A Fragrant Filled May


I hope you all had a beautiful fragrant filled May. I say fragrant as I have just returned from a client meeting and her lilac bushes which surround her home were in full bloom and the fragrance was so hypnotic. But then isn’t that the power of smell, both good and bad.


It can stop you in your tracks and take you back to a moment in time, a place, a person, a sound. All it takes is one quick whiff and you are transported quicker than Captain Kirk. 

Every season has its anchoring fragrance and for me nothing says May more than the smell of freshly cut grass and viburnums. We have a couple of viburnum standard trees strategically placed in our garden, one just outside our breakfast room window and the other closer to the dining area in the garden. 

Their fragrance is heady and always makes me pause and breathe a little bit deeper. Mine don’t flower enough to cut the stems but if I could, I’d fill a large vessel with them and inhale and repeat. 

May brought a whistle stop trip to New York – it’s my annual pilgrimage to the big apple to attend design shows, reconnect in person with makers and industry allies, see friends and visit the Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse. I think New York is at its prettiest in May with its many tree-lined streets and outdoor patios. 

My first stop was to the Javits Center for ICFF (International Contemporary Furniture Fair). The name is not representative at all of what you see, but in my humble opinion it’s the best North American design show. 

It can be toured in under a day and there are always lovely new finds. At some point you might wonder how many new finds I need, but each project can bring the need for something different, and I am always looking to do something new and not simply repeat what we have done in the past.  If I can go to a show like this and find 3-5 vendors that I am interested in working with then I consider it a success. I’m adding to my offering, not starting all over again, a little like giving your closet a refresh with a new pair of shoes and a scarf! 

There were some amazing ceramicists creating beautiful wall art, there was lighting – some pieces that I had seen in magazines but didn’t know the source and they were there, and there were stunning chairs that I found and already know where they are going. 

That evening we were non-alcoholic-cocktailed (well I was) and dined courtesy of Lutron. If you have a switch or receptacle, it’s probably a Lutron one but they do so much more than this. 

Prior to eating at the amazing Casa Cruz, we visited the Lutron Experience Centre at the D&D Building. Here we were shown the immersive and transformative powers of their new Ketra lighting system. It was incredible. 

What touched me the most was a comment made earlier in the day by Cecilia Ramos who is the Senior Director of Architectural Markets (she spoke on a lighting panel at ICFF). She was reflecting on a visit to a seniors home in New York where Ketra lighting has been installed. 

Ketra lighting can be programmed to follow the natural cadence of the light outside. It’s naturally brighter (white) during the day and warmer (yellow) in the evening. It’s so much more than simply dimming; it manages and controls the quality of the light seen and felt. 

But back to the seniors home – the nurse showing Cecilia around commented that the biggest change since the new lighting was installed was that no one asked what time of day it was any more. This is how powerful light is. 

It can soothe you, make you feel aligned and understand approximately what time of day is. Imagine if you are somewhere (hospital for example) and are reliant on others for your care, imagine getting back the sense of security that you know what time of day it is and what meal is due next.  We often work and live in spaces with restricted access to sky and light, this system could be transformative on so many levels. I am hooked! 

The next day was a full day also, a visit to a select number of showrooms at 200 Lexington, a quick pop into a couple of standalone showrooms and then onto The Kips Bay Decorator Showhouse

This years home featured 24 studios who each got a space to design in the 12,000 square foot neo-Georgian townhouse in the upper east side. It did not disappoint. 

I am always amazed at what these studios create within a six-week period. I don’t think anyone eats or sleeps, it’s an incredible feat and I am sure that the studios work on nothing but this once their space has been assigned. 

What was very apparent is that using the ceiling as the fifth wall in a room is not going anywhere. Ceilings were plastered, muraled, wallpapered, upholstered, paneled and in one case partially carpeted!  Carpeting was used on several vertical surfaces allowing the pattern to run partially up the walls and shapes were mainly organic and free flowing. It was a feast for the eyes. 

With all the spring flowers it can bring a lot of sniffs and sneezes, but we have some great new tissue box covers in the studio that the team and I are obsessed about. 

Get them for your vanity, your kitchen, your car, your cottage, anywhere you have people! Using the same method as our studio collection cushions, we have used off-cuts to make these covers and all profits go to charity. 

The proceeds of the tissue box covers, cushions & fabric sales will go to Shelter Movers, a local Toronto charitable organization providing moving services at no cost to individuals and families fleeing abusive situations. If you want to shop our collection in person and get some great deals in our designer closet clear out, please come to our pop-up shop at our studio in Leaside on Thursday June 6th. See all the event details below! 

To follow us and learn more about the studio collection please visit our brand-new Instagram account. We will post not just our latest offerings but also inspirational images that resonate with us and talk to our aesthetic. We look forward to seeing you there.

As this month closes, I end with more blooms. As I write this, I am eagerly counting sleeps till we get to shoot a project we completed late last year but the crowning glory – the ceiling wallpaper – was just installed earlier this month.

My client’s ensuite has a stepped ceiling that was crying out to be seen. We took a De Gournay blossom wallpaper design and had it customized for the space. It’s quite the process, from original design that looked like this. 

We saw it like this on the ceiling.

A little snap shot during install shows you a little bit of what we have!! 

The en-suite is quite fabulous in its own right but this wallpaper takes it all to a whole other level of finish and customization for our clients.

With all our lovely project work, June finds me with feet firmly planted in Toronto, we have a couple of photoshoots, our pop-up as well as our second addition of Shelter magazine being launched on the Summer Solstice. 

My diary is packed, and I know it’s going to be a good one. Please follow along and I look forward to sharing as much as possible on Instagram. 

A big thank you to my team this month for all that they do in keeping up with me and the contents of my head. Reba is our constant companion, our therapy dog and confidant and we’d be in a pickle without her.

Have a wonderful June,

Credits, images, musings and some more contents of my head.

1-I’ve said this before but a life goal of mine is to have the upper body strength and to firstly carry a huge bunch of flowering stems and then the appropriate place to put them! Image source unknown, found on Pinterest. 2-I love everything about this image, especially the shade of denim blue on the trim. Image source unknown, found on Pinterest. 3-It looks too good to eat. Panna Cotta Coco Vegane Myrtille Fleurs de Bleuet by mamieboude.com. 4-Viburnum goals, Image source unknown, found on Pinterest. 5-NYC skyline, image Gillian Gillies. 8-Pretty things sourced at ICFF. Please reach out for details. 9-Ketra lighting install at Lutron. 10-200 Lexington and yes on many days it looks just like this! 11, 12, 13-The Kips Bay Decorators Showhouse, photos by Gillian Gillies, spaces from left to right “Steel Sanctuary” by Shawn Henderson, “The Watering Hole” by Michelle Gerson Interiors , “The Virtue of Curiosity” retreat by Benjamin Vandiver Interiors + Lifestyle. 14-Studio Collection tissue covers – sneeze in style. 15-De Gournay wallpaper Blossom. 16-A Gillian Gillies Interiors sketch for a custom design. 17-A sneak peak at our finished space, interiors by Gillian Gillies Interiors.

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