A Colourful Salad Inspired Summer


I hope you are all having a great summer. I must admit, summer is not my favourite season, there I have said it out loud.

I love a budding spring and a crisp fall, even a chilly winter is fine with me, but summer (always) falls last on the list. Am I the only one I sometimes wonder? Summer is always heralded with much fanfare, but I prefer the company of her cooler sisters.

My skin is fair, and my Scottish heritage wasn’t built for, or accustomed to lots of sun and I love clothes, I love layers – jackets and scarves and proper socks, I loathe the little socks that summer brings that slide off my feet multiple times a day. 

But here we are in the height of summer, with high temps, humidity, and this year an abundance of rain which for once means all is still looking green in the garden. I know I eat better in the summer; I feel like I am being sustained on lots of gorgeous grown Canadian produce, which truly is the best. 

Leafy lettuces, crisp radishes, I am OBSESSED with radishes since our trip to Stockholm where they were served at almost every meal, and buttery soft baby potatoes. The colours of summer foods not only delight my stomach but my eye which loves to see the colour mix in a large bowl of salad.

When I first moved to Canada everyone would talk about going to ‘the’ cottage and I wondered if there was only one bursting at seams with a huge proportion of Toronto vacationing in its elastic walls. Was it a case of first come first serve in terms of getting a bed? But in all seriousness over the past 21 summers in Toronto I now truly understand the sheer joy that comes from being able to dip your toes in cooler water and feel a soft breeze on your sunny skin.

 Cottages make a lot of people very happy in the summer months, and I too have the need to escape the asphalt and brick for grass and lakeside views. Water simply calms our senses; I could stare at the lake or sea all day and do love when we vacation near it.  

Holidays to me need to have water in my sightlines for at least some of the trip. I’ve always just associated holidays with water, maybe it’s because of my Scottish summers as a kid spent on or near a beach or maybe it’s simply the Scottish summer rain.

Talking Out Loud

Last week I was interviewed for a podcast. Whenever I am interviewed, I am always surprised at how the conversation flows. I can go in with the intent of talking about one thing, but a question will quickly take me down a different path. I would make a rubbish politician as I rarely stay on track! I like the path unknown and where the unexpected question leads. 

The podcast host was Gail Davis of the same named design firm. Her podcast – Design Perspectives – was recently listed on AD as one of the best design podcasts, I hope I did her and the list justice. I will let you all know on Instagram when all goes live.

It was a very casual chatty conversation that I did enjoy, her podcast is aimed primarily at educating other design professionals. We got down the rabbit hole of what happens when a vendor makes an error but doesn’t see it as their problem to resolve. 

This has happened to me rarely, but it has happened, and I remember the incidents with such clarity you would think they just happened yesterday. I have found that you really don’t know who you are working with until something goes awry and then you find out if your moral compass is pointing in the same direction. 

Often, I welcome an error early on in a relationship, something to test your values that lets you both see what you are made of. The same can be said for all relationships, when it’s good it’s good but sometimes it takes the unexpected, the mistake, the mess, the how on earth…… to make it brilliant and stand the test of time. 


The thought of moving can make us all feel nauseous, I’ve lived in the same home for 20 years and know a move will be on the cards one day, but the thought of packing up our home fills me with dread. I’m a constant editor, refiner of stuff so really, I have nothing to fear about what lies in the depths of the basement closet, to me it’s simply more about the upheaval.

I think it’s easier if you are moving to something larger, with more space to accommodate you and your belongings. But what happens when you are making the conscious effort to downsize? If you are an empty nester and want to start over somewhere tailored just for your current life.

This was the case for lovely clients of mine. I was smitten with them at the first meeting and assisting in this massive move was such an honor. The story was recently featured in the Toronto Star and talking through it all with the journalist had me reflecting on the journey from first call to completion. 

There were some tough decisions to be made, compromises over what could come and what simply wouldn’t fit in the new space. I was quoted as saying that it ‘wasn’t all rainbows and unicorns’ which sounds like something I would say. We had multiple floor plans showing the consequences of certain decisions. If you have this, the room will look like this, and you can’t have this. 

We did manage to bring the majority of my clients’ treasured pieces and those that couldn’t make the move, new homes were found for them. It’s like a game of chess, moving things around in the hope all will end up the right place.

Moving is stressful but having a clear path to the end, and working with someone who has your best interests at heart does make all the difference.  I always find that I see pieces through a different lens than my clients, so something that maybe didn’t have a starring role before can be the draw in the new space. 

Studio Shop

We have a lot of new stock in the studio shop that pairs perfectly with long summer days. All follow our shop ethos in that we want to support blossoming, so far, all female entrepreneurs who are creating lovely things in a sustainable way. 

We have napkins, napkin rings and great hostess gift bottle bags designed to hold wine or a beautiful bottle of olive oil. These come from the clever sister duo at theStampa in Argentina and I had the pleasure of meeting them in New York in May.

We have lovely leather aprons also from Argentina, another New York find from May, that are a beautiful weight and colour. 

Last but not least is our first venture in quilted throws. For these we have collaborated with the Montreal company Le Point Visible. Headed by Marilyn Armand, all fabrics used are excess quantities sourced from the fashion industry.  

Our design is called The Climb and the quilts we have are all unique but have a similar colour palette and ethos. Scaled in twin and queen sizes.  These look just as gorgeous on a bed as they would on a sofa. Fabrics come from fashion houses such as Ralph Lauren and local Canadian brands and all are washable and beautifully soft. 

What We’re Working On

August brings a large move home for clients whose renovation and project has grown in size and scale as is often the case in renovations of older homes. Sometimes when you start you just keep going. This grand old lady has had a massive makeover whilst still feeling and looking like the beautiful heritage property she is. Below we have a progress shot of the original staircase spindles stacked and ready to be reinstalled upon completion of the new hardwood floor. 


Giving credit & thanks and some more musings while I am at it!

The girl behind the striped beach towel, origin unknown. Perfectly made bed, sourced on Pinterest, via Design Within Reach. Honey glazed roasted peaches with mascarpone, Sarah Fennel, Broma Bakery, GGI Pinterest Board Recipes. Orange and radish salad with pistachios, NYT Cooking, GGI Pinterest Board Recipes. Gillian photographed at V&A Museum Dundee Scotland. Untitled by Petter Almgren on flickr. Dining room vignette, Gillian Gillies Interiors, photography Virginia Macdonald, styling Me & Mo. The Climb queen quilt, Gillian Gillies Studio Collection. Striped napkins, theStampa, Gillian Gillies Studio Collection. Leather apron, Gillian Gillies Studio Collection. Dining room vignette, Gillian Gillies Interiors, photography Virginia Macdonald, styling Me & Mo. Stacked spindles – it was love at first sight for me and the staircase and I am so glad that all is being retained just the way it was but with a fresh coat of paint! 

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