Scott Sanders, the uber-talented and unaffected designer of my favorite room in Stately Homes by the Sea’s 2011 Designer Show House, took a moment to deconstruct the Holly Hill Living Room he created.

Scott Sanders


Scott, known for his clean / contemporary / comfortable / elegant style featured in “Elle Decor” and “House Beautiful,” also revealed the secret to every successfully designed room and how you can achieve your own design success…

TBP:  The living room you designed at Holly Hill is my favorite room in the house.  Why did you choose yellow for the walls?

Scott:  I chose Benjamin Moore’s Golden Groves (#313) because I was most inspired by the light coming from the French doors.  The light was so fantastic that it seemed to me to be yellow.

Golden Grove is not too gold, not too baby yellow – there is a richness to the color.

TBP:  And the gold-painted iron cocktail table is something special.

Scott:  It is made by Paul Ferrante and available through the John Roselli showroom.  Ferrante deals a lot in ironware.  They came out with this piece which I think is like a Mondrian sculpture – a piece of art, the center of the room and a conversation piece.

TBP:  And I want to marry the carpet.

Scott:  The Sacco carpet is an Ikat type of design from India that has become popular lately.

As I said, when I walked in the Living Room the light struck me and I immediately sensed the walls would be yellow.  So I wanted the rug to be off-white to provide some balance.  It is 100% linen with accents of sunny yellow, grass green and grey green.

TBP:  Why do you say Living Rooms have gotten a bad rap lately?

Scott:  People who have them don’t use them and new homes don’t have them.  We were trying to create a room that was livable.  There is a seating area, bar area, work space.  I wanted it to be usable and inviting and comfortable and elegant.

TBP:  As a designer, what did you think of Holly Hill, overall?

Scott:  I was completely pulled in by the house.  There is a sense of warmth about the property and so much integrity.  You feel very protected there.  There are beautiful views and trees.  It’s a very, very special house in a very beautiful area.

TBP:  What else should we know about your design in the Living Room?

Scott:  The other element in the room is the art.  It was all curated especially for the room.  There are some very special pieces.

The painting by Ben Butler.  Photography over the white buffet by Michael Huey Giant.

The piece next to the photograph is called “Paper Monet” and was created by artist Sean Mellyn who did a fellowship at the Monet Foundation and worked in Monet’s studio.

TBP:  How do you create the design for a room?  Volunteering at Habitat for Humanity’s local ReStore resale store, I see a lot of designers purchase fabulous items and store them for a future project.

Scott:  I start from scratch every time.  I don’t want to be tied down to having to use something that may be in storage.  We also try not to duplicate a room.  Everything is new every time.

The glass bottles in Holly Hill [photo above, right] were commissioned for the Living Room.  I love those bottles and use them a lot in my work but the colors are always different.

Each room I design is like my child.   Every one is special.

TBP:  So how can the average person, who is inspired by your creativity make something special in their own home?

Scott:  If you are going to decorate a room or a house, you have to let it speak to you.  Holly Hill’s Living Room spoke to me because of the sunlight.

Think about how you are going to use the room.  Is it a day room or night room?  It is always important what colors you are comfortable with.

You may like burgundy, but do you want to live with that in a room for the next ten years?

What is going to make you happy?  Do you want the room to relax in or entertain in?  What colors inspire you?  Do you want a television in the room or a desk?

And you build off the answers to those questions.

TBP:  Okay, but what if someone answers “yes, all of the above?”

Scott:  Well, then editing becomes important.  The most successful room is very tight.  Once you determine the color in the room, you should get a theme with focus.

The Holly Hill Living Room has four colors.  Everything is inside those four colors, which makes it uncluttered and comfortable for your eye.

Listen to the way your eye is attuned to what works and what doesn’t.  Everyone’s eyes will tell them.  You just have to listen.

If you walk into a room and there is one thing that glaringly stands out, it should leave the room.

Write down what you want to include in the room, your vision for the room and then edit these things down so it is very clear.

You want to be in a room and feel comfortable and grounded.  That is the difference between a successfully designed room and not.

TBP:  So what if you like the piece that glaringly stands out?

Scott:  Don’t throw it out.  Paint it or change the lampshade or move it to another room.

TBP:  I noticed a lot of painted ceilings in Holly Hill.  One designer told me that a ceiling looks forgotten when it is painted white.  How can people in Asbury Park know when and what to paint the ceiling?

Scott:  I don’t paint ceilings.  Occasionally, I will wallpaper them.  I don’t want the ceiling to be a focal point in the room.  I want people to look at the person sitting next to them or out the window.  The ceiling should go away.

TBP:  Finally, Pantone – the company I understand is the arbitor of color trends in the US – recently announced Honeysuckle as the “Color of the Year” for 2011 for design and fashion.  What do you think of the color and how can people implement it into their home?

Scott: I would use this color for accents in a guest bedroom or for a great Asbury Park summer porch… or for a southern home.  It would also be very pretty in a young girl’s room, as another option.  Honeysuckle feels very Palm Beach to me!  It is a very pretty color but I would not use it for a main room.

TBP:  Perfect.  I think I am becoming your Number One fan!

Scott is currently designing a home in our area.  Click here to learn more about his business.

Learn more about Scott’s aesthetic – purchase his book “Perfect Picture: Designing the new American family home”.

Keep reading:  The Coaster and TheBPlot’s article about designer show home “Holly Hill”.

Check out the Coaster and TheBPlot’s article about my moment with Nate Berkus – click here.  I also wrote a piece about Nate in the May 2011 issue of Currents Magazine, on newsstands now.