Design Experts

Inside design: Sue De Chiara

Inside design: Sue De Chiara

Home of Sue de Chiara of The Zhush Author: Nicole Cohen

Design Experts

Inside design: Sue De Chiara

Discover how an amateur decor enthusiast made a career out of what she loves.

 

It all started eight years ago when she was redecorating her home in Westchester County, N.Y. “I was working with a designer who was introducing me to magazines for inspiration and trying to push me out of my comfort zone,” says Sue De Chiara, the blogger behind the popular decor-inspiration destination and online store The Zhush (pronounced “je” + “oosh”). “When I started looking up designers I liked, I stumbled upon some blogs, which were much easier to email and share.” This was pre-Pinterest, before blogs became ubiquitous, and Sue decided she wanted her own curated collection of inspiration. So with her brother’s help, she signed up for a blog. “It was mostly for myself – I didn’t have any personal info on there,” she says. But then comments started rolling in, and Sue was encouraged. “I was off and running. I refined my taste, polished the blog and in 2009 launched The Zhush. My first post was about Burberry infinity scarves.” Since her start, Sue moved to a new house in Connecticut in 2014 and wrote about the design – which she did with the help of designer Lauren Muse of Muse Interiors.

 

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Inside design: Sue De Chiara

Individual design

After getting her inspiration from magazines and blogs, Sue has been able to create her own style, mixing patterns and colours to end up with an original home decor.

Image by: Style at Home By: Sara Cation Source: Nicole Cohen

Inside design: Sue De Chiara

Makeover nightmares

In the fall of 2014, Sue joined Calling It Home’s One Room Challenge, a six-week series in which design enthusiasts make over a space, chronicling on their blogs the successes and setbacks they encounter. For her first time participating, Sue took on a tall order: renovating the kitchen of her newly purchased home right before moving in. “We were scheduled to move in right when the challenge ended, so I thought it was perfect timing,” says Sue. “But that’s not how the real world works. It was an enormous project, and contractors don’t care about my move-in or blog deadlines. Throughout the whole thing, I kept repeating, ‘I shouldn’t have done this. I shouldn’t have done this.’” Against all odds, Sue finished on schedule (save for some furniture that had yet to arrive), and though she loves the results, she learned her lesson. “For the 2015 fall challenge, I took on only a small guest bathroom, I have a very clear work-back plan, and I’m not moving. I don’t want to jinx myself,” she says, “but it’s going well.”

Image by: Style at Home By: Sara Cation Source: Nicole Cohen

Inside design: Sue De Chiara

Wild powder room

French-inspired lotus wallpaper and brass details make this pretty powder room feel like a true escape.

Image by: Style at Home By: Sara Cation Source: @Zhush (Instagram)

Inside design: Sue De Chiara

Bold choices in a bedroom

Midnight blue constellation-look wallpaper on the ceiling of Sue’s son’s bedroom adds depth and whimsy.

Image by: Style at Home By: Sara Cation Source: @Zhush (Instagram)

Inside design: Sue De Chiara

DIY project

“It was a bit cost-prohibitive to wallpaper all the closets,” says Sue, “so I did the one that’d be seen the most.”

Image by: Style at Home By: Sara Cation Source: Nicole Cohen

Inside design: Sue De Chiara

Decor for less

“Splurge on a stunning light fixture and a really great rug, and you can get away with saving on a lot of other things,” advises Sue on budgeting for decor. One of her favourite items to save on is artwork. “Find prints on Etsy or get creative and make your own,” she adds. The artwork on display in Sue’s place, such as the silhouettes of her three kids along the stairs in the front hall, is personal and special to the family. The portraits were created by artist Carter Kustera with Benjamin Moore paints.

Image by: Style at Home By: Sara Cation Source: Nicole Cohen

Inside design: Sue De Chiara

Paint it up

“I love paint,” says Sue of the best way to quickly and inexpensively refresh a room. “On walls, on furniture – paint is a great option because if it doesn’t work out, you can just make it white again.” The butler’s pantry is a perfect example of paint saving the day: “When my husband and I looked at the house before buying it, the wooden cabinets in the butler’s pantry were stained a dark mahogany. They were very masculine and stodgy,” she says. “I instantly knew I wanted to paint them a very dark high-gloss blue, taking the pantry from a men’s club cigar room to a fresh, bold jewel-box space.”

Image by: Style at Home By: Sara Cation Source: Nicole Cohen

Inside design: Sue De Chiara

Create a space just for you

The key to creating a home office you actually want to spend time in? “Surround yourself with the fun little things you love but aren’t to the tastes of the people you live with,” says Sue. “Your home office is where you get to express yourself.” In hers, Sue indulged in girlie accessories, which she shared on Instagram, including a bedazzled-lips telephone and an Yves Saint Laurent print.

Image by: Style at Home By: Sara Cation Source: Nicole Cohen

Inside design: Sue De Chiara

Fun, light and glam

“Bold, whimsical wallpaper is perfect in small doses on ceilings or covering rooms you don’t necessarily spend tons of time in – it’s a nice surprise,” says Sue, who keeps the walls of her main living areas neutral, but has fun in petite spaces.

Image by: Style at Home By: Sara Cation Source: Nicole Cohen
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Design Experts

Inside design: Sue De Chiara