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Colin and Justin: Va-Va-Rooms on a Budget

February 2, 2009 by  
Filed under Home Decor


The cheeky hosts of HGTV Canada’s Home Heist sit across from me at a sleek table in Senses Restaurant at the Soho Metropolitan Toronto, a subdued yet upscale establishment gussied up in elegant tones of warm chocolate and cream. Both seem to have stepped out of a chiaroscuro painting: Colin McAllister’s dark hair is flawlessly coiffed and pairs nicely with his fitted grey zip-up; Justin Ryan’s green eyes pop with his white-and-blue-striped dress shirt, while his pale blond hair is uncharacteristically dishevelled. “You must excuse me, but I got lost in Toronto buying business cards today,” he explains. Regardless, Colin and Justin are just as witty and handsome in person as they are on screen.

Taking grand ideas and fitting them into not-so-grand spaces, the popular interior designers have descended onto Canadian soil with solutions to the conundrums of dressing our homes. “Having a great home is not about spending cash, but time,” advises Colin in his charming Scottish accent.

“We’re not sitting in an ivory tower with a million-dollar budget – we’re working on real people’s homes. Particularly now, we want to show people how to chew on the credit crunch and spit out a stylish home,” says Justin.

This can include getting rid of all the things you hate, rearranging your furniture to change the orientation of your space, and bargain hunting. “Zellers has a battery of well-valued product,” says Justin. “Home Sense is fantastic,” adds Colin.

The Scottish blokes say that despite the lagging economy, homeowners are steering towards luxury. But by deftly using a combination of well-valued products and high-street items, it’s possible to create an environment of elegance on a low budget. “We buy good parts and inexpensive parts, and if you cleverly engineer them together the suggestion is that everything has cost a fortune, but in actual fact it might have not,” says Justin. Achieving Colin and Justin’s enviable transformations revealed on Home Heist is possible, then, once you discover your own personal taste and craft it with the patience that will lead you to great finds and inspiring styles.

“You can do anything,” gestures Colin, his black Chanel J12 GMT watch illuminating by a candle’s trembling flame. “The only thing that limits the opportunity in your home is your own expectation and your own imagination. And those are the things that are free.”

For spring, Colin predicts that people will move away from protective, bland neutrals and move into breathing, living naturals – green shades and leaf prints.

Justin envisions dramatic yet polished atmospheres with pops of colour. “Yellow and black is absolutely massive for 2009 – which is frightening for some people and exhilarating for others. I love yellow in all its variant tones – from buttercup to really soft, sandy yellow to Egyptian ochres to strident sunshine yellows,” he says passionately. The trend-setting Justin, who is known for his signature bouquet of flowers that he pins to his lapel, explains that adding a bold piece in your home – and on yourself – helps to establish a strong focal point, which in turn has guests’ eyes stray away from distractions. “I did it long before Carrie Bradshaw did it,” says Justin with a laugh.

As both men sip on chilled champagne and crunchy noodles that Justin humorously calls “designer horsehair,” the on-screen-and-off-screen partners are excited to speak about their new book, Colin & Justin’s Home Heist Style Guide (Penguin Group Canada), a laugh-out-loud read that unfolds with spectacular images of revamped spaces and useful suggestions for every inch of your home. “Plan first – paint and decorate last” is just one of the simple maxims in the book that sums up the Scottish stylists, approach to redecorating. Fluidity also takes centre stage, so you can love your home now, and in the long run. “If you keep your home in an organic, moving design – you don,t get to the point in five years, 10 years, where you won,t recognize your home because it,s dated,” assures Colin.

Helping people improve their existing homes in Canada and the world over, Colin and Justin paint a clear picture: we need to treat ourselves – and the homes we return to after a long day of work – a bit better.

“Why is it that our most expensive assets are the things we tend to the least? We look out to our garden from our living room that we haven’t redecorated for five years to our new car. We sit on the old sofa that we haven’t bought in a new version in the last 10 years to our new dress … These are the places that are most important in our lives, and we don’t give them the relevant attention that we should be giving,” says Justin.,


One Response to “Colin and Justin: Va-Va-Rooms on a Budget”

  1. rose on January 26th, 2010 10:48 pm

    I just want to say you guys are amazing. We moved into our home here in Woodbridge but the bathroom upstairs is so outdated .The room is about 10 ft x 10 ft….It has a Bathtub shower and toilette, It has an old 1980 vanity. Ceramic tiles half way around the room. I hate it. How much would it cost to get this renovated updated? Help!!!

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