Making Your Dream Home a Reality

Making Your Dream Home a Reality

Jamie Walker is one of those big-brained people. His knowledge is deep, he has a vision, and he knows how to get there. Honestly, one of my first thoughts was that he reminds me of other great innovators like Steve Jobs (but nicer), Elon Musk (but sane), or Mark Zuckerberg (but not a robot).

But it’s not about how big your brain is; what matters is how you use it. Jamie uses his “upper story” to help people design dream homes that are economical to build, functional to live in, and attractive to look at.

What makes Jaime stand out from the competition? Here’s an example: In a very unusual arrangement, a customer wanted two homes built side by side simultaneously, one for them and the other for their parents. Both were 6,000 square feet and used the same contractors to do the work, but Jamie designed one house and another architect did the other. The Walker house made it through the city plan review process a month quicker, and the builders completed that home two months earlier, all for $100,000 less than its twin next door!

Working with his father and grandfather building houses helped Jamie identify his path in life. Ever since, he’s been completely devoted to learning new skills to improve the services offered at his architectural firm, Walker Home Design. Since he has won Best of SLC three years in a row, I’d say he’s on the right path, wouldn’t you?

What’s unique is that Jamie has extensive experience actually building things. This is a guy who knows his way around a hammer. As he puts it, “Most architects have never built so much as a doghouse!” A lack of field experience means most architects and designers don’t actually understand construction, leading to inefficiency.


Walker Home DesignJamie requires all of his team to have some experience in construction. They also go to job sites at least once a month so they can see their creations
being built and gain insight from the process. They’ve designed over 4,000 homes, and they’ve learned from every one.

In the film The Founder, which covers the beginning of the McDonald’s fast food empire, there’s a montage showing a kitchen floor plan drawn in chalk on a tennis court. The scene shows an overhead shot as the founders role play, redesign, and role play again and again, attempting to find the most efficient design and workflow possible for their kitchen. Their goal? To prepare hamburgers and get them to customers fast and at a great value.

This is the type of big-brain thinking I was referring to, and it’s neat to see how it plays out in home design and building. Another example of this was when a 10,000-square-foot house Jamie designed only produced one standard dumpster of material waste during construction. One standard dumpster! Efficient use of materials helps many Walker-designed homes appraise for double their build cost after completion.

Some people chase the dollar, others fame or power. Jamie’s thing is helping homeowners get the best bang for their buck. Walker Home Design believes that their houses should be economical to build, functional to live in, attractive to look at, and fun! Do you like themed rooms and secret passages? Jamie’s your guy, and he would love to make your childhood dreams come true.

Jamie Walker wants people to feel the same thing he does. You pull into your driveway at the end of a long day and get a warm, fuzzy feeling looking at the home you’ve always dreamed of and seeing it full of the people you care most about.

How to Live Uncertain

Near the end of my time in the army (and for years afterward) I struggled with anxiety and depression. I cycled through mental health providers — three of them up and left their careers while they were treating me. I was in a bad place for quite a while, and it hurt me as well as those around me. With help, I eventually got through it. Now, helping others find the help they need is an important project in my life.

This is why I’m not going to try and be clever, as I often do when writing. Instead, I want to shed light on a very important message — It’s okay to ask for help.

One of the best places to ask for help is the OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center (TOATC). With 130 staff members and growing, it is the largest outpatient center of its type in the Mountain West. They are, of course, experts in treating obsessive compulsive and anxiety disorders, but they also treat body dysmorphia, PTSD, and a host of other related disorders.

“You don’t need to suffer in silence. There’s help available.” — Lynne Sill, COO

Like me, most people seeking help go through many counselors, therapists, and psychiatrists attempting to find something that gets them to a manageable state. Around here, that search is usually over once a person finds their way to TOATC.

A 35 percent reduction of problematic symptoms is considered a successful outcome in this field. TOATC is twice as good, with most patients seeing a 70 percent reduction in symptoms.

“You don’t have to suffer any longer. There is a way out with the right treatment.” — Paul Peterson, CEO

What does TOATC do differently? Their standard of care is evidence-based exposure therapy. This protocol leans into discomfort and designs custom exposures that teach patients how to act differently when confronted by perceived threats. Even children as young as 5 years can use the same system as adults to learn the skills to overcome their triggers.

Paul Peterson, who founded TOATC in 2015, expressed that “mental health” is just “health,” that the disorders they treat are as much physical problems as mental ones. It’s like the Matrix — the mind makes it real, and then the brain misfires. In his own words, “An enlarged heart isn’t treated with a dream journal. Mental health is a physical issue.”


Life is uncertain. TOATC aims to arm patients with the tools to embrace life and learn to live with discomfort. Sound odd? Maybe, but it was immediately familiar to me, as being comfortable with discomfort is an important part of the military and strength training — both areas I am intimately acquainted with.

 “It’s not about thinking differently, it’s about acting differently.” — Leah Jaramillo, Senior Director

The OCD and Anxiety Treatment Center has helped thousands of people get their lives back. If you feel controlled by fear, anxiety, or obsessive thoughts, they have the skills to help you begin healing.

I strongly encourage anyone who struggles with these challenges to start by exploring TOATC’s website. They have a plethora of resources to get you started, including free online tests, reading material, video content, podcasts, and a lot more. Then I want you to call them and see how they can help you (or a family member). There’s nothing to lose if you do, and they accept most insurance. Just because no one else can do your inner work for you doesn’t mean you need to do it alone.

1-801-298-2000 The OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

[email protected]

Teamwork Makes the Hair Work

I’m gonna pull an old gem from the 2001 film A Knight’s Tale. During a climactic scene when William Thatcher (played by the late Heath Ledger, who had a beautiful head of hair) is in the stocks for unlawfully posing as a noble, his retainers are defending him from an aggressive mob. Prince Edward then dramatically reveals himself to the crowd and says softly to William, “Your men love you. If I knew nothing else about you, that would be enough,” and then proceeds to knight and ennoble the former peasant.

If you truly want to know the character of a person, look at how they treat their inferiors. It’s what came to mind repeatedly as I got to know Amber Reid, owner of Amber Renè Salon & Spa (and future knight?).

Indeed, as I review my notes I see the quotes from Amber are filled with praise for the members of her team, appreciation for clients, and demonstrations of humility. Amber never asks anyone to do anything she wouldn’t do herself. Her extensive experience, exceptional skill in her trade, and ownership of the business aren’t things she boasts about; to her, they represent responsibilities to her employees and customers.

SLC’s Best Hair Salon is Amber Renè

Such responsibility weighed heavily on Amber last year when she had to close up shop for over a month due to COVID-19, and then operate below capacity when she reopened. Despite the loss of business, Amber retained and paid every member of her 30-person staff. It might have been a struggle, but she kept her staff together and didn’t lose a single employee. That’s remarkable, as personal service industries like salons and barbers were hit harder than most, with as many as 100,000 establishments closing permanently.

But they got through it together. The stylists of Amber Renè Salon are women supporting women (and the occasional man). They believe that a team working together can accomplish much more than the sum of those individuals working alone.

After 30 years in the business, Amber (a master hairstylist) is now focused on mentoring and teaching her team. Every member of the team is experienced and brings unique skills to the salon, so it’s not only Amber leading the instruction. There are plenty of opportunities for peer coaching, ensuring that each individual and the salon as a whole continue to improve and learn. This learning mindset creates extraordinary stylists. Hair, waxing, makeup, nails, massage — you name it, they do it well.

Mastery is more than knowing how to do certain techniques or haircuts. A great hairdresser is something of a magician (though restoring my lost hair is too great a miracle to ask for). They see your potential when they look at you and then bring that vision to life with a professional cut and color. Perhaps it’s a deeper shade to bring out the color of your eyes, or a new shape for your bangs that accents your bone structure.

When you leave, you’re someone different. Your step is lighter and your head is high. For the ladies of Amber Renè Salon & Spa, liking your hair is unacceptable. They want you to love your hair.

2020 Best of SLC Results

You did it, Salt Lake residents! It may have taken a little longer than expected, and we may have had to cancel the banquet (twice) — but the long-awaited results for the 2020 Best of SLC are here!

We received tens of thousands of votes to find the best businesses and attractions in Salt Lake County. The Better Business Bureau vetted the finalists while our team counted hundreds of thousands of reviews to calculate the winners.

The Best of SLC finalists received 176,241 5-star Reviews in the last year.

Now the plan was to announce the results at our fancy and fun Best of SLC Awards Banquet the first week of May; you might be aware that something happened that made that impossible. Plan B was to hold the banquet on June 4th, but that didn’t work either.

While we had to forego the ceremony this year, we can all still celebrate our community and the incredible businesses that are part of it.

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Tip Your Hat to these Best of SLC All-Stars

SLC most reviews

Amber Rene Salon

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Freshies Lobsterdouble winnersWhat Do We Do Now?

Share that victory with your customers with a shiny new plaque…

Once again, this year’s award plaques are available for sale to ALL FINALISTS. The deadline to order is June 26th, so be sure you don’t miss out!

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…and share it with new customers in the Best of SLC Magazine!

You’ll get exposure to 10,000 affluent households and local businesses PLUS boost your association with the Best of SLC. The magazine is sure to give you and your company positive exposure throughout 2020!

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Thank you to everyone who participated in this year’s awards!

Best of SLC™ 2019 Winners

Holy smokes, we did it! After counting, auditing, and verifying a gazillion (± 5%) votes and reviews, the results of the 2019 Best of SLCTM are here!

Using a combination of online reviews and community votes, winners were determined across nine groups and 179 categories. More than 100,000 votes cast by SLC residents were counted.

Local businesses and attractions were nominated at the beginning of the year, and the top 10 nominees in each category moved on to the voting round in March.

In addition to votes, online reviews from Google and Yelp were included in scoring. Overall ratings and the number of 5-star reviews from the previous 12 months helped determine the winners.

Congrats to all our winners. You deserve it!


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Dining winners


entertainment winners

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Fitness and Outdoors winners

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health and beauty winners


home winners

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