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Interior designer and Canada’s own Sarah Richardson has been a favorite rockstar designer of Hello Lovely’s audience forever, and she never fails to deliver classic decorating ideas and fresh modern spins on traditional decor. Case in point? Her latest project: her family’s off-the-grid country eco-friendly country home. I just learned this home (two hours from Toronto) has a name! STARLIGHT FARM! When I first blogged about it, I kept referring to it as a modern farmhouse, but I didn’t notice other sources using “farmhouse” to describe it. Since FARM is in the name, I think we can safely say we were right! In addition, Sarah’s vision for the house was “a classically inspired farmhouse for modern living.”
It’s off-the grid, meaning it has solar grids, wells, and foundations. Their goal was to use a minimal amount of energy so the house runs on solar power and has three wood stoves and two fireplaces. To insulate the house, they opted for prepainted wood siding and an exterior with board-and-batten lined with Silverboard (foam insulation that keeps heat in or out, depending on the season). Sarah Richardson and her husband, Alexander Younger, built this 5,000 square foot, five-bedroom home as their forever home, and today we’ll soak up inspiration from its interiors along with a few other farmhouse-y projects from Sarah.
PHOTOS BY STACEY BRANDFORD
Sarah Richardson: Modern Farmhouse Décor & Off the Grid Home
1. Sarah Richardson Added Her Favorite Color: Blue
Isn’t this bold blue hall (above) in Sarah Richardson’s off-the-grid Ontario home happy and inviting? Such a good lesson for us all since such areas of the home are often aesthetically inferior even though they are used frequently.
Here’s the exact French Country chandelier!
2. Modern Farmhouse Fleamarket Treasures for Interest
I wish I had a dollar for how many emails I receive asking for the paint color on Sarah Richardson’s amazing vintage sliding barn door with its turquoise lovely paint! I haven’t yet discovered whether the weathering and paint are original or faux, but isn’t this entrance to the laundry room in her family’s off-the-grid house in Ontario extra special?
3. Refined and Rustic Modern Farmhouse
Sarah Richardson’s farmhouse living room feels sumptuous with all the warmth from the red decor including wool rugs, velvet pillows, and throws. The coat of arms above the fireplace mantel is a showstopper too. The elegance factor is heightened with the seagrass wallcovering you may not expect to see in a country house with so much whitewashed knotty wood and other rustic home decor details. This is what Sarah excels at: creating elegance in a room that remains approachable and inviting.
4. Tete-a-Tete Factor
This serenely quiet conversation area with neutral home decor in a cozy section of Sarah’s living room is one I could stare at for a long time. It captures the imagination since there is so much calm, and even in this small space, Sarah has introduced textures of rattan, buttery leather, exotic wood, linen, and character-lovely wood. The setting for this home has breathtaking views (it’s her family’s country home in Ontario), and the color outside pairs magnificently with the subdued interior design.
5. Splurge on Classic Details.
In this Victorian-era bathroom above, beadboard on the walls, classic millwork, and vintage-style brass bathroom fixtures combine with brilliant design from Sarah for the tile. A mosaic above the chair rail looks classic yet a bit unexpected, and the marble shelf is both functional and beautiful for holding luxurious bath items and decor.
6. Skip the Kitsch
Sarah Richardson’s own kitchen in her off-the-grid house is brimming with fresh ideas on her vision of modern country style. Most of us imagining a country kitchen with a wood stove would not envision the elegant decor and finishes we see here. There’s no giant harvest table, no rustic farmhouse signs, no vintage corbels or antique plates on the wall. Instead, she has surprised us with sleek custom brass accent panels, a refined breakfast dining area with modern upholstered dining chairs. Even the color palette feels more cool and Paris chic than say Nashville lovely (there isn’t even a rug in the space…though there is a “stone rug” between the island and range wall).
7. Painted Vintage Door Delish
For long-time Sarah Richardson fans like me, we recall vividly watching Sarah design this farmhouse with its charming entry/mudroom on her HGTV show. On the show, we were taken along on her flea market jaunts to source the home decor and furniture, and it was such a learning experience, wasn’t it? The rosy red of these doors on twin closets, the nook for the cupboard, and that vivid striped rug surely make this one of the most re-pinned Sarah Richardson design moments in history. What a welcoming entry! The alder doors in my own home aren’t vintage but are suggestive of age.
8. Comfy Chairs
These airy open weave rattan high back dining chairs in Sarah Richardson’s own dining room, adjacent to the living room add a a rustic yet light layer of casual comfort to this room’s design in her off-the-grid Ontario home. Pssst. Find the exact light fixture in that post too! Where you might expect to see Windsor style dining chairs or even upholstered Parsons chairs for softness, Sarah has chosen a handsome natural option which you might expect to see on a covered porch or in a beach house. For me, they say “vacation!” which is a lovely invitation to elevate both the everyday and special dinners shared with family and friends.
9. Repurposed Vintage
Long-time viewers of Sarah Richardson television shows will know Sarah loves to repurpose vintage dressers and antique cabinets for bathroom vanities, and I’m not certain this is old or new; I only know it’s perfection. Sarah often uses mosaic tile to create statement walls in bathrooms and beyond, and I’m sure this design choice stayed with me and showed up when I designed the marble hex mosaic statement wall in our vacation house kitchen. While wallpaper also creates a statement, I can tell you there is nothing quite like incorporating a natural material like marble for a rich, commanding presence that reads “timeless and tranquil.”
10. Blue-Grey is Magically Tranquil.
Sarah Richardson knows her way around fabric prints, and she mixes them with bold genius. While we often see other designers do this adeptly with bold color, you don’t often see quieter, subdued, and more neutral shades mixed as we see here in Sarah’s serene blue-grey master bedroom with European inspired furnishings and home decor. Quiet color need not be bland and snoozy (although what’s so wrong with snoozy in a bedroom!?!) if your personal style is on the more dynamic end of the spectrum.
11. Fresh Americana
Sarah Richardson’s interior design style has never shied away from bold color like the red and blue happy punches in this bedroom. She has combined stripes, gingham, stars, paisley, and crosses, yet it doesn’t feel overwhelming or overstimulating. There is enough white to balance and contrast, and the bold red painted cottage style beds get to shine as stars of the room. The home decor and design of this craft room has a similar happy boldness.
12. Wall Covering Courage
While it can be a daunting task to choose wallpaper for a public space like this entry in Sarah’s own family home, she repeatedly demonstrates in her interior design projects how it’s an important layer in the big picture. This subtle wallcovering adds an ethereal elegance that feels very modern when combined with the more traditional wood flooring and shiplap walls. Sarah Richardson has also not played it safe in her mixing of blues as you’ll spy navy, slate, and turquoise in close proximity to one another. In most cases, homeowners do not seem to feel that same freedom to mix rather than match, and yet for an evolved over time look, it’s precisely such freedom which creates that desired outcome.
13. Celebrate Aquas.
Hello Lovely readers went nuts and Pin-crazy back in 2010 when I shared Sarah Richardson’s cottage with this little kitchen done in Sarah’s favorite blue-green palette. The waterfront property surely inspired all the watery colors and aqua accents like the marble mosaic backsplash. You may remember Sarah whitewashed all the knotty paneling which she inherited with the property. The pastels in this cottage style kitchen, dining area, and living room made a huge splash with lovers of vintage style and shabby chic!
14. Design Creates Backdrops for Memories.
As we saw in an earlier vignette above, Sarah Richardson places comfy armchairs at the ready for face to face conversations, which creates an altogether different effect than tucking a single upholstered chair in a nook with a task lamp for reading. Maybe you see a simple conversational area with a killer view through the window. What I see in this furniture arrangement is intentional space made for relationship, intimacy, and lovely discussions. Designer Pam Pierce masterfully creates such arrangements.
15. Pairs of Chairs
Blue and white are surely Sarah Richardson’s best friends, and she has been celebrating the pairing in fresh beautiful ways for decades. In this waterfront home, blue seems right at home, and comfort abounds (notice the darling ottomans encouraging lounging!).
16. Re-imagine ‘Open Concept.’
In an era where open concept kitchens are touted as the ideal since kitchens are typically the hub of modern living and entertaining, Sarah put her own spin on open concept. Towers of cabinetry flank a buffet, providing a separation from the dining area and family room. Truth be told, Sarah’s kitchen is spacious with several zones for living and dining in itself, but this design decision does reinforce a more traditional style design.
17. Keep ‘Em Guessing.
Country modern may sound like an oxymoron to a lot of folks, but surely, Sarah shows us how it can be achieved in her Ontario dining room. A chic Sputnik chandelier is both retro cool and minimally modern, and it’s maybe not the first light fixture you would dream of illuminating this rustic vintage Mountain-lodge feeling dining table.
18. Sherbet and Candy
Coral, orange, and raspberry sherbet hues for Christmas decorating? Of course. Sarah Richardson knows her way around colors that make everyone feel warm and welcome.
19. Make the Laundry Room Multipurpose.
So much to learn from Sarah Richardson’s interior design choices for her own laundry room in their off-the-grid home in Ontario. The space is open, with storage and cabinetry around the perimeter of the room and the washer and dryer stacked. The desk is functional for getting work or homework done, but cleared, it seems to me the surface could be utilized for folding laundry. The rug keeps it feeling elegant and interesting, and I bet most of us would never dream of leaving those windows naked!
20. A Timeless Bath is a Wise Investment.
More hex tiles from Sarah in this vintage style bathroom with a modern, clean feel, and I love the way she has used vintage-style shower and bath fixtures to impart a classic and timeless vibe. See my own classic bath we recently created at the fixer upper.
What a wealth of home decor and interior design inspiration from Sarah’s portfolio! I hope you found pretty moments to PIN!
Peace to you right where you are.