“Anyone can escape into sleep

we are all geniuses when we dream

the butchers and the poets equal there.”

– Emile M. Cioran

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.


  1. I like that we have a king sized bed
  2. I like the neutral colour palette
  3. I like the Barbara Barry silk coverlet and Euros, we’ve just had them for over a decade
  4. 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!”

  1. 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.
  2. 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!
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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).
  6. 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!