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2013/12/11 / Gillian


1. Something I Want:  Inspired by the “autumnal nature” of the Finnish climate, the new Marimekko Sääpäiväkirja (Weather Diary) Tableware Collection is at the top of my list this year.  Porcelain, but sturdy and dishwasher safe, these pieces are a perfect marriage of beauty & functionality. Just imagine the tablescaping possibilities!

2Something I Need:  ‘Need’ is so subjective, isn’t it? I mean really, I need new wool socks and a dryer, but somehow the Eames Molded Plastic Side Chairs have edged out Mark’s Work Warehouse and Maytag this year. Seriously though, we have a set of vintage press back chairs we bought in Toronto at Jaiden’s Petals/Cindiloohoo about ten years ago. Lovely as they are, they are not conducive to lingering dinners cozied up at our harvest table. So, I am on the hunt for something more comfortable, but also more contemporary.

3Something to Wear:  Clothes are my weakness, so they could comprise my whole list. Thankfully, Shanan has kept me on track with this four-point framework (apparently it’s not just a great gift-giving system for kids but also for their pining parents!). I am chronically over-dressed in the small village where I live (what, you don’t wear snakeskin pumps to Foodland??) and do wear vintage as much as possible. Shanan and I have been talking recently about the appeal of a ‘uniform’ – a go-to staple that is chic and wearable all at once. Et voila, the 1950’s day dress is my new paradigm.

4Something to Read:  I’ll be straight-up here – I haven’t read a book cover to cover since September. Apparently I’m a schizophrenic reader – either devouring novels or am just lucky to get through an article in the New Yorker. During this most recent dry spell I have been reading a lot of cookbooks. In fact, I think almost everything I have made in the past couple of months has followed a recipe. The Kinfolk Table, a beautiful collection of narratives, photographs and recipes, promises to be the perfect addition to my collection.

And… that pretty much concludes the wishlist/gift guide portion of our programming.  Ho ho ho.

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2013/12/10 / Shanan


Gillian and I talked in circles about putting together a series of holiday gift guides, but we eventually decided to leave it to the pros (Design*Sponge has you covered for budget gifts, holiday ornaments, pet gifts <do people really do this?> and tons more; Poppytalk has some wonderful picks, and A Cup of Jo always posts thoughtful and fun gift ideas for mums, dads, kids, and your adult siblings).

Instead we’re going to keep it all quite simple and just post our own small holiday wish-lists.  I’m sure if prompted that every single one of us could cobble together a wish-list a mile long (behold the sweet, sweet clutches of capitalism), but we’re sticking to the rule of gift-giving for kids that I first heard about last year: something you want, something you need, something to wear, and something to read.  There, done.

1. Something I Want: Kevin O’Brien ombré velvet pillows from Anthropologie.  It doesn’t get much more frivolous than a throw pillow, does it?  These have consumed the decorating part of my brain for the better part of the last year.  I think they’re super cool and romantic.

2Something I Need: I’m interpreting this one as something that’s practical (‘need’ is, after all, highly relative).  A Canon EF 50MM lens for even better pictures in the new year, from Henry’s.

3Something to Wear: Anntian layered silk dress from Totokaelo.  Because I’m unsure what I want my wardrobe to look like these days, but find myself more and more attracted to bold, weird patterns and less body-conscious silhouettes.  Yes, I may just end up the hipster girl’s modern-day answer to Mrs. Roper.

4Something to Read: My favourite things to give and receive are books.  I recently finished Marisha Pessl’s Special Topics in Calamity Physics so I’m excited to dive into her new doorstopper of a dark literary mystery novel, Night Film.

What’s on your wish-list this year?

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2013/12/04 / Shanan


So – this holiday thing.  It’s really happening.  Over the last three days I’ve been witness to approximately 3,407 blogger gift guides, I may or may not have already listened to my favourite Christmas song (John Mellencamp’s “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus,” in case you were wondering, and no, I’m not even a tiny bit embarrassed) and contemplated overpriced tree ornaments from Anthropologie.  It’s the most wonderful time of the year!

Did that sound cynical?  My heart’s not actually made of coal, I promise.  I find one of the nicest aspects of the lead-up to Christmas is that people get more social – hosting intimate get-togethers and festive dinner parties, breaking bread and drinking wine and indulging in that extra slice of cake.  With this in mind, over the course of December Gillian and I will be setting a series of holiday-inspired tables for your viewing pleasure.  Cheers!


Today we have what I’m calling the ‘Earthy Maximalist’ table.  The trick is to apply the ‘more is more’ philosophy without veering dangerously into gaudy-ville (which is a wholly subjective territory altogether, natch).  We used the gorgeous floral Marimekko fabric from this post as the tablecloth base, and layered it with patterned china and stoneware in shades of blue and white.  Hits of gold and green round it all out with ribbon, gilded milkweed pods, and decorative glassware.










We managed to set this table entirely with elements we already had in our homes, but I’ll put together a rough list of sources below…

Sources:  Oodi floral print fabric from Marimekko  /  vintage stoneware and china plates and bowls from Gillian’s collection: china pattern is Royal Crown Derby, mikado blue, grey plates are Royal Doulton in frost pine  /  silverware from William Ashley (a wedding gift from my grandmother)  /  grey linen napkins made by my friend Lisa, with fabric from Affordable Textiles on Queen West  /  tiny green glass bunny salt cellars from Fishs Eddy  /  Jere-esque brass flower sculpture from Ebay, similars here  /  gold ribbon from The Paper Place  /  gold-leaf applied to milkweed pods by The Symmetric.

Stay tuned for another holiday table next week!

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2013/11/27 / Shanan


Happy Thanksgiving to our families and friends in the US today!  And happy Hanukkah, which also begins tonight (you will find me awkwardly lighting our menorah with the birthday candles I purchased at Walmart.  Thanks, Collingwood <slow clap>).

Even if you’re not American, or a barely-observant half-Jew, at this time of year I imagine we can all agree that cozying up and celebrating with loved ones is indeed a truly lovely thing.  The snow is swirling around today, our fireplace is crackling, and I’m thinking about the Danish concept of hygge – creating an atmosphere of warmth, cultivating a convivial domestic space, and enjoying and appreciating all the good that surrounds us.

So gather round the (virtual) fireplace and let’s get hygge.  Hugs to everyone.  xx Shanan

Image above: my dream living room by Scandinavian photographer Jonas Ingerstedt.

Danish manor Rosmosegaard fireplace

Danish manor Rosmosegaard, currently owned by Ida Rosenvinge Türmer.  Via Living in Andyland.

St Kilda fireplace Australia Louise Julian Thompson scandinavian inspired

Love this fireplace surround in the home of Louise and Julian Thomson.  Scandinavian-inspired living room in Melbourne, Australia via Homelife, from Style Files.  Photo by Sharyn Cairns.

White Company scandinavian fireplace bedroom

Yes, I could probably wake up to this.  A serene bedroom with fireplace via The White Company.

Tanja Janicke living room Boligmagasinet fireplace

Wood, warmth, and taxidermy in the home of Helsinki designer Tanja Janicke, via Oh My Goodness.  Photo by Lykke Foged for Bolig magasinet.

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2013/11/22 / Shanan


Anybody who knows me well, knows that I’ve got wallpaper of some sort on the brain pretty much all the time.  I hang it in my house, I did an elaborate hand-painted version in my last kitchen, and in the past I’ve created art wallpapers out of weird materials (hair, and sugar, and one failed attempt with ash, if you must know).  When people need sources or wallpaper ideas, they come to me.  End of story.  Bad-da boom.  What, am I in the mob or something?

Anyhow.  I love surface patterns that mess with tradition and insinuate themselves so that their weirdness might not be immediately recognizable.  Toile de Jouy provides one of the best classical frameworks with which to spin out really contemporary interpretations.  Instantly recognizable, the original and conventional toiles were made up of a series of detailed pastoral scenes, rendered in a single colour on a white background.  Think delicately-illustrated women in corsets sitting under trees, repeated across a formal dining room wall… with matching patterned curtains.

Not your thing?  Thankfully these amazing artists/manufacturers are dialling down the stuffiness and putting their own unique, humorous and wonderfully weird twists on the traditional toile.  Let’s get to a few of my favourites…


Image above: Timorous Beasties’ “New York Toile” has it all: city landmarks, motorcycles, cops, and drug deals. Available in pink, grey, green, blue, and more.

Flat Vernacular Toile de Derby wallpaper


Killer cars: Flat Vernacular’s ‘Toile de Derby‘ in Driver’s Door colourway.

Dan Funderburgh Vigilant Floral toile wallpaper

Big sister is watching you: Dan Funderburgh’s “Vigilant Floral” wallpaper in lavender.  I think this one is so cheeky yet still so beautiful.

Sassy Toile wallpaper flavour paper

Er, speaking of cheeky…

DFC is a design studio that fuses modern design with traditional Mexican style.  Their  “Sassy Toile” from Flavor Paper is a contemporary take on an old-school pulp fiction story (and it’s available in ‘Electric Raspberry on Silver Mylar’ – yes yes, my head just exploded, too).

640 480 video collective vertigo toile wallpaper

And last but not least, I dug this one out of the archives. “Vertigo” wallpaper by the now-defunct 640 480 Video Collective (I was once part of a “hot” “young” “collective” of “conceptual” “video” “artists” [all air-quotes necessary to cover my bases here]).  We were invited to do a project for an art fair in San Francisco, and we created a toile paper rendered from scenes in Alfred Hitchcock’s Vertigo.  The vignettes actually shifted with each pattern repeat so if you looked closely, you’d see scenic progressions like Kim Novak jumping into the water, or James Stewart falling down a roof.


Would you hang any of these in your house, or do you prefer your wallpaper to be of a less subversive nature (read: no raspberry mylar boobs*)?  It’s okay, you can be honest.  xx Shanan

(* raspberry mylar boobs = the name of my new girl band. Who’s in?)