All Images: Jenny Siegwart
Sometimes you look at a designer’s work and wonder, "Why isn't everyone having this much fun?" Such is the case for Sara Simon, the creative juice behind interior design firm, Handsome Salt.
Sara’s always searching for something fun and wild to draw attention and bring a design to life. The results are definition-bending designs that can feel at once new and nostalgic, foreign and familiar. We caught up with Sara to talk about her creative approach to design and one of her favorite weapons of choice...Tile!
What made you choose these 8 colors in your palette? What do you like about them?
I am really into muted earthy tones but at the same time, I love a good pop of color. I also think they can play well off of each other.
When I saw Koi, it was love at first sight. It is like the perfect shade of peach and it is great as a stand-alone or paired with a softer color.
Tile Shown: 4x4 tiles in Koi
And you can use it in a pool! And let's be honest, the Desert Collection is absolutely drool-worthy. There is so much room for play as all the colors compliment each other. I want to do a whole home in the desert collection! I fell in love with Pheasant, Rosy Finch, and Carolina Wren. Both the matte and gloss finishes are stunners. I think I stared at them for weeks in both finishes and struggled to make a decision because they were just so pretty. They are just classy and fun.
Why do you love tile? How do you like to use tile in your designs?
I think it is very clear that I love tile. If you have seen any of my designs, I pride myself on my tile game. I am always looking to do something fun and wild. Tile is what brings designs to life. It really draws people in. It doesn't always have to be some wild color either. It can be a basic color with a cool pattern. There is just so much room for play. It really is the personality of a design.
Tile Shown: 3x12 in Rosy Finch Matte
What are your top 5 design tips?
1. There are no rules.
2. You don't have to spend a fortune on tile to get that wow factor.
3. Don't be afraid of color.
Tile Shown: 2x8 in Sorbet
4. Always remember: it's just paint.
5. Create a space that you never want to leave.
Can you tell me a little about yourself and your firm? How did you get your start in design?
I am an LA native and started my career after college in advertising and fashion. I was just never super fulfilled in what I was doing on a daily. I love to travel and have been fortunate to go to many places and I was always so stimulated by design when I would travel and would get so much inspiration. So I decided to take that inspiration and started taking on small projects and using my inspiration from traveling and applying it to my designs. And it has now landed me where I am today. I would say I am known for my designs being a bit more out of the box but also conveying a feeling of being somewhere else.
Let's talk about this house! Can you tell us a bit about it? What sort of style or aesthetic were you going for?
The main vibe for the home was a Moroccan Riad. I know looking at the exterior people are like, "what?" The structure I designed to be more of a Scandinavian farmhouse and I kept the landscaping in the front very desert-like vibes. Through the doors, I wanted it to be a vibrant tropical oasis. If you have ever been to Morocco, Marrakech in particular, this is the exact vibe you have when entering a riad. The tile, the colors, and the feeling are so refreshing. I wanted people to feel that they were transported to another place. A place they didn't want to leave. I used pops of color but also blended in muted tones. The backyard was transformed into a lush tropical oasis where an above-ground pool is a focal point.
Tile Shown: 4x4 in Koi
Tropical plants surround the pool and cast a beautiful shadow over the pool as the sunsets. People love traveling and going to beautiful places and I wanted to make this home feel just like a vacation. The goal was to bring hospitality home and I definitely feel like that was achieved.
How involved were the homeowners in the design process?
This was a spec home that I designed from the ground up.
Can you tell me about the pool? What made you choose Koi?
The pool was inspired by above-ground pools at riads. I wanted a long narrow pool centered on the yard and I wanted built-in seating and daybeds on each end. It needed to be the focal point of the yard. The tile needed to be simple but have that perfect color to play off of all the plants around it. That's where Koi came in. It's subtle but yet a statement color. It didn't overpower the area, it was the perfect blend.
Tile Shown: 4x4 in Koi
Onto the bathrooms! What was your point of inspiration for these spaces?
I am a bathroom geek. I pride myself on my bathrooms. They are usually the wow factors in my home. I am known for my bathrooms and I am not mad about it. There is just so much good tile that the ideas are endless and I love to just have fun. My goal is to really make every bathroom completely unique. No one likes a blah bathroom. Or at least I don't :)
Tile Shown: 2x8 in Sorbet
How did the installation process go? Were there any challenges? Did this project take place during the pandemic?
This project did take place during the pandemic and thankfully went relatively smoothly. Installation went seamless and turned out beautiful.
Lastly, any colors, shapes, or patterns you're dreaming of using in future projects?
The entire Desert Collection! I'm always looking to create fun new patterns and try different shapes. Don't tell my tiler or he may not return my call!
Tile Shown: Desert Collection
Inspired by Sara? Sample Handsome Salt's Fireclay favorites here. Need some help? Simply call chat or fill our Design Assistance Form and one of our talented Design Consultants will get back to you shortly.