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Design stars Colin and Justin inspired by Maritime landscape, Nova Scotia history

‘An amazing part of the world’

Interior design experts and television hosts Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan, the stars billed as Colin and Justin, hail from Scotland. They’ve been in Canada more than12 years, and this week marked their first trip to Nova Scotia.

“In the past four days, we’ve seen so much that tells us we’ll be back here many times,” Justin said in a phone interview after landing at Shobac Cottages in Riverport.

“It’s an amazing part of the world.”

Despite planning a holiday to de-stress after a busy period of working non-stop and wanting to take their foot off the gas, the duo is exploring the province over six days, cramming in as much as they can. Wanting to engage with a new-to-them part of the country, they say it’s been a voyage of discovery.

Oh, Nova Scotia, for thou art beautiful. Today, en route to Trout Point, we’re in Annapolis Valley checking out some wineries. #novascotiaunlisted @visitnovascotia The first, @luckettvineyards has a working red phone box (planted amidst the vines) from which anywhere in Canada can be phoned free of charge! At the second vineyard - Lightfoot and Wolfville @lwwines we enjoyed a fascinating tour and a SPECTACULAR lunch. All set against the softly undulating landscape which yields to breathtaking ocean views. Guess we just wanted to telegraph the day’s adventure to you beauties. Writing this got us thinking again... about the red telephone box. Were you to step inside... and phone anyone (alive or passed) what would you say? What message would you relay? Something you always wished you’d said? Is there a secret you’d whisper down that old Bakelite receiver?

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They’ve been to Lightfoot and Wolfville Vineyards, the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, Maritime Museum of the Atlantic, Alexander Keith’s Brewery, the Halifax Distillery, Citadel Hill and all along the Halifax waterfront.

They fell in love with Maud Lewis at the Nova Scotia Art Gallery.

“I knew who she was, but I wasn’t really au fait with her work until we got to the art gallery and watched a little video,” says Justin. “I felt really weepy at the end of it because she was such a pure soul ... she did so much and she was so creative. It was amazing to learn about her, really humbling.”

With stays at the Quarterdeck Beachside Villas, Trout Point Lodge and now Shobac, Justin says they haven’t rushed and it’s been “a really lovely, even holiday for us,” leaving him feeling relaxed and decompressed.

Seriously. We can’t even. Just checked in to @troutpointlodge and it’s sooooo atmospheric. This remarkable log cabin is hidden away in a forest. By a river. Visiting is like finding out a secret. Special? And then some. When life feels like an adventure, life is good, huh? Are all you beauties hale and hearty? Use #novascotiaunlisted for further inspo. Thanks for coming with us on our wee adventure! What’s on the cards for you today? Do YOU fancy a trip to @visitnovascotia #visitnovascotia? Let’s just say (hint) that you should check back on this feed over the next wee while. We couldn’t POSSIBLY say what we’re talking about, lol. But - check back today and tomorrow! How long would it take you you to pack a bag?

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He says the Shobac cottages have completely taken their breath away.

“That’s the thing I think we’ve learned about Nova Scotia — I mean, we knew about the lobsters, we knew about the warmth of the people, and the music and culture, but we didn’t know that tucked away within all of that there’s such a contemporary architectural esthetic and vernacular. It’s been really good to see that.”

Design inspiration

They’ve come across design inspiration at every turn.

“Colin and I, we’re always inspired by everything that we see, and we take that inspiration and try and use it wherever we possibly can. The colours — the greyscale colour scheme at the moment of the climate — is so on trend with decorating preferences across the world because everyone’s painting in shades of grey and smokey hues, so it seems like walking through an artist’s palette.”

Justin says he loves the old colonial Maritime homes, all the shiplap and clapboards.

“In Toronto, we don’t see so much of that, so it’s nice to see such a great contrast,” he says. “I love the pastel colours of the houses that we’ve seen, the greyscale and the whitewashed boards ... In Toronto, everything’s so new and precise and architecturally linear. Much of what we’re seeing in Nova Scotia has so much history, so it’s really enlightening to see all of that.”

With a glass of wine in hand, sitting by a burning log fire with a beautiful view of the misty ocean, Colin says he’s feeling energized and enriched. He was looking forward to dinner with chef Craig Flinn, of Halifax restaurants Chives and Two Doors Down, and an icon on the Nova Scotia culinary scene.

He says he’s inspired by the older, beautiful properties around Nova Scotia that look a bit weathered, but well looked after.

“I actually really like when you have older properties that are in good condition, that are lived in and loved, that aren’t overtly modernized,” he explained.

“There’s something nice about that, it’s almost like the difference between someone who ages gracefully and is still healthy and happy, and someone who has plastic surgery. I think we’re going to come away with a bit of an influence that maybe sometimes you can be too new ... so I might kind of dial back a wee bit.”

Colin says it’s been a quick journey to Nova Scotia, but believes the best vacations are the ones you leave wanting to see and do more.

“It’s really interesting as well, where there’s such a diverse range of offerings for visitors, which is amazing. We’re all different and we all want different things. So it’s great that you can actually get in the car and travel from the ocean and end up in a log cabin on the side of a river,” he said.

“I think it’s fantastic. I think it’s everything you want in Canada is contained in a tiny, lovely province.”


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