Eluxe Magazine: Dream House! Sustainable Interior Design by the Sea

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DREAM HOUSE! SUSTAINABLE INTERIOR DESIGN BY THE SEA

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Who doesn’t dream of a beautiful home outfitted with all natural materials, organic textiles, handmade and eco-friendly furnishings – on the coast, no less? Eco-friendly interior designer  Sarah Barnard was asked to perform a design overhaul on a 3,600 sq. ft. family home in Santa Monica. The stipulation? The owners wanted sustainable interior design that reflects a seaside theme throughout the living spaces.

Called the Peaceful Palisades Project, the resulting house boasts materials such as ceramic, wood and wool, as well as outstanding customised features such as a concrete fireplace, designed by Sarah.

Sarah’s diverse body of work includes upscale private residences, chic restaurants, luxurious spas and impressive corporate headquarters, and her projects have been featured in local and national publications, and have placed prominently in several noted design competitions. Here, we asked her a little bit about what motivates her ecological interior designs.

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What are the biggest differences designing a family home and one for singletons or couples?

While all of our clients care about healthy living, parents with young children are especially concerned about the materials that make up their home environments. Natural, non-toxic materials are of the highest importance when creating spaces for growing children.

Where do you source your eco-friendly decor materials from, generally?

I buy locally whenever possible. Our firm has longstanding relationships with local artists and artisans who hand-make most of our goods, focusing on using natural, reclaimed, and honest materials. Aside from being beautiful and healthy, pieces made this way tend to be more treasured and are more likely to be kept by a family for longer.

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What are some of your favourite features of the Palisades house?

The original bones of the house were excellent. The living room has a beautiful exposed beam ceiling and there is an exposed brick fireplace that remains a decorative element in the new kitchen. 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.

And what are some of your favourite design features?

Unique handmade objects bring authenticity and personalization to a home. The sculptural wall sconces in the living room and dining room are one-of-a-kind; I designed two different sets specifically for this home. The dining room pair were made of ceramic and were inspired by the property’s calming ocean view. The elegantly contoured living room sconce was carved by hand from American Walnut by a trusted woodworker based on sketches and hand-made miniatures. The organic forms and natural finishes match perfectly with the coastal ambiance of the space.

Both fireplaces needed to be completely redone. In the living room I designed a long horizontal concrete facade and hearth with gently waving etched lines to mimic the movement of the nearby sea. In the dining room, I chose a Ann Sacks tile glazed in brilliant blue to create an updated linear pattern neatly framed by a custom concrete mantle.

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What are some of the biggest challenges you face when sourcing eco-friendly interiors items?

The wait times-miracles don’t happen overnight. We often work with small shops and individual artisans who handcraft our pieces to order. Patience truly is a virtue when building natural, custom homes.

What was the family’s reaction to your work?

The homeowner for this project was very happy with the final result and the new connection the space had with its surroundings. She was easy to work with, since she is highly intelligent and conscious about sustainability. Caring deeply about the environment and the health of her family, we didn’t have to pitch these concepts about health and wellness to her, she embraced them wholeheartedly.

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What would be your ultimate dream house?  

That would be to design would be a home that is harmonious with the nature around it. I love to work with nature and my ideal projects are ones where the environment–whether that’s the desert, ocean, prairie, jungle, or anything else–is physically and spiritual intertwined with the home. The house would have epic views and a unique personality. It would also have an owner who cares about sustainability and wellness.

By Chere Di Boscio

Photos by Steven Dewall

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.

Ocean Avenue Penthouse: Contemporary Kitchen Style

Maple cabinets and natural granite pair with stainless steel hardware in this Ocean Avenue penthouse kitchen. The light maple cabinetry maintains a spacious, airy feeling in the petite modern kitchen. Matching barstools turn a kitchen cut-out into the perfect breakfast nook. The adjacent custom built-in desk provides a tidy corner for paying bills or reading recipes on the web.

Natural wood, rattan and stone accessories make this modern kitchen lively and fun. Cable system track lighting illuminates the natural stone counters and floors. The architectural cut-out around the stove beautifully integrates the kitchen with the rest of the space allowing for more natural light.

The kitchen seamlessly flows into the adjacent dining area where a custom table of chrome and maple sets against a wall of mirrors. Tillandsia plants make a perfect centerpiece for beachfront dining. This modern kitchen design fully utilizes the compact space while preserving an open and integrated feeling with the rest of the penthouse.

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 Brad Nicol

Ocean Avenue Penthouse: Contemporary Living Room

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An Ocean Avenue penthouse with a bird's eye view of Santa Monica's coastline is outfitted with eco-friendly furnishings, natural textiles and organic rugs to create a perfect Zen retreat. White fabric poufs provide extra seating for guests and are low enough to preserve the ocean view. A natural driftwood sculpture compliments a collection of organic objects as the centerpiece to this biophilic design.

Fine art can become a unique design element within a room. This one of a kind artwork fashioned from hand-thrown clay disks explicitly created for the living room captures the calming energy of the ocean air. The installation's delicate minimalism and organic formations add dimension and complement the room's natural textures.

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Sustainably sourced organic textiles and fabrics adorn this custom sectional with natural latex cushions, a perfect companion to the organic wool rug and toss blanket. A modern white metal side table with a fun organic shape adds interest.

This modern design preserves the expansive coastline view while utilizing a wall of mirrors to extend the entertaining area visually. The integrated dining area features a custom table of chrome and maple perfectly sized for this compact space.

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A collection of eco-friendly materials, organic textiles, and vintage accoutrements make this Ocean Avenue penthouse the ultimate beach retreat. The delicate chandelier made up of tiny light bulbs, and wire reminds us of stars strung together in the sky. Tillandsia plants make a perfect centerpiece for beachfront dining. 

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 Brad Nicol

Houzz Pro Spotlight: How to Design a Healthy, Happy Home

Who: Sarah Barnard

Where: Santa Monica, California

In her own words: “The more informed we are and the better choices we make, the cleaner and healthier our homes can be.”

When furnishing your space, it is essential to consider how your choices will affect your family. “We need to create high-functioning, natural and nontoxic environments that endure over time,” interior designer Sarah Barnard says. The principal at Sarah Barnard Design in Santa Monica, she believes in “optimizing the health and happiness of the people within a home.”

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Passion for the arts. Barnard studied interior architecture and fine art before starting her own company. “I’ve always been interested in history, architecture and the environment,” she says. “They all inform my practice.” She also enjoys the fashion aspect: “We are always influenced by trends like new colors, patterns, and fibers. Design is a balance of old and new.”

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A green philosophy. Barnard, a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) accredited professional, believes sustainable design is no longer a specialty area. “I wouldn’t be taking good care of my clients if I designed spaces any other way,” she says. In addition to her usual clients, Barnard does pro bono design work for nonprofits so they too can enjoy healthy, natural spaces.

Read Barnard’s tips below to create a home that benefits the mind, body, and soul.

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1. Utilize Universal Design

Barnard recommends designing a home that will endure all of your family’s life stages. “Strategize early in the design phase,” she says. “When you get older, or someone faces a disability, the last thing you want to do is tear apart your home.”

One way to incorporate universal design is to use a wall-hung cabinet in your bathroom, such as the one Barnard installed in this Pacific Palisades home. It provides not only a clean aesthetic but also ample toe space for maneuvering in a wheelchair. She also added plentiful overhead, undercabinet and wall-sconce lighting. “People can adjust the lighting to suit their needs,” she says.

See more of this project

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2. Choose Eco-Friendly Materials

Natural and organic textiles can improve indoor air quality. “Most home products have been tested, but not in conjunction with other items,” Barnard says. “Combining products that each release a small amount of toxic vapor creates a polluted environment.” Alternatively, she recommends using pieces that are at least 20 years old, as they’ve long since finished off-gassing.

Barnard sourced eco-friendly materials, such as natural latex cushions and an organic wool rug, to create this healthy oasis for Santa Monica clients. “The coffee table was solid lumber finished with natural linseed oil; no toxic adhesives were used,” she says.

See more of this project

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3. Reinvent What You Have

You don’t necessarily have to expand your home to achieve your desired layout. “You can modernize and increase comfort without adding on by rearranging what you have,” Barnard says.

West Hollywood clients wanted more space but didn’t want to modify the structure of their 1918 Craftsman bungalow. “We moved interior walls to increase functionality,” Barnard says. She stole a bit of space from one bathroom to make another one more substantial and used space from the coat closet to make room for a shower in the shrunken bathroom.

See more of this project

More: For more information on Sarah Barnard and examples of her work, visit Sarah Barnard Design’s Houzz profile.

This story was written by the Houzz Sponsored Content team.

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.

Traditional Home: Pacific Palisades Estate Foyer

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The original oak staircase is the primary feature of the foyer in this Pacific Palisades Estate. The original oak staircase was meticulously restored and finished with wool carpets specially woven to wrap up the stairs and around the landing seamlessly. Deep black natural stone tiles were hand brushed to achieve a softened finish for the custom flooring.

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Paintings by Brian Johnson sit atop a table carved to fit the curvature of the foyer wall.

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Bringing attention to unique details, the Better Times Peonies brighten a display of the homeowner's favorite things.

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