How to Edit Your Space with Suzanne Kasler

Editing your home with Suzanne Kasler

Suzanne Kasler is a master at creating richly layered rooms that radiate easygoing warmth and grace and, at the same time, a streamlined simplicity. This edited look is what draws us in every time, so we asked the designer for her best tips. Below, Suzanne shares her strategies for creating an edited space in three easy steps.

Strengthen the architecture of the room first

Step 1: Create the Perfect Backdrop

When I’m working on a design, the first thing I want to do is look at the space and see where I can strengthen the architecture and make this space the best it can be without anything in it. The simplest solution and my biggest design tool is paint. I often start with what I call an all-white room. I’ll paint the ceiling, trim, walls and molding all the same color, usually in a soothing white, cream or ecru.

Strengthen the architecture of the room first

My favorite whites are Benjamin Moore White Dove, Floral White and Linen White —  and I never use flat paint. This is what gives a space a strong backdrop — that white-architectural envelope — and readies a room for layering and creating a very edited look.

Use one color boldly

There are exceptions to everything. Sometimes, I love to take a dining room, a small hallway, a powder room — any space that can stand on its own and is not a room you’re in all the time — and lacquer the ceiling, trim and walls the same color to make a really strong design statement. Lacquered rooms are very en vogue right now.

Start with the large pieces in neutral fabrics

Step 2: Use Color & Pattern Strategically

Now it’s time to bring in the main pieces in the room — the sofas and chairs — and this is where I love to use neutrals. I have to laugh, because almost every major upholstered piece I do is white, off-white or flax. But then I add another layer with drapery, pillows, flowers and throws, and it’s amazing how it instantly transforms a room. What I love about interior design today is that it’s now more than ever influenced by fashion. So this is a great way to bring in a great color or dressmaker details, like tufted buttons or these slipcover ties on the settee, that you’re especially in the mood for right now. As long as you start with the right timeless design of your space with strong neutral pieces, you can then bring in those influences into your space.

Dot one color throughout your room in pillows, throw blankets, and accessories

Say this year you’re in the mood for orange. What I did here is create a subtle tonality with four orange throw pillows, an orange Hermes throw and a vase of orange flowers. You look at this room and you see orange — it dominates the room — but there are really only a handful of things that are orange and everything else is neutral. By strategically using color, you can create a room that looks more anchored and even more edited, because you’re not bouncing around from visual to visual.

Use one color or pattern on drapery and only one other place in the room

Sometimes I love to use pattern or color on drapery and bring it into the room by using it on one other thing. l think that is such a great detail. Here I used the a bold pink on the drapery and a single pillow on the chaise. See how pretty that is just by repeating it? But it’s not too decorative or too overwhelming, because everything else is neutral.

Bring in accessories, lamps, and accent tables

Step 3: Accessorize without Cluttering

This is when I bring in accent tables, lamps and accessories. One thing that’s happening today is that the scale of accessories is much larger. Lamps are getting bigger and taller. A few large-scale pieces can make a room feel relevant, but also less cluttered, because there aren’t so many little pieces. I do like to leave some of the tables and end tables with minimal accessories. You no longer have to cover every single surface!

Group together personal collections all in one place

Personal touches and meaningful collections are what make a room feel special and give a house its soul. I always encourage my clients to display their personal collections, whether it’s family photos or tortoise boxes. I have a collection of Eiffel towers that I love. The key is in how you display and organize your collection.

Desk with a collection of antique globes from Suzanne Kasler's new book Timeless Style

Find one tabletop and group it all together — and that’s what makes the room less cluttered. You end up with a collection instead of a room full of stuff that’s scattered everywhere. Even if it’s a collection of decorating books, put all of them in stacks and arrange them on one table. Some people have picture frames on every single table, but if you put them all together they look more special and have a greater impact — and a cleaner look.

'Shop' your own home to create a new look from things you already have

If you’re not renovating and just want a quick reboot, here’s a trick I love to do with clients: take all of the accessories out of a room and create a “shopping room” in another space. Usually, we’ll put everything on a big blanket on the dining room table. It’s surprising how different things look when you take them out of a room.

Group together unusual items that you already have

Two things usually happen: you’ll be inspired to use some items in different ways and even in different rooms, and you’ll also see a few things that are ready to be put away for a while. You don’t have to give them away, but you can store them and bring them back out when you’re in the mood to freshen things up.

Edit your items, then bring in new things that are a different scale

In addition, I usually like to bring in a few new accessories that are scaled differently than what the client already owns. By re-accessorizing with some things you already own, taking some things away and mixing in a few new things, you end up with a completely revitalized and edited room.

Thank you so much Suzanne for sharing your method with us! Editing is an important part of the home design process, and something we often forget to do! Now we have the tools and information we need (from the expert no less!) to do some editing in our own home. 

Shop all of Suzanne Kasler’s products for Ballard Designs, or learn more about Suzanne and her decorating process here.

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.


  1. Reply

    Jacquelyn Friedl

    February 26, 2017

    Please let me know how I might obtain Suzanne Kasler’s “Lydie” metal and glass desk. It was originally on Ballard Designs. Currently, it is sold out and the vendor does not have a new in stock date. Thank you.

    • Reply

      Caroline McDonald

      March 2, 2017

      I’m so sorry! This desk is sold out, and we won’t be getting any more.

  2. Reply


    October 4, 2015

    I need help decorating my family room. The challenges are as follows: (1) It is one of the first rooms you see when you walk into the house so it’s important for it to be somewhat formal and beautiful; (2) We use this room everyday so it has to be functional; (3) I have an eight year old and a dog and I want them to be able to enjoy the room without me worrying it will show ever spill, spot, etc., (3) I do not know how to coordinate window treatments, rugs accessories; (4) There are two large openings to other rooms which limit wall space; the couches are newer so if we could work around them that would be great but I am open to suggestions that don’t include them (5) My husbands only requirement is that there be at least a love seat and sofa for seating. Can you please help me?

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      November 5, 2015

      Hi Lynn,
      We actually offer free design services that can help you with your family room. Simply complete this form and our Design Solutions team will reach out to you. Be sure to include photos of your space so we can give you the most helpful advice and tips!
      The How to Decorate Team

  3. Reply


    September 29, 2015

    Loving all the tips and advice.
    Suzanne Kasler’s article on how to edit your space really grabbed me. Any chance on finding out the paint color of the ceiling from that fantastic cream colored foyer with winding staircase and teal checkerboard flooring? Absolutely love the tranquil glow it casts.

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      November 5, 2015

      Hi Sheila,
      We don’t know the exact color Suzanne used in this space, but she has mentioned that White Dove is one of her go-to white paint colors!
      So glad you liked the article. Thanks for your comment.
      The How to Decorate Team

  4. Reply


    September 16, 2015

    Do you have any information on the rustic pendant lights above the dining table in the first picture?

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      November 5, 2015

      Janet, these light fixtures are from Suzanne Kasler’s line with Visual Comfort.

  5. Reply


    August 12, 2015

    Could you tell me the source for the black and white nest picture featured above the mantle? Thank you.

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      August 13, 2015

      Robin, I’m so sorry but we don’t have any information about that painting!

  6. Reply


    July 30, 2015

    Very interested in the chairs pictured for June 29. The ones that look like they are upholstered in a lilac colored fabric and also the ones against the wall. Are these available to purchase? Thanks.

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      November 5, 2015

      Hi CRodhe,
      Unfortunately we do not have any information about this stools. Sorry!

  7. Reply


    July 29, 2015

    can you tell me what dining room set that Suzanne is showing on edit this space

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      November 5, 2015

      Hi Sherry,
      Thanks for your comment. Unfortunately we don’t have any information about the furniture pieces in this room. Sorry!

  8. Reply

    Barbara Allen-

    July 19, 2015

    Love all the how to video’s. The rooms were done so well. I love so many of your decorating tips and advice . I am do ing a bedroom I saw many things that I want to have. I started watching and two hours later I really enjoyed your website. Thanks for a wonderful experience.

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      July 22, 2015

      Thanks Barbara! We’re so happy to hear that!

  9. Reply


    July 16, 2015

    Thanks for the great suggestions. In the third to last picture (of an entry way)–there is a beautiful white and gold light fixture. Is that a vintage piece or is it available for purchase somewhere?


    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      July 16, 2015

      Hi Ruby,
      We’re thrilled to hear the you found some inspiration in this post! Unfortunately we don’t have any information on the gold light fixture you mentioned.
      The How to Decorate Team

  10. Reply

    Reshma J

    July 14, 2015

    Hello team,
    I am in such a confused state about my TV and couch configuration and need some help.
    We have a 65″ tv and our room size is 19x 13. have fire place on the short side. I am not able to decide whether I should mount the TV on top of the fireplace or on the corner. Our ceiling height is 8ft.
    Aesthetically on fire place will look nice and symmetrical but the person sitting on side watching tv might have to twist his/her neck little bit, so was not sure.
    Wish I could upload pictures for you to see.
    Regards, Reshma.

    • Reply

      Caroline @ How to Decorate

      July 22, 2015

      Hi Reshma,
      You can certainly upload photos so that we can make some suggestions for your space. Simply fill out this form, and our design team can make some suggestions for you about layout, colors, and furniture pieces. Also be sure to give them plenty of measurements so they can get an accurate feel for the size of your room.
      Best of Luck!
      The How to Decorate Team