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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?


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!