“Scandifornian” design goes coastal in the Pacific Palisades

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Scandinavia and California don’t have much in common (the weather, for starters) but when it comes to interior design, these two regions have strikingly similar taste. This is exemplified through the use of neutral color palettes, natural fibers, sustainably-sourced wood, and intentional accessories in both decorating styles. 

Interior designer Sarah Barnard recently overhauled a 3,600-square-foot family home in the Pacific Palisades, not far from the bluffs that overlook the Pacific Ocean. Although the home was originally constructed in 1949, its revamped aesthetic is best described as ‘Scandifornian.’

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The beachy blue and white exterior hints at what’s to come once you step inside. Distressed red brick forms a path to the entryway, which is framed by carved wood corbels that are original to the house. The foyer alcove includes a live edge wood table and a curated collection of seashells and minerals, blending organic elements with simple, clean lines.

Featuring handmade, live edge tables by William Stranger.

Featuring handmade, live edge tables by William Stranger.

But what instantly captures your attention is the light-drenched living room, featuring a vaulted ceiling with exposed wood beams. “The original bones of the house were excellent,” explains Sarah. A custom concrete fireplace designed by Sarah runs nearly the entire length of the wall. It’s boxy, modern shape is tempered by irregularly etched lines that “mimic the movement of the nearby sea.” 

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The lightly-finished hardwood flooring, all natural, non-toxic sofa, shaggy wool floor cushion and wheel-thrown ceramics exude laid-back, Scandifornia style. Here, the aesthetic is minimal, but never cold or uninviting. Taking a seat on the floor is encouraged and each decorative object or family photo has a story behind it. 

A fine artist herself, Sarah collaborated with a trusted woodworker to create the living room wall sconces, carved from American Walnut. “The organic forms and natural finishes match perfectly with the coastal ambiance of the space,” notes Sarah. 

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To build these custom creations, Sarah delivered sketches and sculptural models to the woodworker to convey her ideas. The prototype was referenced throughout the fabrication process to ensure accuracy, resulting in one-of-a-kind fixtures that serve as functional works of art. 

Natural dining chairs by the Cherner Chair Company have a slim silhouette.

Natural dining chairs by the Cherner Chair Company have a slim silhouette.

The dining room was “designed to feel soft and light,” with a neutral color palette, elongated dining table, natural dining chairs and a chandelier that appears to be floating in mid-air. The fireplace surround is yet another of Sarah’s custom designs. “I chose tile glazed in brilliant blue to create an updated linear pattern neatly framed by a custom concrete mantle,” she adds.

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Sarah once again worked alongside a local artisan to produce the orb-like sconces that brighten up the space. “I often take formal inspiration from the home's location and reinterpret that within the space,” explains Sarah, who used the home’s Pacific Palisades locale as the jumping off point. She handcrafted a number of small ceramic prototypes for the client to review before agreeing on the current iteration.

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The kitchen expertly combines old and new. “There is an exposed brick fireplace that remains a decorative element in the new kitchen,” says Sarah. “We wrestled with the idea of preserving or upgrading the original red brick. We collectively decided to keep it — in the kitchen only — as a homage to the architect’s original intent.” The light blue cabinet doors feature subtle detailing and the quartz countertops are flecked with real seashells. The office nook is the perfect spot to search for a new recipe or respond to emails, while the adjacent pantry offers plenty of storage and a stainless steel French-door refrigerator.

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The ground floor is rounded out by a serene guest bathroom with a custom floating vanity, matching wood-framed mirror, and a vessel sink that sits atop an onyx countertop. Although the space consists of mostly hard surfaces, it is warmed up through the use of light wood tones, soft lighting and texture-rich pebble flooring. 

A handmade table by William Stranger anchors the space between the living room and dining room.

A handmade table by William Stranger anchors the space between the living room and dining room.

The California and Scandinavian decorating styles share many of the same values, most notably an appreciation of natural beauty and fine craftsmanship. Throughout this project, Sarah worked side-by-side with local artisans and craftspeople to realize her custom furnishings and lighting designs. “Unique handmade objects bring authenticity and personalization to a home,” says Sarah. The finished product, which she has dubbed ‘Peaceful Palisades,’ masterfully combines coastal California influences with the simplistic forms and function of Scandinavian design.

Written by Rachel Roth

Sarah Barnard designs healthy, happy, personalized spaces that are deeply connected to nature and art.

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit www.SarahBarnard.com.

Photos by Steven Dewall and Chas Metivier

Design for a Healthy Mind: Interior Design and Mental Health

Custom Wall Sconces  designed by sarah barnard

Custom Wall Sconces designed by sarah barnard

It seems that every week, a new article is out asking what is the source of our mental health troubles. Depending who you ask, demanding work schedules or an over-stimulating world could be the culprits. It’s all too often not one thing, but a combination of factors that leave us feeling sensitive, low, or unmotivated. At the center of new conversations emerging on mental health is the effect of our environment on our wellbeing. Taking the care to consider our home spaces is an important step in seeing how our familiar surroundings impact us. From small adjustments to a total overhaul, the home can transform from a source of stress or isolation to a sanctuary for calm and comfort.

An exercise: pay attention to how you feel as you move about your space from room to room. Where do you spend your time? How do you react looking and living through your space? From the height of the ceilings to the presence of plants, subtle but pervasive factors can improve mood, focus, and alleviate anxiety. Humans intuitively respond to environments that promote productivity, intimacy, and efficiency.

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This isn’t a recent development: the practice of Feng Shui, for instance, has a history going back thousands of years. At this point, it is likely you’ll need to consult a compassionate interior designer to help guide the daunting task of creating your ideal, holistic home. They can assist from the smallest details to a total transformation of the space and how you live in it. “You’re never alone in the process,” designer Sarah Barnard says. “Having a second pair of seasoned eyes can bring our attention to the affect our homes and their layouts have on us and our visitors.”

The effects our homes have on us are largely defined by how we use and live within them. Architecture theorist Kate Wagner claims that most of our homes are too separated by function; most of our time is not spent in designated hosting spaces, such as a front room, but in the kitchen and the den. “Large, unused spaces designed for social functions foster isolation instead,” she explains. These isolated areas end up becoming pile-ups for unwanted furniture, or inaccessible simply because they’re too formally separated.

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Likewise, small, constricting spaces inhibit creativity and discourage freedom of movement. Laying in a darkened room in the comfort of a bed is difficult for anyone to get out of, even when the sun is shining.

Wagner makes an empathic suggestion to “channel [your] earlier self,” outside of the expectations of space and presentation that comes with creating your home in adulthood. In this project by interior designer Sarah Barnard, natural light and free movement is prioritized. Walls do not constrict, but are left open and accommodating.

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Much of what compresses a space isn’t tight walls and low ceilings, but its furniture. A clear and open home is a natural reflection of a clear and open mind. Prioritizing objects of beauty, function, and meaning within your house can be reflected in the popular Konmari Method, or “the life changing magic of tidying up”. Its founder, Marie Kondo, takes inspiration from Feng Shui to ensure that organization and tidiness are a permanent life change, not a cycle for us to endure every few months. She believes that every object in our home brings us joy, and that each object has a specific place where it belongs within in our home. The method suggests we ask ourselves simple questions when we encounter an object we can’t bear to part with: “Does this bring me joy?”

Cherished furniture shouldn’t be thrown away for the sake of self-renewal. In fact, they can be essential to giving a room its individuality. Older furniture pieces that you’ve had for years can be given new life when reinterpreted within the space.

During a revision of a Scandifornian style home, Sarah had the opportunity to place older furniture into a bright, updated, and minimalist aesthetic. A treasured antique dining set, found in Thailand, remained in the dining room; its deep rosewood and impeccable design and detailing brings warm elegance in the new space. The dining set has a new life, and the new rooms feel familiar and fully livable.

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Maybe you’ve decided to really start from the ground up: new furniture, fixtures, the works. Avoid the stress that can come from heavy-duty furniture pieces that forbid reorganization and movement. They aren’t active in the home, and an imposing weight or size can compress a room while taking away the opportunity for revitalization and customization.

Consider modern, playful furniture that is light and accessible to move, promoting autonomy in your environment to reorganize as you wish. As an experienced interior designer, Sarah has a deep understanding of the principles of Universal Design, which encourages flexibility, simplicity, and low demands of physical labor throughout the home. This is achieved through seven principles: the designed object or space must be equitable, flexible, intuitive and easy to navigate, stimulate as many sense as possible, safe and tolerant of error, physically undemanding, and with adequate space for free use. When a sensitive and informed designer adheres to these principles, their projects have the benefit of being widely applicable to a variety of needs: from every day appliance use to wide ease of access throughout a home. It makes your home more intuitive.

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To make the most of your new space, have systems in place that facilitate organization, tidying, and reward. Cleaning can have therapeutic, empowering effects on the psyche. The areas around us reflect the care we have for ourselves. Interior designers carefully choose pieces or can work with skilled artisans to build furniture to suit your needs, from the perfect chair to expansive organizational racks that can transform the use of a room. Also, this can be where your creativity and distinct personal inspirations shine; a pair of homeowners wanted a cabinet that resembled a type of Japanese locker, getabako. The cabinets were numbered in a sequence that was significant to the husband and wife, culminating in a piece that was unique, functional, and intimately designed. In using the locker, the homeowners would feel comfort and satisfaction at its place in the home.

A cluttered environment has been proven to drain energy and negatively impact our overall mood and self-image.  In bringing in new furniture, we want to bring in new systems of living and using it. Wall-based organization is a great way to free up space on the floor. Light, free-standing shelves in this home office provide ample space for books and objects of meaning and beauty. The floor is freed up for movement and active use. All furniture here, fitting for a home office, has a cohesive design and an obvious function, encouraging productivity and serenity.

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Echoing the exercise of moving through the home, think of the importance of free and open movement: everything we encounter can be a treasure rather than an obstacle. The importance of possessions is knowing and fully appreciating their use and place in our home. Our home is a space for us to respect, personalize, and flourish with and within.

Just as promoting mental health and clarity through interior design goes back thousands of years, color therapy (also known as chromotherapy or color medicine) is as old as any other medicine, with a history going back centuries. There’s research that points to spectrums of colors even affecting different parts of the body! It’s physical and mental effects are essential.

Does this mean you paint your whole apartment blinding shades of sunshine yellow to spur energy? Not entirely - research points to the contrary. Researchers at Logan Regional Hospital in Logan, Utah discovered that overly vibrant color schemes produce heightened states of unease and anxiety.

Splashes of your favorite color are a given within the home, but we can also look outside for inspiration. In this idyllic guest retreat, Sarah Barnard has used the natural landscape as inspiration for a cohesive palette. Even visitors to the home are invited to a room that is earthy, grounded, and familiar. The prominent presence of green in the bedroom reflects the vibrant trees growing just outside with generous sunlight.

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Meanwhile, natural dark wood establishes a sense of warmth and comfort, once again using the surrounding nature as inspiration. The consideration of all senses, particularly touch, creates a holistic and familiar space. Organic textures such as stone, encaustic tile, and wood make us feel - literally - grounded in our environment.

Investing in the space of your home as a part of mental health doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Reach out to an empathic interior designer who understands the importance of the house in your health. With a rich history and vast resources, transforming with a healthy, mindful designer can have incredible effects on your day-to-day life and long-term happiness, letting your home come alive as your mirror.

By Rebecca Hac

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Sarah Barnard designs healthy, happy, personalized spaces that are deeply connected to nature and art.

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit www.SarahBarnard.com.

References:

Samina T. Yousuf Azeemi, “A Critical Analysis of Chromotherapy.” US National Library of Medicine. Retrieved at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1297510/

Doheny, Katherine. “Clutter Control: Is too much ‘stuff’ draining you?” WebMD. Retrieved at https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/clutter-control

Silvis, Jennifer. “Interior Design Use in Alleviating Depression and Anxiety.” Healthcare Design. Retrieved at

https://www.healthcaredesignmagazine.com/architecture/interior-design-use-alleviating-depression-and-anxiety/

“The 7 Principles of Universal Design.” Retrieved from http://universaldesign.ie/what-is-universal-design/the-7-principles/the-7-principles.html

Wagner, Kate. “Our Homes Don’t Need Formal Spaces.” Curbed. Retrieved from https://www.curbed.com/2018/7/11/17536876/great-room-house-size-design-square-footage

“Psychology of Home Environments: A Call for Research on Residential Space.” Association for Psychological Science. Retrieved from http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1745691615576761

How to Design Your Home for Conscious Living

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Living consciously means embracing what you love. It’s living in alignment with personal values and making choices accordingly. As a philanthropist and former first lady, Michelle Obama said, “I have learned that as long as I hold fast to my beliefs and values – and follow my own moral compass – then the only expectations I need to live up to are my own.” However you express it individually, it’s what you appreciate and brings you joy. Being aware of what nourishes you, be it animal kindness or human welfare, awareness can offer you a clear path toward designing your home more consciously.

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Our values are as unique as each of us. It’s evident in our daily lives that our taste in food, color, and careers vary, but more subtly, our ethics are just as diverse. Whether you prioritize being healthy, sustaining our planet, and equality for all, living consciously is well within reach.

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Wherever you are on this journey, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. If you’re beginning, consider making future purchases aware ones. If you’re buying a pillow or rug, find one from a cruelty-free source or a craftsperson who is conscious of their impact on the planet. If you’re ready to embark on a deeper level of commitment, assess an entire room or your whole house. If that seems daunting, hire a designer who aligns with your values to make substantial changes to transform your home into a sanctuary. An experienced designer will work to express what lights your imagination on fire. A designer takes the stress off your plate so you can focus on the beauty and big picture while they take care of the minutia. They can help push your bravery into the limelight, so your house can be what you envisioned.

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Conscious living requires little to no sacrifice. For example, being vegan does not mean trading in personal luxury. You can bring quality and opulence into your home while honoring the welfare of the person fabricating your sofa. By making informed decisions, we can improve the conditions of workers of Vietnam, and help a single mother supply artisan handcrafted goods to anyone in the world, while supporting her children financially and emotionally. However, with such freedom and availability, we also have information overload. In design, it takes knowledge and experience to create a harmonious space that matches your preferences. Look for designers and artisans who specialize in handcrafted goods, or sustainable products. Because there are so many options, it truly helps to have a skillful designer evaluate the myriad of choices and to verify legitimate sources.

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As you design your life intentionally, you convey to those around you what you love, which then draws more of what you want into your life. Being intentional in your choices will be reflected in all areas of your life. “You are your choices,” according to German philosopher Sartre. Generously expressing personal truth brings abundance to your life. A home that resonates with positivity brings more vitality to the physical body and uplifts family and friends. A home with thoughtful design works symbiotically to achieve goals and allows energy to flow into projects with passion. For those who are clear about what brings them joy, their spaces radiate it.

by Grace Carter

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Sarah Barnard designs healthy, happy, personalized spaces that are deeply connected to nature and art.

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit www.SarahBarnard.com.

Seaside Inspiration: Custom Wall Sconces for a Pacific Palisades Home

Lighting is essential to any interior design project. Sarah Barnard creates custom lighting designs for her clients' homes that consider form beyond functionality. "Lighting should do more than simply serve a purpose. It can become a focal design element that reflects a theme or a work of art in itself."

Sarah works closely with local artisans and craftspeople to realize her designs. "It all begins with an idea. I often take formal inspiration from the home's location and reinterpret that within the space." Her inspiration for this Pacific Palisades Home was their calming ocean view. While embracing the soft orbs in the design of her custom wall sconces, the first step was to fabricate several small ceramic prototypes for the client's review.

 

Unique handmade objects bring authenticity and personalization to your interior design project. Sarah designed this beautiful sculptural wall sconce specifically for the “Scandifornian” style peaceful Palisade's living room. The elegantly contoured surface was carved by hand from American Walnut by a trusted woodworker. The organic form and natural wood finish pairs perfectly with an exotic arrangement of heliconia, bringing the outdoors into the home.

Beginning with a sketch, Sarah's designs undergo several creative working stages. The initial sketch concept is further refined through hand-made miniatures, sculptural models and sometimes 3D design applications. These materials are essential to communicating her idea and are carefully referenced during the fabrication process to ensure design continuity.

Inside the woodworking studio, the prototype is compared to the raw sconce carving. The hand-carved details accentuate the soft billowing sculptural design. With a background in Fine Arts, Sarah ensures the most exceptional craftsmanship and personalization by working closely with specialized artisans throughout the fabrication process. Her unique lighting designs integrate functionality with sculptural beauty creating one-of-a-kind fixtures which act as artwork.

Sarah Barnard designs healthy, happy, personalized spaces that are deeply connected to nature and art.

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit www.SarahBarnard.com.

Photos by Steven Dewall and Abby Siniscal

Healthy Home Design: Natural Interiors

The impact of sustainability can be addressed both in terms of the built environment, and its effect on the day-to-day lives of the people who inhabit these design spaces. Sound environmental design should create a symbiotic relationship between the user and their environment. Designer Sarah Barnard’s holistic approach considers the psychological and emotional factors within a model to promote wellness.

Healthy Materials

When choosing the basics, one should keep in mind the range of organic materials that offer health benefits. Sarah believes that eco-friendly and natural material selection is the basis for a healthy design. “Creating a restorative environment begins with sustainable choices. Even the smallest decisions matter and can have profound effects on our health and the environment.” Her holistic approach towards material selection includes raw fibers and natural textiles, such as wool, cotton, and linen.

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This all natural (non-toxic) sofa pairs with a handmade, live edge coffee table displaying a collection of the homeowner's favorite things: agate slices, ammonites and an array of rose and lavender colored thistles. A group of brightly colored floor cushions provides the perfect casual living room seating. Natural fibers like wool and linen are comfortable and healthy and can be organically dyed.

Intricately hand carved sconces in American Walnut were designed by Sarah Barnard specifically for this “Scandifornian” style home. Natural woods are another excellent material with an array of attributes that can become a defining focal point within your design. From stunning colors to unique knots and grain patterns, natural woods such as oak, walnut, and maple provide various utility and elemental beauty within a home. Sarah Barnard works closely with local artisans and craftsmen to realize her custom furniture and lighting designs. This beautiful walnut dining table was custom made for this room from a single fallen tree.

Elemental Accents

A key component of biophilic design is to incorporate natural elements within an artificial environment. We spend so much of our time indoors that the objects we surround ourselves with become very important. Recently, Sarah Barnard completed a sustainable penthouse on Ocean Avenue for an out of town couple with super meditative space requirements. Think total relaxation and harmony with the universe. By utilizing furniture and accessories as an expression of nature, Sarah’s custom designs bring the outdoors into the home. Elemental accents such as stone, concrete, minerals, ceramics, and plants create a sense of grounded balance.

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Sarah designed a concrete fireplace specifically for this home with features such as subtle, etched lines that reference the movement of water. The mantle displays specimens from the homeowner's collection of minerals. Delicate orbs are a soothing and repeated design element throughout the home. Sarah worked closely with a local artisan to realize her vision for custom designed wall sconces. This piece of functional art was hand-made from ceramic clay and fired in a kiln using traditional glazing processes.

A handmade table with a live wood edge feels close to nature drawing attention to its organic form. When displayed among collected shells and family photographs, large mineral specimens diversify a typical collection. Sarah believes it is vital to surround yourself with things both meaningful and beautiful.  "Live with what you love. Surround yourself with beauty and positive energy." Her design philosophy recognizes the importance of creating contemplative spaces that highlight her clients valued mementos and personal collections.

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Another beautiful hand made wood table was made to fit perfectly within the foyer alcove providing a gentle, welcoming display of objects meant to inspire, protect and enlighten. The subtle sheen of the pale blue wallcovering references the nearby reflective sea and accompanies delicate coral inspired wall sconces.

Sarah Barnard designs healthy, happy, personalized spaces that are deeply connected to nature and art.

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit www.SarahBarnard.com.

Photos by Steven Dewall

California Dreamers: Victorian + Bohemian Teen Bedroom

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This teen girl's room comes to life with colorful bohemian "Scandifornian" elements inspired by Scandinavia, influenced by Southern California life. and antique white furniture inspired by the Queen Anne style. Fuchsia, teal, apricot, and gold--together at last! This teen girl's bedroom color palette expresses her youth and energy. A vintage hobnail glass vase sits among fine art by Renae Barnard and Melissa Halozan on the teen girl's bedroom nightstand.

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The textured chartreuse throw, the teal bedding and handmade draperies banded with colorful embroidery in shades of fuchsia, teal, chartreuse, and gold bring the luxury. A vintage-inspired desk and Queen Anne chair are the perfect combination. An articulating desk lamp adds a pop of aqua to the teen girl's study area. Vibrant protea flowers converse with draping amaranthus and an oil painting by Allie Ihm.

Sarah Barnard designs healthy, happy, personalized spaces that are deeply connected to nature and art.

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit www.SarahBarnard.com.

Photos by Steven Dewall

Best and Blue-est Blues for Home Design

Blue is a versatile color that looks great in any room.  Often used in homes, blue can be calming, peaceful, and charming.  Check out these great blue rooms by Sarah Barnard Design.

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The existing antique brick and the chosen cool blue tones of the locally made cabinetry make for a delightful collection of old and new in this Scandifornian style home located in Pacific Palisades, California. Founded in a Scandinavian aesthetic with an appreciation of natural materials, light and bright spaces and a California cozy style all it’s own makes this eco-friendly kitchen one of them most loved rooms in the house.

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Refreshing blue tiles offset a limestone niche and give the serene master bath a splash of color.
 

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Blue, a predictable choice for a boy's bedroom, transforms this 'little man's' room with the warmth of traditional design elements and cutting edge details to create a youthful, contemporary space.

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This mural, featuring a vintage Aston Martin inspired by the classic James Bond film 'Goldfinger,' is paired with blue wainscoting.

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The soaking tub echoes the oval forms present elsewhere in the space and allows for a feeling of lightness overall.

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 A sea of blue ceramic tile paired with organic form glass floor tiles and an orb-like wall sconce create a fresh aesthetic for a child's bathroom.

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Quarts countertops infused with real seashells pair nicely with the seaside location of the residence.

Sarah Barnard designs healthy, happy, personalized spaces that are deeply connected to nature and art.

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit www.SarahBarnard.com.

Powder Room Interior Design

Powder rooms, or half-baths, are designed to be used by guests. Creating a stylish powder room can make your guests feel welcomed and pampered.  A well-designed powder room utilizes a small space through a bold statement.

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A hand-carved stone sink sits atop custom maple shelving in this jewel box of a powder bathroom. Inspired by Scandinavian design principles and informed by California living this powder room includes Moroccan influences for a truly collected aesthetic, affectionately called Scandifornian.

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This serene guest bathroom has a custom vanity cabinet and matching wood framed mirror which floats above the cream-colored pebble flooring.

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Pillowed, onyx wall tiles and a hand carved, honey onyx sink harmoniously mesh with a specially made mahogany vanity.

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Bespoke cabinetry, Carrera marble detailing and oil rubbed bronze fixtures create a rich palette that delights the senses.

Sarah Barnard designs healthy, happy, personalized spaces that are deeply connected to nature and art.

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit www.SarahBarnard.com.

Peaceful Palisades: Scandifornian Style in a Beautiful Blue Bathroom

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The soaking tub echoes the oval forms present elsewhere in the space and allows for a feeling of lightness overall.

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Quarts countertops infused with real seashells pair nicely with the seaside location of the residence.

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The natural woods and focus on light, bright and cozy feelings are a nod to traditional Scandinavian design, a sea of blue ceramic tile paired with organic form glass floor tiles and an orb-like wall sconce to create a fresh Southern California aesthetic, Scandifornian.

Sarah Barnard designs healthy, happy, personalized spaces that are deeply connected to nature and art.

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit www.SarahBarnard.com.

Peaceful Palisades: Scandifornian Style in a Gorgeous Guest Bath

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This serene guest bathroom has a custom vanity cabinet and matching wood framed mirror that float above the cream colored pebble flooring. Inspired by Scandinavian design the space is intended to be light, bright and connected to nature. Distinctly California in style is the onyx countertop and protea blossom, together these elements make for a wonderful blending of elements known as Scandifornian style.

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The sleek white vessel sink rests upon a decadent onyx counter top.

Sarah Barnard designs healthy, happy, personalized spaces that are deeply connected to nature and art.

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit www.SarahBarnard.com.