Scottish design duo, Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan, hosts of HGTV Canada’s wildly popular Colin & Justin’s Home Heist are ”it” designers in Canada and the UK. They do it all – from hosting and appearing on several shows, writing best-selling books, contributing to magazine features and designing their own line of home furnishings.
1. Show us a picture of the room you most enjoyed designing and tell us why you love it.
C: We never decorate for ourselves, but for our clients. That means interpreting the signals we receive, so we can deliver exactly what they need in terms of function and style. Initially, this living room simply didn’t reflect decorative ambition. We liked the light this room enjoys and wanted to capitalize on that.
J: We saw color — and LOADS of it. In this case, an application of sunny yellow was our first suggestion and our clients were immediately seduced. To add extra layers, we specified loads of white accessories — most of which were scouted from dollar stores and spray painted. Lastly, we added comfy seating and created an inexpensive coffee table from wallpaper-covered MDF. As we often like to report, “It’s not how much money you spend but how you spend it that makes all the difference….”
2. Which designer(s) most influenced you?
C + J: We love the work of Kelly Wearstler, a talented creative whose fresh, colorful style is revered the world over. We’re captivated by the way she fuses highly-colored accents with beachy, country style. We’re also inspired by another fabulous Kelly, Kelly Hoppen, who’s widely credited as having introduced the “East Meets West” style to the world of interior decor.
3. What’s your favorite design style?
J: I like to mix old with new. ‘Junktiques’ (as I like to call them) can be great value. I’ll find a mid-century credenza for eighty bucks and paint it or switch up hardware for a whole new look.
C: I’m a sucker for New England. Checks and plaids in a fresh, breezy scheme is SO me. A carefully composed “shabby chic” aesthetic with beach-inspired seaside references is enough to make me swoon.
4. What’s the essential home accessory (or piece of furniture) you use in your designs?
C: I always try to incorporate discreet sound systems wherever possible. I’d hate to think that a spaghetti of cables would appear after we’ve packed up and moved on. A little careful planning at the build stage is critically important.
J: Just like Colin, I always think about form AND function. If a fabulous room isn’t a useable space, then there’s a problem. I always equip bedrooms with ample clothing storage and living rooms with a combination of discreet and display storage.
5. What’s your favorite vacation spot?
J: I LOVE Mauritius at the tip of Madagascar. The year before last, we were on the beach with Nelson Mandela and struck up a conversation that may lead to us reworking his home!
C: I just adore Cairo. It perfectly fuses east meets west and old meets new. One minute I’m haggling over raw silk in a rustic market and the next I’m stepping into a glossy restaurant with some of the world’s best food.