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Susan Marocco – Interior Designer

By KLAFFStyle Editorial Staff

Susan Marocco founded her design firm, Susan Marocco Interiors, in 2001. A graduate of New York School of Interior Design, Susan actually began honing her design skills through both her first career in the cosmetics industry and her personal home renovation experience. After earning her MBA in marketing, she worked for such noted companies as Revlon and Elizabeth Arden on color products — creating sophisticated make-up palettes, then branding, packaging and marketing the resulting lines. Over the years she gutted and renovated her own kitchens and baths, learning along the way that success is in the details.

Susan Marocco Interiors primarily serves clients in the New York Metropolitan area. Occasionally, she takes assignments out of this market, for example an ongoing project in Cincinnati. In fact, Susan polished her techniques during an internship with designer Charlotte Moss, working on upscale renovations and new construction of a 22,000-square-foot home in Oklahoma.

Susan told KLAFFStyle that her firm is full spectrum and designs interiors from attic to basement. She and her staff have completed many fabulous kitchens and baths along the way.

Following are Susan’s insightful responses to a number of questions about design and how to get the most from working with a professional designer.

What is it that most clients don’t know before working with you?

There are a number of things. I’ll give you some of the most important ones:

  • People don’t understand the full scope of what a designer does for them. There’s almost always an education period. They often haven’t learned to trust their eye, and benefit from our taking them through a process that gets them to a place of comfort.
  • They have trouble selecting colors. When I go into a home I can tell when the owners have been to the hardware store and picked the simple pastel or something bright – maybe too bright. The choices lack sophistication — that is, seeing the difference between warm and cool colors and what works in a certain space as well as with furnishings and other design elements.
  • Scale is another thing clients learn about working with us. When you go to a furniture showroom, the pieces can look much smaller than they really are. Beyond whether you can get it through the door, is it the right scale for the room when you look at the overall space, and in conjunction with the other pieces you want to add. Also in the scale department, people tend to choose area rugs that are too small.

How do you help clients visualize color, scale and other elements?

We start with CAD/CAM scale floor plans and drawings that show various layout and design options. Do we want two sofas facing each other? Or one sofa and two chairs – or a bench? We offer a variety of options and the client chooses. Then we take the agreed upon plan shopping to select individual items.

What about that shopping process? What if clients don’t know what they like?

  • First of all, when I go shopping for a client, it’s for that client only. I focus on their needs rather than viewing items with an eye to how they might work for other projects.
  • I always look at the client’s home first and learn quite a lot about what they’ll like. I ask them to look in magazines and online and find examples of what they like and what they don’t like – equally important. Clients generally know it when they see it, though they may not have been able to express it.
  • Often I’ll get to understand what a client likes and then take them to the next level. That’s where the “wow” factor comes in. I often hear, “That’s great! And I didn’t even know I wanted it!!”

What are some of the hot items right now for kitchens, baths and the home in general?

  • Technology comes to mind. For the kitchen, people are putting in steam ovens. We’re more health conscious today and prefer steamed over fried. Plus, everything comes out so moist. They’re available at different price points.
  • For the home at large, the ‘smart home’ concept is becoming more and more popular, especially in new homes and major renovations. From your smart phone or other remote devices you can turn your lights or oven on or off, turn the heat or a/c up or down, access your security system, put on some music – just about anything you can do from within the home.

How do you feel about trendy design?

  • Glad you asked. My company’s tag line is “Approachable Elegance.” I define my design brand as comfortable, timeless, distinctive. That can mean different things to different people, of course.
  • There are lots of trendy things. I prefer trends in small things – like accessories. They’re easy to change out so that your home always looks up to date.

What design challenge have you overcome that you’re particularly proud of?

  • A family of three generations that shares a weekend home wanted to design a space where all could gather for enjoyable activities, rather than everyone scattering to separate rooms.
  • The space I designed sported an 80-inch flat screen TV with sofas for watching, another area with a treadmill and exercise bike, a pool table in another section and a kids’ section with a crafts table that has a big paper roll to stretch across it for endless drawing and coloring. We added fun chairs and a whimsical carpet. The trick was making a relaxed space that allowed for that variety of activities in relatively close proximity. I also added a wall of closets to hide games, toys and other paraphernalia.


Susan Marocco Interiors
Bedford, New York

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How about a memorable recent project?

  • I worked with a client I deem “fearless” who wanted to go from dark traditional cabinets to something completely different. The new kitchen is completely sleek and modern. She agreed with my idea to use zinc for countertops – often used in France, rarely here. They develop a wonderful patina. The contractor smoked Marlboros and the red in the pack inspired her. We ended up adding a pop of color by taking the range hood to an auto body shop and giving it numerous coats of “Marlboro Red” paint. We carried the red through in two leather-upholstered stools and in the chairs around a 60-inch round table in a window bay. It’s fabulous!



Is it possible to do a great kitchen on a budget?

  • Spend more on a focal point item and then make wise choices on other items. There are great appliances at lower price points. You can use overstocks and other ways to fill in. You don’t need the most expensive cabinets if they’re properly installed and you use good hinges and great decorative hardware like you can find at KLAFFS.

Speaking of which…how do you use KLAFFS in your work?

  • The most important way is that I take clients to KLAFFS so that they can visualize the choices we’re making and see how they’ll look in real life.
  • I most often go to the Scarsdale showroom. In addition to the major kitchen and bath items, they have great decorative hardware there and an excellent selection of high quality tile, something I think a lot of people aren’t aware of. My clients at all budget levels can shop there.
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