By Lillie-Beth Sanger Brinkman Photos by Charlie Neuenschwander
After 11 years in Heritage Hills, when Sara and Kyle Sweet wanted to move from near downtown Oklahoma City to an area closer to her mother’s house and their children’s school, they found a home in Nichols Hills that was perfect for them.
It is cozy, homey, and now filled with the whimsical and outdoors-y touches that Sara Sweet loves, thanks to working with interior designer Amber Foster with Thrown. When the Sweets see their 14-year-old son bicycling to nearby friends’ houses, or 10 teenagers piled up on their couches to hang out, they know that this house was the right move.
Kent Hoffman was the contractor for the Sweets’ home—its blend of classic styles works well for their family, which also includes daughter Vivienne, 18; son Leo, 14; and two dogs, a German Shepherd named Duke and a Jack Russell Terrier named Rocky.
Sara Sweet initially contacted Foster through Instagram to help refresh the design of her Heritage Hills home, and then pivoted the project to the new one, Foster said, adding she wanted to capture her client’s energy and happiness in the design.
“Her energy is just so awesome,” Foster said. “She’s always so happy and in a good mood. I just wanted to bring the colors and patterns that mimic her personality, keeping it classic at the same time.”
The Sweets’ home also contains art and family items that have personal meanings: Her grandmother’s Syracuse Gardenia china dishes are in the cowhide bar cabinet in their dining room, near a painting of trees by Chicago artist Anna Pales that the Sweets picked up years ago in Gruen Galleries. A vintage desk in a study came from the original courthouse in Kingfisher County, where Sara Sweet’s grandfather was a city manager.
A 1962 linocut by Pablo Picasso called “Tête de Femme au Chapeau Paysage avec Baigneurs,” which translates to “Head of a Woman with a Hat Landscape with Bathers” is a conversation piece in the Sweets’ living room. It shows a different image depending on whether it’s displayed horizontally or vertically, so the Sweets hung it to make it easy to rotate.
Sweet said the family always has been interested in art. Her husband’s aunt was Oklahoma City artist Dorothy Norris Moses, and Kyle Sweet worked for her after college, helping her with canvases and other projects.
“For me, I have just always been drawn to art and artists and how they look at the world, try to interpret it and put meaning to things that are very beautiful and very sad,” Sweet said.
One piece of art hung prominently in their living room is Greg Burns’ drawing of the “Survivor Tree,” which survived the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing and is now a major part of the Oklahoma City National Memorial. Sara Sweet’s dad, Steve Williams, was among the bombing victims, so the tree is a way to honor him.
“I think the Survivor Tree is one of the most beautiful things and stories that came out of that,” she said. “It’s a visual symbol of how we can all continue to grow and thrive.”
Foster, who has a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and interior design from the University of Central Oklahoma, has been in the design business in Oklahoma City for a little more than seven years. She recently launched her own company. The name Thrown comes from the idea that you throw on your favorite outfit to have some fun, you throw a party, or you throw pillows on a piece of furniture to finish the look. She said she works in business and office spaces for clients who want neutrals and with clients who want to use color, and she loved working with the colors and patterns in the Sweets’ home.
“I love bringing vibrance and life to spaces,” Foster said. Foster wanted to help the Sweets create spaces and a home they could share with family and friends. The bedroom is designed to be soft, soothing, and romantic, as if the Sweets were on vacation. The living room can handle the teenagers and the dogs while still feeling cozy, Sara Sweet said. She said she loved working with Foster, who made it easy by bringing her a handful of perfect choices for each room.
“I’m grateful to have gotten to work with them. They are genuinely the sweetest people,” Foster said, playing on their last name.
Throughout the Sweets’ home, guests will find that vibrance in furniture, art, and items that the Sweets love and that make people feel welcome.
“We want people to come in and feel at home,” Sara Sweet said.