Black History Month: Giselle Bullin
In honour of Black History Month, we're interviewing some of our favourite Black Canadian designers about their inspirations, design advice and the year's coming trends.
How did you get started on this career path? Was design always something you had a passion for?
Design has always been a passion of mine. Like many designers, my joy for interiors started at home. Having my own bedroom gave me the opportunity to play with different textiles and colours that best illustrated my style. It started off as a hobby, then grew into a passion, and before you know it, I was changing around my room twice a month. I grew an eye for design, and by the age of fourteen, I could walk into a space and visually paint a picture of its potential and ways to enhance it. At the age of twenty, I embarked on my design journey at Seneca college, gaining further knowledge to succeed in this industry. Finally, in the next two years, Top Home Stylist was established and has been thriving ever since.
Do you have a personal design philosophy?
“The neglection of your space is a reflection of you”.
When you step out of your home or meet someone for the first time, you hope to leave a great first impression. Your hair and teeth are brushed, laces tied, you smell fresh, but if people saw the status of your home, will you feel as confident about the way you appear? Don’t overlook your needs. Investing in yourself includes investing in your home.
How do you see the Canadian design community evolving to become more diverse?
I think the Canadian design community has come a long way. When I was younger, all the successful interior designers on television and magazines looked the same: nothing at all like me. In more recent years, I have seen many beautiful, diverse faces being acknowledged for their talent, myself included. We are definitely on the right track; the way many of us support one another and our accomplishments is huge! Through collaborations, partnerships, brand awareness, reposting etc. I hope to help pave the way and be a leader for the younger generation of aspiring designers.
Any favourite design trends for 2021?
This year we will be seeing many previous design trends resurfacing. One of my personal favourites for 2021 is earth tones. I love using warm, comforting colour palettes that allow natural elements to flow through beautifully. I’m currently working on a bathroom renovation, and that is exactly our vision! By using a neutral palette and incorporating earthy elements, we will achieve a gorgeous Zen atmosphere. Another trend I love to see is when antiques are incorporated into a design. Vintage items are back in style and look fabulous when partnered on a shelf with books. This is how you add character in the most simplistic form.
What inspires you?
I find most of my inspiration through travelling. So much of who we are comes from where we have been, and that also applies to our work. Experiencing different parts of the world opens up your mind; it allows you to really change your perspective on life and how to make it count. New faces, cultures, architectures, breathtaking views. Travelling influences my creative abilities, and I’m always eager to incorporate these explorations into my designs. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, I’m not sure when it will be safe to travel again. In the meantime, I’ve been finding inspiration through nature, reading, meditations and art.
Any “design rules” you love to break?
There are many design rules I love to break. As you become more confident, the more risks you will begin to take. The first design rule: you cannot mix metals. Mixing metals can be daring. But when done correctly, you will have a clean and elegant finish. I would suggest no more than 2-3 metals. Another rule is that every design must have symmetry. I believe that a great design does not always have to be symmetrical. That can become boring. There are other ways to find balance, and you don’t need symmetry to do it.
What’s one product you recommend clients splurge on?
One product that I recommend splurging on is a sofa. For starters, this product should last (on average) ten years. It must be comfortable enough to lounge on but firm enough for back support. It should be the right size for your space (the bigger it is, the more it will cost). It must also be good quality for sustainability and not look worn out after two years. If you find a sofa that is perfect for your space but over budget, consider all the pros and cons before you go with the cheaper option.
How has your work shifted in an increasingly virtual world?
The design industry has taken a drastic shift since COVID-19. Ironically, during the pandemic, Top Home Stylist has been busier than ever, and the need for home improvement has increased. However, it is a blessing and a curse learning to navigate through this new virtual world. Sourcing samples, materials, and furniture for our clients has been very challenging. Not only have there been major delays in deliveries and inventory re-stocks, but it is hard to determine the quality and (correct) colour of the products we are selecting. This has made our job extremely stressful; projects are now taking double the time to be completed. Site visits are done via Zoom, which makes it difficult to document the process. Overall, it has been a challenge, but I am grateful that I can still work and generate revenue for my business.
What’s your favourite piece of home decor to shop for?
I am obsessed with shopping for anything home related. But generally, my favourite things to shop for are accessories. I love the variety! There are hundreds of unique shapes, sizes, materials, purposes and colours. How I choose to accessorize a space is an expression of my artistic ability, and these little details play a huge role when it comes to design.