Living Room Design Ideas with Susanna Salk: Geoffrey De Sousa

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 pieces from Ballard Designs.

“It just has a surprise everywhere you look, yet it’s completely comfortable.”

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[Ballard Inspiration]

Ballard Designs

The Room

Susanna chose designer Geoffrey De Sousa’s vibrant, inviting living room to emulate. From the unexpected color combinations to the eye-catching chandelier and leather nail head chairs, the entire room gives off a glamorous vibe.

“It just has a surprise everywhere you look, yet it’s completely comfortable,” she says. “You just want to take a great book and curl up and be there or have a martini and entertain.”

The Chandelier

The bronze chandelier might be one of the first things you notice if you walked into Geoffrey De Sousa’s living room. It makes a statement all on its own. So finding a “wow” lighting piece is one of Susanna’s first tasks.

“A lighting fixture is about personality. It’s about bringing in some character,” Susanna reminds us. “We need something big and bold.”

She found exactly what she was looking for with the oversized Orb Chandelier. It’s not an exact copy – but it’s striking in a similar manner, which is what matters most. “It has that same kind of surprise element,” she says.






The Club Chairs

Look closely, and you’ll notice the designer living room is bursting with sensuous texture – the suede sofa, the leather chairs, the lacquered tabletops and even the silk-covered walls. Susanna needed to bring that same kind of feel to her room, and she finds it with the Dixon Leather Chair.

“When I first saw those Dixon Leather Chairs, I was so happy, because to capture this room that I love so much, I had to bring in that kind of edgy leather element into my own space,” says Susanna.

The nail head trim is exactly the kind of detail that lends a similar air of sophistication to the room. It’s also a look you can easily replicate on an existing piece of furniture.
Ballard Designs: Dixon Leather Chair

The Lamps

Table lamps are an essential element for almost any room. They bring a sense of balance and, of course, distribute light evenly throughout the room. In our model living room, the sofa is flanked by a pair of matching table lamps that stands out against the bright drapery panels behind them.

“The Pesaro Lamps that we found are not an exact match, but what they have, which I think a lot of people are scared to do, are the dark shades,” Susanna points out. “Because, again, it’s the dark, moody element that gives the strength to the room.”

Another design lesson to learn from this room: if you go for a lamp with a shade or base in a dramatic color, be sure to add accents or furniture in the same color to tie the room together.

The Color

It goes without saying that to really pull off the essence of Geoffrey De Sousa’s living room, Susanna had to bring in that vibrant orange: “One of the key elements was the idea of extremely similar orange paired right next to each other,” she says.

Enter the Davenport Sofa, brilliantly upholstered in Suzanne Kasler’s Mandarin Linen fabric and paired with custom drapery in the same fabric.

Suzanne Kasler Signature Linen Mandarin Fabric By The Yard

“This Davenport Sofa can hold a lot of color,” she says. “Using this image, be daring. Go for the orange fabric. And I love how it matches the curtains.”

Once again, Susanna proves just how easy it is to be your own decorator, regardless of space and budget, as long as you have the right inspiration. “The Geoffrey De Sousa room is about material, it’s about color, it’s about strength of form, and by bringing those all together, you definitely have a sense of the mood of this room.”

Have we inspired you? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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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.