California Minimalism

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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.

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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 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.

Biophilia: Nature & Design

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You may have seen the terms "biophilia" or "biophilic design" brandished around the internet lately, posted between beautiful images of sprawling interior design and architecture filled with plants and nature-inspired sculpture installations. Biophilia isn't new–but it is a growing discipline in interior design. If you are interested in healthy living or are a  building owner, it's a subject worth learning.

Biophilia is our innate desire to be close to nature–and biophilic design aims to make healthy and comfortable interiors by meaningfully incorporating natural elements into our home and work environments. Los Angeles-based interior designer Sarah Barnard sat down with me to explain how she uses biophilic principles to create healthful, smart spaces for her clients. "It's intuitive when you think about it. Biophilia exists because we are comforted by nature, and we all understand that on some level. Nobody wants to live in a little grey box–we want to live in open spaces connected with the environment, plant-life, and the seasons."

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Biophilic design puts a few simple principles to use to create spaces that are both visually beautiful and spiritually healthful. As more and more of us make our careers our focus, calmness, serenity and healthy living can be challenging to achieve without the help of nature and smart design. There are years of study to support what we already know in our bones: spaces that have nature incorporated are more appealing to us, and they have marked health benefits.

Terrapin Bright Green is a consulting firm specializing in sustainability to create a healthy, prosperous, and regenerative future for all. They produce workshops, research, planning, guidelines, and product development. They have researched biophilia and organized their findings into 14 principles of biophilic design and have studied the effects of biophilia on our health and wellness. For the most part, many of the principles are simple and intuitive, such as ‘Visual Connection with Nature,’ which is just what it sounds like: adding natural elements or a view to nature into your space.However if you’d like to read an in-depth, thorough explanation of all 14 principles, you can see the results of Terrapin’s research here: https://www.terrapinbrightgreen.com/reports/14-patterns/ . For today, we need only to talk about the three subcategories of the design principles: Nature in the Space, Natural Analogies, and Nature of the Space.

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Nature in the space refers to the presence of natural elements in an interior. For example, that could mean having plants, shells, or water features. But it could also mean more abstract features, like natural light or light that changes throughout the day, air circulation, and a view to the outdoors. “What you exclude is as just important as what you include,” said Barnard. “I choose art made with natural materials or vintage art that has off-gassed to avoid putting noxious smells or chemicals into a space. Indoor air quality accounts for part of how we feel about our homes and how comfortable we are.” All of her designs include live plants, too, which contributes to air quality, a non-visual connection with nature.

Natural analogies refers to art and forms inspired by nature: a light fixture that looks like a plant or a sculpture that looks like an animal, for example. A good designer will find natural forms and art for you to choose from so you can have art that imitates nature. Barnard walked me through a project she made custom light fixtures for. “The home was beside the ocean, and I wanted to make something inspired by the beautiful surroundings of that space. I started by sketching forms inspired by coral reefs, and I made miniatures in clay by hand. When they were ready, I had them fabricated by a local craftsman. Having forms that imitated the shape and texture of coral and having light cast in beautiful organic patterns made the space feel natural and serene.”

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Nature of the space means making the space itself seem like nature. Having a large open space through which you can see an expanse of space, as well as an enclosed room that feels safe fulfills this need. When asked for an example of how Nature of the Space might be used, Barnard said “I finished a project recently where the space had floor-to-ceiling windows with a view to the ocean. I selected low profile furniture to preserve the open space of the room and the sightline to the sea.”

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Terrapin also explains that there are three basic types of “nature-health” relationships: cognitive functionality and performance, psychological health and well-being, and physiological health and well-being. Cognitive functionality and performance is our mental acuity and focus. Psychological health and well-being refers to our mood, perception, and emotional state. Physiological health and well-being is our bodily health and performance.

All three areas of well-being see improvement when the 14 principles of biophilic design are applied in a space. The benefits have been thoroughly studied: each principle has been individually tested and shown improvements such as concentration, stress hormone levels, overall happiness, and numerous other positive effects.

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In fact, research by other sources has yielded similar results. The Human Spaces Global Report also found greater levels of well being in subjects with a view of natural elements rather than urban settings, according to a recent article by Steelcase’s magazine 360.

Steelcase, the largest furniture manufacturer in the world, is dedicated to sustainability, innovation, and wellness. They too have invested into researching biophilia in order to produce furniture for healthy, sustainable spaces. They describe the human experience with nature in four categories:

Sensory richness: mixing colors, textures, sizes and shapes. Varied elements in a space mimics nature and puts us at ease.

Natural rhythms and signals: anything that reminds us of natural processes can help restore us. Natural lighting that allows real sunlight, or artificial light that changes to mimic natural light.

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Challenges in nature: the idea is that our challenging environment is what pushed humanity to grow into what we are today, so there should be encouragement towards effort.

Local distinctiveness: having a feature that does not repeat anywhere else in the building can help large offices from becoming soulless or bleak. Reserving a certain material or color for one room can make it and the surrounding space more special and pleasant.

These four principles are a useful way to understand how we are affected by nature, and offer another way to begin tackling the design challenges you may be facing in your home or workspace. Whether you use these four facets or the 14 principles of biophilic design as a jumping off point to improve your space, a deeper connection with nature is healthy and beneficial.

“When you strip it down to basics, using biophilic design means including pieces of nature in the design, elements inspired by nature, and mimicking natural environments with layout, architecture and planning,” Barnard said. Homeowners and building owners especially might consider taking these premises into account in order to make their home or office a place that promotes their mental and physical wellbeing. Getting started can be as simple as purchasing a few plants. If you aren’t sure where to go from there, a designer can help you put all the principles into practice. Ideally, your space incorporates nature, smart design and healthy living.

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.

References

Browning, W., Ryan, C., Clancy, J., 14 PATTERNS OF BIOPHILIC DESIGN. Retrieved from https://www.terrapinbrightgreen.com/reports/14-patterns/

Steelcase Corporation, Restoration Office. Retrieved from https://www.steelcase.com/research/articles/topics/wellbeing/restoration-office/

Photos by Chas Metivier, Steven Dewall

Historic West Hollywood Bungalow: Caribbean Blue Bathroom

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This historic West Hollywood bungalow is all about color! The newly remodeled bathroom features a custom tile design by Sarah Barnard. The rich browns and vibrant teal blue's inspire thoughts of the Caribbean Sea. The spacious walk-in shower features a limestone seat providing the perfect complement to the saturated chocolate wall tiles.

Subtle details and accessories counterbalance the bathroom's bold colors. Handmade art tile and a beautiful handmade vessel make this masculine space special. A rustic mirror frame made of recycled barn wood helps to keep the new space fun and funky.

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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 Chas Metivier

Harbor-Side Loft: Master Bedroom

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This harbor-side loft in Marina Del Rey features a masculine master bedroom with a contemporary nautical design. The master bedroom breathes with calming deep blue walls and dark walnut furniture. The artwork by Sara Pae and rich, dark furniture complement the blue tones of the room. The wall behind the bed is papered in a hand-blocked geometric pattern and paired with drapes made of wool in a warm winter white.

Vintage and brass elements add visual interest to the contemporary maritime theme. Tom Dixon pendants frame the headboard adding a pop of gold over each nightstand. A collection of coral, driftwood, and tillandsia enliven the matching bedside tables. Strategically placed houseplants in the bedroom contribute to clean indoor air and add to the calming seaside atmosphere.

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 Chas Metivier

Park View Pied-à-Terre: Kitchen

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A Park View Pied-à-Terre features an elegantly modern kitchen with ample counter space. The counter's tiered design creates additional bar top space for kitchen-side dining. A dramatic chandelier made of recycled rock crystal adds sparkle to the sustainable kitchen design.

Dark wood cabinets compliment the natural stone countertops and glossy backsplash tile. The extra-deep single bowl sink in an under mount, stainless steel design is both high functioning and lovely. The sleek design and minimalist elements of the kitchen work correctly with the home's integrated layout.

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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 Chas Metivier

Park View Pied-à-Terre: Master Bathroom

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This Pied-à-Terre has a small master bathroom with a modernist feel. Utilizing reclaimed materials this bathroom is brought to life with natural, handmade and local materials. Recycled vanities make fast friends with wall mounted mirrors made from salvaged barn wood. The vintage Danish pendant light (c.1950-1959) made of brass and glass is a functional piece of art for this functional room. A fiber sculpture by artist Renae Barnard hangs just to the left of a recessed wall niche that provides a perfect space for integrating live plants.

Bold minimalism is balanced with rustic details to create this contemporary vintage design. Stainless steel faucets, integral towel bars and coordinating bathroom accessories meld effortlessly with the deep tones of the ebonized vanity. Fresh cut branches add visual interest to the porcelain sinks and bring the outdoors in.

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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 Chas Metivier

Santa Monica Sanctuary: Teen Boy's Bedroom

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Autumn is always in the air in this teen boy's bedroom; which has a reclaimed wood bed frame and a natural log nightstand. The deep orange ceiling casts an overall warm glow while the pumpkin colored draperies work with the other elements to create a dramatic statement. A well-loved toy rests against custom pillows and bedding in embossed cotton velvet. A contemporary armchair was deconstructed and re-plated in antique bronze and upholstered in a vintage-inspired geometric fabric.

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 Chas Metivier

Traditional Home: Santa Monica Sanctuary Bathroom

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Created from what once was a storage closet, this guest bathroom features quartz countertops, a farmhouse sink, and a multi-tonal mosaic floor. The small floor tiles allow for maximum grout area which increases traction and improves safety. The delicate farmhouse sink adds a contemporary edge to the traditionally styled bathroom outfitted in handmade ceramic tiles and bespoke maple cabinetry.

The roll-in shower has a built-in seat, shelf, and grab bar to accommodate the needs of family members with various levels of physical ability. With environmentally sustainable LED lighting, this cheery family-friendly bathroom features a separate dressing area with towel storage and artwork made by the client's children.

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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 Chas Metivier

Traditional Home: Pacific Palisades Master Bathroom

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Bespoke American Walnut cabinets and handmade, glazed ceramic tiles restore period authenticity to this Pacific Palisades Estate Master Bathroom. Recessed medicine cabinets provide ample storage while custom-designed light fixtures in antique bronze illuminate the vanity area. Artwork by Renae Barnard and Miggie Wong rest atop the vanity counter.

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Careful consideration is given to every project detail to retain the traditional aesthetic in the master bathroom and throughout the home. Motorized natural linen roman shades make for smooth operation and enjoyment of the ocean view. American Walnut cabinets and handmade ceramic tiles outfit his and hers water closets.

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

Traditional Home: Pacific Palisades Living Room

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The traditional living room is at the heart of this Pacific Palisades Estate. A painting by Kevin Moore adds vibrant color adorning the unique oak mantle. Restoring the home’s original details in combination with contemporary accents provides a warming update to this formal aesthetic — the restored original oak mantle pairs well with a new stone slip and hearth. Additionally, the home’s original leaded glass windows were preserved and the oak frames restored.

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An artisan woodworker brought to life Sarah Barnard's custom entertainment center design.

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The homeowners are great lovers of music and collect many unique antique instruments including this Victorian-era organ. Their pottery collection adorns the antique's mantle. Hand carved fauteuil chairs augment the reading area in the formal living room.

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Plush burnt orange velvet bergère chairs create a favorite reading spot for the homeowners. In the formal living room, an antique Queen Anne coffee table anchors the conversation area. Delicate natural grasscloth wallpaper provides the setting for antique reproduction 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