Design

Talking Design with
Sarah Sherman Samuel

How this celeb interior designer brought her signature brand of California cool to the Midwest

Outdoor remodel ideas with Sarah Sherman Samuel and CB2Outdoor remodel ideas with Sarah Sherman Samuel and CB2
Celeb-favorite interior designer Sarah Sherman Samuel is returning to her roots: the longtime Los Angeles resident recently bought a home in the woods of her native Michigan.

Sarah and her husband wanted to give their two kids more room to roam, and found it in a 1980-built gem outside of Grand Rapids that she’s dubbed the #samuelfamilyfixer. And while you might be able to take the girl out of Los Angeles, Sarah’s enduring style is proof that you really can’t take L.A. out of the girl. She’s got that whole bright/boho/modern West Coast thing on lock.

From her beginnings in graphic design to her current role as an interior and product designer, Sarah’s keen eye for design and signature aesthetic have remained constant — it’s what draws clients like Garance Dore and Mandy Moore (nbd) to her. We love her effortlessly cool style just as much as her clients and loyal social following do, so we jumped at the chance to help with the #samuelfamilyfixer and pick her brain when it came to all things design. First up: her outdoor space (complete with gorgeous forest views and a killer pool).

Working with Sarah came naturally; we share an unabashed love of eclecticism and aren’t afraid to combine different styles. “One thing I really love about CB2 is they get my mix,” Sarah confessed. “I definitely don’t have any rules, because I like to break the rules…Finding that mix is super important to me, because it makes a place feel more storied.”

“How do I cultivate my style? I think by doing. Just by working, I find myself gravitating toward certain things.”

We asked Sarah how she’d define her style, and she was emphatic that it wasn’t just one thing. “I like to say it’s relaxed but refined and casual but edited. Modern but warm. I think as a designer you’re always taking in visual inspiration everywhere. It’s definitely more intuitive.” And for those looking for help cultivating their own design intuition, Sarah has some advice:

On editing

Outdoor remodel ideas with Sarah Sherman Samuel and CB2
Outdoor remodel ideas with Sarah Sherman Samuel and CB2
Outdoor remodel ideas with Sarah Sherman Samuel and CB2
Editing a space is one of those things that’s easier said than done, so Sarah explains her approach: “What it means to be edited is just not having too much superfluous stuff going on in a space. Everything you either absolutely love, or it serves a must-have function, and usually I want everything to … serve a function and you absolutely love it. That’s what I mean by edited.”

On Plants

Outdoor remodel ideas with Sarah Sherman Samuel and CB2
Outdoor remodel ideas with Sarah Sherman Samuel and CB2

“I lean on plants in design all the time. I like to keep things minimal, and I feel like once the plants come in it finishes the space, it brings the space to life. Plants make every space better.”

On Color Palette

Outdoor remodel ideas with Sarah Sherman Samuel and CB2

Sarah has a few tricks when it comes to working with color. For one, she likes to mix more earthy, grounded colors with pastels. Think: blush and rust, or lilac and ochre. These distinctive color palettes can be seen across her work, whether it’s a client’s home or design collaborations with brands like Concrete Collaborative (that’s sss for Concrete Collaborative tile in her sunroom.)

She also notes that working with similar tones has an incredibly refreshing effect: “When you’re looking at the ocean, you’re looking at all shades of blue. Or looking at the forest, it’s all shades of green. Nature has that calming effect on you, so it’s kind of the same if you work monochromatically.”

On Scale

Outdoor remodel ideas with Sarah Sherman Samuel and CB2

“Scale is such a huge thing, and playing with scale is important. I err on [the side of] doing something huge and making a statement. Like the light over the dining table, my dad and Rupert installed that before the table was there, and they were like, ‘She made a mistake, this is bad.’ They thought I was absolutely crazy. I was like, ‘It’s fine. It is exactly how I want it, thanks.’”

On the West Coast

Outdoor remodel ideas with Sarah Sherman Samuel and CB2Outdoor remodel ideas with Sarah Sherman Samuel and CB2
“I’m deeply influenced by California and California design. I mean, I lived there for 13 years, so all of my adult life, and we still have roots in LA. I think the ease of the style is laid back and relaxed and not too fussy. A little bohemian, but also a mix of modern.”

For even more outdoor remodel ideas from Sarah’s modern-bohemian Michigan retreat, click through the gallery below. Plus, keep scrolling to shop the look for yourself. You can also see all of Sarah’s CB2 favorites for summer here.

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