Designer Sara Simon gives California Coastal design the full-color treatment.

When it comes to designing spaces in Southern California, Sara Simon skips the rainbow of neutrals and instead relies on fully saturated color and bold patterns to create lively, no-two-are-the-same environments. 

“I truly believe color can work in all spaces. It’s just a matter of selecting the right color. And that’s all about the vibe you are going for,” says Simon, who was raised in Los Angeles and now creates highly personalized residential and commercial environments throughout California with her boutique design firm Handsome Salt. “Color is such a personal preference,” she says. “One person may think a dark grey is soothing whereas another person thinks magenta has them in their element. It’s all on a case-by-case basis.” 

For Simon, those cases include everything from staging luxury spec homes developed by her husband Sven Simon, managing partner of Funf Ventures, to designing colorful coworking spaces throughout the state: Think mind-bending, floor-to-ceiling art installations with geometric shaped walls tempered by natural materials and lots of natural light. “At my latest coworking space, we kept with a clean Scando vibe with subtle pops of color. The vibe was very airy,” she says.

“At my latest coworking space, we kept with a clean Scando vibe with subtle pops of color. The vibe was very airy,” she says.

Sara Simon

Key to Simon’s approach is a neverending search for lesser-known design: Art, accessories, furniture, and lighting. Scouring stores in person and online, she finds the kind of aha elements that make her spaces stand out. “For my latest residential project I went very design-forward across the board. The home screams with color and every room has a different vibe and I brought in commercial elements to give the feel of a restaurant or cool hotel,” she says. 

As to where exactly she sources the saturation and sculptural moments, Simon includes lighting from Workstead, Allied Maker, and Cedar & Moss and tile from Fireclay and Cle Tile. “I’m big on accent walls using angled patterns as well as having a slight obsession with a good wallpaper,” says Simon, who cites favorites such as House of Hackney, Cole & Sons, Juju Papers, and Hygge & West. “If a client is afraid of committing to a colored wall or wallpaper, I tend to bring in colorful elements in furnishings.”

As for her current sweet spot on the rainbow? “I’m really gravitating to a warm palette of black tones and blue tones,” she says. “Right now I try to use color everywhere.”

Sara Simon
Handsome Salt

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