A Repurposed Holiday With Sarah Gunn

the Holiday Table from SodaStream
the Holiday Table from SodaStream

Sarah Gunn was sitting in her living room looking at the Christmas tree when AmongMen got in contact. “It’s a beautiful tree” the designer says, “but not a Sarah Gunn tree.”

Most technically Sarah Gunn is an “interior stylist,” a name she took on to differentiate herself from those who went to college for decor. “I’m not a trained interior designer. I just play one on TV.” In your living room, though, the power’s in a thing’s use, not it’s credentials, and Sarah’s style is all about re-purposing. It seems to work for the ex-schoolteacher: though relatively new to the design world, she’s been getting a lot of clients.

The purpose of our chat was the SodaStream Holiday Table Sarah designed, but, in what seems to be a pattern, contexts quickly changed. SodaStream is a home water carbonation system that can turn ordinary tapwater into pretty much any fizzy drink you like. With eight grams of sugar opposed to a regular pop bottle’s thirty-two, and great plastic conservation numbers, it’s a growing alternative to the Coca-Cola company.

A SodaStream system is incorporated right into Sarah’s Christmas themed table, which is inspired by ecology and the rustic Canadian landscape. “It’s all things I can use again” Sarah says, explaining her re-purposing aesthetic. Instead of a table cloth, a cream throw drapes the table. Two area rugs run its length, where wooden utensils, a stag head and oranges abide.

To repurpose is to re-contextualize. Find an item, second hand, and turn it into something else through creativity’s sheer cloth. A lot of modern designers are afraid of the accessibility it puts into creating your own interior, but Sarah, the stylist, thinks it just makes for a diverse field. It’s cost-effective, eco-friendly, and mutually available to amateurs and experts. “People are turning back to antiques!” the hostess raves.

And antiques are turning into other things. Sarah looks around her living room again at all the furniture she repainted and upholstered after picking up second hand on countless Nova Scotia homecomings. Her own favourite used item: some simple, white pitchers. “I use them everywhere.” For flowers, placesetting, service.

“I use them.” Too often, it’s noted, interior design eschews use. “I look in a magazine. Who lives there?” the decorist wonders. “I like things to look pretty, but I have two kids. Things need to function.”

It’s more sites like Pinterest and Houzz that inspire Sarah Gunn’s work and style. The internet age made interior design more open, and ends up meaning accessibility and collaboration, not competition. It’s creativity in a bounded space, jazz’s improvisations.

“I’m inspired by nature, Nova Scotia, the colours of architecture.” London’s still in her head, but Gamla stan in Stockholm takes the cake as her favorite place to daydream back to. Trumba and façades of the Royal Palace. No cars. Cobblestone.

Maybe we’ve gotten off track.

Zach Buck

Zach Buck is a writer and editor currently living in South Korea. He serves as the official editor of Spatial Studies magazine HEADREST. In 2016 he released experimental digital archive game house.xct_ with Other Families, and it can be read about on otherfamilies.ca.

No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>