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Interior Design Tips for Beginners

When someone is new to interior design they will often feel intimidated by the enormous amount of information out there for beginners. I think it's all of the rules that apply to different aspects of decorating, because one wrong move can make the entire ensemble fall apart. To tackle the anxiety you may be feeling about the subject, you just need to break everything down into bite-sized pieces of information.

When someone is new to interior design they will often feel intimidated by the enormous amount of information out there for beginners. I think it’s all of the rules that apply to different aspects of decorating, because one wrong move can make the entire ensemble fall apart. To tackle the anxiety you may be feeling about the subject, you just need to break everything down into bite-sized pieces of information.

When you’ve decided the space you live in needs revamping, take a look around. Familiarize yourself with it, and then take into consideration the tips I am about to lay out for you. Absorb them, mull them over, take a tea break with some sandwiches, FoxyBingo or television, and then get to work planning the room.

What you like

Point out all of the things about the current interior design that you love, and would like to keep. Doing so will make it easy for you to let the less appealing designs go. With that sorted, pick up some decorating magazines and look online for pieces of furniture, colours and fabrics which would suit what you want.

Colour schemes

With so many colours to choose from, how easy do you find it to pick a colour? Not very I imagine. The trick is to limit yourself to three colours. They need to work well with the wood tones of your furniture or floor and the natural light which filters into the room. Think about which parts of the room could use a splash of colour and look at show rooms in design magazines for inspiration.

Be brutal

Get rid of all the aspects you hate. This includes furniture, accessories, curtains, fixings, carpets – anything you are not attached to and can live without ever seeing again. Keeping things you don’t need will only clutter the room, and if it’s a small room, can you really afford to have clunky furniture in there? Sometimes it’s better to say goodbye.


Off The Wall

Cheryll Gillespie Media Group, Off The Wall

We all know that professional designers have to be multi-talented but one thing that designers are extremely good at, is being off the wall! We know that it is best not to ram your furniture up against the walls of a room, but instead, to artfully arrange the furniture pieces so that the room has space to breath and then we can take it one step further by mounting mirrors and art pieces away from the wall so that we are able to backlight with a beautiful soft glow of LED lighting.

A well-designed and thoughtful furniture layout can make a space feel larger or cozier, casual or formal, creative or predictable, functional or chaotic. Designers do not haphazardly toss furniture around a room and let pieces fall as they may, hoping that all will turn out okay. Definitely not, we plan for functionality, visual pleasure, ease of conversation and spatial perfection. It is imperative that you take the time to layout your furniture in a scaled plan to ensure that all works well in the space. In smaller spaces, we prefer to angle furniture to help enlarge the space, to focus seating arrangements toward a great view, the fireplace, or another focal point. We arrange furniture to suit the function of the room. The living room is arranged for conversation, the dining room for dining and entertaining, the bedroom for rest and romance. The most effective and creative furniture plans have at least one piece of furniture sitting away from the walls. This weekend take the time to use an online program or go old school and try using graph paper and a pencil, to re-layout your rooms.

Now, let’s move away from the wall with your bathroom mirrors and even large scale art. Last weekend I mounted a six foot by three foot hand carved stone art piece onto a wall complete with LED back lighting – fabulous! Mounting art and mirrors an inch away from the wall allows us the opportunity to backlight these features, making them even more dramatic. Consider the possibilities. Other move-away from the wall items include the sleek ceiling hung modern European styled fireplaces that seem to float in a room. Consider floating an artfully sculpted potted plant. One lesson, I learnt years ago in art school and that I now employ on a daily bases in my design work is that a sculptural piece must look great from all angels. We always treat our potted plants as living art. A true art sculpture could also float on a pedestal or base in a room. If your home’s layout allows a table floating between two rooms or spaces with a beautiful vase of flowers in the centre, try out this fabulous ‘off-the-wall’ addition. We love floating wall dividers like antique screens or curved wooden bookshelves. We also like to give the illusion of floating plumbing fixtures, like the ceiling hung pipes fixtures or chandelier water fixtures. Take a plunge and renovate the ensuite to include a floating bathtub – very decadent.



Cheryll Gillespie Media Group, Stoned

Tastemakers and designers across the globe are getting stoned! Yes, stoned! We are stoning our walls and floors with fabulous marble, quartz, travertine, granite, jade and onyx tiles, panels, slabs and mosaics. We are soaking up the luxury with stone bath tubs, sinks and even toilets and we are collecting stone carved sculptures and art pieces both antique and contemporary. Stone is everywhere and already bringing it home!

Why are we loving every thing ‘stone’? First of all it’s natural, and we love natural surfaces- not only does the natural atheistic enhance our décor but these pieces are clean with virtually no VOC’s to pollute our homes air quality. Secondly, they are almost indestructible and easy to clean making stone surfaces very easy to live with, heat and clean!

What are some of my favorite ways to use stone ‘at home’? Let me start by saying that I am in love with my marble bathtub. The stone bath tub is amazingly comfortable and the stone absorbs the heat making the hot water stay hotter longer-perfect for those leisurely life saving, distressing soaks. This is a true noteworthy “feature” in my home. The stone sinks and tubs are easy to clean and I’ve order matching stone toped drains so the drains virtually disappear- I love to use designer drains such as the Swiss clock drain in my bar sink and now the marble drains in my ensuite. Very decadent! I haven’t yet tested a stone toilet but I’m working with one of our suppliers to order a white marble toilet and ill keep you posted on my thoughts here but I must say that I love the prototype photos and drawings that the factory has sent to us and we will be inspecting the product in person, next month.

Next, I love to use stone panel’s backlit with LED lighting. Currently I’m enamored with back lit jade (did you know that jade comes in white, blue, red, black and green?)And have used it for a bar front, door panels and even a foyer floor insert- simply yummy! Carved stone panels are also on my hit list. Perfect for bar fronts, wall niches or simply to break up a stone wall. Again, these panels look perfect when back lit with LED lighting and truly add something special and “custom” to your home.

High end designers are showcasing carved marble lips, spheres and books into their product lines and I love these pieces. I also am addicted to creating stone furniture, everything from table tops and bases, stone pillars to outdoor chaise lounges and odd shaped end tables. Tomorrow, our custom designed granite planters with the clients initials should show up at our show room- can’t wait to see these forty inch by forty inch planters. The possibilities for bring stone home is infinite.

Look for stylish spaces to rock out this year and bring stone home in unexpected ways. Now that’s fabulous!


Love is in The Air

Love is in the air so let’s put a little into our rooms. With February, the month of love, just around the corner our minds are on romance. Single or married, we could all use a little more romance in our lives so let’s create rooms that help us inspire those amorous feelings.

Did you know that your rooms, the spaces you spend so much of your precious time in, can actually inspire romance and even make you feel friskier? Yes, good design can help stimulate our libidos just like an aphrodisiac… read on.

It shouldn’t need saying but a clean and de-cluttered space, is a must for romance, so before we change colours, add new textures, rearrange the furniture or hang artwork, clean up and clear out all of the unnecessary junk.

Colour and texture play key rolls in inspiring ‘wickedly delicious activities’. If we want to create lusty thoughts, then stay away from greens, and colour your room a sexy pink or red; the most amorous hues on the colour wheel. Consider great shades such as china red, fuchsia or raspberry. This colour family will actually stimulate your libido but if they are just too powerful to use as a main colour then pair with a sleek linen white, nocturnal black or a classic caramel.

Texture plays as significant of a roll as colour does in a room. To inspire passionate intentions bring in seductive textures such as faux fur, perhaps an area rug in front of the fireplace or a throw at the end of the bed, use silk and satin as upholstery or drapery or even a couple of toss cushions. Before committing to any texture, whether it is fabric, flooring, upholstery or accessory, close your eyes and feel. If it doesn’t make you blush, leave it in the store.

When we design sexy spaces in a home, I’m very conscious of the elements and ensuring that they are represented in pairs. Often, I see bedrooms that are designed for one- not two, one chaise or chair instead of a pair of chaises, a palette that is too feminine or too masculine instead of a balanced space. Keep secondary pieces of furniture in pairs and hang or display art work that inspires love and romance and ensure that the subject mater represents two and not one. (For example, a pair of herons on a beach instead of one heron on a beach).

Put lights on dimmer switches in all the romantic spaces, the chandelier over the dining table, the chandelier over your bath tub, table lamps on your end tables and the floor lamp in the living room. Soft sexy lighting is a romance must-have. In all the same spaces, ensure that you have easy access to music and create a ‘made-for-love’ play list. We all know what aphrodisiac scents can be so fill these spaces with sexy, exotic scents of natural essential oils.

Now love those rooms or I guess we should say love in those rooms-that’s fabulous!


Shiny Stuff

Cheryll Gillespie Media Group - Shiny Stuff

I admit, I have a weakness for bright, shiny, new things. Like most girls, I love patent leather shoes, big sparkly diamond rings, crystal chandeliers, rhinestone embellishments and all that glitters.

Yesterday, I was ecstatic over finally finding the perfect drapery fabric for my bedroom. One may think that a designer would have no challenges whatsoever doing her own house but let me tell you, we probably stress more than you do over personal spaces. We are exposed to new ideas and new products on a daily basis and the over-anaylization of our private spaces can be daunting. Friends keep asking when I will finish my rooms and I have consistently exclaimed “when I find the perfect pieces”. I have always stressed to clients and peers alike that I would rather leave a space void of detail than put something less than perfect or settle for less than fabulous. When I find it, I will know.

After a year of scouring fabric showrooms from New York to Paris to Milan I finally found ‘my’ bedroom drapery fabric, a crystal studded velvet-absolutely fabulous! With my high gloss white lacquer walls, white alligator leather bed, and white Mongolian sheep fur covered chaise it will be outstanding. At the best furniture and textile shows around the globe, I have noticed a distinct trend toward sparkle.

Amazing crystal lighting fixtures that are both modern and traditional; the arms are traditional crystal light fixtures but they appear suspended from the air by tiny wires that stem from a modern mount-LED lights have presented designers with incredible opportunities with respect to designs that we just couldn’t do with traditional bulbs and wiring restraints.

Traditional motifs and crystal details are seen embedded on case goods, such as buffets and dressers. Antique hardware is used on ultra modern cabinetry. Fabric and wallpapers are filled with shiny details such as embroidery, crystal studding and glass beading, even organic grass clothes are weaved with silver or gold metallic threads. Upholstered wall treatments are also gaining approval from even the most discerning tastemakers. Leather or fabric panels that are detailed with crystal hardware. And of course, there is lots of shine and sparkle in the accessory department. Even art has not escaped this trend, I love the traditional painted portraits that are finished with the object of the painting wearing a real crystal necklace.

My design philosophy has always been to use what you love, mix it up between traditional and modern, organic and synthetic. Too much sparkle is as ineffective as too little. Life and good design is all about creating the perfect balance. This weekend look around your rooms to see where they could use a little influx of sparkle. Perhaps, a new lighting fixture, a crystal table lamp, rhinestone adorned throw cushions or even a new dining buffet that sparkles with detail or look to wall paper the powder room or your bedroom.


Warming Up

Cheryll Gillespie Media Group, Warming Up

I’m watching the weather channel as Arctic cold fronts move across the provinces and folks are kept at home due to heavy snowfalls, this is perfect, as it gives us time to add some pattern to our rooms. Pattern will bring colour, warmth, texture and style to any room.

So many of us our terrified of adding pattern. What if it’s too loud? Too bright! Too bold! Too big! What if it clashes? What if it’s just too much? Relax and trust your designer instincts and go for it, pattern will make a statement and bring more wow to your rooms that any other element.

Okay, so now I have you starting to think ‘pattern’ but what kind of pattern? Horizontal stripes, chevron stripes, oversized damask, graphic, geometric or a large organic, yes, yes and yes again. With pattern the trend this year is go large and in charge, bold, a whole lot of fun, a whole lot of style and a whole lot of impact!

How can you put pattern on the wall? Paint it on, paper it on, hang fabric, graffiti your walls, use back lit stone or acrylic panels, beveled mirror or fabric panels or laminate boards. Alternatively put pattern on the floor with a fabulous area carpet or great pair of boldly upholstered chairs.

Designer guidelines for pattern:

  • In small spaces cover all four walls with the pattern, if you are only brave enough to cover one wall try adding pattern on the ceiling. Just because a room is small (think powder room or dining room) doesn’t mean you need to use small scale pattern, in-fact a large, oversized pattern will make the room look larger and feel more sophisticated.
  • If there are other patterns in the room they must be at least one third smaller in scale to ensure good proportions. Mixing patterns is right on trend so go ahead and try!
  • When using big, bold, patterns it is imperative that the colour palette be consistent and flawlessly executed. Messy application will ruin the effect of the pattern and confuse the eye.

Look to fashion for your pattern inspiration. We saw a lot of colour blocking with bold geometrics this season- could this work on your walls? Absolutely! Asian inspired designs and brocades are also on every page of Vogue this winter. Try reupholstering a set of arm chairs in a wonderful brocade or look for a modern flocked wallpaper or hand painted silk to add colour and pattern to special feature walls. Humor is always welcome at home and in our wardrobes and we are seeing the rise of pop art and the ‘creative chic’ so try adding a quirky pattern like Tetris blocks or bubblegum balls to your home surfaces. If you want to add pattern, put your fears and inhibitions away and just do it. You’ll love the results, and it’ll come together more naturally than you think.


January Blahs

Cheryll Gillespie Media Group, January Blahs

Tis the season to be feeling the post-holiday blahs. The glitz and glamour of December seems like a distant memory and now we are beginning to feel the effects of lonely grey, snowy, cold and cloudy days of January. Time to snap out of it and keep those blahs at bay with the help of our January Blah blasting ideas!

  1. Add some colour- colour makes us smile and feel good so plan to paint your favorite hue on a wall or four this weekend. Not only is bringing colour home a huge trend this year but it literally brightens our day. What colour to choose ? Don’t worry about what is trending and what is not, choose a colour that you love. Choose your favorite, a colour that brings a smile to your face, a colour that you love to wear .
  2. Clean your drawers. Opening the linen closet or your bathroom drawer and seeing all your items perfectly organized in fabulous containers and baskets will certainly brighten your day. Start with one or two completable areas a weekend. Never tackle too much and end up shelving an unfinished project. Tackle the projects in small finishable segments. Have fun with fabulous bamboo boxes and brightly coloured baskets and bins.
  3. Plant something, not only to plants cleanse our air but they can bring the tropics home. Consider a beautiful Areca palm in the bedroom or improve your culinary skills by adding fresh herbs next to a kitchen window to both beautify the space and add healthy flavour to your home cooked meals.
  4. An expensive energy bill after all the holiday entertaining and cold weather can certainly have you feeling blue, so change all your lightbulbs to low energy LED lights. LED lights can cost as little to turn on as a dollar a year so this way you can fill your home with light and wont be shocked back into the blues when the energy bill arrives.
  5. Discover the power of essential oils – every month experiment with a new oil. My favorite essential oil for January is Lemongrass. Lemongrass is known to ward off colds and flues, help you loose weight, banish depression and help soothe the mind. In a diffuser, tropically applied or enjoyed as a tea, lemongrass is sure to help lift the spirits this month.
  6. Redress your bed. Spoil yourself with luxurious new linens, organic formeldythe-free of course, and sexy coverings, throw pillows and accessories.
  7. Start a hobby that you can do at home, paint, grow bonsai trees, sew, knit or sculpt.
  8. Create a meditation area where ,for twenty minutes a day, you can enjoy mindless bliss and allow creative thoughts to flow through your body.
  9. Create a photo wall. Hang the story of your family on a wall in your home. Print off photos old and new alike and hang as a group. Remember, this wall is designed to tell your family’s story so fill it with memories from your travels, your family gatherings and your inspirations.
  10. Our number one tip to beat the January blahs at home is simply to surround yourself with things you love and adore. We all have too much clutter and post-holiday season is the perfect time to clean up, refresh and recharge. Everything should have a purpose and a sentiment. Your home should be your ultimate sanctuary, the most wonderful place to come home to and forget the greys and stresses of winter. Fill your home this month with things that warm you, literally (like plush throws, cuddly puppies and yummy teas) and figuratively (pictures of friends, good books and decor that makes you smile, or better yet, giggle!). Happy January!

It Only Looks Expensive

Cheryll Gilllespie Media Group, It Only Looks Expensive.

That room is stunning! But don’t worry… it only looks expensive! Beautiful rooms do not necessarily require a big budget. Savvy designers achieve expensive looking spaces with minimal budgets by shopping extremely smart, getting really creative and finishing off exquisite details.

Let me share with you some of our best kept secrets for achieving expensive looking spaces on a modest budget.

It’s cold, flu and renovation season and if you’ve caught the renovation bug, then keep finishes timeless and expensive looking by sticking with classic materials and palettes. Start with hardwood or stone flooring and if stone or hardwood are not in the budget, then choose a ceramic tile that has the look of a real stone tile or conversely, a laminate that has the most natural look available. Stick to the same philosophy for your countertops- keep it natural and classic. Palettes of black, charcoal, grey, linen, and caramel are timeless and always look rich. Unless you are looking for an ultra modern appeal, steer away from white molding and baseboards and instead opt for a classic linen shade. You can dress up the floor with a more expensive area carpet since it will be much smaller in size and budget than having the full room done wall-to-wall.

We always include fresh flowers and potted plants in our spaces. A well-styled plant brings life and elegance to the room; choose the perfect pot, and an exotic looking plant to grace a corner of the room. Fresh flowers such as a bowl of orchids on a table have long staying power and provide a luxurious look for several months. Alternatively, a single organic branch in a vase of water looks more ‘designerish’ than a bouquet and costs a whole lot less (just 5 minutes of your time to go for a walk).

Design a photo wall or a table grouping of black and white family photos. Black and white photos typically look classier than colored ones. All the frames and matting needs to be somewhat unified in colour. For example the wall gallery could use black frames with white matting but the size and shape of the frames and mattings can vary. On the table top grouping, choose all silver metallic frames to keep a unified look.

Instead of framed prints, hang real art on your walls. The large canvases can be stretched and hung unframed which will save some money. Attend student and local art walks in search of great pieces for an even greater price.

Even in the most modern of spaces, we always include one or two antique or vintage pieces. Not only will these pieces appear heirloom but they will also be unique to your home.

Draperies warm up and frame a view and to keep the expensive feel we always hang over-size drapery. Skimpy and unlined drapery looks cheap, drapery panels should be three times as full as the space they occupy and should always be lined.

Save your pennies and buy an expensive art or architectural book for the coffee table. Beautiful hardcover books are a true luxury. Keep your eye pealed at estate sales, vintage shops, second hand book stores and clearance tables for large coffee table books. Design smart and live luxuriously .


Designer Resolution

Cheryll Gillespie Media Group, Designer Resolution

Can you believe that the New Year is almost upon us? Where did the last year go? I guess its true time does fly by when you’re having fun and a fun and creative year it certainly has been but a new year offers up infinite creative and better living possibilities.

I always have believed in writing out my intentions, every day, every month and every year. If you can envision i,t you will make it happen, having said that, it’s time to start visualizing the changes we desire to make in the New Year an even better year than this one. Our mantra is ‘fabulous living for all’. To live fabulously, you not only have to live in a space that lives and looks fabulous to you but you also need to feel fabulous as well, so my intentions are always full circle with respect to lifestyle, a little design, lots of creative releases and always improved health and vitality. Here are a list of possible ‘designer intentions’ that you may wish to add to your own list.

Resolve to writing down your intentions everyday, as you achieve them, cross them off and continually update your list. By writing them down and seeing them complete you will naturally bring them about.

Burn more candles, they smell great and add to the whole ambience of your space but they also help you relax. Don’t just save them for special occasions. Burn them for yourself, even on a Monday night while watching a football game or your favorite soap.

Buy more organic, switch one regular grocery item every month to an organic item-start with staples such as milk and move forward from there. We are what we eat and I never scrimp on groceries. If you think buying organic food is expensive, wait until the medical bills come in if you get sick.

Homes are about life and love, show yours more by bringing in fabulous potted plants and fresh flowers into your spaces. When we design a room, we consider the green element as we would a great piece of art. We choose the leaf colour, texture and shape to work with all other elements in the room and of course the pot is perfectly proportioned and styled for the space. Plants will also keep the air in your home clean and fresh and show your commitment to keeping something alive other than yourself if you are a seeking Bachelor or Bachelorette.

If you have a little more room for love in your life consider adopting a dog or a cat. These adorable creatures will complete your home, always delivering countless hours of entertainment and always offering you unconditional love. Nothing beats a puppy hug!

Colour makes a bold statement, this year resolve to bring colour into your room and your wardrobe. Even if black is your go-to colour choice, brighten it up with a turquoise scarf or add punches of raspberry to your gray room.

Get creative; all of us need to enjoy a creative release. Pick up a paint brush or enroll in a singing or cooking class with your best girlfriend, tackle a sewing project, take up knitting or plant some bulbs. Creativity is not about having natural artistic talents – it’s about being hands on and trying something new; heck even taking a second language is creative – go for it!

Make this year your most fabulous ever – happy New Year everyone!


Knock on Wood

Cheryll Gillespie Media Group, Knock on Wood

Knock on wood in all the nicest rooms this year. Designers have been including organic elements in trendy spaces for the last few years but one of the hottest trends for next year is wood; raw, petrified, covered in resin, metallic’s, painted in the brightest hues or left au natural.

At design shows in Europe and Asia I’ve been spotting some fabulous wooden elements that deserve to come home. For the more traditional or the transitional room we saw beautiful armoires with intricate inlay detail left au natural- no stain just very natural oil (you can’t even tell that there is any finish on the piece at all) put on as a finish to keep the wood from drying out. Petrified wooden stumps and table tops feel at home in both transitional and modern spaces. High end designer labels are all over these pieces and decorators can’t get enough of them. On the modern end of design my favorite ‘spots’ where smooth round wooden blobs that serve as chairs, three quarter and half metre wooden orbs and silver metallic root pieces that work brilliantly in the foyer or has sofa tables.

These pieces are certainly not inexpensive but are well spent in a budget, pieces that can be our next heirlooms. Remember that in great spaces we would rather have more meaningful and high quality items that to simply fill a room for the sake of filling a room.

If you are saving your pennies for that ultimate wood piece but still want to bring ‘wood’ into the room this winter here are a few ideas to do it with little or no money.

Fill a beautiful basket or oversized silver ice bucket (giant round bowl -you can find these at discount decorating stores for around fifty dollars) with uncut logs, preferably birch. If you can’t find nice logs then simply paint the logs.

Uncut logs can also be bundled together with the cut ends vertically to make an end table or using taller logs if you are lucky enough to have access to thirty inch pieces bundle the logs together to make a sofa or a stunning table for the entrance of your home. Single logs ten inches or greater in diameter can be cut flat and level top and bottom and made in to table bases or extra seats. Leave them au natural or paint them white, silver, copper or in your favorite shade. Use the stumps next to the fireplace, the bed, or the bathtub -woodn’t you know the perfect table!

Growing up my dad, the forester, use to make charger plates for my mom from one inch thick slabs of a full round tree trunk. I wish he had made me a set but being handy gals we can make our own or at least we can find a stump and with a smile ask our favorite handy man to cut us some chargers of our own. Apply a coat of varnish and perfection.

Being next to nature is always grounding for me and this is one trend that I am definitely embracing for fabulous living.