Style At Home: Sarah Sherman Samuel

Written by on August 13, 2013 in Lifestyle, Style At Home - 45 Comments
Style at Home: Sarah Sherman Samuel / Photography: Jessie Webster

We’re huge fans of Smitten Studio here at Glitter Guide, so we couldn’t contain our excitement at the chance to peek into Sarah Sherman Samuel’s home! Her Los Angeles abode is an intriguing mix of old and new: a sleek, modern foundation with brilliant touches of warmth, color and charm. Sarah’s impeccable décor includes handmade pieces from her newest exciting venture, A Sunny Afternoon—and effortlessly reflects her signature style we’ve all come to adore!

Photography: Jessie Webster
Styling: Sarah Sherman Samuel
Makeup: Ximena Rolfe

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  • What inspired you to start your blog, Smitten Studio?
    Basically, I started Smitten Studio as a creative outlet. My full-time job had become less challenging, so I wanted to use the blog as a way to push and inspire myself and others. I’ve always been really into photography, styling and using my graphic design background and education in different ways, so the blog was a perfect platform to combine those interests and share them with like-minded folks. I had the idea to start it a few years ago and even made a few posts using a template site, but it didn’t feel right at the time, so I shelved it. It wasn’t until last year that I custom-designed the site to reflect my own aesthetic and launched Smitten Studio as it is today, the visual diary of my journey in life and design. This also coincided with my husband and I buying our little fixer cabin in Michigan, and so it became the perfect place to track all of our DIY renovations. Little did I know that after just one year, the blog would take off, giving me the opportunity to take the leap out on my own. I have been sharing my life, work, travels and inspiration ever since.

  • You recently launched a new line, A Sunny Afternoon. Tell us a bit about it!
    A Sunny Afternoon is my collection of handmade home and picnic wares with a modern heirloom feel. Current items in the shop include picnic baskets with leather handles and patterned lining, solid walnut serving boards with unique shapes and mix & match patterned tabletop textiles. It was born out of my desire to create a line that would marry my style with my love of the outdoors, gathering for a meal and the handmade. Each piece in the collection is designed by me & handmade in the USA by either myself, my dad or a handful of other local artisans.

  • “This is one of my favorite spots in the house. My husband and I — and our two dogs — spend a lot of time right here. It was love at first sight when we walked into the empty townhouse for the first time about 6 years ago. It was a beautiful blank slate and from the moment I walked in the door I started decorating the space in my head. The art wall was one of the first things to go up, which is a mix of photography, paintings, band posters, illustrations and pieces we’ve made ourselves.”

    Coffee table and butterfly chair: Surfing Cowboys, Sofa: HD Buttercup, Rug from Circle Art

  • What made you choose the name “A Sunny Afternoon?”
    Growing up in Michigan, I learned to appreciate sunny days, as they can be few and far between. After 4 months of winter and grey, nothing can make you feel more alive and refreshed like a warm, sunny afternoon. The picnic baskets, bathing suits and sundresses come out; the days are longer and the food is fresher. Even though I live in California now—where the sun is much less elusive—the deep appreciation for a sunny afternoon will never fade. So, when coming up with a name for a picnic-focused line of goods, the name just clicked. 

  • Did you always know that you wanted a creative career?
    Growing up I always, always knew that I wanted to do something creative. My parents didn’t have jobs in the arts but both of them had creative hobbies that they are gifted at. My dad is a very skilled woodworker, and my earliest memory of working alongside him was at age 6, sitting in his workshop making tiny cat and dog figurines out of scraps of balsa wood while he was building model airplanes. I was also always rearranging the furniture with my mom or getting into her oil paints.  I’ve been a maker from the very beginning.

  • What’s the key to balancing so many projects?!
    Is there a magic key? Someone should hand it over and I’ll make copies! Really though, now that I work for myself, all of my creative projects definitely intertwine and overlap, which makes it easier to jump back and forth because the overall aesthetic and point of view remain the same. I am also a firm believer in lists. I write a new list every day, start with the most important thing at the top and work my way down from there.

  • How would you describe the design aesthetic in your home?
    I gravitate mostly to the mid-century modern aesthetic with clean lines and my favorite materials like leather and wood — but I like to mix it up a bit, too. There is definitely a good combination of masculine and feminine, vintage and modern, and industrial styles in our home. I think my home is a reflection of my personal style, which is also manifested in my work. I could package it all up and call it vintage-meets-modern, fashion-meets-nature, & design-meets-life. 

  • What personality traits does your décor reflect?
    Resourceful and creative, with a touch of whimsy.

  • Favorite splurge and favorite bargain item in your home?
    My favorite bargain item is the set of copper canisters that I found at the Long Beach Flea Market: $6 for all four. I didn’t even have to haggle. I’d have to say my favorite splurge is my leather butterfly chair. It’s a vintage Knoll Hardoy chair that was still paired up with its matching ottoman. I had never seen the set together in person, so when I did, I jumped on it. 

  • “Most of theses items in our kitchen were found at flea markets and vintage shops. The mirror, scale, tartan fruit crate label and the copper canisters were all thrifted.”


  • What are your go-to designers and stores for home?
    I like a mix of vintage and new, so flea markets and stores like Surfing Cowboys are great for those pieces with a past. Jayson Home and HD Buttercup always have dreamy new items. And if I can’t find what I am looking for, a lot of times I will end up making it myself. A good DIY project is always satisfying.

  • “This spot under our stairs was kind of wasted space until we came across this gorgeous trunk at the Rose Bowl Flea Market. It now serves as much-needed shoe storage. The leopard boots are from Zara, the vase is from Jonathan Adler, and the hat I got while on vacation in Provence. I love bringing items home from a trip. Every time I see that hat I remember lavender fields, rosé and the beautiful French countryside.”

  • Is there a specific rhyme or reason to your design process?
    My design process varies from project to project based on the medium, but they all usually start with a pencil and paper. I have a notebook by my side basically at all times (sometimes I have up to five different ones going with different projects), where I sketch and make lists and let the ideas flow.

  • “Pikku & Cracker are the two furry loves of our lives. They are both rescue dogs that we got from a great organization called Much Love. We adopted Pikku first and a year later added Cracker to the mix. They are now completely inseparable and are the cuddliest, most lovable pups we could have asked for.”

    Dress: Otis and Maclain, Bracelet: Lfrank Jewelry, Bed: West Elm, Mirror: Plantation, Bedding: West Elm 

  • What piece in your home has the most sentimental value?
    I have a small cabinet that belonged to my grandma. Right now it serves as my entry table. It’s nothing fancy, it’s basically a wooden cabinet with two hinged sides that can be brought up to use as a table. When I was young she used to store her collection of board games in it, which we would dig though and play every time we would visit. That piece always brings a smile to my face.

  • “This desk was a floor sample in the El Segundo Anthropologie. As soon as I saw it I had to make it mine. The sleek aged steel frame and wood drawers give it an antique feel, and the glass top keeps it from looking too heavy. Above the desk I used skinny black masking tape to make the stripes on the wall, which serves as my inspiration board.”

    Desk: Anthropologie, Chair: Vintage, Squirrel: Jonathan Adler, Bag: Madewell 

  • “I made these shelves in my studio, which work perfectly for storing my A Sunny Afternoon wood items that are in progress. During the creation time, my dad and I can both be found in his workshop in Michigan, cutting and shaping the variety of pieces that I designed. I then usually fly with suitcases loaded full of walnut back here to LA, where I sand, brand, finish and photograph each piece.”



  • “My favorite part of my studio is the chalkboard wall. The ceilings are really tall so I have plenty of space to spread out my projects. It is especially helpful when I’m working on the artwork for the textiles in my line. When creating the patterns for the fabrics, I usually start by hand-painting them on paper. I then scan them into the computer to clean up and refine. The natural irregularities that come from hand-painting a pattern show the human touch behind it, which I love, so I try not to clean it up too much. I use the board to narrow down my designs and refine the collection. Sometimes I can get into a crazy pattern creation mode and cover the entire wall with ideas. It’s always changing and I like that about it. :)”

    Blazer by English Rose, Tee by Madewell, Black Jeans by Paige Denim, Necklace by Verabel Jewelry, Bracelet by Monserat De Lucca

  • “I go through phases with my jewelry. A while ago I would wear necklaces everyday and only want necklaces. Now, I am a total ring hoarder. Big statement rings and super tiny delicate ones, I’ll take them all. The rings and the gold cuff are by Liseanne Frankfurt of LFrank Jewelry, Wooden bangles by Voz Collective, Gold clutch by Tory Burch, Snake clutch by Clare Vivier, Chevron earrings by Prairie Oats.”

  • “I made this garment rack as well, with pieces from our local hardware store. I use it to display some of my favorite pieces that I don’t get the chance to wear often enough.”

    Shoes from left to right: Zara, ZaraBCBGBadgley Mischka.

    Clothes from left to right: Joie leopard dress, Diane von Furstenberg dress, English Rose Blazer, All Saints sequined top, AQ/AQ dress, All Saints tank.

  • What is your ultimate goal as a designer / creator / entrepreneur?
    My goal is simply to be able to continue to create, and to have people like what I am putting out there enough to keep me creating! 

    How do you sparkle?
    I am the most sparkly when I’m creating and/or traveling. 

    “The light in our home is really beautiful, thanks to a few floor-to-ceiling windows and a glass walkway on the second floor that filters light down from a skylight above.”

    Maxi dress by Rachel Zoe, Vest from Akira, Necklace by Verabel Jewelry, Bracelet by Monserat De Lucca

  • Annie

    Love this peek into Sarah’s world!

  • Lauren

    I’m dying to know more about the patchwork mirror in slide 15. Where did this piece come from?

    • sarah sherman samuel

      I got it from a store called Digs on Abbot Kinney but it has since closed.

  • Ashleigh @ Jolie Jouel

    Great tour! Can you share the paint color in your bedroom? It’s so rich and dreamy!

    • sarah sherman samuel

      Thanks Ashleigh, the paint color is called Starry Night by Behr.

  • Stacy @ Fritz & Fräulein

    Love your home! Absolutely impeccable style! Love to see so many pieces incorporated from Long Beach & the Rose Bowl Flea Markets – they’re my absolute favs!

  • The Office Stylist

    What an absolutely fab home! Her living room is too.die.for amazing!!

    –Sayeh, The Office Stylisy

  • Jennifer (Dunning) Maloley

    Oh Sara How exciting this journey must be!! My god your a beautifully creative woman! always were though in high school I thought :)

    • sarah sherman samuel

      Awe thanks Jennifer, that is so sweet of you to say!

  • Guest

    this is totally unrelated to post but where are those shoes from? i loooove them.

  • Double Down

    Where is this beach photo from?? CAn I purchase???

    • sarah sherman samuel

      I took the beach photo of Lake Superior years ago. Unfortunately I don’t have the digital file anymore. :(

  • Luxx Mint

    Gorgeous home, but I really want to know which lipstick Sarah is wearing in the first few photos, it looks the perfect orange?! Thanks x

    • sarah sherman samuel

      Its called outrageous by Stila

  • Erin S.

    Gorgeous home! Do you know the brand and name of the paint color in the bedroom? That blue is striking.

    • sarah sherman samuel

      Thanks! It’s called Starry Night by Behr.

  • Erin S.

    Nevermind – just saw the same question and answer below. Thanks!

  • Kristin Weight

    Wow! Love everything about this house. Answered a couple “What do I do with this space?” puzzles I’m having right now. Great work!

    Also want to know where those gold-tipped black flats came from. :)

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  • Heather

    I’m dying to know ho makes her flats. they’re wonderful.

    • sarah sherman samuel

      The brand is called Puya.

      • Pretty Shiny Sparkly™

        Sarah, where is the sunburst mirror in your bedroom from?

        • sarah sherman samuel

          It is from a store called Plantation here in LA.

    • Modern Citizen

      You can buy them at Modern Citizen:

  • Ali LaFleur

    I want the jeans! Have finally decided to pull the trigger on a ripped pair… where are they from?

    • sarah sherman samuel

      They are by Adriano Goldschmied.

  • Carlee

    Such an amazing article and gorgeous home! So inspiring on so many different levels. Great job!

  • Amanda

    Gorgeous home and style! I follow Sarah on Insta— love her pics!

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  • Brittany

    Would love to know what the paint color is in the family room!

  • Jessie D. Miller

    Sarah is FLAWLESS! I adore her style.

  • Holly

    Love the white shirt with the black and pale blue panels on it – could you tell me where it’s from?

  • Lianna Eysnogle

    so beautiful love those printed drapes! so chic!

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  • Comfy Cozy Couture

    Major girl crush on her…and love her newest venture!! Also, wondering where those adorable polka dot containers/vases are from on her desk?!

    • sarah sherman samuel

      aw thank you! I made them. there is a DIY on my blog.

  • Mimi

    Sarah, I’d love to know where the throw pillows on the blue sofa are from. Thanks!
    Just perfect home, btw…

    • sarah sherman samuel

      Hi Mimi,
      Thanks, the pillows are from target!

  • Tanisha

    Love your work space! What is the black and white printed fabric? With the triangles… Also where do you get your black and white prints from?

    • sarah sherman samuel

      Hi Tanisha, the fabric is from my collection A Sunny Afternoon.

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