#WCW: If You Love Laidback California Style, You’ll Love Sarah Sherman Samuel

updated May 3, 2019
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(Image credit: Sarah Sherman Samuel)

If you’re a fan of laid back California style, then chances are you’ve pinned, liked or at least scrolled through images of LA-based designer Sarah Sherman Samuel’s interiors. Though she grew up on the water in Michigan, Sarah could write the book on the bright, boho West Coasty thing that’s happening in the design world right now.

(Image credit: Katherine Ross)

But she’s not just a one-trick pony. In addition to designing spaces, she also works as an art director, product designer and shares a ton of her own original content on her blog, Stories (oh, and her brand spanking new wallpaper line exclusively with Lulu & Georgia is worth a peek). Busy lady! And by the way, I see a lot of house porn in my job, and even I gasped when I stumbled upon the photo of her Palm Springs A-frame living room makeover. It’s kind of the perfect space.

Somehow she manages to ground the surf shack look with her use of a woodsier palette—gorgeous greens, browns and blacks instead of just ocean blues. So clearly I had to track this gal down, have her share some of her backstory and tell us about what gets her going creatively. You can thank me later (you know, after you’ve followed her on Instagram).

Apartment Therapy (AT): How did you get your start as a designer?

Sarah Sherman Samuel (SSS): Shortly after graduating, I got my first job in Miami, which had me moving across the country for a studio designer job at an ad agency. One of the clients I worked on was the Viceroy Hotel. I was setting type and creating sales brochures for the Kelly Wearstler-designed hotel and residences. It didn’t take me long to realize my heart wasn’t in 2D design work, and I wanted to be creating the beautiful interiors I was seeing in the sales brochures. I left the ad agency to work in a furniture showroom, where I was able to delve right into interiors while doing their visual merchandising and eventually gaining clients when customers would need help with space plans and selecting furniture pieces.

(Image credit: Sarah Sherman Samuel)

AT: Did you always want to work in interiors?

SSS: I’ve always been interested in interiors but ended up getting my bachelors degree in graphic design, which has been invaluable and has influenced my design work across multiple fields.

AT: What would you say is your design calling card?

SSS: I always try to create something a little unexpected.

(Image credit: Sarah Sherman Samuel)

AT: Who or what is inspiring you right now?

SSS: I’ve always been inspired by the Bauhaus principles and the unity of form and function. Currently I’ve had my inspiration bucket filled with all things Australian. I feel like whenever I happen across some piece of furniture or a new design studio I love, it always ends up being from Australia! Douglas & Bec, Dowel Jones and Design By Them are a few off the top of my head.

(Image credit: Sarah Sherman Samuel)

AT: Where do you go for inspiration?

SSS: I usually find inspiration when I am unplugged, traveling, shopping around LA or in nature.

(Image credit: Sarah Sherman Samuel)

AT: How do you feel about design trends? Is there a trend you’re loving right now?

SSS: Design trends are fine to include in your space if they really speak to you or help tell your story! Right now I am thrilled terrazzo is having a resurgence in popularity. It has been around forever and is a classic material but at the moment it is also trending, which means I get to see more of something I love, which is an all around win.

(Image credit: Sarah Sherman Samuel)

AT: Is there something trend-wise you just can’t get behind?

SSS: I think it’s a good rule of thumb to not to include a trend if that is the only motivating factor behind it.

AT: What’s your best budget decorating tip?

SSS: Plants make a huge impact for not a ton of cash. Also, when in doubt, paint the room white and declutter!