So Canadian eh? : Amy Walters

This week another fabulous Canadian has come to visit. 

I just love how my list is many more 
to come!

Welcome to

Amy Walters of aDesign dock

She is.....

Amy Walters, is an interior designer, blogger and guest contributor to Style At Home's blog as well.
Not only can this girl style and design, but she is a fabulous writer!

Amy is such an avid supported of Canadian bloggers and designers and is part of our western Canadian network . She always makes her rounds, reading and commenting on your blog, love that girl!

And she has some serious design talent.

Want to see?

Recently she has been tackling renovations and has unveiled her renovated bathroom on Style at Home's blog.

 Are those Missoni shower curtains?

DIY floral art

A styling shot for Style at Home's Fall Trends blogger round-up.

Her re-vamped vintage credenza that was featured on Design*Sponge!

Wallpaper art.

Tell us a bit about yourself, your background, your education, has design always been something you are drawn to?  

I grew up in a small town in rural Manitoba where interior design wasn't even on the radar; but even so, I feel as though design has always been a part of me. I doodled constantly, collected anything and everything, visited antique and decor shops endlessly and watched Martha Stewart Living every chance I got! Admittedly, I was not overly "skilled" in my creative ambitions as a child (you should see some of my childhood drawings and bedroom designs!), but the passion was there and as I grew up, the passion developed into a natural ability to create beautiful designs, both with graphics and interiors. I spent years dreaming of a career in design before mustering up the courage to leave small-town life and head west to study interior design in college. After receiving a Diploma of Interior Design, I moved back to Manitoba to live and begin my career as a designer in Winnipeg. 

What made you decide to start blogging?

 My first home decor mag subscription (at the young age of 15) was the catalyst for my love of design writing. Instantly, I was hooked on the idea of using words and expressions to convey design ideas and principles. Even in design school, I learned early on that I loved writing the concept statements for my designs as much as the design process itself. Then one night, while watching the movie Julie & Julia in theatre, I thought "this is it...this is what I want to do!" It was only a matter of months before I was house hunting with the intention of creating a design blog around the process. Ha ha, that's probably the worst reason EVER to buy your first home, but worked, right?! I'm blogging now and love it ;)

What have you enjoyed about blogging and what has surprised you along the way? 

Blogging has been crucial in re-igniting my passion for design. This may sound crazy, but I found it really difficult to make time for creativity during my work week at a design firm. Blogging forced me to search and discover all the new and amazing talent out there! It's been so inspirational!

Where do you go for inspiration for your blog? 

Other blogs, of course, are a go-to source for fresh ideas and inspiration. But, I must admit that I'm still pretty old fashioned and love nothing more than my monthly ritual of curling up on the sofa with my latest mag subscriptions and a warm cup o' tea! I also check back regularly on some of my fav online decor shops to keep on top of rising trends and new products.

You are a Style at Home blog contributor, how did you land that fantastic opportunity and has it changed the way you blog and view design? be honest, I still pinch myself and wonder just exactly how I was so lucky to become a guest blogger for Style at Home! With a dream of bringing some western design perspective to the mag world, I threw caution to the wind...stepped waaaaaay out of my comfort zone...and emailed Style at Home's Web Editorial team about becoming Style at Home's western design-eye! Little did I know that they would be so sweet and actually respond to that wild email of mine! I was giddy beyond belief when they welcomed me on board. This experience has taught me so much about "bloggersland." I was only a month into my own blog and still fairly "green" when I joined the team of guest contributors at The editorial team taught me all the ins and outs of blogging and social media. I'll be forever grateful for that!

What do you see for your future, any hopes and dreams?

Well, funny you should ask. I'm actually in transition mode as we speak. I recently gave up my full-time interior design position to work remotely for a design firm while I "attempt" to pursue a career in design writing. What this will lead to (freelance writing, a magazine or online internship or a paid blogging gig), I do not know! I'm taking a step out into the unknown and couldn't be more excited about the adventures that await.

How would you describe your design style? 

My style is quirky, personal, eclectic and very vintage. "Bloggeresque", if you will! I love playing the high/low game. I splurge on a few pieces I absolutely adore and can't live without, then save on just about everything else! I am from Manitoba, after all. I was born to be thrifty!

Tell us one thing about you that would surprise us! 

Surprise, eh? Well, hopefully you haven't noticed, but I'm not much of a techie kind of gal! I resisted social media as long as I could, own minimal electronics, live without TV channels and still use an ultra-basic, 5-year old point and shoot camera ;) How I even started a blog, I'll never know?!

How do balance work, blogging and renovations! 

I don't! Ha life has been a bit of a mess over the past year and half. Only now am I taking steps to get my feet under me and find balance. Adjusting my work situation to better accommodate the writing is hopefully going to play a huge role in getting my head above water!

If you were given the opportunity to meet anyone or do anything, what would it be and why? 

Ooh...travelling, no doubt! I would love to take a few months off and just travel, write about design and eat lots of yummy new foods! 

What do you like to do in your free time?

Go for walks, play with my baby nephew, watch a million re-runs of Golden Girls and eat ice cream!

You are a Canadian living on the Prairies, how does living where things are so flat, winters long but one of the sunniest places in Canada, affect the way homes are decorated. Do you think the Prairie geography influences design?

Manitoba's geography is all about extremes. Our topography may be flat, but it's always changing and never boring! I love that we really are forced to decorate with the seasons! An interior must feel as warm and cozy in the winter as it does cool and airy in the summer! The one constant is the sun! No matter what the season, we can always rely on the beautiful effect of natural sunlight. It makes every interior look that much better. I'm a big fan!

What are your views on the role Canadian design plays in the world design scene? Do you feel that Canadians have a unique sense of style and design, and if so, what is it that you think sets us apart? 

I really am "so Canadian"! I love living and designing here. Our country has a soft spot for all things Canadiana, but we get a taste of the best designs from all over the world too; and, we find a way to make it all work. Canadian interiors push design boundaries and encourage people to live eclectically and globally. And to me, that's as timeless a trend as any!

Amy, thanks for being part of my series. So glad to have "met" you. You have such a fabulous design aesthetic, love how beautifully your home is put together. It has such a collected feel, not full of trendy trinkets, but classic and cozy.

Looking forward to following your journey.

XO Barbara


A big thank-you..

 to Style At Home for asking me to participate in Blogger's Halloween Tricks and Treats!

It was fun to put together my little "bit".
Loved that they asked me to be part of this article!

And while you are there you can read other fabulous Canadian bloggers' Halloween Tricks and Treats!

Today I am busy hanging up drapes, spray painting a few projects and sewing more pillows!

XO Barbara 

Sewing Up a Storm : Part II

Just as I promised pillow #2. 

This time one for my daughter's room.
Goes beautifully with the striped wall and roman blind fabric

Had fun with this one by adding pom-pom fringe that I unearthed in my sewing "stuff".
Love the whole vintage vibe with fabric and pom-poms. 

I am on such a roll sewing pillows. I have a few more to share, later this week.

Sewing pillows is like therapy for me. They cheer me up.

Strange. I know. 

But pillows are a great way to change things up in your house! Perfect for a fabric hoarder collector like me.

My son was impressed with my Imperial Trellis pillow as was my dear blogging friend Monika.

Both encouraging me to sell my wares. 

Maybe. One day.

XO Barbara

SNS @Funky Junk

Sewing up a Storm

This past weekend I dusted off the sewing machine and unearthed some fabrics in my pile and whipped up some pillows.

One pillow was made from another memo I had of Kelly Wearstler's Imperial Trellis fabric in green.

Using some linen I had in my stash I made this:

How I love free fabric samples of luxurious fabric!

Tomorrow I will share another fabulous pillow I made for my daughter's room.

XO Barbara

So Canadian eh? : Carol Smyth

One of the questions I ask my stupendous Canadians is:

  "What has surprised them the most about blogging?"

More often than not, they usually answer:

"They didn't expect to make friends and feel part of a close community"

 One thing I never anticipated was the friends I would make through blogging, one of them is my guest this week.

We met in the early spring and have hit it off, sharing our love for thrift store shopping and turning our finds into something fabulous.

Please give a warm bienvenue to

Carol Smyth from The Design Pages

She is...

Carol is such an encouraging friend and an inspiration!
Her DIY projects always knock my socks off.

Her blog, part of my daily read, is so witty, chock full of Carol's fabulous humour.

Not only is Carol a DIY diva but she is a trained Interior Designer, and used to own her own home decor shop!

A recent Vancouver transplant, Carol moved from Toronto a few years ago and is on the move again.
Her family is moving to our province's wine country....I am sad to be losing my thrift store buddy, but now can't wait to hit the wineries with Carol!

Here are some photos of some of her residential client work.

Editorial styling shots...

And photos of her shop!

Tell us a bit about your background? Your education? Has design always been in your blood?

 Design has definitely always been in my blood.  When I was a little kid I would spend endless hours flipping through and cutting up the furniture pages from the Sears catalogue and creating some of my very first floor plans and elevations.  I recently came across a book my mom had put together of my childhood memories.  When asked what I wanted to be when I was in grade 4 I said an Interior Designer.  Sadly, I didn’t follow my heart and spent many years in post secondary education pursuing various programs before settling on business (yawn!).  I spent many unhappy years in what appeared to be a fabulous career in marketing for a large software company.  When my son was born I decided to go back to school and pursue my dream of design.

What made you decide to start a blog?

I think like so many other bloggers, my blog began by reading other great design blogs.  One of the aforementioned educational experiments was in journalism so I do love to write and figured this could be a great outlet for both my design and writing passions.

What have you enjoyed about blogging?

I think everyone says this but the friendships that I’ve made both in real life and in blog life have been amazing and surprising.  I sometimes make reference to my online blog friends and people who don’t have online friends really don’t understand how real these friendships can be.  I think blogging has also pushed me further as a designer.  I see so many great and inspiring ideas and it keeps me on the cutting edge of things.

What is one thing you feel that one can do to inject style into their home without breaking the bank?

Art, art, art.  I love art and photography and I think everyone should be using art to add their own personality to their space.  It’s so easy to find amazing and inexpensive pieces either through sites like etsy at art and craft fairs or through art shows at colleges.  Even if you go to Ikea and buy frames and create your own little masterpieces it works.

Where do you find inspiration for your projects and your blog? 

In the past, most of my inspiration came from books and magazines but I would have to say that now it’s other blogs.  There’s soooooo much look at and be inspired by.  I see other projects on blogs and it gets my creative juices flowing.

What is one design faux pas that you wish could be banished?

I think big box retailers are great for big furniture items in your home but I really dislike using these stores for art and decor.  It definitely requires more time and patience but there are so many artisans out there selling one-of-a-kind pieces for the same price as the mass produced pieces that you’re going to see at all your neighbours’ houses.  

How would you describe your design style?

My design style is a mix of contemporary and eclectic.  I love really clean lines and uncluttered spaces but I also want my home to feel lived in and well loved.  I love being in a home where I can see pieces of the homeowner throughout the entire space.  

What do you like to do in your free time?

We love to entertain and I just love having friends and family around and enjoying good food and wine.  Thankfully I also enjoy being active which helps to counteract the good food and wine.  I love hiking and biking and skiing but most of my activity takes place in a gym and I’m a little bit addicted to Zumba at the moment.  I also love to read although blog reading seems to be taking over and I often have to pull myself away from the computer and sit down with a book.

Tell us one thing that would surprise us!

This question completely stumped me.  I feel like there’s nothing surprising about me.  My husband said that he thinks the most surprising thing about me is that I like westerns.  You may or may not be surprised to know I love tattoos and graffiti, I’m left handed, I’m a vegetarian, I am completely addicted to almonds (as in can’t have them in the house) and that I could easily survive on a diet of thai food and sushi with coffee and red wine thrown into the mix.

What goals or aspirations do you have for your blog?

I have so many aspirations for the blog.  I would love to build a strong online e-design business.  I would also love to pursue the diy projects and work on making the tutorials more polished and see where that could take me.  Blogging is so much more than just writing the post and I struggle with my poor photography skills and my non-existent photoshop skills.  I would also love to write design and diy articles for larger publications and get paid actual money for writing.

If you could meet anyone or do anything who or what would it be?  

If I could do one thing I would love to spend a year or two living in France to try and understand the European perspective on design.  My husband’s family is French so he needs no convincing.  We have a dream about an old stone house in the Brittany countryside. My French language skills would also benefit from this.

What are your views on the role of Canadian design on the world stage? Do you feel that Canadians have a unique sense of style, the way we design and decorate our homes? If so, what do you think sets us apart?

 I think Canadian design is so vastly different from place to place based on the geography and the regional surroundings.  A home in Whistler looks nothing like a home in Quebec City but they both incorporate their unique setting into the design of the home.  There is such an abundance of design talent across Canada.

Carol, I am so thrilled that we have struck up a fabulous friendship. We truly have a lot in common, I used to pour over Sears catalogues and create rooms with all the items. My dream bed was the frilly canopy bed, the one I never got :(

But I am so incredibly sad that you are leaving the Vancouver area...
so looking forward to your visits when you need to head back to 
get some retail therapy!


XO Barbara

Lovely Places to Stay

Danielle Oakey, author of Danielle Oakey Interiorsblog, found inspiration the other day at her local Gap store. She asked where do we find inspiration?

It got me thinking how this past summer we stayed in two fabulous hotels that were such a design inspiration. I realized I forgot to share those photos.

Where has the time gone?

Our first hotel, The Intercontinental in San Francisco, we reserved through Hotwire {have you ever tried Hotwire? Smoking deal we got in this place} was decorated with such a modern vibe.

I couldn't help but ooh and ahh around every corner. My family was quite annoyed.

I did manage to snap a few photos.

{This one is from the hotel site} Loved the floor to ceiling wall of windows.
Dreamy looking over the Bay.

The rest are mine ...

I loved the end tables in the lounge area. There was also a grand piano. Whenever I see a grand piano I feel the urge to lay across the top and just start singing show tunes. 

{Ack! Did I just say that out loud??}

The service at this hotel was superb as was the buffet breakfast! My son was told to not piles heaps of food on his plate, so instead he went and half-filled 3 plates!


In Santa Monica was stayed at the Sheraton Delfina Hotel.

It was situated a few blocks from the beach and next to what I thought was odd, a derilict old motel. Made the Sheraton feel out of place.

But the interior was so up my alley!

I couldn't help but take photos. 

My only complaint was the lighting was too dim, reminded me of the Hollister store {if you have teenage daughters, you can't avoid going into that store - which drives me crazy, all dark and over perfumed}

The outdoor lounge area.

A gorgeous tufted leather sofa. And looking down to the lobby from the 3rd floor

I want a convex mirror.

My favourite vignette was this fabulous gallery wall!

{Lovin' the Ikat and the gold trimmed end table}

Hoping to utilize my tall wall up my stairwell by creating a gallery wall like this!

I just love staying at beautifully designed hotels! Sure was a treat after having to sleep one night in our car. Yes. That is another story for another time.

This weekend I need to get my butt in gear and finish some projects. My daughters' room is at a standstill until I can get to Ikea. If you live in the Lower Mainland you will understand why I would procrastinate driving to Ikea on our "forever-under-construction-always-crazy-traffic-freeway."

What is up with all of you this weekend?

XO Barbara

Today I Am At...

Today I am manning my blogging friend's Alissa from 33 Shades of Green blog while she is away on a sunny vacation.

I have "known" Alissa for almost as long as I have been blogging. Sometimes I wonder if we were separated at birth or something. We both have such similar interests. Through email we have helped each other with a few projects, she with my roman blinds and I encouraged her walk on the wild side and try sewing an invisible zipper. 
We are such crazy gals.

If you haven't been to Alissa's blog you are truly missing out. Not only is she an interior designer, she can cook {check out her Tasty Tuesdays, yesterday was shrimp tacos}, knit, sew, paint and DIY like nobody's business.

And she takes the most amazing photographs. I am so envious of her photography skills.

So if you want to know what I am sharing today at 33 Shades of Green, hop on over.

XO Barbara

IDS West Re-Cap and Blend 2011

A year after having a conversation over lunch with Nancy, Karla and Victoria, our dream of having a blogger soiree during the IDS West show became a reality! It all came together beautifully, with Ikea Canada jumping on board and paying for the whole thing - yes - food, drinks, the venue, swag bag goodies AND offered up a $1000 gift card too!

The ladies at Ikea Canada as absolutely fabulous, not only are they incredibly talented and passionate but so kind. I am thrilled to be able to work with them again in the future.

Another fabulous sponsor was Delta Faucets, they helped with our incidental costs and donating fabulous door prizes too; decor books and faucets.

My weekend started with the IDS West Opening Night party, where we were given a sneak peek of the whole show, yummy canapes and wine. I received a VIP invite to the Jenn-Air booth as well, their appliances are so impressive!

On Saturday evening, after all our hard work, our blogger soiree we called Blend 2011 came to life! We held it at The Loden Hotel, a fabulous boutique hotel downtown Vancouver. The food was amazing and the company equally superb!

The Designer Guild pillow from The Cross came home with me!

 Zoe Pawlak and Jen Knight {PR Ikea Coquitlam}

 Carol, The Design Pages and Michelle, I Dream of Chairs

 Myself, Nancy, Suzanne Dimma, Karla and Victoria

Suzanne Dimma and Mark Challen

Not only did Ikea Canada sponsor the whole event but they brought famous guests with them as well. Suzanne Dimma, editor-in-chief for Canadian House and Home, Mark Challen, VP of Communications {also a fabulous designer} and Kelly Deck from Kelly Deck Designs, our local HGTV star and the next "Sarah Richardson" of design!

I was star struck, wanted to pick their brains but with all that was going on, I managed to just thank them for coming and get my photos taken!

Mark Challen

Kelly Deck

The Prizes

That evening, the party continued up in our suite! Yes, we had a suite at the hotel, we grabbed platters and my favourite girls from Birch & Bird went and got more wine! We stayed up until 2:30 AM chatting non-stop.

In the morning, a few of us met for brunch at the Fairmont Pacific Rim, yum!

I so enjoyed meeting bloggers face to face and rubbing shoulders with Canadian designers!

We are looking forward to planning out next event, which we hope will be bigger and better!

If you are a design or lifestyle blogger from Canada's West, why don't you join us?
Send me an email and I can connect you to our network or you can follow our blog!

XO Barbara

1, 2, 18 : Sheila Zeller
4, 6-11: Sari McNamee
3, 5, 15-17: Darryl Bueckert