Interior Designer Spotlight with Susan Zises Green
Susan Zises Green Interior Design: Manhattan, Nantucket, Connecticut, Palm Beach, Southhampton
For almost 40 years Susan Zises Green has been delighting clients with her elegant taste for interior design. Susan has taken part in the Kips Bay Decorator Show House an amazing nine times, honored as one of House Beautiful America’s Top 100 Designers and has been featured in Architectural Digest, House Beautiful, Traditional Home, The New York Times, Connecticut Cottages & Gardens and many others. The prestigious Franklin Report gives Susan a four star rating and quotes these three client comments and more: “Such a refined and elegant look, but amazingly comfortable and inviting.” “I can always look to her for solid, tasteful design.” “Susan is impervious to fashion, much to our delight.”
Join me as Susan shares her thoughts around client expectations, types of designer rugs she uses, her use of florals, how gardening helps her interior design and much more…
Do You See Anything Changing in The Industry?
“Yes—everything changes. Change is the nature of nature. The D&D buildings were always closed to the public and in some places they are now open to the public. I’m seeing that clients now have different expectations. When I started out it was a very rarefied world. People were willing to wait for custom furniture, custom trims and custom printed fabrics. People wanted everything to be very specialized. Today, most people don’t have the patience or the inclination to wait. They want it all immediately. I say that I’m fortunate because I do have clients who are willing to wait for beautiful things. To me, that’s part of the joy of decorating—to have something unusual that’s custom made for the client.”
What Types of Designer Rugs Do You Like to Use?
“I generally like to use very flat rugs and I have a lot of rugs custom woven for me. I don’t really go to the D&D building because I like to use things I don’t see all the time. I’ll generally show the client a sample of rugs and we can tweak the styles. I’m doing a house in Palm Beach right now and two-thirds of the rugs are custom woven with wool. I went to India two years ago and went into the Hinterlands to visit the rug factories and found a lot of rugs. It was terrifying since I was so far out of the way and no one knew where I was. I did get some fabulous rugs!”
What Design Trends Are You Trying to Avoid?
“I have never ever followed a trend. If everyone is using lavender for a color—I’m never using it. I was like that as a child. Everyone was walking to the right and I was walking to the left.”
Are Florals Trending Right Now?
“They have always been here. I used to love what Sister Parish and Mario Buatta were doing with beautiful chintz fabrics. I was on the band wagon, but then over a period of years I personally used less and less. I found as I got older, I wanted to keep things simpler. However, I certainly still use chintz fabrics for my clients.”
Photo from Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club Archive
What Do You Get Out of Doing the Kips Bay Decorator Show House?
“It’s wonderful! It’s like the Academy Awards of decorating—so much fun. I personally get tremendous satisfaction since I’m doing a room that reflects me. I love the camaraderie of the show, working with the other decorators and the anticipation of opening night. I should probably write a book on decorator show houses. I have so many wonderful stories. There’s always a designer who gets stuck at the last minute and everyone is pulling together to help them. I’m sitting here smiling ear-to-ear thinking back to all the show houses and how we’ve helped each other over the years. It’s wonderful to help a terrific charity and all the children.”
Why Do You Have a Passion for Antiques?
“I do love antiques. I like connecting the past with the present and bringing personality to a room. A lot of my passion for antiques came from my mother who loves beautiful things. I’ve always loved brown furniture, Italian painted furniture, Swedish furniture and American antiques. I use a lot of antiques with contemporary furniture. I feel that I’m very diverse in my designs and furniture selections. Most of the things I’m drawn to are items that tell a story and have a sense of whimsy about them. I know a lot of designers and decorators that don’t use antiques anymore, and a lot of young people don’t like them or don’t understand them. I’ve come to the conclusion that when they are their parents age they will revert to antiques. Everyone turns into their mother as I like to say.”
Do You Still Go to The Brimfield Antique Flea Market?
“I used to go all the time but I haven’t been in awhile. I find that the older I get the busier I get. It’s supposed to be the opposite! I just don’t have the time for these passions that I enjoy. I do go to local flea markets and always go to auctions on Nantucket. I still have friends that go to Brimfield and I hope to go back.”
How Does Gardening Help Your Interior Design Projects?
“I have always thought that gardening and decorating are very related. In fact this morning at the Nantucket Garden Club I introduced Page Dickey, who is a very well-known garden writer, designer and long time friend of mine. A small group of us had lunch afterwards and we were talking about this subject. For me, gardens are an extension of one’s home and life. You bring your home out to your garden and you bring your garden back into your home. I spend my summers on Nantucket and just about every morning at 5:30 a.m. I sit in my garden with some coffee. The sun is up and I listen to the birds and look at my flowers, shrubberies and trees. It gives me a tremendous sense of peace and well-being. And back in the home I have cut flowers and green plants. It makes me feel fresh and alive.”
What’s Unique About Interior Designing on Nantucket?
“Just being here. It’s very inspiring and the people are really nice. Everyone on Nantucket is looking to relax and there’s less stress here. My clients on the island are very appreciative of my work. Although I could say that across the board about the people I have worked with. I’ve been very blessed to have wonderful and loyal clients. I have numerous clients who I’ve worked with for over 30 years.”
What’s Your Favorite Style of Interior Design?
“Style for myself is always changing. I travel a lot and get inspired by everything around me. I always bring back ideas from my travels. Style is never stagnant and it grows. I don’t have a favorite style. I feel that my style is varied and not cookie cutter. My work is not easily identifiable and is often a reflection of my clients. People come to me because they want something stylish and comfortable that reflects them and not me. I love doing it for them.”
Have You Ever Met Interior Designer, Jamie Drake?
“I have known Jamie a very long time. Jamie is one of the nicest and kindest people I know. On Nantucket I’m involved in a designer panel for the Nantucket Historical Association Antique Show. For the last five years I’ve been inviting designers to be on the panel and I’m the moderator. One year I invited Jamie and he just had some dental work done. Most people would have canceled, but he arrived with a swollen jaw. He said he didn’t want to let me down. So I love Jamie Drake—he’s one of the finest human beings!”
Is There Anything Left on Your Interior Design Bucket List?
“I would say my bucket is very small. I have seen a lot and done a lot. I would like to decorate something in Italy! I love the Italian sensibility. There’s always something to strive for in interior design and I’ll know it when I see it.”
For more on Susan Zises Green, visit http://susanzisesgreen.com.