May 7, 2011

Reflections of Style

Colin and Justin, HGTV’s zany design duo, offer insight and guidance while answering our questions on home decorating.


Designers Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan are the faces of Five in the UK and can be seen on HGTV with their hit series How NOT To Decorate and their Canadian series, Colin & Justin’s Home Heist.

You’ll know them from their crazy antics on decorating shows like HGTV’s Home Heist and How Not to Decorate and the haute design sensibilities that evolve out of their chaos. But Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan take home décor seriously and, just in time for the BC 2011 Home + Garden Show, talk to us about their style rhyme-and-reason.

Q: What is your No. 1 must-have design element for 2011?

A: We’re absolutely sold on gold accents, anything shiny and lovely. Ceramics, glassware and such-like. We’re slowly and surely turning into magpies and adding sparkle all around our homes. Gold is a great accent against grey and black and really “pops” virtually any scheme.

Q: Why does grey continue to be such a hot colour?

A: Grey can be masculine or feminine, according to how it’s used. Light grey works well with soft, rosy pink and sage tones, while the manlier, more luxurious greys look great with shots of ebony and midnight black. Gold accents, along with reds and even greens, pop virtually any shade of grey so use this detail via picture frames and ornamentation.

Q: As designers, what are your individual strengths when taking on a project?

A: We work very well together and share almost all our ideals. Colin has great organizational skills and Justin has a strong sense of colour. But then again, we both have each of these skills and share them as we work on a project. Colin’s spatial awareness is superb while Justin is good at considering the overall cost of each project. We’re the sum of each other’s parts, as the saying goes. We work well together and couldn’t have achieved what we have were we working separately.

Q: What do you see as the main differences between West Coast vs. East Coast design? We like to think we’re more laid back here, is that also reflected in our overall sense of design?

A: We think West Coast style awareness and the East Coast’s equivalent are pretty much similar. Style isn’t generated by geography (especially now the Web shortens the world) and both coasts are very style-literate.

Q: How do you get all-white right? Is there a perfect recipe or is it a recipe for disaster?

A: It’s generally best to go for a bone or other off-white shade. Pure white can be a little austere, so blur lines softly with hints to warm up your room. To the eye, your project will look predominantly white but effects will be much warmer. White and red is a stunning combo and white and Chanel grey is even better. And then there is the classic Hamptons mix of white and blue. Shall we go on? They’re all gorgeous!

Q: Is there a way to blend the cottage look with the hard-edged modernity of city style?

A: Without a doubt we are so about Cottage meets the City. More and more, this elegant, casual style typifies gorgeous cottages everywhere and is creeping into urban homes and condos. In our own Toronto condo, for example, we have mixed steel and concrete finishes with objets trouvé that are redolent of uncomplicated cottage life. Don’t be surprised to see gnarled wood stools and silver birch bowls sitting atop our funky Jonathan Adler table. Or a throw inspired by the texture of a forest floor draped elegantly across a nickel-buttoned cream linen padded bed. It’s all, as we say, in the mix.

Q: Lastly, if you could get your hands on a celebrity’s pad, whose would it be, and what would you do to it?

A: OMG – Celine Dion! We LOVE her and can only imagine that we could add a whole lot of pared-back style to her domestic world, a world that we imagine might be rather overt! We love her spiritual take on life and to have her singing as we decorate would be an ideal commission. Joy! Maybe we could meet her in Vegas to discuss plans!

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