Summer Book Review: It’s the Little Things

Photo from Susanna Salk's It's the Little Things book

Design editor and author, Susanna Salk, has done it again. With her latest book, It’s the Little Things: Creating Big Moments in Your Home Through the Stylish Small Stuff, Susanna continues to inspire us with the notion that decorating your home is deeply personal. When you pay attention to the details and decorate with only the things that you love, you can create big moments in rooms that transcend the ordinary.

Photo from Susanna Salk's It's the Little Things book

“Details aren’t about just having stuff around in your house or putting a lamp on an end table and calling it a day. When chosen with care, they can create lush landscapes, where the eye delights in both the macro and the micro,” the author explains.

As she has done in her previous decorating books, Susanna relies on the delightful interiors of today’s top designers, such as Alessandra Branca, Bunny Williams, John Derian and India Hicks, to beautifully illustrate how the littlest of details can come together to create richness and personality in your home. With this book, “you’ll be able to delight in what delights others,” Susanna writes.

Photo from Susanna Salk's It's the Little Things book

If you’ve ever struggled with how to decorate your mantel, how to create an arrangement on a wall or how to create a moment in a small space, this lusciously photographed volume is a godsend. Along with majestic examples of different types of design arrangements, Susanna shares design tips and quotes from the designers featured. In the end, you realize that it’s not about having access to expensive things or the ability to hire a designer. When you surround yourself with things you love, the rest will fall into place, especially when you have a good guide by your side.

We called Susanna at her home in Connecticut to chat about her new book. Read on to find out what room in your home could probably use a little love.

Photo from Susanna Salk's It's the Little Things book

Ballard Designs: Why did you want to write this book?

Susanna Salk: One of the chapters in my last book, Decorate Fearlessly, was about accessories, and in doing the research it became my favorite chapter. I love visual landscapes, and I really feel like they’re the soul of the house. So I thought, “Let’s do a whole book on that!” I wanted to really show people how you can use detail to express your personality, whether it’s on the mantel or the wall or the tabletop. It was the chapter in my book that merited a whole book.

BD: We’re all guilty of getting so caught up in what’s new and next that we overlook the little treasures we already own or forget to let our own personal aesthetic be our guides. What is your best advice for creating moments that reflect who you are?

SS: You should only use the things that you love. If someone calls me about a trend story, I just say, “I’m sorry, I’m not the person you should talk to.” You should never do something in your home simply because of a trend — that’s ridiculous. Your house is a place that should reflect only the things you love, and if that’s the case, your house will always look great. Everything will go together. It’s just the simplest rule of all.

Photo from Susanna Salk's It's the Little Things book

BD: What are your most beloved objects in your own home?

SS: There are store bought objects and there are personal objects, such as something your child made. One of my most precious ones is this tiny book of watercolors my husband made and surprised me with that details our honeymoon. We went to Vienna and it’s a little storybook of our time there, and I keep it in a little glass box. That’s an example of something that’s one of a kind and has no price tag you can put on it. As far as any kind of artwork, I collect black and white photography that I love. It’s anywhere from ones that I’ve had framed out of photography books because I haven’t been able to afford that photographer to young photographers whom I’ve collected to photos of my own family. There’s a variance there of things I’ve made and created that are precious to me and ones I’ve found.

BD: Which room or space in the home is often neglected and could really shine if only we’d put more detail into it?

SS: A lot of times, the guest bathroom in a home that everyone uses tends to be very boring — and that’s a place where you can really have fun. You can add wallpaper and put a collection of photos on top and really have fun with these kinds of small spaces. Make them full of big personality rather than just keeping them quiet, because it’s small or not “important.”

Tilton Fenwick wallpaper in small powder room from Susanna Salk's book It's the Little Things

BD: Can you share one of your favorite rooms from the book and explain why you love it so much?

SS: We often think of detail as being very micro, but detail can work on a macro way. For example, look at this Tilton Fenwick powder room, which perfectly illustrates what I was just saying. It’s a small bathroom, and look how it just comes alive with that wallpaper, hardware and shapely mirror. The designers really turned what could just be a very bland nothing space into a moment. Every room in your house should feel like it’s edited, full of personality and exudes what you love about life, even if it’s a guest bathroom. There are a million rooms I can pick for you from this book, but this one came to mind, because every time I think of that room, it makes me happy. And isn’t that the point?

Find Susanna Salk’s book, It’s the Little Things: Creating Big Moments in Your Home Through the Stylish Small Stuff, or visit her blog, Open House, or watch her video series on the Quintessence blog.

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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.