Holiday Gifting Ideas

With Christmas around the corner and so many holiday parties to attend, here’s a list of home goods that make fantastic little gifts.

Tree Ornaments & Baubles

I love adding to my friends’ trees with beautiful trimmings. This is a great gift idea because it’s sentimental, relatively inexpensive, and easy to buy a dozen, so all of your friends receive different ones.

For high quality decorations in a range of prices in the US, check out Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman. The go-to destinations for Christmas décor in the UK are certainly Harrod’s and Liberty.

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Neiman Marcus
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Neiman Marcus
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Photo: http://www.bowerpowerblog.com

Organizers

Small organizers always come in handy and they’re generally items that everyone appreciates but never want to buy for themselves. These are all great options for dumping keys, change, jewelry, cufflinks and other small trinkets.

smythson-displaySmythson Leather Organizers come in the shape of trays, cases, and leather envelopes. They’re artfully hand-crafted and any host would be pleased to receive one of these items (starting at $200/£165).

organic-pearl-nova-square-platterThis metal platter from Beatriz Ball also makes a statement and can be used in an entry way for keys or as a small serving platter ($84/£68).
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Waterford has a perfect gift friendly size crystal bowl with Lismore’s iconic cut crystal. This makes a beautiful present and the receiver will love the yellow hued gift box that is finished with gold accents and padding to protect the bowl ($74/£50).

 

salt-pepperSalt & Pepper Shakers

Salt & pepper shakers also make fun gifts! They come in many shapes, so you’re bound to find a set that suits everyone. Take for example this Apple & Pear shaker set from New York based silver company Godinger ($35/£28) and these festive pinecones from L’Objet available at Amara ($475/£385).

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Candles

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Candles are always a safe bet and easy to buy in bulk for neighbours, teachers, colleagues, and friends. For the holiday season, I recommend Jo Malone Pine & Eucalyptus limited edition Christmas scent ($65/£42) and Nest Fragrances Holiday Collection ($40/£35).

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Avoiding Those Tug O’ War Nights

Anyone who has shared a bed with a partner has undoubtedly experienced a moment when they’ve found themselves without any linens or covers to keep them warm and cozy. We all know that dreadful feeling when we look over at our loved ones and notice they have fully wrapped themselves into the duvet like a pig in a blanket, leaving you to fend for yourself. You contemplate prying the duvet off your partner, potentially offering a swift kick to the back in hopes they’ll roll over, or you consider a move to the sofa where you may find another quilt and a few more hours of shut eye. Let’s consider some other popular options, so you can avoid starting WW3 with your companion.

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  1. Scandi-Style: Two Duvets, One Bed – this method allows both parties to have their own duvet and removes the argument/battle factor all together. The Scandis are clearly the non-confrontational type and this really does solve the problem! Bed buddies can share a mattress but still have their own cocoons. One must simply master the overlaying of the duvets for morning cuddles and try to avoid gaps where cool bedroom air might enter the nest. It takes practice! For those of us who obsess over what a made bed looks like, consider a throw or blanket at the bottom of the bed like the tan one pictured above or the orange one below to complete the look.dbf67e3cb3408ef54854441a441f4677
  2. King Duvet on Queen Bed – This method decreases the chances that you’ll end up without any bit of the duvet, due to its obscenely large size. However, if your partner is particularly skilled at “sausaging”, they may be able to successfully wrap themselves entirely within it. The trick with this method is to grab hold early and chances are your partner will settle down with a good two-thirds of it, leaving you with at least enough duvet to cover your slice of the bed. Your bed will look plush, lush and incredibly luxurious with the overflowing fabric draped over it. In order to balance out the heaviness of the larger duvet, be sure to have a few big pillows on the bed to balance it out.
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  3. Flat Sheet and Duvet – Many Americans prefer this style of bedding and the flat sheet helps keep the duvet from slipping around throughout the night. Adding a simple flat sheet adds traction and not to mention aesthetic appeal to the bed. This means you have a completed bed look and functionality. You won’t have to clean the duvet cover as often, and the fitted and flat sheet are much easier to manage. It’s not the best solution to the tug o’ war, but it certainly will reduce the ability of your partner to ball up in the duvet. It’s worth a shot!586491_2_o

Any other ideas? How about going back in time to separate beds?! Feel free to share your ideas in the comments section below.

Some of My Favorite Bedding Brands Available in the US

Several readers have asked about my recommendations for bed and table linens and I’ve finally put some thought into it. I have had to narrow down my favorite brands in the US, the UK, and in France, as many are not available globally and mattresses differ in size across the globe. Please keep in mind that my definition of luxury centers around quality and craftsmanship. I have tried to focus on niche companies that have the best interest of their consumers, their employees, and our planet at heart. There are countless brands to choose from, but I hope my reviews will help narrow down the options as you create your perfect nest.

This post will focus on luxury linen brands available in the US. Please note a few of these brands will create bespoke linens and ship internationally. I will follow up with a post on UK brands in the weeks to come. Promise!

Léron

duet-ming-sheeting_collection_add219b1-9fab-49a7-8470-d70edd0e417a_largeLéron offers a small line of beautifully hand embroidered linens for the bed, bath, and table and also has a bespoke department. There’s custom and then there is Léron custom: everything is tailored to the individual and the level of personalized care and attention to detail is evident in their business philosophy.

Schweitzer Linens

riga_angelicaIf you are a born and bred New Yorker, there is a good chance you’ve heard of Schweitzer. The company has stores scattered around the Upper East and Upper West side as well as a catalog and website. Schweitzer delivers excellent quality and gorgeous detail at an affordable price. The linens are soft, durable, and will stand the test of of time. The company also offers a variety of throws, blankets, baby and children’s bedding, as well as fabric available by the yard.

Matouk

marsalis_bedEveryone loves Matouk for their fresh and modern interpretation of classic fine linens. The all-American company based out of Massachusetts produces beautiful bed sets as well and towels, gifts and home accessories. The brand stands for sustainable practices and delivers exceptional quality and design at a great price.

Leontine Linens

54c138eb9f37d_-_hbx-leontine-linens-1-57022814This New Orleans based brand has a cult following and is a favorite for all those who love monogramming. The company offers great designs but also has countless monogramming styles from which to choose. Bright colors, modern fonts, bold curly cues, it’s all here. With so many options to choose from, you’re bound to find exactly what you want for your home.

Peacock Alley

la-femme_ensembleThis Texas based brand has been around for nearly 40 years and delivers high quality fabric sourced from around the world and sewn in Dallas. The vision for the founder’s family-run, locally based company has not changed: Make and sell bedding and bath linens that are simple, beautiful, and impeccably crafted. Mary Ella Gabler understands the importance of detail and elements of craftsmanship. This boutique company is definitely one to know.

Boll & Branch

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Though the blog is designed to focus on luxury linens with elements of high quality craftsmanship, I understand some readers may be looking for more affordable options. Boll & Branch gets my stamp of approval because of their commitment to fair trade, sustainable practices, and quality textiles.

Do you have a favorite brand that I haven’t listed? Please feel free to share in the comments section.

Monaco Yacht Show 2016

The Monaco Yacht Show brought 125 super yachts, 40 luxury tenders, 580 exhibitors from 38 countries and nearly 40,000 visitors to Port Hercules in Monte Carlo over four days (Sept 28-Oct 1). The event was a huge success with a great turnout and even better parties. Exhibitors included yacht manufacturers and brokers, architects, and of course interior designers and luxury products for the yachting world.

Though I did get to spend some time exploring the super yachts, most of my visit was spent inside the exhibition tent chatting with interior design pros and reviewing (read: drooling over) stunning display stands of one-of-a-kind furniture, art, and home accessories.

valombreuseValombreuse stood out as the highest quality linens I’ve seen on the market. This Paris maison prides itself of providing 100% hand embroidered products, from complete bed sets to unbelievably constructed tablecloths and placemats. The level of craftsmanship was truly exceptional. The company has a showroom on the Champs Elysées and is available to visit by appointment.val2val1

fullsizerender-7Frette’s stand also had magnificent nautical colors on display and found creative ways of highlighting their bespoke service through beautiful sketches and illustrations of previous projects.

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Luxury superyachts and sailboats sit in the harbor as the sun rises during the Monaco Yacht Show (MYS) in Port Hercules, Monaco, on Thursday, Sept. 29, 2016. Over 125 of the world's most luxurious yachts will be displayed in Port Hercules during the 26th MYS which runs from Sept. 28 – Oct. 1. Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

A Day At Decorex International 2016

I had the pleasure of attending Decorex International 2016 on Wednesday September 21st and did I have a blast! The four-day event enables access to some of the best designers and manufactures in the world and was a true display of craftsmanship, creativity, and beauty.

Many of this year’s designers built unique display stands with gorgeous installations and it was great fun to walk around and experience so many different spaces.

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My personal favourite was The Sofa & Chair Companys installation that mimicked a luxury flat complete with bar area, dining space, living room, and master bedroom. The display was perfectly curated by the company’s team of interior designers and merchandising experts, who did a wonderful job of showcasing innovative products inspired by the latest design trends in this season’s neutral and serene colour palette of blue, gray, beige, black and elements of gold.

As they so well illustrate, what city flats lack in size can be made up for with high-impact style choices: bold and unique furniture pieces, a great colour palette, and textured décor can transform a small space!

img_1361Next, I spent some time admiring Heirlooms‘ fine linens. This English brand began manufacturing linens in their workshops in West Sussex in 1984. The company combines the finest materials and traditional craftsmanship to create linens of exceptional quality and lasting beauty. Heirlooms designs for the luxury consumers’ every need at sea, on shore, and in flight. I fell in love with a few beautiful safari themed nursery items and table linens that would work perfectly as a place setting for dinner on board a fabulous yacht.

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Lastly, I loved learning about the high quality textiles available for made to measure curtains, blinds, and bespoke upholstery at Prêt À Vivre. The company is London based and offers a nationwide measuring and fitting service as well as personalized guidance throughout the process. Prêt À Vivre has a huge range of exclusively sourced fabrics and offers a wide range of colours and prints. They also teamed up with French company Toile de Mayenne to supply their beautiful fabrics in the UK.

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I enjoyed a glass of bubbly at the 1508 London designed Champagne Bar, attended a LuxDeco sponsored panel discussion with Maurizio Pellizzoni, Matthew Jones, and Nicole Kluk about how the different areas of the creative community work together to produce bespoke spaces, and met with many company founders and creative directors. It was a packed schedule, but it was highly informative and fun! I even got to play with some English Sheep called “Exmoor Horns” brought to Decorex by the Campaign for Wool and I cuddled with a Springer Spaniel named Charlie.

img_0899Decorex also works to support a few organizations, take a moment to check out their websites and learn about the good they are doing: Goodweave and Fine Cell Work.

Next stop, the Monaco Yacht Show!

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Defining Luxury & Luxury Home Goods

Having studied the luxury industry and become an expert in the field of luxury home goods, it is valuable to open this blog with a conversation on the definition of luxury and luxury home goods.

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The term and concept of luxury was once easy to define but it has taken on different meanings over time. Today, the meaning of the term luxury has become diluted and has taken on many forms due to its democratization. The question “What is luxury?” can be answered in countless ways. The responses are relative to personal beliefs and are closely linked to one’s socio-economic status and culture. More importantly, what constitutes luxury for one, may not be luxury for another. Ultimately, luxury is an experience which is unique to each individual.

The luxury industry is primarily focused on creating needs that consumers do not know exist. Luxury products are not necessities; they are personal pleasures and the majority of luxury purchases are inspired by more than a need. One may need a car for transportation purposes, but one does not need that car to be a Ferrari in order to get from point A to point B. This argument frames luxury in a specific and unique way and allows us to define it in a somewhat metaphorical sense.

The role of luxury is to sell dreams. As Jean-Noel Kapferer, one of the great experts in the field explains, “Luxury evokes the notion of rarity and of access to the privileged life.” Therefore, luxury is largely concentrated on creating products that tap the emotional side of consumers. In order to do that, luxury brands focus on long-term value, rather than becoming a bestseller.

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I define luxury home products as those which have been created with the utmost respect for the material, craftsman, and customer. These products highlight an individual’s skill and ability to work with their hands to create fine and delicate products that are available in limited quantities. These products are generally created with rare materials such as antique lace, high quality, durable and expensive cotton, and are finished by the hand of a highly skilled artisan who shares an appreciation for the product.

This blog will focus on highlighting luxury home products and showcasing them in their purest forms. We will review products, discuss hot topics in the industry, and talk about all things related to bedding, towels, and tableware. Welcome to the world of Anne France Home!