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Publication Date: 2011-09-30


Q&A with Suzanne Rheinstein

Influenced by the distinctive architecture and aesthetics of her native New Orleans from an early age, Los Angeles-based interior designer Suzanne Rheinstein has made a career creating stylish and comfortable spaces.


Suzanne Rheinstein's carefully curated Los Angeles store Hollyhock is a much-loved destination for those seeking fine antiques and home décor. She’s the first to admit that her look has evolved over the years, but its core components have not changed. “I’ve never been one to move from style to style,” she says. “The one constant has always been my love for everything neoclassical, no matter what country it’s from.”

Your work seems to be grounded in tradition, always sophisticated but never staid. How do you strike that balance?

I care deeply about tradition and I adore history. Growing up in New Orleans I absorbed the local architecture, from cottages to marvelous neoclassical buildings to depilated churches. To me, architecture is the literature of how people live. Proportions and the layout of a room are very important, but I like objects that are not too serious. I feel that imperfection, that is to say, things that are not too grand or a little wonky, lend comfort to a room. Comfort is key. In my book comfort equals luxury.

What are some favorite Dering Hall pieces?

The upholstered pieces are among my favorites. They are tried and true. The June Street Chair is based on a chair that I bought at an estate sale on June Street in my neighborhood. I was newly married when I bought it and it has been upholstered many, many times. I love that good classic pieces can always be updated through changing the fabric.

What details brings a room to life?

Personal collections that have a soul and reflect those who live in the space. Especially art, you can tell a lot about people by the art they love or collect.

I know that gardens are very much your passion, what lessons have you learned from gardening that also apply to design?

I think structure and good bones are the most important things in gardening. Once you have those two elements in place you then have a lot of leeway. Nancy Lancaster took my thoughts and put them into words. She said that you must first have a plan and good bones. Then you can add things that you love—it’s the same with interior design.

I love your acrylic tables, especially the fanciful Hollyhock Chinoiserie Acrylic Coffee Table. Do you think there are particular styles that best suit this table?

Thank you. I designed it myself to compliment any and all styles. I love it with period pieces as it makes a more traditional room look light-hearted. I commissioned some very talented artisans to craft my acrylic tables. They are made right here in southern California. I think it is so important to support the community and to offer an alternative to mass market.

Is there a story behind the Hollyhock Sister Parish Chair?

I bought one of Sister Parish’s chairs at an estate sale from a dealer friend. The chair I purchased was originally upholstered in a candy pink and white cotton plaid and ruffled around the bottom. This particular chair, though small, is ultra comfortable. It is the perfect reading chair with a pitch that cradles the back.

You’ve quoted your friend William Yeoward as saying, “All design is an opinion and this happens to be mine.” What would you say is the essence of your style?

Comfortable, calm, and collected. My style has evolved, but it has not changed. I have always loved the same beautiful pieces of furniture and periods. My color choices are now more nuanced and my rooms are a bit more sparse than early on in my life, but I am still drawn to beauty. I believe that it’s important to invest time in learning about quality and to live with the things that you love.

Profile by Ronda Carman


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