September 5, 2009

Home and Garden tour with Suzy Stout

Our dear friend Suzy Stout graciously said "yes" when asked if we could interview her for my blog. Excitedly Sarah and I went for an afternoon, of "oohing and aahhhing", lunch, and girl talk with Suzy at her stunning home. For such an accomplished woman I love her warmth, humility and ease to be with.

I can hands-down state this is my favorite newly constructed home. As a renown local designer, Suzy brought her concept to architect Michael Graham of 'Liederbach and Graham' of Chicago to collaborate. Visit the firm here.

Sit back, put your feet up, wine perhaps? And enjoy............................

Here is an overall photograph of Sam and Suzy Stout's home and grounds just upon completion.

Now, years later you will notice her personal flair.

There is so much to see, let's start upon entering the courtyard.
A pea-gravel drive subtly announces your approach as your are transported to "Provence".

Entering the courtyard is sublime, an oasis of charm. Here we are looking back to the archway we just entered.

Detail of the three dimensional metal horse head from Europe. I have been seeking one for my barn for 6 years now. Love the effect, have not loved the pricing I encountered.

Turning clockwise these are the "stables". Historically one can find such "attachments" in Europe
where the stables are now emptied of animals, and turned into additional living quarters, seamlessly blending into the homes architecture. Suzy made it appear as though this was once the case.

Together let's hone in on the details

  • historically accurate landscaping. notice the lack of foundation plantings but masses of short undulating plantings spilling into the walk-way
  • the use of many natural materials; stone out-cropping step to the doors, reclaimed doors, local limestone, wood shingle roof and pea-gravel
  • limited color palette. Predominately natural colorways with shocks of turquoise and pink and touches of white.
  • appropriately sized outdoor lanterns, meaning over-sized! Most homes' outdoor lanterns are much too small. Detailed posting on that topic in the future.
  • garden seating that greets you upon arrival. This sets a relaxed tone from the onset. All patio furniture need not be relegated to the deck or rear patio

Design talk

5th; What are your greatest challenges as a designer?

Suzy: Educating my clients. I want them to see and understand the difference between "good", "better", "best". If fully educated, they can make the ri
ght selection for them, with guidance.

5th: I love that approach, too many designers dictate what the client MUST have. You personalize and engage your clients.

5th; Where does your inspiration come from?

Suzy: My Mother, she was an informal designer and my Grandmother was a frequent audience member at auctions. My sister Sally Weaver is a professional artist. Also as a child I would go to the mart with my Mother and became very comfortable in that environment.

5th: Describe your style.

Suzy: Eclectic, American, European, flea market, whimsy, and off-center.

Historical elements continue. Suzy mentioned that her architect insisted that all 'board and batten' materials were to have the marks of a circular saw as was practice in earlier periods. What textural interest and contrast! This man is a genius...................

Another long trend in shutters that makes me crazy, CRAZY!, is the metal or plastic shutters that are attached alongside the window trim and lay flat. Suzy designed the perfect shutter.
  • could open and close for use. we might not, but the look is good!
  • The hinges are not just decorative but functional, LOVE the little finger hook to pull the shutters towands you
  • the use of 'shutter dogs'. Those are the 'S' shaped bit, at the bottom of the shutter that turns to release the shutter or turns to firmly set in place

Let's press the bell and enter!

Upon entering into the great hall your eyes do not know where to land, the ceiling and the chandeliers, large center table, views into the adjacent rooms and oh my, the floors!

A charming detail; the house was built without a dining room. You remember a dining room! The space that gets used maybe 4 times a year. When Sam and Suzy entertain the large round center table opens up into a large oval, candles are lit, music set and voila! An interesting dining space.

This is an imported limestone. What is historically correct is the size. Typically today, the squares are much smaller. Suzy herself spent one week chipping the edges for a look worn via centuries.

From the foyer looking into the living room from the great hall

Living room to the left

Note; All of this flooring is pine. Reclaimed from an old farmhouse in Connecticut.

Living room to the right

Remember from the courtyard i suggested you view the exterior of the "stables", this is the interior. Sam's office and an extra guest bedroom inhabits in this space.

Up close

A charming vignette in the family room

Family room.

Wonderful space for entertaining with the layout for conversation and dining that looks at, and spills out into the gardens. The kitchen is also open and flows together. Notice the tiles, old fired clay from France.


Kitchen detail..............knobs are vintage french. Porcelain numbers came from hotel doors in Paris.

The piece i covet. A vintage steer holds court on the island. Possible origins a 'bouchere' en France. Appears to be a composite of plaster and concrete. Isn't he divine!

Suzy and Sam's master bedroom

Heading to the garden, let's exit via the courtyard where the lambs stand sentinel.

Wrapping around towards the rear garden we pass through a lovely transition. Up close to the house is a profusion of roses and hybrid perennials to perfect cottage effect. The grounds on the outlying boundaries are prairie grasses and prairie perennials. The grass walkway slices through defining the separation.

The rear garden is artfully arranged around a spatial pond, a mecca for assorted animals, amphibians and birds

Whimsy abounds............

Decorative touches are surprises as corners are rounded, all in perfect proportion

Lunch greeted us in the garden, tucked under a weeping willow and near the pond. Elements of Monets' garden crept into my soul.

chicken salad over greens with the best salad dressing ever! Now I am on a hunt to find 'Maple Farms of Vermont', Wasabi calories or fat!
cantaloupe wedges
grilled bread
dessert was a fruit crumble from Suzy's orchard, oh yes, there is a mini orchard!

Thank you Dear Suzy! xxo

note; for further photographs, professionally, I might add............see the October 2004 issue of Traditional Home magazine here.

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