Named one of the ‘Top 20 Next Wave Designers’ by House Beautiful, interior designer Sara Gilbane is best known for combining low-key and elegant pieces with a youthful, chic flair. With her signature, easy style, it’s no surprise that Sara has drawn clients from Nantucket to Palm Springs who want that warm and sophisticated look.
We sat down with Sara to get the low-down on how she goes about creating such welcoming spaces that reflect her clients’ taste and personality, while infusing her own innate sense of style. Read on below, and see Sara’s Chairish favorites here.
What do you love about designing with vintage decor?
Vintage decor is not perfect, it is loved and has been around the block. Bringing history into your home changes everything. All brand new everything is a bit soul-less in my opinion.
What are you most inspired by right now?
Inspiration comes from everywhere, the way an outfit is combined, the mix of color and pattern you see done so differently everywhere you travel, and juxtapositions all feed my design process.
What is your golden design rule?
I don’t have many rules…I have never liked them. Scale is so important and go with your gut and purchase pieces you love. They will work their way into a space in the most unexpected ways. Perhaps one hard and fast rule is ‘obey thy decorator’?
Best way to add drama to a room?
Wallpaper does the trick quickly as does a bold lighting fixture.
What’s your dream project?
The client makes the project so when we have clients with a sense of adventure and a passion for design I am always happy.
Space you can’t get out of your mind?
All of Marella Agnelli’s homes.
No room is complete without…?
A bit of whimsy. I put serious thought into the rooms I create but I do not want people to feel serious when enjoying themselves in them.
You grew up in Rhode Island. Do you ever weave in any of your Rhode Island traditions – like nautical – motifs into your work?
I don’t – I appreciate antiques and am happy to work in any pieces that a client all ready has that are dear to them (you can’t take the New England out of the girl) but I really take the location and the style of each home into mind when designing.
What do you love about filling your home with vintage pieces?
You never forget the feeling that a space gives you. It is not about everything being “perfect” but rather the overall feeing. Vintage does just that.
What vintage items can you not stop yourself from buying again and again?
I have a problem with vintage chairs. I do not have nearly enough space or client to find a home for all of them but the vintage styles are just not recreated today, so here I sit, with a garage full of chairs…
How would you describe your personal aesthetic for your home?
Eclectic, loved, colorful, comfortable, and happy.
Are there any decorating trends you’re currently loving?
More is more. I love how magazines are embracing colorful eclectic spaces. Personality!
What vintage pieces are just classic and forever cool?
Milo Baughman never disappoints.
How would you describe the aesthetic your clients come to you for?
Youthful and chic spaces packed with color and pattern.
What’s your go-to paint color?
I don’t have just one. The light and the view in any room guides the process.
What designers do you most admire? Sister Parish, Albert Hadley, Billy Baldwin, Renzo Mongiardino, Celerie Kemble, Jeffrey Bilhuber, Markham Roberts, Tom Scheerer, Miles Redd, Nick Olsen, and Tilton Fenwick.
Featured photo by Zach Desart, courtesy of Sara Gilbane