About Author: Cheryll

Cheryll’s keen eye for detail and sense of style has led to a growing and successful career in interior design and the media. Cheryll ran an interior design firm in Western Canada for 15 years, specializing in both commercial and residential design work. As an established and celebrated designer, she began to share her expertise with a national audience – through public speaking, television, radio and print. Today, in addition to hosting two popular national radio shows, Cheryll writes for over 290 newspaper publications a column on construction, design and décor, making her one of the most successful syndicated columnists in Canada.

Posts by Cheryll


Energy at Home



Who amongst us couldn’t use a little more energy? Did you know that you can decorate in a manner that specifically helps to give you more energy? It has been scientifically proven that the way we design and decorate our homes can improve our health, bring harmony and peace to our lives and aid us in keeping fit, happy and lively. Yes, it’s true; good design does more than just look pretty- it literally makes life better.

Let’s start with how colour effects us. Colour has a physical and emotional impact on each and every one of us. Emotionally, colour triggers memory and we naturally like or dislike certain shades and hues depending on our previous experiences with that particular colour. This emotional relationship to colour is very personal. Physically, we react the same to certain hues. There are two families of colour; hot and cold. Cold colours such as blues, greens and purples calm and create restful spaces while hot colours, yellows, oranges and reds, stimulate and energize. When planning a colour palette for a space, it’s imperative that we not only consider our personal relationship with the particular colour we are considering but also the purpose or function of the space and its corresponding palette.

For the last twenty five years, I have been a student of Feng Shui and have countless times employed its common sense principles into my designs. I have been witness to the ‘change’ of energy in a room. Feng Shui is all about keeping the good energy flowing and the negative energy at bay. Bringing in a Feng Shui practitioner to give you a plan based on its principles will drastically affect the energy on your home.

I can’t imagine designing a room without the use of crystals. I love them for their natural beauty but equally as much for their healing properties. In bedrooms, I love to place amethyst for its ability to bring love and peace. In the kitchen, I use quartz crystal for its amplifying ability. In the office or den, I place citrine for its ability to attract wealth.

Scents are another key ingredient for increasing the right energy in your spaces. Lavender in bedrooms is used to help you enjoy a good night’s rest. Lemongrass in the bathroom creates a spa-like experience, citrus scents in the kitchen will increase energy levels and appetites. In the den, we like to stimulate creativity so we use earthy, woody scents to ground us. Living plants are also an essential element in good energy at home. Plants clean the air and some will offer fragrance as well. You should have three to five plants per person in the household.

Ensuring that your home is equipped to play music is also important. Wireless speakers and smart audio systems make it easy and affordable to outfit your home with a fabulous sound system. Work on creating custom playlists with music you love that will provide, at the touch of a button, the right music for the activity at hand. One for those romantic evenings, one to help you concentrate and focus, one to energize and motivate as you work out, one to party with and one to sing along with when no else is around.

Live fabulously and stay energized at home.

Creatively Yours,


Get Your Reno On

, Get Your Reno On

All summer you’ve been dreaming of a new kitchen or restyling your master bedroom and now it’s time to get your reno on! As exciting as it sounds, often getting started is the hardest step to take and if you don’t have the right team and a solid plan in place that dream makeover can become your worst nightmare.

Cheryll Gillespie, Get Your Reno OnStart with a solid vision and doable plan. Collect pictures, create a wish list, visit supply houses such as plumbing, heating, and electrical showrooms to scout available products and gather information. If the scope of the project is over your head (if you are not qualified trades people) hire the right team of professionals to help you with your project. Honestly, the finished product (your room) will not only look better but you’ll complete the renovation in a more timely fashion and you will save your self aggravation and potentially lots of money, as the cost of doing something twice because it was done incorrectly the first time has to be factored in. I strongly feel that home makeover and renovation television shows have given us a false sense of security with respect to renovations. It looks so easy and it only takes an hour.

At the very least, pay for a professional opinion at the onset of your project. If you don’t want to hire a designer to work with you on the project, then at least hire a really talented one for an hour or two to review your plan with you. Designers (yes this is a shameless plug) have seen numerous completed projects, been told the costs spent and have thought to ourselves “it’s too bad they didn’t hire us as we sure could have given them more bang for their buck”. Not only have we spent two to six years at school studying the science of design but we’ve got years of experience under our belts that we love to share with you, not to mention all the creativity and secret resources that we have up our designer sleeves.

With a rock solid plan in place, it’s time to start selecting your materials- don’t start with the paint in fact paint is one of the last finishes we select. A basic guide line is to start with the flooring and work your way up from there.

Have fun with the project, you’ll live with these new rooms for the next ten to fifteen years, so select the expensive and difficult finishes with care as you can’t change these easily. Throw caution to the wind and be creative and daring with accessories, art, wallpapers and even paint. It’s that touch of whimsy and a well-planned risk that will give your space its creativity and personality. Live fabulously and get your Reno on!

Creatively Yours,


Living Luxuriously

Cheryll Gillespie, Living Luxuriously

We all deserve to feel as if we are living luxuriously, no matter what budget we are currently operating on. This Fall, the most glamourous homes are adding touches of metallic gold and organic textures to their rooms. Whether you are spending big dollars or none at all, incorporating the right touches into your home will make it feel more expensive and glamourous and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune.

Gold, yes gold and no you don’t have to discard all of your stainless, bronze and silver metals in order to bring the ultimate golden touch to your room. High end designers from New York to LA to Toronto and Vancouver are all including a few pieces of golden accessories in their spaces. They sit side by side with other metals and elevate the room with chic style. Mixing metals is on trend and what every best-dressed room will be accessorizing with this year. You don’t need to spend your retirement fund to get the Midas touch, be on the lookout for a piece or two at your favorite designer haunts, perhaps a golden vase or Buddha statue. You may find a gold or brass coloured piece while you are out garage saling this summer or buy a can of metallic gold spray paint from your local do-it center and up-style an existing lamp base in the living room. Designer tip: don’t just have one golden piece in a room, have three to ensure that it looks like you meant for the colour to find its way into the space, a single piece often looks like it was left there accidentally.

The second must-have piece for a luxurious space this Fall is going to be an organic element. Perhaps a live edge table or a slab of wood displayed like art. Live edge tables are absolutely stunning as an end or coffee table in the living room, a foyer table or even a dining table. A wonderful piece of wood displayed vertically looks brilliant just about anywhere. At the most recent furniture shows, I was excited by some live edge tables which used ornate more traditionally styled table legs, the juxtaposition between the modern and traditional was spectacular. The tables are art themselves and therefore don’t require a lot of dressing or tabletop accessories. Perhaps a simple candle on a golden base. You’ll also notice a lot of gold colored glass arriving in your favorite design haunts this fall so be sure to bring home a piece or two.

Designer tip: how about spray painting a beautiful organic, gnarly branch or a piece of drift wood with the metallic gold paint? Set the wood on display on a mantel, dining table or even the kitchen counter.

Live fabulously, decorate luxuriously!



Cheryll Gillespie, Trust

The most important ingredient in any relationship is trust. If you’ve hired an interior designer to help you decorate, renovate or build your dream home, then you have obviously done your due diligence, confirmed their abilities and track record within the industry. You’ve started to build a relationship and trust has to be the glue that binds the two of you together. I’m not suggesting blind trust, but I am making the point that you need to let them take the lead. A designer should push you out of your design comfort zone, and ask you to take a risk or two, if they’re not suggesting ideas that surprise you or excite you, then you probably could have done the job yourself.

Creativity is about pushing the limits, doing something that hasn’t been done before and this takes trust- a leap of creative faith. As we work through the planning process with our clients, we keep them informed consistently and collaborate on all the important decisions, but every job has at least of moment or two where the designer is telling you to trust them, it will look great- have faith and let’s do it. This is the item, this is the chair, this is the ceiling detail or the wallpaper that will likely bring you the most joy and satisfaction when the space is completed.

You also have to trust yourself when you are designing, whenever you second guess a colour or a piece of art or furniture you usually end opting out of an incredible creative opportunity and instead settling for the safe, less exciting and ultimately predictable choice. It will undoubtedly be nice, it will look compatible but you won’t be saying wow! Trust your instincts, trust that gut feeling its usually bang on the mark for what the room needs.

It’s the “wow’s” that we strive for, it’s the ‘wow’ that make us proud of our design talents and ensure that our homes are personable, unique and absolutely fabulous. When we are designing for our clients we ensure we’ve installed at least one statement or signature element in every room, one unexpected moment or treat for the eyes, an unexpected pattern, colour or even a juxtaposition in style or genre, maybe even a piece that makes everyone laugh, or start a conversation. Personally, I love listening to folks tour our personal home and exhale with enthusiasm as their eyes feast on an unexpected treat or something they have never seen before. It doesn’t always have to be something grand, it can be small in stature but it’s the surprise and unexpectedness that brings the greatest joy to us in our spaces.

To create remarkable spaces, it’s imperative that you have trust in yourself and in your design team. You won’t regret taking those leaps of faith- they will offer the greatest reward and ultimately create the most dynamic and interesting rooms that reflect your personality and nurture your spirit.

Creatively Yours,


Summer Project

Cheryll Gillespie, Summer Project

Looking for a summer project?  Need some rainy day ideas or just a creative outlet? At home, I always have a list of ‘things and ideas’ to do file on the go. I keep a running list of items that need fixing, when I see something that needs to be touched up or something breaks, I always add it to the list. If I have an idea for a specific space, if I’ve seen a photograph of a special new design idea or checked out a blog with an inspirational flower arrangement image or read a magazine with an interesting small detail or organizing trick I’d like to try, I write it done on my list or put the photo in the file. When I have a spare twenty minutes, a few hours free or if I’m lucky, even an entire day to putz around the house, I pull out the list and get to work. What’s on my list? Everything from ‘fix the magnetic closure on one of my cupboard doors’, to ‘spray painting the giant faux moss balls’ that sit near the front entrance, a reminder to ‘buy baskets’ to organize the back mud room closet, and ordering the ‘leather floor’ I want in the gym. The tasks can be big or small projects, expensive ideas or DIY goals that won’t cost a penny, long-term or short-term ideas, but all ultimately must share a common thread: they are all intended to maintain, improve, and spice up your life at home!

This summer, I’ve made some pretty good headway on my list. I’ve painted some clay pots white that were formally terracotta in color (which would never work at my modern house) and they look amazing, contemporary and right on trend. The inspiration came from the last trip to Paris where I saw the most stunning thirty inch clay pots painted a bright red and flanking the doorway to a gorgeous apartment building. When the paint had dried, I filled the pots with Oleander trees and then covered the bases with moss and three succulent heads to create an outstanding arrangement. If I have a little time this weekend, I’ll pull out the paint brush and my glossy white paint and give a couple of coats to some wonderfully ornate frames we picked up at a vintage store last year. Then I’ll add in some black & white photos of family and friends and hang them on my gallery wall (another amazing project to add the the list, if you do not yet have a family wall of ‘fame’ in your home).

I love the effectiveness and organization of making lists and my ‘home to do’ list is truly my favourite list. It’s filled with great ideas and reminders that make life around home better. It also comes in handy if you are making a run to the hardware store or are out and about shopping. I always have a current photo of my list on my phone for easy reference. Living fabulously means taking good care of what you have (repairs and maintenance) and maintaining a constant motivation and inspiration for wonderful additions and makeovers for what is yet to come. Home is always an evolving project and there’s just something so soothing about working and improving the most important space in your lives- your home. That’s living fabulously!

Creatively Yours,


Garage Sale Season

Cheryll Gillespie, Garage Sale Season

You may not want it but I might? Yesterday, my girlfriend Dana and I went garage sale shopping. She’s getting married this summer, so she was on a mission to find 100 china dinner plates. She’s serving the wedding dinner on fabulously, beautiful eclectic vintage floral themed china dishes. What a fun way to spend a Saturday morning, followed of course with lunch on a patio and a delicious bottle of wine to revel in our finds.

Partly the lure of garage sale shopping is the thrill of the hunt, and the surprise of the find. You truly never know what treasures you will find as you travel from sale to sale. We were successful on with our dinnerware mission, a beautiful place setting for ten for twenty dollars. I found a collection of 156 ounce (huge) champagne bottles for two dollars apiece. Yes, they were empty. Score, for me, as I’ve been wanting to use these oversized bottle as outside candle holders. I’ll give it a good washing, fill it with sand so its heavy enough not to blow over even in the strongest wind and then drip many layers of melted wax down the bottle and replace the cork with a candle and I’ll have the perfect dining table center piece. I also found a vintage round sterling silver tray, that polished up perfectly this morning, a crystal jam jar complete with sterling silver spoon and a couple of brand new Gund teddy bears ( still with the price tag attached) for the four legged kids at home. Not a large haul this weekend, but a fun day and time to have a good visit with a girlfriend.

It’s the perfect Saturday adventure but you need to go prepared. The ability to think on your feet creatively is a must , as you only have a few minutes to look at an item and decide if you can work with it or if it’s a great piece to bring home. You’ll find furniture that you can paint and restore, so you need to be able to recognize good lines or even a mid century modern piece that may need to be sent in to have the legs re-chromed, but once done, you would then be the proud owner of a coveted designer case good. Go prepared with plenty of cash for bargaining purposes, comfortable shoes, bottled water, your creative thinking cap, an open mind and a full tank of gas.

The early bird gets the worm and the best items, so go early and plan your route ahead of time. Don’t get discouraged when you don’t find anything good this weekend as you just never know when or where you will find a true treasure. The fun is in the hunt and the camaraderie. Live fabulously and design well – it doesn’t take a huge budget but rather, a good eye and an adventurist spirit.

Creatively Yours,


Bring Home the Sunshine

Cheryll Gillespie, Bring Home the sunshine

This week, infuse your home with a little sunshine and love. Here are a few designer ideas to embrace the season and elevate both the sunshine and the love in your home.

Buy a lemon tree. I have both a beautiful variegated leafed lemon tree which really grows, a pink lemon tree and two regular lemon trees planted in pots on my patio. I love the look, the smell and of course the lemons that come from my trees. At the base of the trees, plant some fresh mints or beautiful flowers- stunning sunshine in a pot. Every morning, I enjoy lemon in water and there’s always a pitcher of homemade lemonade in my refrigerator. When summer is over, the trees can come indoors for the winter or you can find a greenhouse to store them for you until next spring. I also wrapped the trees with solar lights to give the patio a romantic ambiance when the sun goes down.

Fresh squeezed lemon is also the perfect all-purpose cleaner for your home. Not only will lemon juice and water disinfect your floors, walls and countertops but your home will smell fabulous and fresh. Mix the juice of one lemon with a half cup of vinegar and two cups of water and put into a spray bottle to keep under your sink and use to clean just about everything.

Buy a wonderful glass water dispenser and make your own iced teas or lemon infused waters. I have a glass water dispenser that sits on my countertop every day and we enjoy a sun-steeped green tea or fruit-flavored water. I always start with green tea and then add ice, fruit or herbs such as mint to fulfill the flavors. Yummy and healthy.

Buy a drying stand for laundry and hang your whites outside in the sunshine to dry, not only will you save a few dollars on your power bill this month but you will also have whiter whites and fabulous smelling clothes and linens.

Bring fresh cut flowers and stems (branches), into your home to enjoy. Embrace whatever is currently in bloom and showcase around the house. Even a single flower in a rose bowl is like a little sunshine in a glass.

Open the windows and let your home air itself out on a beautiful day- it’s truly amazing the effect a change of ‘air’ can have on a home.

Add a giggle or unexpected surprise. My girlfriend Donna loves the three crystal hearts I leave around the drain in the powder room sink. She always smiles as she’s washing her hands. Art and home decor with a sense of humor and an unexpected surprise to make you smile is really what good design at home is all about.

Live fabulously and be sure to bring sunshine home this week!

Creatively Yours,


Hang Ups

Cheryll Gillespie, Hang Ups

An all too common hang up I come across often with my clients in my world of design, is the art of bringing yourself to hammering a nail in the wall to hang your art. Too many folks are afraid to raise the hammer. Folks it’s only a little wall mud and paint if it goes tragically wrong. We certainly don’t want wall’s that look like swiss cheese so here are a couple of my tricks to help you get it right the first time.

Use white chalk to mark where the nails or even to outline the picture frame so that you can see how it will be positioned on the wall. Inviting a friend over to help you hang art is also a good idea but don’t open the wine until after the job is done! Chalk is always in my picture hanging kit as it is also the perfect tool for aiding with a group hanging or gallery wall (more than two pieces hung less than three inches apart).

One of you can then hold the art in place, while you take a step back to ensure it is perfectly positioned. Don’t invite or employ the help of a tall friend, they may try to persuade you to hang your art too height. Gallery height is 60” from the floor to the center of the art and they (galleries and museums) constantly have customers and admires who stand taller than 5’3”. Sometimes I do get creative with hanging heights , but I go lower not higher. The idea is that the average person 5’5” will look directly at the center of the art when standing in front of the piece. If you hang the art with the center at 60” you are well positioned. Where I get creative is when a seat is involved. For example, in a living room, I may hang a piece at eye level for a seated person when I have art directly across from them.

Invest in a picture hanging kit so you have a good supply of quality screws, nails and hooks on hand. It’s important that you use hooks so that someone who happens to brush past the art doesn’t end up taking it down and that the weight of the nail/hook can support the piece of art. If you want to hang something heavy, don’t ask your husband for help, he’s likely to complain that it’s too heavy and can’t be done. My advice is to call your favorite designer , who will gladly lend you her handy man and have the job done stress-free, then when your husband gets home you can both stand back with a glass of wine in hand and admire the new art without a quarrel.

Pull out those hammers, position those hooks, get hanging and enjoy peering at your provocative, beautiful and conversation-starting art this weekend at home. Now, that’s fabulous living!

Creatively Yours,


To Stage or Not to Stage

Cheryll Gillespie, To Stage or Not

To stage or not to stage! If you’re selling your home this spring you probably have been pondering whether you need to call in the pros and have the home staged. The answer is unequivocally, yes. Even if your home is well-decorated, call in the stagers to ‘tweak’ your home so it’s perfect to sell!

Sometimes we are asked to come in for a couple of hours and ‘set the stage’ for a client and other times we are needed to fully furnish a home and often, our role exists somewhere between the two – usually with a few additional pieces of furniture needed as well as a little tweaking in the layout and decor department.

A well-staged home will absolutely sell your home faster, saving you money on extra mortgage payments and maintenance and will get you the highest dollar amount possible for your home. Staging is about arranging properly sized and proportionate furniture to show off the homes assets, perhaps a great view, or a wonderful architectural element. Staging allows the potential buyer to see the home in its best light and have the ability to envision what their life would be like in the home. Imagine if for just one night you had a team of stylists, make-up and hair artists to get you prepped and ready for the ball, would you look any different than you do now? Would you walk out the door feeling like a million dollars? Would you walk with great confidence into a room? This is what the staging team does for the home.

Can you stage your own home? No, hire the best staging team in town, even if you only bring them in for a few hours to tell you what needs to be done. Your home is probably your largest investment, you do need to spend some money to make money in this situation. I often see folks going with second rate stagers for a few hundred dollars on a contract. Seriously, a few hundred dollars when this investment in staging will return you thousands? You want a stager who uses top quality furniture and has creative flair and designing experience. Staging is more than putting a couple of bland sofas in a room or making it all neutral. Last week a realtor not only hired us to stage a home that’s been sitting on the market for too long but to give it some soul. The home had multiple offers in 4 days. A good staging job does have creative flair and style because we want potential buyers to remember the home. More often than not when a staged home sells, the new buyers ask to purchase some of the furniture and art pieces because they simply are perfect for that space and become integral to the home’s vibe. As a buyer, never be afraid to ask about purchasing a piece of furniture or art that seems ideal in the home, whether it belongs to the home owner or a staging company.

Spending money on a quality home stager and heeding their advice will return thousands more to you on the sale of your home. Don’t sell without a great realtor or a fabulous stager regardless of the homes value, we stage $300,000 homes as often as we do $3,000,000 homes.

Creatively Yours,



Cheryll Gillespie, Mirrors

The sun is shining and we can’t bring enough of that fabulous sunshine into our homes. A mirror will double the light value of a window and the room’s light fixtures by brightening and enlarging a the space. Here are some creative ways that you can use mirror in a room that you may not have thought of.

  1. Cheryll Gillespie, MirrorsLay a framed mirror on top of a small table stand to create a wonderful end table or feature table in a foyer or even your powder room.
  2. Draw a template of your dining table and have your local glass shop cut you a piece of mirror to fit on top of the table, this will not only make a dated, vintage table current and chic but it will also hide scratches and surface damage.
  3. Take a framed mirror to your local glass shop and ask them to cut a five inch diameter circle out of the middle of the mirror, now use the mirror as a ceiling medallion around a light fixture.
  4. Mirror an entire wall in a poorly lit room for instant enlightenment.
  5. Line the backs of your glass-doored kitchen cabinets with mirror.
  6. Install mirror between built-in book shelves.
  7. Create a mirror collage from small pieces of glass on the ceiling of a small but important room such as a foyer or powder room, try this on the back of an art niche as well.
  8. Have the glass shop cut you beveled 22x 22 inch squares , add on the little rubber buttons in the four corners to protect your table top and you have beautiful chargers for your table settings.
  9. Reface an old dresser, coffee table or even the bathroom vanity with beveled mirror pieces.
  10. Give an old tray sex appeal with a mirrored insert.
  11. Have mirrored sheets installed over top of an outdated kitchen back splash.
  12. Give a room a completely new look by simply replacing a piece of framed art with a framed mirror.

Don’t be afraid to hang mirror onto of mirror. An antique framed mirror hung onto of wall-to-wall mirror in a bathroom always looks decadent.

Lean mirrors, hang mirrors, lay mirrors or panel a wall or ceiling with mirrors. Designers know that mirrors bring light and savvy style to every space and reflect a gorgeous view!
Now that’s living fabulously!