Meet the Bedroom that Feels Like a Hug

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Award-winning Interior Designer and American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Ones to Watch Scholar Sarah Barnard has unveiled a happiness-inducing residential design project in Beverly Hills, California — the bedroom that feels like a hug.

“We need a safe, restorative space to help our bodies rest and recharge,” says Barnard. A hug has many of the same characteristics, it makes us feel secure and comforted, and when we let go of the embrace, there’s a rush of oxytocin that leaves us with a sense of lightness.

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Oxytocin is a neurotransmitter that acts on the brain’s emotional center, promoting feelings of contentment, reducing anxiety and stress. When you hug often, your level of oxytocin increases, which strengthens social bonds. Hugging also stimulates dopamine and serotonin production in the body. Dopamine is a pleasure hormone that’s part of the brain’s reward mechanism, while serotonin is responsible for maintaining mood balance.

The jumping-off point for the bedroom was the curvilinear bed frame, an award-winning design by Autoban, carved from American black walnut. Its silhouette mimics the action of hugging, and the interior is lined with purple velvet, blending the natural texture with dark, feminine styling. To further the feeling of intimacy, Barnard chose a non-toxic, king-size organic coconut mattress topped with a reversible duvet in a custom, color-blocking scheme.

The word ‘phantasmagoria’ is scrawled across the wall behind the bed — a neon homage to the images that flicker by in our dreams. The client, a self-proclaimed bookworm, chose the word herself after much deliberation. High-pile black carpeting delivers a softness underfoot, and layered window treatments allow the client to sleep undisturbed in total darkness. “Window coverings serve many purposes,” says Barnard. “Not only do they block out sunlight and create privacy, but they add a decorative element to the room that unifies the composition.”

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The two-tone wall color, a marriage of plum and lavender, envelops the space. These hues were intentionally chosen to saturate the formerly bright bedroom, establishing a cozy, cocoon-like atmosphere. “The ceiling color extends to the walls, linking the two colors together in a way that the sharp ceiling line never could,” explains Barnard.

Hanging above the bespoke American Walnut nightstands are a pair of cloud-like pendant lights that emit a soft glow. A wall of concealed storage eliminates visual clutter, which can heighten our anxiety levels and impact sleep quality. Upholstered benches at the foot of the bed and by the entryway provide a comfortable spot to rest or dress in the morning.

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It was the client who initially requested the space “feel like a hug,” which Barnard describes as a “brilliant explanation of what good bedroom design should do.” The revamped master bedroom, a physical embodiment of a hug, provides all the comfort, safety, and well-being her client needs to settle into a restful slumber and wake up feeling warm and fuzzy.

See the rest of this home here Featured in LA Dreams Magazine

Dreams Luxury Lifestyles: Beverly Hills Bibliophile


Perched above the bustling city, this colorful, newly finished home is full of delightful surprises. Sarah Barnard was commissioned by a prolific reader and art collector for a total redesign of a Beverly Hills suite. Sarah placed her art collection and book collection prominently in this colorful, daring, and art-forward home. “I adore people who are avid collectors of anything they love!” explained Sarah about the project. This home is the result of ultra-personalized and custom design. Sarah Barnard has ample experience designing homes with unique features. Vegan design, antique collections, pet menageries, rock specimen collections, clients with special needs–anything and everything for her clients’ comfort. Art was specially commissioned, furniture was carefully tailored, and the homeowner’s collection was carefully curated.

Brushed gold and black frames pop against the bold wall color and unify the homeowner’s art collection.

Brushed gold and black frames pop against the bold wall color and unify the homeowner’s art collection.

The homeowner of this elegant suite is a dedicated bibliophile and loves to keep hard copies of all her favorites. Many classic volumes (and duplicates of a precious few, Jane Austin’s work especially), and well as first edition printings, copies from the homeowner’s childhood, and academic reading proudly grace the elegant space and create a colorful tapestry.

The entryway halls display the owner’s carefully curated artworks–including a few new pieces and her own delicate embroidery. Paintings, embroidery, mixed media works, and drawings hang against vibrant blue walls. The collection showcases work from across the globe and focuses on feminist work and portraiture. The assorted works are unified with brushed gold and black frames that stand out boldly against the beautiful blue walls. The homeowner remarked that the entryway is one of her favorite features of her newly finished home.

In the living space, floor to ceiling windows line the space on two sides, providing grand, sweeping views of the city. A dracaena specimen lines the windows and makes the home feel airy and light. A large, captivating wall sculpture by artist Renae Barnard rests above the sofa.

In the dining area, custom furniture is arranged around the dining table, providing guests a choice of styles. Higher seat heights were chosen for this homeowner to improve her ease of use. Airplants dot the bright space and connect the suite. The collection of books in the dining room allows the homeowner easy access to her beloved collection, as well as providing a beautiful talking piece and homey atmosphere.

Living area full of organic, textural and lush materials. A wall sculpture by Renae Barnard, titled ‘Aggregate Liberty’ sits above a custom furniture piece that was commissioned for the homeowner.

Living area full of organic, textural and lush materials. A wall sculpture by Renae Barnard, titled ‘Aggregate Liberty’ sits above a custom furniture piece that was commissioned for the homeowner.

Bright blues and vibrant purples make the space light and airy. A variety of antique chairs and a bespoke bench were upholstered in a gorgeous blue fabric as a modern interpretation of a dining set. Guests can choose their favorite of many seats when dining together.

The second bedroom functions as both a workspace and a media room and is filled with personalized details. A pillow with an embroidered Picasso drawing is nestled on the sleek new sofa. Agate-inspired grasscloth wallcovering feels both lush and organic in the bright space. The desk, hand-made and powder coated in black, was designed especially for this homeowner. A fiddle leaf fig (Ficus lyrata) adds life and nourishment to the space.

The bedroom’s vibrant purple walls make a stunning backdrop to a luxurious, award-winning, American black walnut bed frame by Autoban. The bed is outfitted in an Egyptian cotton duvet in a custom aubergine and crimson color scheme on a custom coconut mattress.

California king bed made from award-winning, American black walnut by Autoban, lined with purple velvet, blending natural textures with dark, feminine styling. Above it, a custom neon piece reading ‘Phantasmagoria’ adds an ethereal glow.

California king bed made from award-winning, American black walnut by Autoban, lined with purple velvet, blending natural textures with dark, feminine styling. Above it, a custom neon piece reading ‘Phantasmagoria’ adds an ethereal glow.

“I live for a challenge,” says Barnard about this home. My client’s love for narrative language inspired the art featured above her bed: a neon sign specially commissioned for the space that reads, “phantasmagoria,” and casts an otherworldly glow. Sarah asked the client to chose a word important to her, and the result is not only her favorite word for years, but is also a word that embodies her linguistic expertise and long love for literature.

The two tone purple walls in the space were designed to make the bedroom “feel like a hug,” one of the requests of the homeowner. Blackout curtains, soft lighting, rich purple tones, and exquisite bedding culminate in a lush and relaxing bedroom.

Barnard’s work is centered on health and happiness. Her projects are personalized, enduring spaces and her practice is built around doing anything and everything to ensure her client’s homes are authentic, restorative and support their best life. “Anything we can do to help our clients live better, we will.” For most, living your best life means having awareness of yourself and carefully considering your home.

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

To learn more about Sarah Barnard Design, please visit

Photography by Steven Dewall and Abby Siniscal.

Sarah Barnard: LEED AP, Interior Designer, 2017 ASID Scholar Award Winner


Sarah Barnard has been recognised by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) as a rising leader in the interior design industry demonstrating exceptional leadership and a willingness to push the boundaries of the profession. Awarded with the highest honor of Scholar, the ASID recognises Sarah's commitment to fostering connectivity and growth throughout the community.

"As a LEED AP, I design healthy, sustainable interiors for non-profit organizations that work to protect our architectural and cultural heritage and fight for social and environmental justice."

Sarah has been committed to helping organizations that protect and advance our society as well as our humanity, standing firm in a quest to aid institutions such as: The Heritage Square Museum, the Santa Monica Conservancy and the Olmstead Preservation Association, working to protect architectural and cultural histories; the Downtown Women’s Center providing permanent supportive housing to homeless women; the National Immigration Law Center providing protection for immigrants, low-income workers and people of all genders and sexual orientations; Life Rolls On-Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, aiding and inspiring people with disabilities.

"These types of organizations have never been more important to our well-being, yet in present times, are at great risk. I understand that by providing pro-bono design services, securing donations of goods and services and by always continuing to encourage growth and expansion of a compassionate community, we can encourage each other to create a better world, with hope, beauty and dignity." 


Sarah Barnard is a member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), is certified by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), and is recognized by the International Institute for Bau-Biologie & Ecology as a Building Biology Practitioner (BBP) and by the United States Green Building Council as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP). She has served on the Santa Monica Conservancy's board of directors and specializes in sustainable interior design and historic preservation.

Undertaking a broad range of projects, all of which are grounded in smart design and mindful of healthy living, Sarah’s diverse body of work includes upscale private residences, chic restaurants, luxurious spas and impressive corporate headquarters. Her projects have been featured in local and national publications, and have placed prominently in several noted design competitions. Sarah holds a Master of Fine Arts degree from Claremont Graduate University as well as undergraduate degrees in Art and Interior Architectural Design. Her interior design practice is the culmination of education and interests in art, architecture, textiles and the environment and she has written several articles for important publications including the USGBC, United States Green Building Council.

Barnard is currently working on interior design projects in the Pacific Palisades, Santa Monica, Brentwood, Los Feliz, Hancock Park & Palos Verdes Estates. Other recent projects include the corporate offices of National Geographic Entertainment in Beverly Hills, the headquarters of Life Rolls On, a subsidiary of the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation in Culver City, a Backstage Celebrity Eco-Lounge for both the Academy of Country Music Awards and the Teen Choice Awards and 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.