Podcast, Ep. 298: Making a House a Home with Susanna Salk

Author and Designer Susana Salk

Susanna Salk: Author, Content Creator, and Design Expert

Our guest this week is good friend Susanna Salk: design expert, successful YouTube creator, and author of over 14 books. Susanna talks with us about her new book, Making a House a Home, and some of the things she’s been most surprised about in the designer’s homes. She also discusses the difference between a designer’s home vs. a non-designers home and how we can bring that casual elegance into our own life, and gives insight into why spring cleaning isn’t exactly her thing including ways to edit your wardrobe and home in an easier, more consistent way.

Susanna Salk's book "Making a House a Home"

Susanna Salk’s 2023 book “Making a House a Home”

What You’ll Hear on This Episode:

  • How does Susanna find the time and inspiration to come up with her book concepts?
  • Some of Susanna’s favorite tips and tricks that she has brought into her own space that she saw in a designer’s house.
  • Making a House a Home is for everyone, both designers and novices alike.
  • What are visual landscapes?
  • How we can tie visual landscapes together using the dinner guest analogy.
  • Your rooms don’t have to look perfect, but they have to make you feel right.
  • Susanna’s motto: “live with what you love, or give it away to somebody else.”


Decorating Dilemma:

Hi ladies!

Thank you so much for your podcast. I have learned so much and although I am a graphic designer and website designer, I can still apply principals learned from your podcast to my own work.

I love interior design but will admit that when it comes to decorating my own home, it is like I freeze when trying making a choice for my space. I love mixing vintage and modern and love color but more muted colors (if that makes sense), so I have a few questions I’d love help with:

  1. Our living area and kitchen area is one large room and this is where we spend all of our time. I originally assumed we would get a LOT of light in this area with the number of windows, but after living in the space I have realized that I only get morning light and the room gets darker and darker as the day goes on.

I have kept from adding window treatments to keep from blocking any light, but would love to include them to soften the space. This is tricky, though, as I have the full wall of windows… two bay windows, a window pane door and then an additional window in the kitchen area.

I am open to thoughts on how you would brighten this space, but I am also interested in your thoughts on how I could apply windows treatments!

  1. Finally – you will see I have a LOT of dark cherry cabinets. It is not my style and I am open to painting them as they are not in perfect shape. They are dated (especially with the built in desk), so any thoughts you have on this area would be greatly appreciated as well: Paint? Removing cabinets? Lighter table and chairs?

At this time, replacing the countertop is not in our budget; but, I would love to do that in the future. One more final, final note—All furniture is up for paint except the antique cabinet in the living room, and I would love to replace that dining chandelier if possible!

Thank you SO much!

– Mandi


Susanna wishes she was right with you! If she was there, the first thing she would do is get you a fantastic rug to cut up some of the wood. This would be the biggest game changer, and it doesn’t even have to be an expensive rug. Check out the Ballard rugs with a big, beautiful juicy pattern on it, and put the rug under your table area. Next, you should paint those current cabinets a nice white. Then, take the spindly chandelier that’s coming down low and kind of blocking the windows above that table. And I would put a more recessed light above there.

You don’t need window treatments, and the windows and the view are beautiful enough. As far as the table, Susanna recommends getting rid of the little table and replacing it with a series of flower pots down along the floor area or a fiddle fig tree along the side.

If you can replace the dining room table, a vintage table or long farmhouse wood table would highlight the rug and make it feel less matchy-matchy. Or if you do replace the black solid barstools, pick a soft fun pattern and don’t worry about it matching with the rug.

If you only have $500 to spend, have an electrician take down the chandelier and put in another ceiling light. Thanks so much for writing in and good luck!

Also Mentioned in This Episode:

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Happy Decorating!

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Kelley Bostian

Kelley enjoys a light and livable home and is always searching for that perfect "finishing touch" antique piece. Here on How to Decorate, it's his goal to help you bring your own unique design vision to life.