Local Designer Sara Tuttle Enjoys Domino Effect

One of the nation’s most buzzed-about interior designers is right here in Bethesda.
Sara Tuttle shares some of her favorite (and easy!) decorating tips. Photograph by David Black, courtesy of Domino magazine.

If you caught the April issue of decorating mag Domino with Drew Barrymore on the cover, you probably got a glimpse of Washington’s own Sara Tuttle, who was featured in this year’s roundup of “The Domino 10,” a super-exclusive shortlist of innovative “decorators on the verge” across the country.

Tuttle, who has been with Bethesda-based Christina Haire Interior Design for nine years, earned accolades for her polished-meets-practical concepts. “I wouldn’t say I had one type of look,” she says. “I always try to work with my clients and make sure the design represents their style. But I do love to mix lots of accessories, antiques, vintage items, and modern pieces. Many of my clients are young families, and they’re looking for something fun and fresh.”

Tuttle is currently taking on new clients, but she notes that those in need of a fast decorating fix can sometimes do it themselves: “I do think it can be really helpful to work with a designer. Just like I don’t cut my own hair or do my own taxes, using a professional designer can help you go beyond your comfort zone and be more adventurous. But if that’s not possible, there are definitely some things you can easily do on your own.” Lucky for us, she was happy to divulge her favorite easy decorating tips:

• Spend on staples: “Invest in the best quality basics you can afford. Finely constructed upholstery pieces like chairs and sofas can be used for a lifetime, so choose classic lines and ‘blend down’ cushion seats for shape retention. When you’re ready for a new look, just have it reupholstered.”

• Get painting: “This is your quickest, most dramatic, and least expensive design tool with the most impact. A fresh, new color on the walls can completely change the feel of a space.”

• And then get some pillows: “Next to paint, pillows are the fastest room pick-me-up. I always suggest buying 22-inch down-filled squares, which are a great size and really comfortable. Then you can just change out the forms with the seasons.”

• Find your inner artist: “If you can’t find the perfect piece of artwork to put over the sofa, make it yourself. Find pictures of a modern piece you love and use the colors to make your own abstract work with a large canvas and some acrylic paints. I’ve done this myself in my own house, and I promise it’s not difficult to do.”

• Save your sanity: “Families with young children and pets should definitely use stain-resistant fabrics like Sunbrella on sofas and chairs. Indoor/outdoor fabrics have gotten a huge facelift in the past five years, and colors and patterns are much more sophisticated than they once were. Mix with easily replaceable silk and velvet pillows for a layered, luscious look.”

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