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Designer Q&A: Sarah Richardson

We caught up with celebrity designer Sarah Richardson, who headlines the Edmonton Home and Garden show this March, to find out her secrets for getting a fresh look, trying out new trends and finding inspiration in unlikely places.

What’s the simplest way to refresh a room for spring?
As soon as the warmer weather arrives, I just want to edit, clean, toss, purge and refresh, so I always think the most dramatic results come from doing just that. In order to improve any space, you need to get organized streamline. Give away or recycle anything you don’t need or use, do an almighty cleaning, and even consider moving everything out of the room so you can reintroduce it one piece at a time and make sure it’s in the best place. If you don’t need it or love it, get rid of it. Then, once you’ve streamlined your space to the essentials that work, you can consider adding in new elements. A fresh coat of paint is an easy and inexpensive way to give any room a lift (especially if you can paint it yourself), and a colourful addition of pillows, artwork and accessories can go a long way to making an old room look, and feel, new!

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What upcoming design trend are you most excited about?
The European approach to modernity, and the way it celebrates history. For too long, contemporary style has celebrated stripping houses bare in the goal of arriving at a modern style statement, which can sometimes lack soul, but now homeowners are embracing the history of the home they’ve bought while working to infuse a modern approach. The Europeans are masters at looking forward without erasing where they’ve come from and I think it’s a very valid approach.

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What current design trend leaves you cold?
I can’t say that I think Radiant Orchid (the Pantone Institute’s Colour of the Year) is a wise design move. When it comes to trends and embracing them at home, all I can say is that less is always more. Wait 11 months and there will be a whole new batch of trends, so if this set isn’t inspiring you, just stick with what you love.

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What current movie or television series had a design aesthetic you found inspiring?
Downton Abbey, of course. So many shows rely on sets as the backdrop of a show, and knowing that the house and gardens actually exist is inspiring. I love scanning the background for period details, and the wardrobe designs are fun too! And then there’s Gosford Park, which is the movie version of Downton (but with a better kitchen).

What’s your favourite design trick when renovating a kitchen?
I have soooo many tricks for kitchens. But I guess any good kitchen renovation starts with a total rethink. My favourite thing to do is to ignore everything about the existing space, and see what can be achieved by shuffling all the elements around. In old houses, I love the way removing a wall (or part of a wall), transforms the kitchen and offers flexibility for how you live and work in the kitchen. It’s never cheap to remove a wall, but I can pretty much guarantee it’s the investment you will never regret.

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