09 415 2727

Sarah Kerr Interior Designer Interview

19 February 2018

Crosby: Hi Sarah thanks for taking the time to speak to me today. I know you do some great work on our clients homes but they tell me you have been on TV, done radio and all sorts of things. Perhaps you could let us in on the background, what’s behind Sarah Kerr Design ?

Sarah: I set up Sarah Kerr Design in 2001 and now 16 years on it amazes me how much has happened in that time.

My design experience started out as a Dulux Colour Consultant before going out on my own.

In 2002 and 2003 I was an interior designer on TV1 Changing Rooms. Being on this popular TV show was a lot of fun and it taught me a thing or two about working to extremely tight deadlines and small budgets. We were only given 24hours and $800 dollars to makeover a room. I remember one winter in Christchurch where I had at least 10 heaters on madly trying to dry the wall paint leaving me about 15 minutes to dress the room before the grand reveal to the home owner!

From there I was the interior designer on Radio Live, ‘Design and Build”, a talk back show where I worked alongside a builder and a landscape designer. Callers would ring in for advice on colour or design which I would answer on air.

Since that time Sarah Kerr Design has worked on many incredible multi -million dollar residential homes and on large residential developments. I commission and design furniture for clients and stage show homes for home owners and developers. I have designed the interiors for retail stores and resort properties in Fiji. I have designed a central city bar right through to selecting the colours for a Sikh Mosque!

I love the variety of my job as an interior designer. I have always been passionate about colour and design as no other medium brings such visual excitement to our environment.

Crosby: Can we dig a little deeper then, what about your motivation, why did you become an interior designer?

Sarah: Some of my earliest memories are of spending time with my artist grandmother Molly who was a potter and a very successful milliner. From the age of three she was teaching me how to use a pottery wheel and paint. At ten years old I was screen printing my own designs onto plain fabric and having them made into clothes for the kids to model on a cat walk.

My interest in the arts inspired me to do an Arts Degree at Auckland University and then art and colour courses at Elam art school. I have never stopped my desire to keep learning. I keep myself up to date in trend forecasting for colours, materials and textured fabrics to stay ahead of the market.

I see an interesting material and I just know how I can use it – which client, which space it will be perfect for.

I love to travel and explore mysterious streets, seeing the combination of colours both bright and worn. I especially love old doors of various colours and have taken photos of doors from pretty much all over the world. The doors seem to offer a concealed life behind them and a world of history.

Crosby: yes travel opens your eyes to all sorts of possibilities. Funny you mention that we took a couple of pictures of old doors in Venice and Florence a few years back, that now hang on our wall – I thought we were just weird, but it sounds like we are in good company! Back to Universal tell our readers how you help turn our houses into homes?

Sarah: It’s been great working with Universal Homes over the years guiding them on colour and design.

My role has been to specify the exterior and interior colour schemes for all of Universal Homes’ developments in Hobsonville, Long Bay, Millwater, Eastpark, Pokeno, Huapai, Matua, Red Beach, Karaka Lakes and Pauanui.

On the interiors, I select the interior paint colour scheme, the carpet, tiles, and the kitchen and bathroom colour scheme. I then make up the interior design boards so that buyers can better understand what colours and products they will be getting in their new homes.

I work with Universal Homes’ Construction Manager, Grant Coutts, to review products with suppliers as Universal Homes is continually looking to update products, fixes and fitting in their designer homes.

On the exterior colour schemes I work with Universal Homes’ Planning and Design Manager, Sunil Prasad, and the appointed architects to come up with well thought out designer homes.

Crosby: What about a specific example, what is one of our projects you have worked on that you are most proud of?

Sarah: I am very proud of my involvement in Hobsonville Point and I get a kick out of driving through the streets looking at the fantastic new properties thinking,’ I did that’!

It was very exciting being asked to be involved in the inception of Hobsonville Point to work with Universal Homes to set the colour direction for a brand new suburb of Auckland.

The colour process is very detailed for Hobsonville and all the Universal properties. I look at the architecture and also the surrounding environment to select the colour scheme.

I also take into account light, as light from the north, south, east and west can make the same colour appear quite different.

Materials are also key to the look of a property. Rough textures, such as exposed brick, absorb light, which can make colours seem darker. In a smooth or high gloss surface colour look brighter and more intense. All of these aspects need to be considered when selecting the exterior colour scheme.

Within the architecture there will be areas to highlight and areas to disguise. You can recess walls by painting them darker and use lighter colours to other claddings to make them more prominent.

Having selected the colours for over 2000 homes, I have got to learn what works.

As a designer I feel my role is to really listen to what a client wants but to encourage them to consider something they just wouldn’t have thought of that I know from experience will give them the desired outcome they are looking for.

Crosby: Well on that note, we have hundreds more for you, (every single one of them very important though) so we both better get back to work! Hey thank you for your time and sharing your enthusiastic expertise with us today, it’s been a pleasure.

Sarah: You’re Welcome!


  • Flexible Deposit Options Available
  • 10 year master build guarantee
  • No worries on building decisions
  • 60+ years history