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Recharge the Home

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A walkthrough with interior designer, Sahra Samnani


As an exploration of the unique design talents of friends in the Oak and Fort Circle, we recently sat down and had a conversation with interior designer, Sahra Samnani, from Vancouver, B.C. As a designer and business owner of how to be., we got to know more about how she got into design, her design philosophies and how our homes should reflect who you truly are.

We were also fortunate to be invited to the Maple House, a home which Sahra and architect Michael Green designed and curated. Every aspect of this home is imbued from her personality, her passions and her philosophies. As a minimal lifestyle brand, we appreciate her fresh perspective on creating uncomplicatedness spaces through her own design

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Q: What inspired you to get in the design industry?

A: I grew up in a household where my dad was sort of this intensely creative human – he was always shifting our home around, trying to tinker and improve. My sister is an incredible artist which made me always want to be creating something so it’s just very natural to me to be in spaces, to tinker with them and improve them. It’s the most deeply rooted thing about me so whenever someone asks me how I got into interior design I say, “it’s literally who I am”. I genuinely just like spaces and crafting spaces so I guess that’s what started it.


Q: Tell us about your design philosophies and where they are rooted from.

A: There’s been a progression of where I’ve come from in terms of design. In design school, I was really drawn towards minimalism – I love the purity of it. I don’t want excess or a bunch of stuff. I always thought it was wasteful to be constantly buying things and trying to create a home out of objects as opposed to your home coming from you. So I first approached it in an architectural way, spaces should be restful, uncomplicated and not wasteful. But there was still something missing in my design work, yes, I create spaces that are minimal, simple, not wasteful, light and easy but I wasn’t able to get the sense of a home aspect in there.

Then I was re-working on S M D Interiors (now re-branded as how to be.) I wanted it to be more, to give more to people but I couldn’t figure out what it was until I was diagnosed with Lyme disease. I stayed at home a lot when I was really sick and thought about the home a lot.

I grew up in a home where my childhood was happy and healthy, both of my parents dedicated a lot of time to help teach my sisters and I to care a lot about our home. We have a natural tendency in us to create a space that helps nurtures us through life.

When I was sick, I appreciated the things about my home that my parents taught me growing up. It was like a vehicle of getting better in, it didn’t have things that was distracting – it was organized, comfortable, smelled good, it took care of my mind body and soul. I started to dissect that and figure out a way to create a recipe for bringing harmony into the home.

The home can act as a nurturing vehicle to take you through life as opposed to just being a box that we store our things in. I talk about it as the “inspired” home versus the “required” home, a lot of us have the required home, it’s where you sleep, cook, put your things but it doesn’t always feel right. Then there’s the inspired home which represents the person that you wanna be, your goals, wellness, peace and the things you wanna feel as an individual.


Q: How do you create harmony in homes and does nature play a role?

A: Yes!! In a big way. I believe everything is connected. The human body, our minds, our souls and our beings are all connected to nature – everything that we do is a reflection of the systems that are universal. The best way to create harmony for your home is by addressing things that would make your mind, body and soul feel nurtured and taken care of within your space.

Ideally, the goal would be to branch out even from the home and how to care for yourself.

Routines are the things I try to avoid –  like struggling to wake up in the morning, loading the dishwasher, doing your laundry, these are all essential but also depleting. I think of routine as like “I have to do it but in order to keep my life functioning” but it’s not restorative in any way. It’s best just to create rituals for your mind, body and soul. For the mind, it’s as simple as freshening the house in the morning, meditating, reflecting or sitting by a window with a cup of coffee. For the body, I like to address our senses – it’s important to feel bright (lighting is very important) and to create visual places and scenes for your eyes to rest, a fresh, natural scent, your home should have properties of that, using natural fabrics and fibres to touch and feel a sense of wellness and sound chaos – make sure your playing music that’s easy and nourishing.

Indoor/outdoor – I think it’s the goal of your space. It is a mistake we’ve made as a society, we’ve created a barrier between indoor and outdoor. With small things we do in our home, we can reduce that barrier helps us feel better and more connected.


Q: Does geographical location play a role in the materials you choose when designing a space?

A: It plays a really big role. If I’m working on a project in Dubai, I look for inexpensive and readily available materials that are supportive to the local community in some way. Based on the context of a space, I try not to be wasteful in sourcing things for the environment. Exporting or importing isn’t necessary, I believe using local material has this sense of richness – it feels good, it speaks to the context, as well as it adds to the character and nature of that specific region.

We want to give a special thank you to Sahra for bringing a new insight on how homes should be more than just a house and how it should bring us peace and wellness. We look forward to hearing more about her upcoming international design work and the success of her how to be. 7 project. Her innate attraction to design, connectedness and nature has truly inspired us to find harmony in our homes and in our lives.

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Creative Direction — Nicola Fuller 

Photographer — Caitlyn Van Nice

Stylist — Kelly Lee & Marchel Eang

Interior Designer — Sahra Samnani

Hair & Makeup — Gemma Kim