Posted by: Megan Spies
When I designed my new kitchen, Studio Dearborn was a huge source of inspiration—I’ve been following them on Instagram for a while and saved pictures from their feed throughout the remodel process. I was thrilled to ask Sarah Robertson of Studio Dearborn where she gathers inspiration, her overall design process, and that moment she feels a project “click.”
1. Can you tell us about your favorite project you’ve designed in the past year? What made it so special? My own kitchen renovation definitely tops the charts in terms of special projects for me. It was the culmination of years of planning, clipping, saving, and dreaming.
2. Was there a certain space within the kitchen of this project that stole the spotlight? I think the windows steal the spotlight—as much time as I spent on the cabinetry, the goal was to open the space up to the outdoor views.
3. Can you explain the moment when a project really “clicks,” and everything comes together? At what point during the process does this typically occur for you? For me, the design often clicks after a couple iterations with the 3D layout. There is usually an “ah hah!” moment when a design element that fits perfectly with the home comes to light, and we get traction on the overall feel for the kitchen.
4. Can you describe any specific trends clients are currently asking for? (built-ins, paneled walls, shiplap, etc.) Cabinetry is developing a lighter, more organic feel overall. Fewer cabinets, especially wall cabinets, are being replaced with shelving, larger windows, and sometimes bare walls with art collections. Ventilation is becoming an area where kitchens can show unique designs and personality as well. I don’t do a lot of standard, off the shelf range hoods anymore.
5. On that same note, what are your clients looking for in terms of kitchen design? Clients are becoming braver about color and contrast. I’m seeing dark, moody spaces, rich saturated colors in cabinetry, and bolder use of natural stones for countertops and backsplashes. There’s a certain organic simplicity evolving in kitchen design now that is not about fussy details or materials. It’s about celebrating texture, collections, nature–focusing those details in ways that are personal, precise, and exquisite. With that approach, there’s so much more room for the expression of one’s personality.
6. What three words come up most often when clients are explaining their dream home? Organization, flow, layout.
7. What are your favorite trends, colors, and details to include in your designs? Do you have any trademark selections? I love the focus on custom storage. I think consumers were ready to take the leap from pretty millwork to well thought out kitchen storage. It’s what really defines luxury in today’s kitchens. As far as trademark selections, I love to include custom paper towel holders, pullouts for oil and spices, and of course a Docking Drawer in drawer outlet for charging devices.
8. What’s the best interior design lesson you’ve learned? Not to rush the client. Everyone makes decisions at their own pace; renovating is a very stressful experience for clients, and they need to be able to make decisions at their own pace. For large construction projects, a selections roadmap, along with deadlines, is critical for the client, so the trades can keep the job moving forward.
9. Are your clients currently looking at connected or smart homes? If so, we’d love to hear more about this! Depending on their age/demo, yes! Clients age 30-50 are looking for home system integration with smart phone apps. Manufacturers need to be smart about what technology offers homeowners real value, and what is merely gimmick. Clients are very savvy about what tech can really offer them.
Isn’t she fabulous! Great insight and advice. For more exceptional design, find inspiration on Studio Dearborn’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/studiodearborn/