In celebration of her new book “It’s the Little Things,” Susanna Salk is bringing her talents to the shops of New Preston. She will be creating interior vignettes of items that she finds “wonderfully necessary.” This is a term she thought of during our interview and it describes perfectly her decorating philosophy.
“These are not staples,” she explained. “They are just lovely things to have in your life; they are so important. As an example, I was walking by New Preston Kitchen Goods and they had these beautiful kitchen towels in the window. They are a little more expensive than the ones you can find at a convenience store. But these would give you such pleasure because they are so much nicer.”
And Salk firmly believes in quality and style over quantity.
In her latest book, “It’s the Little Things: Creating Big Moments in Your Home Through the Stylish Small Stuff,” she explains and illustrates how the details of a room are what make for successful decorating.
“This book is a result of a chapter in my previous book called ‘Decorate Fearlessly! Using Whimsy, Confidence and a Dash of Surprise to Create Personal Spaces,’” Salk explained. “In the Whimsy chapter, I discussed rooms that push the envelope in terms of design, rooms that have an element of surprise. I’ve always respected how people use detail in a room. I don’t mean fussy detail, but simple things like a small vignette of objects on a nightstand or an interesting trim or embroidery. How these little touches transform a room from ordinary to one that says ‘Wow.’”
Culling from roster of well-known interior designers and trendsetters, ranging from Jonathan Adler, Darryl Carter, India Hicks, Charles James, to Charlotte Moss, Alex Papachristidis, Miles Redd and Bunny Williams, Salk has assembled a collection of ideas that anyone can follow and interpret for their own homes.
“Details aren’t about just having stuff around in your house or putting a lamp on an end table and calling it a day,” said Salk. “When chosen with care, they can create lush landscapes, where the eye delights in both the macro and the micro. The individual moments are enhanced through juxtaposition with one another. It’s not necessarily through commonality, but by the chemistry of the combination and happenstance. Rooms come alive through their details: whether their arrangement be deliberately curated or casually cramped, the constant is always editing with an eye towards the beloved, the curious, the deeply personal.
“The most important thing I try to stress,” said Salk, “is to evaluate what you have in your home. You should put as much of yourself in a room as possible. But what you put in needs to be good and have meaning for the owner. The more thought you give to creating the little moments, the more they will ultimately inspire in big ways.”
“It’s the Little Things” is divided into five chapters: Surfaces, Walls, Mantels, Little Moments and Big Moments. In a text that is conversational and reassuring, Salk leads the reader through the process of editing and rearranging every part of one’s home. The book is a treasure trove of helpful hints and is illustrated with lavish photographs chosen from some of the most important and talented photographers in the business, including William Waldron, Simon Upton, Richard Powers, John Gruen and Miki Dusterof.
Her design philosophy is a simple: You don’t need to throw everything out and start from scratch. The secret is in editing and complementing what is already there.
“One of the easiest ways to update or enhance a room is to get new lamps,” Salk said. “So many times I go into a home and the lamps are too small or too big or have bad shades. I always say to err on the side of larger rather than smaller. I stress lamps that have a personality – an unusual base or a beautifully textured lampshade. Lamps can be mismatched, but you have to be really good at pairing. Sometimes all a room needs is great lamps and a new rug.”
In addition to “Decorate Fearlessly,” Salk is the author of seven books, including the successful “A Privileged Life,” “Celebrating WASP Style,” “Weekend Retreats,” “Room for Children: Stylish Spaces for Sleep and Play,” “Be Your Own Decorator: Taking Cues and Confidence from Today’s Leading Designers” and “C.Z. Guest American Style Icon.” She began her career at Conde Nast International coordinating its shelter magazines. She went on to Elle Décor and was then made special projects editor for House and Garden. She is now a contributing editor for 1stdibs.com and is host of the “At Home With” video series on Quintessence, the design blog created by Stacey Holston Bewkes that now has over 500,000 followers.
Recently Salk has added staging to her list of talents. It has become a relevant aspect of the real estate business to have someone come in and prepare a house for sale, she said.
“As a stager, I have to go into a room and remove stuff because it has too much personality and sometimes a potential buyer can’t see past the present owner’s taste,” said Salk. “I can go into a house and challenge people on the things they have – do they need them? Do they love them? In 99.9 percent of the time they don’t know where the item came from or why it’s still there. If something doesn’t have a personal story, it shouldn’t be taking up space.”
In many cases, Salk has discovered that once a house is sold, the owners are grateful for having been edited.
As part of the special events in New Preston on Saturday, April 23, Salk will be signing copies of “It’s the Little Things” at J Seitz from 3 to 5 p.m. Prior to that she will have set up window displays of “It’s the Little Things” vignettes at Dawn Hill Antiques, Pergola, New Preston Kitchen Goods, Privet House, DK Schulman and Plain Goods, as well as J Seitz.
For consultation or information about Susanna Salk, visit her at www.susannsalk.com.