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2014/03/17 / Shanan


When my family visited Barbados at the end of January, I made sure to get some shots inside the Timothy Oulton showroom, thinking it could be a candidate for The Symmetric’s Field Trips series.  And somehow I drafted an entire post, then forgot to publish it.

I know that Timothy Oulton is a big name lifestyle retailer, but I always enjoy this particular shop and all its vintage displays.  In addition to their signature leather and industrial-meets-vintage pieces (the London-based company makes furniture for Restoration Hardware – from what I can tell, TO designed my current sofa, the Fulham), the two-storey shop features a wine cave and small Italian cafe that serves house-made pasta lunches.

A cool place to poke around amidst antique treasures and well-crafted reproductions.  Love that wall of dishes and… what can I say?  Kind of wish I was still there, wearing a sundress and sipping a soda.

timothy oulton shop barbados vintage furniture







Someday, for when I own a beach house…






You can see more on the Timothy Oulton website.  Here’s some info on the Wine Cave and Gianluca Cafe. Barbados, I do miss ya.

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2014/01/27 / Shanan


Or, what happens when two white girls in Collingwood decide they want to style an elegant but fun table to celebrate the Chinese New Year, and are forced to procure 85% of the items from a dollar store field trip (incidentally we also found this, and this!).  The good news is that YES, we now know it’s possible to create a Kate-Spade-esque look on a shoestring budget.  In case you had ever wondered, I mean. GUNG HAY FAT CHOY!!

chiense new year tablescape celebrate horse chopsticks styling

2014 is the year of the horse.  We painted these little guys shiny gold, and embellished disposable wooden chopsticks with paint and glitter tape.

chinese new year gold red pink table styling champagne

Champagne dreams (mini Prosecco budget).

chinese new year horse tablescape styling celebrate chopsticks gold

We used gold glitter tape to liven up the vintage glassware, made homemade paper fortune cookies, and scattered the table with confetti and crepe paper.


chinese new year table setting styling festive gold pink red horse

The freeform hanging ‘lantern’ was created from a sea of red and pink crepe paper and tied with a thin gold ribbon.



embellished chopsticks pink gold chinese new year

SOURCES: tablecloth fabric from Len’s Mill (classy…)  /  all white dishes from various stores in Chinatown Toronto  /  red glassware and gold ice bucket are vintage finds  /  confetti sequins, gold doilies, gold glitter tape, crepe paper, gold + white striped napkins, + horse figurines (okay gosh these were actually zebras!) from Dollar Tree and Dollarama  /  paper takeout boxes from Uline.

If you’d like to see some other tablescapes we’ve done, there’s the Winter Cabin and the Earthy Maximalist table.

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2014/01/13 / Shanan


Hi hi, hope you all had a nice weekend.  I’m getting this Monday started with an interiors itch – it’s been ages since I’ve tackled any project of consequence for our home and I could really use a dose of something new and cool in here.  Caveat of course being that I want to spend virtually no money.

I collect lots of inspiration images of existing interiors and objects, and when I revisit them I wonder… Could I make this?  These are the latest designs I’m considering:

Image above: floral chandelier in the Paris loft of designer Paolo Navone, via Vosgesparis. Photo © Andrea Ferrari. This is kind of a classy, really oversized version of a Polish chandelier and from what I can tell, those are just fake flowers adorning it.  I love that it’s unapologetically bold, lush, and fun, and though time-consuming I can’t imagine it would actually be super difficult to make (famous last words, Shanan).

Kelly Wearstler pyrite gemstone brass jewelry box

Pyrite Matrix Bauble Box by Kelly Wearstler, via 1stdibs.com.  Isn’t this box so rad?  I’m willing to follow this gemstone trend all the way off the cliff, my friends, even if it’s towing the pretty/ugly line that Kelly Wearstler is so adept at.  You could definitely put your own stamp on this idea by collecting stones and gluing/wire-wrapping them to a basic jewelry box (kind of wish this had been on my radar for Christmas, in fact).

Catherine Kwong interior designer brass table legs

Brass table legs in the home of interior designer Catherine Kwong, via Coco+Kelley.  The embellished table legs are good, right?  And our dining table is kind of a mess right now.  Small modification, big impact.

Claire Anne O'Brien knit wool stools artisan

Sculptural knit stools by Claire Anne O’Brien, via Trend Tablet.  I won’t pretend I could get anywhere close to replicating these, but I love the idea of a really oversized textural knit on top of something very basic like a small stool or ottoman.  Cozy and very kid-friendly.

So what do you think – do any of these ideas stand out for you?  Should I give it the old college try?  I promise to show you the results…

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2013/12/30 / Shanan


Well, it’s that time of year… you know the expression, “all killer no filler” (or maybe that was just the title of a Sum 41 album, don’t quote me)?  Now imagine the opposite of that.  Welcome to the recap post.

I started writing this blog at the end of April, Gillian joined me in the fall and this year has been really, truly, an incredibly fun labour of love.  I think I speak for both of us when I say how proud we are of this little space we’ve created, and how much it means to us that you’re reading.

Here’s looking to dare to be great in 2014.   But first, some favourites in case you missed them…

Lizzie Fortunato leather embroidered clutch


Gorgeous: an androgynous fashion round-up, plus favourite collections featuring hand-dyed rock ‘n roll tees, the boldest jewelry and bags, and the prettiest patterned dresses.

Funny(ish): an ode to celluloid schoolgirl uniformsstreet style parody (think bath towels and bar-bells), and how to dress like a hipster from a children’s book.

Useful:  What to do when you’re sick of your winter coat, in need of some pregnancy wardrobe tips, or are rethinking your wedding ring.

white bathroom renovation gram parsons painting subway tile


We visited the homes of three creative, honest and real women this year.  Have you checked out the charming renovated farmhouse, the colourful cool-girl apartment, and the mid-century-inspired heritage home?

Great pattern inspiration in the form of dark wallpaper, Finnish fabrics, and children’s book illustrations.

A few self-conscious glimpses into Shanan’s home: the renovated bathroom, the deck, the bedroom, and the sofa situation.



My favourite documentary on creativity from this year.  My favourite art print purchase.

I put together (or ‘curated’, some might say…) a handful of miniature exhibitions that highlighted themes I tend to obsess over: intimacy, obscured faces (part 1 and part 2), weird interiors, and the use of mirrors.

And there were unusual artistic expressions in the form of google images, creepy abandoned spaces, camera phone snapshots, and bejewelled skeletons. 

(Recaps of the FOOD, CHILD, and EXPERIENCE categories will be up later this week!)

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2013/12/13 / Gillian


Shanan and I have been excited lately to add field trips to the roster of fun things we’re up to. Inspired by the Natural Habitat series Shanan has written and shot for the Symmetric blog, we wanted to branch out and feature some of our favourite shops & eateries. I’m pleased to introduce Creemore Kitchen for the inaugural instalment of Field Trips!

Nestled amongst the galleries and specialty stores in the village of Creemore sits the Creemore Kitchen. I know I am not alone when I say that their opening last spring was keenly awaited.  Just what Creemore needed – a little “hipster in the rural hood,” so to speak, with good food & drink to boot.

Creemore Kitchen restaurant exterior

The contemporary-but-cozy, white wood-sided building references a barn and is the perfect aesthetic for the “farm to table” adage of CK.

creemore kitchen bar christmas pickles preserves

“Everything in the restaurant comes from our home,” explains Sam Holwell, who runs the front of house. “It’s just who we are – the food, the music, the style.”  This overall vibe, if you will, is relaxed but intentional.  From the grey army-issue wool blankets that drape casually over the eclectic mix of chairs, to the rustic raw sumac branches that artfully showcase birds, gingerbread and other homemade Christmas decorations, the feel is all “house made.”


The same house-made ethos is evidenced in the menu as well. Caesar Guinto is inspired by his pastoral environs and the healthy ‘100-mile’ culture of the village of Creemore.  “Local” isn’t just about food source and proximity for Sam and Caesar, though – it’s about relationships.

“We want to be able to say to people – see that table over there?  They grew your food!”  This language of “good food local” resonates for both of them and they pride themselves on the collaborative and dynamic relationship that exists between the front of the house, the kitchen and their community.