Cover Story: Escape with Colin and Justin
Celebrity designers Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan spark serious wanderlust with their new book Escapology: Modern Cabins, Cottages and Retreats. Twentyfour homes from around the world are beautifully captured and accompanied with informative design profiles which will help you create your own personalized escape – whether you are building, renovating or redecorating.
We recently caught up with the designer duo to find out more.
What does “escapology” mean to you?
Escapology, to us, is the social science of “getting away.” In its essence, it’s all about retreating to a special place – a cottage, vacation home or cabin – to decompress. It’s all about shaking off the stresses of our fast spinning world to unwind in a peaceful spot, often with friends, family and loved ones. Now, perhaps more than ever, escape is something about which people dream, and upon which they focus. Few would disagree that life, over the last few months, has changed for almost all of us. With this in mind, we hope escapology will appeal to everyone who’s focused on getting back on track and settling back into an easier way of life. In short – it’s time to reset. And time to relax. And time to love.
What was the inspiration for your book?
We’ve worked in home design for more than 20 years – across various continents – in TV, print media and private commission. We’ve always loved what we do, and positively relish every opportunity we’re afforded to beautify real homes for real people. Ten years ago, however, we started to specialize in vacation homes. We actively seek clients in rural spaces. We adore the rural real estate landscape and felt super driven to share its highlights with the world.
What process did you go through to select each property?
When we landed the publishing deal for Escapology, we were excited to share with our viewers, readers and international fan base as many beautiful escapes as possible. But of course, there’s a limit to the number of inspirational homes that can be seamlessly merged into one book. With much help, we eventually arrived at 24 homes. Then the process of selecting the best rooms from each house started. Each property showcases around six zones, so in total, there are approximately 150 spaces, lavishly spread across 236 beautiful pages. Creating Escapology has been little short of joyous: As lovers of the rural idyll, it’s been our pleasure to curate such a stunning inventory of beautiful abodes to inspire and excite, we hope, in equal measure.
What elements do you love about the Park Corner Barn space?
Ah, this is such a beautiful cottage. Located in Oxfordshire, UK, it’s an 18th-century brick and flint barn conversion; to us, the very essence of a modern rustic escape. The wooden beam work can only be described as breathtaking as it intersects and sails majestically above a sea of white painted walls and wide-planked floorboards. And the natural light that floods the space is astounding; the barn’s owner, and his team of architects and contractors, imbued the project with an exciting feel, one that allows it to seamlessly transition from its agricultural past, into its current residential iteration.
You write about the different types of cabins and cottages, what does your ideal cottage include?
Our ideal cottage style combines natural wood finishes, layered with white painted walls, jet-toned fenestration, and loads of texture. We love the contrast that happens when these layers are front and forward in any of our schematics. And of course, comfort is paramount – we never take that for granted. Our typical scheme may employ toffee toned hide upholstery, thick woven textiles, rough-hewn wood furniture and a compendium of ceramic accessories. But don’t forget, the topography is everything. Find us a property with towering trees and commanding elevations of craggy Canadian shield granite and we’ll be happy.
“You might be in a townhome, a suburban backsplit or a highrise condo, but with a little planning, you could be anywhere.”
How can homeowners bring that cabin/cottage feel into their homes?
There’s no doubt about it: The Canadian retail sector is awash with inventory that amply references the great outdoors. That whole rustic look has become wildly popular. Take, for example, our product line (available in stores such as HomeSense, Marshalls and Winners) you’ll find heavy weave textiles that would look every bit as relevant on a condo sofa as they would a cottage sofa. As always – it’s all about balance. And texture. And wood detailing. You might be in a townhome, a suburban backsplit or a highrise condo, but with a little planning, you could be anywhere.
If you could escape to any destination over the winter and hygge, where would you go?
We’re all about Drag Lake in Haliburton. It’s a vast undertaking – perhaps our most ambitious to date – but we’re utterly in love with the place and, indeed, its potential. It’s super cosy with acres of glass, a roaring log fire, squashy sofas and mountains of books. Perched, as it is, 20 stone steps from the water, the cottage is shaded by a copse of pine, hemlock and spruce trees. It’s a work in progress, sure, but one which we hope to complete within the next 12 to 18 months.