Summer in the Rear-View Mirror


I find summer the most frantic of seasons with everyone’s combined vacations. From myself, my team, our clients, vendors and trades I feel everyone is either away or stretched covering for those who are away.

September I always find brings back structure and an easier sense of rhythm, yes traffic is busier and there is more congestion to deal with and less chance of grabbing a table at your favourite restaurant last minute, but I do like a more predictable week with everyone at their respective desks answering their phones and emails. I like things in their place and that includes people.

I’m excited for the cooler days, the open windows, and the need for layers. It’s truly my happy place. I love to reconnect with my jackets, jeans and knitwear that has lain dormant since May. We all look better dressed and I’ll be happy soon to not hear the clack, clack shuffle of flip-flops on the sidewalk anymore. 

It’s easy how the little things, like the sound of flip flops in a city for example, can annoy us (maybe it’s just me who mutters “pick up your feet”), and cause friction. 

My husband recently got a new toothbrush from Oral B. It only needs to be charged about once every three weeks but invariably you run out of charge at the end of a day and plug it in to recharge overnight. 

This model tells you its charging by emitting a surgical grade light beam every five seconds, it’s like a lighthouse on our bathroom vanity, illuminating the whole room and shining into our bedroom if we haven’t closed the door which we generally don’t at night. 

It must be wasting a lot of energy just telling us its charging. It’s a great toothbrush but very badly designed in this one aspect. It causes friction in my home as I sleep facing in the direction of the bathroom, and it may not be long for this world. 

Poor design causes us to replace things before their due date. Friction wears us down and before you know it an entire kitchen is being replaced due to one poorly performing appliance. 

Designers, me included, rely heavily on our vendors, crafts people, and trades to inform, educate and assist us in making the right frictionless choices for our clients, I wish someone had been there to advise us on this toothbrush, anyhow I digress. 

All this knowledge we gleam from our industry partners is in addition to the certified ICU courses we attend, trade shows and vendor presentations and the endless reading of newsletters, listening to podcasts and pouring over the latest design magazines!

These relationships can be years in the making and take time to cultivate and grow. Just because you like someone and they work with a company selling beautiful things, it doesn’t always mean it’s going to be a fit for your current project load or even your company.

I have seen things at shows and events that I have squirreled away waiting to meet the project that it’s destined for. Sometimes they come along and sometimes they don’t.  Relationships don’t always work out, they are not always lifelong, people move on, product offerings change, companies get sold and people retire, and you can find yourself having to stop working with someone if things are not in alignment with your values. 

Listen Closely

In my recently aired podcast with Gail Davis we talk at length about what happens when things go awry with a vendor. You can listen to it here. The podcast lasts around 30 mins. The sound quality is bad for the first few sentences then I no longer sound like I am talking miles away from my mic.

It’s worth a listen, especially for those who are considering hiring a designer or those who work in the business. If you are looking to hire a designer always ask how long they have been in business, enquire how they decide who they are going to work with and what they do when something goes wonky – something will go wonky – often most of our clients don’t know there has been a wobble, we get it resolved behind the scenes and come to the table with a solution. But it takes work, a resourceful attitude and it takes a collaborative approach and team.

I’ve had builders in the past – larger companies with radio ads – approach me to work on my projects, dangling the carrot of kickbacks. The conversation ends there, well it ends after I have told them that if I need a kick back to work with them then that tells me all I need to know about how they work and if they are giving, they are probably also receiving which means someone – i.e. the client is being grossly overcharged. 

Often, they look puzzled and can’t believe someone is turning down money, but it’s not my money. It’s now how I earn an income and companies like this don’t align with me, it’s underhand and sketchy.  Ask lots of questions upfront of whoever you are planning on hiring, don’t simply be grateful that someone has responded or is willing to talk to you. Hiring a team of professionals to work on your project isn’t a marriage proposal but it’s an intense relationship for the months / years it lasts and it’s lovely to end on a good note and miss each other a little bit! 

Gallery Tours

Earlier this month I took a trip to Gananoque with my husband and my nephew and niece who were visiting from Edinburgh. I had never been to this lakeside town before but once there, felt like I had, it was reminiscent of many other lovely small Ontario towns built around the water. 

My main reason to take everyone on a long car trip was to visit the gallery of Heather Haynes to see her and Virginia Macdonald‘s joint exhibition. Virginia shoots all my projects and is an extremely talented person and a gorgeous human being to boot. 

Entitled Finding Frida their exhibition pays homage to Mexican artist Frida Kahlo whose self-portraits caught the world’s attention and catapulted her work into the limelight in the late 30’s until her untimely death in 1954 at age 47. 

Virginia has been visiting Mexico for many years and studying all things Frida. This joint exhibition is well worth a visit. Set in Heather’s beautiful home, the gallery is a riot of colour that compliments and showcases the art. Open from Thursday to Sunday until the end of September.

If you go to Gananoque, we started the day with an hour long Thousand Island boat tour, had an outdoor pizza lunch – they have two GF pizza base options – at The Purple House Café and I had ice cream (all by myself as my capacity to eat beats all others) from the Pump House Creamery! Next up for me is the Aga Khan Museum to see their Rumi exhibition which runs until the end of September.

Photo Shoot Glory

We completed another shoot at a beautiful new build home we have the pleasure of working on with Richard Wengle Architect and Sierra Custom Homes. The project is out for publication, but I wanted to give you a sneak peek at one area that I particularly love. Just don’t tell anyone you saw it here!

The entrance walls between the staircase hall and the kitchen and family room were of a substantial thickness due to all things structural. It gave me the perfect opportunity to do something a little bit different. From seeing the initial architects’ concept plans I knew I wanted to wrap this area with stone and so that is what we did.

Once drywall was completed all looked like this.

Below is a progress shot showing the ceiling slab installed, waiting for its side partners.

And below is the completed shot viewed from the family room looking through to the staircase. 

I adore the simplicity of the honed slate that we also used to border the staircase hall floors. It has a beautiful almost felt-like quality and I love the touch of white veining just seen on the top frame. 

Both sides of this entrance are bright and this wrap of slate allows you to pause a little. It was love at first sight and I was so happy my clients said yes and went with the vision. 

Trips & Travels

Fall sees me on two trade trips, firstly to London in September with Christopher Farr Cloth during London design week, and then I am going to Mexico City in late October with the Design Leadership Network for their annual summit. And in a very serendipitous way I am visiting Frida Kahlo’s home

Currently Listening To

In addition to my Business of Home podcasts that I play all the time in the car. I seem to be harking back to my teenage years and listening to a lot of Annie Lennox

I regret never seeing her sing live, she’s Scottish for goodness’ sake, from Aberdeen and I am sure either with the Eurythmics or as a solo artist I could have seen her multiple times during my 31 years in Scotland. 

She still performs (but is no longer touring), as I recently saw online, when she made a guest appearance at an Alicia Keyes concert and sang her heart out to Sweet Dreams. I love that an artist can carry you through the decades, through all the changes!

We’re Hiring

We are growing our team and looking for an experienced intermediate / senior designer to join us. More details about the position can be found here.

Wishing you all a great September, thank you for your continued reading!


Credits & More Misc Musings as I find it hard to say goodbye……

Lytton Park Bedroom, Gillian Gillies Interiors, photography Virgina Macdonald, styling Me & Mo Creative. Shirt – source unknown but she looks so cool I had to include it. Bye Bye Summer (my name) – sourced on Pinterest, source unknown. My husband’s toothbrush 😊 but seriously it’s a lighthouse with yet another unknown source. Sample board, Gillian Gillies Interiors, photography Virgina Macdonald, styling Me & Mo Creative. If you listen to my podcast you too can look this cool! Photography by Apricot Berlin, Behance Network. Paloma by Virginia Macdonald. The Oracle by Heather Haynes. Looking through the entrance, mid-town newbuild, Gillian Gillies Interiors. Almost there, mid-town newbuild, Gillian Gillies Interiors. All done, mid-town newbuild, Gillian Gillies Interiors, photography Virgina Macdonald, styling Me & Mo Creative. Frida Kahlo Museum, Mexico City. Annie Lenox, photo: Jessica Pons for The Washington Post/GettyCopyright © 2023 Gillian Gillies Interiors Inc., All rights reserved.

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