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Have you discovered the 1st Dibs Photo Archive yet? What an amazing resource. It’s a gallery of photos from some of the most accomplished interiors photographers in the world (including the likes of Tim Street-Porter and Paul Costello). But the best part is that you can click on any photo and ‘shop the look’ with a wide selection of pieces from 1st Dibs that are similar to those in the photo.

For example, remember this room in Domino (RIP) magazine?

Turquoise+bedroom+wallpaper+Domino

And here’s the accompanying 1st Dibs shopping list:

Because the photographers featured are world-class, you’ll recognize many of the photos from your favorite upscale shelter magazines. If, like me, you couldn’t get enough of Ellen Pompeo’s house in Elle Decor, for example, you’ll love this:

Here’s Pompeo’s living room, shot by Tim Street-Porter:

Ellen+pompeo+livingroom+elle+decor

And now the 1st Dibs version:

Ellen+pompeo+inspired+living+room

Of course, the catch is that all this 1st Dibs wondrousness obviously comes with a 1st Dibs price tag to match. So, even if you find everything you need to create your own celebrity living room, you still need to figure out how to pay for it! But, one step at a time, eh?

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This is the picture that started it all. A minor obsession with symmetry, that is. There’s something about the symmetry of the exposed rafters, the shutters, matching consoles and round mirrors that speaks to me. It’s cool, calm and collected – an effect that’s further enhanced by the all-white palette. Complete order and I love it.

Symmetry has been used in design for millennia, and it’s still one of the easiest ways to pull a room together. But, as a technique, it’s suffered a bit of bad rap because it can look so formulaic and characterless. So, I decided to look into what makes a successful symmetrical arrangement. How do you apply symmetry without killing the personality and warmth of a space?

This room pretty much sums it up: There’s symmetry in the architecture (paired windows) and in the way the chairs and pillows are arranged. But there are also elements that hint at symmetry but are somehow ‘off’ – like the three irregularly-grouped but similar urn-shaped vases on the mantelpiece. Then the striking rug, blue walls and mock antlers lift the space out of the sphere of the ordinary.

This living room, from Ellen Pompeo’s house as featured in Elle Decor, is much more understated. But the symmetrical arrangement is given a focal point in the form of an oversize moorish-style mirror. A single statement piece at the center of your symmetrical set-up can change the look from predictable to powerful.

Another technique is to use offbeat pieces to create your symmetry. Just one of these cane sofas would be eye-catching enough, but using two against a relatively simple backdrop is truly dramatic.

Here the symmetry of the room’s architecture is subtley drawn out with the use of two unusual red chairs in an otherwise neutral scheme. There’s actually no other symmetry in this room – the chairs are enough to create a sense of order.

Twin beds naturally invite a symmetrical arrangement. Unusual shapes and a strong monochromatic palette keep things interesting.

Sometimes symmetry can be found in the smallest details. These symmetrical shelves are a sweet way to ensure a sense of order in the kitchen without creating a wall of uniform cabinets.

So what do you think of symmetry? Design by numbers or a perfect balance?

Credits:

1 – Delight by Design; 2 – House Beautiful;  3 – Elle Decor; 4 – Canadian House and Home; 5 – House Beautiful; 6 – Canadian House and Home; 7 – Canadian House and Home

The design discoveries and dilemmas of a Brit in San Francisco as she turns a house into a home.
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