One Room Challenge | Fall 2018 | Master Bedroom Makeover | Week Two

” To sleep, perchance to dream…”

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 lighting from Hudson Valley Lighting that is going to take this room from ho-hum to HELLO!
  • 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.

By |October 11th, 2018|0 Comments

One Room Challenge | Fall 2018 | Master Bedroom Makeover | Week One

“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!

By |October 4th, 2018|0 Comments

Backyard Makeover | The Big Reveal!

” There is no joy without gratitude.”

–   Brené Brown

Sarah Walker-The Curated House-Backyard Makeover-table-setting

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!

Sarah Walker-The Curated House-Backyard Makeover-sectional

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.

Sarah Walker-The Curated House-Backyard Makeover-sectional-close-up

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!

Sarah Walker-The Curated House-Backyard Makeover-dining-pergola

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!

Sarah Walker-The Curated House-Backyard Makeover-dining-table-1

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.

Sarah Walker-The Curated House-Backyard Makeover-table-settings

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.

Sarah Walker-The Curated House-Backyard Makeover-table-from-above

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.

Sarah Walker-The Curated House-Backyard Makeover-dining-table-2

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.




Interior Design, Sarah Walker of The Curated House; Photography, Reid Lambshead, William Reid Photography; All performance fabrics for sectional and drapery, Sunbrella; Decorative outdoor toss cushion fabrics, Holly Hunt Great Outdoors by Sunbrella; sewing of all cushions + drapery panels, Deka Home + Patio; stone for tables, Polycor via Ciot; Fabrication of stone tables, Dinuovo Marble + Granite; Brackets and shade sails for dining pergola, Toja Grid; Masters Dining Chairs, Structube; paint for pergola, Fusion Mineral Paint; Grey marble bowl on coffee table, frosted purple drinking glasses, EQ3; Balinese wood beads with white tassle sitting in grey bowl on coffee table, Lynne Knowlton; Grey linen napkins, Lip Service Napkins; Globe String Lights, Brightech

By |September 7th, 2018|1 Comment