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Sarah Richardson's Ways to Personalize a Kitchen

Interior designer Sarah Richardson has repainted her walls four or five times in eight years. Here, she shares other easy ways to give any kitchen more personality.

"I'm an eager beaver who just wants to make things right," says interior designer Sarah Richardson. "Hopefully, people learn from my mistakes." A TV star in Canada with her own lines of paint and furniture, Richardson brings her girl-next-door vibe to the US on the HGTV shows Sarah's House and the upcoming Sarah 101. A democratizer of kitchen design, Richardson believes that people shouldn't have to spend a lot on high-end materials. Her shows teach viewers the small touches that give a kitchen personality, like adding bold colors, mosaic tiles and fabrics. She might upgrade stock cabinets, for example, by playing with wood grains and paint colors. While other designers have a signature look, Richardson seeks out simple but sophisticated design solutions that allow anyone to customize a kitchen, as in the rooms on these pages. She's a DIY cheerleader: "The main point of my shows is, 'Don't just buy someone else's renovation—do it yourself.'"

Mosaic Tiles

Sarah Richardson kitchen tip: Mosaic Tiles

© Stacey Brandford

Richardson loves mosaic backsplashes, like the "Sunflower" pattern here, made from different types of marble: "Backsplashes are a wonderful place to integrate color and pattern into the kitchen."

Salvaged Wood

Sarah Richardson kitchen tip: salvaged wood

© Stacey Brandford

To add style to stock cabinets, Richardson had them professionally spray-painted and added details like reclaimed wood. The tongue-and-groove paneling on the island, from an 1860s schoolhouse, influenced the room's colors.

Maximizing Storage

Sarah Richardson kitchen Tip: maximizing storage

© Stacey Brandford

Richardson added drawers and a low countertop under the window to create a baking station, which both preserves natural light and uses every available bit of space.

slideshow Slideshow: More Kitchen Tips from Sarah Richardson

Plus: Simple Style Upgrades


"There's no law that says your kitchen pendants have to come from a kitchen showroom," says Richardson, who has rewired everything from vintage French exterior lights to Egyptian lanterns.


"I always figure out a way to sneak fabric into my designs because I love graphic patterns," Richardson says. "Window treatments and upholstery let you put your stamp on a room." Two favorite prints: Fireworks and Kerala Ikat from Schumacher.

Published November 2010


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