the beginning!

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Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Mark D. Sikes: Classic, Timeless, All-American, Consistent….I’d like to think effortless…

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{Mark’s stunning, newly redesigned home is featured on the cover and in the pages of the July/August 2014 issue of Veranda}

PC: Has living in Los Angeles influenced the way you decorate?

MDS: Of course it has. the weather is pretty wonderful here most of the year, indoor-outdoor living at it’s best. Because of this everything is more relaxed and easy, un-complicated, however, my design signatures, the things that I love like rattan, chinoiserie, blue and white, natural fiber rugs, and linen upholstery work anywhere and everywhere…

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{Mark’s Bedroom is now swathed in pale blue Gracie wallpaper. | Image via Veranda}

PC: What does your home say about you?

MDS: That I’m a classicist and a collector, that I love to mix old with new, traditional with modern, the outside with the inside, and of course, that I love blue and white.

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{Mark’s Chic Dining Room features Antique Mirrored Walls, Saddle Leather Dining Chairs, a Leopard Rug, and Antique Chandelier | Image via Veranda}

PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

MDS: I look to the past….. I love Books and magazines (a friend of mind just sent me about 25 old House & Garden’s from the 80’s- I was in heaven), and to be honest, the internet…. It’s unbelievable what we have at our finger tips.

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{Mark’s French Bulldog, Lily hangs out in the Tented Library | Image via Veranda}

PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

MDS: Weekly manicure and pedicures

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{The guest bedroom received a major overhaul playing host to Pierre Frey’s chic, red Tree of Life fabric. | Image via Veranda}

PC: What is your definition of chic?

MDS: Confidence, knowing who you are, feeling comfortable in your own skin, being thoughtful and kind….having restraint…

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{Mark and his French Bulldog, Lily read the new issue of Veranda | Image via Mark’s Instagram}

PC: What is the best piece of advice you’ve received?

MDS: I don’t know that this is advice I’ve received, but I do say, “it’s all in the details,” a lot and I do believe that your own personal will is powerful, we can truly live our dreams.

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{Mark’s Breathtaking Garden via his Instagram}

PC: Who has been your greatest professional influence?

MDS: I’d have to say that Bunny Williams has not only been a mentor to me, she has been a dear friend. Her support, encouragement, thoughtfulness, and kindness has been remarkable. I love it when she reminds to put my phone down, look up, take it all in! Also, my grandfather has probably been the biggest influence on my life. He owned a barber shop for 50 years. He worked hard, loved deeply and was a gentleman.

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{Mark was recently invited to stay at La Colina, the home of Bunny Williams and John Rosselli in the Dominican Republic. The house and its owner have been tremendously inspiring to Mark. | Image via Mark’s Instagram}

PC: What is your idea of living “la dolce vita”?

MDS: Being happy- Living life to it’s fullest!

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{Mark and his Partner, Michael on Vacation in Lyford Cay | Image via Mark’s Instagram}

PC: What can we look forward to next from you?

MDS: I’m involved in so many wonderful design projects… homes in Beverly Hills, The Pacific Palisades, Santa Barbara, Presidio Heights, Marin County, Woodside, NYC, and the Bahamas… even working on a few movie sets. My first book is in the works, planning to open a store, maybe two, soon. I’m looking forward to designing my own furniture, fabrics, and lighting…also, working on designing some apparel in the very near future…and of course, the Mark D. Sikes blog is constantly growing and evolving, the blog has been the most rewarding and fulfilling thing I’ve ever done, it’s been the greatest gift to me, a gift that keeps giving.

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{A Moodboard from one of Mark’s Recent Projects}

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Go-To Outfit: A blue oxford, white jeans, a 15 year old army green military jacket, Belgian loafers, ray-bans

Style Mantra: Have a uniform…. quality vs. quantity…less is more… a smile is the best accessory– I guess I have a few mantras!

Scent: Santa Maria Novella Potpourri Cologne

Piece of Jewelry: A thin gold Cartier band that I’ve worn on my finger since 11-10-2004

Color I Never Tire of: Blue…I’m sure that is not a surprise.

Flower: Gardenias, Vibirnum (I love massive arrangements of vibirnum), and all shades of pink Peonies.

Meal: Turkey burger with sweet potato fries (crispy) from Mel’s Diner

Drink: Iced Green Tea

Way to Unwind After a Long Day at Work: Doing a blog post

3 Things I Love About my City: The weather, the palm trees, and the boundless creative energy

Indispensable Design Element: A 17th century blue and white Chinese Bowl

Era for Design: I think today, because we can mix the past with the present.

Dream Project: I’d love to work with architect Gil Schafer, his sense of scale and proportion is extraordinary, not to mention his attention to detail, his work moves me….and of course the White House- I dream big!

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Fabric/Textile: I love any blue and white stripe…

Design Book: One Man’s Folly  by Furlow Gatewood… that barn painted blue and green is everything.

Hostess Gift: A Myrtle Topiary

Weekend Destination: Montecito

Hotel: Casa Tua in Miami, Hotel Lungarno in Florence, Sunset Tower in West Hollywood

City: Paris

Museum: The Greek and Roman Galleries at The Met

Artist: Cy Twombly

Song that Always Puts Me in a Great Mood: “Happy” by Pharrell Williams

Actor: Cate Blanchett

Prized Possession: Lily (a.k.a. HRH Lily), our beloved French bulldog

Greatest Extravagance: An Abundance of Books and Magazines

3 Things I am Currently Obsessed With: The store RTH, Instagram, and the 2014 World Cup– Go USA!

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The Style Files: Celerie Kemble

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Anytime I am asked who my favorite interior designers are, I immediately think of those who have been the most influential to me and who have achieved the great feat of carving out a unique, inimitable place in the design world. Celerie Kemble ranks among my top favorite interior designers for several reasons. The first and most obvious reason is that I love her aesthetic. Having grown up in Palm Beach, Florida, Celerie (nee Cecilia) has a true appreciation and command of a style that is rooted in tradition, with a touch of whimsy and a major dose of glamour. Celerie’s mother, legendary designer, Mimi McMakin founded Kemble Interiors in 1982, but Celerie didn’t fall into the family business right away. She graduated from Harvard and worked in film production for some time before ” succumbing to what she calls a compulsion for design and the creation of thoughtful interiors that put the person in the place.”

Over the years, Kemble Interiors has grown to have offices in Palm Beach, New York, and London. Celerie has completed projects all over the world and has created a design empire with a line of fabrics and wall coverings for Schumacher that I use for my own projects all the time, floor coverings for Merida, furniture for Henredon, and accessories and lighting for Maitland-Smith. I find Celerie to be endlessly inspiring for her fearless approach to design, the way in which she has created an identifiable and unique look and brand, and for the fact that in spite of a schedule and docket of professional commitments that would be exhausting for anyone, family is her first priority. I’ve met Celerie on a few occasions now and have always been impressed with how down-to-earth and truly disarming she is. We recently had a conversation about design, the endless search for inspiration, and some exciting new projects she has in the works. I think you’ll find her answers inspiring, real, and refreshing.

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Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Celerie Kemble: I like things pretty – with quirk – and this can be achieved in a variety of vernaculars so I don’t really anchor on a particular style.

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{This room exemplifies the Palm Beach-Meets-Park Avenue look for which Celerie is known and loved.}

PC: Your firm, Kemble Interiors has offices in New York, Palm Beach, and London. Do you find that clients in different cities have different needs or goals? How would you compare the design scene stateside to the design scene in Europe?

CK: I think goals and needs are usually more related to personality type and background, then region. For instance, my most recent client in London is American and from the South but she’s quite fashionable. So, the continent proves irrelevant – but that she’s Southern Traditional with a lot of fashion explains it all for me.

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 {A Chic Living Room by Kemble Interiors}

PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

CK: The work of my peers – thank god for good editorial spreads, books, and now Pinterest. I also get lost on Tumblr and can dig deep into about 15 years of travel and shopping moments on my iPhone. It makes me feel somehow saner in this business of constant eye-catching beauty and new material when I find I still like what I liked years ago.

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 {Celerie, Looking Super Glamorous in her Office Surrounded by Countless Design Books}

PC: Who are your personal style icons?

CK: I have a few friends who turn anything in their proximity more beautiful by some magic, and through their eyes or lenses or voice I also learn to see the world differently:

Sara Ruffin Costello – writer

Amanda Brooks – fashion writer, best friend from infancy

Lucia Engstrom – photographer

Gin Cambre – photographer

I like to keep my icons to people I have seen in their bathrobes – because to admire people I’ve only seen photos of seems a path to misery.

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{Celerie’s Dear Friend, Amanda Brooks}

PC: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement thus far?

CK: Most of my friends are old friends – even the ex-boyfriends – I think life’s achievements are in the relationships you hold.

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{A Pretty Vignette in a Space by Kemble Interiors}

PC: Who has been your greatest professional influence?

CK: My mom. She taught me to work hard, be flexible, and she set the framework for my comfort level being a working mother.

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{Celerie’s Beautiful, Chic Mother, Mimi McMakin Photographed in Jamaica when she was in her Early 30s | Photo via Kemble Interiors’ Instagram}

PC: Finish this sentence: “Before I die, I’d like to…”

CK: Get very, very OLD.

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{A Showhouse featuring Many of Celerie’s Designs from her Various Product Lines}

PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

CK: Red wine – I don’t really feel guilty about that, I just know I should have a third glass less frequently.

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{A Photo I Snapped at the Henredon Showroom at High Point Market in April Showcasing some of my Favorite Pieces from Celerie’s Furniture Collection}

PC: What is your idea of living “la dolce vita”?

CK: Having a great view, seeing lots of sunsets, and having the time to enjoy them.

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 {The stunning beachside resort Celerie recently designed an helped develop, Playa Grande in the Dominican Republic was recently featured in Vogue.}

PC: What can we look forward to next from you?

CK: Building more great cottages and houses at Playa Grande, a resort I have been working on for 10 years – please check it out– www.playagrandebeachclub.com. A line of outdoor furniture this fall with Lane Venture, new fabrics with Schumacher, new rugs with Merida, and a line of curtain hardware. I am always adding to my furniture and accessories collection with Henredon and Maitland-Smith – they are on the floor at HD Buttercup in LA or online at www.designershouse.com

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{Another Photo of Celerie’s Chic Designs for Henredon}

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Go-To Outfit: Lela Rose dress, heels in my vintage backpack and flops or Toms because my feet don’t like the heels.

Style Mantra: Please let messy be okay.

Scent: Orange Blossom by Jo Malone

Piece of Jewelry: Chunky Vintage Necklace

Color I Never Tire Of: Green

Flower: Anemone

Indispensible Design Element: An Imagination

Era for Design: 30s/40s

Fabric/Textile: Bamboo, Sisals, Grasscloths, and Wicker

Design Book: Floor to ceiling shelf of them in my office and Bronson Van Wyck’s even taller, deeper shelf next door.

Hostess Gift: I never give them. I can’t get my act together.

Meal: A Creamy Pasta

Drink: Spicy Margarita– Must be on the rocks, non-discriminating about the tequila

Celerie Favorites

Way to Unwind after a Long Day at Work: I take a bath with my kids.

3 Things I love about New York: Airlift, Good Food… I can’t get to three.

Weekend Destination: Palm Beach and Playa Grande

Hotel: So decadent, but Amans. My favorite is Aman Wana in Indonesia.

City: Hong Kong

Museum: Harvard Museum of Natural History– I love the glass flowers exhibit.

Song that Always Puts Me in a Great Mood: I still love my high school songs– Suzanne Vega and Stevie Nicks.

Actor/Actress: Crazy girl crush on Kristen Scott Thomas, Jane Lynch, Tina Fey, and Christina Hendricks

Risk Worth Taking: Most of them– but now I have to think my kids might read this someday

Greatest Extravagance: Travel

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