Atwater Designs

Sarah Bourne Rafferty of Atwater Designs


How would you describe your style? Curated wild - beach meets bungalow - painted wood floors, comfortable, unpretentious, connected to nature. Big windows and lots of natural light!

Do you remember the first thing you made? I don't remember the first thing, but I vividly remember painting a geranium at our kitchen island in a little notebook and thinking, "Wow, that doesn't look so bad." I was 6.

Before I start making I… forage my finds with which to make cyanotypes. I love the collection period. It feels so good to look closely and intimately at the plant life around me.

If I weren’t a maker I’d be... an interior designer or neuroscientist. I love spaces and how they make us feel. I think my obsession with how we feel and how we behave has led me to be completely intrigued by the human brain.

cyanotype artwork

Favorite quote or words to live by: "If failure isn't an option, then neither is success" - Seth Godin

If I could run away I’d go… My husband and I travel a lot and we have had the privilege of seeing so many far away and beautiful places but my “run away place” is definitely Cape May, NJ. If I picked a new place it would be to the islands south of Athens in Greece, which we are running away to this year!

cyanotype artwork
cyanotype artwork

If you could collaborate with one person dead or alive who would it be?  Robert Rauschenberg - I have been generally obsessed with him and his work for most of my adulthood. In February I got to travel to Captiva Island in Florida, where he resided until his death and I loved the thoughts of traveling the path he traveled. I went to school in the mountains of North Carolina and visited the grounds of Black Mountain College, where he enrolled in the 40s. I used to wish I had been able to see it in its glory. So many incredible minds came out of that place.

What would be on your maker’s soundtrack?  A mix of Maggie Rogers and classical piano (suite bergamasque clair de lune is my favorite piece of music)

If you could learn a new skill what would it be?  I would love to learn woodworking - I have dreamed of making my own dining room table and built-in cabinets.

cyanotype artwork

What’s your favorite movie?  Good Will Hunting

What is your perfect day?  Perfect Non-Work Day: Wake up at the beach, go for a run and see the sunrise, dive into the ocean, shower, and drink coffee while reading. Do a little shopping at cute shops, take a bike ride, nap, read, and get ready for a lovely dinner with friends. Fresh food, drinks, flowers, and excellent conversation about life and art and ideas. I hate gossip and small talk. I love an evening full of deep, meaningful conversations with people I love. I’d finish the day off with this Port that my Mom and Dad always shared at the end of a delightful meal.

What would your last meal be?  Pizza. Pizza from this little place near us that is the best pizza around. It’s real pizza. It’s the most like Italy I have experienced in the US.  Ravanesi’s in Glen Mills, PA.

What do you hear right now?  Classical piano playlist coming from my phone (my mom is a classical pianist and I used to sit in the living room and listen to her play, it brings me great comfort and it is the soundtrack of our home now.)

Where did you grow up?  Eastern Shore of Maryland, in a small rural town called Chestertown. I loved growing up there.

Favorite time of day?  7am! There are so many possibilities for the day ahead.

Favorite thing to cook?  I love to cook! I especially love cooking dinner with seafood, fish, or scallops … anything with a sauce and a great glass of dry white wine.

cyanotype wallpaper

What is your most treasured possession?  Right now it would be my Dad’s architectural drawings. He was an amazingly talented Restoration Architect of colonial architecture on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. He is failing and he gave me some of his old drawings before he started to decline. I have been using them in a project that combines my work with his own. The project is all about house and home and what it means to belong somewhere. It’s the most important project I have worked on to date.

If you could have a superpower, what would it be?  Flying!!!! I would love to be able to fly.

What are you currently watching?  Succession - holy cow! We’re hooked. We love all the intense and slightly dark dramas on TV right now.

What are you most thankful for?  My family (parents, brother, and husband.) They have taught me that love is at the heart of everything and if you are truly loved, you can do anything.

cyanotype artwork
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