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2013/08/07 / Shanan


Just what is it about peeking into other people’s homes that we find so fascinating?  I have all the usual suspects bookmarked for a quick interiors hit (Lonny, Design*Sponge, Apartment Therapy, Emily Henderson‘s blog, The Design Files, Dwell – need I go on?) although lately I find myself gravitating towards smaller sites that show less but delve more.

While mulling over how to go about my own ‘Natural Habitat’ blog series (the first post is here if you missed it), I cyber-stumbled upon a new blog by Hilary Walker, called Our Style Stories.

Hilary is a Nashville-bred, Dallas-based interior designer who now photographs and writes about the homes of fellow creatives around her area.  Her ‘manifesto’ really spoke to me: that the ‘Style Stories’ be about real people with distinct points of view; that they may be imperfect but at their core is a beating heart.

The profiles feature the personal style of the subject within the context of their home; Hilary selects a series of photos and then there is an accompanying podcast interview.  The site also has a ‘Shop the Story’ section with pieces inspired by the fashion and interiors.  It’s compiled into the categories of home, body, and heart (and actually feels like a thoughtful, natural extension of all this business, as opposed to a really in-your-face ‘buy me!’ round-up).

christine steven visneau dallas house tour mid-century

There are some unique places to browse through and I was particularly taken by the cheery home and bad-ass fashion sense of Christine and Steven Visneau, from whose Style Story Hilary has been kind enough to let me show a few photos.

christine steven visneau sister brother management fashion stylist


dallas house tour mid-century modern

Christine Visneau pink boots

But really… isn’t it always all about the shoes?  Just kidding.  See and hear more about the Visneau’s relaxed style, careers, and family here and here.  All photographs by Hilary Walker for Our Style Stories.

Hilary Walker bio photo Our Style Stories Dallas Texas

And here’s Hilary herself!  Thanks for supporting independent blogs, everyone. Bio photo by Amanda Marie Lackey.

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2013/08/02 / Shanan


My business partner Phil, aka my other half in Linseed Projects, is currently in Finland visiting his wife’s family. We’ve been communicating about work via email but yesterday he sent me a message with just one question: “how big is your dining room table?”

NATURALLY, I immediately jumped to the excited conclusion that he was planning to buy me a Marimekko tablecloth.  Because that’s what Scandinavian-obsessed North American women do, apparently (and, Phil later admitted that I was totally right.  Ha!).

I found myself browsing the Marimekko website and was instantly smitten with pretty much everything, especially some cotton fabric patterns that felt a bit unexpected.  I think most people probably only think of Marimekko’s iconic flower patterns so I was pleasantly surprised to find some that were moodier or utilized more unusual colour palettes.  I am on an unofficial spending moratorium at the moment so file these under U.O.O.A (Unjustifiable Objects of Affection. ‘Uooa’ also happens to be the guttural sound I make under my breath when I see something I like that I know I can’t buy).

Image above: Juhannustaika watercolour flowers cotton fabric.

marimekko flowers oodi kangas cotton fabric scandinavian

Oodi floral print cotton fabric.

marimekko vuohenputki cotton fabric

Vuohenputki cotton fabric.

marimekko annansilma sateen fabric

Annansilmä cotton fabric.

marimekko napakettu fabric foxes

Napakettu foxes cotton fabric. I love the detailing on these little foxes.

marimekko hauki oven mitt fish

Oh hell, I also bookmarked this Hauki oven mitten.  Sometimes you just need an easy smile.

ps.  Did you know that ‘Twitter’ in Finnish is ‘Twiittaa’ ?

Update: Niina Sormunen on ‘Twiittaa’ alerted me this morning to the recent accusations of plagiarism at Marimekko, which I hadn’t read about.  This kind of issue naturally leaves a bad taste.  If you’re curious about the story, here is a story from back in May where Kristina Isola admits to plagiarism in one of her designs.  And yesterday, the company was cleared of plagiarism suspicions regarding a different design although people believe that ruling is incorrect.  Oof.

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2013/07/31 / Shanan


I am VERY excited today to bring you the first installment in a new series on The Symmetric, which I am calling ‘Natural Habitat.’  I mentioned last week that one of my goals for the site was to profile creative, interesting women.  It started with wanting to do my own brand of the ubiquitous house tour but it’s starting to come together as something a little more intimate, I think, than I was expecting.  I tend to get transfixed by the overall ‘vibe’ of a home and then, all the little details that make it so.  I never tire of looking at all the glossies but here I wanted to focus on something a bit more real, on spaces that are more or less unstyled and truly lived in.

I am also endlessly fascinated by routines and the quirks that emerge from a glimpse into where someone lives. This time, the conversation usually starts with the mundane, the small steps that take a person through the motions of the everyday and subtly mould and propel them towards the biggies –  their personal philosophies, their careers, their sense of self.  Whew.  Do you need some air?  Let’s pace ourselves here.

Kristin Somborac is my first subject, the guinea pig if you will.  She is an old friend of Chris’ and we connected when she was pregnant with her first baby; we were neighbours in Toronto at the time and I helped her paint a mural in the nursery.  I find Kristin disarming because she is exceedingly easy to talk to and has a subtle, sweet naiveté about her, while at the same time being a very direct person and actually quite tough.  She doesn’t take sh*t from anyone.  To wit, she may also be the only individual I’ve seen in real life who can pull off harem pants.

Kristin, her husband Rob and their two boys, Miša (4) and Paavo (1) live in downtown Toronto’s west end neighbourhood of Parkdale.  Their place is nestled inside an amazing little courtyard of historical townhouses, complete with antique gas lanterns and climbing ivy.  When I visited Kristin she was home for the morning with Paavo.

parkdale historic townhouse courtyard

“Rob is in film, he’s a focus puller. I was in film for about 15 years but I really changed things in order to have children and now I’m embarking on my latest venture, which is working as a creative director/fashion consultant and stylist.  I really wanted to have a job which would allow me more time with my family, instead of being on set 14 hours a day!  Being a stylist feels so natural in terms of a next step that I don’t really worry about the fact that I am starting a new career at this stage of life with two kids.

I knew that I needed to have a job which was driven by creativity but at the same time I love the organizational aspect in work.  I think it gives me a feeling of control.  Once you have children there is so much you can’t control and you have to let go.  And I have really been craving the feeling of accomplishment which comes from finishing a project, which has been a big part of motivating me to move forward.”

eames lounger mid century modern living room park dale


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2013/07/18 / Shanan


Childhood innocence meets teenage angst for the ultimate summer party. Nostalgia attacks!

1. Party Guest #1: The Dreamy Loner. Via Bedroom Eyes tumblr.

2. Upscale take on late-night party food: kale, pancetta, and grape gourmet pizza. Via Design*Sponge.

3. “Here’s the thing – we started out friends.  It was cool but it was all pretend…” Best Friends board by Carlton DeWoody, via Grey Area.

4. ‘Life is Becoming So Amazing’ balloon from Inflated Deflated.

5. Party Guest #2: The Hot Tomboy. Via Where Is The Cool.

6. Spiked! Watermelon-mint tequila popsicles. Via Hungry Girl Por Vida.

7. Sturdy leather rucksack for the transport of illicit wine coolers. Via Madewell.

8. Party Guest #3: The Innocent Girl-Next-Door. Via Life Etc.

9. High-brow design meets childhood graffiti. ‘I Was Here’ table by Jason Miller. Via 1st Dibs.

10. Make me a mixed tape. Via A Kind of Library.

11. Party Guest #4: The Shit-Disturbers.  The Replacements reunion = perfect party band.

12. Aloof summer dressing. ‘In Memory of When I Cared’ t-shirt. Via Nylon Mag.

13. Pinata by Confetti System.

(This post was inspired by a Pinterest board I created for a contest that Design*Sponge was running this month, where readers were challenged to design their ‘Ideal Summer Party.’  Fun times…)

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2013/07/16 / Shanan

CITY INDULGENCE: Nadège Patisserie

People ask me all the time how (or if…) I’ve adjusted to living outside of a city.  It’s only been a year and a half since we moved up here but in some ways it feels a lot longer.  Not in a bad way, I should add.

But… if forced to get specific and I had to name a place in Toronto that I miss, Nadège Patisserie would be at the top of my list.

Nadège Nourian, a fourth generation pastry chef from France, and her partner Morgan McHugh opened the patisserie in 2009.  They craft gorgeous pastries, little cakes, artisan marshmallows (guimauve), sandwiches on homemade breads, and of course macarons.  The shop is sleek and modern with touches of warm wood, with an open kitchen at the back to spy on the amazingly meticulous baking and decorating process.  As an avid people-watcher, they also have the neighbourhood’s best patio, and as a graphic designer, I’m in love with their great branding and packaging (in fact the whole experience sprints away with the class prize for ‘most photogenic’).

nadege patisserie toronto cakes pastries macarons marshmallows chocolate artisan

We were pretty close to Nadège when we lived in Toronto so it became almost a daily ritual to walk (or push the stroller, as was often the case) through Trinity Bellwoods Park and then sit for a coffee and a little treat.

Now, every time we visit the city, I try to sneak in a visit.  Morgan and Nadège have become friends and are some of the nicest, most hard-working people I know.  They’ve rightfully received a ton of press and the shop is a total zoo on the weekends but, whenever we go it still feels like a little taste of our old home.  Sigh.  A chic-er and tastier and more decadent home, yes, but that’s a concept I can live with.


Macarons in all flavours: cassis, rose, salted caramel, matcha green tea…



And, my favourite shopgirl, Vanessa.  Please don’t ever leave.

nadege patisserie artisan alphabet chocolate bars


Nadège Patisserie is located at 780 Queen Street West in Toronto, Canada. They also have a second location in Rosedale at 1099 Yonge Street.