The Curated Home | An Interview with Grant K. Gibson

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.

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Sarah Walker: You’ve lived in several major cities across the United States. How has each of them influenced your design perspective?

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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?

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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.

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GG:
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?

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GG:
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?

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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?

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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.

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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!

Sarah-Signature

By |August 13th, 2018|0 Comments

Backyard Makeover | Week Two Update

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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

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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!

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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.

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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:

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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:

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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.

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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!

Sarah-Signature

By |August 2nd, 2018|0 Comments

Introducing Project Backyard Makeover

Backyard Makeover Fabrics

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.

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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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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!

Sarah-Signature

By |July 26th, 2018|0 Comments