So Canadian, eh? : Sarah Swanson

What I love about my series, "So Canadian, eh?" is having the wonderful opportunity to getting to know a remarkable Canadians every week!

My guest this week writes such a simple and beautiful blog. 
I love her images, her design style, her talent and her taste. 

Please welcome...

Sarah Swanson from Flourish Design + Style

{Don't you just love her cluster necklace?}

She is so...

Sarah, lives in Calgary, a city famous for its awesome rodeo, Rocky Mountain backdrop  and rolling foothills.

She decorates and designs her home with such a clean and classic aesthetic. Her pictures can attest to that fact, I am in love with her panelled walls, delicious pendant light fixture and fabulous Ikea dresser makeover! As a fellow lover of black and white design schemes, hers is perfection! 

{Ikea dresser made over - LOVE those knobs!}

1.     Tell us a bit about your background? Your education? Has design always been in your blood? 

As a young girl I have fond memories of rearranging the living room with my mom and convincing my dad that he really should let me paint my bedroom the brightest teal green you can imagine (and he did! And then painted it the loveliest shade of cream a year and 5 coats later ;)). Design really has always been a passion, whether I realized it was destined to be a part of my life or not. Developing design schemes for my bedroom or watching Lynette Jennings on TV with mom, buying the latest Martha Stewart book and mastering the art of furniture placement all started as a young teenager, and was strongly supported by my family. Coming to realize that my mom or sister or best friend really liked what I was doing, and weren’t just saying so to be nice definitely fueled my passion. Fresh out of high school I started what turned out to be a long career in retail management, turns out I have a knack, a passion, a love of visual merchandising and I happily spent my days creating visuals. No matter where I worked I was lucky to be involved with merchandising, from the privately owned men’s shop where I spent 5 great years ( Milano for Men in Red Deer! ) to Club Monaco, to my final management role at Pottery Barn. Was my design training formal? No, but I spent years absorbing, learning, trying, doing and understanding. These years really defined and created my signature style.

1.     Do you work in the design industry? 

I do work in the design industry.. just. And so proud to! This past year I formally formed Sarah Swanson Design. This industry is full of amazing, talented and creative folks, to be considered a peer is the highest compliment!

1.     Where do you go for inspiration for your blog? 

Flourish Design and Style was born first and foremost so I could stop annoying my husband with my random thoughts. He really doesn’t care if I’m thinking I need pale pink ballet flats or I am thinking about making some DIY art.. and all kidding aside, I probably drove him nuts with it after I left Pottery Barn, at least there I had friends and colleagues to throw my random ideas at! great designers, things I love, daily features of great rooms, great shops and must have items are the highlights of my posts, of course you’ll get a little story or family stuff thrown in from time to time!

1.     What are your hopes and dreams for your future?

Hope and dreams.. hopefully I won’t curse it by saying that my biggest dream would be to have Sarah Swanson Design be my full time job. But honesty, I’m happy right now, I have a great balance with my family, and work.

1.     How would you describe your design style?

Classic, timeless, polished. Casual with a hint of luxe. Blending tradition with edge. New and old, texture and tone. Clean, simple and balanced.

1.     What are your tips for creating a stylish space without spending a lot of cash? What do you think gives the most bang for your buck?

I believe that your home can be beautiful no matter the budget. You can get great style at great prices if you look for it! Especially in this day and age with all the online resources available to us! Look at the stores you love that you think you may not be able to afford. They all have sales! We have been fortunate enough to build two homes here in Calgary, and both times have done so on a budget. We have learnt about making smart upgrades to the home. Like that 9 foot ceilings really make a huge impact on your space. Things like upgrading faucets and carpet underlay, we have never put in a high end countertop, but picked one that is current. Add a higher end sink and faucet, a great but affordable backsplash and your laughing! Smart decisions, and some of the smaller things you compromise on, you can upgrade later. We went with a builder basic lighting plan for our home ( it was AWFUL ), and have over the past years as we can afford it switched them all out.

1.    You live in the Calgary area, do you think the geography of that area, the foothills/prairies, influences how people decorate their homes?

Living in the prairies, living in the home of the Calgary Stampede brings with it a rustic sensibility. There are of course a lot of ways to interpret this, some better than others ;) You will find all kinds of western here around cow town. I think living in an area that has a long cold winter forces us to think about creating spaces that are warm, cozy and comfortable, no matter the overall style. We spend a lot of time cuddled up in the winter months!

1.     Tell us one thing about you that would surprise us!

I’ve honestly got nothing.. I even asked my husband what about me would surprise people..I think since I started blogging two years ago I’ve told everyone everything about me, I have no secrets!

1.     If you could meet anyone or do anything what would it be?

Keeping reality in check, one thing I would love to do is have the chance to visit, explore and immerse myself in the history in Charleston, South Carolina. I've had the opportunity to visit briefly and felt such a connection..I have to go back again!

1.     You are a mother, how do you balance your work, blogging and your daily life? 

Barely some days! Ha
I have honestly found just this September we have delved into the parenting role of  having two kids with two totally different now that we have that all figured out, who’s driving where at what time, planning keeps me sane. And after the kids are in bed, my hubby and I sit on our sectional, play footsie and don’t get off our respective laptops until 11 o’clock J 
{Funny, my hubby and I do the same!}

1.      What are your views on the role Canadian design plays in the world design scene? Do you feel that Canadians have a unique sense of style and design, and if so, what is it that you think sets us apart?

I think Canadian design is practical, functional, purposeful and gorgeous. I think there is a lot of undiscovered talent in Canada. We have some incredible designers in the spotlight..but I think there is a lot more talent to be seen!

Thanks for visiting Sarah. 

It was so enjoyable getting to know you better. I do so love your home! 

I remember begging my dad to let me paint my room baby blue and a huge rainbow on the wall. My room was a whole rainbow theme, down to rainbow sheets {which my mom recently gave me - can't believe she kept them!!}

XO Barbara


  1. Great post, I love reading about Canadians and googling where they live. My son's teacher is on an exchange with a Canadian school and his class skypes with her and her class every week. I need to do a series titled "So Aussie, mate" lol.

    Suzy xxx

  2. What a great guest post by a fellow Albertan! I'm so glad you introduced me to Sarah's blog, Barbara!
    ~ Wendi ~ xo

  3. I just love her!!! She also has great style ........ the b&w rock!

  4. Great interview and congrats to Sarah and all she's accomplished since I first discovered her lovely blog.

  5. It is fantastic to see Sarah now designing. I've been a fan of hers for a couple of years, and I have no doubt she will be able to happily design interiors, full time!

  6. How Fun!! I love Sarah and it is great to get to know a little more about her. I love her quiet, classic design aesthetic. Kathysue

  7. Such a clean aesthetic - love her home! And I really like how Sarah describes her journey... soaking in design and learning along the way. She has the passion that can't be taught. Thank you for sharing another inspiring interview!

  8. Love this interview, Barbara! Sarah's design is the perfect mix of comfort, clean lines and that little bit of rustic!
    ~Lily from Birch + Bird

  9. It's lovely to get to know you a just a little bit more your home!

  10. I absolutely adore Sarah! She has such great style in everything she does. I'm a big fan!

  11. Sarah's blog was one of my first finds....and I have been a faithful reader ever since. I love her clean tailored style and how nice to get to know her better!

  12. Love Sarah, she has a refined and elegant style, and her posts never fail to inspire - Happy thanksgiving, ladies - x

  13. Such an amazing collection of Canadian talent. Beautiful spaces she has!

  14. That is one stunning home!! Love the panels =D

    xox Linda

  15. Once again, thanks so much for introducing me to a fabulous blogger and designer...right here in my Calgary backyard, no less!

  16. Very nice post Barbara and Sarah, I love Sarah's style and it was so nice to read more about her here. Love it!
    Nancy xo


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