fbpx vie magazine subscribe button

The Client Is Her Muse

A Legacy of Style

Interview by Lisa Marie Burwell

Describing a larger-than-life person like Susan Lovelace is not easy, but “a style maven to the nth degree” is a good place to start. This accomplished, elegant, regal, and inspiring woman is beautiful inside and out. Our business relationship turned friendship dates back to 1994. She founded her eponymous interior design firm in 1995, and it has blossomed into one of the most highly sought-after design firms for architects and homeowners throughout the Southeast.

Susan built Lovelace Interiors in Miramar Beach, Florida, on Scenic Highway 98 long before many businesses were here. It was a simpler—and much less congested—area back then. We met when Susan was working at her first business, Clements Antiques, while she was preparing to take her final exams to become an ASID, NCIDQ certified interior designer (she, of course, passed with flying colors). Lovelace Interiors recently opened a second store location in Inlet Beach, Florida, which caters to a specific clientele for the nearby New Urbanism communities of Alys Beach, Rosemary Beach, Kaiya Beach Resort, and more.

It’s no surprise the brand continues to grow with Susan at the helm. Her piercing blue eyes and big smile always sparkle, and I’ve never seen her not shining brightly. That is not to say she has never had real struggles in her life, as we all do, but she is always armed with a graceful demeanor. She has nurtured and mentored her design team alongside her clients to bring out the absolute best in everyone and every home and business she designs. The firm has won numerous awards and enjoyed a long-standing reputation for excellence and a prolific aesthetic sensibility. She and Lovelace Interiors have been featured in such magazines as Veranda, Architectural Digest, Southern Living, Coastal Living, VIE, and Emerald Coast, to name a few.

Susan Lovelace, Lovelace Interiors, Lovelace Lifestyle
Susan Lovelace | Photo by Colleen Duffley

We sat down for this interview at the Lovelaces’ gorgeous farm—aptly called Nirvana—in DeFuniak Springs, Florida, with our husbands, Sparky Lovelace and Gerald Burwell. Susan and I agree our husbands are the wind beneath our wings and we love them so very much. A tour of Nirvana’s grounds and the most beautiful barn I’ve ever seen, complete with a “she shed” and a minibar Susan named Cowgirl Cocktail, was like an experience straight out of a movie. Their animal family includes two new donkeys (named Dierks Bentley and Tim McGraw), who greeted us after the roosters and hens did. Then we met the star of the show: Susan’s beloved horse, Frank Sinatra, who could definitely give the legendary Ol’ Blue Eyes a run for his money.

To say we did not want to leave Nirvana would be an understatement. Allow us to have Susan share her inspirational story through this Q&A.

Susan Lovelace, Lovelace Interiors, Lovelace Lifestyle
A serene escape from the hustle and bustle, the Nirvana farmhouse is the Lovelaces’ retreat for rest and relaxation. The interiors bring a mix of warm rustic elements, coastal hues, and modern touches to create a welcoming space. Meaningful and precious art pieces collected throughout Susan’s life are featured in distinctive vignettes. | Photo by Colleen Duffley

VIE: What gave you the vision and desire to open Lovelace Interiors twenty-five years ago, and did your goals exceed your vision?

Susan Lovelace: I owned Clements and Lovelace Interiors, which was a very small showroom within Clements Antiques. My mother left me money, and she always believed in my ability to operate an interior design business. So I invested, with some serious monetary help from my father also. It was scary to do something that big back in 1995. My husband thought I was crazy, but he jumped in to be my partner at the last minute. My investment was larger, but his support was very encouraging and helpful.

VIE: You are known for having great personal taste and style and have created a brand around beautifying homes and spaces. How do you know how to translate your client’s needs and ideas yet remain true to your brand and aesthetics?

Susan: I have always believed that the elements and principles of design rule because of my education and NCIDQ accreditation. It is a sixteen-hour exam that is close to impossible to pass. But it gives me the confidence to advise clients and, most importantly, to allow them to design their home in their taste, not mine. My job is to guide them in their choices so they do not make mistakes. My look is not their aesthetic; my job is to do what they want.

"My job is to guide them in their choices so they do not make mistakes. My look is not their aesthetic; my job is to do what they want."

VIE: What advice would you give to someone starting a business today?

Susan: My advice to someone starting a business would be to understand that it is the hardest thing you will ever do. Make sure you have backup funds and are willing to devote your life to this endeavor. You’ll be working twenty-four seven with very little sleep, and a personal life is probably not in the cards for a while. It takes a 100 percent commitment and allows very little time for anything else. It’s just the truth, which is often hard to accept.

VIE: Tell us about the culture of the family you’ve created within your business, which includes about twenty employees.

Susan: Our business is a team of very hard-working, successful, and driven people who value and appreciate their jobs and opportunities. I believe most of the time they are happy and fulfilled. I believe that work is work, while fun is for when we have time off. But I never want anyone to be unhappy in their work life!

Susan Lovelace, Lovelace Interiors, Lovelace Lifestyle
Sea glass hues and tart yellows make for a playful coastal home designed by Cara McBroom of Lovelace Interiors. The lively color palette enhances the furnishings and textures., while the patterns in each room provide a personality of their own. This Grand Dunes model exhibits multiple design styles for an eclectic experience. | Photo courtesy of Lovelace Interiors

VIE: You opened a second location last year to cater to an emerging market near Alys Beach and Rosemary Beach. What sets this location apart from your landmark headquarters in Miramar Beach?

Susan: Our lifestyle store is very different from our headquarters in Miramar Beach. Our main operations are huge and stressful—deliveries every day, meetings, and highway construction create a stressful environment. Our new store, Lovelace Lifestyle, is beautiful, peaceful, and actually fun because the operations are somewhere else. Customers are happy there and want to find pieces to make their homes more beautiful. It is joyful for all of us to be there and serve that community.

Susan Lovelace, Lovelace Interiors, Lovelace Lifestyle
This New Orleans penthouse, situated on the Mississippi River, provided its own inspiration for a Lovelace Interiors design. A city known for culture and music, the colors were selected to be the embodiment of jazz. | Photo courtesy of Lovelace Interiors

VIE: Please let our readers know how you, as an equestrian, got into this life and living at your gorgeous farm.

Susan: I am an equestrian who is passionate about riding, competing, and owning horses. I was thrown twice by one of my horses who bolted—probably my fault. I fractured five bones. My children intervened and said, “Mom, you are getting older; you need to quit riding.” I said OK, and then the minute I could, I jumped on my two calmer, sweet horses. I explained to my children that Highway 98 is dangerous, and if I drove down it going a hundred miles per hour in my Ferrari, I probably wouldn’t make it to work. But in the right car, heeding the driving laws, I would be much more likely to arrive unscathed. So, I am careful with my horses but I still ride. It’s what I love, and I feel so happy when I’m riding that I don’t see myself stopping anytime soon.

VIE: Just as fashion is always changing, so is the interior design business. What is in style this year for our area and beyond?

Susan: Fashion trends come first; interior design follows. I think the colors in our coastal environment will always be in fashion here, and a casual, somewhat rustic yet elegant style is the new twist on that trend. In our area, we’ll always keep our beautiful God-given natural landscape as the backdrop for whatever we do.

Susan Lovelace, Lovelace Interiors, Lovelace Lifestyle
This sleek kitchen by Lovelace Interiors exemplifies the combination of beauty and function that is essential for kitchen design. The designers at Lovelace Interiors are skilled at selecting durable finishes, ensuring that your kitchen serves you. | Photo courtesy of Lovelace Interiors

VIE: What are some of your favorite standout homes you’ve designed over the years?

Susan: I have been incredibly fortunate to design for some of the most beautiful homes in our country. A few of my favorites would be the Sullivan residence in Memphis, Tennessee; Kenny King’s house; the Freeman home in Natchitoches, Louisiana; the Walters home in Beverly Hills; the Lagasse home in Sandestin, Florida; and their restaurant Emeril’s Coastal Italian in Miramar Beach. I also love the Murphy and Burkham homes here on the beach, the Abbotts’ farmhouse, the Dawes’s magnificent home in Gulf Breeze, and so many others. It has been a wonderfully rich, creative, and beautiful life for me.

VIE: Are there any tips you can give to someone who is searching for an interior designer? 

Susan: My tips for finding a professional are that you need to be aware that a credentialed designer does not cost more than one without accreditation and that you should pick someone with the education and talent you need to meet your design goals. I repeat: it does not cost more!

Susan Lovelace, Lovelace Interiors, Lovelace Lifestyle
Sea glass hues and tart yellows make for a playful coastal home designed by Cara McBroom of Lovelace Interiors. The lively color palette enhances the furnishings and textures., while the patterns in each room provide a personality of their own. This Grand Dunes model exhibits multiple design styles for an eclectic experience. | Photo courtesy of Lovelace Interiors

VIE: You are a strong and influential woman. As a leader, what advice can you give to women in business and beyond?

Susan: My advice to any woman is to believe in yourself. Do not be afraid to vent and feel insecure sometimes. Those who do not understand are weak, not you. We are pioneers in this world today and will always be challenged for our feelings and shortcomings; but believe me, men have them too. We are just more vocal, and that can seem threatening to others. Do not ever give up!

Susan Lovelace is a classic and ageless beauty with boundless and youthful energy. She shows us all how to create and nurture a beautiful life while trailblazing and continuously growing. Kudos to you, Susan!

— V —

Visit LovelaceInteriors.com to learn more, see more beautiful designs, or book an appointment.

Read Responsibly

VIE Magazine - The Art & Design Issue November 2021
VIE Magazine January 2021 Special Commemorative Edition
VIE Magazine September 2020 Wanderlust Issue, Fancy Camps, The Idea Boutique
VIE Magazine August 2020 Art & Culture Issue, Nathan Alan Yoakum Art
VIE Magazine - Architecture & Design Issue - July 2020
VIE Magazine - Decor and Home Issue - June 2020
VIE Magazine May 2020 Entertainment Issue, Leslie Odom Jr
VIE Magazine - April 2020 Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine March 2020 The Fashion Edit, VONDOM, Alys Beach Fl, Digital Graffiti, Tres Chic, isidro dunbar Modern Interiors, Digital Graffiti Festival
VIE Magazine February 2020 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Travel Issue - January 2020 - Tanzania Safari Cover
VIE Magazine - Women's Issue - December 2019 - Tina Brown Cover
VIE NOV19 Goodness Issue
VIE Magazine, September 2019 Art & Culture Issue, Paul Hanninen
VIE Magazine - August 2019 - The Architecture and Design Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2019 - The Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - June 2019 - Fashion Edit
VIE Magazine - May 2019 - Culinary Issue
VIE Magazine - April 2019 - The Health & Wellness Issue
VIE Magazine - Special Entertainment Edition - March 2019
VIE Magazine February 2019 Luxury Homes & Technology Issue with Robbie Antonio of Revolution Precrafted
VIE Magazine - January 2019 - Southern Sophisticate Issue Cover
VIE Magazine - Special Anniversary Travel Edition - December 2018
VIE Magazine - The Goodness Issue - November 2018
VIE Magazine - The Art & Culture Issue - October 2018
VIE Magazine - Home & Garden Issue - September 2018
VIE Magazine - August 2018 Animal Issue
VIE Magazine - July 2018 Architecture & Design Issue - Subscribe to the magazine!
VIE Magazine - June 2018 Travel & Tech Issue
VIE Magazine - May 2018 Couture Issue
VIE Magazine - The Culinary Issue - April 2018 Cover - Chef James Briscione and Brooke Parkhurst
VIE Magazine - The Entertainers Issue - March 2018
VIE Magazine - February 2018 Destination Travel Issue
VIE Magazine - January 2018 Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine, The Sophisticate Issue, December 2017
VIE Magazine - November 2017 Art & Culture Issue
VIE Magazine - October 2017 Home & Garden Issue
VIE Magazine | September 2017 | The Stories and Storytellers Issue
VIE Magazine - The Adventure Issue - August 2017
VIE Magazine - July 2017 - Art & Artist Issue
VIE Magazine - The Voyager Issue - June 2017
VIE magazine 2017 March-April Cover South Walton Fashion Week
VIE Magazine - January/February 2017 - The Health & Beauty Issue
VIE Magazine - Nov/Dec 2016 The Sophisticate Issue
christian siriano vie magazine september october 2016 vie magazine
the modern minimalist issue
the culinary and couture issue march april 2016 vie magazine
the voyager issue alys beach vie magazine january february 2016
cultural issue vie magazine november december 2015
home and garden issue vie magazine september october 2015
the art and style issue vie magazine july august 2015
the wedding issue 2015 May June vie magazine
the food and fashion issue vie magazine march april 2015
the travel issue vie magazine january february 2015
the music issue vie magazine 2014 november december
The Animal Issue vie magazine september october 2014
the home and garden issue vie magazine july august 2014
the wedding issue vie magazine may june 2014
emeril lagasse food and fashion vie magazine
the men's issue january february 2014
the music issue november december 2013 vie magazine
the home and garden issue 2013 october september
the wedding issue vie magazine july august 2013
the artist issue may june 2013 vie magazine
the food and fashion issue march april 2013
the men's issue january february 2013 vie magazine
The Holiday Issue
the love issue july august 2012
the all american summer may june 2012
the entertainment issue march april 2012
the fashion issue vie magazine winter 2011
the home and garden issue vie magazine fall 2011
the anniversary edition vie magazine summer 2011
the wedding issue vie magazine spring 2011
vie magazine the holiday issue 2010 Dec
vintage swimsuits vie magazine 2010 Fall
judith march designer vie magazine summer 2010
wedding giveaway vie magazine spring 2010
holiday gift guide vie magazine winter 2009
emarketing explosion vie magazine fall 2009
tribute to mother's day vie magazine summer 2009
james and robert redford vie magazine spring 2009
zz top vie magazine fall winter 2008
project dreams vie magazine new york fashion week
Sign-up for VIEmail

Sign up for VIEmail