Pretty in Pinks
Written By Andrea Glinn | Photos by Nate Sheets
Interior designer Mark Sudermann updates an art collector’s Irish Georgian home from bold sunset colors to sunrise pastels.
ome say you can tell a good team by their “burstiness,” or ability to interrupt each other and share creative ideas. Interior designer Mark Sudermann and his client Grace Thompson are both too polite to interrupt, but while discussing her recently completed home renovation, their natural rapport and happy chatter indicate a comfortable collaboration.
It took Grace several tries to find the right designer for the job until she and her husband, Jeff, walked into Mark’s shop, SID & Company in the antique district at 45th and State Line Road. While shopping there, Grace talked with Mark about their ongoing kitchen renovation, which was overwhelming her with all of the decision-making and project management. Demolition was complete and Grace’s brother, an architect, had drawn a floor plan—but more design help was needed.
“Mark sat down with us that day and sketched a few things. It was a miracle . . . I hired him on the spot,” Grace recalls. In the five years since, the Thompsons have worked with Mark on two different phases of renovations and are already dreaming of what phase three will entail.
Grace is a self-proclaimed Southern girl (“once a Texan always a Texan”) who loves color, fine art and France. The Thompsons’ home has a feminine flair and is filled with patterns, antiques and paintings. While Mark says Grace’s love of color is what made this project fun, it needed discipline.
“There were a lot of oranges and terra cottas—it was beautiful—but we wanted a bit of a change,” Grace says, “and now you see the color so much more because of the nice, neutral background.”
In the primary bedroom, for instance, the walls and trim are white, so the raspberry-colored drapery, minty-green area rug and table lamps, and lavender velvet swivel chair provide cheerful accents without drowning the space in color. And while Mark is certainly not a minimalist, he claims, “I’m not a maximalist; I like to edit. It’s a little bit of Coco Chanel—get dressed and then take one piece off.”
While the editing may sometimes occur together as a team, other times Mark is working behind the scenes, perhaps looking at dozens of chairs before he finds the three or four that he presents to a client.
“I’m here to shrink your universe,” Mark says.
Each year, Mark visits the High Point Market to scout out quality design, test-sit chairs and sofas, and find lines to sell in his retail shop. All this furniture research, coupled with his decades of residential interior design experience, makes him an expert with scale and proportion, which is where an amateur or do-it-yourselfer often makes mistakes.
One of Grace’s top priorities for the primary bedroom remodel was to add a place to sit. By changing the orientation of the bed and getting a smaller bed frame, Mark was able to add a small seating area at the foot of the bed. Grace hadn’t thought it was possible, but with appropriately scaled furniture, it not only works but has become a favorite sitting spot in the home.
The sofa in the seating area is one that Mark carries in his shop. “It is hard to specify a sofa sight unseen; a lot of clients want to sit in it,” Mark says. For that reason, the shop has four or five sofas that have the same skeleton but can be customized—overall length, seat depth, seat height, arms, back and cushion firmness. They are made to order and tailored for the application.
Using properly sized furniture is fundamental in making spaces work functionally, but giving spaces personality is an entirely different skill. Mark loves incorporating the client’s personal artifacts to enrich the design. His process often involves looking at the client’s existing furniture, artwork and accessories and organizing them into the ABC piles.
“The A has to stay, the B can be somewhere, and the C can go to the dumpster,” Mark explains.
While Mark’s shop sells all things home décor, he really doesn’t touch fine art. He typically refers new collectors to a local art gallery to get started, but Grace’s art collection has been acquired gradually, often while traveling, over many years. Her personally curated collection imbues the space with additional layers of her character: feminine, colorful and refined. Her living room features a large Tom Corbin painting that she describes as “Twin Peaks meets the Sound of Music.” “It’s a little weird, but I like it,” she says with a smile.
Want one piece of advice from this team? Whether buying fine art, furniture or antiques, avoid trends and buy what speaks to you. “Good design has longevity and therefore more value. If you think it’s beautiful, you’re going to love it for a long time,” Mark says.
“If you buy what you truly love, it always finds a home,” Grace concludes. And what better place to invest in than your home, the place you go to recharge, spend time with loved ones, and entertain your family and friends?
I’m not a maximalist; I like to edit. It’s a little bit of Coco Chanel—get dressed and then take one piece off.” ~ Mark Sudermann, interior designer
Interior Design: M. Sudermann Interior Design
Antiques: Christopher Filley
Antiques Rugs: Aladdin Rugs; Knotty Rug
Tile: International Materials of Design