In describing Sarah Bartholomew, it’s hard not to use words such as “flawless” and “gracious” — not only for her signature design but for her character. Throughout her prolific career, Sarah has created spaces that balance beauty and function, leaving clients with livable, timeless designs. This year, Sarah partnered with Pottery Barn to launch a 15-item capsule collection. Plus, she opened the doors to her Nashville-based studio and showroom, a stunning space that houses a diverse selection of homewares.
When Sarah isn’t working on residential projects across the country, uncovering furnishings and welcoming guests into the showroom, or gracing the pages of House Beautiful, Southern Living, Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles and Better Homes and Gardens, she is at home — in her spectacularly designed Georgian house in her hometown of Nashville — with her husband and four adorable children. To learn more about the designer and her crisp, classic designs, we sat down to ask a few questions.
Tell us about your experience and background in design.
My path to design was not a typical one. I have always had a love for Classical architecture and design, but it was not until around eight years ago when a friend in Nashville was building a custom home and asked me to design the project that I began my business. After that project went well, that job led to several more, and the work kept multiplying. I also have been lucky with the support of many editors, which I am forever grateful for!
What is your design aesthetic and how does it set you apart?
A fresh take on classic design — I am constantly studying interiors from the past and translate those silhouettes and details into modern settings in updated ways. I find inspiration in design elements from decades and centuries ago and reinterpret them for today.
How do you balance beauty and function?
Something that I think people may not realize is that you don’t have to sacrifice beauty for function! When designing a space, the first thing that I do is understand how it is used, then I create the concept from there so that the home or room is loved and used. When things are used or worn, that makes them all the more personal and fitting. It’s like a good patina!
You work on projects in Nashville and beyond. How does your approach to design change according to the city you are in?
Depending on which city a project is in, it can influence the textures and finishes I use, the color palette and hues, the formality, the mix of furnishings … really the city/place influences every aspect of the design!
What has been your most challenging project to date and why? How did it help you grow as a designer?
I would have to say decorating a 1,700-square-foot townhome in Georgetown. The house was small, narrow, had a multitude of architectural idiosyncrasies and didn’t get much natural light.
What has been your most rewarding project to date and why?
It’s so hard to pick just one! When I see families living their beautiful lives against the background of one of our canvases, it is the most rewarding feeling of all.
Do you have a favorite space in the home to design?
The kitchen! It is one of the most used spaces in a home. I have done a handful of kitchen renovations and redesigns, and they are very rewarding.
What is a favorite room in your home and why?
My living room because it is peaceful. My husband and I find it the best place to escape the chaos to read a book or drink our coffee. A close second would be my bedroom because I love to sleep.
Where do you take chances in design?
I like to take chances with unexpected play on pattern and in the mix of furnishings and styles.
Tell us what we can expect from your recently opened store in Nashville’s Green Hills area.
The store is an extension of my design firm’s brand — it’s a destination for specialty home goods, from decorative accessories and objects to textiles, art, antiques and upholstery for the home. SB. celebrates time-honored craftsmanship and artisanal treasures from around the world and features an edit of special, under-the-radar lines created by craftspeople from around the world, as well as one-of-a-kind vintage and antique pieces that I have assiduously found and collected.
Do you have a favorite item from your Pottery Barn Collection?
It’s hard to choose, but I think my favorites are the Madeline cane trays; they are so versatile, and I love a dose of natural texture layered in any space.
What/who is currently inspiring you?
I am currently inspired by so many of the artisans that I have been sourcing. Their pieces, stories and aesthetics are so special, it is making me so in the mood for collected, Old World beauty!
If you could choose one designer to redo your home right now, who would it be?
Stephen Sills or Studio Peregalli
If you could design one person’s home, who would it be?
I can’t think of a particular person’s home, but I would love to decorate a home on the water in Siasconset in Nantucket.
What are three household items you can’t live without?
A toothbrush, an iron and my computer
If you could squeeze your design philosophy into five words, what would they be?
Fresh, classic, layered, evolving, happy
Thank you Sarah for answering our questions and inspiring us with snapshots of your work. SB. Sarah Bartholomew is located at 3912 Hillsboro Cir, Nashville, TN 37215. Learn more at (615) 290-5002 or visit sarahbartholomew.com.
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