I have scoured the seven seas–or a seven block area awash in the cold, dark days of December, keeping its eyes peeled for swanky, cheerful or just plain unexpected gifts to please the Hill home-body. Here’s what we have — feel free to add more. This list is just meant to open the door to Home gift ideas.
1. Let’s start with a house itself. Who wouldn’t want a baby mansion with a pristine brick and iron facade and a colored-glass transom for a bargain basement (that’s where the kitchen is) price of $587,000? The lucky recipient then gets to choose all new kitchen, bath, lighting, living room, bedroom, staircase, fireplace, backyard, wallpaper, fixtures, floors and hopefully, a new soap dish, because the interior is hanging by a thread to its former beauty. This diamond-in-the-very-rough was described by John Smith, the listing agent at Prudential, as “rustic,”with its ancient Victorian wallpaper curlicues and plaster bits and paint and holes — all sharing the same wall. All that’s left of the former occupants are a half bar of soap in an old yellowing tiny, tub. But a developer with Hill experience says it has room for a bump out, while still maintaining a yard and a two-car garage. #1113 Independence Ave., SE, headlines the Home gift guide.
Once you have the renovations done, whether at #1113 or elsewhere, or even if you haven’t, gifts 2 through 10 are sure to please once the basics of plumbing, water and electricity and large appliance are met.
2. How about giving the gift of being greeted with a lovely flower arrangement in one’s entryway? Can’t arrange? Can’t water? Can’t manage? Just take a pot or ceramic container or any container you think your friend will fancy –perhaps temporarily stealing one of her or his own– and bring it to the oasis known as Surroundings, located across from Lincoln Park. Charles or Francisco will make a custom arrangement for you. Charles tells me he can make an arrangement for all budgets, and adorn your sad old vase with everything from lively flowers, ferns, Christmas-themed evergreens. Surroundings magic is at your service.
3. The scene is set. Take a seat. The felt stool in the shape of an asterisk and greeting your hips at an angle gets you sitting up ramrod straight and feeling aligned and very fine. Item: Asterisk chair/stool red felt, stuffed, $579. Shorter version $550. Designed by Roscoe Jackson. At Homebody on Barracks Row.
4. Pull out an end table for the wine and cheese. So what if it swivels and twists–it will be level in the places that count. Item: monkey pod Twist end table or stool or bedside table, $264 and monkey pod Keyhole stool with keyhole post design, $245, at Homebody. Made in Philippines, with other monkey pod wood items.
5. Comfortable? Good, now pull out the cheeseboard. Not just any cheeseboard, but a white marble one, with walnut finishes and two cheese knives inserted into the marble. Tambourine cheese board, by Umbra’s U + studio line, $110 at Homebody.
6. Winter sun setting? You’ll need a lamp. My favorite is an iroko (teak) lamp with a gride-shaped pedestal with a matching wooden shade with mica panels. available at the Eastern Market flea market and crafted by artisan Patrick Roberts of Designs for Living, who sells there with his family on Sundays. It’s 29″ tall and has a 3-way 100 watt switch, and works well with many of our Arts and Crafts style living rooms here. They are calling it the “Festa” lamp, no kidding, since I have bought two and had Patrick design it for me. It is also available in oak, cherry, walnut, maple and stains such as dark cherry, Mission finish, wenge, espresso, and mocha. The shade is of matching wood with mica panels. The floor lamp is 59 inches high. Table lamps about $260, floor lamps about $350 in this style. At Designs for Living. (And no, I do not own, nor could I, everything on this list. Could I? Would I?)
7. Finish off the wine and cheese offerings with some winter fruits presented to your favorite neighboring family in modern, spare fruit bowls of steel and air. Fruit bowls by three companies: Blomus $17.95; Black + Blum; $45.95 for Fruit Loop model and $35 for Atomic swirl, and the British Columbia’s Torre and Tagus, with prices from $26 to $42. Available at Homebody.
8. Desserts and yuletide cakes may be presented at your leisure on or in bright handmade flower-themed platters, bowls and ramekins by Mustardseed and Moonshine, out of Cape Town, South Africa. Delicate pastels and poinsettia-reds run riot on the shelves of The Forecast. The high-fired earthenware is dishwasher and microwave safe. Prices range from $35 for a ramekin to $205 for a large platter, so check in at The Forecast to find a pairing or grouping that suits your favorite hostess’es display shelves. And the gift-wrapping at The Forecast rates among the best in the area. They could make a ball of wax look good (and do, when wrapping a hand poured candle packed with scented flowers or fruit, by Rosy Rings, which donates 15% of profits to animal and environmental charities, and provides jobs for developmentally disabled adults.) Rosy Ring candles range from $38 for a 4×4 candle to $92 for a 9 x 6 candle.
9. All ready to make trimming a tree or decorating a tabletop part of a gift? There are options galore on the Hill for unique and precious ornaments, from Czechloslovakian glass at Homebody to sturdy paper mache eggs and multi-sized ornamental balls for sale at the flea market on weekends from Neema Rosner. The brightly-designed balls, ranging from $7 to $16, are made in the Himalayan Valley of Kashmir. The beautiful baubles can also be placed in any old bowl or better yet, a graceful piece fired by Hill sculptors like Audrey down at Eastern Market Pottery, located in the basement of the Market and open weekends. The Forecast also has insanely off-kilter and lovely collection of ornaments representing the” 12 Days of Christmas” by Patience Brewster. Six geese a-laying in a tuft of white feather, or 10 delicately positioned pipers piping…irresistable, on a string-but not a shoe string budget. Patience Brewster ornaments range from $28 for the smallest animal ornament to $55 for one of the “12 Days.”
10. Ah, well having such a fun time, the oven just got delivered. Is there a better way to wrap a present for it than by looping a cookie cutter in the shape of your friend’s homestate — (and it likely isn’t D.C., is it?) — though the ribbon? Hill’s Kitchen has every state in stock except Hawaii, its website warns. I had to include that, thinking either Obama bought them all or the birthers are using them for some citizenship protest. Yes, Virginia, there is a Virginia, but sorry, Obama, there is no Hawaii. Since my cookie party is over, Hill’s Kitchen happily has a host of classes on tap that would make great holiday gifts, finally, hint, hint. To reserve a space in a cooking class, please email events[at]hillskitchen[dot]com with information about which class your true love is interested in (or sorely needs), and contact information.