Sarah Shetter is one of the loveliest people I know. We first met when she was on a mission to beautify our neighborhood public school and we have been in very close contact ever since. Besides being a universally loved human, she is a talented interior designer who’s projects reflect the individual personality of the people who hire her. Lucky for me, her talent has graced many of the homes we have sold. I especially admire her respectful approach to historically preserved architecture and her ability to make each house feel unique and like a forever home. I have been known to tell many clients, “if Sarah is on your team, you are way ahead of the game.”
What is your job and what do you love most about your work?
I’m an interior designer. My clients often come from the Hollywood community — writers, actors, directors, agents and executives — and many of them are in Hancock Park, where I live. I find that people in this community have a passion for the area’s architecture and traditions, and I love working closely with clients to find a balance between maintaining the integrity of, say, a 1920s Spanish-style home while updating it for the modern era. I’m also currently working on a house in Boston and summer homes in Vermont and Maine, which has given us new opportunities in places of immense beauty.
How do you express yourself creatively?
Aside from my day-to-day work, doing crafts with my two young daughters, Palmer (11) and Alice (8), is a really fun creative outlet. They love to make beaded jewelry and watercolor paintings. I often take home fabric scraps from the office and we sew pillowcases and clothing for their stuffed animals. It’s nice to let your creative brain occasionally ease into things that are not necessarily work-related but totally fulfilling.
Where do you find inspiration?
There are the usual places to find inspiration — travel, coffee table books — but what I’ve found over the years is that you can’t whip up inspiration on demand. It comes to you at the most unexpected moments. Some array of colors you see while out on a walk, or even something you might read in a novel or hear at a party. Inspiration can be visual, verbal, emotional. You just have to keep your mind open to finding it in surprising places.
How has your business changed over the years? Have the last 3 years changed you or your business?
About a decade ago, I opened my office on Larchmont Boulevard with just an assistant and a handful of clients. There are now five of us. Our company has grown significantly in the last three years. While I initially thought COVID would hamper our business, it ended up bringing in more clients than we’ve ever had.
What’s your favorite meal of the week?
While Los Angeles is a treasure trove of incredible restaurants, my favorite meals are spent at our house with family and friends. We cook a lot, and especially this time of year as the weather is gets cooler, nothing beats a homemade meal with a glass of red wine or a margarita (or both!).
What is your favorite room in your house, and why?
For our living room, we splurged on deGournay hand-painted panels. Looking at them every day brings me so much joy. It’s also the room where our girls practice the piano, violin and guitar. We have French doors that open to the garden, the dogs are usually on the couch, and I’m often working on my laptop at a built-in desk designed by Jon Bertram and constructed by Alon Goldbenberg at Golden Touch construction. Jon and Alon are two people I trust and work with often, and they’re responsible for so much of the work we’ve done in our own house.
What design trends have you noticed of late that you are into?
I’m not really into trends. I prefer classic choices that never go out of style. I like to tell clients that once we do a room, you’re not going to have to worry about your choices going out of style in a few years. However, one thing that I’m currently loving is Pewabic tile. Pewabic Pottery was founded in 1903 and is one of the oldest continually operated potteries in the country. The colors of the tiles are truly incredible.
What are your favorite design resources in Los Angeles?
Can you share your three favorite businesses in your neighborhood?
Tonchin (an incredible ramen restaurant with a full bar and a truly astounding shaved-ice dessert), Gina at Larchmont Florist (she always has the best flowers), Larchmont Wine and Cheese (for wine and tequila). I’m also a regular at the Larchmont Farmer’s Market.
What are your favorite paint colors? Do you want to specify a hue?
What was the biggest risk and biggest reward in a recent design project?
For the past five years, I’ve been co-running the beautification committee at my local public elementary school. We added shade structures and murals painted by local artists. Scott Flax, an amazing colorist, helped us choose colors to repaint bungalows and the auditorium and classrooms. We planted trees and relandscaped the garden areas. It’s been fulfilling to revitalize a public space after working in private homes all my career.
You’d be rich if you had a dollar for every time you got asked ________.
Can you just come look at my (kitchen, bedroom, bathroom) for five seconds and tell me exactly what to do? But truly, I don’t mind. I feel so lucky that people respect what we do and trust us with their homes.
If I wasn’t a designer I would be _________.
I have never really thought about it. I think I’m doing what I should be doing. It’s all I’ve ever done. Except for a very short-lived job out of college working as a buyer on a television show called “The Chimp Channel.” It’s real (look it up) and starred a bunch of insane chimpanzees.
Any pro tips?
Turn down your lights! I’ve been known to wander through parties surreptitiously cranking down dimmer switches. Accumulate the right things slowly; there’s no rush. Maybe buy one expensive thing you love every few years rather than buying a ton of affordable furniture to finish a room. It’s a marathon to find your forever things, not a sprint.
What’s one thing you think everyone should make sure to have in their home?
Fresh flowers, friends, and dogs. And an air fryer. Don’t make me pick just one!
The key to a great house is _____.
The people living inside of it. The more lived in and loved a house is, the better it looks. I tend to be relatively tidy, but I also don’t mind seeing stacks of toys, kid puzzles, and shoes lying about. It makes a house feel like a home, instead of like an antiseptic magazine shoot!