Lighten Up the Living Room

Known for her European sensibility, casual elegance, and light and fresh palettes, designer Suzanne Kasler has an approach to the living room that's always both comfortable and beautiful. | Story by Kate Abney

Serene White Living Room
Photo: Laurey W. Glenn

To complement the renovation executed by architects Spitzmiller and Norris at the Atlanta home of empty nesters John and Sue McKinley, designer Suzanne Kasler applied soft and subtle updates. "White is a signature for me," says Suzanne. "I'm all about creating the architectural envelope of a space, and white just brings everything into focus. The eye shouldn't pause for any single object." She offers this advice for achieving her luxe neutral look.

Upgrade the Basics with White
White upholstery is essential if you want to create an overall white look in a space. Suzanne utilized her new fabric line by Lee Jofa on the McKinleys' upholstery and says tailored slipcovers could just as easily work. By the same token, new ivory linen lampshades offer a cohesive, peaceful effect.

Create a Blank Canvas
A white room can serve as a gallery-like showplace for collections and antiques. If you have many like items, such as Sue's framed intaglios, gather them together to read as sophisticated and special. "White sets off the beloved items you've acquired over time, without feeling overdecorated," says Suzanne.

Accent with Varying Hues
Whites don't always need to be as pure as the driven snow. Try a sisal rug in a pale platinum or neutral window panels that pick up a room's wood tones. In this space, Suzanne used a beigy gray paint color between the newly painted white ceiling beams for extra dimension.

For an ethereal update, Suzanne painted every surface in the room (using Benjamin Moore's Linen White on the walls and trim and Bennington Gray on the ceiling). "What you get is this great tonal feel," Suzanne explains. "The eye keeps moving around the room, so the ceiling looks taller and the space seems larger."

Shift Shades Between Rooms
Using white in adjoining areas creates a cohesive effect that doesn't disrupt the quiet visual of a white space. But having the same shade of white in every room could look sterile, so switch up your specific shades according to the lighting of the room and the ambience you wish to create.

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