Friday, April 11, 2014



Who's old enough to remember doctors making housecalls?  I am.  Dr. Ronan, Bellwood, Pennsylvania, our family doctor, visited the Sunderland house more than twice.  In "those days"  (1950s, 1960s), there were times that Jim, Jill, or I were too sick to leave the house.  German measles, mumps, chickenpox, you get the drift.

Doctors always carried a bag not unlike the one pictured above.  It smelled of leather, medicine, and that "hospital antiseptic smell," as I recall.  The visit was usually short, but it was a visit nonetheless.  I wonder how many doctors today still make housecalls.  Teresa: anyone you know of?

Times have changed, but housecalls are still alive and well within the Interior Design Industry.  I personally try to make at least 2 housecalls each week.  It might be a brand new client, new to the Atlanta area, or a past Design Client working on a different room.

In any event, I feel it is very important to visit a customer's home.  During the 1-2 hours you are there, you see what kinds of things people have acquired.  Some things they want to keep.  Others might a new home somewhere else in the house.

Most times, I take measurements.  As many of you have heard me say, "I must make everything you buy FIT, both physically and within your budget."  I can't tell you how many times I see those epic mistakes people make:  sofas the size of the Hindenberg,...all seating facing one way (toward the television most times)....perimeter decorating (everything pushed up against each wall, with a Black Hole in the middle,........or,.......those homes where the dogs and cats take over, doing anything they darn-well please with the furniture in the room.

I also take photos of the room, the existing furniture, the rug, the floor, and the window placements.  No matter how good you are (and I'm GOOD,....haha....), if you don't have photographs to reference, you forget the EXACT lay-out of the room.

A Housecall (or Home Visit,......whatever you want to call it) is IMPERATIVE to creating the BEST interior for a client.  I find it hard to believe that some Interior Designers do not make that visit.  For me, it's an opportunity to sit down, talk to your client,.....maybe even have a cup of coffee.

Sometimes, a new client might say she just wants a new sofa and chairs, but after a personal visit, decides that her "ready-made" curtains need to be replaced with custom window treatments.

You sit.  You LISTEN. And you don't overstay your welcome.  2 hours is quite sufficient to get the information you need.  The rest of the technical work can be done back at the store/office.

Most people love taking about their pride and joy, where they got what, and what their Dream Plan is for the near future.  It's also fun seeing what pets they might have (and THAT is so very important for a Designer to know in proposing new furniture).

Many stores, such as Home Fashion Interiors (where I presently work) have complementary design services and in-home visits.  Other boutiques and independent designers have various ways of charging, it all depends.

The point is that no matter WHO you hire to decorate your house, it's a very good idea to invite him to personally visit your home.  You'll get the best results that way.

Keep Calm And Schedule A Housecall!



Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Equestrian Interiors

If I say so myself, I know how to incorporate equestrian art and accessories into my clients homes.  I've been doing it for 20+ years,....starting with my start in Interior Design at: Ralph Lauren Home.

Probably the BEST artist of The Horse is: George Stubbs.  Google his stuff: amazing!  Visit it at a museum near you!:


The Downtown Abbey rage has helped my equestrian decorating, that's for sure!  Here's Mary riding,.....side-saddle, of course!


Y'all know that we show MANY pictures, paintings, and accessories where I work at: HOME FASHION INTERIORS.  AND, I've been selling (steadily) all kinds of horsey-stuff at Mark Sunderland Antiques since 1994! 

Here's just a smattering of what I've been proposing to my Design Clients lately.  Enjoy! 

Cast iron jockeys from Kentucky for lanterns waiting to be wired for your driveway...
LARGE horse triptych; original oil.
Pair of cast iron horse lamps. Early 20th century oil of Polo Player. All at Mark Sunderland Antiques.
Bits and Pieces.....
LOTS 'O Equestrian Art at: HOME FASHION INTERIORS!! 770-664-9544; ask for Mark (haha!).
Bronze Stallion; Home Fashion Interiors, Alpharetta.
More bronze from Theo and Alexander at: Home Fashion Interiors.
Hermes-Inspired metal/glass serving HOME FASHION INTERIORS!
What equestrian-lover WOULDN'T like this Hermes horse blanket for their brown leather sofa??????
And finally, my own flatware: Ralph Lauren's Equestrian braid; when it comes to Equestrian interiors, let's face it: Ralph does it BEST!


Keep Calm and Don't Fall Off Your Horse!!!!!




Friday, January 31, 2014

There's Nothing Like A Good Book..............Signing!!!

Hello, Peeps!  Can you believe it's FEBRUARY already????  2014 is off to a great start; lots of design projects: furniture, draperies, rugs, accessories,......EVERYTHING across-the-board.  I'm very blessed to have so much business.

Thought I'd tell you of a couple book-signings I've been to in the last 2 months.  When friend Mary Jane and daughter Janie and I went to NYC for a couple days, we made the junket to Bergdorf Goodman.  I wanted to show Janie the Bergdorf BRIDAL department (it's good to plan,.......she's 15).  As we got off the elevator on 7 and turned the corner, who do we run into?  Well, The Prince of Chintz, Mario Butta.

 Believe it or not, I had "taught" Janie earlier that day who "the Prince of Chintz" was.  How impressive that when we stopped to chat to Mr. Buatta (and I, of course had to buy 2 of his books, one for friend Sarah, the other pour moi), I introduced Mr. Buatta to Mary Jane and Janie,....and quizzed Janie on,....."Remember what Mario Buatta's nickname is?" Janie replied correctly; I was so proud of my protege!!!!!!

 He signed both books, and I have this nice photo to remember that afternoon in New York.

Fifty Years of American Interior Design by Mario Buatta
A couple weeks ago, one of my Favourite Peeps, Alexa Hampton, was in the ATL to sign copies of her second book.  Friend Sarah accompanied me.  She ALREADY had BOTH of Alexa's books, and Miss Hampton was more than happy to autograph both books,.....and mine, of course.  Here's Alexa and Moi:

Decorating in Detail by Alexa Hampton
These 2 new books on Interior Design are welcome additions to my ever-expanding library (now, if I could only find those SIX books on Design from Jackie Kennedy's library that bought at Sotheby's.....).  They're SOMEWHERE in my house!

There's nothing like a good book on design; there's nothing like a good book-signing!
I'm sure ready for that next rainy-Sunday, when I can curl up on my red sofa and devour my new books.
Keep Calm,..........And READ!!!!!!!
AND,......for a little self-promotion and a LOTTA LOVE for Shepherd Center,.......I have about fifty of my books, Spectacular Homes of Georgia, available to sell with ALL proceeds going to Shepherd Center (my main cause-d'celebre)......$50 plus tax= $54.00 payable to: Mark Sunderland (I buy them in-advance so I get the tax write-off........).  Mail to: 792 Verner Street NW, Atlanta, GA 30318.  Nominal fee for shipping,......I'll sign and gift-wrap for you!!!!!!  .....would love to sell 20 books and make Shepherd Center's SHARE PROGRAM an even grand.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Meanwhile, in Mark's Garden; October 2013

Meanwhile, in Mark's Garden, October 2013 

Fall is my FAVOURITE time of year,....pumpkins, mums, leaves a-changin', crisp, cool air, cloudless, blue skies.  My gardens seem to be at their best in the Autumn, what with new growth over the Spring/Summer, and,....when I (or in this particular month, Dan Cleveland's crew) pull out all the weeds, trim the boxwoods, and plant those wonderful pansies that bloom all Winter here in Atlanta.

Here's a few photos of some of my gardens, taken on a beautiful Sunday morning in October:

Bachus.      And moi.
18th Century stone/pebble water trough

2 of my Japanese Maples

1920's French faux-bois with pansies in antique Majolica

Freshly-trimmed boxwoods

Healthy ferns

My goldfish fountain

Pansies in windowboxes for the winter

Yellow mums coming back in front garden....

As good as I am as an Interior Designer, my work (and any of our work) pales by comparison to what God does outside.  Next time you have a chance,.....go out and "play in the dirt!" 
Keep Calm And Plant A Perennial!!!

Friday, October 25, 2013

Tears of Joy

Recently, I was invited to my clients' (and friends') Lake House in Hiawasee, Georgia. We've been talking about me coming up for over a year; for the last 2 years, I helped renovate and decorate their wonderful home in Marietta.  I had met Larry at Scott Antique Market, and after a brief chat, he took one of my cards and went home to talk to his wife about hiring me to help with some renovation work.  He seemed to like my portfolio on my website,, and called me to schedule a complimentary first-visit to their home. 

I arrived a few days after his call, met his wife, Cheryl, and I knew early-on that they were going to be fun to work with.  They both have an innate sense of style, good taste, and are very intelligent.  Larry has a tendency to buy something EVERY time he goes to Scott's; that was evident when I walked their home for the first time.  They have the largest collection of antique American Eastlake furniture I've ever seen!   

We scheduled their Renovation in two Phases, based on both timing and budget.  Fast forward to 18 months later, when their 1990s home was decorated "The Mark Way," fresh paint colours (Farrow and Ball), furniture re-arranged, some new draperies, and additions from Mark Sunderland Antiques.  I must say, it turned-out pretty-nicely, and they were pleased. 

Sooooooo,....on to the LAKE!!! 

Within minutes of arriving on a Saturday afternoon, the cog wheels in my brain were a-turnin', ....and I immediately started doing my "thang.". I cannot move furniture (lower-back), but Cheryl and Larry were eager to help, and they did (I think we all lost 10 pounds in 3 days,.....Cheryl called it the "Mark Sunderland Boot Camp.").   

As I often do, I forgot to take "Before" pictures.  Suffice it to say that just-about 90% of the furniture you see in these photos was originally in a different place.  

On the third morning, as I was decorating Larry's Über-Cool huge country-store glass-doored cabinet, Cheryl came up to me, touched my arm, and said, "Mark, I can't tell you how happy you've made me and Larry.". She cried.  I cried.  Larry didn't cry; he was labouring in the Guest Bedroom, installing a huge antique shutter headboard!!!....... Maybe he cried later.

Folks, this is what Decorating is ALL ABOUT.  It is SO rewarding receiving positive-feedback, and tears of joy are just-about the highest form of gratitude.  This was certainly one of my highest moments in decorating in the last 20 years.  This Designer, following his passion, becomes even-more energized with feedback like this.  
So, without further adieu, here is their re-decorated Lake House:

Billy Bob

Dog Hall of Fame

Downstairs TV Room

Ducks Unlimited

Better wall for this beautiful Elk Oil Painting

Family Heirlooms; LOVED Grandmama's squirrel!

Gone Fishin'

This Hoosier cabinet just HAD to move upstairs to Cheryl's kitchen

Larry collects antique sportsmen calendars (among other things!!!!!)

Sorry, don't get to hang an elk painting over this beautiul lead-glass window!

My "Ralph-inspired" Living Room

Reeled In
Son's bedroom


Upstairs Children's Bedroom
Max was my "Design Assistant." He followed me everywhere....guess I tuckered him out!

Last Look at Lake...

It's okay to Cry Here
Did you shed a tear or two? Probably not, but I did, and, most importantly, my client did. Thank You, Cheryl and Larry, for yet another opportunity to feature your wonderful things you have collected in all the years you've been married.