Interior designer Sarah Sherman Samuel joined our House Tours Open Door webinar series this week to talk through the design of her own home and offer advice from her years of renovating.
She was full of incredible decorative tips, living room ideas such as how curves are better for family life because they're softer for toddlers to bump into, how to decorate with color (by picking just one shade, like this mustard chair below, and using it to pep up an otherwise neutral scheme), and how to shop for vintage pieces online.
And it was this tip for sourcing vintage that really caught the imagination of our editor, Pip McCormac.
"I never search for items like 'coffee table' or 'armchair', as the results are too wide," Sarah says. "And it's materiality that interests me anyway. So I'll have searches on vintage and auction websites for materials, such as bouclé, and source pieces that way. Because I know what mood and texture I'm trying to create, it's a much better starting point for finding interesting and original pieces. You never know what surprises will come your way."
It's simple, but so effective. "It just made so much sense, and I refined all my searches immediately," our editor Pip says. "I couldn't believe I'd not thought of it before. I have spent hours scouring eBay for things like "coffee table" or slightly more tailored searches like "marble coffee table" but changing the focus has changed everything."
Pip says he is really into travertine at the moment, a material with a similar appearance to marble but formed from limestone deposits, with a slightly rustier, more warming patina than marble traditionally has.
"I'd been getting so frustrated looking for the ideal travertine coffee table, which seems to exist only in my mind," Pip says. "Now I have key searches on eBay, Vinterior and 1st Dibs for anything listed under travertine and I'm unearthing all sorts of gems I'd never have come across before. A pair of wonderful candlesticks, an end table, a stool...all these pieces offer the same effect of calm, sophisticated serenity I was hoping that my imaginary coffee table would create, and free my mind up to look for other coffee tables that actually do exist now I don't need it to scratch my travertine itch!"
So next time you're shopping online, have a think about the mood you want to put together and the materials that come together to form it, and use that as your starting point instead. So obvious, but why didn't we think of it before?
Book tickets to future House Tours Open Door webinars, for more interiors inspiration, here (opens in new tab).
Megan is a News Writer across Future Plc’s homes titles, including Livingetc and Homes & Gardens. As a News Writer, she often focuses on micro-trends, wellbeing, celebrity-focused pieces, and everything IKEA.
Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and expansive collection of houseplants.
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