Suzanne Duin is the founder and interior designer behind Maison Maison, a jewel box of a shop located in the heart of Houston’s River Oaks District. Established in 1997, Maison Maison is known for authentic French antiques and home accessories, handpicked from across the globe by Suzanne herself. Part shop-part full service design firm, Maison Maison is a lifestyle destination, not just a design shop
Suzanne’s love of design began at an early age, watching her interior designer mother work with clients and create inviting interiors. She studied both Art History and Interior Design at the University of Texas at Austin. Suzanne spent her young adulthood living part-time in and around Europe, where she fell in love with the museums, the food, the people, and, ultimately, the antiques – a passion she still holds today.
Suzanne also has a passion for historic preservation. A recent article tells the story of the charming historic cottage that houses Maison Maison. It is one of seven cottages that were set for demolition, but were saved and relocated to an underutilized block now known as the Cottages at Matt Camron. Suzanne is also in the process of restoring a stunning historic Houston home by architect Birdsall Briscoe which we will tour momentarily. But first, let’s get to know Suzanne with a Q&A!
Q: When did you know you wanted to pursue a career in interior design?
A: I suppose that I always knew that I wanted to pursue interior design and having a mother who was also a successful interior designer I am sure helped! I thought her work was pretty cool and knew that I would enjoy pursuing the same career!
Q: What are some style/design elements that you think are distinct or signature to your decorating style?
A: My style would definitely be described as ‘Grand Tour’ in influence as I have traveled all my life all over the world and those travels influence my work. I also find that my clients enjoy displaying their treasured memories of past travels as well. The introduction of other cultures brings so much more interest to a space I find.
Q: Please tell us about the beautiful historic home you are restoring. What draws you to old homes?
A: We are restoring the last commission of Birdsall Briscoe and this is my second home of his design to own! This one is called Legend and the previous owners were quite the legendary women for sure and certainly big shoes to fill but I will try! The style of the home would be classified as a country home in the Southern Colonial influence and it has the most wonderful curb appeal with a big wrapping veranda that I just love!
Q: Where do you enjoy sourcing antiques and art?
A: I have been sourcing antiques in France since 1996 when I started my shop and importing containers from there. I mostly bought in the South as the Italians and Spanish dealers could be found also at the fairs. As well Stateside, I have bought in Brimfield in Massachusetts. And I love a good auction whether on line or in person.
Q: What are some of the most popular items in your shop currently, and what changes in the industry have you seen post-Covid?
A: Well you can always find our woven and fabric lampshades as well as antiques and our antique textile collection of pillows. Our shop is where designers come for the ‘finishing touches’! As to changes since Covid, we have had logistics issues to be sure in getting our product in as well as delays in the labor force which makes it tough to deliver in a timely manner to our clients! And I think that all of our suppliers are suffering with getting and keeping good help.
Q: What are your goals for Maison Maison over the next five years?
A: To grow our woven line of product to include tabletop and bath accessories as well as new introductions of designs to our lampshade collections. We have a new lighting collaboration coming out next year and we hope to do more collaborations in the future!
Q: What do you consider the most exciting part of your work, and how do you stay energized on a project?
A: That is easy! The thrill of the hunt for just the right piece and the fun I have in finding it! Again it is about travel and my passport is always ready for another stamp!
Q: What is one fail-safe design element that every room should have?
A: A beautiful carpet and preferably Persian. That and comfortable upholstery!
Q: Have you ever had a decorating disaster that you can laugh about now?
A: Well fortunately I learned early from my mistakes so there are not many! But one that taught me to never send upholstery fabric directly to the upholsterer without getting a cutting of the fabric sent to my office first was a big shock! When my client called and asked if I had changed the color of the sofa fabric without telling her??? Upon arrival for inspection I found a different colorway than the one I specified and had to ‘eat’ the cost and replace not only the fabric yardage but the labor to upholster again!! Ouch!
Q: What advice do you have for women thinking of launching their own business?
A: Get a good business/financial adviser to help you set up your success and not failure! I think too many good ideas are killed with bad management of funds and employees.
Thank you, Suzanne, for joining us today! We love your shop and cannot wait to see more of your stunning home renovation! For a tour of Suzanne’s home in progress, please enjoy the video below… and make sure to subscribe to The Glam Pad’s new YouTube channel! For additional information, please visit Maison Maison and follow @maisonmaisondesign on Instagram for ongoing inspiration.