Photo Gallery: Sarah Richardson Designs
Get her decorating tips!
At the homeowners’ request, Sarah and her associates Kate Stuart and Thomas Smythe completely gutted this London kitchen and reimagined it as a classically inspired space with beautiful millwork and dentil mouldings. A refurbished skylight floods the room with natural light. Instead of eating in the formal dining room (now used as a family room), the family takes their meals at the kitchen’s antique French wine-tasting table.
To complement the classical theme, Sarah opted for Calacatta Vision marble floors. "I like that they're not strictly grey and white, but have veins of green and blue which offer flexibility in terms of other colours to draw out of the room."
A pale shade of blue and identical linens create a restful vibe in this East Coast cottage bedroom. Dark, turned-wood headboards, bought at auction for $60, feel light and airy after Sarah Richardson transformed them with white paint. A star-shaped light fixture floating high in the eaves adds to the dreamy effect.
This living room emphasizes the home’s sea-inspired blue and white palette. A soaring ceiling accommodates the two-tiered wrought-iron chandelier, which serves as a stately focal point in the room.
A custom tile marble backsplash brightens this formerly dark condo kitchen, and give it a special, luxe quality. The existing washer and dryer are hidden behind matching high-gloss cabinet doors for a clean look.
With its unadorned glass doors, this dining room is all about the view. The dining chairs have a sophisticated look, but they are upholstered in a vinyl fabric for easy clean up. The bench can accommodate a crowd of kids, a functional touch in this East Coast family vacation home.
Sarah punctuated ceramic shower tile with striped limestone bands; an economic treatment that still conveys a graphic visual interest in a glass shower.
Sarah created distinct areas for entertaining, reading and TV watching in this condo’s main living area. A pair of vintage swivelling chairs shifts the focus from the living room to the dining area (not shown). Sapphire tuxedo sofas are masculine and streamlined in compact digs.
Bold sapphire blue and orange are authentic matches for the strong lines of mid-century modern furnishings. Sarah spontaneously painted the corner in cobalt (Launch, SR40) by Para Paints, because she felt the den area needed more colour to look finished. Vintage chairs are upholstered in a vibrant orange vector-print linen.
A country house’s hardworking laundry room goes from utilitarian to charming with intricate chinoiserie-style wallpaper.
Built-in cabinets topped by Tuscan columns separate — but don’t visually close off — the kitchen and dining room from the great room in this weekend home. Soft green chenille armchairs enlivened by crisp white piping create cosy seating and the striped throw pillows are a pale palette pulled from the floral rug. A cluster of brass candlesticks and a crimson-leafed maple branch clipped from outside are simple decor touches that lend impact.
Contrasting striped fabric on the chair backs enliven a traditional turned-leg dining table and adds visual interest to the table when viewed from a distance. The wrought-iron chandelier is a rustic touch in this country home, while a collection of patinated pewter is perfect in a fall setting.
Cosy sofas and a clean-lined flagstone fireplace make the great room the quintessential spot for a lazy weekend. Freestanding hutches have a country-casual charm and provide display for antlers and antique bronze copperware vessels to accentuate the room’s high ceilings.
Sarah wrapped this library in rich alderwood panelling and accented it with pure linen drapes and a gold bar cart. The coffered ceiling adds an English elegance to this country home.
“I like a different colour for each room,” says Sarah. “If you’re going to open another gallon of paint, you might as well make it a different colour.” In the lower-level living room of this home, butter yellow walls play off punchy cherry and burnt orange accents. Sarah placed her custom-designed sofas in a clubby arrangement to take advantage of the marble and ormolu-inset fireplaces that bookend the room. “It creates an opportunity to have different views in a room,” she notes.
“I wanted this London house to feel like you could cosy up in every corner,” says Sarah. She tucked a red chaise longue next to a detailed, original fireplace for views out the living room windows.
Sarah and the team installed bookshelves in an old doorframe to convert a full wall in this living room into a library. An Italian marquetry table, paired with French wing chairs — recovered in cut velvet — offers a perfect spot to plan the day.
“The table is durable, and something you can put your feet up on after a long day,” says Sarah. The sofa is covered in herringbone-style linen and mohair velvet, while the stools and throw pillows are a young and fresh mix of flannels and striped linens. The lively patterns offer contrast to the more traditional mouldings and end tables.
A skillful mix of patterns infuses this family room with shades of blue, from soft to cerulean. A pair of printed armchairs face the main seating area, while two wing chairs upholstered in menswear-inspired fabric flank a games table.
In this space, vintage furniture gets a fresh spin thanks to contemporary glass, a neutral palette and lively pillows.
Hand-blocked wallpaper with a dancing leaf motif draws the eye up the main staircase. Inlaid floor detailing defines the parquet floors.
In this pale blue principal bedroom, an antique French bed and leggy bedside tables exude dignity and refinement. The armchairs were a winning find already upholstered in grey-blue linen.
Antique wood storage brings an elegant look into this principal bathroom. A dramatic bathtub faucet and towel rack offer luxe touches.
A U.K. craftsman made this principal bathroom vanity based on a vintage furniture piece at Sarah’s request. It features decorative baroque veneer panels and a Calacatta marble top.
Sarah looked to nature as her guide for this room, setting twin antique brass beds against soft green walls and bedding. “This shade is a favourite of mine,” she says, citing a mossy stone wall visible outside the windows as inspiration for the palette.
Sarah chose a lavender colour for this ceiling to contrast softly with the pink toile bedspread. Crisp, relatively unadorned walls are the perfect foil for an ornate mirror.
Monogrammed chairs and roman blinds trimmed in pink polka dots offer a cheery touch in this girl’s bedroom. Lavender- and rose-tinted glass pieces inject colour.
Sarah chose a stately British Colonial-style armoire for storage and style. The pale lavender ceiling casts a flattering glow.
Pinwheel tiles made of Ming green and Thassos marble bring subtle colour to the kids’ Gustavian-inspired bathroom.
“I would like to see more of a this-shade-with-this-shade approach, and an unexpected assortment of furniture and accessories,” she says. For an episode of Sarah 101, she reupholstered this vintage side chair (left) in a punchy floral fabric to introduce some pattern into the living/dining room. An earthy green door and pink sofa are a daring colour combination, but somehow, it just works. Painting a single door is an easy and affordable way to experiment with colour. And the fabric of the chair ties the bold shades together. In this contemporary home office (bottom right), Sarah combined a horizontal stripe wallpaper with similarly striped Olivia chairs. Introducing patterned furniture in a room with patterned walls seems risky, but the neutral colour palette keeps it sleek and simple.
The 12-foot tree in Sarah’s farmhouse living room was cut down on their property by her husband. Loaded with ornaments, both old and new, the tree stands between the dining room and living room, allowing it to be seen from many vantage points. The warm colour scheme of red, orange and cream in the space creates a cosy feeling, perfect for a country home.
In Sarah’s holiday house, no area goes undecorated. A boxwood garland along the handrail is a lighter take on a pine or spruce garland, but equally festive. Yellow and gold bird ornaments reference the painted stair runner and add a fun touch. If properly dried and stored, boxwood can last for several seasons before needing replacement.
In the same country house, Sarah painted a salvaged clawfoot tub yellow to coordinate with the country-chic drapes. The vanity is also a reclaimed find that blends well with the feel of the old home.
Sarah dressed up the trees at her farmhouse with traditional Christmas ornaments for outdoor sparkle. Choose plastic ornaments to avoid broken ornaments in high winds and bad weather, and use wire to secure them to the branches. For a softer look, cover the wire with ribbon. Oversized lights, like these lanterns, illuminate your yard and are a chic alternative to traditional coloured exterior Christmas lights.
“By choosing a neutral palette for the fixed kitchen elements, you have great flexibility to change the room’s mood if the urge strikes — and it always does with me,” says Sarah. Here, dark wood mixes with light 2′ x 2′ travertine tile, a Botticino marble mosaic tile backsplash, pretty light fixtures and a shiny countertop. “People think stainless steel counters will be too cold, but I love them — I cook every night and they’re easy to clean.”
Sarah’s original plans for this kitchen didn’t include wallpaper — until she came across this pattern. “I loved the large scale and that it was a contemporary floral,” she says. “And the silver is such a subtle metallic touch, it was just pure luck that it happened to work with my scheme.”
The living room of Andrea Lenczner, one half of the fashion label Smythe, epitomizes her personal method of decorating. The painting is by friend Michael Adamson, the collection of vases was a gift from her mother and the silver Arne Jacobson ashtray is a vintage piece.
Sarah decorated this “Millionaire Designer Home” for the VGH & UBC Hospital Foundation Lottery. “I wanted it to have a coastal feel: a breezy, light-hearted tone that was sophisticated and elegant, too,” she explains. Velvet-upholstered furniture and wood add a sumptuous note, while mirrors sparkle.
A festive winter scene of stacked firewood and giant pine boughs, decorated with reflective silver balls and warm white lights, sets the tone before guests set foot inside. This look is a nice balance between modern and traditional Christmas style.
Stately mouldings reinforce a refined aesthetic, and lush florals bloom as accents in this home that Sarah decorated for a friend.
An antique vanity adds rich patina to a serene bathroom. The calming shades of cream and green are classic Sarah choices.