It is with a heavy heart that I share that my Mum passed away unexpectedly last night. I am going to take some time to grieve and process, so won’t be following the ORC calendar for completing the Master Bedroom Makeover. I promise I will be back to share the journey and the finished space with you once my feet are back on the ground.
In the meantime, I’m struck by how much grief can amplify gratitude. I feel like today I am even more keenly aware of the beauty and love I have in my life. I have a loving husband and two boys who I adore, and they adore me. I am surrounded by amazing friends like Lisa Canning who dropped everything and drove an hour each way just to be with me, bring me groceries and cry a little together today. I am working with some amazing people behind the brands who partner with me who don’t even hesitate to offer abundant kindness and understanding in the face of my grief. This is the best of humanity. I’ve seen some of the worst as well, but I’m so grateful to say that the best are the ones who win the day. Thank you to each of you amazing human beings for being in my life.
I’ll be back to share more soon, and in the meantime, be sure to hold your loved ones close and remind them how much they are loved.
Someone has most certainly found the fast-forward button, because I struggle to accept that it has been a full week since my first post about our One Room Challenge Master Bedroom Makeover. But here we are, Week Two, and I’m truthfully very excited to share more delicious details with you.
As this post goes live, I will actually be in the air, flying to High Point Market for a very exciting marathon of designer goodness. I am super privileged to be a Style Spotter for High Point Market for all of 2018, which means that I (along with 7 other esteemed designers and fellow Style Spotters) will be selecting what I think are 25 of the best new releases for this Fall Market. For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, High Point Market is the world’s largest furniture market and basically mecca for designers looking to discover the latest and greatest in furniture and decor. More than 30,000 people descend upon this small town for a week of total sensory overload. The privilege and pressure of being a Style Spotter are fairly equal, I admit, but I intend to make it a fun and meaningful week filled with memorable connections.
One of the ways I’ll be doing that is by hosting a panel on Wellness For the Home as a part of ASID’s Designer Viewpoint Series.
As you can see, the group of panelists is outstanding and includes Vogue Rising Star Young Huh, Kips Bay Showhouse legend Richard Ouellette of Les Ensembliers, and the ever-delightful lover of Sanctuary Lisa Kahn-Allen. Be sure to join us and say hi if you’re there!
But back to my little Oakville home and what’s happening in the Master Bedroom Makeover. Given that the room is relatively small, the bed is truly going to be the star of the show. Not to say that there won’t be some additional very lovely details (more on that soon), but the bed needs to be, well, a little bit sexy if you’ll forgive me for saying so.
Enter my friends at Whittington & Co. who, together with some absolutely luxe Crypton velvet, are going to make magic in the shape of this:
Not only will this bed be dead sexy, it will also be truly healthy. Healthy is the new sexy, after all! And this is why I love working with the custom furniture manufacturing team at Whittington: because they specialize in making dreams come true. Not only will they be creating this bed from my custom design; they will also be making it using VOC-free and formaldehyde-free adhesives and natural rubber-derived latex foam. Why do I care about these materials? Because I want to make sure that this bed does not off-gas and secretly compromise our health while we are sleeping and our bodies are working to repair and restore.
Given my personal health journey and all the research I’ve done into creating a healing environment, I have been longing to create a toxin-free sanctuary in our bedroom for some time. I can’t begin to tell you how excited I am that the team at Whittington will be working with me to make that dream a reality with this gorgeous custom toxin-free bed!
“But what about the mattress?” I hear you ask. Fear not, my friends, for that too will be a totally non-toxic wonder. I will be telling you much more about it in a post to come, but here is a sneak peek at the totally toxin-free, organic mattress from Canadian manufacturer Obasan that we will soon be laying on to dream our sweet dreams:
There are so many more delicious details waiting for me to share them with you, but I confess that due to my almost-but-not-quite packed status and the fact that I’m writing this the night before I leave for High Point, those delicious details will have to wait until next week’s post. Look for details like:
Our beautiful nightstands from Bernhardt that are total materials mixology magic
The interior mouldings from Metrie that we will be using to create architectural interest and dimension in the space
The STUNNING one-of-a-kind rug from King’s House Rugs that will anchor the whole space and give it that globally gathered feeling I love so much.
The fabrics – oh the FABRICS!
The art – oh the ART!!
Be patient with me friends, as I promise to share WAY more with you in a week’s time! So much good to come!
Until then, here’s to creating homes and lives that are as healthy as they are beautiful! Be sure to check out what the 20 featured ORC designers are up to here as well as all of the guest participants here. My friend Holly Hollingsworth Phillips of The English Room may just be undertaking the most ambitious One Room Challenge project of all time.
I feel like I begin every Week One post for the One Room Challenge by saying that I can’t believe it’s that time of year again, but I truly can’t believe it’s ORC time again! It’s been awhile since I took this designer plunge as I’ve been quite content to cheer from the sidelines as designer friends sprinted to the 6 week finish line. I nearly didn’t jump this round either, but a lovely friend and the owner of Whittington & Co (my custom workroom here in Toronto) convinced me it was time to do another project together, and it seems this Master Bedroom Makeover was meant to be, as it’s all come together quite miraculously at the last minute.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with it, the One Room Challenge is the brainchild of Linda Weinstein of Calling It Home. This 6 week online design event links designers from across North America and, like a virtual linking of arms, we collectively push to complete a space in 6 short weeks, documenting our progress in our weekly blog posts. The ORC usually serves as the impetus most of us designers need to finish spaces in our own homes, avoiding the dreaded “shoemaker syndrome.” Why is it that our own homes always seem to be at the bottom of the list? That’s why this push is always such a Godsend! And as you’ll see, I’ve been needing it for our Master Bedroom.
Before I share the “befores” with you, I’d love to look back on some of the spaces I’ve had the pleasure of designing for previous editions of the One Room Challenge.
To be honest, most of them have been rather massive undertakings, so I’m grateful and rather relieved to be taking on something much smaller with truly just one room, and not a particularly big one at that. That said, it’s been my observation that Master Bedrooms are almost always one of the last rooms in the house to get properly finished. It makes sense to start with the most social spaces in our homes as we work through our design and decorating budgets, but I’ve been struck recently by how critical the Master Bedroom is for creating a healthy sanctuary in which to restore and refresh ourselves. After all, our sleep is the time in our circadian rhythms when our bodies do the most regenerating, so creating a healthy context for that process could not be more important.
Our master as it is currently isn’t totally horrific, I suppose. It’s just very unfinished and lacking in some key healthful elements that will make it a true sanctuary for Graham and I each night. Here’s the before in all its yawn-worthy glory.
WHAT I LIKE ABOUT OUR ROOM
I like that we have a king sized bed
I like the neutral colour palette
I like the Barbara Barry silk coverlet and Euros, we’ve just had them for over a decade
I like having dark walls as it makes for a better sleeping environment
Admittedly not the longest list, but at least there are things to be appreciated in the “now and not yet!”
WHAT NEEDS TO CHANGE
Probably most glaringly obvious are the pathetically undersized, horribly outdated side tables that are overflowing with books on BOTH sides of the bed. To say we are in desperate need of an upgrade here is a massive understatement, not just because we are book lovers, but also for relocating some of our clothes storage so we can centre the bed in the room and create better symmetry.
The headboard looks fine, but the truth is that after more than a decade of use it’s become unstable and the fabric is stained in places from pre-bedtime hand cream applications gone wrong. I also don’t love that the metal frame under the boxspring squeaks as if to tell us that it’s time to lose some weight. OK, so maybe it is, but I don’t need my bedframe reminding me of it!
Sometimes it’s what you DON’T see that matters most. Exibit A: The mattress. It is not organic and – as I’ve learned from my ongoing deep dive into designing the ultimate Healthy Home – it’s basically like sleeping on a bed of gasoline thanks to the flame retardants that have been sprayed all over it. (Yes, this is true of every other standard mattress on the market). As someone who is very health conscious, and frankly working my tail off to overcome Lyme Disease, I need to do everything I can to eliminate toxins from my home. The mattress is a biggie and I can’t wait to make this healthy “ditch and switch” in our Master Bedroom.
Exhibit B on the list of “things you don’t see”: The lighting. You can’t tell from these simple iPhone snaps, but our bedside tables are getting loose…which means the shades rarely sit perfectly square and level…which yes, totally triggers my designer OCD.
Exhibit C on the list of “things you don’t see”: The ceiling light is a basic, cheap flush mount which, in essential terms, inspired no one. Ever. It truly just makes you want to close your eyes. Why these hideous things are ever made is beyond me. It’s time for some inspired lighting, and this is one element I cannot wait to see installed. Photos of the current ceiling offender coming in an upcoming post (I promise).
A lack of design story. Sure, it’s not the ugliest room I’ve ever seen, but it doesn’t inspire me at all. That’s definitely due in large part to the lack of mouldings, art and appropriately sized, beautiful rug to tie it all together. All of those details promise to be addressed in this little makeover of ours.
And that, my friends, is all I will share with you for now with this Week One introduction to our Master Bedroom Makeover! Next week, look for details on the custom bed, the fabrics involved and some decisions to be made. And in the meantime, check out what the 20 featured designers are up to as well as all of the Guest Participants here! So much design goodness. Only 6 weeks. Let the games begin!
All good things are worth the wait, but I’m so sorry I’ve kept you waiting for this reveal! The last few weeks have been full of unexpected plot twists. From logistical issues to a last minute change in the stone, it was an 11th hour kind of finish for this lovely backyard makeover of ours. That said, I hope you’ll agree that it turned out rather beautifully. I’m impossibly grateful to everyone involved in making this happen. It’s beyond dreamy to have such a beautiful outdoor space to host meals with family and friends, and I’m so happy I get to share it with you today!
The truth is, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to share this reveal for awhile due to some really great upcoming news on the publication front, but they’ve graciously allowed me to share it with you now, so double yay!!
With all that good news out of the way, let’s take a minute to savour some of the details together, shall we? First off, how AMAZING are these Sunbrella fabrics? I’m crazy in love with how the French mattress inspired tufting with the flange turned out on the seat cushions. My friends at Deka Home & Patio did a brilliant job of bringing that vision to life. And then the texture, artistry and quiet drama that the Holly Hunt Great Outdoors fabrics bring to the accent cushions is all kinds of magical if you ask me. I feel like the look is both fresh and timeless. I love the juxtaposition of the quiet colour palette with that bold brushstroke pattern. It feels approachable yet sophisticated. Totally my jam.
We also have to talk about that custom coffee table for a minute, because HELLO LOVAH! My friend Tony and his amazing team at Dinuovo are total stone superstars. “Ain’t no mountain high, ain’t no valley low…” they won’t go through to make the project perfect. They are a boutique stone fabricator with integrity, attention to detail and a lot of human kindness. That, my friends, is a rare and precious find.
Our last minute switch was to Polycor’s Pearl Grey, and to be honest, I had been torn between that and the original White Cherokee all along. I feel like the coffee table especially looks rather exotic with that giant vein swooping down the front, and I love the honed finish. I’m totally smitten with how the Pearl Grey looks with the Holly Hunt fabrics. It’s like they were made for each other!
I also have to express my immense gratitude to Ciot for getting the slabs from Montreal to Tony’s shop at Dinuovo. It takes a village, and it sure took a village with this one, friends!
It had been my design vision ever since we first installed our two stone-framed pea gravel patios to create an inviting pergola for the upper level. I wanted it to feel like an outdoor dining room – even a private dining room at a restaurant – so that friends would feel like they had entered the design equivalent of a secret garden when they stepped inside.
I absolutely love the Toja Grid system we used to construct it because it’s a) brilliant and b) shockingly easy to install. (They’ve extended their Labour Day sale, so if you’re thinking about doing one of these yourself, hop on over and pick up those components STAT.) Painting it all out with Fusion Mineral Paint really integrated the look with the freshly stucco’d house, and the off-white Sunbrella drapery panels totally transformed it into the private hideaway I’d been hoping for.
I had originally been planning to create my own tassel chandelier using Sunbrella tassels, and while that would have been fresh and unexpected, I love the classic yet casual vibe of the Brightech string lights. One of my favourite things of all time is to sit out on a patio at night under a string of globe lights and savour the breeze, good company and a glass of wine. The fact that I can now do that right here at home is nothing short of decadent!
I have to say, one of the (many) things I love about the way this project came together is the contrast of the strong and beautiful 10 foot long Polycor stone dining table with the delicate but modern Masters Dining Chairs from Structube. I felt like these chairs were instant classics the moment the design came out a few years ago, and they are the perfectly wipeable, stackable solution for this outdoor space.
When it comes to setting that beautiful table, well, I couldn’t help but do something pretty, right? I aim for “hospitality over entertaining” when friends and family are gathered around my table – one is about connecting and the other is more about putting on a good show if you know what I mean. But that doesn’t mean I don’t love a few beautiful touches on special occasions, and finishing this project was definitely that. And why not elevate the everyday, right?
I’ve been hankering for a bit more colour in my everyday life lately, and those frosted plum Mete glasses from EQ3 more than fit the bill. The frosting feels so soft and feminine, yet bold with that shot of colour.
I love how the frosted glasses play off the textural softness of those gorgeous light grey Lip Service linen napkins. They are so high quality, and the frayed fringe around the edges feels a bit like a tassel trim. I anchored each place setting with a big hunk of Himalayan Sea Salt, because I will always be obsessed with simple beauty from the earth, and that blushy hue will never tire in my book.
Also, how GORGEOUS are all of these photos by my brilliant friend Reid? The one above in particular shows off the beauty of the vein structure in Polycor’s Pearl Grey marble. It also shows off Dinuovo’s genius, as they managed to create a bookmatch out of slabs that were not actually bookmatched. Have I mentioned that they are total stone superstars? Oh yes, and it also shows off Reid’s collaborative spirit, because he was the one to bring those freshly picked Niagara peaches to the shoot “just in case.” That’s just the kind of guy he is, which is one of the many reasons I love working with him.
I confess I am now praying that the warm weather will stick around until at least mid-October so that we can celebrate Canadian Thanksgiving outside around that stunning table. Wherever we gather, I will clearly have so much to be grateful for.
HUGE thanks once again to the mighty design village that made this project possible (sources below). I am truly grateful to each and every one of you.
When I learned that Grant K. Gibson – one of Elle Decor’s Top 100 A Listers for 2018 – was launching a book entitled The Curated Home, I assumed we must be bosom design buddies. I mean, clearly this had to be someone with a passion for the thoughtful design process behind personalized spaces, right? Well, spoiler alert: Grant is as refreshing as the spaces he designs, and I’m thrilled to be able to share our recent chat with you alongside images of his beautiful new book.
Sarah Walker: You’ve lived in several major cities across the United States. How has each of them influenced your design perspective?
Grant Gibson: LA gave me a casual SoCal feel to my work while moving north to San Francisco led to embracing a more traditional vibe. Moving to the east coast has allowed me to bring an airiness, warmth and a more relaxed, comfortable ease to the tendency towards an otherwise stronger sense of tradition. That said, I always take from the personality of each city and marry that with the client and infuse it with my own design direction.
SW: I know from your book that we share a belief in telling stories through design. What unwritten design story are you dying to tell?
GG: I used to think that my ideal client would be one who gave me carte blanche, a blank cheque and a set of keys and said they’d be back in 6 months! After doing this for awhile, I definitely prefer collaborating with a client who is passionate about the products and the end space that is created specifically for them. We are always customizing a lot of pieces to tailor them just for the client’s needs and aesthetic. A client who likes to do things a bit outside the box and not like all of their friends’ spaces is what I’m looking for. Without collaboration, there is no feedback which leads to fear and doubt. I love seeing how a client responds and seeing them light up at the details. That’s what leads the process for me.
SW: What is one of your signature design moves that would tip us off to the fact that we’re looking at a Grant K. Gibson-designed space?
GG: I don’t think that I have one signature consistency throughout my portfolio. Some clients like more pattern, colour and wallpaper; some are more mid-century inspired; and others are more traditional. I’d say the consistency is an edited eye and a fresh take on tradition by taking something classical but not going too far in that direction, always with an eye to keeping it fresh for today.
SW: What historical design period do you love the most and why?
GG: I think that goes back to the previous question about consistency throughout my portfolio and a lack thereof. I love all periods and appreciate both traditional and contemporary, and love a balance therein. I think there’s something magical about seeing a modern dining room table paired with a more classical chair. I’m constantly looking at the balance and flow of the space – whether the amount of wood or metal or skirted upholstery. If you have show wood on a coffee table, for example, then perhaps you’ve used up your “wood card” for that space. I always want to pair things of different eras to create that overall balance, otherwise I think spaces can go too far down a certain pathway (ie. too Mad Men or too Grandma). Keep yourself open to different time periods. If we look at pieces in a fresh way, almost any period can look new and fresh.
SW: How do you feel about design trends? Any loves/hates of the moment?
GG: I try to avoid trends and be a bit more timeless and lasting with my designs. I can’t think of any trends that I’ve jumped onto, but clients definitely come to me with trendy items and I always try to tread lightly on that. You might think that animal print is fabulous today, but might not in a couple of years. So for example, rather than upholstering an entire chair in a leopard print, let’s do a pillow so that we can easily shift gears if and when that trend disappears. This is how I approach kids’ bedrooms as well. Rather than theming them around a celebrity like Taylor Swift or a favourite animal, I create a more neutral base with accents that can evolve as the child grows.
SW: Tell us 5 things every beautifully designed room should have.
A comfortable place to sit.
A place to set your drink.
Sufficient and dimmable lighting.
A balance of scale.
Fresh flowers, a candle or a scent to appeal to our sense of smell.
SW: Five essentials we’ll always find in your bag when you’re traveling?
1. Definitely ear plugs and an eye mask to acclimate into the sleeping cycle.
2. A great carry-on bag packed lightly so I’m never waiting for a checked bag. I just went to India last December and did it all with a carry-on. It’s all about editing your wardrobe down to the basics.
3. A comfortable pair of shoes (and a spare) plus dressier shoes for a nice night out.
4. My iPhone is such an incredible tool, from maps to texting to WhatsApp. I can’t imagine traveling without it. I use it exclusively for travel photos and have given up the 35mm.
5. I have ongoing collections of folders for cities I’d like to visit. When I’m finally headed there, I bring a plastic sleeve full of articles such as “36 Hours In…” from the NY Times, articles from Condé Nast or Bon Appetite, or cut-outs from magazines about museums I want to visit. I do a lot of pre-planning before I go and have a brief specific to the city that I’ll review on the plane on the way there.
SW: How do you define luxury?
GG: For me, luxury is about time – time to travel, time to explore, time to have an adventure, time to get into bed with a book, time to take a bubble bath, time to savour a good meal in a restaurant. For me, luxury is experiential and doesn’t always have to be the most expensive thing. A picnic in Paris doesn’t have to cost a lot, but the time spent enjoying it is luxurious.
SW: How long are you willing to wait to find the right piece for a space?
GG: People are often afraid to have a space left incomplete, but I think an interior is a process and it can take some time to find the right table or chair. You might have a place holder for awhile while you search for “the one.” For example, I took forever to find the perfect coffee table for my home in San Francisco. I had a place holder coffee table while searching 1st Dibs, eBay and everywhere I could think to search. The place holder was fine, but not what I envisioned. Instead of rushing and spending the money on a piece that wasn’t quite right, I waited until I happened upon a pair of tables at a Paris flea market. I had them shipped back to San Francisco and they made the space. The thing is, I had almost pulled the trigger a couple of days previous on a table that was “almost,” and I’m so glad I waited and had an open mind to realize that the pair were even better than the single coffee table I’d had in mind.
That said, it’s easy to get caught up looking for that “perfect piece” only to realize it doesn’t exist. At that point, you either need to redefine the parameters or have it custom made. From buying a home to buying a chair to finding the perfect guy, if you’re looking to check every little thing off your list, you’re probably going to have to compromise at some point. The search requires a certain degree of flexibility, no matter what you’re searching for.
SW: What is one of your favourite unexpected design details?
GG: Wallpaper. It completely transforms a space. It’s hard for clients to envision what a small sample will look like, but I think the impact it has – from a powder room to a dining room – can change the whole feeling of a room.
SW: Tell us about the one designer who has influenced you the most.
GG: My influences range from Miles Redd to Albert Hubley depending on the client project. I’ll always pull out design books that speak to the specific space I’m working on, but those two are definitely go-to’s for me.
Grant’s beautiful book releases TOMORROW at all major booksellers both online and in stores, and signed copies are available through Grant’s website. Be sure to get out and pick up your copy for some delicious design inspo to fuel your need for beauty!
And for those of you loyal readers who are looking for an update on our little backyard makeover, be sure to check back in the next couple of days for details on our project progress. Can’t wait to share more with you!
What a difference a week makes! We were busy little beavers at Chez Walker, especially over the weekend as we worked to move our lovely backyard makeover along. We stained the cedar beams and painted the Toja Grid components with Fusion Mineral Paint. The Fusion products were SO easy to work with, and they easily transformed the Toja components into something completely different. The finished product is exactly as I’d hoped – clean and visually calm in its simplicity.
We actually got the overhead sails installed right before leaving for San Diego as well, but I didn’t manage to capture that as we were rolling down the driveway – haha! I’ll have to show you that piece next week. The overhead sails are black, but a transparent black if you will, so they have a softer appearance than you might imagine. Once we hang some globe lights, I think the whole thing will come together and look maybe even the slightest bit magical. Here’s hoping! And here’s a shot of it pre-overhead-sails so you can get an idea of how things are coming together:
THE PROGRESS REPORT
As it turns out, it’s rather difficult to take a photo of a 20′ long dining pergola and not have it look weird – ha! I’m definitely looking forward to shooting this properly in a couple of weeks so I can share it with you properly!
Shooting that pergola may be difficult, but what wasn’t difficult was deciding on what outdoor fabrics to use for this project. There was really only one choice in my mind: Sunbrella. Outdoor fabrics take a beating, so it’s non-negotiable to have textiles that are water resistant, mold and mildew resistant, fade resistant and durable. You can even clean Sunbrella with bleach it’s so tough, so I know it can hold up to our outdoor celebrations with family and friends. Not to mention, Sunbrella is the biggest, longest-standing manufacturer of outdoor fabrics for luxury textile houses like Kravet and Holly Hunt. They basically created the category of outdoor fabrics and have partnered with incredible textile companies to take the performance textiles game to an entirely new level. What that means is that you don’t have to settle for underwhelming just because your fabrics are totally user friendly. Outdoor spaces can now reflect the taste we express in our interiors, and fabrics that are made for the outdoors are now being used indoors because of their incredible performance and design. It’s all a win-win.
I couldn’t be more excited about the direction this outdoor space is heading. As a reminder, here are the fabrics we’ve chosen:
And here is the inspiration for the style of new cushions we decided on for the sectional. I’m crazy about the soft French-tufted mattress style for the seating, aren’t you? It feels both effortless and refined. Stylish and timeless. I can’t wait to see how my lovely friends at Deka Home & Patio make this vision a reality!
OUTDOOR CUSHIONS WITH STYLE + COMFORT
To add to the luxe feel of this outdoor space, Ashli and her team from Deka will be using Stamina Fibre in all of the back and toss cushions. This cool Canadian product bridges the comfort gab between natural and synthetic fibres, meaning you can have outdoor cushions that sit more like indoor cushions without worrying about maintenance.
DROOL-WORTHY OUTDOOR TABLES
With all of these gorgeous Sunbrella fabrics setting the stage for a luxury outdoor living and dining space, I knew the tables had to be somewhat magical. Well, magical they shall be.
Enter my lovely friends from Polycor and their beautiful White Cherokee marble. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Polycor, they are actually the world’s largest natural stone quarrier. Their stone has been used for both interior and exterior projects on buildings and monuments, in homes and in hotels, for decades. Not only has it stood the test of time, but they are a truly sustainable option for North American designers. White Cherokee, for example, is quarried in Georgia, and their North American marbles have a denser structure than European marbles. Polycor has several different varieties of white marble with grey veining as well as some GORGeous black veined granite that looks like marble AND some stunning, classic soapstone in their collection, and that’s just to name a few of the options.
But back to the White Cherokee and our plans for this North American beauty:
The 10 foot long dining table will feature a quarter-matched or double book-matched top with 3 box-style base pieces, all wrapped in the stone. The brilliant team at Dinuovo (the fabricator behind that stunning OVO store at Yorkdale, PS) will be making this dream a reality, along with a gorgeous coffee table in the same stone to tie the two spaces together. Here’s the concept board for the coffee table:
OUTDOOR CHAIRS DESIGNED FOR LINGERING CONVERSATIONS
When faced with the decision on which dining chairs would finish this dining space perfectly, I had several factors to consider. Firstly design: they had to be subtle but stylish enough to hold their own with the gorgeous textiles and marble we had selected. Secondly function: they had to be super deluxe low maintenance (we just aren’t the high maintenance types). That means easily wipeable and also stackable for easy winter storage. Gratefully, partner Structube‘s Masters Chair checks all of those boxes and is a super affordable option for any of you looking for a chair that can easily transition from the outdoors in. Not only will they be perfect for our backyard dining, but they will also effortlessly help us extend our indoor seating options for large parties during the winter months.
And that, my friends, is the Week One update on our (not so) little backyard makeover! There are still lots of juicy details to share with you, but for now our family is on a little workation (hubby works while we chill) in San Diego. Be sure to follow me on Instagram (especially stories) for a little behind-the-scenes on our trip, and check back next weekend or early the following week for my next update on our progress!
The best and most meaningful memories are made gathered around the table.
Without a doubt, some of the happiest memories I’ve ever made have been gathered around the table with my family and friends. I feel like savouring daily meals together is one of the healthiest practices we have as a family. Turns out I’m not alone. In fact, researchers are saying that eating meals together as a family improves our health and even improves our kids’ vocabularies more significantly than reading them books at bedtime! And did you know that the only thing you can do to improve on the healthy, happy habit of eating around the table together is to do it outside? That’s why this little backyard makeover is so close to my heart.
Not totally offensive, but not exactly pretty and inviting, right? So over the next 3 weeks, our plan is to create a space worthy of making summers last as long as possible. We had Thanksgiving dinner out here a couple of years ago, and I’m hoping we can do the same thing this year but with way more comfort and style.
Here’s the plan:
Using the most stunning Sunbrella fabrics, including some delicious accent fabrics from their collection for Holly Hunt Great Outdoors, my friends at Deka Home & Patio are going to sew new seat, back and decorative cushions to bring the sectional back to life. Check out the first photo in this post for a peek at where things are headed there.
I’ve wanted a dining pergola for forever, and thanks to Toja Grid, my dreams are going to become reality. Their super deluxe easy system of brackets is going to take the stress out of creating our dining structure, and then our friends at Deka are going to create some beautiful outdoor panels to frame it in and warm it up using more Sunbrella goodness.
We’ll be painting the whole thing out with VOC-free, non-toxic Fusion Mineral Paints. We recently stucco’d the house a warm white and want the dining pergola to blend in.
We are having our friends at Dinuovo create a ridiculously gorgeous custom dining table made out of stunning natural White Cherokee marble from Polycor. I can’t wait to show you more about our plans for that next week.
To tie the dining and living spaces together, Dinuovo will be making a new cocktail table out of the same natural stone from Polycor for the seating area. (Bites lip) It’s all going to be so GORG.
That dining table will seat 10, so we’ll be selecting some new dining chairs from partner Structube as well to complete this fresh, modern classic outdoor entertaining area.
Generally tidy up, trim and refresh everything else for a truly inviting finished space for family and friends to gather.
We’ve given ourselves a rather ridiculous timeline to get all of this accomplished, in large part because summer is basically halfway done already! I do hope you’ll follow along with our progress as we transform this “almost there” outdoor living/dining area into a “we want to spend all of our time there” kind of space. While I’m definitely feeling daunted by all of the work yet to be done, I can also envision the finished product, and that is what is driving me forward.
Check in next week for the juicy details on the custom dining table, coffee table and chairs, and be sure to follow my Instastories in the meantime for some behind-the-scenes updates. Oh yes, and we will be throwing in a week and a half trip away to San Diego while we’re at it just to keep the pressure on. Because why not, right?
Looking forward to catching up with you and filling you in further next week!
Is there a better way to celebrate good design than with traveling, wining and dining? If there is, I haven’t met it yet, and that’s just what I did recently with a lovely little getaway to Prince Edward County with our friends from Caesarstone. In addition to falling deeper in love with the County, it was a brilliant opportunity to take in the latest colour releases from Caesarstone in context (and a ridiculously charming context at that).
Amongst all of the good food and wine (including a new favourite cider from The Old Third that has the bubbles of champagne and a finish that tastes like buttered popcorn), we had the opportunity to put Caesarstone to the stain test. Spoiler alert: it passes with flying colours, regardless of which colour you’re playing with.
And speaking of colours, the newest releases are right on the money. In addition to a brilliant terrazzo, there are several versions of concrete that make minimalist custom surface treatments a dream.
I’ve been a fan of custom concrete counters and even custom concrete furniture for years. The difficulty with them is they can be delicate and prone to cracking. Well move over, concrete. Caesarstone’s new concrete colours allow you to achieve the look without the delicate sensibilities of a poured surface.
From top to bottom:
AIRY CONCRETE – Slightly quieter, this Caesarstone new release still has lots of movement and a kind of dimension that feels authentically poured.
CLOUDBURST CONCRETE – The depth and movement in this Caesarstone slab has an effortlessly industrial edge. And speaking of effortless, how beautiful is the food styling on that dish by Chef Sean MacDonald? Brilliant.
TOPUS CONCRETE – With the slightest and most sophisticated whisper of blush, Topus Concrete reminds me of a high quality travertine in the colour we always wished we could find but never did. Wish no more. It’s here.
FROZEN TERRA – Terrazzo is definitely making a big comeback in flooring, so this one is great news for all of the Terrazzo-lovers in our midst. Consider it the perfect finish to the stone story of your Venetian-inspired dreams.
EXCAVA – This one is the singer in the family, and definitely one that needs to be seen in person for full effect. The rusty-hued veining is inspired by foraged industrial objets whose patina feels as rustic as it does refined.
I admit that our little tour of the County reignited in me the dream to one day build a summer retreat for my sweet family on the water. What better place to do that than the County, and what better surface to deck it out with head-to-toe than minimalist, Scandi-inspired Caesarstone concrete counters and fireplace surrounds? Here’s to dreams becoming reality – scratch-resistant, stain-resistant, sustainable reality!
“Don’t grow up too quickly, lest you forget how much you love the beach.”
– Michelle Held
Our recent vacation was a long time coming. Three years to be exact, and let me say, it was well worth the wait. Traveling with a teenager and a pre-kindergardener, we needed to find a place that was equal parts zen for mom and dad, chill for the teen and fun for the four year old (in all of us). I did a ton of research and compared countless properties before zeroing in on Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, an all-inclusive family resort in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and let’s just say it was 100% the right choice.
Here are 3 Tips to help you ensure you and your family have the best vacation ever:
TIP ONE: FOOD IS A LOVE LANGUAGE
August Escoffier said, “Good food is the foundation of genuine happiness.” I think he might have been onto something there, especially when on vacation. And for our family, that means finding a place that can accommodate our allergies and still make food that tastes incredible. For the boys it’s just gluten, but for me the list of allergies is a long one, and it can cause a pretty significant amount of stress for me when we travel. There’s always the balance of wanting to enjoy our meals and not wanting to inconvenience the chef, but we didn’t have any of those worries on this vacay. The head chef met us in each of the restaurants where we had reservations daily and ensured that the meals we selected were being prepared with our food restrictions carefully considered. Alterations were made to accommodate us, allowing us to select whatever we wanted off the menus. And let me tell you, we did not suffer. Just take a look at a few of these meals we enjoyed.
Graham and I both agree that we had the best salmon of our lives on this vacation. Everything was plated to perfection and the restaurants themselves were beautiful (just take a look at my Instagram feed!). They even made me a special sugar-free, vegan desert that was incredible! I’m still craving it.
Oh yes, and did I mention the 24 hour room service? Noah was in his glory. Breakfast in the room became a daily decadence, because why wouldn’t we when they were making gluten-free pancakes to order for the kiddos? We would place our order the night before, hang it on our door, and voila! Breakfast at our door and set up beautifully in our living room every morning with a view of the ocean as our backdrop. Perfection.
TIP TWO: GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE IS A GAME CHANGER
Having the resort’s head chef meet us daily at our restaurants of choice was indeed impressive, but it was completely in lock step with the kind of customer service we experienced across the board. Every family is assigned their own personal concierge who will come and find you near one of the 3 infinity pools during the day. They ensure that you have everything you need – from snacks and meals by the pool, to activities for everyone, to reservations for dinner and a mini bar stocked just to your liking in your room. Truly the only problem with this situation was not having anyone to look after us like that when we got home!
TIP 3: MAKE SURE THERE ARE ACTIVITIES FOR EVERYONE IN YOUR CREW
The customer service extended everywhere, including the Kids’ Club, which I confess I had no plans to use when we first arrived. I suffer from a pretty hefty dose of mama guilt, and my goal for our vacation was for us to relax and have fun together as a family, so shunting my littlest off to a kids’ program just didn’t fit my paradigm of a family vacation. Great that it’s there, but it’s not for me kind of thing. Until, that is, Tate made some friends and they were going to Kid’s Club the next morning. With more than a little hesitation, I dropped him off, telling them I wouldn’t be leaving him there long and wanted to be sure he wasn’t just being babysat by a screen while he was there. Not only was he not screen-zombied, they made crafts like kites and piñatas and played soccer outside. He LOVED it. And they loved him. They got to know his name immediately and hugged and hi-fived him when he came and left. From then on our morning routine was Tate would go for an hour or so to Kids’ Club while Graham, Noah and I went boogie boarding in the ocean. Then he would join us for a swim in the pool followed by lunch by the pool. Then he’d go off with his friends to the bird show or whatever fun thing they had planned for the kids at 2pm. He had the time of his life and is still asking when we are going back to Mexico.
And let’s not forget some fun for the grown ups on the list! Yes, yes, open bar with good wine (the prosecco was my personal poison). But can we talk about the spa for a minute? Because this vacation had been well-waited for, a good spa with a thermal cycle was pretty high on my wish list, and the Spa SE at Grand Velas did not disappoint. An hour spend relaxing in the sauna and cold plunge followed by what was hands down the BEST spa treatment I’ve ever received (The Grand Coral, for those of you with your finger hovering over the booking button, was INCREDIBLE, as was Gloria who performed the service so thoughtfully and expertly). Having this extra indulgence as a part of our experience made for a seriously decadent treat for mama and ultimately a much more relaxed mama for the rest of the trip!
For Graham, relaxation came in the form of surfing and daily beach/ocean time. Making sure it was a clean and swimmable beach was also on my “must have” list, and this one was absolutely perfect. Totally his happy place, and so grounding for all of us.
We all came away so incredibly grateful for the Vitamin Sea, the new friendships, the amazing meals, and for a truly stress-melting, memory-making time together. Needless to say, I can’t recommend Grand Velas Nayarit enough. They’ve redefined what an all-inclusive experience can and should look like for us, and I hope this experience will not be our last! Raising a glass of bubbly to all you families looking to vacation in style. Here’s hoping these tidbits give you some fuel for designing your own beautiful life.
I can hardly believe it’s been over a month since my marathon tour of High Point Market with the Fall 2017 Design Bloggers Tour! The great news is, the inspiration hasn’t left me, and today I’m sharing my final roundup of some of my favourite categories of design love, including: tidy, sexy little drink tables; velvet EVERYWHERE; my obsession with Crypton; and all things wrapped furniture! Come find your favourites as I share some of mine.
1/ Tidy Drink Tables
“Every seat should have a drinks table near it, because everyone should have a drink in their hand!”
Rumour has it, this is the philosophy of design legend Bunny Williams, and I love the way she thinks. The beauty of these tidily dimensioned tables is they each make a huge statement while offering a tiny footprint, and they are super flexible, allowing you to move them around a room as needed to accommodate guests and your own daily living. Let me give you the rundown on some of my favourites from this Fall 2017 Market:
ONE/ There’s something so 80’s glam about this triangular lacquer and brass Emmet Bunching Table from Highland House. In keeping with Highland House’s high value on customization, the table can be personalized with an endless array of colours to choose from, and it’s even shown on their site with a shock of pink on the inside. To me, though, the simple white and brass is perfection.
TWO/ You know I love me some marble, and the black and white drama of Bernhardt’s Jax Drink Table had me at hello. This piece is timeless yet bold, and I heart it pretty hard.
THREE/ To me, there’s something about belying the natural qualities of one material by mimicking another that is so engaging and sophisticated. That is most certainly true of Bunny Williams’ Mini Skirt Drinks Table. The hand-carved wood designed to look like draped fabric is truly unexpected and offers a quiet yet rich texture that is refreshingly whimsical and light.
FOUR/ More marble, more gorgeousness, more Bernhardt. At 12″ in diameter, the Cade Drinks Table could fit almost anywhere while guaranteed to stand out with fashion-forward class and style.
FIVE/ There’s a quirky charm to me about this incredibly tiny, textural wonder from Century Furniture. The solid feeling of its bronze construction is the perfect juxtaposition to the delicate proportions on the Artides Martini Table, and it’s whimsical shape will ensure your parties are never too serious.
2/ VELVET EVERYWHERE
As you can see from photograph of the Highland House showroom at the top of this post, Velvet was spread like frosting, in doses small and large, literally everywhere at High Point this Fall. I have always been a lover of velvet and I always will be, so I was delighted to see that it’s available at literally every price point imaginable. These are just three Low, Medium and High end examples, but expect to see velvet coming on very strong across the board in the months ahead.
ONE/ A simple, velvet-upholstered, Midcentury Modern-inspired dining chair from Scott Living Home is the perfect choice for furnishing a first apartment at an entry level price point that definitely won’t break the bank.
TWO/ I honestly fell in love with the story behind Younger Furniture. Now owner Meredith, daughter of her engineer father who founded the company, turned his utilitarian-looking line into something fresh and current while maintaining his efficiencies in the US-based factory to maintain an incredibly reasonable price point for their large retail customers. That mint green velvet shelter sofa really is as comfortable as it looks.
THREE/ Marrying the luxury of exquisite design with outstanding craftsmanship and attention to detail, Michael Berman’s citrine velvet Plaza Sofa for Theodore Alexander is an absolute showstopper. I love how the etched texture of the bronze frame supports the floating drama of the luscious velvet seating.
3/ Crazy for Crypton
Don’t you love these fresh and simple plains from Crypton? I’m particularly enamoured with the subtle herringbone, but I chose the white sample as our test subject because it really is the ultimate experiment, isn’t it? Most designers these days are already head-over-heels for Crypton, but there are a few hold-outs who have decried the notion that a white sofa could possibly be liveable for real families. Well, I have a white Crypton sofa in my own home, so I already know how true it is, but I thought I’d conduct a little control test for all the Debbie Doubters in the crowd. So let’s see how Crypton holds up to crayon, ketchup and soy sauce, shall we?
Channeling my inner toddler, I got busy doing my worst. I think we can all agree that the site of this kind of scene on a beautiful white sofa would invoke nothing short of terror. I’m here to talk you off the ledge. If you’ve got Crypton, there’s no need to panic.
Start by using a paper towel or absorbent cloth to soak up as much of the spill as possible. You’ll notice that Crypton’s nanotechnology repels moisture, so spills just bead up on the surface, making it much easier to take care of half the mess right away.
Apply a mild soap or laundry detergent to the stains, and remind yourself not to panic. Things aren’t as bad as they look. Using a very soft bristle brush if necessary, water and a colour-safe cloth that won’t transfer colour onto the fabric, gently pat and lift the stains from the fabric. Be patient and don’t rub too hard. All that anxiety you’d normally have in this situation doesn’t apply. I promise.
EXHALE. Crisis averted thanks to Crypton! Just sit back and wait for the fabric to dry, and then VOILA!
4/ THAT’S A WRAP!
The last category of design love from Market I’d like to share is really about showing off true craftsmanship. Fully wrapping a piece of furniture, whether upholstery or casegoods, is not only beautiful but also requires incredible skill, and these pieces truly exemplify outstanding workmanship.
ONE/ I hope you can see the details of this fully upholstered canopy daybed from Highland House. The beautiful Matelassé Crypton white cotton fabric covers the entire piece, from the posters to the deck and legs, creating a refreshing statement, especially when floated in the middle of a room.
TWO/ This gorgeous grasscloth-wrapped 3-drawer chest from Thibaut uses texture to make simplicity the ultimate statement. The incredible thing about this piece is that it can be customized with countless wallpapers from Thibaut’s collection, and the piece is then finished with several layers of indestructible varnish, making these pieces just as real-life-tough as they are fresh and beautiful.
THREE/ Highland House had me at pink leather with this fully wrapped Keener Ottoman. It’s tidy dimensions make it the perfect piece to pair up and layer into almost any space for extra seating and a touch of feminine appeal.
FOUR/ Currey & Co’s Kaipo Two Drawer Chest takes texture to a whole new level with it’s artistically wrapped abaco rope finish. I love this piece for its totally fresh and unexpected take on coastal-inpsired design.
FIVE/ Details are clearly a love language for the team at Tomlinson Furniture, as evidenced by the fully wrapped base on this contemporary Caruso swivel chair from their Directional division. We had such a wonderful time touring their showroom with the delightful Barry Darr Dixon who truly inspired us with his vision for design collaboration.
SIX/ I’ve had a design crush on Thomas O’Brien for forever, and this piece is just a tiny glimpse into why. His leather-clad Terri Desk for Century features drawers that are seamlessly integrated into the tooled leather wrapped apron. Timeless modern luxury at its finest, this desk is definitely on my wish list for my next office.
I had SUCH a wonderful time connecting with my fellow DBT-ers and our fearless leaders Adam and Luba of the Design Bloggers Tour. Thank you so much for having me and for making the experience so fun and memorable. You are incredible people and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to work with you!
And I have to say, I am so excited that I’ll get the opportunity to share more design inspiration with all of you from both the Spring and Fall High Point Markets in 2018 as a Style Spotter! I hope you’ve enjoyed seeing the best of what’s inspired me this year, and I can’t wait to bring you along for the beautiful ride as I discover all the best and most beautiful pieces to be found at High Point Market!
Pop back to the blog soon for ideas on how to ensure you’re designing a home that’s as healthy as it is beautiful. I’ll have lots of inspiration coming at you soon. In the meantime, make it a beautiful day!