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Q&A with Canadian Designer Sara Bergsma

Do Canadian and American designers align on design? We spoke with interior design veteran Sara Bergsma to get the scoop on design trends in the Great White North.

What is your interpretation of the C2 Color of the Year, Salty Brine (C2-701). Do you have any design tips?

Salty Brine is soft yet refreshing, It can act as a neutral, offering the ability to layer many other elements and textures with it. It also reacts remarkably with all the lighter natural wood floors people are now installing. It is the right amount of calm to our crazy way of living. Those afraid to use it in their open-concept areas crave it in their bathrooms and laundry rooms for just the right amount of pop!

What are the biggest design trends are you seeing in Canada?

Probably the number one is painting kitchens. It seems nobody wants that wood look any longer (I’m not saying I agree). We are finally coming out of the "all-white zone" – and thank God for that! I can't imagine living in the absence of colour. Lastly, I would say that I hear daily of someone wanting the "modern farmhouse" look, thanks to Chip & Joanna Gaines – yup, we up do idolize some of the wonderful American talent!

Everyone seems so focused on the kitchen and bath when they are doing updates. What would you recommend for a quick refresh that provides a big bang for your buck?

I think now people realize that spending money on fixing up bathrooms and kitchens is where their most significant dollar return will be when selling a home. For those looking for a refresh, the biggest bang for your buck is still painting, in my opinion, and secondly, lighting should be addressed. About 90% of the clients I see need updated lighting -- it affects everything!

It seems wellness trends and colors are everywhere, with people paying more attention to creating a peaceful environment at home. What would you recommend for people looking to create calm and a respite from the outside world?

My advice is to declutter rather than invest in more storage. We live in a society where we feel if we gorge ourselves with stuff, we will feel better. It leads to borderline hoarding in my opinion...borrow it and then give it back! Feeling lighter is not only good for your soul but also for your pocketbook. Invest the money, donate it, or go on a vacation – experiences will really add to your wellness! Having less really is more, I must use this line three times a week!!

We keep hearing designers say that open concepts are still one of the most requested architectural details. Is that something you see a lot of? If so, how do you design for that concept?

Here in Canada, we still are craving opening up our spaces for the most part. Even in a small home, it really feels a lot larger when we open it all up and "raise the roof" or ceiling height, at least. Condos that are currently being built all have 9ft ceilings, so it doesn't feel as small as a hotel room! I would also say that for the last ten years, my clients have wanted bigger kitchens, as that is always where the party seems to happen, lol! With the younger generation, their story is a little different. They tend to eat out more and host much smaller groups of friends. They would rather have bigger walk-in closets!

How does your own personal style influence your designs?

When I am interviewed for a job, customers always ask: "What is your style?" They are usually asking me this because they assume my style is what they think I will transpire onto them. I find this funny. I likely work a bit differently than most stereotypical a designer/client relationships. I make my clients work. They need to go through a little physiological test of self- awareness. The clients that start out by saying, "we want you just to look after it" are usually the ones that want to assume the most control. And, actually, that's okay; after all, it's their money and their home we are creating.

I look after educating them and keeping them on the right path. We make it a ton of fun, and all of my larger project clients have become friends for life, and together we "do life" well in anything involving design at least. Seriously, though, I watch their families grow, and their life stories evolve, which honestly is one of the reasons I truly love my job the most! We live in such a fast-paced world where it is super fun to see all the latest, greatest products where improvement is happening at warp speed...there truly is never a dull moment!


As she penned this article in her 50th year, Sara is living her best life! She's been designing beautiful spaces for over two decades while raising a family of three beautiful daughters (two dogs) and working alongside her husband of more than 26 years. She also operates a 7,000 sq. ft retail store that specializes in paint, window treatments, lighting, furniture, rugs, accessories in the heart of beautiful Milton, a suburb of Toronto. 


Bergsma's Paint & Decor, 194 Main Street East, Milton, Ontario L9T 1K6 



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