Rooms to Remember: The Classic Interiors of Suzanne Tucker

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2009-09-29
  • Publisher: Random House Inc
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In the work of interior designer Suzanne Tucker, art and artifact collections are displayed to best advantage for daily enjoyment by their owners, custom-mixed wall colors are set off by richly sensual textiles and forms, and inherited pieces are blended with newly found treasures to bestow a subtle aura of age and permanence. She uses her extensive knowledge of antiques and the decorative arts to create finely detailed, inviting rooms that perfectly complement both their architectural setting and their owners' personality. Always looking to the "bones" of a structure first, Tucker works from the outside in to ensure that a house remains true to the conventions of its style while its functions suit a contemporary lifestyle and sensibility. Superb interior architecture, delicate finishes, and fine furnishings are introduced and layered to form spaces that are balanced, fluid, and comfortable, whether in historically significant properties or modern wine country estates. She brings her perceptive ability to create truly unique, tailored spacesamassed over years as the protege of the legendary Michael Taylor as well as from her own extensive travels and twenty-three years as a principal of her firmto each project. She maintains that even the most exquisite pieces of furniture and art can, and should, be arranged throughout a space in an accessible way to serve the needs of the people who inhabit it. This lavishly illustrated presentation showcases Tucker's diverse and site-specific styles in twenty projects, ranging from formal Mediterranean-style villas to sophisticated city apartments and airy Napa Valley retreats to rustic mountainside houses. Personal, engaging commentary reveals her spirited nature, many sources of inspiration, creative process, and valuable tips that can be applied to interiors of any age, style, or mood.

Author Biography

Suzanne Tucker is a principal of the award-winning San Francisco interior design firm Tucker & Marks. Architectural Digest named her to its AD100 list of top designers in 2007, and she was pronounced “The Best of the Best in Interior Design” by the Robb Report in 2003. Her work is featured regularly in House Beautiful, Town & Country, Traditional Home, and other leading design magazines. She is an expert on antiques and the decorative arts and frequently lectures on both.


From: Chapter I: Bones and Architecture

I define architecture as both form and structural embellishment in a particular style. It can be traditional or contemporary, new or old, French, English, Spanish, Italian, Shingle, or Shaker, but the architecture always drives the design direction for me. I am comfortable working with any style, and am always an advocate for the architect and for having an architect create a house that will be true to a style's traditions.

I invariably encourage clients to take the time to “get the bones right.” When I speak of “bones,” I am referring to the actual structure, the underlying configuration and shape of spaces and their placement in a house. When I walk through a house or read a new set of plans, I look for those bones, the skeletal strengths and weaknesses. And I look at the bones first, because for me, bones define potential.

I admit that I'm slightly obsessed with floor plans, and I love studying old plans from historic buildings. Floor plans reveal the inherent gracefulness of a house as well as the problems and possibilities of each space: where traffic flows and stops, whether moving a particular wall or widening a specific doorway will improve the quality of the space for the people living in it. I think about how to accentuate the positives and eliminate or diminish the negatives. Do the existing proportions work? Will altering structural elements such as walls or doorways improve the flow of the room? The house? People often think it's easier to remodel than to start from scratch, but remodeling frequently entails stricter challenges and tighter boundaries: in a sixteenth-floor apartment for example, the exterior walls are usually not negotiable. In contrast, it is often easy to get carried away with the seemingly limitless possibilities presented by building a new house-bigger is not necessarily better.

Floor plans must suit both the architecture of the house and the people who inhabit it. Planning with function in mind is essential to create a balanced, fluid, harmonious, and comfortable house. While aesthetic and stylistic considerations are important, function must come first, in every space. Years ago I was working on a house where the master bedroom had multiple windows and doors on all four walls. All those windows were lovely, but with so many punctures in the wall planes, placing furniture became a challenge. A simple action resolved the problem: a large single window centered on the longest wall was removed, creating a landing spot for the bed. It was replaced with two new flanking windows, which maintained the room's architectural balance and still satisfied the client's desire for several exposures.

Once structural bones are set, I turn to architectural details. Does the style suggest clean, contemporary lines, with simple moldings or no moldings at all? Are the corners sharp or eased? Does the residence contain any elements of architectural or historical significance that should be preserved or enhanced? If so, I'll campaign to keep them. I once worked on a San Francisco apartment with original interiors designed by Julia Morgan. It was suggested that smoothing over Morgan's plaster tracery ceiling would make necessary electrical work easier and cheaper. Horrified by the idea, I simply had to say no—with no further discussion allowed. The ceiling won! Good bones should always be preserved, and they will ensure that architecture remains distinctive, original, and appropriate.

Excerpted from Rooms to Remember: The Classic Interiors of Suzanne Tucker by Suzanne Tucker
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