TORONTO - In her how-to guide to home style, Sarah Richardson offers design blueprints for spaces of all sizes as she encourages individuals to bring their own distinct touches to decorating their dwellings.
"I sort of think about this book as being a design buffet," the genial designer said in a recent interview.
"Whether you live in small apartment or a grand country home, I want everyone and anyone to be able to flip through the pages and say: 'Oh, I like that idea,' or 'That's the kind of idea I want to steal and bring home.'
"The goal was really to make sure that it represented all styles, all tastes, all budgets, all periods of time, and that it could really be an all-encompassing resource reference bible for any design enthusiast. So, that's a pretty lofty goal," Richardson added, laughing.
"Sarah Style" (Gallery Books) gives a comprehensive room-by-room guide to design accompanied by bite-sized instructional tips from Richardson on how to add striking visual impact to every part of the home. Rooms are organized by chapters, allowing readers to peruse different collections of entryways, living, dining and family rooms, bedrooms, kitchens and offices in various sizes and layouts.
The HGTV personality said she has spent more than 15 years filming design TV shows, during which time she has completed more than 300 home renovations shown on-air. A mix of favourite rooms from her TV shows and work completed for private client projects comprise more than 100 rooms featured in "Sarah Style."
Richardson has devised her own recipe reflective of her design esthetic. Her favourite rooms are those which are equal parts masculine and feminine, vintage or antique to new and contemporary, and patterned and playful to neutral and calm. Her approach to incorporating colour is inherent in one of the book's tips: accent a space — but don't overpower.
"You may look through the book and you'll see bright colour and you'll think: 'Oh, that's daring and that's bold.' But if you really look closely, you'll notice that a lot of the foundation elements — the big splurge purchases — are probably more neutrally grounded. Then, my trick is I layer in colour and pattern, but only really as accents.
"A little bit will go a long way. A pair of pillows on the sofa. A beautiful vase. A piece of colourful artwork. Those are the elements that bring a room to life and that create that impression of colour and fun and style — and you don't need it everywhere."
Richardson also gives guidance to small-space dwellers on how to be creative within tighter confines. She recommends making use of vertical height, with one example in "Sarah Style" demonstrating the beauty and functionality of a floor-to-ceiling wall unit which offers additional storage. She also suggests finding furnishings for "double duty."
"You don't want a side table beside your sofa that's just a table surface. I also, for you, want it to have a drawer ... a double shelf, so that there's multiple places to either display or to tuck things away to help keep you organized."
For individuals seeking to incorporate family heirlooms or vintage finds into more modern environs, Richardson said the focus should be on curating a collection of items.
"Try and have them of the same vintage, and try and make sure that it's not all contemporary with just suddenly one piece that appears out of left field," she said. "Repetition is the key to reinforcing your look and making it present as something that is curated and not haphazard."
Richardson extends beyond furnishings and wall coverings in "Sarah Style" to draw attention to other parts of the home that may be in need of revival — from the ground up.
In addition to demonstrating how pretty, patterned carpets can help accent a space, she highlights the fun that can be had with flooring, like a geometric tile pattern in three shades of marble lining a compact entryway.
"Overall, my approach is it's not about what you use — it's about how you use it," Richardson said. "I'm probably more drawn to using the simplest materials and the most cost-effective materials but thinking how — if reimagined, and installed in an unusual way — you can take them up another level. And I think that's where tile patterns really come into play. ...
"Instead of just installing it straight, what about if you put it on an angle? What about if you gave it a border? Suddenly it goes to another level. Then you've personalized it. You've made it your own and you've created something that is unique and unlike anybody else. And that's where, I think, the magic comes in."
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