Is there a palette you are particularly drawn to, and if so, why?
I am drawn to neutral and soft colors because they are elegant, calming and understated but also very versatile. I appreciate the subtle sophistication of quiet monochromatic design schemes. Softer, neutral palettes also showcase special antique pieces and interesting art and accessories well.
What makes you traditional?
I am drawn to all things that feel classic yet fresh. Whether shopping for clothes or designing a room, I prefer a classic, tailored look with beautiful fabrics and simple, well-designed pieces. I firmly believe that good design is timeless. I appreciate and enjoy traditional pieces such as beautiful old furniture, classical drawings, fine linens, estate silver and monograms, but I am also a sucker for old rituals such as a well-executed dinner party and thoughtful thank you notes written on beautiful stationery.
What can't you live without?
My Louis XVI style dining chairs with original finish and mohair
Fine linens: I love the beautiful details and monograms offered by Leontine Linens.
My kitchen dining area banquette: serves as a gathering place for family and friends, has a seat cushion upholstered in ultra-suede that is very durable, and is complete with a cookbook shelf for all my favorite cookbooks.
Cashmere sweaters in winter and little dresses in summer.
My white Goyard tote bag (works for "mom days" and "work days" alike).
Good food: anything my husband cooks, lobster enchiladas from Georgia Grill, cheeses from Star Provisions, chicken salad from Swan Coach House and definitely dessert (the cupcakes and cookies from Le Lapin are irresistible).
My daughter's smile.
What three things make a room fabulous?
Luxurious fabrics such as velvets, mohairs, silks and wool sateens.
Quality, meaningful art.
An unexpected element that catches you by surprise but undoubtedly works in the room.
Who are your mentors or influences as a designer?
I have great respect for Dan Carithers whom I worked for before embarking on my own career. He has an unerring, innate sense of composition and works with color in such a restrained and elegant way. He also mixes formal pieces with more relaxed pieces creating rooms that feel stylish but comfortable and never stuffy. From Dan, I also learned that "God is in the details."
I have also always loved the classically elegant style of Frances Elkins and the chic look of Billy Baldwin.
Susan Dowhower Interiors