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Sarah 101 Season 2: Cozy Den & Midcentury Living/Dining

June 6, 2012 by admin

Well I have to say I got a kick out of seeing myself on HGTV last night holding up two chandeliers and pretending they were earrings!  (They weren’t supposed to use THAT!)  Last night’s two Sarah 101 episodes covered Jillian and Daniel’s Den (soft, tranquil, romantic)…

Sarah Richardson Design Inc

Sarah Richardson Design Inc

Sarah Richardson Design Inc

and Erika and Michael’s midcentury living/dining room (nature-inspired, loungey, sumptuous)…

Sarah Richardson Design Inc

Sarah Richardson Design Inc

Sarah Richardson Design Inc

Sarah Richardson Design Inc

Sarah Richardson Design Inc

I’m really proud of the work we did in these two spaces.  Each has a distinct flavour all its own and features classic Sarah Richardson style.  For those of you die-hard fans who have followed Sarah’s work through the years, I think these two episodes will be a special treat.  But enough of what I think – what did you think?  There were lots of great comments on the first two episodes with some pretty strong opinions on both sides.  I appreciate the feed back and would love to keep the dialogue going!  So give the show a look-see and lemme know!

For Jillian and Daniel’s romantic and restful den, click here.

For Erika and Michael’s midcentury living room and dining room, click here.


  1. Marilyn says:

    loved it these were more like Sarah

  2. Kristin says:

    We loved last night’s episode. Ryan did NOT agree with Sarah saying that the den/office was ‘both masculine and feminine”…but I attributed that to the fuzzy throw blankets. The other view of the desk area was more balanced, gender-wise. But…LOVED it, and quite enjoyed your bug-eyes at some price tags. Happy that fame hasn’t sullied your bargain-hunting abilities 😉

  3. Leslie-Anne says:

    When I saw the ugly den with the weird ceiling I could not imagine how Sarah could fix it without taking it apart but, my goodness, how lovely it turned out. Such a great eye, such great ideas.
    As for the living room – Wow! Love it, love it. Also, loved your “earrings”. LOL

  4. Michele says:

    I have been a die-hard fan since the days of her DIY show. I watched the first two episodes and was very disappointed and shocked by her choices. From these pictures, it appears that her iconic style is back on track. I will watch online!

  5. Alix says:

    the den was great – it just proves that if you add more furniture into a space, it makes the space feel larger.

  6. GC says:

    The rooms are the nicest ones I’ve seen from Sarah Richardson in a long time. But I was appalled by how dismissive and rude Sarah and Tommy were about the fabric and wallpaper their clients didn’t like. In particular, saying that a client could “set (her $25 couch) on fire for all I care” was incredibly arrogant and unprofessional. Pretty disappointing.

    • I hear you Grace but this brings up an interesting point – I’ve heard a few comments about how the designers don’t take into consideration what the clients want on the show and how that’s unrealistic. The truth is, if design shows were based on what lots of real clients want, it wouldn’t make for good tv. Designers like Sarah and Tommy are tasked with making fun, innovative programming and foundational to this is letting their creativity soar. It may not be realistic, but it’s what makes for dynamic and forward-looking designs and as you saw, in the end Sarah was right on the money with what the spaces needed and what the homeowners would love.


      P.S. Even in real life design situations, I’m constantly trying to nudge timid homeowners beyond what they’re comfortable with. It’s why people hire designers – we’re paid for our expertise, our opinions, our taste. Otherwise people would just do it themselves, which many do. Thankfully there are those who go out on a limb and let the magic happen despite their reservations.

      • GC says:

        I am in the industry. I am not suggesting that we should merely do our clients’ bidding. Of course we often need to push clients beyond their limits. But there is no need to be unprofessional about it. Unfortunately, I thought last night’s episodes made designers look like prima donnas.

        • I totally hear you Grace, and I apologize if I didn’t speak to your point – I think it was a blanket response for some of the other concerns about it not being “real life”. I agree with you that being professional and respectful while ‘nudging’ is 100% important and necessary. I’m glad you’re taking part in the discussion – all views are necessary!


    • Dear Grace,
      I don’t usually comment on blog posts, but in this particular case I feel compelled to offer up a little more information so that you – and others who may have read your harsh criticism – could better understand the context visa vis the difference between a TV ‘client’ and a paying client.
      All applicants who wish to be featured on Sarah 101 fill out a detailed questionnaire. The absolute most important question is this; “on a scale of 1 to 10, how willing are you to give Sarah and Tommy absolute free rein in terms of design choices?” – ONLY scores of 10 out of 10 are considered. Mostly this is for two simple reasons Time and Budget. The average 101 client contributes 3k to their own project. Some pay slightly more – many contribute less. This money is – without exception – eaten up by the fixed elements that need correction or embellishment within each clients home. Things like new flooring, painting and plaster repair, electrical upgrades and sundry labour costs like carpentry etc. In absolutely every case where these fixed elements are chosen, the clients are consulted and their wishes are respected. These elements are, after all, much more difficult to switch out after we’re gone than say, a pillow or even a chair. HOWEVER, this is not exciting and it’s not fun to watch, so we don’t devote time within our very limited 22 minutes an episode to this boring stuff.
      We then add in ten thousand dollar’s (!!) worth of fabric, furnishings, lighting, art and accessories – PLUS a great deal of sponsored or “free” stuff in order to complete the finished space. AND we do all of this at no cost to the client in terms of our time or design fees AND we do it all within about 1/4 of the time it would take to execute the same project outside of the context of a TV show.
      In short – these people have won the design lottery!
      On Design Inc – the clients pay full pop – so they were consulted on every detail. Do you understand the difference? When we pay we decide – when you pay, you decide. This obviously applies to private (non TV) client relationships as well. Believe me, it takes longer and it costs more. WAY more.
      Please remember that this is a SHOW – it’s what every participant has signed up for knowing full well what they are in for and they are always left happy in the end. Every single time.
      So Grace, please think before you accuse someone like me (in a public forum) of being unprofessional. I’m a good guy. Ask anyone (except one or two of my ex-boyfriends). We work hard and we are professional. Even if it doesn’t necessarily seem that way on the surface. Context is important. I hope you understand that now.
      All the best,

      • Beatrice Lawson says:

        Sir, that is well said! As a huge fan since you and Sarah started to appear on HGTV, I would gladly hand you over the keys to my home and trust your decisions. (Not sure where the lucky contestants apply in order to win the design lottery but please sign me up.)
        That being said, I think the comments being discussed were taken out of context; not only does the show have to have a bit of drama in order to get aired nowadays, we all say things in the course of our work that, if aired on TV, would raise eyebrows. If you are funny and opinionated somebody is sure to raise an objection, and if that’s the case the simple solution is to not watch the show. Problem solved.
        I assumed that what Michael is encouraging us to comment on is the actual design decisions, rather that on the air persona of the hosts, so hopefully we will keep the comments on the topic at hand.

  7. I love these two episodes too! I mostly enjoyed how Sarah and Tommy turned awkward spaces into something intentional … not to mention sensational! I maybe biased and liking everything that S&T do … well most of the time. I’ve heard some strong opinion about these 2 episodes too but I absolutely love both. Very different in style and decor direction, but I can see myself living very happily in both.

    of course a mid-century yellow and grey dreamy palette always has my heart!

    • Thanks Tim – yes that midcentury one was a stunner. It was a gorgeous house and the homeowners had just completed a complete reno of the kitchen themselves (it was really good!) so it was nice to finish off the main floor for them. I was especially excited how the built-in shelf/banquette turned out – glossy ikea cabinets and Lee Valley pulls with a mustard yellow leather bench seat – delish! And those chairs Tommy found (at Philz) were truly amazing – real design gems and polished up beautifully. Oh and I LOVED the green velvet cushions on the sofa – unexpected and sumptuous. A great transformation all in all, I think!


  8. Lulu says:

    Loved both rooms! Much better than last week’s episodes. You are adorable on camera, but you seemed to be missing from the second episode.

    • Glad you liked ’em Lulu! I still can’t believe I did that earring thing! Bah! Thanks for the support. I did help with the midcentury space – we all did as was the case on most episodes, but you can’t fit it ALL in! Plus, I’m relieved, I probably would have done something embarrassing! Haha!


  9. Emma says:

    I LOVED the midcentury living room. Honestly, it’s probably one of my favourite Sarah rooms ever (tied with several of the rooms during the farmhouse season of Sarah’s House). The space was pretty amazing to begin with and you guys just took it over the top. Her fabric choices were AMAZING – especially the plaid on the couch and chair and that amazing Copacabana floral. This one hit it out of the park for me!

  10. Allana says:

    I really liked both rooms, although my taste generally goes traditional. I thought the practicality to both rooms really great and they offered innovative ideas. I’ve selected a bold print for romans in my kitchen and have been wondering if it was too much and these episodes gave me some courage!

    In the living/dining, I loved loved the mixed use of metals. Brass and chrome in the same space and really worked.

    I would love a den like that to myself! What really made me smile was the shots of the homeowners using the space and had put up their diplomas. I immediately thought “They should have changed the colour of the mattes!”

  11. Rachel says:

    Loved the living room especially, but both rooms were great. And you totally made me LOL with your facial expression at the price tag on the desk (was that at Elte?) I do that all the time. Haha!

  12. Trina says:

    My favourite Sarah 101 episodes from both seasons (my only favourite last season was the basement they did). These two rooms seemed more “classic” Sarah – thank goodness :) Hope there are more classic Sarah’s to come this season.

  13. how2home says:

    I just watched the episode about the mid-century “dying-dining” room and the transofrmation is impeccable! The Chippendale style chair that you chose was so adorable! I was wondering where did you guys find these contractors?

  14. bea says:

    In response to GC’s comment, it seems to me that the concept of the show isn’t very well-explained. I assume that the “deal” the home-owners get is that they put up the money to cover costs (hence the “budget” Sarah always mentions), but they’re not clients who are hiring a designer to produce a room to suit their taste – instead, they’re offering up a part of their home for Sarah to use as a case study (hence the “101” in the title). Last season, the emphasis fell on the teaching aspect of the show, but this year it seems as if the producers want to play up the drama a bit – they solicit the home-owners’ input on things like wallpaper or fabric, and then coax Sarah and Tommy to react. None of this would be appropriate in an ordinary relationship between designer and client, but it makes sense if the home-owners have essentially agreed to a gamble – they get the free services of a celebrity designer, and they have to cross their fingers and hope they like what they get in the end.

    I don’t know that this kind of format is NECESSARY for good TV, though. I’ve been watching back episodes of Design, Inc. lately and there Sarah accepts much more input from clients, yet the results are always beautiful in the end.

  15. Megan says:

    Hi! I’m just wondering if you know where the beautiful little round side table was purchased from the living room episode? It looks like black metal and is floating in the living room beside a chair. If you could let me know i would really appreciate it, it’s gorgeous!!

  16. I can not wait to see this in the US! The livingroom/dining room looks fabulous in the photos….I love the banquet! Gray, yellow and gold hardware. Chic!

  17. Andrea says:

    LOVED both rooms! Really enjoyed these two episodes and how they turned out. The den was classic Sarah and reminded me of rooms she did on Design Inc. I also wasn’t loving the floral fabric she choose for the mid century modern living room but I was pleasantly surprised at the end and loved how it all came together!

  18. oh so that is where those brass beauty hardware is from! have to go check that out. I found a vintage dresser and will spray it navy blue … these handles will be perfect for the makeover!

    Philz for great design I hear ya. Another must frequent spot. .. just like your store!

  19. Love your scenes on Sarah 101, and definitely like this year’s season much better than last year’s. Iconic SR style is back!

  20. Tasha says:

    I just saw the den remodel episode and would love to know the manufacturer/pattern of the drapery fabric you all used. I realize this is probably three years late, but I cannot get it off my mind!

    Thanks very much in advance.

    • michaelpenneystyle says:

      Hi Tasha! I’m guessing you’re from the US since you’re seeing this now and you said ‘you all’ (hehe) so this might be tricky. It’s from a store in Toronto called Designer Fabrics ( and they might be able to help – they know Sarah’s work well. Hope that helps!


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