home stories: a home to make you smile with Sarah Laming
A home to make you smile, what better design mantra could there be for turning a house into a home - the guiding principle behind this weeks home story from Sarah Laming.
I've only recently discovered Sarah's home (thank you Instagram) and when I came across this image of her yellow kitchen (above) my jaw dropped, I uttered the word "wow" and then I smiled. A jaw drop, a "wow" and a smile are always a guarantee for me that I want to see more.
Sarah not only has a beautiful house with a interesting layout but I just love how she connects hers spaces through colour and pattern. The long views through connecting rooms are full of intrigue and just draw you in, beckoning you through to explore the spaces further. So pop the kettle on and enjoy, over to you Sarah...
I am Sarah @ahometomakeyousmile I love creating homes that make you smile and rooms to make your heart sing! I live in London with my husband, two teenage children and two dogs.
We have lived in our house for 15 years. It is an old Arts and Crafts House in Dulwich Village, London. It has many beautiful artisan features and was built with the real craftsmanship of the period. Originally built for the Village Doctor, it has quite a unique layout. About 12 years ago we totally renovated it, but we had to tread carefully, adapting it to 21st Century family living but keeping the incredible character and details.
We also have a small Fisherman’s Cottage by the sea in Broadstairs, Kent which we have also renovated. We hope to let it as a holiday home (although we keep putting off that moment as we love to be there ourselves!).
Although my London home and Broadstairs cottage look and feel very different on the surface, both are designed through the lens of their own heritage. London is filled with colour and pattern, which is my take on an Arts & Crafts country house, whilst Broadstairs has a much more muted colour palette, reflecting the slower-paced Georgian seaside cottage that it is. I work hard to ‘listen’ to each home, to understand their heritage and story and to build on their own features
After studying Interior Decorating at Chelsea College of Art and Design I developed a real passion for English Country House design. Houses that have been in families for generations, objects that have been collected over many years, homes where everything tells a story. It is a style that is liveable and yet timeless, makes a statement but is comfortable. Rooms are lived in and loved.
I find that I am totally drawn to classic designers like Ben Pentreath and Daniel Slowik. My favourite account on Instagram is Bible of British Taste which showcases classic style - the old-fashioned yellows, pinks, greens and blues - are now filling my home, and I am currently on the hunt for button-back chairs with skirts, antique sofas covered in old striped fabrics along with gorgeous vintage china and glass.
So, my own style is eclectic and maximalist, but I hope with a real sense of timelessness and peace. I have designed a home that, I hope, is grounded in calm, yet elevated by a shot of intriguing colour, or a cool piece of art, an unusual lamp or a kooky occasional table.
There is always an element of quirk alongside the traditional. Not to be gimmiky, but to lighten the mood, add some interest and always because I love it. For me, adding a something that makes you smile will automatically make the room feel more relaxed. But, I keep my quirky to a maximum of 20% and leave 80% to be much more classic … which means that I get the traditional timeless vibe that I love … but with a bit of an edge.
I fill my home with things that make me smile and I try not to be precious about them. My house has taken years to build and reflects our lives. It is full of piles of books and paintings, antiques bought when we lived in Singapore, rugs from holidays in Morocco, a button back velvet chair which my Dad sat in every evening, alongside floral sofas, a vintage pink sink from Maryland, USA, a 1950s charity box Paddington, a trapeze and an Ostrich feather light.
I also spend hours trawling antique fairs such as Ardingly and Kempton for treasures … and far too long on eBay too. I love objects and furniture that have stories to tell, that have a personality of their own. Vintage finds and hereditary pieces tell a story in a way that most high street products can’t.
But it’s not just the objects in my home that make me smile, it’s colour and pattern too. I have a passion for floral and have been mixing it into my home for a very long time, particularly floral fabrics and prints. I own three totally different floral sofas, a floral table, have lots of faux flowers mixed in with real ones, I love floral paintings and am always on the hunt for vintage floral lamps. So far I have two!
Colour makes me smile too. As soon as I left the safe zone of neutral walls and entered into the more dangerous waters of colour, I fell in love with my house more than I could ever imagine. It has become a sanctuary and feels uniquely personal to us. I have a yellow kitchen (above), a green study and a dark grey living room. I also have a light blue hall next to a pink snug and an almost black library corner. And I have a downstairs loo in a Pearl Lowe floral wallpaper that unites all these colours and brings them together.
To create a home that makes me smile, I use colour, pattern and layering. I fill it with things that have stories to tell and I have an element of quirky, but not too much. I make it feel personal to us.
So, how do I actually combine all this together to create a calm yet maximalist space with layers and intrigue and personality?
A couple of tips
I use colour a lot in my house. But I actually have a limited palette and it nods to the early 20th century vintage colours from when the house was built. Tonally, all the colours sit together too and no single colour stands alone … each colour is reflected somewhere else. In my sitting room, for example, the walls are lead grey and my sofa is a big floral pattern. The colours of the sofa are reflected all around the room; the deep pink is in some flowers, the blue in a second sofa, the greens echoed in the faux plant. And these colours are themselves all connected to the other parts of my house too.
When I am using pattern, I keep it tonally the same and within my colour palette. Don’t match patterns; it keeps a room relaxed without style overkill. I use big blocks of colour to balance brighter pattern. I cover modern pieces in vintage fabrics – I do this on my sofas. I mix florals, stripes and animal prints if the colours and tones work.
Creating a home to make you smile is flexible, it’s about filling your space with things you love. If you want a Georgian table with a mid-century tulip chair, you can have it. They can make a perfect pair. But the key to nailing it, is to carefully curate your pieces a little at a time. I have filled my home with things I love, that are filled with happy memories and make me smile. But it takes a while, so I shop wisely. However, if I love something, there will always be a place for it in my home.
Thank you to Sarah for sharing her beautiful colour and patterned filled home, I bet it made you smile too. Sarah is soon to be launching a new business sourcing and selling those vintage pieces to make a home smile, to follow Sarah and keep up with news of her new business click HERE