During a recent design project at a client’s home in Charlotte, S.C., interior designer Susan Taylor used a color palette of coral and chartreuse that, to this day, “makes my heart sing,” she says. Such strong responses to her work have become all too common among an increasingly diverse list of clients, including those spread across the country and even farther afield.
Although her roots are planted firmly in Bucks County soil, Taylor spends much of her time on the road these days. Perhaps best known by her Buckingham/Holicong-based interior-design business, Black-eyed Susan, Taylor has been branching out to other parts of the world to share her inimitable taste and talents on a broader scale.
Taylor embraces what some might call “turnkey” design, which refers to supplying all facets of a project, from start to awe-inspiring finish. She has transferred this love for design to long-distance projects, from the Jersey Shore to overseas destinations. Take, for example, her first long-distance design project, which took her to France. What started as a personal project for her daughter and son-in-law’s new apartment in Paris eventually led to her newfound passion.
“I brought a houseful of accessories with me from my store,” Taylor says, “and we shopped the Paris flea markets and local department stores for rugs, a sofa, chairs, mirrors and books. That’s when I got the bug.”
Shortly after her project in Paris, Taylor began taking on projects across the country. Since then, Black-eyed Susan has completed multiple projects in cities such as New York City; Denver; Charlotte, N.C.; Naples, Fla.; Sullivan’s Island and historic Charleston, S.C.; and, of course, various points down the Jersey Shore. Her 10-year track record of successful long-distance projects, which she says tend to be a “complete design from the ground up,” is only the beginning.
Although there are exceptions, long-distance projects tend to 12 to 18 months of design, vision and management. One past client, when referring to the completed design of her newly renovated home in Charleston, remarked that she “felt like she had walked into a fancy New York City penthouse that was beautiful but still felt warm and like a home,” according to Taylor.
With each project, Taylor and her staff can provide a wide range of services. In addition to complete interior designs, Black-eyed Susan offers paint consultations, accessory calls, custom window treatments, personal shopping, vintage purchasing, custom floral arrangements, home staging and much more. Backed by a team of contractors, projects managers, design assistants and other hard-working staff members, Taylor tackles each job with passion and professionalism. All materials for design projects are exported from her store in Bucks County. Once that task is completed, the process of on-site transformation truly begins.
“My crew goes in on our own for installation when the client is not present,” she explains. “We work feverishly for four to five days hanging, dressing, accessorizing and overseeing deliveries and subcontractors. … The key to a successful long-distance design project is [having] an experienced project manager. My staff makes it happen, and I’m so lucky that I get to do the fun part. The details and complicated issues of shipping, receiving, delivery and ordering with all the coordinated follow-up is completed by them. I’ll admit it, I’m spoiled.
“That last few hours prior to the client coming home for the first time to a completed and personal space is worthy of a reality show,” Taylor continues. “The entire team is excited and involved with this. We walk from room to room exclaiming and stating our favorite [features].”
Taylor works with a diverse array of clients, so her designs are equally diverse. With the constant change of seasons and trends that come and go, Taylor has unlimited options at her disposal. Known for her use of vibrant colors and modern transitional vision, she often plucks ideas from the latest trends in fashion, home furnishings and other areas that influence style. “Today’s interior trends are all about color,” Taylor explains. “Accessories let me pull the whole thing together.”
Every element used for a design project is carefully crafted for a client’s particular tastes, though Taylor will often push clients outside of their comfort zone if she believes it will enhance a particular space. Of course, the process is collaborative, so the client has the ultimate say. She recalls one recent project that was particularly rewarding because the client “listened to and related to my vision,” she says.
Taylor often works with clients looking to redesign their summer homes. Typically, Taylor will commit to one shore project each season on top of her regular duties at her store. In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, however, multiple clients all along the New Jersey coastline have requested her services to redesign their damaged shore homes.
“We have several smaller renovations that will be on the schedule due to the storm damage,” Taylor says. “We are happy to help make their homes come alive again.”
Bringing homes to life, regardless of ZIP code, is Taylor’s greatest gift—and also what keeps her clients coming back her year after year. Although Taylor and her staff devote much of their time to in-home client projects, they also provide a steady schedule of interactive demonstrations and educational workshops at the store, each pertaining to different facets of interior design, with a goal of “inspiring those who are followers and friends,” she says. Events are monthly or bimonthly, depending on the season, and many clients call weekly asking about future events.
Whether it’s via a long-distance design project or a hands-on event at her store, Taylor has passion for ensuring clients’ satisfaction. Much like her approach to the design process, her business continues to evolve.
“What would you like to see from Black-eyed Susan?” Taylor asks. “I’m always interested. Come in and enjoy the ride.”
5222 York Road
Holicong/Buckingham, PA 18928
215-794-1800 | www.besusan.com
Photograph by Fred Taylor