At home with Sara Shaw

In this conversation we talk about sustainability, renovating a house when your children have left the nest and the importance of nature on the way we design our homes. We have felt so lucky to have had this conversation and hope that you enjoy it too.
At home in North Yorkshire with Sara Shaw

Sara Shaw is a personal and brand stylist, Creative lead at @flokshome the luxury sustainable wool bedding brand and Lead Fundraiser for the Harrogate Clothes Bank, a charity providing pre-loved clothes and shoes for all. We meet Sara at her home in North Yorkshire to talk about nature-inspired interiors, what makes a house a home and living a more sustainable life.

Sara, who used to own luxury pre owned womenswear store Violet in Harrogate, lives in an idyllic village, close to Harrogate, in a part of North Yorkshire where red kites fly overhead. In this part of the world, on a sunny June day, the hedgerows are brimming with life and the sunshine lands softly on the beautiful sandstone houses. Sara is warm and inviting as she shows me around her light and peaceful home. 

I’m immediately drawn to the large Crittall windows that look out over her garden space that's an ideal blend of patio for entertaining and mature garden space. Sara and her husband  Andrew have recently reconfigured the house now their grown up son’s have left home and a programme of renovation has made the house more relevant for the next chapter in their lives.

Can you tell us a bit about your home?

“This is a house we didn’t think we would stay in. We wanted to bring our children up more rurally with access to nature. We found this house unexpectedly, even if it wasn’t what we had in mind originally. It’s a good-sized plot, flexible and has been a fantastic home as the children have grown. We’re right by a Nature Reserve, which is a gorgeous place to have nearby.”

Since they left home - her two boys are now twenty-six and twenty-eight - Sara and her husband Andrew have reconfigured the house, keeping bedrooms for her son's regular visits.

“We’ve got roots here and roots are important to me. All of our family memories are contained within these walls, the memories of the house have embraced us as a family. 
When they were teenagers they moaned about living in the sticks, but now they really miss it and love coming back home for weekends.

We were going to move but I’m just so connected to the house, it would be such a wrench to leave. We had a friend who’s an architect who helped us figure out how to get more light in the house. 

Connecting the house and garden and getting as much light in as possible was key to us as is nature. There’s a tree in the garden - a horse chestnut - that was eighty years old when we moved here in 1999. It also makes us feel so rooted.”
What’s important to you when creating a home? 

“Connection to nature and light. I originally thought it was space but now it is light. I’ve learned that light makes a home feel more spacious.”

What’s your go-to for inspiration and influence?

I love Indie print magazines and we really love a trip to Village Books in Leeds to select something new.  Regular subscriptions include Apartamento, The Gentlewoman, Paperboy and Monocle. I enjoy photography and feel constantly inspired by the creative shoots featured. I like a good opinion piece to keep me challenged and engaged and to read profiles of people I would otherwise never have the chance to talk with, who are doing interesting and important things.

What are your favourite pieces and the stories they tell?

“If I had to save something in a fire it would be the outdoor table and chair - it’s vintage Habitat. It’s based on the Willy Guhl loop chair. I love it and the birds use it as a table too. I also think about our Eero Saarinentable. We’ve had so many meals around it as a family.

I’ve recently discovered the joy a great piece of art brings to a room. We have bought works by local artists shown at Mark Ibson’s Blacksmiths Gallery in Bishop Wilton, York and are looking to add further pieces. I can be fairly indecisive so its proving quite difficult! But we have a couple of figurative sketches which, being monochrome are an easier entry point before we venture into anything more colourful.

What about pieces to pass down?

“I like symmetry and have two of many pieces of furniture, like the Noguchi coffee tables, so I will be able to pass things down to my sons. They love the Knoll Wassily Chair. We have lots of String Shelving, which I love because I love reading and I’ve always wanted a library.”

How would you describe your style?

“Natural. I find colour quite challenging. Because I love nature so much I feel drawn to natural materials and colours. I always incorporate natural materials like terrazzo, wood and jute. I guess it’s pared-back and mid-century in style.
I appreciate that good design endures. I always save up for something that’s considered and also sustainable. More and more I look for second-hand pieces.
As a personal stylist I see the trap of over consumption, buying more and more does not equal a better wardrobe.  I advocate for a more considered approach of buying better quality and buying less and seeking out those better quality pieces second hand. And this is the same with pieces for the home.”

Who are your favourite people to follow online and why?

“Architects. I love The Modern House, House of Grey London, Merit LA - they sell mid-century antiques and I can get lost in their feed for hours. Also, I love architecture in open spaces and nature. I love Croft 3 on Mull (you can read our interview with Croft 3 online).”

What does Sunday morning look like, for you, at home?

“Sunday is a slow day for us these days. Once you lean into slow it feels good. Andrew often makes brunch at home. I love food and cooking and do so a lot, but on Sunday Andrew likes to cook.
We might go to (The Hepworth) a gallery (We love The Hepworth and they have some really good art and ceramic fairs too) or a for a walk or into Harrogate for a coffee at Hoxton North.”

Bucket list homes around the world and pieces of furniture?

“I would love to visit the Eames House in California. We love Mallorca and go often, so I have to say the Nuendorf house there.”

Any pieces of furniture that are still on your bucket list?

There’s a gap in my front room for a stool - I think we’d like to get the Vitra Cork Family. I also have a space for a Snoopy light and I love the Faye Toogood Puffy Lounge Chair.

Sara is a long-time happy customer of Cimmermann and all the pieces mentioned and showed in the images have come from us.
You can find and follow Sara on Instagram



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