October 1, 2012
By Salina Yara Halabi
Photography by Brandon Barré Photography
If you’ve ever watched HGTV, chances are you’ve seen Sarah Richardson working her design magic. With four hit shows, Sarah’s House, Design Inc., Sarah 101 and Room Service, Sarah Richardson has become one of the most celebrated TV designer personalities. For over 10 years Sarah has been sharing her design expertise and captivating audiences with her ability to transform average spaces into functional and unique environments that are visually stunning. We caught up with Sarah between her busy schedule to have her share some advice on completing a successful and stylish renovation.
With fall just around the corner, what trends are you most excited about?
A Fall in Canada always offers a terrific chance to get cosy and turn inwards. I love to pull out nubbly textures and rich fabrics that instantly add a sense of warmth and luxury to a home. Blankets, throws, velvet pillows and lots and lots of candles are a wonderful and easy way to counteract the drop in outside temperatures!
What are some budget-friendly ways to transition a space from one season to the next?
A Transitioning through the seasons isn’t so much about re-decorating as it is about rotating what you have. I preferred a crisp and streamlined, unadorned “less is more” look in the summer, but come fall, I love to dive into my cupboards and rediscover all the cosy bits and pieces that have been tucked away.
Your love of colour is evident with your Para paint collection. What steps do you take when deciding on a colour palette for a space?
A My first step, if it’s a total room project, is to start with a jumping-off point of inspiration. This could be a patterned rug or a piece of fabric with a variety of colours that epitomizes the look and feel I’m trying to achieve in the room. Next I pull together a broad collection of fabrics that have the same hues, and then it’s easy to build a scheme and select paint colour based on the inspiration. I love the combination of a variety of paint colours in a home and treat every wall as a new opportunity to transition to another shade.
In your hit show Sarah’s House you go through an entire home renovation. What has been the most important lesson you have learned from overtaking a project of that scale?
A The most important focus is always about total scope. It’s imperative to me to be able to accomplish a fully realized vision every time and that means top to bottom and inside to outside all have to receive the same level and quality of finish. I don’t want one room to be a showpiece while the next is barren and empty, so I juggle and prioritize every step of the way to ensure that I can make it to the finish line. Doing an entire house requires discipline with decision making and spending, and lots of organization to bring it in on time and on budget. No detail is ever too small, and you always need to have the end goal in your focus to keep on track. I can’t tell you it’s a cinch every time, but if you get to live in a home you love, it’s all worth it!
Kitchen renovations are as popular as they are expensive. What kitchen element do you believe should take the largest portion of the renovation budget, and what should use the least?
A I don’t think there’s a single element as everything needs to be in line and of similar quality. Expensive appliances and cheap cabinetry make no sense to me, nor does the opposite approach. If you are doing a mid-level reno, keep that in mind every step of the way and see how far you can stretch your dollar to get what you want. Good flow, layout and functionality are top concerns for me as the kitchen must work on a daily basis.
What room do you have the most fun designing in a home?
A Don’t make me choose! Each and every room in every home is a new, fresh challenge due to the combination of architecture, exposure, location, client and personality. I enjoy the process of creating a unique expression in every project I tackle and am always inclined to think my current project is the most fun. I live in the moment and am always looking ahead!
What area of the home do you feel has hidden functionality that is often overlooked?
A Every room can be more and work better if it has good storage and is designed to work for a variety of functions to accommodate the needs of an entire family. Instead of living only in your kitchen, I challenge you to think about how you can get more out of some of the less used spaces in your home by making them destinations that attract your family. If you aren’t using a room often enough, think about why, and then try to devise a new plan that really works for your lifestyle.
Where do you look for home décor inspiration?
A Everywhere! In nature, in magazines and books, in museums and art galleries, in my daily life with my kids, and always when I travel. Having the opportunity to escape from my everyday routines and see things from a new perspective, or notice elements that seem new and fresh to me keep my creative juices going.
What has been the most rewarding design project you have worked on in your career?
A Whether it’s for me personally or for a client, the best projects are the ones which create a positive experience for the people who inhabit them. I’m driven to keep on doing what I do by the positive feedback we get and knowing that our design approach and our investment of creativity has resulted in the homeowners living happily in their space. Knowing that we can make a difference in how clients feel about their home is very rewarding. I don’t want to create rooms that are simply beautiful, I want them to be inviting, engaging, comfortable, livable, and enduring!
What is your dream design or renovation project?
A I’d love to have carte blanche to design a small hotel in an exotic destination that would be unique and chic and elegant, and allow people to come and stay and experience my take on design first-hand, instead of just watching it on TV.