While these days you can find Sarah Elizabeth, a graduate of New York School of Interior Design, and founder of Sarah Elizabeth Design, designing homes throughout New Jersey, it all began with her designing apartments in the city. While Sarah Elizabeth initially studied fashion design in her early twenties, a mentor encouraged her to explore a career in interior design, where she could apply her love of color and form on a larger scale. After completing her design degree, on a whim she emailed a few families she knew to say she’d graduated and was going out on her own. Within weeks, Sarah Elizabeth began working on an apartment on West 77th in New York City. This first project allowed her to utilize her education and years of design experience, combined with her innate sense of style, to create a vibrant, eclectic home that remains one of her favorite projects to date.
For design inspiration, Sarah Elizabeth simply looked out her clients window at the Natural History Museum, and proposed the living room should reflect the red brick and stone structure, thus a mauve palette was born. From the bright blue flower Warhol wallpaper adorning one room, to metallic mylar wallpaper on the ceiling of another, every room tells a story with bright colors, pops of metallic and modern accents. Sarah Elizabeth drew further inspiration from the wife’s own whimsical wardrobe filled with colorful patterns and materials from the likes of Missoni, Etro and Chanel. This visual feast showed the designer that the clients were not afraid to express themselves through colors and patterns, and the designer happily ran with it. An example of the interior design reflecting its owners comes specifically in the kitchen, where zebra cowhide seats are placed against pristine white custom cabinetry inspired by a pair of pumps the wife had. Sarah Elizabeth considers herself lucky to have had such freedom in her color choices. “I remember showing them these wildly colorful, whimsical mood boards for their kids rooms that I had put everything into – and seeing how much they loved them. It wasn’t too matchy matchy as that wasn’t them, or me, but more interesting.”
A unique challenge of decorating this apartment was finding furniture that adhered to the clients’ desire for an eco-friendly home. They wanted the apartment to have the cleanest possible fabrics, and to eliminate VOCs (volatile organic compounds) and formaldehyde, which are both commonly found in sofas, high-gloss paints, manufacturing of different types of wood, and furniture glues. The designer admitted it was a challenge vetting every item she used, but one that introduced her to extremely talented, eco-friendly companies. For example, the blue sofa in the Warhol room was custom-designed and made purely of renewable rubber, with fabric made using dyes that were reported to be safe enough for an infant to eat. She is thankful to still use these exceptional resources to date. Sarah Elizabeth also enjoyed weaving her client’s collection of vintage furniture into the room designs, such as an original Sputnik chandelier, a Karl Springer blue goatskin dining table, Hans Wegner armchairs, and collection of original art. “They had a collection of wonderful vintage original pieces to work with that were a lot of fun to find new homes for throughout the apartment,” she said. The Sputnik chandelier was repurposed from the clients’ former master bedroom to the dining room, where the designer carried that sparkle throughout the room using an antique mirror-inspired wallpaper on the custom bookcases. The dining room has a slightly more neutral color scheme, perfect for their collection of brightly colored books and accessories. The furniture, especially the dining table, served as another puzzle to solve as the clients requested a 15 foot dining table. In the end the best solution was to place two dining tables together so they read as one table while still giving the same dramatic effect. The dining table is flanked by custom-made bookcases that span 18 feet. The designer recalls it took her nine hours to curate the shelves with books, vases and artwork. For the living room gallery wall that spams the length of the room, Sarah Elizabeth collaborated with an art hanger who formerly hung art for the Guggenheim Museum to configure and hang over 40 paintings and photographs in rooms around the home. “Working with such skilled artisans and tradespeople was, and still is, a huge highlight for me. Seeing their passion and love for what they do and how it comes out in their work inspires us all”. It’s safe to say Sarah Elizabeth’s first solo project was a bright start.
DESIGNER: SARAH ELIZABETH
DESIGN LOCATION: NEW YORK CITY
PHOTOS: JOSEPH KELLER AND CARLY JARA
For more information, go to https://www.sarah-elizabethdesign.com/