Suysel Cunningham, J98


Co-owners Suysel dePedro Cunningham, J98, (right) and Anne Foster (left) found muses in their freshman dorms at Tufts and Boston College, respectively, when naming Tilton Fenwick, LLC


Painting a fresh face on old traditions

After five years in advertising for Ogilvy & Mather, Suysel dePedro Cunningham took a leap by following her design dreams to become an assistant to decorator Markham Roberts. Another five years later, she gave birth to daughter Cecilia, named for the Tufts Beelzebub’s version of the Simon & Garfunkel classic. True to her Jumbo nature, Cunningham designed Cecilia’s bedroom in shades of brown and blue.

“We’re Tufts,” Cunningham says of her family, which includes husband David, A98. “We got engaged under Bowen Gate. Our daughter’s named after a Bubs version of a song. And because of all of the Tufts gear we wear around the house, one of the first words Cecilia could read was ‘Tufts!’”

Cunningham also recently launched an interior design company, Tilton Fenwick, LLC—half-named for Tilton Hall—which was featured by TradHome magazine as one of the top 20 New Traditional Designers for 2011 by the editors of Traditional Home magazine.

“Our style is to appreciate the traditional, but turn it up a notch. We go to a lot of showrooms and look through the archives, especially fabrics from the ‘70s and ‘80s. We’ll dig through those and rediscover them, and just make them a little bit more fun and fresh.”


Decorating on the cheap? Testing your taste level—or marrying it with another?

Cunningham has a few DIY tips:

• “Don't overly stress if things don't necessarily ‘go together’ or match—if you buy things you love, they will work in your home.

• “Surf, surf, surf! With the internet, decorating is so much more accessible. Not only are high end designers designing for retail, but there is a wealth of talent on sites like, which my partner and I love to scour for undiscovered artists.

• “Design blogs are also a great resource—bloggers are the new magazine editors. We read them daily for inspiration and ideas. Some of Tilton Fenwick's favorite blogs are StyleBeat, Material Girls, and HauteStyle!

• “Antiquing and rediscovering old pieces is the least expensive way to refresh a room. Take an old desk and spray on a fun color; take your grandma's chair and cover it in a chic new fabric. Mixing old and new is the best way to make a room look put together without looking like you’ve tried too hard.”

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