For over 35 years, Susan Zises Green has created sophisticated, classic, and timeless interiors for her clients in locations including Manhattan, The Hamptons, Connecticut, Palm Beach, and Nantucket. Susan loves using antiques and traditional resources along with the contemporary to create beautiful and comfortable interiors. She appreciates the significance of decorating with personal pieces, and encourages her clients to integrate their own treasured possessions into their interiors.
Susan attended The New York School of Interior Design and is now a trustee of the school. She loves sharing her passion for interior design by lecturing at auction houses, museums and design centers in the U.S. She has participated nine times in the prestigious Kips Bay Boys & Girls Club Decorator Show House, and she was an original panelist, and subsequent moderator of the Designer Panel for the Nantucket Historical Association. Most recently a project in Palm Beach Florida was awarded the prestigious Ballinger Award and she was acknowledged as the Interior Designer on this restoration project. Susan was also recently awarded the Florida Trust for Historic Preservation Award 2017 for her role in this Palm Beach project. Her work has been featured in publications including House Beautiful, Architectural Digest, Traditional Home, Veranda, The New York Times, Connecticut Cottages & Gardens, Home & Garden Nantucket. I am honored to welcome Susan to The Glam Pad for a Q&A!
Q: How did your career in interior design begin?
A: It began when my parents were working with the late decorator David Barrett and I would accompany them on their shopping trips with him. Mr. Barrett thought I had a talent and suggested that I go to decorating school. – I attended the New York School of Interior Design (NYSID) and after that Mr. Barrett offered me a decorating position at his firm. And that is the story of how my career started.
Q: You are known for your sophisticated, classic, and timeless interiors. How do you design a home that will stand the test of time?
A: Yes, my work is known for those qualities and embracing those qualities when decorating is how a home stands the test of time.
Q: Over your 35-year career, what are some of the most notable changes in what your clients have requested? How have tastes/lifestyles evolved?
A: Some people are more involved in the decorating process; years ago it seems the clients gave more latitude to the designer as the business appeared more intimidating to the clients. Now everyone has access to the internet. However on the internet one cannot find a designer’s best sources!
Q: Where do you find inspiration?
A: Nature, the shape of buildings, food, travel are the obvious inspirations. But truly Inspiration is all around us – you just have to open your eyes to see it!
Q: Which interior designers – past or present – have most greatly influenced you, and how?
A: Kevin McNamara and David Barrett – both of these designers did decorating work for my parents … I was quite young and was inspired and influenced by both. Both were geniuses for their time and were decorating stars. And both were extraordinarily helpful in starting my career. And Mr. McNamara taught me how to run a decorating business.
Q: Please tell me about your personal collections – majolica, quilts, antiques – and why you are drawn to handmade goods.
A: I have a whale bone collection as well – handmade things are historic – everything was handmade before the industrial revolution. I have always been drawn to and admired the individual’s talent, the creative process, and the time it takes to make beautiful handmade items. Anyone can have something store bought … but handmade, that’s a treasure!
Q: How do you incorporate your clients’ collections into your designs?
A: Easily! The homes that I design are very personal. Collections are personal, so we easily incorporate client’s collections into our designs. Anything that is personal and meaningful to the client, is to us as well.
Q: Do you have favorite colors, fabrics, prints, linens, types of furniture, etc. that you particularly like use in your interiors?
A: I am not a formula designer. Of course there are some favorite staples that I am drawn to, but I am always looking to expand my horizons! We often have fabrics custom woven and seeing a fabric not used before is always inspiring.
Q: What was your most recent project, and what are you working on now?
A: I have been working on one of the most recognized homes in Palm Beach for the last three years – which was an award-winning restoration for this incredible home. One of my current projects is on Nantucket, where I summer – but it is always a working summer because I always have a decorating project there. What can be better than being in a place that you love and being able to work at the same time!
Q: When you aren’t busy designing, how do you enjoy spending your time?
A: I am always working! But when there is some free time, I do love to travel, and I do love to garden.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
A: I feel blessed to be in a field that after 35 years I am still passionate about. How many people can say that about their jobs? My decorating work has expanded the quality of my life and has opened so many doors. I have had incredible clients, met extraordinary crafts people and feel tremendously fulfilled in my career. In short, I feel very lucky!
Susan, thank you for sharing with us today!
So many of my favorite images from Susan’s portfolio are decades old proving that classic, traditional style stands the test of time. For additional information, please visit Susan Zises Green and follow @susanzisesgreeninc on Instagram for ongoing inspiration. You will also love this beautiful 1939 Georgian-style farmhouse designed by Susan in Connecticut.