"I'm an eager beaver who just wants to make things right," says interior designer Sarah Richardson. "Hopefully, people learn from my mistakes." A TV star in Canada with her own lines of paint and furniture, Richardson brings her girl-next-door vibe to the US on the HGTV shows Sarah's House and the upcoming Sarah 101. A democratizer of kitchen design, Richardson believes that people shouldn't have to spend a lot on high-end materials. Her shows teach viewers the small touches that give a kitchen personality, like adding bold colors, mosaic tiles and fabrics. She might upgrade stock cabinets, for example, by playing with wood grains and paint colors. While other designers have a signature look, Richardson seeks out simple but sophisticated design solutions that allow anyone to customize a kitchen, as in the rooms on these pages. She's a DIY cheerleader: "The main point of my shows is, 'Don't just buy someone else's renovation—do it yourself.'"
Richardson loves mosaic backsplashes, like the "Sunflower" pattern here, made from different types of marble: "Backsplashes are a wonderful place to integrate color and pattern into the kitchen." saltillo-tiles.com.
To add style to stock cabinets, Richardson had them professionally spray-painted and added details like reclaimed wood. The tongue-and-groove paneling on the island, from an 1860s schoolhouse, influenced the room's colors.
Richardson added drawers and a low countertop under the window to create a baking station, which both preserves natural light and uses every available bit of space.