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Summer Treasure Hunts

Cheryll Gillespie Media Group - Summer Treasure Hunt

Summer vacations are an opportunity to treasure hunt for your home. I love to travel, whether by plane, train, motorcycle or automobile and part of the enjoyment is never knowing what treasures you may find along the way.

Rooms need to tell stories, to make us laugh, to ensure we ponder and they need to have personality. While we often shop the big chain stores for furniture and accessory pieces, we also need the ‘one of’s’ to make a room our own. You definitely do not want a room that looks like it stepped straight off the catalogue pages, you never want your room to be a recognizable look. What we do want is a room that is uniquely yours.

Close to home and away from home, this is estate, flea market, and garage sale season. If it looks interesting go- you never know what you may find. A few years back at a garage sale, I found a brass fish. The fish is approximately 22 inches long and well I didn’t like it in its current brassy condition but I now love it spray painted white sitting on my patio cocktail table. Everyone always asks as they sip on a glass of chardonnay while enjoying to sun where I got it and can they order one. Unfortunately or lucky for me I think it’s a ‘one of’. At yet another, I have bought a 8 foot cactus, a 12 foot dracaena tree, a granite wine bottle holder, to many candle sticks to count ( and for a few dollars a piece there is no hesitation to paint them a wacky hue and get creative), numerous antique pieces, a couple of great paintings (no velvet Elvis’s), picture frames, and so many more treasures. On a road trip not too far from home, we stopped at a little junk store and ended up buying a 150 lb chunk of amethyst crystal – so fabulous!

These treasures are not only brilliant and fabulous pieces for the home but they help preserve memories of great day and wonderful times, they bring uniqueness and individuality to your rooms. So stop the car, break up the road trip with a few treasure seeking pit stops, keep your eyes peeled for interesting little shops and the ‘estate sale signs. Get the girls together for a Friday evening garage sale gathering. Wear comfortable shoes, bring the truck and cash. But, most importantly, put on your designer cap- you need to be able to see past the items current condition, past the grime and the dirt, beyond the tattered frame, blah wood finish, weathered exterior, you need to recognize the potential, the diamond in the rough.

How to create a fabulous home – look for one of kind items that you’ll only find in your space. Show off your creativity, even the most expensive, incredible luxurious estates desire the one of’s so whether you seek them out yourselves or hire a designer to do it for you this is how we create those very special spaces that we love to call home.


Art Lover

Cheryll Gillespie Media Group, Art Lover

Yesterday, I arrived home from Hong Kong a little tired but excited and dreaming about all the fabulous art that I saw at Art Basel Hong Kong. The art that we choose to hang on our walls and sit on top of our pillars and buffets says a lot about who we are and how we like to live – art is a key element of fabulous living at home.

Cheryll Gillespie Media Group, Art LoverAs designers, we often create entire rooms, and even homes, around a single piece of art or a personal collection; we understand how important art is in creating and defining a homeowner and the home itself. If you are building or renovating a home, it is important to plan with your art in mind, whether you have already purchased or are planning to invest in certain pieces. Heavy artwork that will need to be hung may need enhanced framing to support the weight or you may want to create a built-in niche to hold a special piece of sculpture. Art needs to be lit properly, so we always include display light or directional lighting as part of our lighting schemes. Lighting of art is often missed or overlooked in lighting plans, plan to use picture lights or directional LED pot lighting to enhance a painting or a sculpture. You may even want to ensure that a floor plug is strategically placed so that you can light a piece from underneath.

Art does not need to ‘match’ your décor – buy and display what you love. We adore contemporary art pieces hung in traditional rooms and vice versa. Mix it up and simply enjoy the art. Having said this though, the framing and matting does matter and can often make a piece work or make the piece feel as if it doesn’t belong in a room. Working with a designer or at least bringing photographs of the room that the art will hang in, along with you when you visit the framing store, will help. Framing art is an important part of the design process. The manner in which you choose to frame and display art (ex: a pillar base for a piece of sculpture) can certainly elevate the status and appeal of the piece itself. I have seen inexpensive or student art framed brilliantly pass for high end collectable art and expensive art framed incorrectly overlooked. The size of the wall versus the art, is also important, it’s all about proportions.

Collecting art can be addictive and a lot of fun regardless of your budget (think of art just as would real estate, you can always upgrade as you buy and sell). When you are given an opportunity to attend an art show or to check out a new gallery, go and enjoy the art, learn about the artist and when you find a piece you love, bring it home. Your personal art collection should mean something to you and each piece should have a story or a memory attached to it. Art, as the say, is subjective – connect with it personally and let it speak your story at home!

DESIGNER TIP- Art should be hung at eye level, approximately 60 inches from the floor.



Cheryll Gillespie Media Group, Blue

This summer make a cool splash into the blue. A blue palette is cool, refreshing and on trend for home fashion this summer.

Cheryll Gillespie Media Group, BlueTurquoise, teal and aquamarine hues are truly cool shades that live stylishly at home this summer. Indoors or out these shades are not only refreshing but soothing and bring an element of calm into a space. Blue is said to be the world’s most loved colour and I too, admit to it being my personal favorite. Of course, it’s all about the palette, so the other colours you pair it with are equally important but I adore my palette of easy to live with, yet highly sophisticated, gray, white, charcoal, black and caramel fringed with a rich smoky blue. Blue is an extremely versatile hue that pairs brilliantly with brown, black, grey, yellow, orange and yes even red (think turquoise and a coral red). Basically, blue works with vertically every palette and style- fitting in with traditional spaces (think blue and white chinoiserie pottery) and simultaneously ultra contemporary decor (a great example is blue led underlit furniture- very hot!).

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My favorite pops of blue this year include geometrically patterned or silk papers, blue upholstered or ceramic ottomans, blue glass art including blue crystal chandeliers, chunks of topaz stones for sculpture and heavenly blue silk carpets. Don’t forget about the gorgeous blue eyeshadow seen on the runways this spring at Armani, Kate Spade, Jeremy Scott and Michael Kors. Try adding blue hues to not only your home decor, but also your wardrobe and beauty routine this spring to be right on trend.

Destress, feel refreshed and stylized this summer with shades of blue at home. Live fabulously!


Embracing Spring

Cheryll Gillespie Media Group, Embracing Spring

Throw open the windows, prop the patio doors wide, and let that fresh warm Spring breeze blow through the house. Seasonal changes need to be embraced in the home and Spring is perhaps my favorite.

Over the years, we have learned to bring the indoors out and the outdoors in. On our patios and decks this season, start by defining the space with a fabulous outdoor rug. Layer with furniture that you can’t wait to lounge in, and complete with decorative throws, cushions and accessories that look as good as any you’d have in your indoor rooms. Some of my ‘go to outdoor accessories are, metal, stone or wood sculptures, ceramic vases (fill them with sand to keep them in place even when the wind picks up. Organic trasures are also great accessories outdoors – drift wood, shells, and tree stumps. Use screens, potted plants (a couple of my favorites are palms, bird of paradise, fiscus and citrus trees) and modern umbrellas to help create ’walls’ outside. Create a space that you will have to drag yourself away from.

Cheryll Gillespie Media Group, Embracing SpringInside the home, tie back the drapery, perhaps even removing the heaving panels of drapery and leaving only the white sheers. Wool area carpets should be rolled up and stored until October. Floors can be left naked or lay down a lighter carpet, perhaps one that is shorter shag, sculpted dyed in a soft summer hue or consider a natural texture like sisal. Potted plants in the room need to appear to be thriving, if they are not, replace them. Refresh the bottom plantings with fresh green moss or polished stones for a manicured look. Toss the old sofa cushions into storage and replace with lighter spring inspired pillows: embroidered linen, chintz, or cotton. Look at the tabletops and if it feels too heavy then let us replace these details with fresher elements. Fresh flowers, glass vases, candles, and great spring reads are perfect.

Think light and airy, for example, glass, silver, and white ceramics are visually lighter than brass, copper, or black metal pieces. On the walls and above the fireplace mantel add a mirror, mirrors reflect the light and will make the space feel roomier. If you have a real wood fireplace, clean it out and fill it decoratively with painted white logs or birch logs for a crisp look. Love spaces that smell as good as they look so change your signature room scent to a lighter summer inspired scent, perhaps a citrus such as grapefruit or lemon.

Do a walk around the entire house, replace dark coloured linens and towels with summer fresh white, Swap heavy duvets and blankets with lighter ones, add fresh flowers in bedrooms and bathrooms and dap with your favourite summer fresh scent. Keep a bowl of lemons or potted herbs on the kitchen countertop, now the house feels as fresh and wonderful as a perfect spring day. Now that’s fabulous living!


Pattern Power

Cheryll Gillespie Media Group, Pattern Power

The ability to mix, match and blend patterns and colours together successfully is a God given talent and the results of a well-patterned space can be jaw dropping

Patterns blended, contrasted and positioned creatively can create the most fascinating rooms, magically enchanting the eye in such a way we might not even realize what’s making the room look so special. It can be a terrifying task to try and create a space based on overlapping pattern but some of today’s most brilliant designers, in both the apparel and home fashion worlds, inspire us to attempt just such a feat. Bright, bold, graphic and organic patterns mixed and blended in a space by a talented designer brings a chic, youthful vibrancy and proficient artistry to any space.

Is there a secret to designing such spaces? Absolutely. To design a piece of furniture or an entire room with this electric, creative genius the designer must have unswayable confidence and a great sense of adventure and humor.

Cheryll Gillespie Media Group, Pattern PowerOne must adhere to the motto ” if you put it together, then it goes together”. But there are a few trade secrets that will help to ensure success. Proportion is key to ensure that all patterns, regardless of colour, are of different proportions. Keep a balanced mix of graphic and organic patterns, and amongst your more colorful patterns, which need to contain at least one common colour thread, add a bold touch of black and white. To help achieve harmony amongst the chaos of pattern restrict your use of metal to a single element: perhaps gold or silver.

This is not an easy look to achieve successful but with determination and purpose, you will be successful! Start small, perhaps start with a table top layering on a few different patterns with a clothe and runners. Then layer and stack dishes and stem ware of varying colours and pattern, in the center of the table have fun with candle sticks and whimsical accessories. Think outside the box, add artistic flair by employing center pieces that traditionally wouldn’t belong (sculptural busts, books, or natural elements like driftwood or branches) There just as one wouldn’t think that these colorful combinations or patterns would ever go together successfully, but with a carefully editing eye, they can.

One successful vibrant space will undoubtedly leave you craving more.

Mix it up , be brave and achieve fabulous spaces filled with colour and pattern.



Cheryll Gillespie Media Group, Benched

In the foyer, at the end of a bed, along side a wall in the hallway or even replacing individual chairs at a dining table, a bench is chic, stylish and fabulously functional.

Cheryll Gillespie Media Group, BenchedI love a great bench! At our home, we floated a very cool white leather circular bench just off the dining room and at a recently completed display home we opted to employ a velvet tufted bench instead of dining chairs on one side of the table. In another recent show home Rock House designed, we choose two faux alligator upholstered benches to sit on both long ends of the aeroplane metal dining table and at the head of the table we used black velvet high-backed arm chairs; it turned out delicious! In another project we designed a linen and crystal tufted bench at one end of an island in the master suite closet, perfect for laying out tomorrow’s outfit on or holding a suitcase as it is being packed for adventures abroad. Benches are back in vogue with trendsetting designers and savvy spaces, whether placed strategically to sit and contemplate a great view or to help you to don those hard to get on gorgeous boots – they simply and elegantly work in most rooms!

What I love most about a great bench is perhaps its versatility. If you tire of it in one location you can easily reposition it in another. Easy to move around, narrower in width than a chair and definitely useful for many various purposes. With virtually an infinite range of styles, coverings and shapes, you’ll undoubtedly have trouble choosing only one. The legs of the bench can be constructed of clear acrylic, stainless, copper or chrome metal, lacquered or aged wood, concrete, and just about anything we can imagine. The seat itself has the same creative possibilities -wood, upholstery, metal or steel. Do it yourselfers have a great opportunity for both creativity and cost savings with a bench. Consider making your own bench using found chair legs, concrete blocks, wood stumps, or architectural remnants as a base and then uphoster a seat using rope, carpets, fabric, stuffed toys or even a large grouping of tennis balls. Traditional pieces can be repurposed modern and up beat with bright neon colours or metallics.Benches with hidden storage are a great space-saving idea for smaller homes. Seat yourself and bring in the bench!


It’s The Small Things

Cheryll Gillespie Media Group, It's The Small Things

There’s not a lot of small talk in the design world about accessories. This I don’t understand, since these small but critical components of the perfect space are the adjectives of a room’s story- they describe who we are, where we have been, who and how we love. They make us smile, they spur memories, they can intrigue and even seduce.

Where do we get our accessories? The answer is simple: from every where! I never know where or even when I will pick up a new accessory item. It could be on a quick stop into a local decor store, a visit to my mom’s basement, while on holidays, at a flea market or an estate sale, an auction, during a nature hike or while traveling for business or on holidays. Literally, every where, as fabulous accessories are just about in all places. Near and far away from home offers the potential and opportunity to find the perfect accessory.

What constitutes as an accessory? A gorgeous photo frame, a glass bowl, a piece of art, antique bowling pins, vintage store front signs and letters, coffee table books, candles, clocks, even a piece of drift wood or a shell you picked up on a walk along the beach can be just the piece your room needs

How many accessories do I need? Good question and we often address the notion that less is more and educate how we can free ourselves from clutter in a room but accessories should always be evolving, changing and moving around as we do. We are continually switching pieces around the house, repositioning and repurposing as we find new items. You can think of it as upgrading so pieces that you tire of can be boxed and stored for future use, relocated to a summer home, sold in a garage sale, or donated to charity. Don’t over accessorize but employ enough to create a mood in the room.

How do I know what to buy? Buy what you love, follow your ‘designer gut instinct’. If it’s not perfect, leave it and wait for something that interests you and yes, accessories can and should,at times, whimsical or quirky with a sense of humor. At my home, we have a life size piece of wax sculpture that looks like a real male butler. “Curly”, never fails to give folks reason to pause. Accessorizing a space is my favorite part of the design process, if we have done our job correctly and created ‘good bones’, a solid foundation and a harmonized palette, then the accessories, just like the icing on a cupcake, are the best part of this delicious space. Now that’s living fabulously!’


Looking Up

Cheryll Gillespie Media Group, Looking Up

One of the biggest myths in design is that a ceiling should be painted white; personally, I seldom leave a ceiling stark white.

Look up- what have you done with your fifth wall, yes I’m referring to the ceiling! Is it plain white or did you paint it a similar shade to your walls? Have you installed any architectural detailing? Did you wall paper it? Install metal or mirrored paneling? Or perhaps you had the ceiling hand-painted or textured; all of the above are fabulous options for your ceiling.

Ceilings are a wonderful opportunity to add colour, texture and pattern to a room. When we were finishing the details on our home, my husband thought I lost it when I twisted his arm to install wood planks onto the “perfectly drywalled ceiling”. Now, he loves it, but I really had to work to convince him that it was the right decision. A little bit of that seventies vibe adds warmth and texture to our ultra modern space. Ceilings are one of the most often missed decorating opportunities, and I never like to miss an opportunity. At the very least, I will have the painter paint the ceiling half strength of the wall colour for cohesiveness within the space. More often than not I am adding pattern onto ceilings with a fabulous geometric wall paper, or installing beveled panels of copper or antique mirror, one of my favorite tricks to use in dining rooms where glamour, warmth and comfort are especially important.

I love a modern space that employs traditional architectural detailing on the ceiling; this is an easy trick that will add a lot of character to a room. Some of you are saying that you have stipple ceiling, so how does that work? Good questions, if the stipple has never been painted you can moisten with water and then scrape of the stipple, if it has been painted than it is more of a project and most likely you will need to have the old ceiling removed and a new dry wall ceiling installed, not an overly expensive project but I won’t lie – it is a messy one. If I don’t have a new ceiling in the budget I will scrape and remove the stipple as best as possible and then install mirrored or metal paneling, which will hide the gouged and scraped previously stippled finish. Around the perimeter of the room, install crown molding and a ceiling medallion in the center as a back drop for a gorgeous light fixture.

Whether you are planning a decorating project, renovation or construction of your new home, don’t forget to plan something special for the ceiling and all of its glorious opportunities. Plan, research and design the ceiling with the same amount of enthusiasm and detail as you will the walls and the floors-don’t miss this incredible opportunity to add design wow to your rooms. Now that’s fabulous living!


Get Your Paint On

Cheryll Gillespie Media Group, Get Your Paint On

March is the perfect month to repaint a room. It’s too early to start working in the yard, but we’ve got a spring itch for cleaning and refreshing our home so let’s roll – on the paint, that is!

Paint is a designer’s least expensive, yet most effective tool for creating visual change and excitement in a room. A can of beige paint and a can of fabulous emerald green both cost around fifty dollars, but there’s a whole lot more wow power in that can of emerald green. So read on and consider this point as we chat about choosing your hue. This year’s hot hues, include deep, rich blues and green, colours that appear to have come straight off a peacock’s tail, the waters of Tahiti or mined from famous gemstones. Pair them with organic neutrals and shimmering golds, bronzes or brass and you’ve created a simply stunning palate that will have all who enter this room envying your space.

Painting a room has never been easier with low VOC paint (no odors and no bad fumes), water-based paints that are as good a quality as oil-based paint (so clean up is a breeze) and even paint that is a primer and top coat in one. You can easily repaint a room in a weekend and then enjoy the reward for many years to come.

A hot paint trend is stripping. Imagine, horizontal stripes that vary in width and combine three to five different colours (including a metallic stripe) flowing around the dining room. Conversely, Chevron stripes are a terrific alternative to horizontal or vertical striped patterns, how would a sophisticated chevron pattern look in your office? Equally trendsetting is colour blocking, strong bold black combined with brights, neutral and of course a metallic. Using painters tape that has been designed for crisp edges (there’s no bleed through of paint and the tape is easily removed from the wall without taking the undercoat with it) create a pattern that will rival the most expensive wall paper. It’s paint and we are only limited by our imagination. Look for inspirational patterns that could be recreated on a wall in a favorite dress, wallpaper, drapery fabric or gift wrap. Looking to create texture on your wall? Try one of our favorite tricks , use molding .Apply plaster, mdf or wood molding to the wall in desired pattern and then paint it out with the same colour as the wall.

Now that I have you looking around the house for the perfect space to get rolling with, you need to choose your colours. Here are a couple of designer tricks for always getting the right shade the first time. Bring home small cans of your top choices and roll them out on a wall in about a two foot square. Look at the colours throught the day and night to ensure it’s the perfect shade. Light changes colours and the colours around a colour affect how we see colour so it’s always best to chose colour in the space that it will reside in. Colour looks lighter on the wall than it does on the paint chip so if considering a particular colour, consider the chip that is next in line- one shade darker is usually the better choice. Neutrals can be some of the most challenging shades to chose because they all have undertones of other colours. For example a taupe will have undertones of yellow, red, green or blue. If you can’t read the colour, ask the paint store what colours go in the mix when making that particular shade and that will let you know how it will read in the room. Guess what we will all be doing this weekend? Painting!



Cheryll Gillespie Media Group, Silk

I’m all about silk in home design these days, literally ‘worming’ my way to creating fabulous spaces: silk wallpapers, drapery, upholstery and rugs. I just can’t get enough of this incredible textile. There truly is nothing like silk, if you want to create a room that looks and feels like luxury, then nothing compares to the “silky smooth” yet simultaneously rough texture of silk. The way its prism shaped fibers reflect the light is unbeatable, lately, it is my go to textile for fabulous spaces.

Silk is one of the many inventions that we thank the Chinese for. The legend of silk gives credit to Yuen Fei, a concubine of an emperor nearly 5000 years ago who accidently dropped a cocoon into her tea and after watching it unravel, discovered the silk thread. This queen of fibers is versatile and decadecant. Silk is a protein fiber, as is wool. It is natural for silks to have some irregularities – sometimes called “slubs”. This is the nature of the 100% silk fabric if you are looking at silk fabric samples and you see tiny black specs these are not flaws but actually part of the original cocoon. The most expensive silks are made from cocoons of the Bombyx moth who feeds from mulberry leaves. Other silks are made from moths that feed on oak leaves. Amazingly, the average coon contains three to four hundred meters of silk.

Cherylll Gillespie Media Group, SilkHow can we use silk at home? Let’s start with the simple ways: elegant drapery panels for your window, this is my go to window dressing. Simply hung or tied back with a beautiful tassel, the iridescent quality of silk will dazzle in the sun while providing great light control if closed. Being a natural fiber, silk is prone to colour fading, so draperies must be lined and interfaced. Include a silk-upholstered pair of chairs or add some DIY silk cushions made from vintage silk scarves to an existing upholstered piece in the room. Consider hand-painted silk or embroidery on the pillows or even on the back of the chairs for a truly custom look.

Since my first trip to the silk factories of Suzhou, China, I have been hooked on silk wallpapers of all kinds; hand painted, embroidered and left au natural. The look and feel of silk on the walls is irresistible elegance and I can’t think of a space that would not benefit from this wall treatment. We have wallpapered dining rooms, living rooms, bedrooms and even water closets with silk. I just can’t get enough of this textile in design. I guess we could say that the Silk Road is the way to fabulous spaces. Consider this natural, ancient textile for your next design project- five thousand years of being the most luxurious textile made can’t be wrong and if you haven’t all ready embraced the silk worm – isn’t time you did?