Na lot far past Fishers, backed up against a cornfield, stands a fine house in the style of a French château. Inside, the home feels refined from a bygone era, but with a surprisingly modern vibe about it. It is not unlike how Bridgerton recreates Regency England in candy colors. Traditional living room chairs mask in rich velvet. Vivid repeating patterns stand for damask wallpaper. European wall treatments and panels get a splash of Pantone’s 2022 color of the year (periwinkle). A classic bust has a houseplant sticking out of it, almost defiantly.
It’s easy to forget that it’s your typical suburban house built in the 1990s. And that’s exactly what Sara Davis, owner and designer behind the Sincerely Sara D blog, wants. Of the 40 homes in her tract, “ours is the only one that looks timeless, like it could have been built six months or 100 years ago,” she says. “A lot of the others haven’t been updated inside, so they feel stuck in the ’90s.” From the beginning, she strove to set apart her home in the Pendleton subdivision.
Her first step was to raise the home’s curb appeal. The exterior was constructed in a classical style, so Davis leaned into it, redoing much of the landscaping to be symmetrical. Along the walkway leading up to her front door, she planted boxwood bushes for their long-lasting greenery, then incorporated topiaries to shape over time.
While Davis admires the work of her fellow home design content creators, she doesn’t emulate it. “If you look at the homes on Pinterest, it’s a sea of neutrals, which is not bad. They can be beautiful,” she says. “But I don’t look to other design bloggers. Instead, I visit old homes. Too many people seem to make home design decisions based on what’s popular, whether the masses will like it.”
Once the landscaping was complete, she turned to transforming the kitchen. While she tries to avoid flash-and-gone trends, she works to embrace the looks she truly loves. For example, she chose the clean sheen of white subway tiles, despite its popularity. But she grounded it with provincial fixtures, such as Shaker-style cabinets, a smaller farmhouse sink and vintage-style faucets. Victorian silhouettes hanging nearby also add a classic touch, ensuring the kitchen will feel fresh for years to come. (Davis did the portraits of each of her children.)
“I see people letting go of their dining rooms, but I like the idea of having a separate space for family dinners.” Davis embraces rooms with a dedicated purpose, unusual in our open concept world. Although casual weekday family meals may be few and far between, Davis and her husband, Steve, enjoy dining in the dining room with their three young children without the distraction of the television. “It might sound old-fashioned,” she says. “But we enjoy our family time together.”
Another dedicated space that Davis created was the library. Few houses built in the 1990s have a library, but for Davis it was a must. “Every home I’ve visited has a library. It was the only entertainment room back then,” she explains. Davis assembled and stained the ladder himself. A local woodworker built the shelves in his shop. He made them deeper than Davis expected, but now she likes them, noting that the depth makes the room feel more dramatic.“I guess we can double the books,” she laughs.
The floor in the library is Carrara polished marble, a soft stone that may seem an odd choice for the home of a busy family. But Davis loved it, noting that marble is pretty much standard in historic homes. “It’s beautiful and adds so much interest,” she says. Davis decided to go with it since the library doesn’t see much foot traffic. “I laid that marble tile myself. My ladder deserved better than the carpet that had been in there.”
The wallpaper—Davis says it was easy to hang—is of a sweeping nature scene, a nod to the 19th-century golden age of pastoral landscape painting. “This is definitely something you would have seen in an older home’s library.” Many designers these days encourage their clients to find a color in one room and try to match it in other areas of the same room to achieve consistency, notes Davis. But she has other ideas, marrying whipped greys, bold robin’s eggs and muted baby blues here.
Davis tends to paint a room over and over in search of new color twists like that. She smiles and then shares a sudden realization. “I might have to start doing watercolor paintings because we’re running out of square footage.”