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2013/11/01 / Shanan


Well hello there.  I’m making some changes to the site today, the most significant of which is that I will no longer be an “I” – but a “we.”  One is the loneliest number, so please give a warm Symmetric welcome (that’s a shy hug and an eye-roll, for the uninitiated) to my friend Gillian Sopinka.

The Leo to my Pisces, the Jagger to my Bowie, the Betty to my Megan.  I felt an instant kinship with Gillian when we met last year, and since starting to work together, she’s been the source of, oh, about 94% of the pee-your-pants-with-laughter moments in my life.  I thought it a fitting introduction to feature her inviting, relaxed (yet always suspiciously tidy) country home in Creemore, Ontario as the next instalment in the ‘Natural Habitat’ series.

Gillian and her husband Steve have been married for eight years (eloping atop Mount Royal in Montreal when they were expecting their first daughter, Yarrow), and now have a second little girl, Frida, who is almost three.  Here she talks about her family’s daily life, collected vintage treasures, and um, a pretty incredible birth story involving their bathroom floor.

“Steve is an architect, and works from a studio on our property. I am a social worker by profession, and have been working in the counselling and mental health field for ten years. As I approach the big 4-0 I felt an undeniable pull to start exploring some of my other interests/passions: vintage (I love the hunt…), wardrobe, interiors, photography and the desire to create something special and unique….Enter Shanan, stage left.”

Creemore kitchen renovation

“We live in a red brick Victorian house, built in 1885.  Steve designed and renovated the kitchen to retain the character and charm of the home, while making it feel lighter, more open and functional.

We are early risers. This started when we became parents (oh, the special and cruel torture that is sleep deprivation) and now I am a full stop morning person.  Steve and I both have some flexibility in our schedules, so we have breakfast and coffee together every day as a family. This hasn’t always been the case and I think we’ve both really come to value the ‘unstructured’ time that we share as a family.”


“Okay, so this deserves a ‘before & after.’ Honestly, this was the sketchiest space in our pre-renovated house. We’re talking Silence of the Lambs. When Steve described his vision of re-purposing the space into a functional pantry, I honestly didn’t think it was going to work. We focused the narrow space around the maple workstand Steve handmade for our first apartment; it’s been everywhere with us since. The shelving above is functional for storage and also home to some of our quirky stuff – mismatched ceramic spice holders, a fondue set from a flea market in Reykjavik, and my grandmother’s flour sifter.”


“Our fridge door is the one space I adore clutter and chaos.  Home to field-trip forms, postcards, photographs, and our wedding portrait.”



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2013/10/07 / Shanan


It’s Monday!  Or, it’s Mun-dayyyyyy….Hopefully I can soften the blow?

Today I am proudly offering up The Symmetric’s second feature in the ‘Natural Habitat’ series (you can see the very first one here).  Leticia Luna is this brilliantly laid-back cool girl with out-there yet impeccable taste. Brutally honest, generous, secretly sentimental, hilarious, independent.  Leticia has been kind of a lifeline to me over the last couple of years and for that I count myself extremely lucky (even if it sometimes takes her two weeks to return a phone-call, xx).

She was born into a big family in Brasilia, Brazil, had a wild raver adolescence, then went to art school and became a graphic designer.  She and her husband moved to Toronto in 2005; for the past six years Leticia has worked at Concrete Design Communications where she focuses on fashion and cosmetics branding for the likes of Holt Renfrew, Perricone, and Bite Beauty.  Leticia gave birth to her son, Nico, in April of 2011.  Earlier this year, she separated from her husband and they currently share custody of Nico.

Leticia is the real deal and here she opens up a little about homesickness, being a working mother, and keeping things spontaneous.

Trinity Bellwoods townhouse

“Nico and I share a three-storey/three-tiny-bedroom townhouse with a rooftop terrace that is perfect for the two of us; so actually not all that much has changed from before the separation.”

dining room

This hanging lamp is from my grandmother’s house. I remember admiring it as a child. When she passed, I specifically asked to keep it. The poster is my favourite design by Nico’s dad. The picture is of an iconic staircase in the University of Brasilia where we both studied.

I tend to be spontaneous and slightly out of control, so I pretty much follow no routine.

The days I have Nico, I pick him up from daycare and if we feel like, we go to the playground before heading home to have dinner. Sometimes I cook, sometimes I order pizza, sometimes we eat out. We play, watch cartoons and movies, draw, read and chill together. We end up going to bed somewhere between 9-10pm. Sometimes I fall asleep with him, sometimes I take a few hours of downtime to myself.

The days I don’t have Nico are completely random. I will either work late, go for a drink or dinner, watch tv, do my nails, have a friend over or spend countless hours on my iPhone.”



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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