Living a Beautiful Life: Lessons from Colin + Justin

Several years ago at a party, we met the affable Scottish design duo, Colin McAllister and Justin Ryan (of HGTV Home Heist fame, among other projects), and together, hatched a plan to head to the Caribbean island of Grand Cayman for a little work and play. Justin had wanted to visit Grand Cayman ever since he had watched The Firm with Tom Cruise (which filmed several scenes there), and Colin wanted to swim with stingrays. OK, that last part isn’t true – he was a wee bit apprehensive – but he did do it! In fact, they spent a few weeks exploring this island gem – sun, fun and Stingray City were all on the menu – courtesy of our client, the Cayman Islands Department of Tourism. We were lucky enough to be invited along on their adventure and upon our return, realized we had taken a lot more from this trip than just photos and memories. Here’s what we learned from them about design, and designing your life…

Work Hard. Laugh Harder. Repeat.
Well we don’t have to tell you that laughter is something these boys enjoy everyday – they continually find the brighter side of absolutely everything. And while these funny and fun-loving designers like to have a good time, they are also two of the hardest working people we have ever met. Balance is key for this pair and they do it beautifully. Their secret? Love what you do and make every single second count – YOU are the one who breathes the life into what you do. And when the day is done, have a laugh and enjoy what you have and those around you. Witty AND wise.

Having some fun at a bar in Grand Cayman. Colin and Justin say: Do not try this at home!

Colin mugging for the camera at the town of Hell, Grand Cayman. And yes, Justin sent a postcard "from Hell" to his Mum.

“A day without champagne is like a day without sunshine”
Direct quote: Justin. Purely for the sake of this blog of course, we tested this theory on numerous occasions while in Grand Cayman and happen to agree, champagne is pretty fantastic. But what makes it more fantastic is enjoying it even when you don’t have a milestone, birthday or new job to celebrate. C + J believe you should break open the bubbly whenever you darn well feel like it, and we concur. What are you waiting for? Celebrate the smaller moments and make them bigger. And while you’re at it, use the nice crystal and light some candles.

Don’t go changing
Treat everyone equally. Respect your elders. Remember where you came from. These are just some of the many values C + J practice daily. What we admire the most about Colin + Justin is that despite the worldwide success and fame they have achieved, they have never forgotten their fans and make a point of interacting with them on a daily basis. Follow them on Facebook or Twitter and you’ll see what we mean. And yes, they follow back. Because they believe you are just as fabulous as they are. Isn’t that refreshing?

Heading out to snorkel with the stingrays.

Music makes the people come together
Colin + Justin love music. OK correction. Colin REALLY LOVES music. He’s always singing and talking about how ‘music is the soundtrack to his life’. And music really does make everything better don’t you think? It can set the tone for an evening spent on your deck, at a party, a wedding or dinner with friends. “Music is money well spent,” says Colin. “When entertaining, I always make sure the music matches the mood and it truly enhances the moment for me, and for our guests.”

The picturesque Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman where we stayed during our visit.

Surround yourself with beauty
“Always strive for the best decor you can afford and create a home that will welcome you everyday and be a stress free environment for your family,” said Colin and Justin during one of our many dinner conversations about design and living. This is a C+J mantra. If your space is serene, you will feel that way. ┬áPeriod. Ever notice what clutter does to your headspace?

The untouched beaches of Little Cayman.

There’s a bunny inside every peanut
We never knew this but there really is. Crack open a peanut and look for the bunny ears. You see it now? While waiting for a flight over to Little Cayman, Colin and Justin mention this and it made us realize something. Sure they are celebrities and live a life of travel and excitement, but what keeps them grounded is this continual wonder they hold for the world they live in. Whether it is looking for the bunny ears in a peanut or heading to a tiny island to look for iguanas (which we were doing that day), it is always there. And it’s a great lesson for all of us: Look for the bunny ears. Stay curious. Be amazed by the world.

To see more photos from Colin + Justin’s trip to Grand Cayman, visit our Facebook gallery.

7 Responses to Living a Beautiful Life: Lessons from Colin + Justin

  1. Colin and Justin says:

    Really fun blog. Brought all the memories of our wonderful trip right back home to us. Can’t wait to return!
    Cheers, C and J x

  2. Sarah Gunn says:

    Love this post! I have been lucky enough to meet Colin and Justin and they radiate fun, style and goodness. Which is why we all love them!

  3. Abby says:

    Sweet blog, these guys seem fun, saw theyre show a coupla times. will watch again, waiting for them to follw me back on twitter, love reading theyre stories etc,

  4. Love these two! They exude joy and a zest for life. Great role models for how life should be lived…. with laughter, enthusiasm and in the moment. Cheers! *holds up champagne mimosa* (it’s 10 am…. too early for straight champagne)

  5. jax says:

    What a nice place it is

  6. jax says:

    I would love to go there and experience such a beautiful place, thanks you for the inspiration

  7. Martine Davison says:

    Good afternoon, I hope you don’t mind me answering this blog but I am a very big fan of Justin and Colin but now ooooh! Now I want to vist Grand Cayman. It looks very lovely. I like the way the story was written up. I read every week these gentlemen in The Star and would very much like them to come round my house to do up my den. It’s a mess. Wouldn’t trust many people to do it, just them and maybe Sarah Richardson, they are my heros. Anyway the trip reads nice, I was glad to see it written up here, Thank you, Martine

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