Fool-Proof Hostess Gifts

Nothing says How nice to see you! or Thanks for a great weekend at the country house! better than a thoughtfully selected gift. But what to give to the hostess who already has the mostess? Not to worry. We’ve come up with a selection of home décor items sure to please the most discerning recipient.

Twigs & Moss Kicks Off Holiday Season

A favorite St. Louis resource for gifts and artful arrangements of preserved and artificial botanicals, Twigs & Moss is gearing up for a robust holiday season. The retailer will join other merchants on Clayton Row (the area on Clayton Road just west of Hanley), to kick off the holiday season with the annual Champagne Stroll, Nov. 18, from noon until 5 p.m. We asked owner Resito Pescon to provide a preview of what’s in store.

LN: What are you doing in the way of holiday décor this year?

RP: We continue to use magnolia, seeded eucalyptus leaves and pine cones--they’ve become classics for Twigs & Moss. But by far, the most popular holiday items for us are the twig spheres with lights. The grapevine spheres with white lights look wonderful on planters in front of any home during the holiday season.

LN: What’s the secret to your artful arrangements?

RP: I keep them very simple: one, two, maybe three components at most. The end result is clean and confident with great visual impact.

LN: Is there anything you avoid?

RP: I try never to use artificial botanicals pretending to be the real thing. The emphasis is on the design itself and the goal is not to fool anyone, but to create something that's pleasant to look at.

LN: What are the top design trends in your business right now?

RP: Vintage touches that provide warmth and a sense of history to a setting are strong. However, the look needs to be authentic, not just old. Picture a wooden sideboard inherited from your Belgian grandmother used as a table to hold a collection of vintage French transferware. It’s not about an old milk bucket from a resale shop that you're using as an umbrella holder. And although reclaimed items have been popular for a while now (how many times have you seen a railroad cart used as a coffee table?), this trend remains strong, especially when the reclaimed item has a real history behind it. 

LN: What design directions interest you most going forward?

RP: Two directions I hope to see more of are Dutch Colonial and Renaissance-inspired design. I always welcome anything based on classical forms. I'm seeing that baroque is a trend in fashion; hopefully, when it gets to the home, the translation will be less heavy and ornate. As for Dutch Colonial, I like the curves on the roof tops on the facades of row houses in Amsterdam. I will definitely find a way to translate this at Twigs & Moss.

How to Hire a Famous Designer

How many times have you fallen in love with a room on the pages of a magazine and wished you could hire the talent to design your home? Well, now you can. A growing number of high-profile designers are making it easy to connect with them via D-I-Y (do-it-yourself) online design services. The major benefit: confidence in doing business with a prestige brand that has a track record of happy clients. The downside: You need to be able to measure very accurately because they aren’t going to do it for you!

If your tastes lean toward clean, graphic looks, you may be interested in working with Tobi Fairley, whose signature style combines colorful, large-scale prints with classic furniture styles. Fairley’s design work has been featured on HGTV and on covers of House Beautiful and Traditional Home, which named her one of the Top 20 Young Designers in America. You can connect with Fairley through

Younger clients with more eclectic tastes may want to check out the work of Tamara Kaye-Honey, the Pasadena, Calif.-based designer and owner of House of Honey, which specializes in what she calls 'new vintage' style. You can get a taste of her chic, playful interiors and furniture designs, which have been featured in Traditional Home and 1st Dibs, at

But if you want to really high, then the one to call--errr, email--is Windsor Smith, the design talent behind What’s so special about Smith? Suffice to say that Veranda named its 2011 show house, The House of Windsor, after her. If you love old-school design, i.e. your idea of chic is an old library where men with names like Howard, Bing and Spencer sat in cashmere sweaters and contemplated the 13th hole on the Bel Air golf course, Windsor’s the designer for you.

According to Smith, “I am drawn to a simple, but elegant time when the women were so legendary that surnames weren't necessary... " But even if your first name isn’t Slim, Babe or Coco, Smith will design a room just for you.

CI Select Cuts a Rug at Grand Opening

CI Select recently celebrated the grand opening of its new 17,000-square-foot, to-the-trade showroom on Westline Industrial Drive in Maryland Heights with a 'rug-cutting ceremony' in lieu of the traditional ribbon-cutting. The new facility has a modern, open layout, showcasing the latest furniture, flooring and technology products. The space also more accurately reflects what the company does on a daily basis, which is help designers and their corporate clients define, design and deliver workspace solutions.

CI Select has been in business since 1985 and employs a staff of 65. During the past 27 years, the company has seen a number of different office design trends come and go. The biggest influences on work space design today? Topping the list are increased real estate costs, resulting in smaller work spaces, which have decreased from an average of 8x8-foot to 6x8-foot or even 6x6-foot, according to CI Select principal Claire Erker. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating system for the design, construction and operation of high-performance green building also has had a big impact on office design. For example, we were surprised to learn that the corner executive office is becoming a relic of the past, at least among companies that are adopting the latest thinking in corporate office design. The newest trend is to move executive offices to the center of the facility or eliminate them altogether to accommodate more employee work spaces on the building perimeter so they have the benefits of natural daylight, in accordance with LEEDs principles. Erker says there also is a trend to lower the height of cubicle panels to encourage collaboration among employees.

Bathroom Bling introduces Stopper Toppers

Does your bathroom sink need a little pick-me-up? Look no further than Bathroom Bling Stopper Toppers--decorative, waterproof and interchangeable disc-shaped laminates for sink stoppers. St. Louisan Ann Brannan came up with the idea for the decorative laminates 15 years ago as an MBA student, after moving back to the States following a five-year stint as an executive with Coca-Cola International.

Bathroom Bling Stopper Toppers come in 150 different designs, including monograms, sports, holiday, animal prints and kid’s themes, and make great stocking-stuffers and party favors. In addition to their decorative potential, they’re a great way to show support for a cause or promote a brand. "The 'Let’s Brush' and 'Pink Ribbon' designs are examples of how we are targeting companies (pediatric dentists) and nonprofits (breast cancer research),” Brannan says.

Speaking of nonprofits, Brannan says she is most proud of her partnership with Lafayette Industries, a St. Louis sheltered workshop that employs handicapped and special-needs adults, as well as handles Stopper Topper packaging and shipping. Brannan says she is thrilled to support the workshop’s mission, which is to provide meaningful, productive and long-lasting careers in the packaging industry to adults with developmental disabilities.

MKS Designs Debuts in Des Peres

MKS Designs Inc. has opened a store at 11684 Manchester Rd. in Des Peres. The new location follows the closure of the MKS Designs boutique in the Lamp and Lantern shopping center, where for the past nine years, Mary Stieven operated a 2,800-square-foot shop specializing in the John Richard furniture line. Stieven has downsized at the new location, which is about half the size of the old store, to showcase home accents and accessories, most notably preserved and artificial botanicals, which offer a more affordable way to freshen up interiors. Stieven and her daughter, Maggie, also are offering design services at the new location.


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