For designer Suzanne Kasler, a white Christmas is always in style. This year, she brightens her signature color with Czech-inspired crystal trees, shimmering silver reindeers and mini Flocked Frasier Firs decked out in her festive ball ornaments. We got together to talk with Suzanne about her holiday collection and how to add festive touches to every room.
The Living Room
Ballard Designs: You’ve always incorporated plaid into your Christmas collection, but this is the first time you’ve brought it into the home in a big way with this great rug.
Suzanne Kasler: Christmas and plaid go hand-in-hand. I can’t think of Christmas without it! I had already introduced the classic red Holiday Plaid and the green tartan Mackenzie Plaid in wrapping paper, pillows and Fabric by the Yard. And I discovered that people were really loving the Fabric by the Yard and using it in so many great ways, including drapery and upholstery, and not just for the holidays. So I thought, “why not a rug?” It’s a great way to create a whole new feel in a room.
BD: How do you envision people using the Mackenzie Rug beyond the holidays?
SK: It has this enduring all-American feel that’s right at home in a library, a back entry hall, a boy’s room and certainly a mountain house. It’s such a classic look that shouldn’t be reserved just for Christmas.
BD: This season you’re introducing your La Fete Garland. What’s your philosophy on greenery? How do you use it in your home?
SK: I really love using garland — it gives a very festive feel. I like to decorate at the very beginning of December, so I want it to look good throughout the holidays, which is why I use faux greenery. And having the lights already incorporated makes it that much easier! My secret is that I always mix in a little bit of greenery or holly from the yard to get that fresh look and feel. I think a lot of people typically think of using garland on a mantel, but I love the idea of using it in a different way, like we did here by draping the windows with it.
BD: What inspired your ornaments this year?
SK: As you know, I love to decorate with white, but I also love the idea of a white Christmas. It’s the season that really inspired me to create these really great white accents. This year, I have frosted white berry branches, Leather Ornaments and these adorable Calligraphy Ornaments that all mix in with my white antler accents. I even introduced a Velvet Ribbon in white to wrap around packages. The great thing about decorating with white ornaments is that it gives you the freedom to bring in holiday color in other unexpected ways.
BD: A lot of people think that with the change in seasons, you have to go darker with the layers on your bed or you should switch out your white curtains. But here you’re saying that’s not true. The white on white look can stay, even though the season changes?
SK: Yes, of course! And right now, white is really trending. The simplicity of white creates this inviting, soothing feel that works year round, especially in a bedroom. I also think all that white helps accent colors emerge, like the beautiful blue wall.
BD: How can you add warmth in a room with so much white?
SK: It’s all about bringing in texture through baskets and metallics. Everyone is in the mood for gilded finishes, and I have a mix of them in this room. It brings a modern element into a transitional room. My favorite example is the Lydie Desk we’re using as a side table. The milk white glass framed in gold finish is so striking. And we’re showing it with this really fun stool.
BD: Yes! Tell us about the Gilded Pelage Stool.
SK: It’s just so glamorous — it’s like an everyday indulgence or whimsy. Every bedroom should have a place to sit, so you may as well make it fun. You can also use it as an object to stack things on.
BD: You also have a new lamp in two finishes, black and white.
SK: The white is a plaster bisque, which is such a classic look. The black is great, too. Decorating with black and white is coming back into design focus, so a black lamp in a white room is very chic.
BD: You’re also introducing a new wool rug, the Emilyn Hand Knotted Rug. It’s gorgeous, and it gives that neutral ground you’re known for.
SK: I do love a neutral rug, and it’s hard to find a good neutral. This rug is fabulous. It has a subtle pattern that will wear really well in this muted, sophisticated color palette. The neutral palette makes it incredibly versatile.
BD: We’re sitting in your office now, and there are a lot of similar design elements here, from the streamlined furniture to the white walls to the oversized pendant to your signature starburst mirrors.
SK: I love designing for Ballard in a way that brings what I love to life. I also love to translate my favorite elements in way that makes them easy to incorporate into any home. One of my favorite things is this Parsons Desk. It’s the perfect combination of modern and classic.
BD: You have a new mirror that’s a little more organic in nature.
SK: It has that rustic, yet refined feel I was in the mood for this season. The Reindeer Art is in the same vein. They’re hand painted in a metallic silver and have this really great texture. It’s a fun, subtle way of bringing in a touch of holiday.
BD: Do you like to bring Christmas into every room at home?
SK: Why not? The thing with Christmas is you end up adding to your collection each year, and part of the fun is getting those special things out and deciding where to put it all. So maybe some years you put it on the mantel and other years you put it on your desk in the office. It’s fun to mix things up and put them in different places each year, depending on the mood you’re in. Also, the great thing about my Frasier Fir Trees is that I created several sizes, so you can put the smaller trees in other rooms and on tabletops, like your office desk. Of course, they’re also great for people who live in a small space and don’t want a big tree. When you plug it in, it transforms the whole space.
BD: We love the wall decor in this office. What makes a wall gallery work?
SK: It’s a repetitive mix. So you can take different shapes and sizes and mix them together, but there’s a common thread. When we start a wall gallery, we usually start with one random piece and, from there, hang other pieces around it, making sure nothing lines up to create a composition similar to this. It’s a really fun way to make an instant collection. I obviously love to throw in mirrors. They reflect the room and you can use them as art without committing yourself to a certain composition or color palette. It’s neutral and goes with any art you have mixed in.
BD: Your Czech Crystal Trees are back, too.
SK: They are so fabulous and they look best grouped together, so I would encourage everyone to buy one each year to grow your collection. They’re another easy way to bring Christmas into a room. I like to think of them as future vintage treasures for the next generation.
BD: One last question: are you going to do anything different this holiday?
SK: I’m going to focus a little more on the lights when I decorate this year. I love all of the lights and sparkle, so I’m adding them everywhere I can!
Thanks for talking to us about your Holiday collection, Suzanne!
Learn more about Suzanne Kasler, or find Suzanne Kasler’s collection for Ballard Designs here.
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