Gillian Gillies, President, Gillian Gillies Interior Design
The Home Trust International (HTI): What first compelled you to enter design?
Gillian Gillies (GG): I truthfully believe that residential interior design is my calling, it is what I was destined to do and what I love to do. There is so much power and peace in having a home that is truly representative of you and your family and this is what we provide for our clients.
HTI: Who or what has been the strongest influence on your career and why?
GG: My heritage has been and continues to be a very strong influence on me. I was born and grew up in Edinburgh, Scotland and moved to Toronto in my early thirties. The city is such a beautiful one with its blond sandstone Georgian crescents and its cobbled streets. Its like time and history have stood still. Timeless, classic design never dates and is always in vogue.
HTI: If you could have told your 20-year-old self one thing, what would it have been?
GG: I would have told my younger self that things don’t have to always be difficult or hard, sometimes things just can flow with ease and grace. I am really trying to embrace this concept more and more. When there is harmony there is flow and there is little or no need for things to be tough or over complicated.
HTI: Please tell us about your family and your personal life.
GG: I live in Toronto with my lovely husband Dean Einarson, we met whilst vacationing in St. Lucia and both knew immediately that we had met our other half. It was just meant to be, so 9 months later I moved to Toronto, six months later we were married in Edinburgh. We’ve been married for over 16 years.
We both love to travel and keep adding places to our growing list of places we want to visit.
We love hiking and the outdoors and I’m also a yogi.
HTI: What is the best advice you have received and who was it from?
GG: I’m constantly learning and always looking to grow myself as an individual as well as looking for ways to strengthen and grow my business. I have multiple books that I reread and one I love that has given me oodles of good advice is Playing Big by Tara Mohr.
HTI: Do you prefer the country or the city?
GG: I love both equally, the city for its vibrancy and energy and the country for mother nature.
HTI: What recent project or transaction are you most proud of?
GG: We recently completed a project in cottage country, and I am very proud of it. It was with clients we have worked with for several years, but this was by far the biggest project we’ve worked on together. When there is trust between a client and a designer the magic just flows and the results are breathtaking. This is what happened on this project.
HTI: In what ways has your company or your industry changed over the years?
GG: Online shopping and sourcing have definitely changed the industry. Clients can often see and have access to many of the same products as we do. However, nothing beats seeing something in the flesh and understanding how it is constructed and its scale and how it will feel in the room. We travel to design shows across North America and into Europe to source interesting and unique product for our clients. Only once we have seen something are, we able to specify it with confidence.
HTI: The one thing I’ve had forever is:
GG: A green wool Valentino coat that I bought whilst travelling in Italy in my mid-twenties. It’s a classic design and a beautiful colour, I spent so much money on it but never regretted the purchase. I still love the thrill of wearing it 20+ years later. Good quality items whether its clothing or furnishings age beautifully, and classic design never dates.
HTI: What do you miss the most?
GG: I miss being able to drink strong black tea. I love it but it no longer loves me, so I have not had a drop in over 2 years.
HTI: What makes a room sing?
GG: A little tension makes a room sing, I love it when there is a mix of metals and patterns, you always need something unexpected to make everything flow. We design rooms that look like they have evolved over time, even if all items have been sourced and procured with the same year.
HTI: What place most inspires you?
GG: Travel inspires me, it can be a beautiful boutique hotel or an art gallery or a marble countertop in a small café. I think its all about keeping your eyes and heart open to what is around you.
HTI: Please tell us about your taste in music or books.
GG: I have a diverse taste in music and books.
HTI: Do you have a favorite museum? Why is it your favorite?
GG: I love the National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. The building itself is beautiful and I always go in when I am back in my home city. I also love portraits, imagining the person who was being painted and the painter, such an intimate dynamic.
HTI: Do you have a favorite brand and why?
GG: I don’t know if I have a favourite, but I do love all things British and have a tendency to source materials for projects from my home country. The colour palette speaks to my soul. I’m currently working on a collection of blankets that I have designed with a mill in Scotland. I know they will become a favourite of mine!!
HTI: When you’re not working where are you most likely to be found?
GG: Travelling somewhere, either with my husband or for business. But generally, if I’m not working, I have a suitcase in tow.
HTI: What makes a great organization?
GG: Trust and honesty.
HTI: Why The Home Trust?
GG: I met Chris Ramey at a designer’s conference in the fall of 2017 and was really impressed with his detailed presentation and his in-depth industry knowledge.
HTI: Thank you.
HTI: If you could be granted one wish. What would it be?
GG: A cure for MS for my little sister.
HTI: If you weren’t in your current field, what would you be doing?
GG: I’d be an alternative health practitioner – Chinese Acupuncturist, Reiki Master, Herbalist. Maybe all three!!
HTI: Who is on your personal ‘Board of Directors?’
GG: My husband, my girlfriends, my coaches past, present and future.
HTI: Anything else you’d like to share with us?
GG: We talk a lot in our office about the role of an interior designer – what exactly is it that we do. I like to say, and I truly believe that we give our clients bigger lives.
A thoughtful and tailored interior can be a life changing experience. Knowing that you have been cared for, that every detail has been thought of, for you and the life you live is a wonderful thing.
We are able to quickly hone into what our clients need and then present to them a beautiful home that exceeds all expectations.
HTI: Gillian, thank you for your time and perspectives. We are very proud you are a friend, a member in The Home Trust International, and a Leader in Luxury + Design.