Living Well Archive


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,


Designer Gift Giving

designer gifts, Cheryll Gillespie

Us designers absolutely love this time of year, not only for the glitz and glam decor that we bring into our rooms but for the beautiful gifts of style and glamour that we can give to friends and family. For us, we try to give gifts that perhaps you would not buy for yourself, perhaps the cost may be to great (not that the total dollar value is excessive, but that perhaps those few hundred dollars always end up going towards something more practical), or a gift that shows thought and time for acquisitions, for example, years ago a girlfriend knowing that I valued vintage pieces and loved glamour presented me with an antique crystal perfume bottle that she found months earlier.

Here are a few of our favorite gift ideas.

  • A beautiful coffee table book, perhaps on art or fashion. Books can be outrageously expensive and all too often we don’t spend that kind of money on ourselves, yet a high value book on a subject that is near and dear to our hearts is worth every penny and can be proudly displayed on a coffee table. In addition to new books, I love to keep my eyes peeled for vintage books, perhaps a vintage modern medicine textbook for your favorite doctor or out of print cookbook for the chef in your circle of friends. These vintage and out of date treasures are often not expensive it’s the joy of the find and something that will give loads of pleasure and even a few giggles for you and the receiver. Extra points if the coffee table book matches the decor of the gift receiver’s home.
  • One of the most luxurious gifts you can give is an elegant faux fur throw. There are so many fabulous options available. Order the largest size you can find so that you can use it as a bed cover or large enough so that two can snuggle in front of the fire.
  • I get a lot of pleasure from putting together baskets of my favorite things, sometimes they will have a cooking theme and be filled with local infused oils and vinegars, spreads and jams, teas, spices, wines and spirits or beauty themed with my favourite hand creams, lip glosses and soaps. Keep a theme when selecting items and only include items that you truly love so that you can have a conversation and spread your passion for them.
  • Air diffusers and room scents that use only natural essential oils are a terrific gift. I love top quality diffusers and employ multiple units throughout my own home. The gift of scent can truly change someone’s life. Energizing and cleansing scents such as lemon, grapefruit in the kitchen, lavender in the bedroom and lemongrass in the ensuite – yummy nose candy. Natural scented candles are also high on my want and give list.
  • No present ever outweighs the gift of time and loved memories. Host a ‘thanks for being in my life’ holiday party and invite your favourite people, share in the beauty of your gorgeous home and show off those impressive entertaining skills while creating a magical night of fun and laughter.

Live fabulously and give generously this season with these ideas, as well as your own twists on thoughtful gifts that are designed to make life just a little more luxurious and enjoyable.

Creatively Yours,


Spa at Home

Cheryll Gillespie, Spa at Home

Cold, wet weather means coming home to relax and pampering yourself in your own spa-inspired bathroom. We’ve all seen them in our favorite shelter magazines, and now it’s time and the right season for you to have your own spa bathroom. Let’s get started!

The less colour, the better. We need a calm and soothing environment that looks fresh and clean so clear out any colour starting with your walls and ceiling. Paint everything a beautiful soft, warm white to match your plumbing fixtures, if a new floor is in the budget, opt for white tile or carrara marble. If white is too stark for you (although honestly, a warm white will not be cold and foreboding when you are done) you could alternatively choose a very, very soft pale pink, which is excellent for skin tones. Do not opt for green as it is the most unflattering colour for skin. Put away coloured bath mats, towels and vanity accessories, as we are going to replace these with all white bath matting, white ceramic, glass and crystal decorative pieces that sparkle. Since we are creating a spa-inspired space we will want to keep our countertops as clutter-free as possible, this may mean that you need to clean out all the undercounter storage and reorganize this area to optimize space. Throw out any products you don’t use or that have expired, we only want to use the best!

Texture adds warmth and sizzle to a room, so look for opportunities to bring texture into your spa with wallpaper on the walls or even on the ceiling. Tile or stone materials on the walls also add texture, what’s brilliant about a bathroom is that it is not a large space so we can afford to add some luxurious tile and stone to our walls and floor since the square footage required is not large quantities.

Lighting plays a key role in every space and the bathroom should never be missed when an opportunity to add some glowing sex appeal presents itself. Replace the pot light over the tub with a glitzy chandelier – an easy job for ay electrician, and a ceiling medallion will eliminate the need for dry wall repair from the replaced pot light. Above the sink add a coordinating vanity light that is both beautiful and functional for your requirements. Put all of your bathroom lights on a dimmer switch, an essential tool for creating that ultimate rejuvenation spa environment.

Next to the tub, mount a wall shelf if you are starved for floor space, and if you have room on the floor, place a petite gilded table to serve as your “bath bar”- a home for a pretty bowl of bath salts, a bottle of essential oil, and of course a candle or two. Hang a hook on the wall for your robe and even the towels, sometimes I prefer the look of towel hooks as opposed to towel bars.

Add a beautiful fresh orchid in a crystal or white planter next to your vanity tray for the perfect finishing touch.

Now you won’t be able to wait until you arrive home after a long day at the office to draw yourself a delicious hot bath, sit, soak and sip a glass of wine as you soothe away all of life’s little stresses and warm your soul. That’s living fabulously-enjoy.

Creatively Yours,


Things We Do to Sabotage Our Rooms

Cheryll Gillespie, things we do to sabotage our rooms

Are you your own worst enemy when it comes to designing your home? Many of us are, but once we recognize the signs, we can take the necessary steps to quit the behaviours that are preventing our rooms from achieving their full potential.

Don’t let yourself be a victim another day, recognize the symptoms and work on becoming ‘design healthy’.

SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS of YAYOWDE (you are your own worst design enemy)

You need to ask everyone else for permission (their opinion) on a choice you are considering for a room. Perhaps it’s a paint colour, or a chair, an area rug or a new sofa or even piece of art, you solicit opinions from all your friends and family. Unless they are an expert in the field of design, art critic or renowned colour expert, why are you asking them? If you like the piece and your instincts say it’s perfect (i.e.: you love it) then just do it! Too many opinions and too much advice from others usually leads to you doing nothing. Too much advice from people who work in the store where you are making the purchase is like taking advice from a blind person- they have never seen your home so how would they know what would look great with what else you have in there and how the sun enters the space and plays on the colour or even the scale of the room. Be careful here and ensure everyone you actually take advice from is a pro at what they do and has a full understanding of your needs, personality and the space you are decorating.

This leads us to sabotage number two- I can do it myself syndrome. There is no shame in hiring a pro to help you and to offer educated, unemotional and unbiast advice. There’s a reason a pro is called a pro. Home decorating shows and the internet have given us all a false sense of ‘I’m a design/construction expert so why do I need to hire anyone attitude’. There is always a time and a place for professional services.

Sabotage number three is directly related to the TV and the internet, too many choices and an endless amount of inspiration and ideas. Once you make a design decision, stick to it and don’t second guess yourself. Too many choices ultimately lead to indecision.

Sabotage number four is taking a look from a catalogue. Our rooms need to truly be ‘our rooms’; a reflection of our personalities, our treasures, our favorite colours and things and definitely not a carbon copy of a page from a décor catalogue or magazine. There’s nothing wrong with shopping from a catalogue, one or two pieces from some of your favorite stores are wonderful but don’t buy the entire whole room from one page. Where would the individuality, the personalization or the creativity be in that?

Live fabulously and don’t sabotage your great rooms!

Creatively Yours



Cheryll Gillespie, Harvest

The kids are back at school, the leaves are starting to turn and I find myself back in the kitchen, canning, freezing and getting my kitchen ready for the Fall harvest. As much as I love summer, and never seem to get enough of it, I do enjoy this time of the year. Our kitchen is the heart of the home and I love making salsa with the girls, a labor of love and everyone enjoys the spicy salsa with wine and organic chips over the winter. Roasted tomato and white wine pasta sauce is next on my list, this is put into freezer bags for easy winter dinners. Then I dehydrate apples for healthy yummy low-cal treats, the tarter the apples the better. Jams are another family favorite, especially peach and raspberry. What are you canning and freezing this season? It truly seems like a bit of a lost art, it’s too convenient to run to the grocery store and pick up what you need, but once you’ve dazzled your taste buds with homemade treats its hard to settle for mass production bought goods. Nothing authentic ever comes without some effort so make a great night or Saturday afternoon of it- gather up your favorite girlfriends, everyone pool resources and distribute the work load and share in the bounty. Print creative, fun labels for your canned goods and make everyone a personalized apron, have fun with this and you’ll start a tradition that your family and girlfriends will look forward to every year.

There is nothing more important to our health than the food we eat, I make every effort to support my local farmers and to buy organic when ever possible. Living fabulously means paying attention to detail, buying the best quality produce I can, making it accessible as possible and as appetizing as I can. This is a great weekend to clean out the pantry, defrost the freezer, organize the refrigerator and plan your harvest party. I love to walk into the pantry and to be greeted with organized efficient shelving. No digging through piles of hunting for the crock pot buried under plastic containers, or that bag of beans you now you have. When I open the refrigerator I want to see clean, organized shelves with lemons and apples in little wooden teak boxes, washed concord grapes in a white bowl ready to enjoy. My dry goods are all stored in glass jars with easy to read labeling that’s clearly dated so I know how long it’s been in there.

Cooking is fun when your kitchen and you are organized and ready for the food ‘prepping party’. Take the weekend to ‘ready your kitchen’ and then set the date and invite the girls, give everyone a copy of the recipes and a shopping list. Chill the wine, get ready for the most delicious fun! That’s living fabulously.

Creatively Yours


Stir up the Romance Factor

Cheryll Gillespie, Stir up the romance factor

As Fall rolls in, it’s time to warm up, cuddle up and stir up the romance factor at home.

Designers are laying down ‘curl your toes’ area rugs beside beds, under desks, chairs and sofas and in front of fireplaces. My personal favorites are long sheep skin carpets, sculpted wools and cow hides which we often layer and stack for a truly high style look. In the bathrooms throughout our homes, we are hanging thick luxurious robes next to the bath tub, stacking rolled ultra-thick towels and framing our views with gorgeous velvet drapery panels on our sexiest windows.

On horizontal surfaces such as dressers, end and coffee tables, we are strategically placing textural (rough, natural and distressed textures bring with them a sense of warmth and comfort) items such as antlers, vintage leather books, molded glass and crystal. Fun for this year is our use of gilded golds, go ahead and mix and match them with your silvers and coppers. We get a lot less natural light this season so play with lighting fixtures, add a few more table top lamps, floor lamps and even floor cans to help create ambiance and more light in your rooms.

Over the arms of our favourite seats we toss sensual faux fur or hand knit throws and on the sofa and the bed, we load them with feel good toss cushions and maybe another faux fur, seeing how we just can’t get enough of these. I even love them laid across a bed and frankly so do my dogs (our four-legged children) just check their wash ability.

When we design a room, it’s imperative that we appeal to all five senses, obviously a room has to look good, feel good, sound good (a great music system) but it also needs to taste and smell fabulous. Natural bees wax candles infused with heady scents, air diffusers filled with natural essential oils such as sandalwood, orange, cranberry and wintergreen. Bowls of nuts, chocolates or Fall’s bounty, such as apples always make a room smell delicious!

When it comes to art, I like to pair up and add highly texturized pieces that bring a feeling of love and romance to my spaces. Perhaps a pair of ceramic busts, or a painting of a pair of snow geese flocking together along a winter beach scene. A little subliminal messaging never hurt, wink wink.

Design flows with the seasons and can be manipulated to create a sense of warmth, comfort and romance, this is the nesting season after all and we want our homes to welcome us in from chilly Fall days with a warm and gracious hug. Design is about creating emotion when you are in the space. That’s living fabulously!

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!


Bringing Home Summer

bringing home summer, Cheryll Gillespie

This weekend is the perfect time to bring home summer. Bring on Sunday BBQ’s, Saturdays sipping a fabulous cool glass of chardonnay on the porch, weekend pool parties, collecting seashells at the beach while the sun goes down. Yes, yes, yes I am so ready to enjoy summer… but wait – my house isn’t designed for summer yet?!

This weekend bring home summer by ensuring that you give the entire house a deep and thorough cleaning. studies prove that almost seventy percent of you are in better spirits after you’ve cleaned the house so get scrubbing or even consider hiring home cleaning professionals to whip that house into summer shape with a good scrubbing top to bottom, inside and out. Focus on windows and their coverings, roll up heavy area rugs and pack away extra accessories that always seem to find their way into our rooms by accident. Recycle that already-read stack of magazines and purge tattered towels and bedding. Give your entire home a summer detox.

Next, add beautiful pops of summer colour to bring out the best in your neutral palette. Perhaps a punch of yellow with your black and white decor, or hot pink, the same shade you just used on your toes to prep your feet for summer sandals, or how about a vibrant turquoise, the quintessential summer hue that looks amazing paired with orange, red, yellow and blues, one could almost consider turquoise a summer neutral. The warm upcoming months have a flirty, youthful and fun spirit and your home should always reflect the essence of the season. Cull the winter décor and romance a few new pieces that speak of sunshine and water. Fill your bell jars with butterflies, seashells and sand. Replace photographs in frames with ones that were taken at the beach last summer and change out the coffee table book for a ‘history of bikinis’ or a book celebrating the world’s best beaches.

Add fresh flowers and even a new tropical plant to your rooms. Plants bring life and energy to a space, not to mention cleaner air and fragrance. Tropical plants can also adorn the front porch or the back patio throughout the summer. Personally, my lemon and lime trees live in the back yard all summer- we drink a lot of fresh lemonade.

Stock the pantry and the freezer with easy fixings for impromptu pool parties or margaritas in the backyard. I always have wine chilling and a pitcher of home-brewed all natural iced green tea (try using a combination of mint and green tea for delicious no-calorie summer treat) in the fridge. Flat breads are always an easy, creative and quick-to-make snack that everyone enjoys, young and old. One of our go to’s: alfredo sauce, brie or parmesan cheese, sliced pears, walnuts and arugula greens! Yum.

This summer live fabulous and take time to enjoy life at your home. After all, it is the most important space year round!

Creatively Yours,


Spring Cleaning

Cheryll Gillespie, Spring Cleaning

With spring just around the corner, let’s get cleaning! I’m feeling energetic, perhaps because of the extra hour of daylight we are now getting or maybe it’s the warmer weather, regardless I’m motivated to tackle a few projects around the house before it warms up enough outside that I become distracted with the garden and yard work.

Plan your projects. I love to open up the cleaning supply cupboard, bathroom vanity or the linen pantry or any closet or cabinet for that matter and find all my treasures and tools clean, organized and aesthetically pleasing. It makes me smile to see visual eye candy like this. Even the refrigerator and the freezer- I love seeing my food lovingly labeled and stored in organized and matching containers. With your list in hand, tackle one job at a time so as not to overwhelm yourself.

Create a system for yourself. This is the secret that professional organizers employ to not only makeover an area but to ensure that you are successfully and efficiently able to maintain the ‘look’. Fold towels and linens uniformly, so that they always fit together well and look well presented. Store like items together, keep sets of items together by securing with white ribbon and label wherever necessary. In the refrigerator, I use baskets, wooden, metal or white plastic small bins to sort and store like items such as condiments, fruits, fresh herbs, etc. I want my food to look as good as it tastes so I have a pretty basket on a shelf filled with fresh green apples or lemons. Put together a labeling and organizational kit for yourself. I keep mine in a small cleaning caddy and bring it with me as I move throughout a home organizing an area. Label, label and label some more so that you and others in the family can easily identify what is in each container so that you don’t have to ‘riffle’ through searching for what you need. Use a computer printing program, a label maker (unless you have wonderful hand writing which sometimes I prefer to a printed label) and attractive labels and tags from your craft store. Try to use similar or sets of containers, bins and baskets in any one area to keep the look uniform. Think outside the bin as well. I often use glass canisters to store ribbons and buttons in the laundry room, dish soaps and sos pads under the kitchen sink and under the bathroom vanity they can work well for first aid supplies, hair ties etc.

Spend the next couple of weeks tackling the hidden spaces in your home and you’ll be inviting all your friends to look in your drawers and cupboards. You’ll definitely be wanting to show them off and more importantly, you and your family will love how readily you’ll be able to find everything you need- that’s living fabulously!!

Creatively Yours,