With over 15 years of experience, designer Sarah Walker believes in the power of a beautiful space. However, her ethos goes beyond aesthetics. Nicknamed “The Canary in the Design Mines,”, Sarah has spent her career becoming an expert in wellness for the home — the nickname comes from an unusual gift to identify dangerous materials in the design industry. Unfortunately, many home products contain toxins — they’re in everything from finishes to textiles — and can negatively affect your health and wellbeing. She’s created an 8 module course to take you step-by-step through her refined design process, helping you avoid overwhelm and hidden toxins. We’re grateful to welcome Sarah here today to tell us more:

After collectively spending more time in our homes than we ever have before, it’s fair to say we’re viewing the importance of our personal space through a different lens. Suddenly, it has to be all things to all people: the place we work, study, cook, eat, workout, relax, staycay – and it’s where we’re supposed to find a way to prioritize self-care somehow. In this context, instead of providing us with sanctuary, home often feels just as chaotic as the outside world, draining us of the last bit of energy we have left. What’s more, hidden toxins are compromising our health and the health of our loved ones, and we desperately need a beautiful retreat dedicated to our physical and mental well-being.

That’s why I’m so excited to be offering an exclusive masterclass this Fall on designing your home for optimal health, wellbeing and expressing your original style! I was compelled to create this course because I know quite personally the impact our homes can have on our health. Over my 15 years as a designer, I’ve garnered the nickname “The Canary In The Design Mines,” because I would walk into showrooms and have physical reactions to products containing hidden toxins. I would get dizzy and nauseous, developing instant headaches and experiencing muscle weakness and fatigue in response to many of the finishes and furnishings that our professional trade showrooms were offering. After considerable research into production processes, I confirmed what I already suspected: design and decor manufacturing is rife with toxic materials, and my body was apparently an amazing barometer for them. My research and intuition ultimately paved an organic path to becoming an expert in wellness for the home.

While researching toxins in the design industry, I was working overtime to get to the root of a mysterious illness in my own body. When I was finally diagnosed with Lyme Disease almost five years ago, my “canary instincts” made perfect sense. You see, Lyme Disease produces a lot of biotoxins in the body, and after unknowingly fighting it for many years, my toxic load was really high. This made me extra sensitive to hidden health-hijackers like formaldehyde and VOC’s, and although these toxins had a more measurable effect on me, they’re equally harmful for everyone. 

In a weird way, my reactions were a gift. They allowed me to understand why some people get “new house sick,” or why some of my contractors were chronically ill. My body was intuitively telling me what my research confirmed: just like the beauty industry, the design and construction industries are not carefully regulated to protect us from toxins that compromise our health and well-being. Just because something looks beautiful doesn’t mean it’s good for you. Fortunately, alternatives to these dangerous materials do exist—and by replacing the toxins in our home with health-supporting design finds, we can positively impact our well-being.

I’ve personally experienced how good design can support our health through the process of slowly renovating and redecorating my own home. I was like many of my clients. Our bedroom was the last room on our list of design priorities while we focused on the more public spaces in our home. It wasn’t hideous, but it had quietly become the place where baskets of unfolded laundry and unaddressed projects went to die. It wasn’t authentically designed to be a personal sanctuary, so we didn’t treat it like one. And more importantly, I hadn’t removed the hidden toxins from the design. 

So in 2019 I did a total bedroom overhaul. Transforming this space has proven to be a vital step in my journey to overcoming Lyme Disease. Even as an expert in wellness for the home, I’ve been surprised at how much it’s moved the needle, but according to the World Health Organization, “19 percent of factors that affect our health and well-being are directly related to the built environment.”* I’ve made more health gains in the last year than I had in the previous four, and I definitely attribute much of that accelerated healing to our healthy sleep sanctuary. It was similar to cleaning up my diet and realizing I was allergic to gluten. I knew, for example, that the off gassing from our high-end brand name memory foam mattress wasn’t good for my healing journey (as I’ve learned, it’s actually the toxic equivalent of sleeping on a bed of gasoline), but I had no idea how much more deeply I’d sleep and how significantly my pain would improve once I finally had a healthy, inspiring retreat. 

I also had no idea how much I needed a space in our home that was dedicated to my mental and physical well-being. Having a beautiful and inspiring space to wake up to honestly gives me permission to start my day with mindfulness, and having a nurturing backdrop for connecting with my husband has done us a world of good. Beyond that, as a wife and mom, having an inspiring space that is justifiably mine – one where I can close the door to meditate, rest or reflect without feeling selfish? Well, it’s been a game changer.  It’s also been a reminder that well-being is multi-faceted. Just like healing from an illness requires addressing many aspects of our health – from diet to supplementation to detoxification – so too our interior environments play a very important role in our overall picture of wellness.

I know that now more than ever, we all need to be empowered to take care of ourselves at home in ways that really make an impact. We need to care for our health and connect with ourselves and our loved ones if we want to live our best lives. And I know from personal experience that designing a healthy bedroom lays the most important foundation possible for doing just that.

That’s why I’ve created a virtual masterclass to help you design a bedroom that’s as healthy as it is beautiful. My signature personalized healthy design approach will help you transform your bedroom into a beautiful, truly customized-to-your-style, sacred space in just eight weeks. The lessons you’ll learn are transferable to so many other rooms in your home, and I can personally attest to the fact that transforming your bedroom into a stunning, healthy retreat will truly transform your quality of life. With my expert design and wellness guidance – along with insights from experts like a wellness-focused art curator from Saatchi Art, a toxin-free building expert with over 25 years of experience and a lighting expert who will help you set the mood – you’ll learn where all of the hidden toxins lie and how to avoid them while designing your inspiring, restorative dream retreat, all before Thanksgiving.  

I believe healthy design should be accessible for everyone, so I’ve also created an exclusive source guide you won’t find anywhere else with phenomenal discounts worth more than four times the cost of the course. Healthy design doesn’t have to be the style equivalent of wool socks and Birkenstocks. Don’t get me wrong – I love wool socks and Birks! But that’s not my design aesthetic, and I’m guessing it’s not yours, either. I believe that in order for a product to be truly beautiful, it must be healthy for the planet, healthy for the people making it and healthy for the people living with it. The objects we fill our homes with tell the story of our lives and serve as the nurturing backdrop for making memories with the ones we love, and the good news is, we don’t have to compromise anymore. I’m taking all of the guesswork out of where to get what you need to create a healthy, beautiful home and I’m giving you VIP access to the best pricing possible on everything from rugs and furnishings, mattresses and bedding, paint and wallpaper and more so you can design a bedroom that’s truly a welcome home for your senses. 

Sign up for the virtual masterclass and join me in making 2021 the year you move from surviving to thriving! This course is a powerful act of self care, an investment in your health and well-being and an opportunity to express your style in ways that really make an impact. Netflix and wine don’t hold a candle to the transformation this can offer you! You really can design the healthy, happy, beautiful life of your dreams. Registration closes soon, so click here to save your spot and start your own transformation now!

*Ref: www.metropolismag.com/ideas/architects-on-healthier-policy-priorities/