Sarah & Matt's Expertly Styled Home

Sarah & Matt's Expertly Styled Home

Lindsay Tella
Aug 30, 2012

Name: Sarah Alba, Matt, & Ashlyn Alba
Location: San Rafael, California
Size: 1800 square feet
Years lived in: 6 — owned

Sarah's impeccable taste and pro styling was first noted, here on Apartment Therapy, in Sarah's House Call. Now we're back with more! As a location scout, stylist, and field editor for many well-known publications, it's Sarah's job to enhance interiors, and she's really good at it. She has the ability to find pieces in a variety of styles and mesh them together to create a cohesive look that's both livable and elegant.

You enter the Alba residence, set in the hills of San Rafael, on the second level and are greeted with gorgeous views of the lush, rolling landscape. High, angled ceilings and an open floor plan contribute to a well lit home that feels timeless, modern and serene all at once. It's the kind of space that draws you in and continues to impress with every step. Each room is an expression of Sarah's refined taste and ability to combine contemporary and traditional elements for a seamless look.

Upon first glance, there aren't many signs of a toddler living under this roof. Sarah, who's admittedly a clean freak, has managed the kid clutter with a few clever design solutions. One remedy includes Senegalese storage baskets, from Serena & Lily, located stratigetically throughout the house and used to store toys, shoes, and other items that would otherwise be scattered on the floor.

Matt and Sarah's home has been designed around the way they live, from the inside out. Since outdoor space was a necessity for their family, they expanded their narrow back deck around the corner of the house to include a wider area for entertaining and eating. It also doubles as an outdoor play area for their daughter. While Sarah is the mastermind behind the design, Matt's been her number one fan along the way. Through her success as a stylist and field editor, Sarah was able to grow her business to include design consulting and personal shopping, focusing on budget-friendly design solutions for the home. Her home is a testament to this aesthetic, featuring a mix of pieces from different times and places.

It's not about following rules. It's about finding pieces you love and making them work together." - Sarah

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Two parts contemporary. One part classic.

Inspiration: The inspiration for this home came from travel, nature, fashion and my fascination with blending different elements.

Favorite Element: The slab of walnut we designed to be our breakfast bar. And our enormous contemporary bed frame which my husband picked out, which makes me like it even more.

Biggest Challenge: Finding creative ways to hide the clutter that goes hand-in-hand with having a toddler and a home office. Lack of lighting. Budget.

What Friends Say: "Should I take my shoes off?" "Do you really have a kid?"

Biggest Embarrassment: Our insanely loud, flushing toilets.

Proudest DIY: My make-shift "Paint Palette" artwork — cheap and colorful.

Biggest Indulgence: The Saarinen dining table.

Best Advice: There are ways to creatively achieve the look you want for less. Skip the white Flokati rug if you own a black lab and have a toddler. Step outside of your comfort zone to achieve a look with true personality and character.

Dream Sources: Kelly Wearstler, Summer House in Mill Valley, Serena & Lily, Etsy, DWR

Resources of Note:


    • Restoration Hardware: Atmosphere Blue (Entryway)
    • Benjamin Moore: Yorkshire Tan (Family & Dining Room)
    • Benjamin Moore: Skylark Song (Master Bedroom)



    • Couch: Custom, Furniture Envy
    • Moroccan Poufs: Serena & Lily
    • Geographic Mini Bowl: Anthropologie
    • Side Table: Target
    • Table Lamp: HD Buttercup
    • Chair: HD Buttercup
    • Coffee Table: Crate & Barrel
    • Curtains: West Elm
    • Curved Floor Lamp: CB2
    • Tray: Target
    • Throw Pillows: Target
    • Gray & White Ikat Pillow: Fabricadabra
    • Throw Blanket: West Elm
    • Mirrors: Crate & Barrel
    • Rug: Serena & Lily
    • Senegalese Storage Basket: Serena & Lily
    • Bookshelf/Stand: West Elm


    • Marble Top Saarinen Table: DWR
    • Bertoia Side Chairs with Custom Upholstered Pads: DWR
    • Artwork: MD Canvas
    • Bar Tray/Stand: Alameda Flea Market
    • Candle Holders: Banana Republic Home
    • Bowl: Bloomingdales
    • Desk Stool: Wisteria
    • Task Lamp at Desk: Target
    • Cabinet Hardware: Anthropologie (upper cabinet) & Bauer Design (lower cabinet)
    • Rug: Home Decorators Collection


    • "A": Maison Reve
    • Bar Stools: Tolix, available through DWR


    • Headboard/Side Table Unit: Haiku, No Longer in Business
    • Bedside Lamps: Crate & Barrel
    • Art work: MD Canvas
    • Window Treatments: West Elm
    • Quilt: Diane von Furstenberg, available through Bloomingdales
    • Navy Coverlet and Shams: Calvin Klein, available through Bloomingdales
    • Sheets and Pillow Cases: Target
    • Yellow Pillow: Habitat
    • Couch: West Elm
    • Wallpaper: Ferm Living
    • Diamond Pillow Fog: Serena & Lily
    • Side Table: Z Gallerie
    • Task Lamp: Kelly Keiser of Kelly Keiser Splendid Interiors
    • Bud Vase: Pottery Barn
    • Book Shelf & Storage Bins: Serena & Lily
    • Curtains: West Elm
    • Mirror: West Elm


    • Bookshelves: West Elm
    • Storage Bins: Pottery Barn
    • Mini Arm Chair: Pottery Barn
    • Wooden Frame with Dress Hanging: Flea Market Find
    • Wallpaper: Zoffany, available through San Francisco Design Center
    • Butterfly Mobile: Pottery Barn
    • Curtains: Pottery Barn
    • Pink Rug: Target


    • "Keep Calm and Carry On": Etsy
    • Various Art on Wall: Flea Market finds


    • Deck Furniture/Cushions- (Synthetic Wicker) Exclusively Home
    • Umbrella: West Elm
    • Kids Table and Chairs: IKEA

Thanks, Sarah and Matt!

(Images: Lindsay Tella and Alec Hemer for Better Homes & Gardens via Sarah Alba (gallery images 1, 6, 8, 14, 19, 22, 28))

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