Interview with The Zealous Decorator

Let’s explore the creative mind of Sarah, Principal Designer, aka, “The Zealous Decorator” to learn more about her firm, Zealous Decorator. Discover the passion, creativity, and her deep understanding of the unique lifestyles of her clients as Sarah creates spaces that are not just visually stunning but are true reflections of the individuals who inhabit them.

What’s the most important part of your design process?

The most crucial part of my design process, and what I believe truly sets me apart, is my dedication to understanding exactly how you live your life within your space. It’s not just about creating a space that looks beautiful ‑ it’s about designing a home that seamlessly integrates into your lifestyle, meeting your needs and exceeding your expectations.  

By diving deep into your daily habits, preferences, and dreams, I tailor environments that work for my clients, not the other way around. This approach allows me to offer not just aesthetic enhancements, but functional design solutions that genuinely improve their quality of life. 

It’s this commitment to personalization and utility, combined with an eye for beauty, that differentiates me from traditional decorators. I’m not just decorating a space; I’m reimagining it to reflect and accommodate each clients’ unique way of living.

Sarah Schmerling, owner of Zealous Decorator

What’s your favorite design style?

I enjoy creating serene spaces that evoke the calming essence that nature provides for seamless indoor and outdoor living spaces. I especially love creating subtle coastal style homes. I have an affinity for incorporating natural elements such as mixed wood tones and rattan, alongside a rich mix of textiles, to infuse warmth and texture into even the most modern of homes. This blend of contemporary and modern elements with diverse textures and finishes is central to my approach.

 Creating environments that embody tranquility and spark joy is what I love most. I cater to a wide array of stylistic preferences, always with the aim of ensuring the space reflects my clients’ personal taste. My preferred palette features calming neutrals such as whites, beiges, and soft grays, beautifully accented with the depth of blues and greens. And when the space allows, I embrace bold accents in furniture, pillows, and curtains to add a vibrant touch.

Ultimately, my favorite outcome is to design spaces that not only resonate with my clients’ style, but also enhance their sense of well-being and happiness. Whether through the serene allure of coastal aesthetics or the textured richness of mixed materials, my goal is to create a home that feels like an oasis of tranquility and joy in their daily life.

Sarah Schmerling, owner of Zealous Decorator

"Ultimately, my favorite outcome is to design spaces that not only resonate with my clients’ style, but also enhance their sense of well-being and happiness...my goal is to create a home that feels like an oasis of tranquility and joy in their daily life."

What’s your favorite place for inspiration?

I find inspiration just about everywhere. Growing up around custom homes instilled in me the importance of adding conveniences to truly make a home work for its occupants. But beyond that, my inspiration comes from a myriad of places such as hotels, restaurants, my travels, hiking out in nature, and, believe it or not, even public restrooms.

I often take photos to jog my memory, though I have a knack for recalling details of things I’ve seen. When the time is right, or I come across a space that’s just perfect for a particular idea, I’m ready to bring these inspirations to life in my designs. 

This eclectic approach allows me to blend a wide range of influences, ensuring each space is uniquely suited to my clients and their lifestyles, creating their own custom retreat.

What would you recommend to someone looking to get started to enhance their home?

To get started, I recommend seeking inspiration in various sources such as magazines and Pinterest. Make it a point to save everything that catches your eye. You might notice that you’re consistently drawn to certain styles or elements more than others, which can be incredibly telling about the direction you might want to take in designing your home.

Next, take a moment to reflect on what you like and dislike about your current space. Consider both the aesthetics and functionality ‑ what works for you, and what doesn’t? Understanding your own preferences and requirements can be a helpful first step.

After gathering your inspirations and pinpointing your preferences is the perfect time to consult with a decorator. A professional decorator can provide valuable guidance, or even partner with you, to turn your project into reality. Partnering with a decorator can help streamline the process, ensuring that every decision contributes to creating a space that not only looks beautiful but also feels right for you.