Sandra Dunham

Harrison Design

Family: Jodan Girard-DiCarlo and all our animals – two Australian shepherd pups, Winston and Josie, and two cats, Norma Jean and Mable.

Years in the Golden Isles: Eight years on St. Simons Island, and six years in Savannah (14 years in GA)

School: Savannah College of Art and Design, BFA Interior Design, Brenau University, MFA Interior Design, NCIDQ certified

Occupation: Director, Interior Design at Harrison Design (local branch, we have seven offices!)

Who or what inspired you to be become a designer: I grew up in a tiny town in Vermont with a pretty artistic family. Someone was always painting, drawing, making jewelry, etc. and my Dad is very handy. There was always some sort of project going on in my house and I was drawn to the gratification of transforming a space or an object into something more functional and/or beautiful.

What do you hope to achieve when designing a space? I love residential design because it provides people with the opportunity to make a space completely functional for their specific lifestyle. Thinking through the layout of your kitchen because you want to have clear sight lines of your kids playing in the living room while you’re cooking or designing a custom furniture piece for your family’s china because you haven’t had the room for it until now is very gratifying.

Describe a perfect Saturday for you in the Golden Isles: My perfect Saturday would probably be a Sunday (chef’s day off!) and would be spent with Jodan and the dogs at home. Probably start with waffles and real maple syrup, take the pups for a walk, maybe fit in some blueberry picking and then grill out. Just something simple and peaceful.

Tell us about your experience with SCAD: I have been teaching interior design courses at SCAD for about a year now. I discovered SCAD my junior year of high school at a career fair and made the decision to move to Savannah specifically because of what I heard at that event. I was 18 and it was the first time leaving home which was over 1,200 miles away. I was nervous and felt out of place but I remember the energy buzzing through the halls at SCAD – it was contagious. I felt like I belonged simply because we all shared the same interests and goals. SCAD was the place that provided me the opportunity to get into this field and it was always my aspiration to teach there after completing my master’s.

A local you admire: Rachel Morgan (Flanagan), we met at Harrison and became fast friends. She grew up here and is basically my encyclopedia to the Golden Isles and everything in between. Her innate curiosity means she is researching constantly so if I don’t know something, she is the first person I call. Her fearlessness, wanderlust and resilience are something I greatly admire.

Where do you get your inspiration from? Two things – the client and the architecture. Being part of an architecture firm means some of my clients are developing both the architecture and the interior design with us from the beginning. It is always nice to work closely with the client and their chosen design group from the start so I have the opportunity to develop a cohesive design that speaks to both the interior and the exterior design intent but it isn’t a requirement of course! A lot of the inspiration also comes from the client themselves and their specific interests and taste. I always enjoy engaging with clients and learning about how they live and operate on a daily basis. It also helps to have an awesome teammate, Kathleen Katz (Brooks), to help bounce ideas off of. She certainly helps make everything run smoother and keeps me calm and collected when challenges arise!

Favorite landmark in the Golden Isles: This isn’t really a landmark but I would say Ember. I may be a bit biased, but my boyfriend, Jodan, is the head chef there and it has been so wonderful to see what he and his team have created over the past few years. I personally have had the pleasure of enjoying his cooking over the past decade or so but it has been such a joy to see the long hours, hard work and determination come to fruition and have the community support it with open arms. I am incredibly proud.

How would you describe your style? This is a tough one. I’d like to say I don’t gravitate to one particular style because each client is so different but I do believe that good design is founded in purpose, exploration and creativity. I enjoy the challenge of balancing a client’s functional needs with their design aesthetic. At the end of the day, the most important thing is that the client is happy and excited about the home and/or space. After all, they are the ones who are going to be enjoying it on a daily basis!