How was your September?

Mine and the teams were busy. We are working on a number of quite varied projects, and I love to see the diversity in scope and finishes in our sample trays.

We have two tall cupboards at either end of the studio. The one closest to the presentation table and our sample library contains client projects that the design team is working through selections on. Each client has a shelf or three, depending on the size of the project, and on each shelf, we stack large white trays that hold the contents of our design heads.

From inspiration and product images to tile and drapery fabric, all that we love and wish for the project is contained in the trays. Once the decisions are buttoned down and client approved, the trays all move over to the tall cupboard closest to the admin team. Here cuttings for approval (CFA’s) can be reviewed against our studio samples and all orders are processed and finish schedules for construction are produced.

At the end of the project, any CFA’s or custom samples are stored for future reference in a client-specific folder for around five years. All other sampling is either kept or returned to our vendors.

I’m strict about what we reuse. Clients are coming to us for unique homes, and although they might refer to one of our portfolios on our site or love a friend’s home that we have recently completed, we don’t use the same thing twice in the same context. So, if someone has a wallpaper in their powder room, it will only ever be in that powder room and not in another. That is really important to me. It keeps all our projects unique. 

When I visited London last month, I did spend a day immersed in all things design at the Chelsea Design Centre. It was my first time visiting the centre when there wasn’t a design show running. Although I missed the general buzz and excitement that tends to accompany a visit during a show, I did enjoy being able to speak to and spend quality time with the showroom staff and ordered an abundance of samples that are now in the studio.

We have great showrooms in Toronto but have very few that are stand-alone, and therefore, the amount on display is limited. In London, they had full-length samples of everything – so I took copious notes, and my team ordered all the samples. Fabric and wallpaper samples feed my soul. Nothing is better than a new batch of inspiration you haven’t seen anyone else use.

Our sample library is not the largest, so we frequently – at least every quarter – edit what we have to make space for new. It’s a little like cleaning out your closet, only the samples are free and returnable, so there is a lot less remorse for something that didn’t work out or just doesn’t fit.

Dining rooms

I am so looking forward to Thanksgiving this year, really our first proper one since 2019. I love this time of year; the fall foliage and the foods. It really is a winning combination in terms of colour and taste. 

Thinking of Thanksgiving and people coming together to celebrate, I was looking back at some of the dining rooms that we have on our website. All are so unique in terms of style and aesthetic, but all have what I consider to be our hallmarks of a great dining room.

1. Statement lighting

Investing in lighting is never a bad idea, especially in a dining room where scale is so important. I like to mix pedants with sconces so that you can create different moods depending on the time of day.

Everything is always dimmable, and on a dimmer, we use LED bulbs no greater than 2700 kelvins, which look like an incandescent bulb. Never use anything that is called daylight – it will look like a fluorescent bulb at night. 

2. Fabulous flooring

A great carpet not only visually anchors the space, but it also helps break up wood on wood as it absorbs sound and adds lovely texture.

In one of these dining rooms, we felt adding a carpet under the table wasn’t going to be all quite right, so we opted for a staggered runner at the side of the dining room. 

3. Comfortable seating

Having seating that meets your needs is critical when it comes to enjoying your space.

In an all-season cottage having chairs that are not upholstered makes a lot of sense – same thing in a home with cats. Using a dense pile fabric like a mohair is never a bad idea. It lasts forever, as the banquette seating in Scaramouche stands testament to.

Leather is wipeable, which is great if you have grandchildren and patterned fabrics hide a multitude of spills and stains. 

4. Window drapery

A dining room can be a noisy place with lots of chatter and hard surfaces. Window coverings are great at making a space feel more intimate, blocking out or framing a beautiful view, as well as providing draft and noise insulation. Never skim on your window coverings.

Featured in House & Home

Having a gorgeous, tailor-made kitchen to cook in is an added bonus at Thanksgiving!

It was so lovely to see this part of a recent project featured in House & Home. We transformed our client’s kitchen into a gorgeous sage green retreat with lots of clever storage and tactile elements.

Grab a copy whilst it’s still on newsstands. We’ll do a deep dive into this project in a newsletter in the New Year.

Tea towels

Having some lovely tea towels to clean up after Thanksgiving also makes all such a more pleasant experience.

We have been working with a local weaver on a range of tea towels. 

I was looking for towels to specify for client projects and couldn’t find anything that I really loved. A few Google searches later, I met Veronica. Her background is as a chemist, she’s worked in Edinburgh, and she loves all things woven – we were destined to meet and collaborate I feel.

Our first collaboration is on a small-batch collection of tea towels.

These are super absorbent, machine washable and can be thrown in the dryer. They are pretty much indestructible and have a lovely heft and hand. 

Sold in coordinating pairs of two, they are now up on our Studio Shop and can be purchased here.

A lovely Thanksgiving purchase for you or for whoever is feeding you! 

In memory

To say I was saddened at the Queen’s passing was an understatement. I thought she was incredible; she put the S in service and worked diligently all her life while raising a family and being constantly under the spotlight. She is someone I would have loved to have had a cup of tea with, highly unlikely – but a girl can dream. And although I know she was a vault, oh my the stories she could have told – the people she has met and the things she has seen and witnessed in her 96 years.

I loved that she liked bright saturated clothes and always wore a hat. I love that she loved Scotland and chose to spend her final days there at her beloved Balmoral and that the Scottish people mourned her passing on foot, in tractors and on horseback.

She deserves to rest in peace.

Wishing you and your loved ones a wonderful October and a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Thank you for your continued support and reading.


Gillian Gillies

Studio Collection

Shop our latest, small-batch findings – perfect for you, your home or for unique gifts.