Wel­come, Christ­mas

De­signer Sarah Ward’s tal­ent for cre­at­ing warm, in­ti­mate spa­ces is un­fet­tered by size, space or sea­son.

Western Living - - CONTENTS - by JACQUIE MOORE // pho­to­graphs by PHIL CROZIER

IfSarah Ward’s house is invit­ing year-round, it’s en­tirely ir­re­sistible dur­ing the hol­i­days. Af­ter all, if a host ac­tu­ally wanted her visi­tors to leave—ever—would she park a bas­ket of soft blan­kets be­side the sofa? Or hang fluffy boughs of fir, light can­dles, pull de­li­cious home­made things out of the oven, en­cour­age a lap­dog to curl up be­side them, and stoke the flames of sea­sonal nos­tal­gia? Nope, she wouldn’t. We hate to pre­sume, but we’re cer­tain Ward will be dis­ap­pointed if your De­cem­ber visit to her home in Cal­gary’s Bankview neigh­bour­hood is any­thing short of lan­guorous.

Ward is a mas­ter of con­jur­ing warmth and el­e­gance out of un­likely spa­ces of all sizes. You can see her magic touch in full ef­fect at Donna Mac, a one-year-old up­scale diner on the ground floor of a new build­ing in Cal­gary’s Belt­line neigh­bour­hood. The restau­rant piv­ots on share­able, small-plate com­fort food; Ward’s bright, hu­man-scale de­sign man­ages to both cap­ture the co­zi­ness of fam­ily-style din­ing and re­spect the es­tab­lish­ment’s shiny new digs and fairly ex­per­i­men­tal menu.

“I love that Donna Mac has a 14-foot ceil­ing, but it feels in­ti­mate in that room,” she says. “I used a lot of wood and nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als

“I pre­fer a nat­u­ral, Nordic style, and I like a lot of green­ery—fir, eu­ca­lyp­tus —es­pe­cially be­cause it’s so brown and white out­side.”

to cre­ate that feel­ing.” It’s a room that could eas­ily ex­ude cool slick­ness, but Ward’s in­te­gra­tion of invit­ing, eye-level tex­tures and tac­tile de­tails such as cork and var­i­ous fab­rics keeps things cozy. Large fix­tures add vol­ume and air to the space with­out over­whelm­ing it—a feat Ward like­wise pulled off with her re­vi­tal­iza­tion of the huge main floor of the 101-year-old Na­tional Ho­tel in In­gle­wood, now the Nash restau­rant.

In con­trast to those rel­a­tively large pub­lic spa­ces, Ward’s home—an early 20th-cen­tury bun­ga­low set high on a leafy street—is a tiny gem. This is where the de­signer’s tal­ent for com­bin­ing colour, un­pre­dictable pat­tern and deeply per­sonal ob­jects is most ap­par­ent; her eclec­tic choices never veer into fan­ci­ful or pre­cious, even in a month when one’s cher­ished sea­sonal pieces have po­ten­tial to add a chal­leng­ing layer to ev­ery room.

“I think when you’re a kid Christ­mas is a mag­i­cal thing, but as adults we’ve lost most of that,” says Ward. “At Christ­mas, you can pre­tend it’s still there.” To her, that pre­tense means in­dulging in her nos­tal­gia for a sub­dued, slightly an­ti­quated 1960s-era pal­ette. While she tweaks her hol­i­day decor from year to year, Ward gen­er­ally finds peren­nial joy in sil­ver tinsel, gold ac­cents, a sweet snow globe, frosted pine cones and a for­est of tiny bot­tle-brush trees rem­i­nis­cent of early stop-mo­tion movies (per­haps one star­ring a young buck named Ru­dolph). Other than that (and a dec­o­rated tree or two), her hol­i­day fare is sub­tle. “I pre­fer a nat­u­ral, Nordic style, and I like a lot of green­ery—fir, eu­ca­lyp­tus—es­pe­cially be­cause it’s so brown and white out­side.”

Many of Ward’s year-round dec­o­ra­tive ob­jects dou­ble as sea­sonal pieces—or vice versa—in­clud­ing a beech­wood wreath can­dle stand. Her faux ze­bra tro­phy is at home in any sea­son ( Ward shows re­mark­able re­straint in not adding a set of rein­deer antlers).

Above all, it’s food, wine and peo­ple that bring Ward’s house to life over the hol­i­days, when she looks for­ward to “in­dulging” in elab­o­rate meal prepa­ra­tion for loved ones. “My par­ents still host turkey din­ner, and I never want that to change, but I also love to en­ter­tain fam­ily and friends at my house,” she says. “The nos­tal­gic side of me loves the tra­di­tion and rit­ual of shar­ing meals at home.” Lucky for us, Ward’s invit­ing de­sign ex­tends far be­yond her own walls.

Per­sonal Touch The boldly colour­ful din­ing room acts as the jewel box—and main en­ter­tain­ing space—in the home. The side­board (right) was one of the first pieces Ward and her hus­band pur­chased for the house. And a bar­ris­ter’s book­case (be­low) hosts sou­venirs of their world trav­els.

Feel­ing the Blues Rather than stan­dard white or black din­ner­ware, Ward opted for navy blue (left). A print from artist Alanna Ca­vanagh cel­e­brates all things food in the kitchen (be­low, left). Shades of pea­cock blue, char­treuse, sil­ver and gold dot the nat­u­ral Christ­mas tree in the liv­ing room (right).

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