-- blankets and throws. I hate being cold, especially at home. Keeping a pile of blankets and small throws will allow for personal climate control, for both guests and yourself. Whether hosting movie nights or unexpected guests, I love offering a few comfortable, cozy options.
Made in the USA by Pendleton Woolen Mill in honor of Rainier National Park, this 100% virgin wool blanket is inspired by heritage frontier blankets. This style of blanket, characterized by the stripes at either end, was used during the 18th and 19th centuries as a commodity in the fur trade. Renowned for its quality in keeping cold and rain at bay, trappers in the Pacific Northwest created garments out of these blankets. Each stripe correlates to a value, originally in beaver pelts, that signifies the thickness and quality of the wool. Woven in Pendleton, Oregon for the past century, these distinctive blankets are a cold-weather staple built to offer years of use. US$249 at Filson.
-- home fragrance. Your home shouldn't be overpowering, with aroma oozing out of every nook and cranny. However, your home should smell pleasant, with a light fragrance that's distinct and welcoming. I use a myriad of devices - candles, wall plug-ins, sprays, diffusers, and solid perfumes. Find a scent that you love, and incorporate it throughout your own space. After all, it's your house - if you love it, that's all that matters.
Several years ago, I purchased a gorgeous metal Pomander from L'Occitane en Provence. The small, globe shaped sphere had a small latch on the top, and when opened, revealed four decorative chambers for solid perfumes. The opened chambers would allow for air to waft gently, revealing the perfect amount of fragrance. Unfortunately, L'Occitane doesn't offer this anymore, or refills for that matter. (Good thing I stocked up on solid perfume refills when I did!)
I always seem to love the fragrances from Nest, Dyptique, Santa Maria Novella, and Agraria. They all offer products packaged beautifully, with fragrances that are crisp, without being clouded by fillers and artificial ingredients. Prices vary.
The innovators at Philips have brought one of the coolest home accessories I've seen in a long time in the form of a lighting solution called Hue. One part energy efficiency, one part futuristic living, one part awesome, Philips Hue is your personal wireless lighting system that combines brilliant and energy-efficient LED light with intuitive technology. Together, the light, the bridge and the smart controls not only create ambiance, bring movies to life, optimize energy, and enhance sleep quality, but are simple, easy to use, and maximize the possibilities. Turn on more than the lights; turn on your imagination, with Hue. (prices vary)
-- a well equipped kitchen. I love cooking. Some people eat to live; I live to eat. Whether cooking for yourself or an army, you always want a well equipped kitchen. Tools should be in the right place, without having to reach too far, dig too deep, or risk a limb when locating those out-of-reach items. One of my favorite cooking tools is a Dutch oven. I have a few different sizes (from teeny tiny to almost-absurdly massive) and shapes (either round or oval), from both Le Creuset and Staub.
If you don't already have a Dutch oven, I'm loving the very manageable sized offered by Le Creuset and Product Red. 10% of the suggested retail price from every item in the (Le Creuset) RED Special Edition Collection will go to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS. The wide and shallow shape of this oval oven allows for effectively searing and browning meats before slowly cooking to perfection. A greater surface area is ideal for reducing sauces and evaporating excess liquid. This kitchen classic enhances the cooking process by evenly distributing heat and locking in the optimal amount of moisture. With ergonomic handles and an advanced interior enamel that resists chipping and cleans easily, Le Creuset’s Dutch ovens blend the best of the past with the latest innovations in comfort and functionality.
-- snacks. Food is very important to me, so I love keeping unique, moderately healthy options on hand that don't take much time to prepare. Think of things you'd put on a beautiful platter for antipasti - olives, pickles, nuts, cheeses, dried fruits, hummus, salumi, and any other goodies that strike your fancy. I like to have something salty, sweet, tart, crunchy, gooey, and savory - just a bite or two of each category. One of my favorite snacks, especially when I'm in a hurry, is roasted nuts. I'm loving the satisfying, fun flavors offered by Kernel Desires, all handmade and in small batches. From the spicy Chipotle Chile Almonds to the decadently sinful Praline Pecans to the addicting Smoky Herb Almonds and Pecans, I can't get enough. They also make lovely hostess gifts and stocking stuffers.
-- cleanliness is godliness. What better way to guarantee a clean home by employing the People Against Dirty: Method Home. Beautiful products, with fabulous fragrances, that are tough on dirt and gentle on the environment, without costing an arm, a leg, or your firstborn child. If there's a surface to be cleaned - from head to toe, ceiling to floor, Method makes a product just for it.
Speaking of clean and effortless, I love the new Miele RX1 Scout Robotic vacuum, US$599. If you're not familiar with Miele, imagine the home division of Mercedes or BMW. The products are incredibly designed, with beauty and engineering at top priority. If you have hard floors like tile or wood, or have pesky pets, this is definitely the product for you. Features include:
• Smart Navigation by Miele features a ceiling camera, gyro sensor and innovative software
• Improved Triple Cleaning System for 34% more dust pick-up performance
• New Chevron style brush roll, two Front brushes, new Side brush dust strippers, and new Sealing lip
• 4 Cleaning Modes for a more thorough clean
-- Think ahead for maximum comfort, for you and your guests. No one wants to sit in wet clothes, so I love the idea of keeping an umbrella stand stocked with a few umbrellas, just in case the weather is anything less than merry and bright. Crate & Barrel offers the beautiful Kensington, for US$139. The tall cylinder casts a graphic modern silhouette that makes a stunning first impression, with umbrellas or without, in entryway or mudroom. Handwoven into a casual grid, broad bands of iron are worked in the round and given a warm antique brass finish. If you know you're going to host parties with many guests, or with people you might not see again, I recommend buying a few inexpensive umbrellas either from Target, online, or anywhere else that stocks decent quality and inexpensive products.For those who you trust, or for yourself, try something more durable, like the British brand Fulton.
-- Prepare for unexpected overnight guests. I keep a small supply of small soaps, toothbrushes, toothpaste, and an assortment of sample sized toiletries and such.
Your home should be a haven. It's your physical space to create the mental and emotional universe you so desire. Whether you seek inspiration, relaxation, comfort, or any other feeling, make the most of what you have. What products and solutions do you love for your home?
"The home should be the treasure chest of living." -- Le Corbusier.