It’s hard to talk to Crystal Sanford of Heirloom Design House and not get excited about design yourself. Even if you don’t see yourself as the creative type she will sell you on the importance of thoughtfulness and craft in design. It’s like talking to someone who has just fallen hard and fast in love- she is wistful, exuberant and carried away. Monday we met her. Today she tells us her tips for how to make a room work, what her creative process is when approaching home design, and her opinion on splurges and skimps.
What are your tips for making a room work?
Keep it comfortable and inviting. Comfort to me is a cozy feeling, soft textures and warmth from a lot of natural materials. I personally prefer when a space feels like it has room to breathe – not too cluttered. Good lighting is important – lots of natural light if you have it, but also lamps throughout the room to balance the light. A helpful trick for flattering light is to place a lamp on a console table behind the couch. Keeping the light low verses overhead.
A helpful trick for flattering light is to place a lamp on a console table behind the couch. Keeping the light low verses overhead.
What is your creative process when designing a room?
- First of all is function and feeling: A home should tell the story of those that live in it. So whatever room I am working with I want to know all the uses, and who is using it.
- Next is Layout: Take note of the flow of traffic in the space and how it relates to the surrounding spaces. Try floating some furniture, especially seating, away from walls. Look for balance with the scale of furniture and quantity.
- Next is Organization: Everyone has bits of clutter and little messes but it drives me crazy when instead of being put away, piles are just picked up and tucked away or moved about as needed and never really taken care of. It is so vital that every item has its proper home so that clean up is easy and efficient. Especially for families so the expectation is clear when it is time to tidy. A presentable home should not involve a weekend of cleaning but just a quick sweep through to grab the loose bits that here and there. That is why it is key in designing a space to make sure those ‘homes’ are accounted for and created.
- Last is Details: textures, colors, placement of accessories and things such as window treatments and art.
What should you splurge on?
I prefer to splurge where quality is important. Many of my splurges have been in the kitchen with high end cookware (Kitchen Craft), a Kitchenaid, hand forged knives, etc. Although they are a larger initial investment, they pay for themselves in the long run with superior performance and longevity. Most of these items will last a lifetime if properly cared for.
Your mattress and bedding is also worth an investment since good sleep is so vital to your health. I prefer down in my pillows and comforter because of the weight and how they hold their shape.
Linen is the strongest natural fiber and offers the best breathability. Definitely worth the investment because it improves with every wash. If you prefer percale or sateen sheeting don’t fall for the thread count myth that higher is better. Thread count refers to the number or threads per square inch. A sheet would feel thick and stiff as a board if they actually packed 1000 threads in one square inch so they achieve the higher number by splitting the individual threads in to multiple strands and then twisting them back together. Personally I prefer the hand of a 300TC to be ideal.
Anything designed and built well (verses following a fleeting trend) is worth a splurge. Better constructed pieces will withstand wear better. And just as in your wardrobe a few key well designed pieces can elevate your whole look.
And just as in your wardrobe a few key well designed pieces can elevate your whole look.
What can you skimp on?
In most instances you get what you pay for but as the demand for well designed products at affordable pricing grows there are an increasing number of options available in the home market. Places like ikea highlight certain designer collections that often contain very thoughtfully designed pieces. Try to look for natural materials, cottons and linens in textiles and wood and metals in furniture, versus veneer covered pressboard.
Try to look for natural materials, cottons and linens in textiles and wood and metals in furniture, versus veneer covered pressboard.
Also shop thrift stores and online estate sale sites. You can find beautiful designer pieces for a steal if you are willing to look! Also I love a good diy project. For some it may feel daunting but there are a wealth of YouTube tutorial videos available that just about anyone can learn how to do anything!
What are your favorite classics for interior design?
Oh man, I have so many!
Turkish towels: I use them for everything. Lightweight throw, beach blanket, table cloth, bike basket liner, coverup/wrap, and of course I love them as towels. They are thin so pack so easily for a beach trip but I also prefer them in my home as my regular towels. They are so absorbent and dry very quickly! Also another tip for towel care- never use fabric softener!! While it may make them feel so soft it is actually a chemical that is coating the fibers which effect the absorbency! Source: The Turkish Towel Co. (or similar here)
Jute Rugs: I feel you just can’t go wrong with a jute rug. May feel a little scratchy when you first unroll it but this baby will feel like silk over time. They are so easy to care for, super sturdy and just get better with age. I think I have put at least one in ever home I have ever done! Source: Ikea, LOHALS
House Plants: There are many plants that are really good air purifiers. Some of my favorites are English Ivy, Boston Ferns, Fiddle Leaf Ficus, and Palms. Make sure you look up the care info for the variety you choose to make sure they are getting the light, food and watering they need. Source: local nursery (try Wild Thing of Donaghadee)
Linen, Linen, Linen: Well if you have made it this far, I think it is clear, I love linen. Thick slubby homespun varieties to light gauzy versions and every weight in between. From bedding to curtains to throw pillows and napkins, it is all over my home.
Dishes: I also have a dishware obsession. While some come and go, one set I could never part with are my vintage naval china. Classic nautical design and made to withstand being dropped by a boatload of sailors, they are my favorite. Source: US Navy Dinnerware