Local Design Shops That Answer the Call
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Looking for rare gifts and home accessories that you won't find at every big box store? Then Red Fox Kitsune is your next port of call. Directly across from Barrie's City Hall on Collier Street, this hidden little gem is the perfect afternoon browse following your Saturday morning visit to the Farmer's Market at Barrie City Hall.
Owner, Akiko Currie, who has a knack for finding the whimsical and the useful, seeks objets d'art for her design boutique that embellish your home and raise your entertaining game. Like the handmade serving dishes from award-winning Cambridge potter Nancy Hilborn that go happily from oven to table to dishwasher without a care. Or the rustic Chalet line of placemats and coasters made from cut branches that bring an earthy tone to your table. There are also spanking new vintage-styled bread boxes, an array of mysterious air plants that live in ethereal hanging terrariums, a slim minimalist Koncept standing lamp with an embedded USB port that charges your cell phone or iPad and a dizzying assortment of other goodies. Including the rolling Freedom Saddle ergonomic task stool from New York's Humanscale or the backpacks and totes from Baggu that originate from Brooklyn. “They just wear so well,” says sales clerk Kenzie Churchward, “Mine has lasted forever. They have a really cool design. I love the Baggus.”
“Right now what's really bringing them in the doors is the Chalk Paint,” says Currie, who has the distinction of being an accredited architect by trade. Red Fox Kitsune is the only local carrier of Annie's Sloan's coveted and trademarked Chalk Paint. Buyers from Huntsville and Muskoka come all the way just to get it.
Chalk paint is not to be confused with chalkboard paint. It's a specialty paint, most often used on furniture, that requires no prep before painting – hence the value to refinishers.  “We have a designer on staff who does workshops,” says Currie.
Take your time in this eclectic boutique and you will discover it's an embarrassment of riches. There are quilts and clocks, upcycled lamps, unique dining suites, birch candlesticks, children's Mini Toes (fanciful handmade leather shoes for babies), Fairy Tooth pouches, Plus Plus children's toys from Denmark, cribs, adult Brunelli bedding and the lovely Lotus Natural Living line of body sprays, scrubs and lotions from registered aromatherapist Denise Sutherland. But it's not all seriousness at Kitsune. Owners Currie and husband Keith wanted a little fun as well.
“There's a sense of humour in the store,” says Currie. “It's one of the things we wanted.” Kitsune may stock the serious photography of Julinda Morrow, but there is also a mirthful limited edition collection of art illustrations from the UK's Ashley Percival and crispy toast-shaped coasters for that Mimosa brunch. There's even a selection of humorous ‘get well' cards specifically for cancer patients, designed by a cancer survivor herself, who understands just the level of humour that is appropriate and appreciated.
“We like well-designed objects which can be anything from furniture to home décor,” says Currie. “They have to be unique and current. One-of-a-kind sort of things.”

Where: 63 Collier Street, Barrie 705-737-0373
Hours: Monday-Friday 10 am to 5:30 pm , Saturday 9:30 am to 4 pm


On the hunt for a Gurgle Pot – those enchanting fish-shaped pitchers that go “glug, glug, glug” as you pour?
Inhabit is where you'll find them. What about an orange leatherette recliner for that extra pop of colour in your family room? The Mendoza glider from Dutailer is available here as well. Got the winter blues? Then a soy candle from the P.F. Candle Company that smells just like freshly cut grass is your little bit of spring in the depths of the February freeze … it's all here waiting for you at Inhabit.
Yes, downtown Barrie is coming of age design-wise with the arrival of the trendy Inhabit on Dunlop Street. It's a one-stop shop for furnishings, lighting, art, linens, home accessories and even, believe it or not, kitchen cabinetry.
The 100-inch metal blimp hanging at the shop's entrance should be fair warning that you aren't in Kansas anymore. “I actually love it. It's a conversation piece,” says owner and designer Samantha Thomas, who moved her storefront of contemporary stylings from Bryne Drive to the downtown core 18 months ago.
“It's a different demographic here,” says Thomas, who believes this location was hungry for her kind of business. “I love being downtown.”
One of the reasons is the older structure the store is housed in. With it comes bare brick walls, exposed wood and wide plank flooring that is warm and inviting.
“For me, it's bringing the space together and creating that feeling that everyone wants in their home. I like a natural modern earthiness. I'm about finding the right pieces that suit the customers.”
With that mission in mind, Inhabit carries the trendy Gus Modern sofa line, Jaipur rugs and Annie Selke's wonderful Dash and Albert, Fresh American and Pine Comb Hill co-ordinated collection of textiles and floor coverings. In 2016, Thomas will also carry children's designer bedding and a crib line that switches to a toddler bed and then to a twin bed. “It's hard to find nice things,” says Thomas. “There's cheap and cheerful but I think ‘baby and designer' is fantastic.”
Design services, located in the rear of the store, is where you'll find stocked samples of Cambria Silestone and different finishes for cabinetry fronts. “I'm in business with North Shore Finishes,” says Thomas. “They specialize in stain and paint finishes for kitchens and cabinet doors. We do design/builds from scratch and refinishing.”
Thomas also believes in supporting local artists and has a large collection of items that reflect that commitment. “I'm always looking for things that are a little bit different so people don't have to go down to Toronto to shop,” she says. 
“I'm a big stickler about quality and presentation. You can't expect to sell a sofa every day. The small stuff is fun. Not intimidating.”
So here you will find effervescent bath bombs from the Canadian Bath Bomb Company. Just toss them in your tub and watch them sizzle while adding essential oils and scent to your daily soak. There are also handmade lotions and body butters from Wilderness Soap Company, Pendleton blankets and towels, Danica Studio shower curtains, throw cushions, and seaweed, avocado and coffee soaps. “The grinds are a really good exfoliant and what better aroma to wake up to,” says Ashley Mayer, part of the sales staff.
“My Nest candles are by far my favourite thing,” adds Thomas. “I'm a bit of a candle addict. They are soy based with a premium essential oil in them. They burn beautifully and smell amazing. Classic looking.”

Where: 120 Dunlop Street East, Barrie - 705-734-1212
Hours: Monday Closed - Tuesday-Friday 10 am – 7 pm - Saturday 10 am – 6 pm - Sunday 11 am – 5


Horseshoe Valley Trading has held to its roots with a wide-ranging collection of dry goods and home décor accessories. This is the spot where you can still find an oval braided rug for the kitchen or pick up a garden wind chime or those fun signs for the cottage. Elegant Lampes Berger from Paris that cleanse the air are found here, as are quality makeup mirrors, pretty toile tea towels, wine glass shades, teapots, trays and amusing children's clocks. And now, there's a specialty wellness room with yoga supplies, herbal specialty teas and Belle de Provence soaps.
The first floor is where you'll find their new interchangeable sterling silver Kameleon jewelry line and the clothing that is their biggest seller.
But it's worth the time to wander up to the second floor with a mouth full of creamy fudge to graze over the collection of handblown Friendship Balls, artful little hooks, placemats and nightlights or dip into the freezer to grab one of those homemade peach or tourtière pies from Laura's Luscious Desserts.
“We buy stuff that we believe in and we like,” says Laurin. “My staff is very honest and will put you in clothing that looks great on you.”

Where: 2093 Horseshoe Valley Road West (Just east of Highway 400 in Craighurst) Barrie - 705-739-5021
Hours: Open 7 Day A Week 10 am – 6 pm


The hottest Hollywood celebrities wear hip Mother Denim and Current/Elliot labels. You can too if you stop in at Catherine Staples' showroom at the Eagle Ridge Shopping Centre on Huronia between Mapleview and Big Bay Point.
“We've branched out into women's fashions,” says Staples, the undisputed local doyenne of interior design with three Best of Houzz Design awards for decorating in 2013, 2014 and 2015. “It's a destination shop, not just for fashion for the home but also for women.”
Sifting through the racks of designer garments, it's rapidly apparent comfort and style need not be in opposition. Fabulous down-filled coats with fur collars from SAM New York and upmarket casual wear from the Los Angeles-based Velvet collection by Graham and Spencer are just two of the designer labels Staples decided to carry in her Novuhl ladies' fashions section. “Quality is important to us,” says sales staffer Sarah Keith. “Making sure everything we bring in is consistent. We have really soft fabrics, whether cashmere, denim or faux fur. Cozy statement pieces you can dress up or down.  It's versatile.”
This “simple elegance” philosophy is the mandate of Staples' residential design business as well. “I design around functionality first,” she says. “Then I make it pretty.” Staples' showroom is chockablock with those high quality, “I must have that” furnishings that make you reach for the cheque book. An eye-catching Caracole chair with Bobbin stool in mahogany-legged finish scream ‘simple elegance.' Behind it, a black console with dual Yak horns and large horse print says, “we have money and style but we're not precious”. Pine Cone Hill and CR Laine upholstery fabrics line the wall awaiting your choices.
There are luxury specialty linen lines here like the Bella Notte collection, plush Portofino towels from Portugal, Graybill & Downs candles, Curations Limited slip-covered dining chairs, Hesperos Nesting Tables and a gorgeous white and beige Hide Nor Hair chair with brass arm tips that have a linen Logo honeybee pillow tossed casually across it.
“It's all dependent on the client,” says Staples. “There are so many elements in design. There seems to be a trend towards finishing basements right now.” Which may be why her Rafaello Putty slipcovered sofa is washable
In addition to the residential and commercial design work the Staples Design Group performs, dental and medical design is also in Staples' wheelhouse. It's a profession that runs in the family and this designer knows exactly the sort of amenities needed to run such a facility at optimum efficiency.

Where: 470 Huronia Road, Unit 2, Barrie - 705-721-8585
Hours:Showroom and Novuhl Clothing Monday-Wednesday 10 am – 5 pm Thursday and Friday 10 am – 6 pm Saturday 10 am – 4 pm Design Services Monday-Friday 9 am – 5 pm


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