Beating the Winter Blues


A belated Happy New Year to all my readers! It’s hard to believe that we are almost at the end of January with the shortest day behind us.


January can be a polarizing month – it can be a little bleak after the sparkle of the holidays have gone, but it’s also the time of year when new design collections are launched, and we are all getting busy making promises to do better and be better.

It has certainly been the grayest of months in Toronto, barely a patch of blue sky has been seen. When the days are short, dark, and cold we can all get a little bit grumpy and more tired than normal I find. 

It can all feel a little heavy and the small things that can sometimes get on your nerves can suddenly become big things that get on your nerves all the time – I am sure you can all relate.

Loving where and how you live can make a massive difference to our daily outlook. When life is flowing, and the sun is shining, and we are outdoors a lot we can ignore a lot of the niggles around us – however when we are all indoors most of the time all the niggles come to the surface.

In terms of my home, I like to take a look at a room at a time and figure out what’s not working for me, sometimes it can be as simple as reorganizing what is concealed behind the kitchen cupboard doors, which was the case in my own home.

How you set things up initially, sometimes needs a tweak and an adjustment to make all work better for how you live now. This is something that can be done in an afternoon, larger projects such as remodels, renovations and decoration projects take longer time and a lot of advance planning, but this is something you can easily start to work on.

There are multiple digital / social sites where you can view and save images, but I do still like the old school method of buying a stack of magazines and seeing what resonates with me.

I love Presse International in Toronto where you can buy literally every magazine that is currently being published, all languages and tastes are taken care of. It doesn’t matter if you can’t read French or Italian, if the images speak to you – think fashion, food, architecture, interior – then grab a copy of the magazine and then tag your favourite images in post it notes. 

This is a great way to start to hone your vision, to express your thoughts with those you may share the space with and start up a dialogue. This alone can feel like progress and shed some light on your day. We all need forward momentum and whether planning for a trip, a new outfit, or a new home, some visual inspiration can make all the difference. 

It’s how we start all our projects at GGI. We collate inspiration images from our clients and then add our own to the mix to develop the overall design concept. Frequently we will share this look book with our clients before we start to design in autoCAD or begin to source textiles. It’s all part of our seven-step process and it ensures that everyone is in the same loop.

If you are considering a renovation and or redecoration project in your home, you can read more and download the GGI Process Guide below which shares our step-by-step process for ensuring your project is a success.

There are a few things I do to keep the winter blues at bay – these take and cost less than an entire house remodel! 

1. Surround Myself with Greenery

I think it’s so important to see green all year round and both at work and at home I do surround myself with a lot of plants. 

If you live in Toronto, Cathy at Apricot Flowers always has a curated range of house plants along with some really gorgeous pots and planters. She is always my go to person.

2. Immerse Myself in Scent

Essential oils can transform your mood in an instant. At this time of year – actually we use it every day – we use doTERRA Wild Orange as part of our studio blend. 

It’s high in monoterpenes and has a stimulating and uplifting aroma. It’s gorgeous. We blend ours with Litsea and Lavender for a beautiful aroma that lifts and energizes us throughout the day. 

I call the Wild Orange oil, the think clearer, work faster oil, its great when you need a clear head and have a lot of things to do. 

3. Exercise

My Peloton has been a life changer for me. We originally bought a bike for my husband and got a pair of cycling shoes for me. They sat in their box for several months until December 2022 and since then I’ve worked up my cycling routine to almost every day. 

I adore their classes and really like that I can do them whenever I want and love to mix in their weight and stretch classes too. Getting an instructor you like is critical to ensure you stick with it, for me it all comes down to the music and those that play a lot of 70 and 80’s hits are my favorites. 

I’m a little bit competitive and always sign up for their challenges so that I can go for gold every month. I tend to prefer the instructors’ music from the London studio as their music is my music!

4. Warm Baths

When you are chilled to the bone or simply want to unplug and wind down, nothing beats a bath in my humble opinion. 

I know some of my clients are shower only people but for me a bath is medicine for the soul, mix with some lovely bath salts and an organic bath oil and you have for me the perfect recipe!

A Design Trip to Paris 

A design trip to Paris this month certainly fed my design and creative soul. 

I had been asked to take part in this trip in January 2022 but due to Covid it was postponed to this year. Every January in Paris two design shows run concurrently – Deco Off and Maison & Object.

Deco Off is found in the center of Paris with most showrooms being found in either the 3rd or 6th arrondissement. Fabric combined with Paris was a giddy experience. 

The showrooms were beautiful, and several had pop up apartments where you were able to experience all the new offerings in beautiful settings. 

I spent an entire day walking from showroom to showroom, sometimes getting lost but then finding the most amazing little café for hot chocolate, and really, it’s never bad to get lost in Paris, it just means you are sometimes led towards the unexpected.

Maison & Object is about an hour’s drive out of town, close to the airport and it’s held in a large convention center. It’s split into seven main halls and I managed to cover the three that I was most interested in. 

Exhibitors primarily from Europe and Scandinavia showcased beautiful furniture, lighting and home accessories. The overarching theme this year was one of Take Care – take care of ourselves and our environment. 

I did find some beautiful vendors from Copenhagen that I plan to visit in the summer when I go there on vacation.

I was also part of a group of designers who visited Les Puces (the fleas) Markets. It was a very cold day, bone chilling winds that went straight through you, but it didn’t deter me from wandering and finding a new piece of art for the studio gallery wall. 

I also found an incredible vendor with vintage clothing and textiles that were out of this world – pieces that I would want to frame. I am going to contact this vendor and see if it’s possible to work with them on a project. 

The range was vast, and I am hoping that they may have some kind of catalogue that I can view, otherwise another trip and a couple of days simply at this vendor would be required. Something to consider the next time I am home in Edinburgh where Paris is just a 90-minute flight away. 

I always enjoy visiting beautiful stores when I travel, the inspiration, not to mention the beautiful products they have, can be the ignition in a design scheme. 

My three favourite places were the Dries Van Noten store (image above) – this is set up like a Paris apartment with a living room and a mezzanine level, it was so beautiful as were the clothes and accessories available for sale. 

Hermes (Rue de Sèvres) has a beautiful café along with a bookstore, I loved their interlocking leather placemats on the tables – ideal for when you have a tight space. 

The newly renovated, restored and recently opened La Samaritaine department store is a real treat for the eyes. It’s so beautiful, the crowning jewel being the glass roof and the enameled art deco frieze.

New Addition

I want to also welcome Christina to our team as our new Studio & Marketing Manager, Christina started with us a couple of days before I jetted of to Paris, and I am so looking forward to working with her and know she will be a great addition to our team. 

January was a busy month that I am so grateful for, wishing you all good health and lots of love in February!


GG Signature

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

Palais Royale, Paris, photography by Gillian Gillies, A Parisian Apartment Kitchen, by designer Jean-Louis Deniot, Authentic terracotta floor tiles, Les Puces Paris, photography by Gillian Gillies, Gillian’s Kitchen, photography by Virginia Macdonald, A pile of Vogue magazines, uploaded by Heidi Brueggeman, GGI Pinterest Board Styling, Presentation material from Gillian Gillies’ Interiors project, photography by Virginia Macdonald, Pretty Plant, photography unknown, GGI Pinterest Board Plants, Bowl of Oranges, Joe St. Pierre Photography, GGI Pinterest board Styling, Stretch, photography unknown,  GGI Pinterest Board Home Gyms, Lytton Principal En-Suite photography by Virginia Macdonald, Pierre Frey Paris showroom vault, photography by Gillian Gillies, Pinto Paris, design studio, photography by Gillian Gillies, Les Puces, photography by Gillian Gillies, Dries Van Norten, Paris, photography by Gillian Gillies, Hermes Café Paris, photography by Gillian Gillies, La Samaritaine Paris, photography by Gillian Gillies  

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