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Design Lessons from Sarah Richardson and Brian Gluckstein

by - Thursday, October 03, 2013

Over the last few weeks, I've been lucky to get to spend some time with two notable design experts. Along with a few other bloggers, I enjoyed tea with Sarah at the Sarah Richardson Design offices and last week, I had a tour of the latest Princess Margaret Lottery Show Home designed by Brian Gluckstein. Its fun to get all fan girl and hear Sarah and Brian talk, but what I most enjoy is poking around these spaces and picking up a few design tricks. Here are some ideas you can use in your own home:

1. Create Something Out of Nothing

This was the upstairs hallway in the Show Home. It could have been left plain and undecorated as most hallways are, but Brian turned it into a showstopper. A table piled with artfully arranged terrariums, lanterns and books and a vibrant gallery wall of photographs invite one to linger a while. You could do the same in your own home and create an unexpected moment out of an underutilized space.


2.  Mix It Up

Sarah is a master at mixing fabrics and this little vignette using her new fabric line for Kravet shows off her skill. Here, a lush feminine floral on the chair is paired with a simple stripe throw and contemporary floral pillow. In fact, you can see that most of the fabrics on the pillows in the background would work together. Why do they work? The variation in pattern scale (large, small), type (geometric, floral, stripe) and a low contrast palette creates harmony and allows for easy mixing.


3. Or Don't Mix It Up

Brian is well known for his subtle use of colour (he is the King of Greige after all). The monotone gray-lavender palette in this dining room creates a feeling of peacefulness and makes the room feel large and airy. I can almost hear the wine glasses tinkling!


4. Use Mirrors Wisely

Have you ever thought to use mirrors in ways other than just to check out your outfit? Mirrors are versatile - they can help expand a small space, bring light in, and reflect a spectacular view. I'm sure Brian thought of these very things when he chose to put mirrors on the bathroom vanity drawer fronts and on the bathtub skirt. Not only do they reflect the gorgeous floor tile, but the mirrors help the bathroom feel larger (though by no means was this show home bathroom small!). Mirrors are also easy to clean, making them a great material for bathrooms.


5. Add Moments of Luxury

A simple shower becomes stunning when you use hand glazed tiles instead of standard white ceramic tiles. Wood herringbone floors elevate the upstairs hallway and give it a sense of grandeur. A petite vanity feels more luxe with the addition of a furniture-like details and painted in an elegant lilac. By splurging in small moments throughout the home, the entire space feels more well thought out, detailed, and opulent.


6. Add Character With Vintage Pieces

How to make your home unique and original? By incorporating one of a kind, vintage pieces. Sarah's office is a workspace but also a place to showcase her furniture line and fabrics. To make it feel more welcoming, she's added interest by incorporating objects that catch the eye and spark conversation. This vintage wheat sheaf table is a stunner as is the grand mirror. Who says office furniture needs to be sterile?


And just in case you think the office veers too much on the side of femininity and frills, here's a peek at the other side of the room (with Sarah and I and the other lucky bloggers). All of the "office" furniture is very sleek Ikea cabinetry, proving that modern and vintage do mix.

Photo via The Happy Space Project
7. Be Memorable

At her BlogPodium keynote, Sarah said "Design memorable spaces. If its all too perfect then maybe there's nothing to talk about". This area at the front of the office is just that - memorable. I love the boldly patterned drapes taken right up to the ceiling, adding drama and weight to this corner of the room. The brassy chandelier, delicate side table and assortment of seating make you feel as though you've walked into someone's living room. When you're able to elicit an emotional response, as Sarah's office clearly does, then I think you've done your job as a designer.


What do you think? Could you incorporate any of these tips into your own home?

P.S. Want a chance to win the gorgeous Show Home and help support the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre? Purchase a ticket here.

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