Babies, Wallpaper and Playing Fair in Life and Decor: An Interview with Colin + Justin

As interior designers, style commentators, Hollywood celebrity interviewers and all round lifestyle gurus, Colin + Justin’s goal is simply to share good things with good people. For those of you who’ve not yet (or only recently) discovered them, Colin, hails from Glasgow and studied Local Government at the College of Commerce, while Justin read psychology at Glasgow University. They both enjoyed further education but soon  realized they’d need to change professional direction to feel fully satisfied.

They got their first break on a Scottish TV programme called Summer Discovery some fifteen years ago. Later, they screen tested for an exciting new BBC show called Trading Up, and hosted 200 episodes in total! Since then, they’ve  filmed four seasons of the now notorious ‘Colin and Justin’s Home Heist’ on HGTV. In addition to that, they are the resident design experts on Cityline, and regularly feature on Entertainment Tonight Canada and as red carpet hosts for City, interviewing A-List celebs such as Madonna, George Clooney, Ryan Gosling, and Bradley Cooper! Most recently they star in Great Canadian Cottages, a  brand new documentary series that delves into the fascinating stories of Canadians who live in extraordinary cottages and cabins built in the Canadian wilderness.

You can catch them on the main stage at the Edmonton Fall Home Show October 26-28th at the Edmonton Expo Center, presenting on “How Designing Your Life Is Like Designing a Home”. 

 Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan, on set of “Great Canadian Cottages” 

We were lucky enough to catch up with Colin + Justin last week for a quick interview and pried every detail out of them we could! Without Further ado…

Richelle: You have hosted NUMEROUS TV programs together. Is there one that sticks out in your minds? Was there one that was especially challenging?

C +J : We once appeared on a documentary in the UK called ‘Three Celebs And A Baby’ where we had cameras all over our house as we brought up an animatronic kid for 10 days!  The ‘baby’ needed to be fed and changed etc – just like a real baby – and the mix of having a new arrival and having to film the whole experience (good and bad) totally stressed us out!   Yup, having a baby is stressful – parents of the world we salute you!

Mackenzie: Ha! As a new mom myself I can totally relate! I’m going straight to youtube to try and find this!

Richelle: You two have created many amazing interiors over the years. How would you describe your current design style?

C +J: Global, Earth, Traveller meets Rustic, Scottish whisky drinker…

Richelle: Love that! So should we keep our eyes peeled for Colin + Justin Whisky in stores soon?

C+J: We can dream right?!

Mackenzie: So what happens if you  guys disagree on how to approach and renovate a room or home? How do you decide which direction to go?

C+ J: Whomever has the stronger idea and shows the most commitment always wins.   You see, we trust each other and always allow the other to take the other on a design journey.  However, design for us is a discussion, not a dictatorship, so communication is key – we work together by challenging each other and being excited by our work.  The fun factor stops it feeling like work and makes it feel like just another great time together.  It’s fair to say we always come together on the right decisions.  Two heads, after all, are better than just one!

Mackenzie: I’m going to read this statement to my husband if we ever decide to renovate!

Richelle:  Is there a design trend you two are obsessed with? 

C + J: Steel framed factory glass windows – we’re obsessed!  We’re working on a cabin in Ontario at the moment and, where we might previously have had open concept, we’re now adding a framed glass wall and door way with as many panes of glass as possible! 

Richelle: Like this? This Glass cottage from “Great Canadian Cottages” definitely serves up inspiration!

Mackenzie: Which is your favorite room in a home to renovate? Why?

C +J: Living rooms offer so much as they’re the congregational space in any home, the stage for the performance of family to take place.   People say the kitchen is the heart of the home, but we prefer the living room…

Mackenzie: The family room is my favorite too!

Richelle: Technically, its mine as well.. that being said- I spend 90% of my time in the Kitchen!

Richelle: We love your use of wallpaper and bold color in design! But so many of us shy away from using either of these in our homes! (Okay let me rephrase.. I shy away from using these in my home! haha) What is the key to making wall paper work in a space?

C +J: Confidence is key, as is commitment.  If you have it in short supply, then go for the less is more approach!   You don’t have to wallpaper an entire room to make a statement, create a focal point wall by papering one zone to create a focus, or beef up an already strong feature such as a fireplace wall.

Richelle: So baby steps! Haha. Like the living room below!


Mackenzie: So along that same line…  What is the trick to making bold colors work in tiny rooms? We are always so fearful that will make the room feel even smaller!

C +J: Before you go bold with colour, first ask yourself what kind of mood you’re trying to create.  If you want a room to feel dramatic and bold, then sure: paint all walls deep navy or dark grey and revel in the diminished feel of the space.  If you need a room to feel larger, then opt for light, neutral wall colours, then bring in bolder tones via soft furnishings, artwork and accessories.

Natural light + bold pop 

Richelle:  You do an exceptional job incorporating lamps into your renovations. Lamps have gotten a bad rap with us ‘elder millennials’ for not being modern as compared to other types of lighting. Any tips you can share on how to add lamps to a room while maintaining a modern feel?

C+ J: What’s wrong with lamps?  Any particular ones that offend?   Essentially, most rooms should be lit by one main ambient light, task lighting (via side table lamps and floor lamps), and then accent lights to pick out shelving/artwork etc.  These 3 layered light sources combine to create a balanced room.  Simple!

Layered Lighting

Richelle: Ahh. Okay. Its not that I have anything against lamps per se! I always thought that if you had lamps that was the main (red: only) light source. Now that you explain it in terms of layering it makes so much more sense!

Mackenzie: We are total Homesense shoppers and ADORE your Colin + Justin Home collection. Do you have a favorite piece?

C+ J: Blessings be heaped upon you ladies for such exceptional taste!  We LOVE our linens and our towels.  And our lamps, and our rugs.  And our paint.  And our cookies! And our chopping boards.  And, and, and.  Come on – that’s like asking us to name a favourite child!

This lamp from the Colin + Justin Collection….  #OBSESSED

Richelle: I get it! Well.. we are obsessed with it all! Thanks so much for taking the time to chat with us! We cant wait to see you at the Home Show! And now.. we are off to find some lamps.. and wallpaper (don’t tell our husbands!) Don’t forget to head to our instagram page to enter our amazing GIVEAWAY!!

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