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In the News

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Now They're Cooking

By Sarah Stebbins, Spring 2023

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“Most evenings, Denise and Nick Coll prepare meals together. But in their circa 2005 Kennebunkport kitchen, they found themselves maneuvering awkwardly around a bulky island and jockeying for use of the sink. Cumberland kitchen designer Sarah Steinberg heard their plight. “I’m extremely passionate about kitchens being very functional,” says Steinberg, who used a slimmer quartzite-topped island to divide the space. On one side is a cooking/cleanup area with an induction cooktop and a large apron-front sink; on the other is a baking/pantry zone with a pair of ovens, a small sink, storage for appliances and supplies behind stainless-steel pull-down doors, and pull-out walnut produce drawers. Situated at the end of the island, the refrigerator is easily accessible to cooks on both sides, “but they don’t have to pass each other,” Steinberg says. To update the room’s “kind of country, kind of chunky” look, Steinberg worked with the couple to choose a custom greenish-gray for the cabinets and a dramatic wall of greenish-charcoal glass tile, punctuated with walnut shelves. “I’m not sure the tile was my vision until I saw it,” Denise says. “When I did, I said, ‘This will be spectacular.’””


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Designer: Sarah Steinberg Custom Designs
General Contractor: Spang Builders
Interior Design Consultant: Sharon Bottner, Panache Interior Design
Stone Fabricator and Tile: Blue Rock Industries


Glazzio Victorian Icon glass tile, $30.98/square foot.

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Coastal Chic: Design Beyond Seashells and Lighthouses

By: Sharon Bottner Portsmouth Herald June, 2014

We are very fortunate to live along the beautiful Seacoast of New Hampshire.

We endure long, cold winters and emerge into spring and sum-mer with a readiness to embrace the many joys of coastal life. Our energy feels boundless. Our gardens grow. Our guests arrive. And our homes shine.

Yet, how do we tastefully design these homes to reflect life along the coast without resorting to common and over- used motifs? How do we keep coastal design fresh?

There are many ways to achieve coastal elegance using subtlety, sophistication, and casual elegance. Minimalist architect Mies van der Rohe famously stated that “Less is more” in any design concept. Van der Rohe’s philosophy is a good guideline to follow in designing with a coastal flavor, and allows the homeowner to avoid overdone themes.

Paint colors are one way to infuse a home with a palette that reflects the coastal environment. Shades of blue, green, tan and gray can provide a feeling of coastal chic by evoking colors of the sea, dune grasses, sand and sky. A classic coastal combination is the use of navy blue and white, often used with accents of red, to create a crisp nautical effect. Happy colors like turquoise, orange, lime green, and hot pink evoke summer days filled with beach balls, bikinis, and ice cream trucks.

Area rugs and fabrics are another excellent way to cre- ate coastal ambiance. The colors and textures of natural materials like bamboo, jute and sisal call to mind billowing sea grasses and beach scenes. Linens and cottons, especially in prints and stripes, are cool, crisp and beachy. Colorful fabrics are available in a vast array of options that range from coral-inspired to sea horse and sand dollar, to nautical, and even playful surf board and flip flop designs.

Indoor/outdoor fabrics come in a dazzling array of choices and can easily withstand not only the elements, but the cleanup of spilled ice cream cones and melted Popsicles. Many sturdy fabrics can be used for removable, cleanable slip covers that allow for laid-back summer living.

Tiles are another superb way to bring coastal chic into your home. Tile mosaics, glass tiles and tiles that evoke the colors and textures of sea glass can adorn small spaces like backsplashes, as well as well as powder rooms and custom showers. Showors can be tiled with stone pebbles that are reminiscent of a walk on the beach. Addition-ally, the many color nuances found in nature’s granite can evoke images of swirling ocean waves and star-fillled night skies.

Small touches can work beautifully in creating coastal chic design. A dramatic piece of drwood can provide the inspiration for a coee table base, while smaller branches can be used to provide an unexpected mirror or picture frame. Whitewashed furniture, particularly if paired with whimsical coastal-inspired hardware, can provide a playful focal point. Interior and exterior lighting choices can provide not only splashes of color, but also boating and nauti-cal themes to a space. Black and white seaside photos and family portraits can be matted and framed similarly and hung in tasteful groupings. Clear glass vases, white candles, baskets, and fresh picked ??wers provide additional seaside accents.

Designing by the sea can be as carefree and pleasant as a sun-soaked day at the beach. Avoid the temptation to overwhelm your home with coastal motifs. Add items incrementally and carefully evaluate thect on your overall home or room design. And keep the sage advice of Miles van der Rohe in the forefront of your designing mind: Less (really can be) more. Enjoy.

Sharon Bottner is founder and proprietor of Panache Interior Design in Rye. She can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]. Visit online at You can also find out about her work on

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Finding the design trend that works for you

By: Sharon Bottner Portsmouth Herald April, 2014

What’s current? Which trend will work best for me? What’s new in interior design this year?

As an interior designer, these are the types of questions I get asked by friends, family, and clients on a regular basis. Everyone wants to know what’s new, hip and current, and everyone wants to be hip and current. I will reveal some of the latest trends in both the broader world of interior design, as well as right here on the Seacoast. But, I will also propose a critically important alternative that requires a new way of looking at design trends.

Clean lines and simplicity abound in today’s design universe. Our times are hurried and complex, and people want their interiors to be serene and calm, a respite from the hustle and bustle of our ever-evolving techno-world. The desire for simplicity is reflected in furniture design, kitchen and bath design, and even color trends, where fussy and formal are oft associated with grandma’s house and casual, effortless sophistication is coveted.

Paint preferences show a movement toward earth-friendly low VOC paints, as well as toward a palette of “new neutrals.” These hues delight the sense, as they move away from the safety of the grays and tans selected by clients in recent years, to neutrals infused with more color and personality. Clients are also becoming more comfortable selecting deep, rich colors for dramatic statements on accent walls as well as entire rooms.

A kitchen trend gaining momentum is the desire for outdoor kitchens. Even in our sometimes harsh New England climate, clients revel in the idea of preparing a feast for family and friends in the open air. I have seen outdoor kitchens ranging from simple to elaborate, complete with cooktops, grilling stations, refrigeration, amazing stonework, seating, and ambiance.

Also, back with a vengeance is the use of wallpaper in home design, after years of little use and popularity. Clients recognize the limitless options that current wall coverings afford, as well as the high quality they possess. Remarkable results can be achieved with new metallic, fabric, grass cloth, and even traditional paper coverings.

Also highly popular are the use of “vessel” sinks, particularly in powder rooms. Perched atop a pretty chest of drawers or streamlined vanity, and highlighted by a stone or marble countertop, vessel sinks are an exquisite creative expression.

Exciting trends in design are endless. But I promised to propose an alternative to trends: Create your own trend. Embrace the courage and confidence to identify designs that speak to you. Take the time to find what makes you comfortable and happy in your home. Be proud of your taste. Make new and unexpected combinations. Take a few risks. Have fun. Start a new trend. And always make it yours.

Sharon Bottner is founder and proprietor of Panache Interior Design in Rye. She can be reached via e-mail at [email protected]. Visit online at You can also find out about her work on

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Avoid a design disaster The postage stamp phenomenon of rugs

By: Sharon Bottner Portsmouth Herald Thursday, March 20, 2014

Though fated to always reside underfoot, rugs and carpets deserve top priority in any interior design concept. How does one begin?

Many designers, myself included, will use a rug that a client already owns and loves as an inspiration for an entire room. However, most homeowners don’t already have a gorgeous rug that they are excited to keep and use, and look to me to help them find the most suitable and pleasing rugs for their homes.

In the 15 years I have been an interior designer in Seacoast New Hampshire, the No. 1 homeowner error I have seen is having an area rug that is far too small for a room. I call this the “postage stamp phenomenon.” An area rug defines the way we view a space. If the room is large, but the rug is small, our eyes focus on the small rug and see the entire room as shrunken and less important. Area rugs should generally fill spaces, giving the illusion of larger floor areas and more living space. Simply changing the size of a rug in a room can have amazing results.

But what about clients who don’t have rugs and may not even know where to begin? For some, choosing the right rug can be quite intimidating because there are so many choices and decisions to make. I will offer some basic tips and guidelines. Clients often begin by asking me the difference between a rug and a carpet. The answer is simple. Carpets, also referred to as broadloom, refer to wall to wall installation. Rugs, on the other hand, come in all shapes and sizes, from square to round, from long narrow runners to small area mats. The choices in each category are dazzling.

A first step I employ with clients is an evaluation of their lifestyle. What is the activity level in their home? Do they have young children? Pets? High traffic areas? Do they entertain often? Do they tend to live casually, or more formally? Answers to these types of questions help me to guide clients in making informed and good decisions. We talk about various materials and quality options, ranging from polypropylenes/olefins to nylons and wools. We discuss budget issues and expectations for how long they foresee wanting to use a carpet or rug in their home. We talk about the ease of cleaning the different materials, ranging from highly aggressive cleaning agents to the most delicate cleaners. And for area rugs, we determine the best size for the space. No postage stamps here.

The fun and creative time begins when all the practical questions have been answered. Dramatic color, texture and pattern choices are almost infinite. Rugs can be cut, combined and customized. They can have fabric and leather borders, fringes and unexpected features. They can be brand-new, valuable antiques, or made of recycled materials. They can come from far away destinations like Nepal or India, or from local and amazingly beautiful sources. So creative. So satisfying. Go ahead, find the carpet or rug that is best for you, and treasure it always.

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Colors Big and Bold: Tips and Ideas to Brighten Your Home

By: Jamie Ducharme NH Magazine Friday, February 1, 2013


Chase away the winter blues with bright colors to liven your home and brighten your mood.

No matter how much you love skiing, ice skating or snuggling up next to the fire, winter in New Hampshire can wreak havoc on your mood. Long months of dark, cold days can make even the most rabid winter enthusiast pray for summer by the time February hits, and looking outside into a sea of dirty white, brown and gray certainly isn’t the most cheerful of sights…

Sharon Bottner of Panache Interior Design in Rye agreed with Teague, saying that adding color to the home can be easy and low commitment. She suggests going with quick fixes like bright area rugs, window coverings, lamps, furniture, pottery and artwork for a taste of a dramatic hue without a huge change. “Color can add drama, it can add style, it can evoke a mood,” she explains. “Our senses are stimulated by color and when there’s a lack of color our minds get bored.”

Bottner also stresses that if your style doesn’t mesh well with bright color, neutrals like cream and ivory, historic colors like colonial blue and small pops of color can all make a gorgeous impact too. And if you can’t decide on a color scheme, Bottner suggests using several shades in your décor – as long as the colors are equally saturated, the different hues will flow beautifully throughout the house.

But above all, Botter says, the best use of color is the one that makes a homeowner happy: “Color is a great way of expressing yourself in an easy way. My experience is that when people sort of stretch themselves in terms of their use of color, they’re happy they did”.

Still not sure where to start? Mandeville Canyon’s Carman says that’s OK – all you need to do is take the first step.

“A lot of people are scared of color, but as soon as you start, it’s Pandora’s box,” she says. “It pushes people’s boundaries but in an economical way – because if it doesn’t work out, so what?” NH

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Design Therapy

By: Bob Charest Union Leader Special Sections Editor Wednesday, May 3, 2006

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“Bottner looks at what she does as helping people assert themselves in the design process, and for couples especially, she helps them find common ground. This is where her brand of couples therapy comes in, as she separates the wants and desires of each and then finds ways to unite them.

Her approach culled from her clinical background is a four-step process she calls “Assert Your Style.” She will handle any decorating job from simple consulting such as choosing colors to full-scale construction projects from the blueprints on up.

As an example of how her services can assist a couple, she recently was involved in the construction of a 7,000-square-foot home on the seacoast designed by an architect for a couple with two small children. The home was exceptional, with a billiards room and all manner of high-end accessories. It was a superb example of the architect’s vision and the couple’s adult style, but as Bottner looked at the plans, she realized: “There were no play areas.

“In a couple of years, the children will be inviting their friends over for play dates,” she said. There was no place for the kids to entertain”.