design Archive


Designer Gift Ideas

Cheryll Gillespie, Designer Gift Ideas

As much as I love Christmas, the spirit of the season, the glitz, the sparkle, the cheer and the festivities, the one element that I’m not fond of is all the shopping. I’m sure you’re like me, I love to give presents and do so constantly throughout the year, when I see something that is perfect for someone special, I buy it and give generously, but if I’m forced to buy and don’t have any ideas what to get them, then I’m not fond of just buying something for the sake of having a gift to give.

To help with your hard-to-buy-for someone’s, here are a few of my designer ideas that could solve the problem of that difficult to give to person or the person who has it all. For me, gifts are about those extras, those luxury pieces that we wouldn’t buy for ourselves so with that in mind here are a few holiday gift-giving suggestions.

I’m in love with these little festive bird houses and all my girlfriends love them almost as much as the feathered friends do.

Cheryll Gillespie, Designer Gift IdeasA beautiful coffee table book on art, design, architecture, fashion or photography is an always welcomed gift. Consider the persons room colour palette and buy a book that will work with the colour palette in the space. Just a designer note, when you are giving any gift for the home, always purchase with the home owner’s colour palette and style in mind, even for gifts as simple as a bunch of flowers. My friends know that I prefer all white while some of my girlfriends prefer pink or oranges.

Both my daughter and I, are ring-loving girls and we adore a big sparkly hunk of fabulous on our fingers. Give a wonderful piece of custom jewelry to the girl who almost has it all. An over the top glamourous clutch for those special evenings is another you-cant-go-wrong gift. Think loads of sparkle, pearls and a little rock and roll edge.

Especially this time of year, we all need an amazing ice bucket to keep that bottle of champagne chilled as we entertain for the evening. Look for buckets covered in faux croc leather or handles adorned with semi-precious crystals.

Have custom table linens made. It can be as simple as taking ready-made napkins and a table cloth into your local embroidery shop and having the home owner’s initials monogrammed onto the pieces. Speaking of monogrammed items, there is still time to give beautiful monogramed or custom stemware or stationary as a gift.

A collection of wonderful ornate ornaments that suite the receivers personal style is also a fun and unique gift that will truly be something cherished for generations to come. It’s not the price tag that makes a gift special, it’s the time and thoughtfulness it took to choose the perfect gift that’s has been memorably acquired for those special people in your world. Now that’s gifting,and living, fabulously.


Christmas List

Christmas List Image

Have you finished your holiday shopping? I didn’t think so, so I’m hoping that this list may be timely inspiration for those with creative flair and a passion for home on your list.

Finding the perfect gift for all the fabulous people on your list can be challenging and who wants an uninspired necktie or a sweater under their tree? One thing that I always welcome as a gift is a fabulous coffee table book-honestly Sam and I can’t get enough books and sometimes these are hard items to justify purchasing for yourself as a limited edition or coveted hardcover can certainly be expensive. Vintage and antique books are also welcome additions to our library shelves. Has designer tools a great book looks fabulous on the end table next to a favorite living room or bedside chair. A coffee table book looks great on the coffee table of course. Our favorite topics include books on design, architecture, travel, cooking and of course fashion.  Books we love this year include the new Mary McDonald Interiors not only for its content but for the fabulous gold lettering on the spine, (yes, my books coordinate and work with the room) The Phaidon Atlas of Contemporary World Architecture.

Fabulous faux fur shawls and throws are rich warm and cuddly additions to the end of the bed, arm of a sofa or favorite chair. A delicious addition to a fabulous space: look for black mink for an art deco or traditionally styled room, fox for a country manor or white mink for a friend with a glamorous bedroom.

Email and texting are just too easy and we just don’t take the time to send hand written notes these days, which I think is a real shame. Personalized stationary is great gift that look luxurious on everyone’s desk. Grab your shopping list and head to your favorite craft or office supply store (most stores that order wedding stationary will also do personalized stationary) or just open up the laptop and look for a supplier on line and trust me there are plenty and start ordering. Inexpensive and thoughtful, I love this idea.

Here’s a rock solid idea. How about a beautiful chunk of crystal or amethyst or even graphite. Flipping through your favorite shelter magazine you undoubtedly notice amazing chunks of rock sitting beautiful on horizontal surfaces in the most spectacular rooms. We love finding fabulous pieces of rock to bring home a welcome treasure that will always be in style and will never go stale.

Linen dinner napkins are a great gift especially when you take the time to have them monogrammed with the families initials. We monogram all the time, table linens, bathrobes and even pillow cases. It take the ordinary and creates the fabulous-god is in the details and it’s these little touches that take the gift from good to wow.

Nothing feels more fabulous to give a gift that you are really proud of and that you know will be loved and adored for years to come-that’s fabulous living!

Scent is the number one route to our brains memory center- conjure fabulous visions of Christmases gone past by filling your home with the scent of the season. Candles and essential oils such as pine, cinnamon and citrus are right in seasons and don’t forget to blend a couple of scents together. Rooms should always appeal to all five of our senses.


Design is More About Physiology Than the Look

Physiology of Design

Gifted designers know that design is more about how a space makes you feel rather than how it looks. A room can make you feel restless or at peace, a room can make you feel bathed in luxury and abundance or it can leave you feeling inadequate and resentful, it can make you feel safe and secure or vulnerable. The spaces in which we inhabit have a profound effect on our mental well being as well as our energy levels and general sense of well being and accomplishment. Having said that, it does put a lot of pressure on us to design spaces that fulfill our needs externally and internally, we need to understand that decorating is not so much a look but rather a point of view. A well designed room can truly enhance our lives and make us better people and improve the quality of our lives, great design should be measured by the quality of the lives that it expresses rather than the quality or the expense of the materials and the items that are in the space.

A colleague of ours literally studied and dissected cadavers at a medical hospital for more than year to understand the effect that colour and the quality of space has on our internal organs. Knowing how great the impact design has on our well-being, should we not then put more focus and emphasis on the state and design of our spaces? Theses statements also bring to light the importance of understanding how a room is put together that it is not about pulling in a bunch of pretty items that are well matched or suited to a particular theme- none of us are that one dimensional and we now understand the importance of using design to express our personality. When aiming to design a great space and we should all aim for greatness regardless of the budget or size of the space, it is about understanding the importance of colour, scale, texture, balance, proportion and humor and how all of these elements relate to one another and those of us who will spend time in the space. Every element affects us and we therefore need to evaluate it and its relationship with every other element in the room as well as our personal relationship with that particular item, colour, texture and object before it goes into the space. For example – colour if you choose a particular shade of blue paint  you need to ask yourself if you adore this exact colour, how does it make you feel? The books you sit on a coffee table… are they books that you love and want to share with friends? How about a painting that you want to hang on the wall – can you sit and stare at it in awe for hours, does it always make you smile or provoke a sense of thoughtfulness? These are questions which need to be answered, from wallpaper to end tables and everything in between, if we are going to design a space let’s do it right and live better. Surround yourself with things that make you live and feel better, love everything in your home and your home will love you.

Edit, edit and edit some more-if you don’t love something then remove it from the room. Less is definitely more when it comes to design, most of us have about thirty percent to much in any given space.


Finding The Space

Finding Space Image

I’ve said it before and if I need to keep repeating myself I will because we really need to get it through that design is not a process to be rushed through and that there is no shame in a room that is not fully designed…yet. Design takes time and is truly a spiritual enhancing life long journey and let’s face it if we don’t enjoy the moment then what is the point. Now, just before we jump on the spiritual journey of designing let me clarify the ‘not finished space’. This is not permission to have a room full of junk, dirty, cluttered or less than desirable items stored there-that is not the point. The point is that it is okay to leave a space empty or a wall blank and corner unfilled or a table top barren until you find the perfect piece to fill that space. Honestly, sometimes you truly need to live in a space before you can design it correctly. Often you’ll find Sam or me just sitting on the floor of a room absorbing, feeling and ‘finding the space’.

Design is a spiritual experience, you need to feel a room, instill your dreams and goals and surround yourself with things that are beautiful and important to you. Ambitions such as these don’t happen overnight or even in a week, they take careful planning, hours of research and execution. I always carry my design journal with me to make notes of ideas and inspirations. I have a beautiful black crocodile 4×5″ journal filled with raw paper that I always have within easy reaching distance. If I am out of the house it’s in my purse and if I am at home it rests on the kitchen counter and at work it’s on my desk. If I see a design idea on TV, perhaps an entertainment show is touring a beautiful home, or am in a great restaurant or design store or even flipping through a magazine and I see a floral arrangement or a weathered old pillar with a fabulous glass candle stick set on top and I think wow I love that look, I can create a similar look at home, I will immediately write a note and make a sketch in my book. Yes, it maybe faster to snap a picture or tear a page from a magazine but there is something intimate and personal about using the journal and I find you tend to make the idea your own and even improve or adapt it with a personal spirit when it’s interpreted from your personal pages. For example, when I returned from Istanbul a few weeks back the first morning I woke in my own home I immediately made coffee and reached for my journal to begin bringing home the ideas I discovered in Turkey- remember I filled a bucket with time, clocks now fill a silver bin on the floor of my library, I planted two types of mint at the base of my lemon tree so that I could have fresh mint leaves to mix into the lemonade that my family loves me to make.

Your home is a lot more than a pleasant decorated space, it truly needs to make you smile and be a part of you. Take your time, collect items that you truly love to fill the space with, plan for furniture that allows you to live in the space the way you dream to live, surround yourself with textures, colours and memories that you love- do nothing if you can’t do it with passion. That’s how you learn to live fabulous!


I love containers and I love container gardening and in my containers I love to plant my favorites-my favorite herbs for flavoring drinks and recipes, my favorite flowers so that my cuttings are perfectly coloured for my rooms and also my favorite scents. This summer design containers for you-for your kitchen, for your bedroom with flowers and plants that you use and love for your home.