So Canadian eh? : Samantha Pynn

So glad you came today! Felt good to switch things up a bit and move my So Canadian eh? series to Friday.

I am incredibly thrilled and honoured to have another design idol of mine visiting this week. This designer, she doesn't call herself that though, so I'll call her design magician instead, is Canada's design darling. Her personality is infectious as is her design aesthetic. She is known for creating incredibly layered, glamorous and knock out spaces.

Please give a warm welcome to

Photo: Tim Leyes Courtesy of RTR Media Inc.

She is.....
 Samantha, known for her emphasis on eco-friendly design and upcycling a thrifty find mixed in with glamourous additions can be seen in this season's Summer Home on HGTV Canada. While I would LOVE a summer home of my own, it is enjoyable to watch her along with her design team transform sad cottages into cozy and design savvy abodes. Samantha is also a design contributor to CItyline TV, columnist at the National Post, design contributor at Style at Home, hosted webisodes for HGTV Canada called The Mix and The Switch, and has her own webisodes, on You Tube called Samantha's OPYNNion! She also hosted and was principal designer on her own HGTV Canada series Pure Design, which I so miss. 

This week's episode of Summer Home had Samantha transforming this cottage......

Photo: John Queenan

Into this.

Samantha is one busy gal but the magic she creates in spaces takes my breath away. You can see how she incorporates up-cycled treasures made new, mixed with paint and a fabulous finds to create realistic spaces that you can see yourself living in. I find I am drawn to designers who create approachable spaces. 

Here are a few of my favourites! Can you spot the thrifted finds, Ikea add ins along with high end items?

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background, your education? Has design been something you have always been drawn to?

I went to UofT and have an honours English Specialist degree, then I went to Ryerson for magazine journalism. While I was there I was tending bar and working as a location scout for music videos and commercials. I really wanted to work at a gardening or decorating magazine. I was definitely obsessed with my own apartment, constantly refinishing furniture and I had a perennial garden at my mom’s house. It started when I was a kid. My grandmother (dad’s side) was a Martha Stewart – she taught me how to clean, knit, paint, bake. I’m not a good baker, but everything else rubbed off. And then I started working at Style at Home magazine…

Have you always been an interior designer? If not, what was your first career?

I’m not an interior designer – not formally trained. I’m a decorator. I apprenticed with David Overholt at Style at Home and while at Style at Home I went to Ryerson for drafting and space planning. 

You and your designs have been featured in many publications, and on television., such as Style at Home and Cityline. How did you get your big “break”?

I worked my butt off. I interned at Style at Home and I stayed as long as I needed to get the job done and I was hired. There were many nights I worked until mid-night or later and was back in the office in the morning. The team was lean when I was there so I had the opportunity to take on big stories. I never said no because I loved the work. 
A Cityline producer had liked one of my stories on bar carts – there was a full page picture of me pouring a drink behind a barcart (I tended bar during my first year at Style at Home) and she asked me to come on CityLine live with Marilyn Denis.  I slowly got better (with Marilyn’s help) and fast-forward 8 years of full-throttle scouting, designing, and styling for magazines and photo shoots and I had my own TV show. 

Your HGTV Canada show, “Pure Design” {which I absolutely loved} focused on eco-friendly design. What are some ways homeowners can approach the design of their homes in an eco-friendly way? 

Work with what you have. Paint, re-upholster, move furniture (like a dresser to a front entryway). Buy second hand - even if you have to refinish it – it’s worth it to get a piece that no one else has. 

What are some design faux pas that you wish could be banished? 

Black leather sofas with donut rolled arms, corner cabinets and fireplaces, dining chairs that look like tomb stones, foam pillows.

What do you like to do in your free time, that is if you have any? 

I go to yoga, spin classes, and recently started kettle bell when I’m not working. I love spending time with family and friends. And other than that my world is a big decorating and design bubble. 

How do you start a design project? What inspires the direction your design project will take? 

The homeowners -  I need to see what their style is before I take on their project. I won’t touch a project where I can’t deliver or over deliver. If it’s a project for myself, that’s a whole different story. I’m influenced by places I travel, stores, designers, magazines (I’m a magazine junkie)  

What tips do you have for aspiring designers to hone their skills? 

Apprentice with someone and that may mean getting them coffee or picking up dry cleaning. Help family and friends. Read everything you can about design. Look at beautiful pictures. Analyze every room you enter good or bad. Talk to experts. Don’t pretend that you know everything – no one does. 

You are embracing online TV and have created a few webisodes and now your own YouTube channel, what is next for you? Any new shows?  {These questions were written up in early February before we knew about her newest venture with HGTV called "Summer Home" which premiered on Monday}!

Top Secret! Just kidding. TV and more webisodes are definitely on the horizon. 

What are your views on the role of Canadian design on the world stage? Do you feel that Canadians have a unique sense of style, the way we design and decorate our homes? If so, what do you think sets us apart?

Canadians are all over the map when it comes to design. We’re a mosaic so it’s only natural that there are people who love modern design, trad, country, European, American, and a whole slew of international influences as well. We are a cold country so many of us are not so into pattern and bright colour everywhere. That’s not to say that we’re all beige. I mean we still love our neutrals, but if there is one thing that I’ve seen change since I started my career is our use of colour and pattern and it continues to grow. 

Samantha thank-you for taking time out of your incredibly busy schedule to visit us here this week. I have adored your designs, your visits on Cityline and now your new show!

HGTV Canada personality Samantha Pynn (Pure Design, The Party) is pleased to host the brand-new season of Summer Home, launching on April 2 at 8pm ET/5pm PT on HGTV Canada.  Summer Home airs back-to-back episodes Mondays at 8PM ET/PT.

XO Barbara


  1. Samantha Pynn is one of my favourite designers! LOVE her! I'm already addicted to Summer Home. Great interview, thanks for sharing :-)

  2. Can this girl get any cuter? I love her designs and I'm so happy I'll have something worthwhile to watch on Monday nights! Any idea how I can see the first episode that I missed?

  3. Samantha has such an amazing design style!! And, she seems like such a genuinely sweet person. What a great combo!! :)

  4. I was lucky enough to catch two episodes of Summer House. I now have the PVR set to record ALL of them. A girl can dream about owning a beach house ...... better yet, decorated by Samantha. I'm so proud of you Barbara for all of these awesome interviews.

  5. TV material for sure! She is brilliant! And her rooms very happy. (Who wants a room with a negative vibe?).

    I also love that she admits that no designer "knows it all". That statement alone will take her extra far!

    Fun read! You know that I am big fan of this series, Barbara.

    Happy Spring weekend/Easter to you and your family.

    Warm hugs,


  6. LOVELY PICS:) I really like your blog and will happily follow.
    If you want some swedish decor inspiration, you can check out my blog:)
    Have a great week.

    LOVE Maria at

  7. I met Samantha in person a couple of years ago at the Sarah Richardson for Para Paint launch. She was charming, friendly extremely approachable. Just as she appears on TV, she is bright and bubbly. She's a real treasure in the Canadian design world I think.

  8. It's great to have Samantha Pynn back on TV on Summer Home. I really like both her design style and her personality. She does amazing things with re-purposed furniture! In fact, when I saw her on Cityline with some dining chairs she had made over, I knew I needed the same awesome lavender faux ostric leather for my dining chairs :-) And she even replied to my request about where to find it :-)

    Really enjoyed getting to know Samantha better through your interview with her. Thanks!


  9. Great Interview Barbara you got here with Sam! It seems like everyone has to work their butt off as intern and work 3 jobs before they get their break, if lucky, in the industry. Now I've got a lot more to do to get more "involved" with the design business.

    Love her faux pas... totally agreed! Never a leather sofa fan ... and don't think I ever will!

    It is already April!! I will be seeing you in a few short week Barbara!

  10. I love Samantha's style and it is so great to know more about her! I loved Pure Design and, though I've always reused and repurposed furniture, that is what really got me thinking about pushing sustainable design.

  11. What a great interview, and so timely! I loved Pure Design and was sad to see it go :-( But I've picked up Summer Home now, and am totally enjoying it. Samantha has such great ideas, and what I really appreciate is her fearlessness in going for it... like the floor to ceiling subway tile in one of the cottages. That was inspiration!!!

  12. What a great series! I'm late to the game but enjoyed learning about Samantha, and her style. I also have a magazine journalism background so it was neat to see how that played into her career development.

    I think Canada is on the forefront of design, ahead of us Americans in the past several years. House & Home mag is waaaay beyond awesome, I keep every issue rather than just a few pages like I do other zines.

  13. Love her. I haven't yet seen Summer Home but I bet it's going to make me miss ONtario cottage country more than I already do:(

  14. Wish I could see Summer Home. Really enjoyed looked at Samantha's designs -- the Ikea Malm set end-to-end for an extra long console. I also love the bistro marble tables put end-to-end. Such great ideas, just in these photos alone.

    Love what she said about finding that one-of-a-kind item that no one else has too!


  15. Late to commenting on this post but I have enjoyed Samantha's Summer Home series. Nostalgia in spades for my cottage! Nothing like cottaging.

    What I do appreciate about her cottage style is that it is unique to the spaces that she is decorating. She also does a great job of mixing high/low. Stunning.

  16. I love Samantha Pynn... Summer Home was such a highlight for me last spring... hope it is coming back! Great interviews!! Thanks for the links to these fabulous Canadians!!
    Krista @


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