Today I’m very excited to welcome interior designer Sara Gilbane to the blog. I think we all recognize that picture of the lucite shoe holder/vanity above from being Pinned a million times, yes? That’s from Sara’s own home tour in Issue 3 of Lonny, and this was my first introduction to the designer’s gorgeous and eclectic work. Sara’s designs have also been featured in many other major publications such as House Beautiful, The New York Times, Elle Decor, and others. After getting her start under the tutelage of Celerie Kemble at Kemble Interiors, Sara eventually struck out on her own and has built a client base in Manhattan, Nantucket, and the Hamptons, (among other locations). She is a master of mixing modern and traditional styles while also utilizing color, pattern, and a client’s own prized pieces to create welcoming and unique spaces. Read on to learn more about what inspires this talented designer!
Q: How does living in New York City inspire your work?
A: Every time I walk into a new clients home I am inspired. There is always a design conundrum to solve in New York even on the highest price tag apartments which gives me the opportunity to create something unique in every project.
Q: Your work is a wonderful mix of modern and traditional. Can you describe how you achieve this mix? Do you like to use modern textiles and vintage furniture pieces, or vice versa, or a different formula entirely?
A: I wouldn’t say I have a formula. I really try to listen to the space and I bring in what it needs. I like a juxtaposition so it really is different for every space and one formula does not apply to all. The recipe for a room always includes pattern (large scale and small) texture, soft lines mixed with clean crisp ones, and a bit of whimsy (whether that is the art or a side chair with a quirky personality).
Q: When it comes to designing a room, what is the jumping off point? What do you start with and then where do you go from there?
A: There is always a jumping off point but it is unique to each project. If a client has a piece of art they love I enjoy working the scheme off of that. If they fall in love with a fabric or rug I can go from there as well. I like having a fabric or a piece of art that has either the colors or the personality of the room encapsulated in it.
Q: You have a wonderful eye for mixing patterns! Can you explain a little bit about how you do this and keep it looking cohesive, rather than chaotic?
A: The key is to let neutrals play a role as well. If I have a lot of pattern going on on the sofa and chairs I stick to a more subtle stripe or neutral paint on the walls. The scale of everything is important, the scale of the furniture and the patterned fabric that upholsters it.
Q: What are your top design resources?
A: 1st dibs, all the antique store on the Upper East Side, Soho, and West Palm Beach. The D and D building as well as the Lexington Design Center are fantastic as well.
Q: Who are your top three favorite designers and why?
A: Celerie Kemble, Tom Scheerer, and Markham Roberts are the living ones. Their use of color, scale, high and low with whimsical references is always inspiring to me.
Q: What is your favorite type of space to decorate and why?
A: I love old homes with the charm and character right at the surface. Adding to them is always a joy to me.
Q: Can you share with readers any design advice that you think is helpful to keep in mind when decorating a home?
A: Have fun and go with your gut. Think out the way you will use your rooms and make sure you add enticing things to those rooms that seem to be left out of the fun. A game table in a distant living room can help the party migrate to those spaces.
images courtesy of Sara Gilbane