Text by Hannah Jones
Sincerely, Sara D. blogger Sara Davis’s home is nothing short of bold and bright. She has a vibrant style, with splashes of navy and pink interjected throughout her home. But Sara wasn’t always so brave with her palette. We sat down with her to talk about her home’s transformation over the years, and her advice for bringing color back to our homes.
The Cottage Journal: You started blogging nearly five years ago when you were in a different home. What led you to start this journey?
Sara Davis: I was created to create. It’s what makes me tick. As a little girl, I was always entering coloring contests and making homemade gifts for our family. I went into college with the intention of just earning a business degree but felt like I was drowning. I added a second major in art and design, and suddenly, I felt like I was doing what I was made to do—creating!
After college, I loved working for the greeting card company but quit my job to stay at home with our firstborn. I was absolutely miserable those first few years. I completely lost myself—which I now know is not unusual for new moms.
When my youngest was 2, I created Sincerely, Sara D. It began as a custom invitation and card company, but I realized I loved decorating and sharing DIY tutorials more than creating stationary. Once I began using our home as my canvas, I came alive again, and my DIY home décor blog was born.
TCJ: As mentioned before, your current home is your second. Why did you move, and what were your must-haves when looking for a new home?
SD: We moved into our current home because of my husband’s career move. We were living in a fast-growing suburb just north of Indianapolis, Indiana, and my husband’s new job was over an hour away. We settled on a small town in between our old home and his new job. We were both raised in smaller communities and loved the idea of giving our kids that same upbringing.
When we looked at our home, I saw it for what it could be. At the time, it was being lived in by a single dad and his three kids and had been on the market for a while. It originally had a pool table in the dining room and the home really hadn’t been updated since it was built. The outside is what I absolutely fell head over heels for. It’s a French chateau style—sophisticated, with painted brick. I loved how timeless it looked. Unfortunately, it was the only home I wanted in the area, and my husband still teases me today that we lost all bargaining power because I was too in love.
TCJ: You’ve done a few different large-scale DIY renovations in your home. What’s been your favorite to date?
SD: Our kitchen is definitely my favorite large-scale DIY renovation. I remember that moment of sheer panic after we had demolished our kitchen in less than two hours. I just stared at the empty shell and wondered how the heck we were going to put it back together . . . but we did!
TCJ: With all these DIY projects, you’ve given tutorials both starting from scratch and using thrift store finds and even IKEA hacks. Where do you get the inspiration for creating all these beautiful projects?
SD: I love the elegance of the past. I am obsessed with PBS period pieces, and I think it’s because I am so inspired by the décor and dress (Downton Abbey, Poldark, Victoria). We went to Washington, D.C., over spring break, and I could not get enough of George Washington’s home, Mt. Vernon. I follow Chateau de Gudanes on Instagram and just die over their gorgeous imagery.
In regard to more current inspiration, I absolutely love the work of Caitlin Wilson and Bria Hammel Interiors. I am also inspired by scrolling through Instagram, shopping at stores, and visiting friends’ homes.
TCJ: Along with your renovations, you’ve also shared your home’s style transformation over the years, which has been a pretty dramatic one. Currently, your home has a sophisticated style with colorful, glam touches and a few rustic elements. What led you to settle on the style you use today?
SD: My style has definitely been a journey—and continues to be one! I’ve made some crazy design choices and am still searching some to find my design style. Generally, I lean toward a more elegant, traditional design style. I need order, so I use symmetry in most of my designs. I also love dreamy, neutral designs, but I also crave color. I find that I mix both into my designs.
TCJ: You use so much color in your décor, which we absolutely love! But adding in bold hues can be a daunting undertaking for many people. What are your best tips for creating a cohesive look with vibrant hues?
SD: Add vibrant hues in accent pieces, rugs, throws, pillows. Begin with a few pieces and slowly add more as you become braver. I tell my clients to start with a neutral space and find some colors to add in. Also, if you decide to add a particular color to your space (like blue, for example), don’t be confined to one particular shade of blue. Use several—it definitely makes it more interesting!
TCJ: On the note of bold color choices, your living room is a gorgeous navy blue that is so chic and sophisticated. How do you bring more light into this space with such dark walls?
SD: Our living room slowly grew to be all navy. I first painted the walls on either side of the fireplace, and once I became a little braver, painted the wall to the right. Eventually all four walls surrounding the space were painted, but it was a process. The living room has a wall of windows, so I knew there would be plenty of light for such a dark color. The living room also opens up to the very light kitchen, which balances the bold nicely.
TCJ: You went through a crazy nine-week kitchen overhaul. What did you learn from this experience, and what would you do differently?
SD: In regard to mistakes when remodeling, my husband and I DIYed our kitchen over the span of nine weeks. Between DIYing the kitchen, the budget, and the short time frame, there are definitely things I would have done differently if we had a larger budget and a contractor. However, our number one goal in the space was to open up the kitchen to make it more conducive for our family and entertaining. I know there are things I would do differently if I remodeled the kitchen now, but I am also not one to obsess over what I should have done. I’m thankful for the updated space. It is definitely better than what it was!
TCJ: You use a lot of pattern in your home, from flooring to wallpaper to pillows. What’s your secret to picking a pattern that isn’t overwhelming and that you won’t tire of?
SD: I try not to buy any pattern that is too trendy. Also, I generally don’t buy patterned furniture; I find I do grow tired of it quickly.
TCJ: You have wallpaper in a few different rooms in your home, including your gorgeous mudroom. How would you describe your experience with wallpaper, and would you advise other people to try it out?
SD: I began my wallpaper obsession with removable wallpaper and eventually graduated on to the real thing—by mistake. I bought what I had thought was removable paper, and then realized it wasn’t. My husband knows how much I like to change things up and after spending a summer during college removing wallpaper from an apartment, he wasn’t too excited for me to begin hanging real wallpaper. However, I managed to persuade him to allow me to hang that wallpaper, and I’ve continued to slowly add more throughout our home. I think through my wallpaper choices pretty hard—I don’t want to tire of them too quickly!
TCJ: The master suite in your home is much more serene and neutral than much of the rest of your décor. What was your inspiration for switching things up in this space?
SD: Honestly, the master suite is more neutral for a couple of reasons. The first is that although I would have loved to try a bolder paint color, the space is SO hard to paint with its vaulted ceilings. I decided to go with a neutral cream. I wanted something bright and warm. I had originally planned on navy, gold, and blush accents. However, my husband walked in to see me painting our nightstands blush and freaked out, so I only added navy and gold as the accent colors—for now!