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.
Sarah Richardson.
© Stacey Brandford

"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