Backyard Makeover | Week Two Update


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:



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:

Backyard Makeover Fabrics

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!

french tufted outdoor seating


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.



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:

polycor white cherokee custom marble outdoor diniing table

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:

backyard refresh custom coffee table.001


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!


By |August 2nd, 2018|0 Comments

Celebrating The Latest From Caesarstone

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!

Happy Friday, friends!


By |May 25th, 2018|0 Comments


Grand Velas Nayarit Infinity Pool

“Don’t grow up too quickly, lest you forget how much you love the beach.”

                                               – Michelle Held

Grand Velas Beach

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:


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.

How To Have The Best Vacation Ever


Grand Velas Nayarit Tiramisu

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.



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!



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!

Grand-Velas-Nayarit-Spa-SE grand-velas-spa

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.


grand velas nayarit sunset

By |April 10th, 2018|0 Comments