The Style Files: Susan Ferrier


Susan Ferrier is an interior designer and partner at McAlpine, Booth & Ferrier, which has gained a reputation as one of the most highly sought-after and lauded design firms in the country, and in particular, the South. The firm is known for creating a very identifiable point of view– one that seamlessly blends old-world style and time honored materials with a modern sensibility. Opting for rich, saturated neutrals in favor of bright colors, their interiors imbue classic, comfortable settings with drama and glamour.

Susan is actually a native New Yorker, but studied in the South and has resided here for most of her life. In 2000, she joined forces with Bobby McAlpine and Ray Booth to establish their firm and she oversees their Atlanta office. Since the founding of their firm, McAlpine, Booth & Ferrier has been featured extensively in many shelter publications including Architectural Digest, Veranda, House Beautiful, ELLE DECOR, and Southern Living. In addition, they have been repeatedly named to Architectural Digest’s AD100 List and ELLE DECOR’s A-List. Last Spring, Art of the House, the design tome Susan co-wrote with Bobby McAlpine was published by Rizzoli. I recently had the opportunity to interview Susan about her singular design aesthetic, the people and places that most inspire her, and her favorite things. Enjoy!


Paloma Contreras: How would you describe your style?

Susan Ferrier: My style is romantic, sensual and atmospheric – a layered and curated environment with diverse textures and shimmering accents. I am not just creating something to look at but, and more importantly, I am building a space that evokes a feeling.


{Susan’s Kitchen | Photography by Erica Dines}

PC: What does your home say about you?

SF: My personal taste reflects an outgoing and full personality – still inviting but stacked with observations and nods to experiences shared and cherished. My interiors are dramatic but filled with calm serene spaces that reach out to touch you. They are my self -portrait.


{The Stylish Breakfast Nook at Susan’s Home | Photography by Erica Dines}

PC: How is design different in the South than in other parts of the country?

SF: Design is important and valued in the South – Southerners love to live in gracious and thought provoking spaces – they appreciate the effort and investment of creating a beautiful home.


{Although Susan’s dining room is completely neutral, it is still rather bold thanks to interesting lighting, art, and seating. | Photography by Erica Dines}

PC: Where do you turn for inspiration?

SF: Through travel – open-air markets inspire me. I love seeing people in the streets, craftsman working with natural resources specific to those locations and influenced so heavily by their culture.

The Style Files: Susan Ferrier via La Dolce Vita | Veranda | Morton Residence, Birmingham Alabama

{A Beautiful Living Room Designed for a Client in Mountain Brook, Alabama | Photography by Mali Azima Courtesy of Veranda}

PC: Who are your personal style icons?

SF: Oscar de la Renta – Alexander McQueen – Axel Vervoordt – John Saladino

axel vervoordt

{Axel Vervoordt designed this living room, part of a chic Renaissance palazzo in Tuscany for the Labèque sisters in the 1990s. | Image via The Art of the Room}

PC: What is your guilty pleasure?

SF: Jewelry shopping and staying in expensive luxury hotels!


{The Rosewood Hotel in London}

PC: What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

SF: Be bold enough to experiment and learn if it is a mistake – take the risk – that’s how I live.


{A Striking Study in Chiaroscuro | Photography by Erica Dines}

PC: Who or what has been your greatest professional influence?

SF: It would have to be Bobby McAlpine. He has created architecture with a soul that responds well at the very heart of what I do – he creates spaces that allow growth, exploration and opportunity. We have walked forward together for 15 years and knowing him has informed and elevated my work. My hope is that someday someone will think even a fraction of this about me……

Morton Residence, Birmingham Alabama

{A Timeless Kitchen Designed in Collaboration with Bobby McAlpine | Photography by Mali Azima Courtesy of Veranda}

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

SF: Going as far as you can go in any direction that you choose.

Morton Residence, Birmingham Alabama

{A Pretty Bedroom in Mountain Brook | Photography by Mali Azima Courtesy of Veranda}

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

SF: MORE of everything!

Morton Residence, Birmingham Alabama

{A Dramatic Dining Room in Mountain Brook | Photography by Mali Azima Courtesy of Veranda}



Go-To Outfit: Simply dressed with dramatic jewelry

Style Mantra: calm with points of drama and interest

Scent: Santal/26 from Le Labo

Piece of Jewelry: serepent bracelets and pearls……..

Current Obsession: Putting together vintage gold charm bracelets

Color I Never Tire Of: Prussian blue and olive green

Flower: white peony and hydrangeas of any color

Indispensable Design Element: mirror and a bit of gilding

Era for Design: Now – we have such access and so many choices…

Dream Project: a house for George and Amal on the Amalfi Coast

Hostess Gift: booze

Meal: Lobster fra Diavolo

Drink: Vodka & Soda Monday thru Thursday/Margaritas on Fridays/Wine on Saturday and Sunday as a day of rest before I start all over again.

Way to Unwind after a Long Day at Work: in the backyard with the dog

3 Things I Love About My City: Atlanta – our airport can take me anywhere, it has lush greenery – lots of trees – and of course the people


Weekend Destination: Xpu Ha, Mexico – The Hotel Esencia

Hotel: Hotel Costes in Paris – but the Rosewood in London is fantastic – fresh and new

City: Istanbul and Venice

Museum: Rembrandt in Amsterdam – I love house museums.

Artist: Vermeer

Song that Always Puts Me in a Great Mood: I love opera – I relax in the music since I don’t understand the words

Actor/Actress: Jessica Chastain can be added to everyone’s list of greats

Prized Possession: My jewelry and Passport

Risk Worth Taking: All of them!

Go-To Color Palette: silvered blue, lichen gray/green, dark chocolate and pearly white

Rule to Break: I’m always breaking the rules when it comes to scale.

Movie Set Design: Any Anna Pinnock film

3 Dream Dinner Party Guests:  Sarah Greenwood and Katie Spencer are wonderful collaborators in production and set design. Alex Kipman is an inventor. They all create realities that effect the way that we see things.

Paloma Signature

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  1. Gorgeous profile on Susan Ferrier! Consider one of your dreams realized! You are THE high priestess of design in my book! Absolutely one of the most beautiful global talents and you inspire me! I hope to sip drinks with you at Hotel Costes or Baccanalia–you are on my top 3 list! Xoxo rob praino

  2. I have long admired Susan Ferrier, for her interiors and her sense of personal style as well. Her work is imaginative, while being bold and elegant, although often in a casual way…what an interesting juxtaposition of adjectives!! Brava, Susan Ferrier, you are definitely a designer I look up to for inspiration in my own work.