Blog Demo Design by Britt Douglas. Powered by Blogger.

Sarah 101: Contemporary Living

by - Tuesday, February 15, 2011

This week, Sarah tackled a long and narrow living and dining space. I think Sarah is good at many things but she is great at space planning so I was interested in seeing how she addressed this challenging layout.

She maximized the layout by using smaller scale furniture and reworking a floor plan to account for circulation space and create conversation zones. In a brilliant move, she ditched the traditional dining table and chairs and instead used a space-saving custom L-shaped banquette, round dining table, and accent chairs. The furniture tended towards the mid-century modern. Arm chairs were teak, leggy, and updated with graphic fabric. While having so much vintage furniture in a small space can feel too retro, Sarah kept it light by adding contemporary curtains and modern touches of chrome side tables, lucite curtain rods, and a glass stair rail.

She paired this with textural elements like bold grasscloth, an Egyptian brass pendant lamp (which I recently spotted at the IDS preview), and a zebra print rug. Speaking of the rug, Sarah had two rugs stitched together to get the exact custom size she needed. Smart idea! All in all, though some of the furniture isn't my cup of tea, I think the room works. Its a highly functional design and one the homeowners say has increased their use and enjoyment of the space. Really, isn't that what we're all trying to achieve in our own homes?

Tips from the show:
- use chairs to act as room dividers
- when using vintage pieces, recover them in complementary fabrics (like the geometric 1960's-esque fabric Sarah used)
- repeat pattern in a room. Use one strong statement (like a curtain) and keep others more subtle (like pillow cushions)
- choose flowers that enhance your room design. Tall, linear pussy willows worked well in this modern space
- have multiple storage spots (like storage cubes to house toys) to keep clutter at a minimum

You May Also Like


  1. i watched this episode today. and loving it. again.

  2. Anonymous11:36 PM

    I know she is always trying to find balance but the 'retro' chairs were wrecked with non retro fabrics, i.e. vintage value is lost. The wall treatment is going to be a dust collector. Kids in the house and a glass banister wall, huh? Put out the windex bottle cause it will need constant use. Ikea particle board dining table, too bad. Colour mix and match was however bang on (except zebra, totally out of context, yuck). Toss the original over-stuffed couch, also bang on; was the replacement one of hers? Did the homeowners even put in a cameo, maybe I missed it when I stepped out? Tommy didn't have too much to say, sounded scripted, what was the comment amount child dolphin labour or something, hmmm?


  3. love this room! Agreed with Jen ... I think Sarah is good with many things and space planning is definitely one of her strong points! Love how she was able to put all the seating in the narrow living room. .. and that "dining room"!

    if you ladies remember the 2nd Sarah's House, Sarah did a similar furniture layout in that living room as well... sofa in the middle with two single chairs on either side .. totally opened up the space and great for entertaining!

    love S&T's solution to the tiny dining room. though I may not like their dining table option, but that's something that can easily be changed ...

    love the light as well. .. is that the same brass light at IDS from SNOB?

    the grey and yellow color combo is definitely my favourite! Can't wait to see more of it!

  4. I liked this one! One of my fave episodes so far, and a very live-able outcome. Great feature catching all the main tips Jen!

  5. I very much liked the overall feel of the space- the grey and yellow was lovely and I thought the banquet was a great solution to that very small dining space. Also adored the pendant light. On the flip side, I really wasn't crazy for the light up art, however. I just thought it was so out of character with the rest of the space. I love to mix styles and genres but it seemed strange to just have one element that seemed so removed from the rest.

  6. The room is beautiful if not entirely practical for a home with children. I must find the source of that beautiful fabric. It's EXACTLY what I'm searching for.

  7. I think this space is notable for how well she mixed warm neutrals (grasscloth) and cool neutrals, (textiles+paint). This is a really tough mix to pull off, and she does it well. I do think the dining chairs could have been a bit more edgy, they match the bench perfectly. Love that lighting!
    This is such a great feature, Jennifer - it always opens up some good discussion.

  8. miss sara is a talented and wise chick! i love what she did with the challenging space! genius!

  9. Loved this episode. Especially the greys and yellows. Such a great colour combo but I just can't work it into my house. Darn. I also loved the vintage pieces she used. The post episode bloopers were too funny!

  10. Gus - the homeowners did make an appearance. They said the liked the space and use it more now. And yes, I noticed too that Tommy doesn't get much screen time on 101.

    Tim - yup, same brass light from Snob!

  11. Christine - yes, that lightbox art against the grasscloth just seemed off!

    Heather - all the sources for the episode are listed here:

    Anne-Marie - I agree about the dining chairs. They sort of disappeared while the seating at the other end of the room had much more punch. Thanks for chiming in :)

  12. Wow finally a Sarah's design I really really love!! I want this for my home!

  13. Likes: the curtain fabric, the way the curtains were mounted, the new layout, the pendant, the banquet

    Dislikes: the zebra rug, the light up picture. And I think that dining table will be too small for a bigger family dinner

    Question: Sarah mentioned that grasscloth should be done on an inside corner. What about a doorway or other location that has trim/moulding? Do you think that counts as "inside"?

  14. Donna - I think as long as the cut edge of the grasscloth isn't exposed, then that would fit her definition of "inside".

  15. Clearly yellow is the new orange, when it comes to accenting a grey colour scheme.

    Looks like I'll be going shopping.

  16. Loved the colour scheme and that pendant! this one was not bad at all.

  17. I didn't see this episode, but I enjoy seeing people post it, but I really enjoy the commentary.

    Mr. Goodwill Hunting


Thanks for visiting our little corner of the web! We ♥ comments and enjoy hearing from our readers.