It was Oliver Wendell Holmes who said he didn’t give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity but he would give his life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity. Interior design that results in the sophisticated simplicity that is a hallmark of Suzanne Kasler’s rooms is a complex process. It takes an intricate precision to create interiors that whisper their pale silences while declaring themselves with fascinatingly delicate design details. “I have a passion for houses,” she says in her introduction to her new book Sophisticated Simplicity published by Rizzoli. “And I have always loved creating homes in my mind and then translating them into reality.”
The kitchen and the master bathroom above are examples, her point of view as she designed for this client explained in the book's narrative: “She is very chic, so of course she wanted her home to be the same. Our challenge was to make sure that the architectural envelope would enhance the beauty of their furnishings, art, and accessories.” Focusing on refinement is one of the ways she achieves such gracefulness. “I am always looking for beauty—for what is chic, what is pretty, and what is refined—for new ideas about style, and for fashion that is timely, but timeless, too,” Kasler explains. “Sometimes the simplest things give me great pleasure.”
The cover image was photographed in her space at the Kips Bay Decorator Show House, which I remember well. The room held the level of complexity Kasler achieves so easily while maintaining a lightness of being that is one of her signatures. The designer admits that she loves designing spaces in show houses, showrooms and vignettes because, “Each is a new opportunity for me to push the envelope and to inspire others.”
She shares with readers that editing is a critical piece of the puzzle when creating beauty: “When I talk about sophisticated simplicity, I am talking about the challenge of editing. The whole point of designing a room in a show house or a showroom is to inspire. That allows me to really challenge myself and explore ideas that I might not have tried before.”
In the section of the book that showcases the homes she’s designed in urban areas, she explains her city interiors generally have a bit more of a formal feel to them, which she calls casually elegant. “I have always believed that the best homes look like the people who live in them,” she remarks. The image above with its elegant interior architecture is set within a 1927-era house on two acres in Buckhead, an Atlanta neighborhood. It was a “faded beauty” when she took on the project for her clients. Faded, no more.
In the section of the book that features the homes she has designed in the country, she writes, “So much of creating a house with a sense of place has to do with finding ways to connect the inside and the outside.” Case in point is the image of the beautiful enclosed porch above, which is attached to a main house set within a forty-acre property that hugs the undulant coastline of Maine. The master bedroom below, also in this Port Clyde home, is a pale, light-filled room that creates a restful haven for its occupants.
In introducing the Palmetto Bluff project that includes the lovely dock below, she says, “People with second homes usually want them to offer scenarios for living that provide a real escape from their day-to-day lifestyle. So I take a very specific approach to editing, as the story of this vacation house in Palmetto Bluff, near Hilton Head, South Carolina, shows.”
Kasler’s passion shows with this statement: “There is such a thing as love at first sight with houses.” There is also such a thing as love at first sight with coffee table books, this one a prime example of how one designer’s point of view is evident in all of her interiors without being predictable in any of them.
Image credits: St. James by Peter Vitale, portrait by Erica George Dines, Buckhead by Erica George Dines, Port Clyde by William Waldron, and Palmetto Bluff by Erica George Dines.