SSS Bookclub!

Happy New Year! It’s now halfway through January and I realized I haven’t logged in on here in a while. During the shutdown last year, I started reading again (you know, between homeschooling and learning how to cook every meal) but really, I did make it a point to turn off my phone at night and curl up with a book instead. It was partly what helped me keep my sanity. I have enjoyed it so much but find myself wanting to discuss the books with someone, anyone! Being a part of a book club sounds great but I would probably be the only nerdy one that actually read the book and wanted to discuss while drinking and eating all the cheese plate, of course.

But while I am still leaving the house very little (I hope you are all taking care of yourselves), I figure I decided why not start a SSS book club! Even if I end up chatting with just one person about the book, I will have doubled my discussion group. I count myself EXTREMELY lucky to have found a right hand gal here in Michigan (finally!), Anastasia Foggy, who helps me with both looking after the kids, (she nannied all through college while she got her bachelors in writing) and also helps in the studio and is now a (sss first ever) blog contributor. She also feeds me all the books I could ever want because she’s never without a book in her hand. The only problem is we never read them at the same time and by the time I finish one and want to discuss, she has read 5 since and doesn’t remember everything. ha SO we are doing this to read the same book at the same time.

Our first book is The Dutch House by Ann Patchett. Have you read it?  I’m excited to dive in.

I’ve included this sneak peek into the novel written by Anastasia.

The Dutch House is one of those novels where the characters become so real you think about them days later. The book has fairytale esque elements. Patchett writes, “they had all become characters in the worst part of a fairytale.” Except the story feels real, in that we all experience love, loss, and longing.

The fairytale begins with the house. The Dutch House that “from certain vantage points of distance, it appeared to float several inches above the hill it sat on.” It marvels all with its “Versailles vibes,” and its treasures: marble floors, gilt ceilings, silk chairs, Chinese lamps, and grand fireplaces. The glass walls hold inside the delft dinnerware, oil paintings, staircases, and 3rd-floor ballroom and wrap up the house into a piece of art.

The original owners, the Van Hoebeeks, built the house in 1920s Philadelphia. Cyril Conroy acquires the house in 1946 when the Van Hoebecks go bankrupt. Cyril buys the house to surprise his wife. Sure, this grand gesture (and home) will be her dream come true. This is the turn in the fairytale. Elna, Cyril’s wife, despises the house. It is too grandiose for her. So she leaves. She leaves her husband and children, Maeve and Danny, behind with the cook and housekeeper. The housekeepers are like fairy godmothers looking after the children as their own.

Soon, Cyril marries again. And the evil stepmother and stepsisters take over. Can you guess what happens next?

Once Danny moves away to college, the two develop an obsessive pattern when he returns home. They park their Oldsmobile across the street from The Dutch House to reminisce over the nightmare that played out. The car windows down, two arms out the window, smoking cigarettes blowing smoke into the frigid winter air watching and, “layering the present onto the past.”

By the end of the book, I feel like I had been sitting in the back seat with Danny and Maeve all along. It all is too real for me: my hand out the window, blowing the same smoke into the same kind of cold air, longing to understand the past. Don’t we all know the ways of wishing for what could have been and struggling to come to terms with what was?

This is a book I will read again and again. Maeve is high up on my list of top 5 favorite characters from a novel. The book’s living emotions— nostalgia, forgiveness, anger, love — is what makes this novel one to savor.

I can’t wait to hear what you think about the book and the HOUSE! Let’s come back together here on February 1st to discuss. Is that enough time? If you’re interested, let me know what a normal time is for these things. I was thinking initially a month but I didn’t get the post up when I had planned. Ok scratch that, how about since it is the first time, I give extra time and we come back to chat on March 1st?

I hope you enjoy the book and check back March 1st for our visual summary and book club discussion questions. Happy Reading.

Oh and I don’t know if I have ever shared this view of our house yet. The reading loft with the new staircase. One of my favorite spots in the house.


Chair is from France & Son // Pillow is by LRNCE // Rug is by Sarah Sherman Samuel for Lulu & Georgia // Ottoman is vintage upholstered with Jenny Pennywood Fabric // Pendant Light is by Cedar & Moss 

2020 gift guides by recipient

I’m finding shopping and scouring the internet for gifts is the best kind of retail therapy right now, so while you can find my top picks for gifts in “sarah’s picks“, I’ve curated it further by category, below, to make it extra easy to gift based on the recipients interest.


a few beautiful things for the entertainers in your life…




for the ones that live in the kitchen…




for the one that is always polished…




for those that can’t wait to return to adventuring more…




because we all can use a little tech…




This one is basically for me, ha or anyone with similar taste…




for the booklovers…




for the ones that care for us…




for moms and anyone that deserves a little pampering







gift guide for the kiddos

For once in my life I was able to get some gift guides together BEFORE Thanksgiving (I think everyone is just ready for 2020 to be over. I was already seeing “black friday” sales on monday. We pulled together a few guides for the little ones in your life with all the items in a shoppable carousel below each category…

Happy Shopping


These are some of our tried and true picks from the samuel family for our little artists. Shop them here…





calling all tot sized future builders, architects, engineers… shop below




All the goods for the mini helpers in your life, shop here…



And for the adventurers….



For more gifting suggestions curated by yours truely head to “sarah’s picks” and the “gifts” section.

our custom sink-right-in family sofa

It is family room share time! This is the room we live in the most which is ironic because while we lived here for 6 months before the renovation, no one wanted to spend one minute in it. It sat empty, save for a rug, and was used just as a passageway from the kitchen to the living room. Before we renovated the room was closed off from the kitchen and the archways didn’t exist. It felt kind of like a bunker as there wasn’t one window or view outside, with the only exception of the skylight above.

Now that it is open to the kitchen and with the implementation of a few strategic openings it has become the central hub. Knowing this would be the case I wanted all the furniture in this space to be extra comfortable and since I usually gravitate towards more tailored or sculptural furniture I had a hard time finding pieces that were just as beautiful as comfortable. SO, I set out to design my own. The sofa that is (well the rug and the coffee table are also my own designs but I will touch on those later).


Soho Loft Bathrooms Before & After

Last week our bathroom renovations for Vanessa Carlton’s NYC loft was featured on Arch Digest did you see? Head over there for the story which is punctuated with a video of her giving a tour of the entire home.

Vanessa’s loft is one of those incredible new york apartments that inhabit an entire floor of a building, the ones where the elevator opens right up into the living room space. When I first arrived I immediately was taken by the 1892 built building and the original architectural features that were still in tact. The living room, kitchen and bedrooms all had the original exposed brick and so much great natural light it was an inspired space with a couple of eye sore bathrooms. We wanted to bring the essence of the building back into the bathrooms in an interesting way… classic and timeless but with the sss touch.

So let’s take a look at what we started with in this principle bath.


fall uniform

I’m almost never not in a dress (or jumpsuit) in the fall. Even when the temps dip (you better believe I have leggings and a tank under this dress) its my favorite thing because you throw on one piece and done. Usually a hat too but Rupe told me I shouldn’t wear a hat for family photos so I’m hatless here. The dress I’m wearing is by & other stories but is sold out so I’ve rounded up all my favorite dresses below along with hats and sneakers… my go-to fall uniform.




Oh and if you’re interested in what I’ve been dressing the kiddos in head to the kids clothes in “sarah’s picks“. I’ve also started a men’s section for the pieces I buy for Rupe… look for the “rupert’s closet” under the fashion tab.

Photo by Amy Carroll