Rock House Of Design Archive


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,


Gold – Autumn’s Aureate

Cheryll Gillespie, gold

Gold, Autumn’s aureate is a colour that our homes are clamouring for this season. A little glitz, a little glam and a whole lot of warmth and elegance is what gold brings to a room.

We’ve seen it on the fashion runways this season and yes, I would love a beautiful gold lamé dress for the Christmas galas this year (I’m on a hunt for one so let me know if you see one). I was in Las Vegas a few weeks ago and my friend, the fabulous LA hair guru Victor Paul, had on the most delicious gold pants, I’m borrowing those for sure! At home, I’m bringing in touches of gold to my rooms in both accessory items and furniture.

I know, we mostly have silvers and stainless steel at home and are concerned about mixing the metals, but not to worry. Can gold work with my stainless appliances and gilded silver accents? Absolutely, designers love to mix up their metals. The most creative homes employ two or even three different metals in a room. Cool metals such as stainless steel and silver are perfect for the hot days of summer but as we get deep into Fall and Winter, it is seasonally appropriate and on trend to add some touches of warm metals such as gold, brass and copper. (Designer note – any time you introduce a new colour or metal ensure that you repeat it in the space at least three times so that your eye knows you meant for it to be there as an accent color and it wasn’t just an accident).

What are some of my favorite ways to add gold? End tables with gilded gold legs are the perfect accent next to a favourite chair, a few gold or copper photo frames mixed amongst your silver-leafed frames, similarly you can mix gold candle sticks amongst your silver and crystal ones. We love layering gold ceramic plateware and servingware on top of our classic white sets during Fall entertaining for extra sparkle at our dinner parties.

If you are in the market for some new furniture, specifically case goods, check out some of the fabulous new gold desk bases or headboards. Conversely, if you love the shapes and lines of your existing case goods but they are looking tired and worn, consider painting them with a metallic gold paint. Ceramic planters are another item that we often up-style with metallic paints. We are just completing a headboard made from rough reclaimed timbers that is being painted with a metallic gold spray. Can’t wait to see that piece installed at a client’s.

This winter bring home the gold and live fabulously!

Creatively Yours,



Cheryll Gillespie, dining


It’s true, during this season, we seem to entertain more frequently and we start to make good use of our formal dining rooms, so let’s spend some time this weekend refining our dining spaces.

Start with your chairs, after all there are six, eight or even ten of them. Chairs can be expensive so if you’re not happy with your current chair style, think about reupholstering or restyling your chairs as oppose to buying new. We often revamp boring chairs with fabric and wood paint; for example if you’re not in love with the natural wood, simply white-wash all the wood tones away for a shabby chic look or paint them a neon orange for a big change. If the fabric backs and seats are ripped or torn on your chairs, then you will need to reupholster but this job can often be pretty simple to do yourself. If the fabric is in good condition but just not the right colour or too outdated of a style, whip out the fabric paints and let your creative juices flow. We have written phrases on the backs of chairs or painted geometric patterns or even graphic pictures. No holds bar – paint away, be creative and have fun with your chairs. On the backs, you can also add crystals, trims or tassels.

Similar to our ideas with the chairs, you can also paint your tables. Looking for inspiration? I love the way Mackenzie-Childs paints their furniture collection. Bold colours and patterns look fabulous or keep it simple and go with a solid colour. Dining should be fun and bold colours and patterns help to ramp up the energy levels, stimulate conversations and increase appetites. You want your guests to stay, linger over dinner and dessert and have flowing, memory-making discussions. This doesn’t happen in a boring dining space, it happens in spaces that are designed to entertain and stimulate. Take your cues and inspiration from some of the amazing restaurant and hospitality spaces you have seen online or visited around the world.

Underneath the table, add an area carpet to keep feet happy and to add a little more visual interest to the room. On the walls, paint, wall paper and showcase wonderful art and textures which will add visual interest and excitement to the room. I love it when a plan starts to come together and all the design layers build upon each other to ultimately create a marvellous space.

Design is in the details so don’t forget about your table top decor. Add an arrangement of candle sticks and candles, fresh flowers and ornaments. No dining room is complete without an amazing chandelier and I usually add a ceiling medallion here as well, choose a medallion that reflects the shape of the table top and is proportionate to the light fixture.

Fabulous living is all about creating amazing rooms that reflect your sense of hospitality and zest for life. It’s also about great friends, family, food and wine, all shared in your home’s beautiful dining spaces!

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, pumpkins

With October officially here, it’s time to bring home the pumpkins. Pumpkins and October are like wine and cheese, bread and butter, apple pie and ice cream, the two belong to each other and it’s hard to imagine one without the other. The designer in me loves the symmetry of a perfect pumpkin, I find their shape extremely appealing and am happy with a single pumpkin sitting on the kitchen counter, as a striking yet iconic symbol of Fall.

Where will you put your pumpkins this year? I love that we have opportunity to not only use real pumpkins but so many of our favorite design shops now sell pumpkins made from almost any material imaginable; mercury glass, ceramic, willows, fabric, concrete (I have a gorgeous concrete pumpkin that comes out of storage every Fall to sit on my kitchen counter) and metal, and I’m not trying to forget about real pumpkins, which I love to use, especially outside on the porch and around my planters that flank the front doors. There is the perfect pumpkin for every décor.

If you are using real pumpkins indoors, just be aware that they will eventually start to go bad and watch for the bottoms softening. Real pumpkins, which are available in the traditional orange but also in various shades of white look wonderful au natural or you can add your creative touch by painting the stem a hot pink or gilded gold. In other years, I have also painted the entire pumpkin. You can empty out the pumpkin and puncture it with a series of tiny pin lights for an entrance lantern. Stack many together or stack a large, medium and small with some Fall planting greens between them for your traditional urns or simply let the aesthetics of one rule and place it beside your pots, on a gate post or on a small table or wine barrel that sits outside to help embrace the season.

Inside pumpkin decor is just as fun! Set a tiny white pumpkin on the bathroom countertop, another under a bell jar on the coffee table or dining buffet, use miniatures painted with gold leaf as place cards at your next Autumn dinner party. Arrange a grouping of real or mercury glass, ceramic or metal pumpkins with candles on the dining table or fireplace mantel. Adorn and fill in with hay, curly willow and LED lights (don’t use real candles next to the hay and dried branches). Using paint pens, glitter glue, wire or cord (to wrap stems) get creative and give your pumpkins a one-of-a-kind look.

This weekend your project is to head out to the pumpkin patch and gather a few (or a lot) of pumpkins to bring home. Embrace the season and get creative naturally, well sort of, as we glue and bedazzle our pumpkins. That’s living fabulously!

Creatively Yours,


The Closet

Cheryll Gillespie, The Closet

It’s time to embark on your annual closet clean out, this weekend, give your closet its seasonal makeover.

I love my closet and can happily spend hours in there creating outfits, but it does take some time and effort to create and maintain a dream closet. Here are my designer tips for a fabulous dressing space.

None of us seem to boast about having enough closet space, so make room by utilizing spare closets and even the basement to store out of season clothes. I’ve invested in one of the rolling clothing racks to make sorting clothes and moving seasonal items in and out easier. By storing your clothes on rolling racks and or in clearly labeled bins you can easily access them when you are packing for that winter getaway and need some of those sexy summer pieces. This is also the time for a clothing cull. If you haven’t worn it in two years, you’re probably not going to ever wear it so donate that piece to your favorite charity. If there’s a piece you love but it’s starting to look ratty and worn out, let it go!

When I’m designing a closet, I utilize every square inch from top to bottom. I have shelving on the bottom and from the top of the rod to the ceiling. A great investment is to hire a closet designer to maximize your storage space with well-planned hanging bars and shelving- max out! Bins and baskets are a must have. From shorts to t-shirts to underwear, bins hold these items well. I put hooks on every available wall space for scarfs, belts, robes and purses. A floor standing coat rack next to the closet also works to hold purses and hats. Have a funky hook available to hang an outfit for a special event on or even your work outfit for tomorrow on. This hook can be in the bedroom if need be.

Good lighting in your closet is a must, if it’s too dark, call your friendly electrician and have a new light installed, preferably something with sparkle- after all the lighting is the jewelry of a home and what better spot to display chandelier jewelry than in the closet.

Coordinate all of your hangers. Matched hangers look great and will keep clothing uniformly hung. When your closet looks great and is well planned, you’ll be thrilled to put in the effort to keep it this way. Our closets fall apart when we don’t have enough storage space and when there is no specified designation for items.

Always put like-items with like-items. All long sleeve shirts hang together, all dresses hang together etc. Now organize all of these items from lightest to darkest- follow the colour wheel starting with white, then moving to beige and yellow, orange, red, purple blue, green, brown, grey and then black.

Spend a few hours in your closet this weekend and stay fabulous!

Creatively Yours,


Fall & Winter

Cheryll Gillespie, Fall and Winer

This is the week I look ahead to my Fall and Winter exterior planters and also tend to my indoor plants.

Our homes deserve great curb appeal all year round, so I always try to plan and to be creative for the upcoming season. It doesn’t need to be complicated or expensive, just creative. Fall planters look fabulous simply filled with mounds of ornamental gourds and pumpkins. Add some curly willow for height and weave amongst the pumpkins, a strand of LED solar, string lights or place the LED sick lights and some burlap ribbon for texture. Or, plant globe shaped or tall topiary boxwoods or cedars in your planters. At the base of the planters cover with gourds or pumpkins or fill with mums. Thinking further ahead to winter, your cedar and boxwood planters will look fabulous if you simply replace the base plantings or cover with scotch pine bough and holly berries or even metallic Christmas balls and ribbon. At home, I have a lot of containers and planters throughout my property so I will employ both looks.

I also love to use interior décor items outside. Large metal stars, oversized metal or ceramic birds or spiked balls set on-top of your evergreen boughs would be stunning- think creatively.

Alternatively, you could fill your planters with tied bundles of birch logs surrounded with mums or pumpkins for Fall and then evergreen boughs once we are passed Halloween. Inside, I’m busy taking all of my potted plants outside for their annual ‘bath’ and trim. I replant when necessary, trim and prune respectfully. Then I replace required base coverings and bring back indoors.

I do have one new project that I’m excited to embark upon and that is a succulent ball. At Rock House we are big fans of succulents, we adore their simplicity and architectural structure. Fill two moss baskets with dirt and wire together to form a ball. Using the handle of a wooden spoon poke a hole into the moss and dirt, now fill with a succulent. It’s a good time to buy succulents as most greenhouses are clearing out their inventory or if you already have succulents in your containers or gardens they have produced lots of offspring which you can now use to cover your ball. Keep it structured with a ridged layout or simply place organically. The succulent ball will need to come inside for the winter. I sit them on a ringed plant stand. They look stunning and are always a conversation piece. Succulents need to be watered weekly during their summer growing season and then once every two months through the winter or dormant season.

Live fabulously, think creatively with your plants and always stay a season ahead.

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,


Back to Work

Cheryll Gillespie, Back to work

It’s hard to believe that another summer has almost passed us by, and while I’m certainly not trying to speed through the few remaining weeks of my favorite time of year, I simply can’t help but look ahead to Fall and be inspired by all the back to school inspirations. I may not be going back to school and nor do I have young kids that are heading in that direction, I do find that this time of year I am inspired to address my own ‘work’ spaces.

It’s time to spend a day or two overhauling the office or den space, or perhaps even creating one that you didn’t have before. A dedicated work space in the home is a must have, whether it’s as simple and as unobtrusive as a small corner of the kitchen, an antique secretary desk in the corner of the living room or a complete room onto itself, we all need an inspired, organized and creative work space.

The first step is to allocate space, this may already be established for you but if it isn’t then let’s decide where you will locate your work space. Secondly, we need to decide how this work space needs to function and perform. Will it simply be used to organize current house records and receipts? Will this space be running a major home business or simply exist as a getaway area for the kid’s to work on homework? I love wireless and how it can afford us the aesthetics of a clean work space. I have my fax machine and printer located in the mechanical room of the house so that I don’t have to visually pollute my work space with the heavy equipment. When we are creating a den-style space in an unused bedroom, printers and fax machines are located on shelving installed specifically for that purpose in the closet. Furniture for your work space needs to feel and function as good as it looks. Choose your desk and chair carefully and ensure that you will want to spend time sitting and working here. Ensure that there is adequate storage for all your work materials and files that you need within reach. Your work space may need to include a credenza (think creatively as this could be a custom built piece, an up-styled dining buffet, a vintage pie storage or a series of shelves and boxes hung on the wall adjacent to the desk). Now, design the storage to either tuck into the furniture piece or to be cleverly displayed in boxes and bins on the shelves- label everything so you know exactly where everything is. When all your stuff has a home, it’s easy to find and readily available to use. You will also need good working light, place an attractive floor or desk top lamp appropriately. We always love having a living plant or bouquet of flowers in our designed work spaces, stimulating fresh ideas and new life.

Finally, it’s time to add the important finishing touches; the mementoes, photographs and small touches that remind us of why we work so hard in the first place and inspire us to work passionately. That’s living fabulously!

Creatively Yours,



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,