Living Room Design Ideas with Susanna Salk: Stephen Shubel

In her book, “Be Your Own Decorator,” Susanna Salk emboldens her readers to find inspiration in the masterfully decorated rooms of top designers featured in her book. Her design philosophy is practical: find what you love about these rooms and repeat it in your own home. But is it easy? We challenged Susanna Salk to recreate the essence of four rooms from her book using key pieces from Ballard Designs.

 “I think if you can find pieces that have strong forms and personality, you too can create a kind of magical space that’s completely functional.”

[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][the original]

[ballard inspiration]

The Room

Designer Stephen Shubel’s 250-square-foot studio proves that even the smallest spaces can make a big impact. A wall full of mirrors along with furnishings and accessories in different shapes, sizes and textures work together to add interest and create a space that’s anything but boring.

“I picked this room of his because it is very serene, very visual, yet it’s completely white and beige and almost has only two colors,” Susanna says. “And I think if you can find pieces that have strong forms and personality, you too can create a kind of magical space that’s completely functional.”

The Mirrors

Shubel relied on the well-known interior design trick of adding a mirror to visually expand a room—in spades. In a delightful mix of sizes and shapes, the mirrors bounce light from the grand window, creating a bright and light room that feels larger than it really is.

The three sizes of our Orion Mirrors—leaner, square, wall—fit the bill perfectly. Use as many as your wall space allows, advises Susanna: “If you have a small wall, do two. If you’re lucky enough to have a big wall, go for it. It’s worth the investment to create a really dazzling effect the way Stephen did.”


Ballard Designs - Orion Mirrors


The Chandelier

The key to copying the look is choosing strong shapes, even in the lighting department. Not only is our Coral 5-Light Chandelier eye-catching, it’s also neutral like so much of the accents in Shubel’s room (yes, another trick for opening up a space).


Ballard Designs - Coral 5 Light Chandelier


“That is stunning,” Susanna exclaims. “This chandelier has so much personality and shape with that coral-like structure.”

The Tables

The designer himself offered this advice in Susanna’s book: “Avoid too many flat and boxy shapes or it will become very boring.” The tables in Shubel’s studio—the furnishings most likely to fall victim to a boring shape—are rich with detail and boast a sculptural look.

“The legs of every table… everything has a kind of form to it that your eye rests on and leans on,” Susanna says.

Susanna fell in love with the exaggerated cabriole legs and scalloped base of our Benedetta Side Table, and found a perfect match in the European-inspired Vendome Double Pedestal Table.

Ballard Designs - Benedetta Round Side Table

The Club Chair

Susanna pictured our Griffin Club Chair, upholstered in Super White Twill, partnering well with bright white walls and a natural fiber rug that’s similar to the wall-to-wall seagrass in Shubel’s studio.


Ballard Designs - Griffin Club Chair with Aged Brass Nailheads

“That club chair: I love it,” she says. “It’s such a useful chair. It could look good anywhere. It’s got a very strong masculine shape.”

With the pieces Susanna selected, it’s not hard to imagine a visually stunning room that captures the spirit of Shubel’s studio completely.

“We really found that if we stayed with that beige and white color scheme and all of our furniture and all of our accessories had very strong shapes, we too could create this very livable and yet dazzling space on our own,” says Susanna.

Watch all of the videos in this series here.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

Caroline McDonald

Caroline lives for pairing together patterns, mixing furniture styles, and oogling over our newest furniture pieces. As you can imagine, her little 1920's craftsman is in a constant state of flux. Here on How to Decorate, it's her goal to help you turn your home into your own little slice of paradise.