Podcast, Ep. 303: Decorating Small Spaces with Sarah Lederman

It’s all about small spaces this week as we welcome Sarah Lederman. Sarah is an interior designer based out of New York City, known for her ability to mix patterns and melt modern and traditional elements into her projects. She cut her teeth in the industry training for years under Tom Scheerer and later launched her firm, Sarah Lederman Interiors. At the start of the pandemic, her work has been featured in House Beautiful, Architectural Digest, Domino Magazine, and more.

What You’ll Hear On This Episode:

  • How working with Tom Scheerer and interning for Bunnie Williams helped Sarah grow as a designer and get more comfortable with her own style.
  • Design advice Sarah did NOT take from her mom when decorating her apartment!
  • Organization is a big part of small-space living.
  • Using wallpaper in small spaces to hide imperfections.
  • How do you find custom upholstery in Manhattan?
  • How do you make a kid’s bathroom feel pulled together enough?
  • Sarah’s favorite materials to help a space feel beautiful yet lived in, including performance velvet. Why shower curtains are underrated!
  • How we can better maximize small spaces and weird angles.
  • Tips for layering.
  • There’s a fine line between being accessorized and cluttered. Get used to knowing the difference!

Decorating Dilemma:

Hello Ballard Design podcast team!

I am a long time listener but this is my first time sending in a design dilemma!

My husband and I have spent the last two years designing and building our home and just recently moved in about six months ago. Little by little we are setting up each room and finishing a lot of leftover projects. However, the den just has me stumped. For starters, the room feels very much like a garage sale of mismatched furniture with almost everything against the walls!

Here’s my Decorating Dilemma: We have four children (baby-13 years) and my hope for the den room is that it will be a room where the kids can watch tv, do crafts, play, overall- just a hang out room. The idea is that some of the mess that comes with all that day-to-day stuff can be tucked away so that the main living room stays a bit more presentable!

Things we really need in this space:

  • comfortable seating for at least a few bodies at a time
  • some kind of table or desk for crafts, snacks or occasional homework, etc
  • the tv (its newer and it’s the only one we have for the kids to watch shows and movies.)

Things I’d really like in this space:

  • My family grand piano: it’s a sentimental one and there isn’t a great space anywhere else for it.

So, all of that being said, we originally planned to add bookshelves and a window seat around the window. However, our cabinetry everywhere else went over budget, so we’ve had to scratch the original plans for now and focus on the needs-only for the den room. I’d still like to add it in the next year or two if you think it would work, but could you and your guest offer advice onto the best way to start this room with the multi-function goals I had in mind?

Thank you so much for your time and effort with the podcast and specifically to the guest helping out today! I can’t tell you how many episodes I’ve listened to over the past few years (maybe, all of them?!) and how much they have helped and continue to help me design our home.

Thanks again,



Thank you for writing in! First off, the bones of this room are beautiful to start with. Okay, first off, Sarah thinks you could put a craft table in front of the big window. It can have three chairs around it and could even be the pedestal table you have tucked in the corner right now. If you need extra storage, you could potentially put an ottoman in front of the sofa. One of the biggest things for us is that the rug feels a little bit undersized. Sometimes an undersized rug actually shrinks the space and then a larger area rug would make it feel bigger.

Next, Sarah also recommends adding some finishing touches like a cool big piece of art over the sofa. Maybe framing a piece of your kid’s art, which would be fun and a great talking piece.

Maybe some fun pillows on the sofa which can also add extra seating for kids when adults are over.

If you find another place for the piano, we do think you can get some sort of credenza with storage.

Finally, for drapery ideas, check out our Isadore Floral Drapery Patterns for some good inspiration.

Also Mentioned in This Episode:

Please send in your questions so we can answer them on our next episode! And of course, subscribe to the podcast in Apple Podcasts so you never miss an episode. You can always check back here to see new episodes, but if you subscribe, it’ll automatically download to your phone.

Happy Decorating!

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Kelley Bostian

Kelley enjoys a light and livable home and is always searching for that perfect "finishing touch" antique piece. Here on How to Decorate, it's his goal to help you bring your own unique design vision to life.