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Sarah Richardson on Good Design: Original and Never Too Serious

Sarah Richardson started out as a prop stylist in 1995 but it didn’t take her too long to switch to an on-camera career. The host, co-creator and co-producer of four celebrated HGTV series – Room Service, Design Inc., Sarah’s House (and Sarah’s Cottage), and Sarah 101), Sarah has a practical and inspiring approach to design and décor.

A Q-and-A with the award-winning designer known around the world for transforming ordinary spaces into magazine-worthy rooms.

Why design?

I was always a very creative kid and interested in all things related to home and entertaining. From sewing to painting, crafts to cooking, I was always experimenting or making something. I didn’t choose design as much as it chose me – I have a degree in visual arts and landed my first job in the TV industry thanks to a college acquaintance who thought I might have a flair for prop styling. After that first fateful foot-in-the-door moment, I knew I had found a career path that was suited to my skills and energy.

What drives your approach to design?

When designing interiors, I think about how I can offer a unique experience to every client so they are left with a completely customised home designed just for them. When creating television programmes, I strive to offer inspiration, education and empowerment so that viewers at home can embrace the ideas and interpret them in their home and be their own designer (with some helpful advice from me). When it comes to product design, I want to ensure that every item designed by me is something I would be proud to have in my own home, and fulfills the goal of a blending of design integrity, quality and value. And when it comes to my brand, I’m 110 per cent invested in every aspect of what I share with my audience.


Do you have a specific look or style that you think you’re known for?

I’m known for creating interiors that are classically and casually elegant. We create modern interiors informed by a classic perspective, and combine our love for architecture and antique/vintage furnishings with the latest product innovations. My work is not exclusionary or elitist, it’s just meant to engage viewers and introduce them to new concepts and ideas, and hopefully encourage them to experiment and try a new design direction.

What is your strategy for mixing traditional and contemporary pieces?

Mixing is less of a concerted effort for me, and more of natural habit. No room works when it’s strictly one or the other, but every room is better with a thoughtful yet refined combination of old and new. I tend to buy what I love and then bring it all together with the selection of fabrics and finishes.


What is good design for you?

Good design is thoughtful, original, passionate and never too serious. You need to have a sense of humour in design. I like design that works, that isn’t demanding or pretentious, and will stand the test of time. As a mom of young kids, if it’s practical to boot, I’m delighted!

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