With the backgrounds beautifully simplified, Susan began to choose furnishings, starting in the living room with the Empire sofa she had inherited from her grandmother. "I changed its green velvet to a white quilted pattern that creates a dramatic contrast to the sofa's wood frame." The dark-light contrast is a theme throughout the house, with the dark wood floors playing off the pale walls.
Susan further interior decorating of the living room with comfortable new chairs that echo the curves of the sofa and fireplace. "Then, I juxtaposed those curves with the straight, linear forms of the draperies, fire screen, and mirror"-all her own designs. "The full puddle draperies help to soften and heighten the room and enhance the natural beauty of the windows," she says. Plus, say her friends, they are as elegant as ball gowns. Interlined with bump (soft, thick cotton), the draperies feature two fabrics. The bottom section repeats the quilted pattern of the sofa, while the top sports a tone-on-tone vertical stripe. A faux-snakeskin mirror frame she designed to top the mantel steps up the room's textural intrigue. "A neutral room runs the risk of feeling cold and monotonous unless patterns and textures are a part of its decorating," Susan warns.
Personal pieces are also important to the design of the home. "The gold-and-crystal chandelier in the center of the dining room is the one used in the tent set up for our wedding," Susan says by way of illustration. The dining room's metal artwork is by contemporary artist Bill Fisher, whose work the couple began collecting upon their marriage. "Our wedding gift to each other was a large Bill Fisher painting, which was featured in an exhibition at the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk, Virginia." To help integrate Fisher's metal art into the dining room, Susan mounted an old cast-iron floor register with intricate grillwork onto the wall between the windows-a decision that stamps the room with a one-of-a-kind personality.