Tasteful Textiles with Linda Newall
By Kiley Jacques
Intimate Surroundings: Linda Newall carries high-end lines including Ralph Lauren, Modern History, Sarreid, and Barclay Butera.
Linda Newall, owner of Marblehead-based Surroundings, is the go-to guru for tasteful textiles.
Since 1982, Linda Newall has applied principles she learned while earning a degree from Parsons New School for Design in New York. Initially, she made pillows—a passion for fabrics has always dictated her professional pursuits. From pillows, she branched into custom drapery, “and then,” she says, “it just grew from there.”
Located for many years on Marblehead’s Atlantic Avenue, Surroundings is now comfortably tucked between kin shops on Washington Street. The store serves as a small showroom for the many high-end lines used in Newall’s residential designs. Upholstered furniture bears names like C&R Laine and Kravet, while wall coverings include Carry Anna French, Schumacher, and Thibaut—this last is Newall’s personal favorite. “Thibaut is young, fresh, and happy,” she says. It is also popular across generations.
A trend toward a clean and simple aesthetic is something Newall works into her designs. Gone are the days of big florals and busy prints. “Texture is big,” she says. “It gives you a sense of pattern without screaming out at you.” She views the trend, in part, as a response to clients’ increasingly busy lifestyles. “People can’t be worried about messy homes. They have bigger things to think about.” It seems industry as a whole recognizes the country’s love of ease. As Newall notes, “It has really stepped up to the plate on the issue of easy-care fabrics.”
As for colors—big, bold, and bright still hold sway. Pantone announced “Radiant Orchid” as the hot color for 2014. In response, Newall plans to have pops of purple in the store. Though she pays close attention to trends, she says, “We choose [our products] on several different levels, based on what the average client is looking for. Cost is always an issue. We try to appeal to everybody.”
Newall is hardly tied to her shop. She has multiple residential design projects in the works. Holding in-house consultations; making selections; scheduling an upholsterer, a wallpaper hanger, painting contractors, and architects; and managing projects keep her busy. “We are constantly on the go, which is better than looking at the walls,” she jokes. Newly constructed home interiors make up the bulk of her design business, though she has a solid clientele in Boston, which has her working in historic brownstones, too.
The majority of Newall’s merchandise is made in the United States. “It’s a quality issue for us,” she says. “North Carolina is the furniture capital of the United States…so why go anywhere else?” Though piecesare at risk of being damaged during shipping, especially from overseas, Newall makes one exception and buys from Indonesia-based Sumerset Bay. “The quality is superb…and it is a good look for this area—a little nautical.”
Employing quality lines are, of course, a priority. But, Newall points out, “For us, the client relationship is of the greatest importance. In this business, it’s all about trust.” surroundingsinteriordesign.com