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One Room Challenge | Fall 2019 | Week 4 | Choosing An Organic Mattress + Bedding

“Sleep is the best meditation.”

– the Dalai Lama

Have you ever had one of those weeks where you feel like Friday is Thursday because it’s all just been such a blur? That’s me this week after returning from an incredible week at High Point. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll have seen some of the highlights on my Stories, but there’s honestly so much more I haven’t posted yet because the pace at Market is just so full-on. I led a Design Influencer’s tour on the Saturday for the loveliest group of designers; moderated a panel on Sunday with Barclay Butera, Julia Buckingham, Scot Meacham Wood and Nicole White; and hosted a Wellness In Design event with Cisco and Crypton on Monday. Add in all of the showroom visits, dinners, media moments and parties and it was a bit of a designer ironman event. That said, it was one of those trips where I ended up having the most profound conversations with everyone I sat next to – from waiting at the airport to my flights each way to literally every event I attended in between – so it was an awesome week and super validating in many ways.

Along with all of the inspiration, I also managed to get myself a sinus infection (probably unwittingly collected it on the flight down) and am still working on breaking up with it. I may or may not have a funny story to tell about my reaction to some sinus meds I took one day, but I’ll save that for another time. Suffice it to say, today still feels like Thursday to me, so I hope you’ll all forgive me for sharing my Week 4 update a day late.


I cannot tell you how happy I am to be sleeping in my own bed again! The beds at The Proximity are honestly great, but they still don’t hold a candle to my luxurious Obasan mattress, and I’m so excited to finally tell you about it. It took me a long time to decide on the right mattress for our bedroom. I was like Goldilocks, trying out as many organic mattresses as I could at the various trade showrooms and design shows. To my surprise, many of the organic mattresses out there were either greenwashed (containing just one element that was organic yet being branded as totally healthy while secretly not) or just not comfortable. My goal was to find a mattress that contained no metal springs based on Dr. Klinghardt’s research about metal conducting electricity into our bodies and disturbing our sleep cycles, so anything with an internal coil system was immediately off the table. From there, I wanted organic rubber-derived latex foam, organic wool to replace the toxic fire retardants that are sprayed on all conventional mattresses, and organic cotton for the cover. That list narrowed my search pretty quickly, and when I added in the goal of a sustainably made product that was as local as possible, there were really only a few options left.

Gratefully, my friend Ashli from Whittington introduced me to Obasan and I immediately knew I’d found what I was looking for.

“Customization is undoubtedly one of my favourite design luxuries.”

Not only does Obasan check every one of my boxes – locally made in Ottawa from organic latex, wool and cotton with no metal springs – they also customize each mattress to the way you sleep. Customization is undoubtedly one of my favourite design luxuries, just like I believe personalized medicine is the way of the future. No two people are exactly alike, so what works for me might not work for you. Obasan’s founder Jean Corriveau understands that very well, and has created a system that allows you to refine your mattress for the perfect night’s sleep, every night.

When your Obasan mattress arrives, you’ll receive several rolled components. These make for less waste in packaging and also make the mattress much easier to deliver.

Once unfurled, you’ll see that each component is clearly labeled.

To begin assembly, lay out the organic cotton and wool mattress cover over your Obasan foundation and insert the firm base layer first.

The mid layer is the customizable layer where you can choose between soft, medium or firm density foam in 6 different zones (head, torso and legs on both sides of the bed).

For some side sleepers, soft at the head, medium at the torso and firm at the legs works well. We tried that and I honestly felt like the Princess and The Pea because I could actually feel a slight slope downwards towards my head based on the gradient in density. Yes, my “canary in the design mines” body is sensitive, but given that Dr. Klinghardt recommends a slope downward towards your feet to encourage drainage of the glymphatic system (lymphatic system for your brain), we next tried firm at the head, medium for torso and soft for feet. Again, I felt like a fairytale character, because my feet felt strangely restless with this configuration. After several nights trying every possible combination, I realized that my body simply needs a totally firm mid layer from top to bottom, so Jonathan sent us 4 more grids to complete the mid layer with only firm latex foam. At last, Princess Goldilocks had her perfect mattress (I say “Princess Goldilocks” because I basically felt like all the fairytale characters combined at this point!).

Once you’ve established your perfect configuration of the middle layer, you add the top layer and zip up the organic cotton and wool cover for a perfect finish.

Having had the opportunity to truly experience my Obasan before writing about it, I can tell you with absolute confidence that this is a luxuriously high quality mattress that will enhance your health and wellbeing with an incredibly comfortable, non-toxic night’s sleep. Knowing that sleeping on a standard, flame retardant-soaked mattress is essentially like sleeping on a bed of gasoline, our Obasan mattress gives me so much peace of mind, and I can’t wait to get both of our boys sleeping on one as well.


After going to such lengths to ensure we found the healthiest, most sustainable and comfortable mattress possible, we couldn’t finish it with just any sheets. I had honestly been searching high and low for some time for GOTS certified organic sheets that looked and felt luxurious.

You see, there seems to be this misnomer in the design world that if you want organic products, you also want a really relaxed and casual aesthetic. If you know me, you know I’m a luxury designer always looking to marry a continental European influence with a layered sense of story and a bit of edgy glamour, so wrinkly linen-blend sheeting just doesn’t work for me. For my future cottage, perhaps, but definitely not for this sexy, moody master makeover.

Enter White Terry by my friend Nicole Bernstein.

Nicole and I met over a year ago, and I knew immediately that I’d found a kindred spirit. Like me, Nicole is passionate about caring for the planet. She’s also passionate about creating beautiful, healthy homes that nurture wellbeing. As a New Yorker who married a Canadian and transplanted to Toronto, she found herself shocked at how few options Canadians had for gorgeous organic bedding.

Not one to sit idly by waiting for someone else to fill the gap, Nicole leveraged her passion and her business degree and dove headfirst into creating a luxurious, organic, sustainable collection of bed linens. She’s gained a huge amount of buzz in a very short period of time with her effortlessly elegant product (think Jessica Mulroney and Jillian Harris sleeping on these sheets), and for good reason. Nicole understands that we want it all: luxurious bedding that’s as healthy for the planet as it is for our families. She’s even thrown in free express shipping across the US and Canada, because who wants to wait on this goodness arriving at your door!

Ultimately, my only real decision on the sheet set and duvet cover is the colour.White Snow is a classic, crisp hotel white, but I’m favouring the Warm Sand which is a very subtle off-white. That hit of warmth will just play so nicely against the radiant tones of the York wallpapered ceiling and the King’s House Tulu rug. I cannot wait to add this layer of luxury to our already organic bed for an even healthier, happier sleep sanctuary!

There’s still so much to do this coming week as we round the corner to the finish line on this One Room Challenge. I have art to create, original art to frame, nightstands to install and style, lighting, decorative pillows and additional textiles to install, and all the loving finishing touches that will make this master bedroom sing. Be sure to check out what the other ORC participants are up to and check back with me next Thursday for a lot of delicious details.

In the meantime, happy weekend!

By |October 25th, 2019|0 Comments

One Room Challenge | Fall 2019 | Week 3 | Wallpaper + A Beautiful Bed

“I am going to make everything around me beautiful – that will be my life.”

Elsie DeWolfe

It’s a cliché at this point to tell you that the weeks are flying by, but nothing could be truer! Six weeks to a finished room is not for the faint of heart, friends. You know what else isn’t for the faint of heart? Wallpapering a ceiling.

We toyed with the idea of hiring an installer, but with the goal of being as cost efficient as possible, we just couldn’t justify it. “How hard could it be?” we thought.

Well, let’s just say there’s a reason I don’t have many photos of it going up to share with you today! This is definitely an all-hands-on-deck, make-like-an-octopus-and-take-a-Valium kind of a DIY project, and I would definitely recommend hiring an installer for your future ceiling wallpaper installations.

The good news is that the finished result is GORGEOUS. Legitimately one-of-my-favourite-fixed-elements-in-the-room kind of gorgeous.


I have to confess, I chose this York Wallcoverings natural jute wallpaper for more than just her lit-from-within glow.

This radiant metallic jute wallpaper is so elegant and sophisticated that it actually makes me feel like more of a grown up having it in my bedroom. It adds a textural finish to the room that feels layered and thoughtful, and more importantly, it’s one hundred percent in line with my passion for products that are as kind to the environment and the people making them as they are to the people living with them.

First off, the substrate or base of the paper is made from FSC-certified pulp products. All of the binding agents are VOC and Formaldehyde-Free, and all of the finishes are water-based for a non-toxic product that’s as beautiful “on the inside” as it is on the outside. Jute is of course a super sustainable material that grows quickly and without the need for nasty pesticides, so the natural material itself is also a huge win. And as if it wasn’t already sustainable enough, all York Wallcoverings are made in the United States, so this gorgeousness is local by interior design terms!

Doesn’t it look incredible? We could not be happier with it, and my husband is once again my hero for making DIY into DIWYH (do it with your husband) aka mostly WIAWYHDI (watch in awe while your husband does it).


When it came to choosing a bed, the truth is, I struggled to find one with style and substance; a bed with modern details that also fit within my wellness parameters. There are a million gorgeous beds on the market, but not many at all made with organic, non-toxic and sustainable materials, and quite frankly, those that are tend to look like the style equivalent of wool socks and Birkenstocks. That’s why I turned to my friends Ashli and Dan at Whittington & Co to help me create the bed of my dreams.

I wanted the bed to feel modern while giving a wink and a nod to the Art Deco era with its curved, winged headboard and vertical channel tufting. The simple arch on the fully upholstered legs is a more modern touch that is totally luxurious to me in its simplicity. Also luxurious to me is the fact that Ashli and Dan were all in on creating this bed with sustainable and non-toxic materials from the inside out.

Every high quality piece of furniture starts with a kiln-dried, FSC-certified hardwood frame, and this bed is no different. It was so exciting to pop into the workroom and see the curve of the headboard starting to take shape right from the start! Ashli and Dan were also super gracious about listening to my research on the best wood and foam adhesives for a non-toxic product that doesn’t compromise on quality and integrity.

Up next, Dan started to build the channels for the tufting using organic natural rubber-derived latex foam. Most of the foam used in the upholstery business is not only partially or completely made of petroleum products (even soy foam isn’t totally made of soy), but it’s also doused in highly carcinogenic flame retardants. Not only have flame retardants been linked to cancer, but researchers are also finding links to thyroid dysfunction and even obesity. They’ve also found that children have higher concentrations of flame retardants in their bodies than adults, which breaks my heart and makes me so angry all at the same time. I am committed to having a home with no willing addition of flame retardants anywhere, so the gift of being able to custom design and build this bed knowing exactly what is going into it is very meaningful to me.

In place of flame retardants, Dan wrapped the organic rubber latex foam with organic wool. I’m a sucker for beautiful raw materials, especially when their natural properties win over toxic chemicals. Did you know that wool is naturally flame retardant and is the de facto standard in the organic mattress industry to meet code while staying healthy? If it works for mattresses, it can work for upholstery, and I’m determined to see the industry embrace it more widely. Healthy, sustainable and beautiful furniture is possible!

To finish the bed, I chose this gorgeous, striéd black velvet from Crypton. Time for another lesson in Wellness For The Home: did you know that all Crypton fabrics are Greenguard Gold certified? That means they follow super strict guidelines to meet and exceed standards for healthy air quality. The short translation of that is this fabric is not going to off-gas endlessly and compromise your health.

Now, some of you might be saying, “Yeah, Sarah, but performance textiles still have chemistry involved in their manufacturing,” and you’d be right. So does every other textile on the market that isn’t a raw, un-dyed or vegetable-dyed organic linen, wool or cotton. But there are two things you need to know here: First is that Crypton uses less chemicals than any other performance textile manufacturer in the market and they’re constantly seeking ways to reduce their use while maintaining stress-free performance. And the stress-free piece is the other thing I want to highlight. A healthy home is not just as non-toxic as possible. A healthy home is also as worry-free as possible, meaning that your furniture looks beautiful and continues to look beautiful as your real family lives their real life all over it. With breakfasts in bed, family snuggles and the future promise (aka future furniture threat) of a family dog, I’m all about making choices that will look just as beautiful today as they will 5-10 years from now. That’s a choice for sustainability as much as it’s a choice for my mental health and wellbeing!


The next layer I addressed this week is the rug. In the design world, many refer to your floor as the “fifth wall.” Just like wallpapering the ceiling had a huge impact on the envelope of this space, choosing the right rug to ground the space was equally important to me. That started with making sure I was making a healthy choice.

If you’ve been following me for awhile, you’ll know that I’m passionate about wool rugs. Synthetic (aka petroleum-based) rugs and carpets not only look cheaper, but as your feet rub on them, the fibres release health-harming VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) into the air for at least 5 years. You know that “new carpet smell?” It’s a sign of off-gassing and can lead to all kinds of upper respiratory conditions, amongst many other things. I don’t have a single synthetic carpet or rug in my home and never will for this reason.

Now that the health portion of the equation is taken care of, I was in search of a rug that would be quietly elegant, super soft, sophisticated and globally gathered. I immediately turned to my friend Christin at King’s House Oriental Rugs to see what she had in her collection.

Christin and I met over a year ago at High Point Market (which I’m off to again tomorrow!) and I immediately fell in love with her collection and her story. Christin and her husband now live in Paris and use their home there as the international hub between their clients across the globe and their family of rug makers in Turkey. I say family, because that’s really what they’ve created. The love that Christin has in her voice as she shares the story behind each piece and the beautiful people who make them is truly inspiring. Her process is one of creative collaboration and artistry, and it shows in the final pieces.

Christin has many collections ranging from modern takes on traditional Oushaks to overdyed vintage rugs and artistic Tulus. You might be more familiar with Ben Ourani rugs. Tulus are made in the same style but with much higher quality Turkish wool sheered from the happiest sheep on the planet. They graze fields freely while growing their gorgeous locks, and the softness and sheen of the wool they produce rivals the world-renowned New Zealand wool. I have New Zealand wool in my home and will tell you that this new Turkish Tulu is the softest, most luxurious rug I now own.


The last layer for this week is the drapery, and my oh my what a difference drapery makes! It never fails to put a smile on my face when clients effervesce about how gorgeous drapery panels elevate a finished space. The sense of warmth, luxury, detail and in this case subtle texture they offer is such an important part of the design plan for any room. Also super important in this case is that they are lined with black out lining for the darkest room possible, because even just a bit of light in your room at night can disturb your body’s ability to get into deep REM sleep.

My friends at Tonic Living did an incredible job creating these super wide drapery panels for me out of their natural Tuscany Linen. It’s deliciously weighty hand, subtle texture and perfect shade of greige (more tan/beige than grey) make for a gorgeous relief against the inky black walls. The drapery panels cover the whole window wall and tie in so beautifully with the tones and textures of the wallpaper and rug. The team at Tonic Living finished the panels flawlessly with a leading edge band of this stunning marbelized Marbella Shale trim from Pindler. The hint of movement and touch of black with shades of tan, beige and grey further weave together my palette of neutrals with the kind of sophistication that makes my heart happy.

This week’s layers have really started to transform the space and I’m starting to see the vision come together! Next week I’ll be sharing the organic mattress I chose (and why), the organic bedding I can’t live without, and the beautiful nightstands that are doubling as our dressers in this small but moody (and mighty pretty!) master bedroom of ours.

In the meantime, be sure to check out the progress all of the other One Room Challenge Participants are making in their spaces, and check back next Thursday when I’ll be back from my adventures at High Point Market and ready to share more! Have an inspired week, friends!

By |October 17th, 2019|3 Comments

One Room Challenge | Fall 2019 | Week 2 | Paneling + Painting

” God is in the details”

– Mies van der Rohe


Architectural detail has long been one of my passions. When I was 10, I used to lay awake in my bed dreaming of the crown moulding, baseboard and panel moulding I would use to decorate my room. It was glorious, and something out of a Haussmann Paris apartment. Mind you, back then it would also have been painted shades of teal or high gloss red, but at least I had one thing right. My passion for paneling and finishing details never left me, and it’s one of my favourite ways to add strength of character to an otherwise basic space.

I’ve worked with Metrie’s mouldings for many years now. They are my go-to for many reasons, not the least of which is the diversity of profiles they have available in FSC certified poplar. Poplar is by far the easiest wood to paint, and unlike MDF trims and mouldings, you don’t have to worry about formaldehyde in any adhesives (there are none). They also offer sustainably harvested woods like fir, pine and oak in such a variety of profiles that I really don’t think there’s much that can’t be accomplished with Metrie’s collection. In keeping with what we’ve done in much of the rest of the house, we decided to create a paneling feature on the headboard wall with a stepped effect.

The two mouldings we used for this layered paneling are this larger one and this delicate one. These are truly my favourite combo. The two together offer depth and interest while the scale and proportion makes the room feel refined. You may notice that we carried a frieze mould around the room between the panels and the crown. This is how we’ve connected the pre-existing plaster valance in with the rest of the room to make it feel cohesive, and Graham made it by ripping 1/4″ thick strips off of simple Metrie 1×6 poplar boards. Metrie is amazing at offering varying lengths as well, so we were able to rip them off of boards the length of each wall to avoid any unsightly seams.

The same is true for the crown, which in this case is fir. I couldn’t work with too large a crown moulding for two reasons. The first is, we don’t have high ceilings in this bedroom – just 8 feet – so the crown had to be proportionate to the room. The second is that the wall opposite the bed is a wall of closet doors, and the crown had to fit between those doors and the ceiling. This profile was literally the perfect fit.

To round out the millwork plan, we upgraded the baseboards to match the rest of the house with this pretty poplar profile. Rather than changing the casing in the house, we opted to add a poplar backband instead, and we’ve done the same in the bedroom for consistency. It never ceases to amaze me how much of a difference these details make. If you’re dealing with a room that feels too basic, I promise you, this is the place to start. Everything you layer into the room from there will feel more elevated.


When it comes to designing a healthy home, I know there’s a lot of mystery for people as to where to find the hidden toxins. Paint seems to be the one area everyone knows they can make a healthier choice. For me, painting our bedroom wasn’t just an opportunity to choose a locally made, VOC-free wall colour from the Fusion Mineral Paint collection. It was also an opportunity to finally delve into making our bedroom a more EMF-free sanctuary.

Let me explain. In my work to overcome Lyme Disease, I’ve done a ton of research on what could be compromising my body’s ability to heal. Electromagnetic Frequencies (EMF’s) have actually been classified by the World Health Organization as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” and Lyme expert Dr. Deitrich Klinghardt believes exposure to WiFi and EMF’s are the root cause for many health problems. Given that we are not building a new house or gutting it back to the studs, I can’t put shielded cables in the walls and a kill switch by the bed to cut off all circuitry into the bedroom each night. Rest assured this will happen in the dream house. For now, what we can do is set our router to turn off during our sleeping hours – a super easy and important step that any of you can take today to guard your health.

The next step in removing EMF’s from our bedroom was actually placing ruthless boundaries around electronics of any kind. We’ve never had a TV in our bedroom (and never will), but cell phones definitely crept in over time. I started charging mine in the bathroom years ago (and have now moved it to the kitchen to give my brain an even more extended break from the addiction so it’s not the first thing I grab when I wake up). For Graham, it took a lot longer to get him to agree to remove his phone from our room. Like many of you, he felt like he needed it as an alarm, but my sensitive body would be jolted awake by silent notifications he would get through the night. You may not notice them, but they’re messing with your body’s sleep cycle, too. Now, we both awake without an alarm clock, I think in part because we are sleeping so much better. Before we reset our circadian rhythms, though, we bought an inexpensive non-ticking alarm clock which honestly worked like a charm.

This next step in seeking to make our master an EMF-reduced sanctuary is new for me. I’ve never done this for a client because I’ve never had anyone as passionate about wellness as I am, but for this makeover, we primed our walls with Woremor IF-RE50 EMF Shielding Paint. This carbon based paint reduces the EMF’s that can enter the space. It’s not like wrapping the room in silver thread shield, but it’s a step in the right direction. One proviso: this paint is not VOC-free, just low VOC, and to be honest, the off-gassing from it forced me to sleep in Tate’s room for a few nights while we left our bedroom window open to clear the fumes. If you’re sensitive like me, you’ll want to keep this in mind.

Next up was to paint the walls with the finishing colour. I definitely went back and forth on what I wanted to do here, and my options were quite literally black and white. My next master bedroom may be really bright and airy, but in the end, the vibe I want for this one is sexy and moody and dark. Did you know that you actually sleep better in a really dark room? That doesn’t mean your paint colour has to actually be dark (black out curtains that fully block the light are really the most important step here), but it really does help to create a more cocoon-like invitation to rest. And so you guessed it, we’ve painted that beautiful panelling we installed in Fusion Mineral Paint’s Coal Black. I promise to show you a sneak peek of how it looks in next week’s update when I get to what we are doing to the ceiling, but for now I can tell you that the final coats of paint have been applied and I absolutely love it.

We’ve got a ton to get done this week with that ceiling treatment to install (it may or may not be giving me the sweats), drapery to install and lots of other design goodness. The One Room Challenge is always a race to the finish line, and I do hope you’ll not only follow along with my journey, but also take time to check in and see how everyone else is getting on with their projects. Here’s to keeping the final vision in our sights as we work our way through the messy middle.

By |October 9th, 2019|0 Comments