Elan, flair, panache: Whatever you choose to call it, Susan Currie’s home has it. The local interior designer and principal of her eponymous firm, Susan Currie Design, has a passion for color that shines through all of her projects. Symmetry, which she also finds appealing, is another piece of a larger puzzle that she says includes mixing scale, pattern, texture and balance to create a harmonious room. Indeed, all of these aspects can be found in her 2,030-square-foot Uptown home.
Currie, who is originally from Hattiesburg, Mississippi, started her career in TV news. It was a job in broadcast journalism at WDSU that brought her to New Orleans in 1985. However, she decided to pursue her passion — architecture and interiors — by returning to school and earning an interior design degree in 2009. “As a little girl, I was intrigued by beautiful homes and remember going to my Grandma Floy’s house where she had a place for everything,” Currie says. “This fascination with design continued and is part of what drew me to New Orleans. You can’t beat our historic buildings and neighborhoods.” Currie also lived in Atlanta for part of her design career, and she was invited to serve on the ASID Georgia Board. She became entrenched in the design community there, which led to learning more about classical architecture.
It was during the 2008 recession, when Currie was in Atlanta, that she decided to open her own firm. Over the years, she has created spaces that are both interesting and welcoming — all while being fairly minimal and unfussy. She describes her aesthetic as transitional, meaning that she likes to use furnishings with traditional shapes but with cleaner, simplified lines. “With a little less trim and intricacy, we can create a fresher, more updated look,” she says. “I’m also a huge fan of color, and I have no qualms about suggesting a teal sofa or chartreuse draperies.”
Currie specializes in renovations, particularly bathrooms and kitchens. She believes it is important to ensure the underlying structure is in good shape before adding new finishes and design elements. So when she purchased her 1,830-square-foot bungalow near Audubon Park in February 2013, she knew she wanted to make some architectural changes. “When I first moved in, the big challenge was converting the precarious Lapeyre stair into a more gracious stairwell from the living room,” Currie says. “It wasn’t an easy task, but I made sure that we could build something that would meet the building code before even putting an offer down on the house.” Currie and her architect, Brian Gille, designed a custom iron-stair banister with the handrail terminating in a graceful volute.
She later renovated the upstairs and bathrooms in 2014, and she began a 200-square-foot addition in the fall of 2018 that she completed last year. “With my love of cooking and entertaining, it became clear that expanding the kitchen and family room to open onto my patio would really enhance my use of the space,” she says. “Brian Gille and I thought through several schemes that included a screened-in porch. Ultimately, our hot and humid climate was the key factor in deciding that more interior living space was the way to go. And we made an effort to keep the addition architecturally [similar to] the rest of the house, which is almost 90 years old. I wanted a modern space, but I also wanted it to feel like it belonged.” The resultant 2,030-square-foot home houses two bedrooms, three bathrooms and a sizable office.
When it came to the interior design, Currie once again turned to her love of color for inspiration. For example, her living room is awash in hues from the entire color wheel thanks to a salon-style wall of art (atop a fabulous Venetian plaster finish) that combines Currie’s collection of abstract, still life and portraiture art with architectural fragments, small sculptures and family heirloom pieces. Originally belonging to her grandmother, the 1940s-era sofa was once tufted with tapestry fabric. After several reincarnations, it now features rose pink linen velvet from Stroheim with fan-pleated arms and nailhead details above the carved wood base. The subtle-yet-colorful rug from Moattar helps soften the space, while the light fixture from Luxe Light and Home transforms the room with its curvaceous branches and organically shaped, blown opalescent-glass shades.
Currie also appreciates nature and architecture, and these interests are expressed throughout her home. Take the family room, which sparks joy with pops of teal and lime green. The floral-patterned wallpaper by Thibaut creates a nature-inspired backdrop, and it informed the design of the entire room. “From there, I worked on the transition from this room to the dining and living rooms,” Currie says. “Cerulean blue links the spaces together and creates a sense of consistency as you move through the house. The fabrics that we selected for the dining room introduced several other blues, allowing me to add the Jim Thompson raindrop-printed grasscloth wallpaper, which I think adds a lot of interest.”
Meanwhile, Currie wanted to design a modernized “forever kitchen” that was architecturally in keeping with the rest of her home. As a result, she chose a neutral palette of soft white with warm undertones and a contrasting taupe finish for the island; ephemeral inset doors and drawer fronts; and plumbing fixtures from Brizo complemented by satin brass hardware from Schaub & Company. She added luxury appliances, including a Sub-Zero Wolf refrigerator, dual-fuel range and warming drawer; U-Line Wine Captain cooler; and an ASKO dishwasher. To complete the space — while adding movement and sparkle — she opted for Taj Mahal quartzite for the countertops. Finally, Currie added subtle pattern and texture to the space with custom-glazed Pratt & Larson backsplash tile.
The biggest challenge that Currie faced when designing her home was making sure her contractors were available to her clients first and foremost. While it caused some delays on her own home, she was even more thankful once it was completed. “For me, the house is perfect,” Currie says. “It’s always my goal to create timeless designs that won’t look dated down the road.”