Valentine's Day Gift Guide from Sara Hillery Interior Design

Valentine’s Day is all about the love, but whether you have a significant other or not, it’s the perfect day to celebrate loved ones in all forms. Everyone loves getting a little treat and reminder that they are adored and appreciated. With no shortage of V Day gift ideas out there, we are sharing some of the items and experiences on our own wish list!

101 Art Destinations in the U.S.:

Where Art Lives Coast to Coast

Whether you’ve been to the Met 100 times or can’t remember the last time you exposed your eyes to any visual art form, get inspired by this stunning book to explore amazing examples of art, from paintings to cave drawings to murals to sculpture parks, all found in the U.S. Want even more brownie points? Pair this book with some tickets for a getaway to experience one of these destinations IRL.

Sara Hillery Interior Design's Last Minute Gift Guide

The time between Thanksgiving and Christmas seems to get shorter and shorter every year and it’s easy to loose track of time and find yourself with a full list of friends and family and no gifts! Fear not! Sara Hillery Interior Design has got you covered with the perfect last-minute gifts for everyone on your list

For the Design Obsessed

Most decorating books focus on one designer; the rest focus on one period, one trend, one room. This book, for the first time, has the big picture: ALL the names everybody must know from the entire 100-year history of interior design. Each designer is profiled and illustrated with three to four photographs of their best work; what we can learn from them—and how they changed decorating forever—is clearly highlighted to catch the eye.

An Interview with Richard Stone

Decorating with flowers and greenery is one of our favorite ways to change the mood and appearance of a home. The fall and winter holidays are an especially fun time to get creative by incorporating colors, textures, and scents that reflect the vibe of these annual festivities.

Since we are not all born knowing how to make our home look IG-worthy or Pinterest-perfect with flowers, we tapped the brilliant brain of Richard Stone of The Faux Real Co. for some of his personal tricks, tips, and floral favorites. With Richard’s helpful hints, you will have gorgeous arrangements and decorations in no time, which means you can devote your energy to spending it with friends and family (and all that holiday food).


Q: With the holidays approaching, what are some of the best ways to incorporate flowers and greenery into a longer-lasting decorating option?  

A: During the indoor winter months, heat can play havoc with fresh flowers and greenery.  Stick with the tried-and-true like boxwood, eucalyptus, and magnolia, which will continue looking good when they start to dry out.  Carnations unfortunately have a bad reputation, but they look beautiful when arranged in a mound or interspersed in a wreath or garland.  A favorite holiday classic of mine is the Hypericum for a touch of color.


Q: For people who don’t know a lot about flowers or design, it can be really intimidating to try and style an arrangement. Any simple solutions for beginners?

A: When in doubt, I recommend hydrangeas, which can be arranged “en masse” for a beautiful bouquet.  While I love their blooms, I usually arrange them in a container other than a glass vase to hide their erratic stems.  Since one or two in the bunch will die, it’s a good idea to buy a few extra to have replacement stems on hand.  Cut the base of the stem on an angle, and then clip a slit in the stem so they can drink plenty of water.  


Create Your Perfect Pumpkins


‘Tis the season for jolly and fearsome jack o’lanterns lining porches and stairs.  For out-of-the-box thinkers or those who simply want to spice up their pumpkin decorating, we bring you some design inspiration:

*Make the most of  extra doilies you have tucked away in a cabinet by using them as a template for spray-painting. All you need is a little tape to keep the doily steady and some spray paint-perfect for those of us who aren’t especially gifted in the freehand design and drawing department. Use a deep silver or gold spray paint for a more dramatic look, or stick with black or white for a more traditional pumpkin.


*We love this mod black and white design: the contrasting colors really make the lines and shapes pop. You can get creative and use diamonds, stars, triangles, lightening bolts, whatever strikes your fancy. This chic dichromatic design would look awesome on a tablescape surrounded by delicious Halloween treats.


Save yourself the effort and elbow grease of cutting out a face or challenging shape and scooping out the seeds by just scraping the top layer of the pumpkin (with a lemon zester or clay loop) to make a dramatic design. This type of pumpkin will likely keep slightly longer since only the pumpkin skin is scraped. Whether you tackle a twisty tangle of leafy vines or try scraping out a festive phrase (like “Got Candy?” or “Take a piece of candy…if you dare”), this technique invites endless creativity.


Although little ones often favor a toothy grin and simple triangle eyes, pumpkins can give off a surprisingly classy vibe when used as a canvas for painting floral designs. The pink petals stand out against the deep blue background and the bright leaves.  We think one of these would also make an amazing hostess gift for any of the spooky and sweet gatherings you’ll be attending this season.


Introducing Sara Hillery Home

Sara Hillery Interior Design (SHID) is thrilled to announce the launch of a new fabric line, created with a deep love for Virginia and several of her defining elements. The collection, which draws heavily from what Sara calls the “wealth of culture” in her home state, includes three patterns in multiple colors (with more to come!).

While helping another design professional with her own fabric line, Sara realized that she wanted to create one herself, albeit with a local, familiar flair. The resulting collection is deeply personal and includes homage to animals that have also made Virginia home, a fundamental print inspired by a plant that’s been integral to Virginia’s history, and the funky kaleidoscope-like effect of combining various counties in Virginia. All of the designs are made on a cotton linen blend and are ideal for curtains, Roman shades, pillows, upholstered furniture, and more.

Virginia Mammals, a pattern that is currently being featured in Sara’s room at the 2018 Richmond Symphony Orchestra League Design House, was inspired by local mammalian species including the Virginia black bear, rabbit, deer, beaver and fox. Available in Blueberry, Mountain Mist, and Multicolored, this toile-like pattern is sweet for children’s rooms but classic enough for use in adult spaces such as a living room, study, or bedroom. We especially love the playful, multihued version for adding a bit of whimsy and intrigue: kids and adults will love pointing out the native animal species.

County Lines carefully turns the lines and shapes defining the cities and counties in Virginia into an ambitious design that initially appears to be an abstract composition of color blocks. Upon closer inspection, it is revealed that SHID includes the expertly drawn shapes of counties and cities, from Albemarle to York. With a design that radiates state pride but is not obviously apparent to passersby, County Lines is perfect for a home whose inhabitants wants to celebrate Virginia history in an innovative way. We also love the idea of sending this fabric off to family and friends who have moved away to keep a little bit of their love for Virginia alive. County Lines is available in more muted Autumn and brighter Spring versions.

Tobacco and its cultivation have been defining factors in Virginia’s history, and Southern Sprigs focuses on on the simple beauty of the plant’s leaves. The pattern was created using a hand-carved block with a resulting print that can take center stage in a room’s design or retain a subtler supportive role. Southern Sprigs’ more traditional pattern makes it incredibly versatile: we can’t wait to display the design on pillows throughout our home! Southern Sprigs is available in Coal, Harvest Gold, and Flint.

Request your own fabric swatches and order yards of this exciting new line here!

Our Curated List of Top Trends from High Point Market 2018

We’re officially back from High Point Market (the largest home furnishings industry trade show in the world), and we’ve put together a list is the top trends we spotted in home decor!

1. Acrylic Frames
A unique and stylish way to display keepsakes, acrylic frames make a dramatic and surprisingly versatile statement. One large acrylic-framed piece of art can serve as a show stopping conversation piece, and we love it equally when this framing technique is used to showcase a series or set of smaller pieces, such as botanical prints or even more sculptural works. A clean and modern way to highlight art, acrylic frames can trend toward fresh and funky for an artsier, younger home or they can be dressed up for a more formal home. Without heavy and ornate frames, the space appears more airy and spacious and the art seems to “float” upon the wall.


2. Geometric Mohair and Velvet Pillows
An easy and playful way to punch up a neutral couch or chair, geometric throw pillows in luscious materials such as mohair or velvet geometric add a bright spot (and some cushy comfort) to any room. In cut velvet or applique, they’re everywhere these days and no wonder: the combo of sumptuous textures, the huge variety of colors and patterns, and their evergreen functionality makes these pillows instant favorite purchases when tossed around your home.

3. Fabulous Occasional Table
Occasional tables dutifully and quietly serve their purpose by holding any number of odds and ends, but the ones we spotted at High Point deserve some extra attention. Whether you go with a brass and natural agate table that will add instant glam to any space, a vividly patterned inlaid marble coffee table with a beautifully curved brass base, or a more minimalist and sleek drink table that features a brass top and a white marble base, these stand out tables have the power to transform a room into a hip, welcoming space.


4. Emerald Green Everything!
Maybe it’s this year’s long winter, but we’re craving luscious, vibrant green in our lives. Fortunately, we spotted plenty of emerald-hued items at the show to add richness and life to interiors. This saturated shade looks great on larger pieces of furniture, and it also makes a lovely accent color for details and home accessories.

Design By Highland House

5. Handmade Rugs
Gorgeous, handmade rugs never go out of style, but we fell for them hard during our High Point Market wanderings. Who could resist the craftsmanship, design, and sheer size of this stunner from Turkey? Handmade rugs are such a classic design element and true investment pieces that grow more beautiful as they age. In addition to serving underfoot in the typical areas of the home (such as dining, living, and bedrooms), we like to place them in unexpected spaces such as bathrooms and kitchens.


Fell in love with this beauty from Turkey!



1. Lacquered Pendant Lights
Adding a pop of color and some subtle sheen, lacquered pendant lights are a fun alternative to the more typical metallic versions. As the color and shapes vary widely, the overall design effect is mutable: we found everything from diner chic options to a more geometric and modern style that would suit an office or even a design-forward playroom.

2. Sea Shells
Whether you live by the beach or not, chances are there’s an oceanside getaway that has your heart. To be reminded of your family’s times there, these designs are the answer and take the shell collection display up a notch or two. Coral, shells, and freshwater pearls make up a fantastic and striking chandelier-it looks like something that might hang in a mermaid’s palace! For a more subtle nod to gifts from the ocean, a variety of shells (including eye-catching turquoise limpets) are carefully and artistically arranged by hand to create a stunning mirror. You’ll smile each time you get a glimpse of your reflection framed by such natural beauty. As for this last shell display, it’s easily doable with whatever marine treasures you and yours have found.


3. Confit Pots
Confit pots have been used in France for several hundred years, and we’re regretting that we haven’t caught on to this trend sooner: French countryside chic never gets old. Functional as well as lovely on display, these typically two-toned vessels add a rustic yet refined appearance, especially to kitchens. The fact that, in a pinch, they can serve as containers to store small knickknacks left around the house? Genius, ma chérie.


How to Create A Perfectly Curated Gallery Wall

Gallery walls are one of the most striking ways to decorate and unify a room. This popular layout is also an ingenious way to make use of a collection of postcards from around the world that you currently have stuffed into a desk drawer, to create a photographic homage to friends and family, or to display multiple pieces of art from diverse media without using up maximum wall space.

To keep gallery walls looking organized and eye-catching, we have a few simple rules. Following these guidelines will keep your gallery wall from looking haphazard and thrown together, yet they still leave plenty of room to get creative and celebrate your space.


*Find ways to make different things come together through framing and matting.

If you are combining varied types of art, media, or material, using similar frames is a wonderful way to keep a cohesive “look” to the gallery wall. Even on a large wall, we don’t suggest using more than five types of frames.

Using a large matte in one color also helps to create a serene, collected feel even when the individual pieces vary greatly in size.

Designed by the Sara Hillery Interior Design Team

Of course, rules are made to be broken-occasionally. In the Designer House kitchen we created, the color pink served as a dominant and unifying common thread throughout the gallery wall. We framed some of the pieces and left others “floating”; the frames became secondary to the colorful art since the eye is drawn first and foremost to the vibrant, flirty color.

Designed by the Sara Hillery Interior Design Team

*Work your design layout from the outside in.

It can be helpful to decide on a defined shape to serve as an outline for the gallery wall and then choose your art to fit within that space. Containing the art creates order to the wall’s design, while simultaneously allowing you to be slightly more flexible with spacing. For example, this stairway gallery wall uses virtually no spacing between the frames, forming a tightly constructed shape that draws viewers in for closer examination.

To keep a more freeform gallery wall from appearing chaotic, however, use equal spacing between the pieces for a calming, organized appearance.

*Follow the rule of 3.

Selecting three main colors or types of frames greatly contributes to a unified look. The bold yet elegant gallery wall focuses on white, black, and gold for a sleek, high-contrast ambiance. Alternating the frames in gold and black keep the wall from appearing too matchy-matchy, while still appearing curated.


This rule of three can also be expanded to five colors and display options, as in this Texas home. Matted and matte-free black and white photographs mingle with color images and are carefully spaced to allow visitors (and the family members themselves) relive and celebrate important and cherished moments in their history.

Designed by the Sara Hillery Interior Design Team

*Think outside the images and focusing on frames to create visual variety.

Frames can add color and texture to a wall that is otherwise devoted primarily to one color. The black-and-white art selections on this gallery wall include photographs, paintings, and geometric-based drawings. Despite being set against a stark white wall, the art stands out as a result of simple, yet contrasting frames in black, white, and natural wood. The textured frame at the wall’s center draws the focus in and then gently encourages the eye to move along.

We’ve included some sample gallery wall layouts to use as your guide. As collectors and designers, we adore how gallery walls allow you to showcase some of your favorites items and works of art together-there’s nothing better than being surrounded by all the different things that you love the most and that you have collected along the journey to your current home.

Spring Organizing

It’s the first day of Spring! In with warmer temperatures, flowers in bloom, and people ready to shake the cobwebs out of their homes! However, sometimes organizing one’s home can seem like an impossible task: one recent study found that the average household contains upwards of 300,000 items! And since we’ve never met a child who wasn’t a master mess maker, these tips will have you cultivating a calmer, more organized home and leave plenty of time for enjoying the weather and maybe plant that flower garden you’ve been putting off.

A common organizing mistake people make is to take a half-hearted, piecemeal approach, which typically results in half-sorted piles all throughout the house…and makes you wish you had never started organizing in the first place.

1 Put like things together. (Our #1 rule!)


Not only will this rule make your space appear more streamlined and put together, grouping like items together will make future clean ups much easier and faster (especially for the little ones). The Container Store has a genius product line of “Like-it Bricks” which are modular storage containers perfect for organizing and storing everything from office and art supplies to everything and anything in your pantry!

2 Take stock.

Knowing what you have is so important before you can really effectively dive in to the organizing process. Grouping like things together is a great step in helping take stock of what items you have…and can perhaps convince you that you don’t need yet another elephant figurine the next time you stop at the antique store.  We like to keep a mindset of simplicity when choosing the things that fill our home. As a result, questions like “Do we really need 10 different types of ketchup/64 coffee table books out every day/enough wine glasses to through a ball when we entertain a small group of friends twice a year?” are important when trying to pare down and organize.

3 Touch it, then move it.

Our solution to the problem of discard and “move” piles is to put things in designated bins in each room to keep floors and areas clear even while you are still in the organizing process. The bins can then be more easily moved to other levels or to the curb. Once you have achieved an organized home, these bins/organizers will continue to be useful: we recommend setting them at designated locations on each floor to help manage the constant movement of items and clutter between floors.

4 Give everything a home with labels.

Labeling also goes a long way: we have all made piles, left to run an errand or tackle some other task, and then returned unsure of what our plans for said pile were. Labeling helps after the organizing process is complete as well; instead of rifling through cabinets or drawers, you simply have to glance at the label to note what lies within.


5 Find storage solutions that fit your budget and your home aesthetic.

H&M’s home line has a wide variety of visually pleasing bins and baskets at an affordable price.  You don't have to compromise your personal style with a budget!

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6 Involve kids in the process.

Kids are going to accumulate stuff, so helping them corral and organize it from an early age is key. We recommend the IKEA Kallax series for its affordability, versatility, and ability to hold and display lots and lots of toys.

Empower kids to partake in the organizing process as well: all that stuff may look like “just junk”, but it’s their stuff and giving them agency over it will help prevent a battle of organizing wills. If your children truly have an overabundance of toys (which ironically can make it harder for them to decide what to play with), encourage them to pick three things a week to get rid of.  This will hopefully reduce overall items and help provide an in/out mindset when they get more toys for birthdays or holidays. Parents should take a back seat during this process, although they can always pick items from their child’s “Toss” bin and store it in the attic for sentimental safekeeping.

Having an organized home can :

*Save time: You know where things are instead of spending hours looking for them

*Help you find more space: Getting rid of unwanted/unused items means you can arrange, display, and use the ones you want to keep.

*Save money: You will have a better grasp of what items you have and can use them accordingly instead of running out to buy pieces you already have. When you do decide to buy something new, being organized will help you find the perfect fit for your space.

*Inspire a less stressed YOU: You can relax without living among clutter and take comfort in the fact that your free time doesn’t need to be spent cleaning/rearranging. embolden

Taking the time and energy to effectively organize your home is well-worth the effort and a wonderful, invigorating way to start Spring off right!

Flirty Fleurs for Valentine's and Every Day!

Nothing says “Valentine’s Day” like flowers, and we admit to loving any excuse to bring florals and greenery into our home. In fact, we don’t think there’s any need to wait for Valentine’s Day to do so: flowers are a welcome, mood-boosting, room-brightening addition to any home any time of the year. Monet once said, “I must have flowers, always, and always.” We couldn’t agree more!


A general rule, you can’t go wrong with orchids for color and ferns for greenery, and we also favor incorporating seasonal blooms. In February, that could mean romantic flowers such as the amaryllis or the star-shaped bouvardia, the almost-sculptural dusty miller, or playful blooms like gerbera daisies and zinnia. If you have the option of selecting flowers and greenery from your own garden, that’s the best choice of all (and a reason to make plans to grow your own cutting garden)!

Arrangement by SHID (pot from Botanical Collections)

A general rule, you can’t go wrong with orchids for color and ferns for greenery, and we also favor incorporating seasonal blooms. In February, that could mean romantic flowers such as the amaryllis or the star-shaped bouvardia, the almost-sculptural dusty miller, or playful blooms like gerbera daisies and zinnia. If you have the option of selecting flowers and greenery from your own garden, that’s the best choice of all (and a reason to make plans to grow your own cutting garden)!


No matter what flower and greenery strikes your fancy, we recommend mixing and matching to create a layered, vibrant, and living array.


Choose plants that vary the texture of the leaf and petal as well as the scale for an intriguing, unique arrangement. Even if you stay within the same color scheme (greens, for example) you can create a rich, diverse bouquet that brings both contrast and harmony.

Fun additions to your arrangement include vegetables such as cabbage. These affordable, ubiquitous, and sturdy “blooms” come in a variety of colors, from white to pale green to deep purple. Paired with whimsical blooms such as hydrangea, cabbages add strength and instantly make the selection appear ready for a still life painting session.


Choosing flowers and greens that are low-maintenance is absolutely key, especially for botanical beginners. While baby’s breath has earned a reputation among certain florists as a simple bouquet filler, we love using it because it doesn’t die quickly. Its delicate, almost neutral appearance makes it a great complement to more showy blooms. .

Plants such as succulents also make for an appealing, unfussy, long-lasting option. A display of a few fern stems lays on some natural flair and is simultaneously easy to maintain or swap out.

Arrangement by SHID

After you’ve picked your flowers and greenery, deciding how to display them is half the fun. There’s no need to keep the arrangement formal in a traditional vase either.

An empty glass soda bottle with a single flower and a ribbon tied around it is an adorable and approachable way to make your floral budget go far, and it instantly adds sweet style for when guests come to visit or to bring a little life into a bathroom or study.

These wine glass vases add instant drama, but you can also use regular wine glasses. Cutting the stems short to keep the blooms tight around the rim of the glass is a sophisticated way to maximize a few choice blossoms. We picked up a tip from a floral class that will come in handy for virtually any vessel: use clear tape and make a grid on top of your vase or container. This set-up keeps blooms and greenery from falling over and allows you to better curate the bouquet.


Finally, don’t be afraid to try experimenting with unfamiliar flowers and creating unique arrangements. While you may not have the same techniques as a trained florist, trust your eye: you know your taste better than anyone else. Bringing in blooms that make you happy or remind you of a joyous occasion, whether it be your own wedding or a long ago childhood walk among wildflowers, will instantly brighten your home and your mindset.

Ultra Violet - Pantone color of the year

Pantone’s Color of the Year last year was an eye-popping, lush green, and this year the company continued its trend of vivid and dramatic shades with its selection of Ultra Violet. At first glance, the rich, super saturated shade might not be our choice for a whole house makeover, but that’s the beauty of this kicky purple: its richness results in plenty of visual punch, even when sprinkled throughout the home with a measured hand.

A curated view of Ultra Violet by the Sara Hillery Interior Design Team

Purple has seen waves of popularity going back centuries. The hue has long been associated with royalty, partially as a result of the cost and rarity of the dye that was once used to create the color. Colors in this family are more versatile than they may appear, with a wide range of shades ranging from bold to airy to neutral. We’ve included another of Pantone’s 2018 colors, Pink Lavender, in the mood board for contrast. This paler shade softens the boldness of Ultra Violet and is more easily visually digested than its grape jelly-like color cousin.


Mixing, matching, and blending purples in your home can result in a pulled-together yet playful vibe. This chandelier from Louise Gaskill incorporates found, Mid-Century glass and bridges divides and designs in both color and time with a style that blurs the line between antiques and modern décor. We also love this chandelier’s southern roots-all of Louise’s pieces are made in Raleigh, North Carolina.

Both the gorgeous “Pearl River” pattern on the pillows and the “Vanderbilt Print” fabric of the mood board background belong to the Schumacher brand, a family-owned business since 1889. The pillows’ design originated in 1918, but it feels fresh and elegant, like having a piece of art you can rest against. Juxtaposing the lavender ziggurat Vanderbilt fabric with a more saturated shade would lend a harmonious, classic slant. It also serves as a surprisingly complementary contrast for floral patterns and prints.

As proof of purple’s versatility, we also included this Mid-century modern sofa designed by Paul McCobb. The simple lines highlight the color choice, while the understated design enables the sofa to stand the test of time and redecorating. This sofa even has a little secret: while it is is primarily upholstered in lux Maharam cotton, the side and the back are upholstered in vibrant, patterned cloth from the 1940s in India.

Textiles As Art

Paintings and photographs are among the most common and coveted wall hangings, yet incorporating textiles offers a fresh, dramatic, visually appealing alternative that can reflect deeply personal tastes and varied decors. Scarves, weaving, shibori, fabric pieces picked up while traveling: sources for textiles can come from inspiration both near and far.


Hermes’ beautifully crafted scarves have sparked a rich tradition of being framed and prominently displayed, and their classic, colorful patterns look gorgeous whether hung solo or as part of a gallery. Jim Thompson offers more affordable, equally frameable options that include sumptuous colors and patterns like florals and animal prints. But you don’t have to go high end to find your textile: focus less on the brand name and more on the pattern or style that strikes your fancy. You may even find it as an estate sale or in grandma’s attic.

An authentic weaving can create a beautiful, meaningful focal point for a wall, yet if you are more interested in the style of these increasingly popular wall hangings than in the history behind them, consider purchasing a reproduction from a local retailer.  While mass-produced weavings seldom carry the cultural significance of an authentic weaving, their variety and availability (and their budget-friendly price point) make them attractive options.

Draperies can also wield visual power as an alternative and creative form of wall art.  For rooms without an abundance of wall space or for people who prefer to have only a few simple photographs or piece of art, patterned draperies can add color, texture, height, and intrigue. Plus draperies are easier to swap out and vary than other more permanent design elements. Or take this concept a step further and upholster the walls with fabric. Not only does this wall covering option create a vivid visual and textural effect, it also creates a sound barrier. And, since the eye will have plenty to feast on with the wall’s pattern, there’s less of a need for additional art.


Using textiles is a popular option both for people who already have a lot of paintings and are looking for more wall variety or for people who can’t afford more traditional wall art. Whichever category you fall into, incorporating these rich, textured, varied art sources will add intrigue and visual flair to your walls, all while maintaining or enhancing the room’s style.

Using textiles is a popular option both for people who already have a lot of paintings and are looking for more wall variety or for people who can’t afford more traditional wall art. Whichever category you fall into, incorporating these rich, textured, varied art sources will add intrigue and visual flair to your walls, all while maintaining or enhancing the room’s style.


Fireplace Makeover

Fireplaces are natural gathering areas in the home. Whether they actually function or not, fireplaces instantly evoke feelings of cozying up, relaxing, and coming together, especially as the winter weather descends upon us. If your fireplace is currently underused (or completely unused), consider making over this space; it can quickly and easily become one of the favorite spaces in your house.

To begin with, don’t feel hemmed in by the original state of your fireplace. We transformed the feel of one client’s room by revamping their brick fireplace with a wash of white mortar. Depending on the material you choose for the fireplace surroundings, that room will take on a classic, sleek, or whimsical vibe.

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Before and after by the team at Sara Hillery Interior Design

Even a small aesthetic touch can make a large statement if you aren’t prepared to make a large change. For example, black or gray concrete fireballs are a chic, modern fireplace alternative to more traditional logs. If you are living in a space that lacks a working chimney, you can still bring warmth and comfort to your home via a ventless gas or electric insert.

Non-functioning fireplaces can still serve the primary purpose of spreading some light. Buy white birch logs and stack them with ends facing out as an alternative. The whiteness of the logs helps to evoke the sensation of a light-giving fire.

Or fill the fireplace cavity with white candles of varying heights. Focusing on one color for the candles yet including different sizes helps the space avoid the look of a candle storage bin. Or get playful: stacked books will also help cultivate cozy feelings and is a much more timeless display than BluRay discs or DVDs.

As much attention as you pay to the inside of the fireplace, make sure to give what’s above it some consideration as well.  One simple fix is to add a mantel over the fireplace itself as we did in a client’s home. This surface can serve as much more than a space to store favorite photos, vases, or holiday décor; it’s an opportunity to subtly draw attention to other personal style preferences. For example, the large picture featuring an exotic bird creates a main focal point, while the small orchids add color and livelihood as well as an organic shape. The tall, linear candles balance out the mantelpiece display and add length. The result is a clean and serene mantel that reflects the interests and personalities of the room’s owners. Your best bet for an organized, visually impactful mantel: choose one main element to concentrate on and then add just a few components that complement it.

Designed by the team at Sara Hillery Interior Design

Happy fireplace gathering!

Christmas Table Settings


This Christmas, our table is all about the joy and warmth of the season.  Classic Lenox china is layered over festive gold rimmed chargers creating a rich (and sparkly) table scape. Mixing in antique silver flatware and red baubles adds a personal touch and is a sweet way to acknowledge Christmas feasts held by generations past.

Traditional sterling silver candle sticks and Juliska glasses that beg to be filled and used for holiday toasts brighten up the table even more, while delicate sterling silver bud vases bursting with holly, berries, and baby’s breath integrate the season’s colors and add natural vibrancy.

Traditional sterling silver candle sticks and Juliska glasses that beg to be filled and used for holiday toasts brighten up the table even more, while delicate sterling silver bud vases bursting with holly, berries, and baby’s breath integrate the season’s colors and add natural vibrancy.

Finally, red linen napkins and a red ribbon tie the colors of the table together while giving a nod to our traditional southern style. The eye-catching shine of silver and gold, the pops of vivid red and green, and the combination of elements and accents both cherished and new: our table honors the past, celebrates the present, and heralds a bright new year.

Finally, red linen napkins and a red ribbon tie the colors of the table together while giving a nod to our traditional southern style. The eye-catching shine of silver and gold, the pops of vivid red and green, and the combination of elements and accents both cherished and new: our table honors the past, celebrates the present, and heralds a bright new year.

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Decorating Goes Droolworthy: Pet-friendly bedding, feeding, and furniture solutions!

In the United States alone, there are nearly 70 million pet pooches and almost 75 million kitty companions. We love sharing our homes with these adorable, loving, and loyal creatures, but sharing our homes with tacky and tasteless pet furniture? Not so much. Luckily, designers are finally taking into account that pet owners want furniture and accessories that seamlessly fit into our homes instead of sticking out like a sore thumb (err…paw).

Dog bed designed by JM Piers
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Dogs are notorious for finding the coziest spots in the house. Even if you don’t mind them staking their claim to a couch cushion or pillow, having a dog bed (or three) is a great way to encourage them to have their own resting space at floor level. Pet owners now have plentiful options for dog beds, from casual and simple to more ornate and posh (and perhaps even canopied). A dog bed in a vibrant hue offers a fun opportunity to bring a pop of color to the corner of a room.

Dog bed can be found here : Polyvore

For those who count felines as their furry favorites, some kitty-friendly furniture options can even be DIYed. This woven basket was hung on its side with a soft, buttery yellow blanket folded up to serve as a de facto bed. Or try one of these craftsman-made lounging and sleeping options in miniature by Japanese designer Okawa Kagu.

Ikea hack cat bed found on Row Nest House
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Or try one of these craftsman-made lounging and sleeping options in miniature by Japanese designer Okawa Kagu.
View the collection here : Okawa Kagu Modern Miniature Cat Furniture

Beyond where pets sleep, their feeding area of pets can be eyesores, not to mention the fact that to a little human crawling or toddling around, those food and water bowls look mighty enticing. Retractable bowls are a great solution: they slide out of sight when not needed and can be arranged to be the perfect, comfortable neck height for feeding fur babies. Keeping pet feeding essentials out of sight when not in use can be extended to other areas as well: a chest could be used for storing large bags of pet food, treats, and toys. In a client’s mudroom, a tall bibliotheque actually served as a dog kennel; we even drilled a hole in the side so the family’s cat could crawl in at night as well!

Pup & Kit Modern Dog Bed : Pup & Kit Etsy

Finally, one last necessity that tends to distract from a room’s design is a bulky, clumsy doggie or baby gate. Although these gates definitely serve a purpose for little ones with two or four legs, you can use a built-in dutch door or sliding door that fits within the style of your room. These gates are a great way for little ones to still see you, yet be safely contained in their own space.  For most of us, our pets are truly members of the family. While they may not be as vocal about their aesthetic tastes, it’s now easier than ever to find bedding, feeding, and living solutions for them that are comfortable, stylish, and droolworthy in both the literal and figurative sense!

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Photographer: Dominique Vorillon

Design Book Wishlist for the Holidays

With the holidays upon us, we thought we would throw our two cents into the ring if you are stumped on what to get your design savvy friends and family that they can enjoy and be inspired by for years to come.

By Bobby McAlpine, Susan Sully

McAlpine design firm tackles both architecture and interior design, making it perfectly suited for a book that encompasses the internal and external features of the home. Poetry of Place covers 20 diverse projects (including a Tuscan-style horse farm and a unique Florida beach house) that showcase the firm’s trademark timeless style with a modern twist, including.

Poetry of Place can be found here : Barnes and Noble

By Sophie Donelson

For a giftee who wants a focused look at how to transform or elevate certain rooms, we recommend House Beautiful Style Secrets: What Every Room Needs. The bright and colorful photos make it ideal for coffee table browing, but the tome is entirely too useful to stay on display for long. A perfect present for someone who is looking to discover tricks of the trade, this book offers an introductory, intimate, if informal interior design education.

HouseBeautiful Style Secrets can be found here : Abrams Books

By Victoria Hagan

With more than 25 years of experience, Victoria Hagan has honed her craft in homes across the country. In Dream Spaces, she shares the secrets of how she incorporates her clients’ personalities and lives in the interiors she designs, how to combine the new and the antique or vintage, and how to integrate beloved and surprising pieces into a soothing, serene, and comfortable home.

Dream Spaces can be found here : Amazon

By Delphine Krakoff, Reed Krakoff

What happens when Delphine Krakoff (a Paris-trained interior designer) and her husband Reed Krakoff (an American fashion designer) join creative forces to rehabilitate and decorate their own SIX homes? Gorgeous, sophisticated, art-laden interiors, of course! The Krakoffs, who are collectors as well as tastemakers, enlist the helps of A-list clients and friends such as Martha Stewart and Tory Burch to add intriguing commentary.

Houses That We Dreamt Of can be found here : Amazon

By Melanie Acevdeo, Dara Caponigro

Getting a glimpse into the homes of creative designers, performers, organic farmers, artists and more feels aspirational and inspirational, as if maybe we can discern some of their secrets of greatness (as well as style) by seeing the worlds that they live and work in. The Authentics digs deep, interviewing each subject to better understand how he or she uses a genuine, distinctive voice to create a unique niche as well as beautifully photographing his or her surroundings.

The Authentics : A Lush Dive Into The Substance of Style can be found here : Amazon

Making Small Spaces Feel Bigger

When we were little, we imagined cartwheeling around our future homes with plenty of space to spare. As adults, however, we understand the dance between size and style and know that finding a home that we love may mean contending with smaller rooms (and putting our cartwheeling dreams to bed). Even if you have to scale down your dreams of a home or apartment with airy, light-filled rooms, you can make the most of your livable space without knocking down walls or making other huge, costly structural changes. Read on for 4 tricks that will help make your space seem bigger.


Craft a high-contrast interplay between walls and ceilings through paint color. The difference will create a tromp l’oeil that makes the floor drop and the ceiling look taller. Using a glossy white or a light color for one of these elements also makes the space feel brighter and bigger.

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Concentrating on one color creates an endless space that eliminates borders and helps the eye move effortlessly around the room. Don’t be afraid of adding color variations, however, as long as the chosen shades are close in tonal value. Depending on what colors are chosen, a monochromatic room can look modern (think of a kitchen blacks, whites, and/or grays), playful (a Pinkalicious-worthy child’s room) or soothing (a bedroom that’s a study in blues).

photo credit :
photo credit :

Congruent flooring helps to create the feeling of smooth, polished, open space. Rooms will appear to flow seamlessly into one another, eliminating the boxy, chopped up feeling that can pervade when individual and small rooms each have their own floor design.

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photo credit : Pinterest

Choose a large-scale piece of furniture to trick the eye. The space itself might appear small, but picking an oversized sofa or chair will make visitors and homeowners alike feel like the space has “grown” to accommodate its size. Just make sure to pick a piece that you adore-it will likely become a major focal point of the room. And do a little measuring and sizing up BEFORE the piece is delivered to ensure it actually does fit!

photo credit : Apartment Therapy

Our favorite 15-minute, kid-friendly trick for lasting, classy, seasonal décor!

The pressure to decorate for the holidays, whether it comes from a trip down the Pinterest rabbit hole or our desire to celebrate the seasonal magic with and for our little ones, comes on strong and long. After all, Halloween decorations start creeping up in stores and displays in July when we are basically still living in our bathing suits!

Seasonal decorating can be time-consuming and expensive, not to mention that neon orange and black may not jive with your painted-in-pastels abode or ultra modern home. Our favorite seasonal décor fix is less conventional, but it can last throughout multiple fall holidays and fit seamlessly into any color scheme and all it takes is a minimal amount of time and a little paint!


Purchase pumpkins in whatever quantity and size you desire and let your kiddos paint them in colors that match your home and the rooms in it. Or indulge in some paint therapy yourself! You can stick with a monochromatic theme, choose colors that complement those in the room, or even go for a display that incorporates subtle, gradual variations on a color scheme. Metallic colors offer a festive, yet classy look for tablescapes and entryways.

Some pumpkin varieties actually come in white, so you can also simply purchase those for decorating-no mess required. Or if you find velveteen or wooden pumpkins in a shade that matches other items in your display area, invest in a few: you’ll have classic fall decorations year after year. These blue and white beauties add a touch of tactile luxury to a display.

photo credit : • Follow @pumpkinandaprincess

Sometimes less really is more for holiday décor, and we don’t just mean visually. The less time you spend on lavish and fleeting decorations, the more time you have to create an awesome Halloween costume, sip apple cider, or play in the leaves with your family.

photo credit :
photo credit : Follow @jshomedesign

How To Turn Inspiring Travel into Design at Home

As fall sneaks up on us, the weather feels cooler and the holidays quickly approach. It's hard not to start looking back on summer already. After a fabulous, life-affirming vacation, coming home can feel like a mixed bag: our creature comforts are here, but we long for the amazing and unique experiences we had. The best way to keep the travel high going is by bringing the essence of your voyages home.

Beyond the basic, more obvious ways to incorporate your voyages afar into your day-to-day lifestyle at home (some of which we included below) are opportunities to truly reflect your experiences, passions, and the education you absorbed while traveling.

One of the great joys in traveling is being exposed to styles different than the ones you gravitate towards when decorating. Perhaps your travels will even awaken you to try out a design trend or feature. For example, a trip to Giverny’s iconic blue- tiled kitchen could give way to the decision to add a similar-hued backsplash in your own home or the courage to curate a room that is centered around one focal color. 

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Changes don’t need to be dramatic or over-the-top either. After seeing long-pile tufted rugs at a chic marketplace in Marrakech and feeling their divine texture underfoot, you can bring that luxury home by trying one out at your bedside, conjuring memories of your vacation each morning when you take your first steps. If you find that rug irresistible, consider obtaining more in an array of styles and colors and layering them for a cozy atmosphere.

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Sometimes the influences of your travel inspirations will less obvious to others. A trip to a faraway place that inspired a love for a new culture and their handiworks, such as the ornate bead work of the Masaai people of Kenya, could be reflected in numerous ways including the addition of handcrafted wire and bead bowls, beaded pillow detailing, or metal accents and embellishments on furniture or hardware. Sharing the origins behind your new acquisitions will allow you to relive your experiences and spread your enthusiasm for these artisanal crafts and wares.


Bringing your travels into your home doesn’t need to be costly: a collection of shells, stones, or sea glass make for an eye-catching display and could serve as a creative and striking contrast to modern lines in your home. A walk on the beach with the family could transform into a beautiful display of shells and sands later on in your home, serving as a reminder of quality time spent together.

Not sure where to begin? Here are a few ideas if you want to dip your toe into travel-inspired design:

  • Bringing home a piece of original artwork is a wonderful way to support local artisans and to highlight an authentic piece that “spoke” to you during your travels. Every time your gaze falls upon it, you’ll be reminded of your journey and the amazing diversity of artistic talents around the world. Photos (taken by you or by someone else) are wonderful, visually striking mementos that capture a moment in time and space. Print them in large scale for maximum effect or make a collage wall with several images. For a polished, stylized look, print them on metal.
  • Start small if you don't have abundant space. You could begin by framing a coin and positioning it in the entryway or by making a home for an antique carving among other works of art you already have on display. Wherever you place your travel tokens, display them prominently so you see them regularly and make sure to give them proper lighting too.
  • In addition to serving as a feast for the eyes, travel trinkets can also be pleasurable for other senses. While framing a beautiful piece of lace from Venice or Brussels, a swath of silk from China, or a sari fragment from India makes for a stunning display, these materials are also wonderful when they become a textural design element, such as on a pillow. An antique Tibetan singing bowl looks beautiful on a shelf, but it is also pleasing to the ear.
  • Travelers naturally get caught up in the moment and unpack their suitcases to find items they might not wear on a regular basis, such as a kimono. These picture-perfect robes showcase incredible handiwork and add plenty of drama and intrigue to your home. Nearly every item you bring back with you can find a suitable home where its unique nature and appeal can be highlighted.
  • If your bags were too full or you simply ran out of time for souvenirs, you can still transport yourself back to your vacation spot with the simple help of a candle or a book. An Ocean Mist & Sea Salt scent will make your feel like you are back on the beach again; a lavender-scented taper soothes and fills your mind with images of running through fields in Provence. Find a coffee table book featuring your vacation location and leave it out as an open invitation to indulge in some an armchair tourism. Or create your own book using snapshots from your trip for a more personal touch. Thumbing through the pages will send you back to your happy place– no passport required!

Whether it’s a sculpture or painting that has to be shipped overseas (therefore, allowing you a little time to decide on its placement!) or a small token such as foreign coins or bills, keepsake reminders such as arts, artifacts, books, candles, and artifacts will sustain your travel memories…and may even inspire you or visitors to your home to take to the roads, rails, water, or sky again soon.

What are some ways that you have brought your summer vacations home into the autumn?