XOXOAfterDark.com sat down with Sarah Richardson, host of HGTV’s Sarah’s House and Sarah 101, to talk all things interior design, and the best tips for taking your household rooms to the next level! Be sure to pick up a copy of Sarah’s book, SARAH STYLE, available now from Gallery Books!


Q: How do you choose between metals when decorating a space?

Sarah: You don’t need to choose cool or warm metals — you can have both! My rule for mixing metals is that you need repetition and should use both more than once so it doesn’t look like an accent.

Q: How do you make a flower arrangement look professional?

Sarah: For a foolproof way to arrange flowers and look like a pro, try selecting a single variety of blooms (with no greenery), cut them all the same length and cluster them together in a clear glass vase with simple lines.

Q: What is a good starting point for creating a design scheme?

Sarah: A single multicolored fabric can act as the genesis of an entire room scheme, from which all other decisions follow.

Q: What’s your best tip for decorating a powder room?

Sarah: A powder room is a standalone element that doesn’t need to connect directly with the adjoining rooms, so don’t be afraid to be bold and daring and try a color or pattern you might not use in any other room.

Q: How do you turn a boring wall into a focal point?

Sarah: Add impact to a bland wall by installing a simple and inexpensive trim profile to create an oversized panel, and then apply decorative wallpaper to the interior of the panel.

 Q: What is your favorite organizational tip?

Sarah: Edit and purge, or as William Morris said so much more eloquently “Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

 Q: What’s your best piece of design advice?

Sarah: Design for you and the way you live. Being aware of your lifestyle and your needs will enable you to get the best results and be happy with the outcome. Be prepared to take a chance and step outside your comfort zone.

 Q: Can you recommend a wood finish to update natural wood floors?

Sarah: Whitewash is an ideal finish to apply over new, untreated pine. It allows you to appreciate the wood grain without the yellow tint that you get from natural wood. The key is to use a semi-transparent stain (as an opaque stain will look like paint)

 Q: What’s the best way to make a small room appear larger?

Sarah: Placing a mirror at the head of the table in a dining room can create the effect of another window while providing a dramatic reflection of adjoining rooms.

 Q: What would you recommend to easily add character to a cookie cutter house?

Sarah: If your home doesn’t have all the architectural detail you desire, just embellish. Moldings and trim details are the hallmarks of a custom builder, yet can be easily added to any home to give it a more stately presence.

 Q: How can I make sure my renovation budget doesn’t spiral out of control?

Sarah: Since bathroom renovations inevitably gobble up the budget and make your savings account a thing of the past, it’s important to have the details right, and to save money wherever possible.

 Q: Is there a particular kind of flooring that lends itself well to small spaces?

Sarah: I’m a fan of hardwood floors, but often avoid them in small spaces. If you want the room to be cozy and quiet, wall-to-wall broadloom with a short, dense pile is a good plan.