A love letter to Edinburgh and all things paper and baked


This is a bit of a wordy title, but it explains what I have seen and been up to in August.

I at last travelled home, having delayed and delayed my trip for fear of getting or giving Covid, we ended up going back to Edinburgh when one in fifteen people were infected and your luggage arriving with you, or you even seeing it on your trip at all, wasn’t a guarantee……… It laughed in the face of all my planning and holding off and being sensible and waiting.

We had a glorious trip and returned without having given or receiving the virus, and our luggage arrived too! Most of my family and friends had just recovered from it, so we could all relax and enjoy those long waited for hugs and massive chatty catchups. Going back this time felt so special. We had ten nights in Edinburgh, and four in London, all filled to the brim. 

I’m not sure why, but I took three novels on holiday with me and then proceeded to purchase so many more when I was there. This I know I do, and yet my case was weighed down with books purchased in Canada!

Edinburgh has the BEST bookstores in the world. I adore the smell of a bookshop and the unique offerings that each one provides. They are staffed and run by people who live for the printed word, and there is not an over-fragranced candle, stuffed toy, or polyester blanket in sight. These stores simply sell books, and I love it! There is little to no encouragement to shop for books online in Edinburgh as there are such beautiful experiences to be had by visiting your local store. I always look for Scottish authors whose books may not make it across the pond, and I love to read about my hometown city and see it come to life among the pages. 

I have a favourite portrait at the Portrait Gallery – it’s of a Vicar ice skating, and it’s from C1795. I posted the photo on my Instagram feed back in the spring of 2018, and I thought it was just me who loved it, but I found it on the cover of a new novel – The Edinburgh Skating Club by Michelle Sloan – and I am now reading it.

I loved that the vicar was skating on Duddingston Loch; my Nana used to take my sister and I there when we were little to feed the ducks. My sister wasn’t very good (this she may deny, but I am older and therefore right) at letting the bread go, and so the ducks would get a little impatient and try to grab it from her hand.

This time we climbed Carlton Hill with my niece and nephew and looked down on the loch and the entire city. It has such a great vantage point, and calling it a climb really isn’t the case – it’s a mere doddle along a path in the heart of the city, and once at the end, you have the most amazing views. 

The baked part in the opening sentence refers to home baking and not the slang connotation of something or someone being baked, I just wanted to clarify all!!

Edinburgh is the land of home baking; everywhere you go, there are goodies galore. What I noticed most about this trip is that so many coffee shops have just gone all gluten-free, and everything tastes delicious. I love going to restaurants here as the menus list all the ingredients, and it’s so simple to order your meal with confidence.

I’ve said it before, but Scotland doesn’t need to worry about its oil and gas reserves – it could run the economy on scones and jam.

I do have a guide to Edinburgh that I am in the process of updating, and I shall post this on Instagram and on our Journal page when the new version is ready. I hope it provides some good tips and insider insight into what to eat / shop / do when you are in Edinburgh. Please feel free to share with friends and family. 

All things woven

With August in the rearview mirror, I am firmly focused on the new season – fall – my favourite for all the layers and colours it brings. I love to layer my clothes and layer my interiors, and fall brings all these options to us. I mean, it’s still very warm here, but it’s dark when I get up and go to bed now – I tend to be on the early side of both – but you can start to see and feel a change.

I love to see throws (especially mine) folded on ottomans or layered on beds and sofas, and I am really excited about the new designs that are coming out soon.

We are focusing on two designs and two colour palettes, saturated colours that complement our design aesthetic.

I had a lovely trip to Ayr and met with the team from Alex Begg and got all finalized in person, which was lovely. Zoom and email is fine, but nothing beats sitting down over a pile of yarn and samples and getting all the details ironed out.

We have also finalized our initial collection of tea towels that are being woven by a local designer in Ontario – Niagara-On-The-Lake to be precise. We design a lot of kitchens at GGI, and when it comes to completing and styling them, I have recently found the selection of tea towels to be pretty bleak and dismal. I have yearned for something durable and good-looking in a clean pattern without any brand logos or text.

What we have co-designed is really quite lovely and machine washable and dryer compatible. We will have them in coordinating sets of two, and they will be perfect gifts for you or as a hostess gift. The yarn has all been approved, and so these should hit the studio shop before Canadian Thanksgiving.  

A good night’s sleep

One of the secret questions my team asked me for my Rapid-Fire Question Round was what I consider a necessity in a bedroom beyond a bed and night tables. Without any hesitation, I said blackout-lined draperies and a phenomenal mattress. Where we sleep can have a massive impact on the quality and length of sleep we get, and we all know how great we feel after a solid night’s sleep.

Your bedroom should be somewhere that you can switch off from the world and simply be you. I like to keep the bedrooms we design as clutter-free as possible, as I feel you can relax easier with fewer visual distractions.

Often in the homes we work in, the primary or principal bedroom can be oversized – almost too big – and we have to think beyond simply filling the space for just filling its sake. Layers on windows, the floor and the bed can visually fill a space without leaving my clients with a room that is high maintenance to upkeep.

Layers were the primary design focus in a recently completed project for a client. The previous homeowners had filled the perimeter space with furniture, but the floor at the foot of the bed was bare, and the pendant light wasn’t centred between the two windows. 

We scaled up this floor plan – having the round carpet overlay the rectangular carpet was a clever way of anchoring the chair and ottoman without the base carpet having to be stretched to fill the entire room.  Inspiration came from a neutral palette with fine detailing. 

The after is a beautiful retreat anchored in a neutral palette with lots of texture and the occasional pop of colour.

The daybed fabric is bold, and it really works well in this room; it forms the perfect break between the bed and the seating area.

The asymmetric pendant fills the ceiling, and it no longer looks off-center. 

I love when we get to work on the more private spaces in our client’s home. Kitchens and family rooms are important, but so is a space to call your own and a great nights sleep!

We’re hiring!

We are looking for two new team members to join the GGI family – if you know of anyone who might fit the bill, please do have them reach out us at studio@gilliangillies.com

Firstly, we are looking for a Studio / Social Media / Marketing Manager. This is a maternity leave position, but one that we hope will expand into a full-time position. Generally, we don’t let people go, and they don’t want to leave, so our plan is to make this more than just temporary. The job description and all the details can be found here.

We are also looking for a Design Assistant. This is a new role in the studio and one that is part-time (25 hours per week). This person’s role will be to manage our ever-expanding sample library, assist in sourcing beautiful things for our client’s homes, and manage the studio shop. I’m looking for someone who loves fabrics, has wonderful taste and who is also a great communicator and writer. A background in design isn’t a necessity, but a love of design and a great eye for colour is far more important to me. More about this role can be found here.

Wishing you all a wonderful September. Have a fabulous Labour Long Weekend if you are in Canada.

It’s back to school next week for so many and whether its starting school, going to high school, leaving home and going to university, or being back at home, September can be a month of new beginnings and change.

I was recently sent a link to a podcase by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s a really lovely listen for all ages. So often we can feel powerless or simply stupid, when we don’t know what we want to do with our lives. Some of us are born knowing from a very early age what we want to do, others don’t – this podcast is brilliant in teaching us why it’s perfectly fine not to have all the answers. It’s a great short listen.


Gillian Gillies

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