“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

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.

California Minimalism: Scandifornian Style in Santa Monica, CA

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When a government executive from the east coast decided to retire, she knew it was time to finally make her home in Santa Monica into the perfect restorative retreat. From a lifetime of travel, she collected an eclectic and beautiful array of art and antique furniture that needed to proper placement in the home she bought in the 1990s with her now late husband. She enlisted the help of Sarah Barnard Design to redesign the home, entrusting her with the task of blending the unique and personal pieces of the collection with a healthy, natural and minimalist style. Inspired by the light, bright and natural aesthetic of Scandinavian design, combined with the casual, collected aesthetic of Santa Monica, California.

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Sarah Barnard set out to create a home that was not only beautiful, but that would allow the owner to be comfortable indefinitely.  To achieve form and function in the kitchen, reordering the space to fit the clients’ lifestyle best proved to be the solution. An open-plan design was chosen to allow the owner to quickly cook, as well as to allow for easy entertaining of guests.

Sarah chose pale grey flat panel cabinetry to help the small space feel lighter and brighter. Matte white glass tiles were selected to add a quiet elegance to the minimal space. Once the project was complete, the homeowner gushed, “Entertaining here is much more pleasurable, as is cooking for one in my new kitchen.”

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The natural French oak flooring seamlessly connects the kitchen to the dining area, enlarging the sense of space in both rooms. Open shelving just outside the kitchen keeps cookbooks close and adds a sophisticated pop of color while stainless steel appliances were selected to pair with polished chrome cabinet hardware subtly. The simplicity of the color palette, the clean, natural materials, and the streamlined design created simplicity and new ease of use.

Sarah knew that repurposing the owner's treasured pieces would be essential in the home's re-design, so the owner's antique chairs and matching rosewood table from Thailand are placed prominently, bringing warmth and history to the contemporary dining space. The Italian chandelier above it contrasts the classic style and is made of laser cut metal and glass.

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In the living room, the original design included a sizeable diagonal bench that connected to the fireplace. The redesign eliminated this and other cumbersome architectural elements to create more floor space and a modern aesthetic. Sarah conceived a more straightforward hearth to feature art and items her client painstakingly collected. A serene white plaster fireplace with a Qortstone marble hearth now anchors the living room in a place where a traditional wood and stone mantle once sat.

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“I had not originally contemplated changing the living room fireplace wall, but I am delighted with the sleek new look Sarah achieved,” said the owner, who was also happy to have the perfect place for her paintings finally. “This oil painting, ‘Raspberry,’ previously hung in the stairwell between the second and third floors where its exuberant shapes and brush strokes could not be fully appreciated.” The painting, by Wendy Edwards, now hangs neatly above the fireplace.

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A pair of dark stained wood coffee tables, also from the owner’s collection, were carefully chosen to make entertaining easy, while the vintage rug anchors all the white space with vibrant color. The result is sophisticated minimalism throughout the living room.

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Upstairs, the owner requested an expansive shower, so the master bathroom became a "wet room." Sarah planned for every eventuality in the owner's future, including her long term health and well-being using universal design principles. The result was a space free of any barriers like steps or glass shower walls.

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Sarah designed the space to feel light and boundless by selecting custom cabinetry, also adding storage and architectural interest to this modern master bathroom. Plumbing fixtures by California Faucets were chosen for their pure beauty, while the countertop slabs contain small pieces of natural shell, echoing the nearby ocean. Sarah finds that an element of nature adds a touch of calmness. Above the counter, diffuse split disc wall sconces were chosen to add a soft light to the room.

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Both beauty and safety are prominent in Sarah’s Scandifornian design. Beautiful and sleek hand-glazed wall tiles inspired by sterling silver accompany durable and slip-resistant porcelain mosaic tile flooring that create a functioning and timeless atmosphere. Finally, an antique Victorian chair and a giclée print by artist D.J. Hall personalizes the fresh and crisp master bathroom.

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While continuing the elegant, sparse aesthetic from the first floor, the master bedroom suite fills the entire second floor of this beautiful minimal townhouse, so special attention was paid to make it simple and calm. As the owner explained, “I travel frequently, and the serenity of the space makes coming home very comforting.”

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The homeowner cares about her health and her environment; she practices self-care through activities like yoga and Pilates. It was essential to her that her home be filled with natural materials. Sarah was careful as always to find organic and lasting materials that would contribute to her health and wellness. The master bedroom suite now highlights the beauty of natural objects and materials while planning for maximum comfort and use. The space features a vintage leather headboard by Duxiana, and the artwork is a framed print of a painting by Marc Chagall (c. 1957). Glass orbs were chosen to provide soft bedside light that keeps the nightstands free for books and other objects.

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A second fireplace in a corner was made over in sterling silver-toned ceramic tiles, adding visual warmth. The marigold club chair beside it was made more personal with the addition of a handmade honey bee pillow embroidered by the homeowner.

Plants and flowers dot the suite, as Sarah adds plants whenever possible to create a healthy and natural environment. The unique collection mixed with healthy materials in the design of this townhouse allowed a meaningful and sophisticated style to emerge. After the completion of this redesign, the owner explained that what she loves best about her new home is “[the] serenity of the color palette and surfaces, the bold, visually arresting scale of the principal lighting fixtures, and the way the new surroundings accommodate favorite furniture pieces and decorative items.”  The newly finished home is a testament to the idea that less is more, and that health and natural design are the solutions to luxury.

by Kelsey Betancourt

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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.

Photos by Steven Dewall.

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.