sss new studio!

While I have just started diving deeper into our home renovation on here, we are already looking ahead and simultaneously working on an exciting project that hopefully means a better work/life balance and maybe even a boost in productivity. If you missed out on some of my Instagram stories… we are building me a new office/studio (turns out the separation of working downstairs wasn’t quite enough)! It will be on the same property as our house, which is what I have missed so much from our LA set up. While my babies are so small, I still want to spend as much time with them as I can, and be able to pop in and keep an eye on things throughout the day, so working from home is ideal. However, hearing every single thing and having Archie and/or Clover bust in on conference calls is not. It is a give and take. haha. For me, having a separate working studio on the same property is the best-case scenario. It has the shortest commute, my work messes are separate from the house (marriage saver), and I am still there for everything.

Now when it came to designing myself a dream modern shed/studio outpost I knew that #1 I wanted it to be black to match what we painted the main house and #2 that I wanted a wall of glass… floor to ceiling, let the outside inside, modern, streamlined glass. So I was really excited when I found out about Marvin’s brand new Modern line of windows and doors. They have slim frames which means larger expanses of glass and a built-in drywall return so no window casing trim is needed for a super clean modern finish. And my favorite part is that they have a multi-slide door so I can get that full wall of glass I was dreaming of (and one that will be able to stand up to Michigan winters). I ended up designing the entire structure around the doors and windows.

I rounded up a few inspo spaces so you can get the idea of the vibe I am going for.

These all have flat or slanted roofs but in the climate this is going in (hello snow) I didn’t want to battle a flat roof and even though I love the slanted roof on the Muji hut, I also liked the idea of doing a minimal take on a traditional single gabled roof. Essentially stripping down the quintessential house shape you first learn to draw as a kid and making it my own.

The section of the property that the shed is going to sit on is long and narrow with the property line on one side and a hill on the other. The best view from inside will be on the short side of the building, looking down a large wooded ravine so that is right where I wanted to have the wall of glass with Marvin’s Modern Multi-Slide door, which will also be the main entrance. The path to get out to the office will be a short walk through the woods revealing first the solid wall with no windows. I planned it this way to maximize the site views and minimize the views you don’t want to see (window placement is like photo cropping IRL) but also so that you first arrive at a bunkerlike structure and as your walk all the way around it to the front there is a big reveal of the wall of glass and the light and bright interior. We also did a huge direct glaze 12’ window on the wall opposite of the one you first encounter, that will sit right at desk height. I plan to build in the desk so that it sits flush with the base of the window. These kinds of details can be easily overlooked but in modern architecture they make the design.

In contrast to the dark stoic exterior, the inside will be bright, light, and warm. Give me alllll the light. In a designer’s workspace there may not be much more important than natural light, which is why the windows and doors are so crucial. You might remember my previous office at the top of this photo bank, oof do I miss all that natural Cali light. Here is hoping that since the windows and doors going into this new space are way bigger, I will be able to get some of that light in Michigan and maybe even one-up my old creative space.

Now for a peek into some of the finishes and fixtures…

For me an ideal workspace is essentially a blank slate. I work with a lot of color, a variety of materials, patterns and finishes and I want to be able to let my work (and my eye) breathe. So minimal lines, nothing extra, and plenty of open space. Having the large walls of glass with the Marvin doors and windows also bring the outdoors in, which gives my brain, that tends to work overtime, some respite. Being able to look out into the woods with nothing else on the horizon is the ultimate visual palette cleanser.

This is the first freestanding structure we have built from the ground up so wish us luck! If you are curious about the process and where we are or how you might tackle this kind of thing I have outlined our path below. Local codes, zoning and all that fun stuff will be totally different based on location so I am just outlining our process. This doesn’t mean it will work for everyone!

  1. Find out your local code requirements and get a professional survey. (I had envisioned the studio/shed about 20 feet to the right of where it will go but turns out we have to adhere to a 40′ easement. So I had to scale back the size a bit and move it on over).
  2. Get the plans drawn up and apply for permits. Ideally you would probably work with an architect but I knew what I wanted to do so I sketched up my own drawings. I am such a newbie to Michigan though, I was clueless as to what the city needs were and materials/practices that I am used to doing in California don’t all translate to this type of climate etc. So I worked with my friends at KLH custom homes who then formally drafted the plans for me and for our contractor (they also sent in the surveyor they work with). I have been able to lean on them to know what has worked for them material wise, to figure out “the how” to build my vision and what paperwork was needed and where to take it. Spoiler… there is a lot that of paperwork for the permitting process.
  3. Clear the trees and prepare the site. We only had to take down a couple trees, including one that was already dead and now we have to get an excavator in to level out the land.
  4. Find a good contractor. Always hard! Word of mouth is the best way but also interviewing and getting bids from multiples. I find that the GC’s that ask a lot of questions and really comb through the project are the most promising. It shows they have attention to detail and you want that in a GC. I am working with Ayers Construction who I happen to know from high school! So, I think that is me being lucky or cheating. ha

5. Foundation! Next they built the forms for the footings and brought in a cement truck. A Very exciting day for the kids. Construction is a hit. 

6. We got our footing inspection approved, first one down! And next came the framing. The framing is the most satisfying because BOOM suddenly there is a structure. Bryon and his guys knocked out the framing in a day and a half. Woop! 

That is as far as we are right now… hoping for a smooth and timely construction period and you know I will keep you updated over on IG!

SHOP THE LOOK: Marvin Modern Multi Slide Doors // Marvin Modern Casement Windows // Marvin Modern Direct Glaze Windows // Pendant // Office Chair // Desk // Rug // Floating Shelves

Master Bedroom Update & Design

Who’s ready for a #samuelfamilyfixer mini recap? I feel like it has been so long I forgot where we left off. Turns out moving across the country after having a second child and then doing a gut renovation is A LOT. ha Pile on a ton of work and a new lack of childcare and you’ve got yourself a tornado of change. If you haven’t been around here or following on IG, this is where we are at. A little over a year ago we bought a house off the internet… knowing it was a fixer and loving the bones we made the leap and moved to Michigan with our newly expanded family of 4. We moved into the fixer pre-renovations for 5 months, then we moved to a rental house for the heavy construction for 5 months. When we moved back into the fixer it was about 70% finished. To save money and get the most renovation bang for our buck we opted to do most all of the finish work ourselves. So in any of our free time (between work and kids and a lot of help ) while I could have been choosing furniture and lighting and art I was installing kitchen cabinets, shelving, trim etc. So, here we are 5 more months after we moved back in (that is 15 months all together if you are keeping track) I have finally started to get to furnishing this place!

I posted the photo above on IG a couple weeks back and I am so happy you guys were loving the dresser as much as me. If you’ve read the blog a time or two You know that I turn to Wayfair V often, at this point I feel like I am a professional Wayfair scout especially when I find pieces like this.

You might notice that the base is slightly different (many of you asked about this in my stories) I simply opted not to add the legs that came with it. I loved it sitting lower to the ground and you know I am a serial furniture hacker so I couldn’t help it.

The rest of the room has yet to get pulled together IRL but here are some more things I snagged from Wayfair, including linen bedding in the prettiest blush from their Elder & Ivory line. They have curtains and pillows and throw blankets as well, it is their own line of curated premium linens.

I’ve basically designed the entire house around the original wood ceiling and the bedroom was no exception. I wanted the space to still be light and bright so outside of the wood ceiling it is all various shades of white with a little bit of blush. We even did white tile floors. The key to a mostly white room… bring in allll the soft layers to cozy it up. I can’t wait to get everything installed and finish this space off soon!

Shop the Look: Dresser // Full Length Mirror // Vase // Sweatpants, sweatshirt // Lumbar Pillows // Blush Linen Duvet Cover set // Bed // Side Table (using as a nightstand) // Wall Hanging // Lamp // Throw Blanket (it comes in other pretty colors too) // Curtains // Blush Linen Sheet Set

Mandy Moore’s office reveal

Mandy Moore's production company office at Paramount Studios // sarah sherman samuel

Mandy Moore just started her own production company and the office space she leased at Paramount Studios was a little sad (if you missed my first post, jump here to see what we started with), so I was thrilled when she enlisted me to help her “give it a vibe”. A vibe we gave her, and while it’s a bit more bold than what we did in her house, it still shares a similar palette of blush, ochre, blues, a lot of white and warm wood tones, and you’ll see a similar thread of vintage, mixed with custom pieces, mixed with traditional retail goods. It leans more post-modern, than her mid-mod home and even has a bit of pop culture mixed in. It was a great opportunity to have a bit more fun in her workspace as we would hope it would energize and inspire her during the day and then she can wind down in her serene oasis of a home at night. SO without further ado… here she is!


Mandy Moore’s Office at Paramount

Have you guys heard?! Mandy Moore started her own production company and we are taking her new offices at Paramount Studios from dreary corporate to a creative space that we will all want to hang in. We had so much fun designing her house, so I was thrilled to work together again on her latest venture. Also, workspaces happen to be a favorite of mine to design and have I mentioned Mandy is a dream client to work with? 

We are SO close to the full reveal, but in the meantime, I’m taking you on a little behind the scenes of the design process and sharing some tips to getting that high end look on a more high/low budget as well as how to make a big difference without renovating for all you renters out there.

Being a new company, Mandy doesn’t know how long they will be in the current space, there is always the chance she could outgrow it or not, it is all very new. So, while she wanted it to be a reflection of her and an incredible space to be in, she also wanted to do it cost effectively. The plan was to Invest in some pieces that she could take with her if they move while also finding affordable options that make a big impact for the current space.  The result is a unique mix of high and low, color play, layered patterns, vintage details and rich textures and I turned to sources like Amazon Home to make it happen.

Let’s take a peek into what the offices looked like with the existing furniture she inherited.


Our Porch reveal + DIY tile floor

The first and only room we have finished in our #samuelfamilyfixer is our outdoor room because… summer priorities! We all love hanging in this screened in porch and tend to gravitate to it in the mornings for coffee (for rupe), tea (for me) and the kids have currently turned the coffee table into a playdough station. Our favorite thing to do is hang in the evenings when the kids are in bed and watch the fireflies or a summer thunderstorm roll through.

It wasn’t always such a peaceful oasis though. Here is a peek at the before…


Bright red and Christmas green astroturf, not my favorite combination but it didn’t take much to transform it.

First we painted! We used “Caviar” by Sherwin Williams and then I went shopping.

I didn’t have to go far because I found everything (except my tile) on CB2! I already had the scalloped dining table (we used it as our primary dining table at the rental house during renovations) and the malawi chair, which I also used on Bri aka “design love fest’s” patio, so it was really easy to round out the space with the sofa, coffee table and a ton of planters.

I knew from the beginning I was going to use my own tile collection, the tiles I designed for Concrete Collaborative. The work indoor and outdoor and were perfect for this space. Instead of using all 5 of the designs from my sss series (like you may have seen in our Festoon project) I utilized 3 of them to create the pattern.

I sketched the plan out as shown above to scale in adobe illustrator and then counted out the quantities I needed of each so I knew how much to order and how the pattern would work exactly in the space.

Then in a weekend I swapped the green carpet for the beautiful tile in a just a few easy steps.

First you need to start with a level surface. I had to plain down a few areas of the decking to assure the tiles would lay flat. Then you need to clean the surface thoroughly (power washing it ideally). Any debris or dirt may cause the tile to crack. If you’re creating a brand-new patio, build the platform to the exact measurements of the tile so you won’t need to make any cuts to the edge pieces. 

Then plan the layout: Start at the furthest wall and work toward the door. Do a dry run-through, placing one row and one column of tile without adhesive, to minimize unnecessary cuts and avoid ending up with too small of a sliver of tile when you get to the end. 

Stick it all down! Once you have a clear idea of your tile pattern apply a generous bead of  Liquid Nails construction adhesive to the back of the tile and press it firmly into place. Do this for every tile until you reach the outer edges. If needed, trim pieces as necessary with a tile saw.

Finally, seal the tile according to manufacturer recommendations. Furnish the space and just add plants.

Now excuse me I have some summer to enjoy. xo

Sources: Tile by Sarah Sherman Samuel for Concrete Collaborative // Paint color is Caviar by Sherwin Williams // Bistro Chairs // Woven Pouf // Terracotta Incence Holder // Wicker Pendant // scalloped dining table // malawi chair // the sofa // coffee table // planters.

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