No Restoration Hardware: Sayre Ziskin Says So

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SAYRE ZISKIN, of SVZ Interior Design is the type of girl you meet and instantly want to be friends with. She’s got style, bravado, and a disposition that rivals her sunny hometown of Los Angeles. Five years ago, Sayre left behind a promising career in advertising in pursuit of her dream job and went  back to school. While enrolled in  UCLA’s Interior Design program, she also interned for numerous top-notch designers, and somehow still found the time to refinish furniture and sell it on Craigslist.  Thanks to that running start, Sayre signed her first client before graduation.

And from the looks of things, she’s not slowing down anytime soon. In addition to her high end residential portfolio, she also designed the interiors of 3 super cool bars (The Churchill, LA; Brass Tacks and Holy Water, San Francisco), curated her own sale on and just recently broke ground on a (top secret) boutique beach hotel.

The Churchill, Los Angeles

The Churchill, Los Angeles

We chatted with Sayre to find out what’s worth the splurge, where she found her all-time favorite piece, and what she really thinks about Restoration Hardware.

What are your go-to magazines for inspiration?

World of Interiors, Elle Décor, Interiors and Dwell.

How would you describe your personal style?

Clean and modern, but also organic and colorful. Start with modern lines, add texture, some color, and that’s me. But that’s very different than what I do for my clients. 

Can you tell us anything about your exciting new hotel project?

I’m currently designing a boutique hotel in Venice Beach (that shall remain unnamed), which is very fun. I’m remodeling the lobby and reception as well as all 47 rooms. The design has Arts and Craft style bones with a South of France in the 1960s layer.

Having dabbled in both residential and commercial projects, is there one you prefer over the other?

I’m torn between the two. I love working on a home because it’s a more organic process. A relationship with the client and their home develops over time and can really be fulfilling. On the flip side, a commercial project is usually less emotional and faster-paced. I love that I can knock out a cutting-edge bar in six months because it is instantly gratifying.

What’s the most important room in a home?

The living room is usually the first room I start with. The colors, fabric, and look of that room will seep into the rest of the home. Designing and fabricating custom upholstery is my favorite part of the job.

Whats the best piece of furniture you’ve ever purchased? Was it for you or a client?

It was for a client. It was a gorgeous glass-top dining table with a walnut jacks base. I found it at a thrift store, and  it was a steal.

I thought about keeping it for myself but it was perfect for the space. A few years later that client moved back to Europe, and was selling the table. I didn’t have room for it, so a friend of mine took it and now I get to see it whenever I stop by.

Are most of the pieces you find for your clients old or new?

I make a lot of custom pieces. It’s sometimes easier for me to create what I want to see than to go on a scavenger hunt. That being said, I always try to layer vintage pieces with new pieces because it gives a home character and dimension. I’m also always keeping an eye out for local California artisans making beautiful pieces of furniture and light fixtures. It’s all about a harmonious balance between the new and the old.

These days you can buy pretty much anything from your couch – even the couch. What are you thoughts on buying goods online?

I appreciate all that the web has to offer. I do buy online a lot if the job doesn’t have a huge budget, or if I know and trust the online retailer. A good return policy is always key though, and I always try and make sure that the item can be returned if it doesn’t work. I actually had an online sale myself and sold a bunch of great things on One Kings Lane. Knowing that I handpicked everything in my Tastemaker Tag Sale made me trust their website way more than before.

Given that advice, what are sites you recommend?

For our readers decorating on a budget,  how do you decide where to splurge and where to save?

My splurge pieces are: lamps, dining tables, sofas, and chairs. Other decorative items such as side tables, art, rugs can be found over time. Invest in the big pieces and collect around them.

What are five ways to make any home magazine ready?

1. A beautiful modern sofa

2. Pattern wallpaper in the bathroom

3. A wood dining table from a real artisan

4. NO Restoration Hardware

5. Vintage finds scattered around


Image credit: Tessa Neustadt  

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