I am currently in the process of getting divorced. After living in a furnished unit for two years with my life in storage, I finally moved into my new apartment, which is my first solo living experience in over twenty years. I still haven’t been reunited with all my things, so I had to furnish my new place from top to bottom. While I have always put a premium on design and have been a collector of great pieces of art and furniture, being away from my things for so long only made me realize the importance of me expressing my style through design even more.
With that said, here are eight brands I brought into my space that have completely elevated the aesthetic of my home. Each of them has made my home more inviting and the colors and textures I chose added texture and depth to my all-white canvas of an apartment.
I am always on the hunt for fragrance for the home, whether that be a room spray or candle. I was recently introduced to NETTE candles and am now a huge fan of the company. Carol Han, who launched the brand in 2020 describes NETTE as a “luxury fragrance and lifestyle brand with a focus on helping our community Take Good Care™ with products they can really trust and relax into. We do this through innovation, radical transparency, clean formulations, and sustainability.”
NETTE candles are quite different when compared to other candle brands. “For example, instead of using the typical spray-painted, machine-made glass candle vessels that most brands use, we have all our vessels handmade by artisans to be food-safe, dishwasher-safe, and microwave-safe so they can be collected as coffee mugs and drinking vessels after the candle is done. We also work with the top perfumers in the world, people who normally only work on fine fragrance, to develop each of our scents using precious ingredients that people normally wouldn’t find in candles,” Han explains. “Orris, for example, is known to be one of the most expensive fragrance ingredients in the world and you wouldn’t normally put it in a candle. It’s usually reserved for perfume, but you can find it in Pearl Dust. We also use a lot of up cycled ingredients—our rose in Gallica Rose is all upcycled.”
Furthermore, all of NETTE’s fragrances are formulated to be both Credo-clean and Sephora-clean. “There’s a long list of ingredients we don’t use on our site, which we are still adding to. We are constantly evaluating ingredients and formulations to be as safe and clean as possible, as it can be an evolving target.” Han gets the Inspiration for the fragrances from many sources, but the majority are related to places and memories. “For example, our newest release, The Magician, really reminds me of a night out on the Upper East Side in the fall—one of those grand, classic restaurants followed by a show in a theatre with lots of moody lighting and a sense of the unexpected.” I have to say that The Magician scent is one of my favorites.
Han is a firm believer that fragrance is an important design element in every home because it has a real impact on the brain and our emotions. “It’s an invisible element that is one of the most evocative things for people.” She goes on to share that the brand will be releasing a new fragrance category in 2023 based on technology the brand developed.
Some of my best sleep is when I travel. So, I can’t think of a better upgrade to my home than getting the same sheets luxury hotels use for their bedding suppliers. Enter FluffCo, which was launched in 2020 when one of the founders (who want remains anonymous) had the best night of their sleep at a 5-star hotel and tried to buy the same pillow for their home. It was the astounding price tag of $200 that was the ah-hah moment to offer consumers the same bedding and pillows at a more accessible price. Since then, the trio have built a $2 million business and have sold out of their core pillows five times.
Hotel pillows are different from the pillows bought in stores. They have a specific pillow-in-pillow construction, and higher grade of materials. Through a supplier-direct partnership, they were able to re-invent the classic “hotel pillow” in both Down & Feather and Down Alternative models. It’s not that the FluffCo pillow is made any cheaper. They’ve simply cut the retail price tag in half and reduced the profit margin. With the success, FluffCo is now building out a catalog of other hotel-inspired products, including Hotel Sheets, Room Fragrances and Hotel Slippers. They’ve also already launched a line of comforters, as well as a Hotel Robe and Hotel Towel.
I love my FluffCo products. They are well constructed and wash very well. Another aspect I like about the company is that they are community focused. They donate all of their product returns to local shelters near their headquarters in California. Bedding is notoriously a high-waste category since you can’t resell a used pillow. So, most brands simply throw away their returns rather than upcycle them. To date, FluffCo has donated over 1,000 pillows, and counting.
I love cooking. But what I realized living in a furnished apartment for several years using someone else’s cookware, was the difference that cooking with quality pots and pans makes. I came across the Instagram favorite cookware brand, Caraway and knew I wanted to have these for myself.
“Caraway is a home goods brand on a mission to thoughtfully raise the standards of what you bring into your home by creating non-toxic, design-forward and eco-friendly home goods and kitchenware,” shares Jordan Nathan, Caraway Founder and CEO. The brand launched in 2019 with their signature pots and pans and have since expanded into bakeware, linens, and a tea kettle.
As soon as you get your hands on the pots and pans, you know they are quality. They have the sturdiness of cast iron but offer incredibly easy cleanability of traditional non-stick pans. “Not only are our designs worthy of being on display, but the construction of each product is different from other brands on the market. Every one of our products is made without any toxic materials, such as PFAs, PTFE, and PFOA. Additionally, unlike other ceramic-coated pans, Caraway’s products have a naturally slick surface that makes cooking and cleaning easy,” Nathan tells me.
Since food is usually the centerpiece around most gatherings, choosing quality cookware is important investment. Not only does Caraway’s cookware make cooking simple, but it is also an important design element as well. “We believe that cookware is meant to compliment any kitchen and can be a key piece to elevating your home, whether you prefer a pop of color or a more neutral aesthetic,” continues Nathan. The brand has some new retail partnerships and products on the horizon, which I am excited to see. I think my next purchase will be the bakeware since I am ready to venture into making baked goods in the future.
Rugs are one of those design elements that make (or break) a room. When I decided to go with a Moroccan rug to bring some rich color to my space, I landed on choosing one from Revival, a global rug and home décor destination that aims to simplify the customer experience.
“We operate in-country, so our buyers and designers live in Istanbul, Casablanca and Delhi and work with makers there, or travel to visit artisans and collectors in different cities,” Ben Hyman, CEO and Co-Founder of Revival tells me of what makes his online destination different from other brands. “These close relationships grant us access to quality pieces for fair prices that we get to pass along to the consumer. We’re thoughtful when it comes to product, and sustainably minded, because in today’s world you have to be. We focus on recyclable materials a lot.”
I opted for a one-of-a-kind vintage Moroccan rug that has shades of magenta, orange, raspberry, green, and black woven into its two-inch pile. It is the most colorful rug I have ever owned, and it has completely brought life to my all-white interior. “We have a very rigorous intake process which requires close inspection of all the rugs. We curate pieces that are made with integrity that we know our customers like,” shares Hyman on how they curate their vintage offerings. “Our vintage Moroccan and Turkish rugs range in age from 20 to 80 years old. We also carry lightly used rugs – 5 to 10 years old – that don’t qualify as vintage but possess similar beauty.”
Hyman explains to me that it is the traditional materials used and construction methods that make these rugs stand the test of time. “They’re hand-woven or hand-knotted with wool, and sometimes cotton. These techniques were very time-consuming, but reliable. The natural fibers the weavers used possess a similar longevity. The rugs aren’t hard to care for, but they do require a slightly different type of care. For instance, shaking them out on the porch with a friend and then leaving them to sundry is the ideal way to take care of them—but in lieu of this, you can also just vacuum without a beater bar.”
When it comes to rugs making a space, Hyman tells me, “The rug makes the room, really. It’s almost like the fifth wall, but one that you touch more, as you walk across it. As much as walls and paint are the backdrop for a room, so is a rug: it becomes an instrument of relation, connecting the couch to the coffee table. A room with a good rug is so inviting.” I couldn’t agree more.
Like rugs (or other textiles), art can bring life to a wall and add cohesion with other design elements in the space where it hangs. Like my other design choices, I am picky. I either gravitate towards photography (usually black and whites) or prints that contemporary. Since I didn’t want what everyone else has on their walls, I chose a piece of art for my bedroom from Tappan Collective, a contemporary online art destination that brings very limited print editions to consumers.
“Tappan launched in 2012 with a unique vision to connect leading emerging artists to new and seasoned collectors across the world, while supporting artists to fully explore and evolve their practice. In essence, to bring art back into common conversation, not only by selling art in a new way, but by creating a new paradigm for art patronage in the modern world,” Neiman Nassib, Founder of Tappan Collective tells me. “The curated aesthetic of Tappan has drawn a legion of devoted collectors who value a concise edit of leading art.”
So, what is different about buying art from Tappan? “Tappan reinvents the approach to discovering and collecting contemporary art. Going beyond the traditional art paradigm, Tappan showcases exceptional emerging and established talent through digital content, dynamic projects and strategic partnerships,” shares Nassib. “The majority of our works are originals or extremely limited editions. You can truly trust the selection at Tappan.” Since choosing art can get a little overwhelming, Tappan also offers an “Art Style Quiz” for those who aren’t sure what their aesthetic is and then curates art that fits your taste.
Tappan works with a select group of artists from around the world. “We look for artists with an established practice, a history of showing, a unique hand, often a MA in fine arts, and the intangibles that tell us they fit on the Tappan roster. We also listen to our collectors and designers if they are looking for specific types of art, artists from particular parts of the world, and more,” explains Nassib. “Art strikes the balance between aesthetic and inspiration. At Tappan, we highlight beauty through people, thought and art. We love the concept of our artist’s works not finishing a space, but actually being the focal point of the design.” I couldn’t agree more.
I have never lived high in the sky until I moved to my current building. I live on the 37th floor. The biggest issue I have with being so far away from the Earth, is that I am far away from greenery. So, I couldn’t imagine a better investment than a large tree, which isn’t easy to find since big trees are hard to ship. But when I came across Bloomscape, an online garden center that offers a huge selection of varying sized plants, including giant plants that are roughly 6-feet tall, I had to get one.
In addition to plants, Bloomscape, which launched in 2018, also provides consumers plant care suggestions. “People are definitely using plants to help design a room and bring a space together,” Bloomscape’s gardening expert, Lindsay Pangborn Lindsay tells me. “Since 2020, with people spending more time within their own homes, there’s been an increase in plants being incorporated into consumers’ lives thanks to the many wellness benefits they provide. From a decor perspective, plants are a great way to add dimension, color, and life to spaces. Houseplants are a natural way to bring the outdoors in, a design trend that’s being expressed with earth tones, raw unfinished materials, and natural textures like wood grain or jute.
I was completely skeptical hat the plant would arrive unharmed, but surprisingly, it did. “Bloomscape’s unique packaging is made from recycled materials, holding plants and pots securely in place so they get to you safely. The full-grown plant is shipped ready-to-go in an eco-friendly pot with proper drainage, which encourages proper watering without the fear of root rot. Though it’s rare, damage can happen in transit, so all Bloomscape plants are guaranteed to arrive in good health and for 30 days after delivery,” explains Pangborn.
Below are some of Pangborn’s top tips for keeping any house plants looking healthy:
· One of the most important tips Bloomscape advises its plant parents with to keep plants healthy is around watering. Plants generally can’t be watered on a routine, and there are many factors that can affect how much water a plant really needs, such as humidity, lighting, seasonal changes, and more. Two ways to check if your plants are in need of watering are:
· The touch test: check the soil’s moisture levels by pressing your finger into the soil. For Bloomscape’s tree-sized plants, using a wooden skewer can be a good alternative. If there is moisture in the soil of large pots, the wood will darken in color to indicate how far down the soil is still wet. For most houseplants, it’s best to water the plant when the soil volume is 50-75% dry.
· Texture of leaves: Most plant leaves will droop when they are in need of a good watering session. For plants with thicker leaves like sansevieria or jade, look for slight wrinkling to indicate soil that’s too dry.
· When watering, it’s important for all plants to have a drainage hole in their pot to make sure excess water is able to escape the pot. Luckily, Bloomscape plants are all planted into a pot with drainage, plus a matching saucer to protect your floors and furniture! Without drainage, plants are at risk of excess water suffocating the roots and causing rot.
· Another way to keep plants healthy is to make sure you are choosing plants suited to the lighting conditions in your space. A general rule of thumb is to keep plants that enjoy direct sunlight by south-facing windows, plants that enjoy bright, indirect light by west and east-facing windows, and plants that enjoy lower light by north-facing windows. If you have few windows or north-facing windows, you’ll want to choose a low-light tolerant plant like a ZZ plant or sansevieria.
· During times of active growth, which usually means the spring and summer months, you’ll want to fertilize your potted plants regularly with a balanced houseplant fertilizer. Plants quickly use up nutrients within potting soil and replenishing those nutrients with fertilizer ensures your plant can maintain its lush, full look!
If you are looking for a home décor destination that partners with artisans around the world that puts a premium on setting new standards in the industry specifically with transparency and social responsibility, then The Citizenry is a must.
“We launched the brand in August of 2014, so we recently celebrated our eight-year anniversary. It’s been a wild ride, with lots of challenges and exciting milestones along the way,” shares Carly Nance, Co-Founder of The Citizenry. “In the spring of this year, we officially became a member of the World Fair Trade Organization, holding the position of the largest U.S. home decor retailer to have its complete product line made with a guaranteed Fair-Trade process.”
Third-party vetting was essential to ensure the brand sold products that met a certain set of standards. “To become a member of the World Fair Trade Organization, all of our artisan partners underwent an extensive audit that encompassed all countries, categories, and origins,” continues Nance. “This audit process involved several factors including fair wages and payment, safe and healthy working conditions, no child or forced labor, commitment to capacity building and future growth, commitment to no discrimination, gender equity & women’s economic empowerment, and freedom of association.”
Since I love the entire ritual of bathing, I wanted to get some new organic towels and a bath for my new place. “Our bath textiles from Turkey are certified organic by the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS) and are certified by OEKO-TEX® standards, meaning they’re made without any harmful chemicals. Each towel, robe, and bathmat is woven in the Aegean Region of Turkey using the finest long-staple, organic cotton,” Nance tells me. “From farm to fiber, we have partnered with a family-run cotton mill who ensures that every single step of the process is done in the most sustainable way possible and is rooted in centuries of Turkish cotton and weaving traditions. In addition to the sustainability of these fabrics, our textiles and decor are made at premium quality and stand the test of time.”
While I haven’t received my items yet, my friend who turned me onto the brand (and whose opinion I trust) says these are some of the best towels they have ever owned. I am looking forward to their arrival.
Venus et Fleur
I love having fresh flowers around. The problem is that they don’t last very long, and they can get expensive to constantly replace. One of my favorite flower brands is Venus et Fleur. I was gifted my first experience with the brand almost over 4 years ago and my flowers are still going strong. So, if you like fresh flowers in your space, but are looking for staying power, Venus et Fleur offers a large array of designs at varying price points.
The brand was launched in 2015 by husband-and-wife duo, Sunny and Seema Chadha. “Sunny sent me a bouquet for Valentine’s Day. The quality of the flowers I received were so poor for the hefty price tag and I felt like there was a lack of reliability within the floral industry. That was what inspired us to take matters into our own hands and we quickly realized there was a gap in the marketplace for a floral destination that provides high-quality, long-lasting florals that can be sent to loved ones near or far,” Seema tells me. “It was less than 6 months into our relationship when Venus et Fleur was founded. As a brand, our goal is to give people the opportunity for their expression of love to come to life through our arrangements and products.”
Most of the brand’s flowers are sourced from Ecuador, where the climate and soil are ideal and where each rose is carefully cultivated. When I ask Seema if she can share how the brand has extended the life of flowers so long, she responds, “We are able to keep our flowers at peak freshness by rehydrating and injecting them with a wax-based, hypoallergenic, non-toxic solution that stunts their growth but keeps their soft texture and shape. The can be dyed any Pantone color and hold their natural form, texture, and scent.”
She goes on to tell me how flowers are such a strong statement piece when it comes to designing an interior space. “They are scientifically proven in numerous studies to have positive effects on mood. They have the ability to change the vibe of a space no matter if the space is of a minimal or maximal aesthetic.” While you don’t really need to do much to flowers once they are in your home, Seema did suggest an occasional dusting. “With our eternity flowers, care is minimal. The dehydration process ensures that our flowers are preserved at peak beauty, and water is not needed to keep them that way. Keep them out of direct sunlight and lightly dust from time to time because as with anything that stays in one place for months on end, dust can settle. You will enjoy these for a year or more, we are certain. “
I love my new bouquet. I can’t wait to see how long this one lasts!