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.

Beachy Bachelor: Masculine Interior Design, Santa Monica Style

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For this Beachy Bachelor, Sarah Barnard introduced a mid-century vintage character with a beautiful collection of modern pottery, driftwood, and vintage ceramic vases. This Santa Monica townhouse embodies the coastal California luxury lifestyle, effortlessly combining opulent materials with a relaxed beach-side setting.

A custom calacatta gold marble bar expands the living rooms entertaining space, while the natural wool rug anchors the conversation area. The floating American walnut console keeps the masculine space light. A reclaimed Elm wood side table rests atop the home's original Oak floors. Crisp, white walls accentuate the natural wood finishes throughout while allowing the minimalist stair-railing to float in space.

The masculine dining room and adjacent patio make the most of their indoor-outdoor connection with a versatile area rug specially selected to withstand the bright light and high traffic. A sculptured glass and steel chandelier reflects the natural light of the surrounding space.

Handmade roman shades attach to a custom wood enclosure for privacy and shade on the patio. A natural teak root ball fashioned into a rugged side table pairs with a weathered teak armchair and lightweight concrete pottery. Acacia wood deck tiles add a warm angular base to the cool blue patio space. Found in Georgia by Sarah, the vintage mid-century modern whale ashtray is brass and a perfect complement to the cool tones.

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The master retreat features a handmade bed of tweed by Domonique Keiffer from Venice, Italy is covered in Belgian linens and shaded by wool draperies. A bold, abstract painting by Jonathan Elder hangs above the bed. Surf-inspired artifacts and unique vintage pieces complete the look.

A vintage leather chair with its original leather patina, designed by Percival Lafer, manufactured in Brazil in 1958. Sarah worked with her longtime collaborator, artist Reid Winfrey, placing several of his surf-inspired paintings in the beachside 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 www.SarahBarnard.com.

Vegan Interior Design

“You can still have everything you want, even if you are vegan,” Sarah Barnard explained. For those vegans who want to surround themselves with luxurious vegan linens, more natural, beautiful and durable vegan materials are available than ever. If you are the type of vegan who loves the look of animal products, more and more perfect options are available for you as well. Los Angeles designer and recent ASID award-winner Sarah Barnard took time to go over the growing vegan interior design market and her experience with clients who care about animals. “Happily, the days of sacrificing comfort for principles are over. There are plenty of luxury options for vegans, too.”

Of course, vegan and vegetarian mean different things to different people. It helps to clarify your preferences ahead of time. A knowledgeable designer can help you sort through what is desirable to bring into your home and what isn’t, and can help with any additional design considerations that frequently go hand-in-hand with a love of animals, like the desire for an eco-friendly home. DIY strategies are abundant on sites like Pinterest or Etsy, but some subtle animal materials may slip past you if you aren’t sure what to avoid, or less perfect materials may get selected by default.

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“If vegan living is important to you, find an interior designer to help you. It’s the best way to make sure you feel good about your design decisions,” Barnard explained. “Ideally, you would work with a designer who has experience and vegan resources prepared.” One must vet each component of every item. There are the obvious things: fabrics, leather, and fur. But plenty of materials that you wouldn’t expect to use animal byproducts, too. Paint, glue, and lacquer are less obvious and slip by unnoticed most of the time. Old master painting or collectible paintings, for example, can potentially have small amounts of animal byproducts: nevermind that canvas was sometimes made of animal hide, but eggs were used to make tempera paint, and some pigments were derived from animal skin or hair as well. “Essentially, every part of every item could potentially bring animal products into your home.” Barnard cautioned. When asked how she avoids this, she answered, “I work closely with local artists and manufacturers that work with vegan materials. The artists care deeply about animals and the environment and make careful choices in the selection of materials.”

Some things that may be marketed as a cruelty-free product need to be verified also. For example, some silk manufacturers claim they wait until the silkworms have died to harvest their cocoons, but less reputable manufacturers have been caught lying about their processes.

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While it can be exhausting searching for an alternative, don’t settle for just any synthetic material. A designer has access to samples and access to a myriad of information on the manufacturers’ technical specifications on art, furniture, and building materials.

Consider your health when designing or decorating with synthetic materials. Humanmade options could mean introducing elements that off-gas chemicals into your home. Vinyl and PVC for example, have been known to release chemicals for at least two weeks after installation. There are plenty of safe synthetic materials made by responsible manufacturers.

If you were on the fence about making your home vegan, consider that for a family member or guest with allergies, making your home vegan can be an excellent way to make sure there are no allergens that cause discomfort. Artificial down, for example, can be better than it’s feathery counterpart because alternatives are often water-resistant in addition to being hypoallergenic.

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For a family member on the autistic spectrum, the smell of animal leathers and the rough textures of some wools and skins may be bothersome. Ideally, a space designed for them has carefully considered and created the materials, lighting, and flow.

When asked about her favorite part of designing a vegan home, Barnard said, “Vegan interiors often end up being automatically eco-friendly.” It turns out vegan homes can have a smaller carbon footprint, simply because any process involving cultivating materials from animals means using resources to care for the animal to grow, and the carbon dioxide they exhale during their cultivation contributes to a large carbon footprint. Wood should be researched as well and sourced from responsible, sustainable sources, or reclaimed from previous projects and buildings.

Whatever your reason for choosing a vegan home, it should be relevant to the designer who helps you create your perfect home, too. You don’t have to sacrifice style or comfort; more than ever, it is possible to luxurious, durable, cruelty-free, materials.

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 Chas Metivier and Steven Dewall.

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

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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." 

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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.

Historic West Hollywood Bungalow: Living Room

A historic 1918 Craftsman Bungalow gets a fresh face! Utilizing the original Arts & Crafts woodwork design, Sarah Barnard adds a pop of contemporary color for an updated take on this traditional style. In keeping with the classic aesthetic, Sarah treats the interior with eclectic and vintage mid-century modern furnishings.

Saturated colors and modern patterns pair perfectly with wood and brass accents. At the heart of the living room is an original brick fireplace restored to its former glory. Items collected on the homeowner’s travels make fast friends on the mantle with abstract paintings by Los Angeles based artist, Lori Dorn.

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

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

Historic West Hollywood Bungalow: Orange Dreamsicle Bathroom

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Orange dreamsicle! Formerly a coat closet, this jewel box of a bathroom is made more functional by re-distributing the unused space. Sarah Barnard was able to add a walk-in shower to the previously compact guest bathroom.

This particular shade of orange inspires positivity and energy. By installing ceramic tile in a vertical pattern, they elongate the tiny space. Pebble tiles on the shower floor create an indoor/outdoor feeling. The small corner mounted sink makes the most of the limited floor space.

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

Harbor-Side Loft: Living Room

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A high-rise apartment building in Marina Del Rey, California seemed the perfect fit for a beach-loving New Yorker and his beloved golden retriever. While he valued the location and the bones of the place, the homeowner wasn’t sure how best to make this house feel like his home. Interior designer Sarah Barnard introduced natural materials, saturated colors, modern fixtures, and a textured palette elegant enough for entertaining and durable for everyday life.

The apartment’s open floor plan allows for a pleasant flow between the kitchen, dining and living areas. The dining area features a muted neutral palette accented by the oversized chandelier. This modern circular design brings rustic brightness to the dining room. Artwork by Sara Pae, Evan Conway, and Rebekah Waites adds a playful contemporary element to the otherwise traditional spaces.

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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: Living Room & Dining Area

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Perched high above Virginia Avenue Park in Santa Monica, a contemporary townhouse waited patiently for the right buyer to come along and commission a design overhaul. When Renimah Al-Mattar purchased the property as a secondary residence, she hired interior designer and LEED AP, Sarah Barnard to help her plan a comprehensive remodel that would salvage much of the existing architecture and materials while reworking the space with natural, handmade and local materials. 

Salvaged barn wood, vintage light fixtures, and area rugs, antiques and locally made reproductions exist among contemporary artwork and a custom sofa with organic materials in this living room.

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While merging traditional and contemporary aesthetics, the renovated spaces honor Renimah's environmental concerns, while balancing French Country stylings with both rustic and minimalist tendencies- a design approach that represents the complexities of Renimah's tastes and interests.

Both comfortable and contemporary, this living room is perfect for entertaining and features pieces from Renimah's collection of art. A solid bronze sculpture is perched on a coffee table specially selected to support its massive weight.  With plenty of seating for guests, the vintage-inspired sofa was made locally of natural and sustainable materials. A pair of vintage French lamps (c.1970) flank the abstract painting by artist Emily Van Horn.

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The apartment’s open floor plan allows for a pleasant flow between the kitchen, dining and living areas. This dining set was custom designed to fit perfectly within this area. Custom walnut chairs are made by hand and outfitted with white leather for a fresh and timeless aesthetic. A solid walnut dining table was custom made from a single fallen tree. The contemporary recycled rock crystal chandelier adds functional beauty to the dining area.

After the completion of the project, Renimah said, “I have always believed that your home must be your zen temple and my home gives me a feeling of peace. I love coming home to this creation and am very grateful.”

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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 Bedroom

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This master bedroom is perched high above Virginia Avenue Park in Santa Monica. Inspired by antique furnishings, most of the furniture in this home was custom made of sustainable materials by local craftsmen. Pairing contemporary elements, such as the geometric inlaid headboard with antique furnishings and fixtures creates a design both modern classic. Solid bronze drawer pulls made by French artisans compliment the locally made antique reproductions. The vintage Austrian wall sconces (c.1960) add a subtle warmth to the crisp white space.

The French Country stylings are balanced with both rustic and minimalist tendencies giving this master bedroom a cozy and contemporary feeling. A portrait painted by artist Brian Johnson sits atop a custom desk made in petite proportions. A Himalayan rock salt lamp adds warming illumination to the compact workspace. Elemental accents and organic materials are the basis for this environmentally conscious master bedroom renovation.

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: Guest Bedroom

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Nestled above Santa Monica's Virgina Park, this Pied-à-terre is complete with a guest bedroom inspired by the French countryside. Locally made antique reproductions pair perfectly with organic linen textiles. The crisp whites complement the natural textures and vintage accoutrements. A painting by artist Renae Barnard sits atop the bespoke blue nightstand. The woven headboard provides a rustic backdrop to custom silk pillows.

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Merging historic and contemporary aesthetics, this renovated guest bedroom utilizes all natural, handmade and local materials. The antique reproduction dresser features artwork by Karrie Ross and is flanked by delicate beaded sconces and natural linen roman shades.

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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

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 Master Bedroom

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The calming blue views of the ocean and sky were the inspiration for this Ocean Avenue master bedroom retreat. By outfitting with eco-friendly finishes in leather, rattan, maple, and wool, the biophilic impact of every detail was considered to optimize health and well-being.

Matching low-profile bedside tables in dark walnut topped with orchids and the homeowner's favorite books flank the master bed. The accompanying wall mounted swing arm lamps are perfect for reading. The custom commissioned artwork is reminiscent of an underwater world and adds peaceful minimalism and balance as a design element.

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A custom wall-hung console tucks away electronics and compliments the deep wood bed frame. Antique stone pottery and a dollop of moss are the perfect home to this indoor bromeliad; touches of nature are everywhere throughout this environmentally conscious design. Pottery and other artisan elements were handmade by local craftspeople and paired with indigenous plant life.

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