In Living Colour: what my ‘staycation’ taught me about life, decorating and why I’m giving away a brand new Gus* Sofa!’

Video Production: Kelly Lawson

The Backstory:

I couldn’t count how many times over the years I’ve heard myself belt out “Really, all I’d love to do is take a week off, stay home and decorate the house!”  Most of us, of course, lead busy lives and what we wish we could do and what we ultimately get to do are often two different things.  My reality is that I have a (happily chosen!) career that fills my days.  I typically hit the ground running at 5 a.m. and rarely stop before 8 p.m.  I generally work seven days a week.  My early morning routine involves Fundy Crossfit, then ritual coffee/breakfast with Robert, then a day of sundry duties at TUCK / Tuck Interiors with a tremendous group of determined and ambitious individuals known as our Tuck Team‘.  Lots of meetings and interactions with wonderful customers in store, and off site with a consistently-fascinating, ever-changing slate of interior design clients. As has been the case since I was a child, I don’t relax well; I’m inveterately desperate to know ‘what’s the next thing!’. It’s a great life, but a jam-packed one.

What I’ve come to realize is that even those with great lives have not-so-great phases in their life.  Things get away from us, we take on too much, we become super stressed, and we simply burn out.   This happened to me near the end of February.  I’ll avoid the grim details, but I eventually came to a strong and clear realization that if I didn’t slow down on many levels of my life I was headed for trouble.  Throughout I kept hearing that voice in my head repeating, ‘Really, all I’d love to do is take a week off, stay home and decorate my house’.  And, then it dawned on me.  Do it.  So, I did.

The Best Laid Plans:

…they often go awry.  As I moved towards my ‘staycation’ I had big big plans! I was going to clean out the entire garage (hasn’t been done since we built the house 6 years ago!), re-decorate the entire main floor, the entire upstairs and likely the basement.  Sounds nothing like a rest, does it!  Oh, and I was going to have it all done in four days.  And then, something remarkable happened.  I discovered Podcasts.   Talk about ‘late to the game’!  In all my busy, hectic ‘oh-so-important life’, I’ve never taken the time to listen to a podcast (well, except my own that I appeared on earlier this year with Mel Norton & Kelly VanBuskirk (Legal Coaching); don’t worry – it’s not legal boring stuff!).  I’ve heard the distant podcast chatter from Robert’s studio (he listens to close to three or four a day), but I’ve never made time for it.

One of the first podcasts I started to listen to was “10% Happier with Dan Harris.”  You may remember Dan as ‘that correspondent’ that had a major panic attack on ABC News a few years ago.  He came to the conclusion, to quote the poet Rilke, that You must change your life.  To try and summarize in one sentence:  Dan started meditating and then began a podcast interviewing other people (like me – and likely you) who swore they’d never in a million years meditate, now do, and it’s changed their life, radically.   So for one week I went down the podcast rabbit hole listening to fascinating stories, likely 75 – 100 podcasts, jumping from various hosts like James Ultucher – to the entire season of S Town, from this American Life.  

As a result, this kind of ‘life-changing’ thing happened.   I left the house, and went for long walks with my earphones intact.   I connected with nature.  I couldn’t ‘get enough’ of the next podcast and the next nature trail.  I even listened to an entire episode of Tony Robbins!  As much as I had planned to redecorate the entire house, I found that it actually took second place now to my new love:  walking, podcasts and taking time to slow down and reflect.  This, coupled with intense massage therapy from Tania Boulos RMT, made me feel reborn.  I’ve haven’t taken the plunge on meditating yet but am open to it.  Maybe.  

The Outcome:

The garage is still a mess. The upstairs of the house and the basement never got a second glance!  Who cares!  But, a week home with Robert, lots of visits with my son, cuddles with my furry friends, sitting in the back garden, going for walks and my newfound love of podcasts meant I only got the main floor of my house decorated.  And, that’s OK!  I feel rested, rejuvenated, and refocused.   In a way, our home has also had a rebirth of sorts courtesy of the inclusion of lots of colour-pop, plants and the removal of one big-ass table! Additionally, I decided that I was going to give a sofa away from TUCK!  If podcasts have taught me anything it’s this:  giving to others is, oddly enough, the best way to give to yourself.  Drop down to the bottom of this post to see how you can win a beautiful Gus* Modern Aubrey sofa, fabric of your choice!

I particularly would like to give special recognition to my dear friend and photographer, Kelly Lawson who patiently went through the process of photographing my home with me.  You see the empty wine glasses in the earlier video? That was us polishing off a bottle of bubbly throughout the shoot!  

In Living Colour (particularly pink!):

I’m all about colour these days.   The more intense the better! Often, modern homes like ours tend to lean towards a very etherial, monochromatic ‘safe’ interiors, complete with a blurry person captured walking somewhere through the house.  I’m pretty sure those days are over for me.   Our homes should reflect the people who live in them and I really wanted the house to reflect our personalities – bold and adventurous!  Anyone who knows me, knows I’m a big fan of neon and I wanted to set the tone right away in our entrance with beautiful artwork from Ryan Livingstone with two porcelain ravens with neon, one pink, one purple.  These pieces work beautifully at night time as well as they act as mood lighting without having to turn the pot lights on in the evening.  Hung on top of newly painted light pink wall (Benjamin Moore Little Piggy 2008-60) and anchored with a simple mirror, it creates a minimal vignette over the bench as the double height bookshelves burst with colour from each and every spine.  I had a custom bench cushion made from a faux leather fabric  ‘Shark‘ and added a few cushions, and some new knobs from Antropologie to intensify the love of pattern and colour.  A second hand rug adds texture!

Featured:  Left, cushion picked up last year from the National Portrait Gallery in London beside the Empire Bee Cushion by Timorous Beasties, one of my all time favourite design collectives from Scotland.  Conner Mirror & porcelain ravens by Ryan Livingstone (through Tuck)  Knobs, anthropologie  The bench design and the reclaimed snow fence on the walls are part of the original design from Acre Architects who designed our house in 2012.  Fabric; Shark/JFFabrics (through Tuck)

As you look down the wide entrance you may notice something missing?  We used to have a very large live edge dining table that sat 8 – 10 people smack-dab in the centre of this picture frame.  More to follow on this later in the post!

Robert loves his book collection for its content. Me? I totally judge every book by its cover and the verdict is:  LOVE!  The spray of colour that comes with this collection is perfect for someone like me who wants pops of colour from floor to ceiling!  Under the stairs, with neutral fabric and materials, I placed three Monster Chairs by Marcel Wanders/Moooi (through Tuck) and a simple stainless cube (Gus* / Tuck) to anchor the open space.  To add a bit of height and ‘organic’, I asked Oksana Posatska from Cedarcrest Gardens fill a concrete planter with different size snake plants. 

One of Robert’s favourite pieces in the house is ‘Bestow‘ part of Harry Allen’s Reality Hand Hook series. (through Tuck).

Speaking of Robert, here he is, photobombing while Kelly and I were getting ready to take kitchen pictures!  

One of the biggest changes in our kitchen was the removal of our built-in banquet and our dining room table (see below).   I know, it sounds drastic, doesn’t it!  I really struggled with the idea of removing the banquet because the nook was beautifully designed and the live edge custom dining table built by Bruce Gray was the first furniture purchase that Robert and I bought together 11 years ago.    But, here’s the thing; we had seating in the (original) nook for up to 8 people and our dining table sat up to 10 more if you wanted!  Two people living in this house (that’s me and Robert!) had seating in the middle of our main floor for up to 18 people!  Guess how many dinner parties we had last year?  Zero! Don’t get us wrong!  Throughout the year, we have hundreds of people through with large parties but we were constantly trying to navigate our way around these large seating areas, when everyone was standing! So, we decided to remove the nook and our dining table so that we had more space for ‘living’ and in this case, you’ll see further down, I mean more space for ‘living room!’ Below, from a few years ago is an earlier version of seating. (photos by Mark Hemmings)

I asked Christoph Malinowski from CM Woodcraft to implement my new design from the previous nook, essentially keeping the spirit of the original design from Acre using the reclaimed snow fence but creating a counter for counter height stools.  I added a soapstone countertop from Select Kitchens/Sticks & Stones and some canary yellow Church stools from Gus* Modern along with two from the set of three new Trillium stools also from Gus*.  (Look further on in the post to see the third stool in the living room!)

In our double height kitchen above the sink is our wedding gift to each other. Instead of spending money on an actual wedding, we purchased the Raymond Martin painting instead.  We love that this painting is enjoyed from the main floor and discovered from the second floor flex space.  Kitchen lights, Orbit chandeliers, designed by Patrick Townsend.

I asked Select Kitchens to cut me a large board to function of course as a cutting board, but I also wanted to break up the white on the countertops and add to the warmth of the reclaimed snow fence on the front of the cabinets.   The painting on the left “Oh Fortunati” by Bruce Pashack was a gift to Robert from me when we moved into our new home.   I then decided to place a little ‘mini-bar’ of sorts to continue with the new seating nook at the counter.  

Detail:  left ceramic,  Yolande Clark Various bottle openers, coasters from Chilewich, N-Product, Umbra & Umbra Shift (through Tuck).  The Umbra Prisma Mirror anchors the glam on the counter!  Ceramics by Darren Emenau and Alison Gayton.

One of the best decisions I made when we were designing the kitchen many years ago was the kitchen backsplash!  Knowing how much I like to change things up I couldn’t possibly commit to a one time permanent backsplash tile.  So with the help of Christoph Malinowski, we came up with a plexiglass backsplash so that I could constantly change the wallpaper behind it whenever I wanted to!  (Note:  the plexiglass has been removed for the purposes of photography to avoid the reflection in the glass.)  I’m in deep love with the new wallpaper collection from Cole & Son “Acquario” (through Tuck) and love to have these beautiful Fornasetti fish friends adorn our backsplash!  

To see examples of how the plexiglass backsplash has worked in the past, click here to view an entire blog devoted to some earlier iterations in our kitchen.  Or here to see a valentine backsplash! 

A very special thank you to Legacy Painters, particularly Paul and Mark, for installing the wallpaper!  I always hire this crew for our painting and wallpaper needs!  They are the best!

Details:  Cacti:  Cedarcrest Gardens, Harlow Fire candle:   Ella, Legrand switch: (Munro Electric), Radio:  Areaware

In Living Colour:

Remember that discussion earlier about the dining table taking up so much space?  I removed it!  The difference this little flourish of editing made to our living room was astonishing!  For the last six years that we’ve lived here, our living room was very much pushed closely to the far end of this great room, very close to the fireplace.   With the removal of the table, we have so much SPACE!  We moved the sofa, coffee table and chairs central to the windows and the room now breathes.  Ceramic, far right:  Yolande Clark.

I’m not sure which came first, Robert’s bright paintings or if my love for colour has inspired Robert’s bright paintings, but over the last few years I have completely become obsessed with colour!  The happiness that I derive from pattern and vibrant textiles is enormous.  As I mentioned in my opening video, I really just wanted to push my own boundaries in my house to move outside of the grey/white/monochromatic palette and to have fun.  Because, the truth of the matter is, a lot of fun takes place in this house!  We listen to a lot of music, we socialize a lot and we love art!  Read on to see the new additions I’ve added for the spring / summer season!

The minute I saw the new fall collection from Gus* I knew I had to have the Aubrey Sofa in the new fabric, Marais Cherise!  Pair that with the new fabric, Caledon Dahlia on the Gus* Truss chair, and the mood was set!  One of my favourite new additions to this space is an unlikely one, a large disco ball!  When the early morning sun hits,  it’s magical.  And, nothing incites an impromptu ‘dance like no one’s watching‘ moment with the inclusion of this reflective wonder and LCD Sound System on the Anker Speaker, literally anytime of the day.  

I’m not a fan of big carpets.   I find too often they dominate the space and make a room feel congested. I like carpets to act as a central island that provide texture and some warmth, but I like lots of floor visible, in this case, our tiles we love so much.  This second hand distressed rug blends in perfectly with the new furnishings!  Sitting on them are the new Gus* Quarry Coffee tables made from marble, and they are exquisite!  They are a lovely blend of casual sophistication of marble and wood grain.  It’s no surprise that I have not one, but two, Modernica Case Study planters from Cedarcrest Gardens (as well as the plants), as they are a go-to recommendation we make to all of our Tuck clients! To the right is the Moooi Smoke Chair designed by Maarten Baas.  (These chairs are sold through Tuck but certainly are not a casual purchase.)  These two paintings of Robert’s (left; ‘Ariadne’ and right: ‘Icarus’) are two of my favourites.  The colour and movement bring our living room to life.  

The Zigzag end table on the left from Trica (through Tuck) is a great piece for someone like me that lives in magazines!  As before, the Smoke Chair.   The delft collection through Moooi/ Tuck make me happy.   Under Robert’s ‘Icarus’ from left to right; Delft Blue Vase No 3The Killing of the Piggy Bank, gold pot (Anthropologie).  The glorious cactus garden is from Cedercrest Gardens, designed by the talented Oksana Posatska. Pendant lights:  VISO ‘Gemma’ (through Tuck).

Truth be told, this living room transformation started to take place last summer.  When we built the house, I hadn’t made a decision on what the fireplace tiles would be so we just ‘painted it black’ till I made a decision.  Five years later, no decisions had been made.  When I decided I was going to bring vibrant colour to my living room I knew it had to have a strong central focal point on this wall that had a blend between pop and restrain.  I started with my favourite tiles that I’d be dying to use in a project for several years. clé, collaborated with Timorous Beasties to create these hand-painted limestone tiles with a vibrant (wallpaper-like) Rorschach ‘splitter-splater’ damask pattern.  I then chose Benjamin Moore’s ‘Old Navy‘ wall colour.  I hadn’t chosen what exactly would go over the fireplace, but after our vacation last year to Barcelona, Robert and I found this arresting painting by Polish artist, Andrzej Farfulowski and we knew it was coming home with us.   The muted and broody tones give some reprieve from the bold colour elsewhere in the room.  

I wanted this corner to be (almost) colour free as, again, there have to be pockets of colour in the room, and moments of less intensity.  I saw this piece on Mae + Marrow‘s instagram account and knew it was a fit.  I accessorize with, you guessed it – more Moooi – that incredible Dutch design collective I love so much! Included in the grouping is Rabbit Lamp (designed by Front) and Egg Vase, designed by Marcel Wanders, the form created by stuffing latex rubber condoms with hard-boiled eggs.  Crackled Gold Vase.  Lamp, Egg Vase and Crackled Gold Vase, all through Tuck.  Gold/Blue vase:  Ruan Hoffman.  And to complete this corner of the living room, Robert and I recently purchased this photograph from Dan Culberson entitled “Where you lead… No.1” which has very special meaning to us as our Tuck Interiors offices are located directly to the left in this picture.

You may have spotted now the third Gus* trillium stool that goes completes the other two stools placed in the counter section of the kitchen.  This gorgeous caledon dahlia fabric matches the Truss chair and makes a perfect footstool.  On the right is another Timorous Beasties cushion, Napoleon, with an ombre one from Anthropolgie.   Skull by Seletti, Hobnail bowl by the late New Brunswick Deichmann potters.  Underneath. I placed Marcel Wander’s ‘one minute sculpture’ plate.  The Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman, from Chandler Sales.  Beside it, almost undetected, is the Gus* Timber Table.

The girls, Scout and Macey, our fabulous Bostons!

It’s better to give than to receive:  (unless it’s you receiving a new Gus* Modern Aubrey Sofa!) 

Remember my earlier musings about all those podcasts I listened to on my staycation?  A common thread all the way through was the importance of giving to others.  So, I’d like to do that.  We run our contests fair and square, and I really just love the idea of someone getting a notification on July 6th saying, “You are the winner of a new Gus* Modern Aubrey Sofa!!!”  It will happen. It could be you.

How to enter the contest:

The Gus* Modern Aubrey Sofa embodies chic sophistication with piped edges, a button-tufted seat cushion and three luxurious back cushions. An angled back profile and a slim sled base give the Aubrey a clean, refined silhouette which evokes Scandinavian design influences. The solid Ash sled-style base is stained with a walnut or natural finish (Velvet Blush and Huron Ivory fabrics only) and is crafted with 100% FSC®-Certified wood, in support of responsible forest management. 

How are you eligible to win? There are a few ways!

1️⃣. You must be following Tuck Studio on Instagram, Facebook and/or Twitter.

2️⃣. Repost this link/blogpost on Social Media platforms.  (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram).  Each share will gain you a new entry.  Be sure to use the hashtag #TuckSofaGiveaway2018.  And, don’t forget to mention your favourite bits!

3️⃣. Go to and sign up to receive our blog updates for an additional entry.

4️⃣.  For additiional entries, head over to Instagram and Facebook tag a friend in the comments section. For additional entries, tag more friends! Up to a maximum of five friends, each as a new comment.


Draw will take place at noon, July 6th, 2018.  (This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook. Full Contest Details in blogpost.)

We will draw for this incredible Gus* Modern Aubrey Sofa on July 6th, 2018 at noon.  Value $2,450.

Good Luck!


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