Need proof that the South cultivates the country’s best designers? We’ve got it for you. We sat down to chat with three very Southern and very successful, California-based designers: Ruthie Sommers, Suzanne Rheinstein, and Palmer Weiss (We bet you’ve pinned several of their rooms!) to see how their upbringing continues to influence their decorating.
Ruthie Sommers, owner of Ruthie Chapman Sommers Interiors
Southern roots: Born and raised in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Now lives in: Los Angeles with summers in Newport, Rhode Island.
Self-described decorating style: Whatever the clients are asking for, along with some added personality.
What I miss most about the South: Green grass, the seasons, and thank you notes
Best Southern life lesson? Manners have taught me everything –give thanks, make polite conversation with strangers, keep eye contact, and take a general interest in others.
Favorite Southern shop? And George in Charlottesville
Southern decorating essentials: A bar, a porch, and a hammock
Southern design inspirations: Bunny Williams, Miles Redd, and Lady Astor
Every home needs: A family
My best advice for homeowners: Open your front door with bravado when guests enter—nothing trumps confidence and happiness with your own style.
Palmer Weiss, Palmer Weiss Interior Design
Southern roots: Raised in Charleston, South Carolina.
Now lives in: San Francisco, California
My decorating style is: Classic with a colorful, modern pop.
What I miss most about the South? Other than family and friends, it’s the warm humid summer nights, the smell of the salt marsh, and a more relaxed pace of life.
Best Southern life lesson? Homes are meant to be like the people and animals that inhabit them –i.e. not too perfect. A house can be beautiful and elegant, but without any imperfections, it has no character and certainly has never seen any fun!
Favorite Southern shops: The antique stores along and around King Street and Urban Electric. Their finishes are unparalleled in the lighting industry and they are great people to work with!
Southern decorating essentials: At least one family heirloom
Favorite Southern design inspirations? My mom, acclaimed Charleston designer Kathleen Rivers. She has taught me more by 30 plus years of osmosis than any class ever could. Also my grandmother, Mimi; and Albert Hadley.
Every home needs: Original art
Suzanne Rheinstein, designer and owner of Hollyhock
Southern roots: Born and raised in New Orleans.
Now lives in: The same original home in Los Angeles we’ve had for 32 years and also an apartment in New York for visiting grandchildren.
My decorating style is: Classically serene
What I miss most about the South: The food and the whacky sense of humor!
Favorite Southern shops: Wandering up New Orleans’ Magazine Street with stops at Gerrie Bremmermann’s shop, the Uptowner, Mac Maison, Ann Koerner, and Karla Katz. Break for lunch at Lilette for the cold corn soup with lump crab meat and avocado.
Favorite Southern design inspirations: Nancy Lancaster, Albert Hadley and living, Bunny Williams, Gerrie Bremmerman, and the writer Julia Reed.
Every home needs: Laughter
My best advice for homeowners: Buy fewer things, but better things!