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Susanna Salk: At Home with Dogs and Their Designers

If there’s one word that best describes design expert Susanna Salk and her work, it’s soulful. Everything she does is personal and poetic, from her storied interiors to her thoughtful Facebook posts. (Yes, she can even bring deep meaning to social media — no small feat!) True to form, her latest book — At Home with Dogs and Their Designers — is more than a glossy tome of designer photos. It’s a love letter to a home’s most important inhabitants: the dogs. In her own words, “Designers know how important it is for rooms to have soul, and dogs are the surest way to provide that.”

Previous books, including Room for Children and It’s the Little Things have touched on the joy of living a full (and sometimes messy) life, and this book takes that idea to a new level. Salk explains:

“The most memorable rooms aren’t about perfection. They’re about a reflection of somebody’s life, and if we are lucky enough to have dogs and children in our life, then we need to make room for them alongside ourselves — not relegate them to corners.”

Of course, the designers in the book aren’t short on style. Jonathan Adler and Simon Doonan gladly let their mutt, FoxyLady, hop up on their vintage gold Pedro Friedeberg chairs. In Martyn Lawrence Bullard’s home, his Wheaten terrier Daisy uses a Mansour Berber rug as a scratching pad. The occasional ruined piece is the price you pay for true affection. As Susanna notes, “It’s hard to stay mad when you love something so much.”

Jonathan Adler with his dog, FoxyLady. Photo: Stacey Bewkes/Courtesy of Rizzoli.

Salk owns three dogs, all rescues. She took in Mollie, a pointer-boxer, when an adoption photo caused love-at-first-sight. Cheddar, a terrier, was discovered through Save a Pet. Tink, a Chihuahua-Jack-Russel mix, was being dropped off with her foster mother at Salk’s local florist and nursery. “I happened to walk in while Tink was shaking and wagging her tail. I said, ‘If no one wants her I’ll have her!”

Martyn Lawrence Bullard’s Wheaten terrier, Daisy, in the guest room. Photo: Stacey Bewkes/Courtesy of Rizzoli.

Like any dog owner, Salk’s experienced her fair share of sacrifices, including a fantastic shearling-lined clog.

“I loved it more than I should and, of course, when Cheddar — who was then a new rescue and anxious when I was gone — would chew on things. I was in New York City and, all of sudden, had this very specific feeling that at that very moment Cheddar was probably chewing my brand-new beloved clog. I was right, and you know what? I haven’t really thought about that silly clog since, but I can’t even count the number of wonderful times I’ve had with my dog.”

A bowl of leashes in Betsy Burnham’s Los Angeles home. Photo: Stacey Bewkes/Courtesy of Rizzoli.

In addition to photos of cute dogs and gorgeous rooms, the book provides practical tips on living stylishly with dogs. Betsy Burnham keeps her dogs’ leashes in beautiful bowls and their toys in shallow baskets. Robert Couturier (who wrote the forward) gives each of his dogs their own chair. Salk notes:

“I love Carolyn Roehm’s tip about buying extra fabric for your upholstery projects. Use that same fabric as a cover for your dogs, and then just dry-clean it when it gets dirty.”

Decorating with dogs can also mean showing your love through accessories and artwork. Salk says, “I adore Foo Dogs, and old oil paintings of dogs.”

Thor, PAGODA RED’s unofficial mascot.

At PAGODA RED, Michael Keeley’s dog Thor is our unofficial mascot. He’s a very spoiled Shitzu who lounges around the gallery most days. We jumped at the chance to include him in this post because we love him so much. That kind of love comes through every page of Susanna’s charming book. She says, “All the designers said yes to me after about five minutes of my asking them to participate, because they were so excited to celebrate their love for their dogs.”

All images (except the last) from At Home with Dogs and Their Designers: Sharing a Stylish Life, courtesy of Rizzoli Books.




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