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Christmas gift guide

Some generally quite affordable nice interiors-ish things that I think would make great gifts... would love to hear what you think, if you got any of them, who you bought them for. Will no doubt be adding more shortly.

Who for Busy parents who'd appreciate an excuse not to display Auntie Dot's cat calendar this year; architecture students; style conscious entrepreneurs; organised eco bods
Where from The Peanut Vendor 
How much £12
What This no-nonsense wall planner measures 70cm x 100cm and is by Crispin Finn design studio – who apparently only design in red, white and blue. It's 100% recycled and comes beautifully packaged. A great stocking filler or chic Secret Santa.

Who for The chap – or chapess – who appreciates the finer things in life; the friend who throws slightly intimidating dinner parties in her/his uncluttered home; the cognac connoisseur; the friend who has everything
Where from  Bodie and Fou
How much £35
What These deliciously touchable brandy glasses by Normann Copenhagen are specifically designed to "enhance bouquet, temperature and volume" of the cognac, apparently.  If you're buying for someone with lady-sized hands – they also do a smaller version.

Who for Craft nuts; vintage sewing fans
Where from The OK Corral 
How much £5
What Totally loving this online shop right now. And this book would be a lovely, unique gift for crafty friends or relatives. Not only does it have a marvellously retro cover (it was first printed in 1978) but it is also wildly practical – with tips for knitting, sewing, crocheting and more (it even includes patterns). It's a one-off so no guarantee it'll still be there – but do browse the site's other vintage books,  or try eBay or if you have the patience to rummage, Oxfam Books online has some gems too.

MONEY BOX MULTI Ceramic Kids' money box

Who for  Children saving for a rainy day; grown-ups who'd like to look at a nice owl sitting on their mantlepiece
Where from  Habitat
How much £10
What It's from the kids' department – he's a moneybox – but this super cute retro styled owl would make just as lovely a present for a full sized people, in the ornament department. Thanks to cunning shopping friend, Holly, for this genius idea.

 * ONE-OFF *
Who for Anyone who's just moved house; a chap who doesn't mind getting his hands dirty; the guy with a new home and no clue what to do with it; a single gal (or co-habitee of the former) needing some DIY tips; a young man about to be unleashed into responsible life
Where from The OK Corral 
How much £5
What A thoughtful secondhand book – particularly of the non-fiction variety – can solve the trickiest gift conundrums. This 1913-20 bible of manly skills covers everything from polishing shoes to mixing your own paints. And it's a piece of history! A total bargain to boot. See above for links to some other places to shop around for more of the same.

Who for A man with a home office; a stylish bachelor; aspiring gentlemen; fans of spy novels; probably not someone working in a call centre or the armed forces, the police or at sea
Where from The Keep Calm Gallery
How much £15 unframed (try Eframe for affordable non-standard sized frames to order)
What This cool, manly poster features the nautical flag and Nato alphabets. It'd be perfect hung near a popular telephoning spot – for translating call centre interpretations of the spelling of one's name without hesitation. It measures 297cm x 420cm.

Who for Clean, serene design freaks; loveable hypochondriacs; a couple with a newborn and an sleekly designed nursery; chic eco warriors; the stylish in-laws; nature nuts; subscribers to Inhabitat 
Where from  Super-Collider store 
How much £129
What This is Andrea. She looks nice, doesn't she? As well as that, she also purifies your air – in the most natural way known to nature, by filtering toxins through her planty fronds and roots. Only she's a super pimped plant, with NASA research behind her creation – and French designer, Mattieu Lehanneur behind her sleek style. Super-Collider is a sexy science-y organisation that has lots more than gifts going on. Check it out.

Who for The sort of friend who might own a cake stand and drink tea out of proper cups; a no-nonsense kitchen whizz; parents who sit down to breakfast with their toast in a rack; owners of a country-style kitchen
Where from Labour & Wait (click on "all products")
How much £14
What This glass butter dish, made from an original 1950s mould, is a classic bit of design. It's lovely and almost transcends taste; a bit of a no-risk gift for any of the above and many more.

Who for A person in whose kitchen yellow won't clash; a mid-century modern loving friend/sister-in-law/mother; someone who happens to live in a town full of Northern European style townhouses like the ones on the tea towel, or is moving from the country to the town – that would be sweet
Where from Lisa Jones Studio
How much £10
What Love this "Town" tea towel and the way it looks like a chocolate box Swiss village, just waiting for snow to fall. It's 100% fairtrade organic cotton, too.

Who for Storage nerds; those with allotments; that person you know who has a whole cupboard full of bags for life they keep forgetting to take out
Where from Habitat 
How much £15
What Technically it's a bag. But I love the idea of it as the place you dump all that unsightly guff you walk through the door with (keys, bicycle lights, dog lead etc.) – and make it look beautiful. It'd work well by the front door or on a suitable kitchen or hall shelf, or on the stairs if they're wide enough. It'd also work as a magazine rack. And, of course a shopping bag...

Who for That person you know who's just done a first aid course; a parent with small children and a suitable bathroom; the gentleman cyclist who often needs his wheel wounds dressing
Where from Amazon
How much £21.98
What This tin first aid box (21cm x 15.5cm x 16cm) makes a sweet and unusual gift... however, if the colour-scheme of your intended recipient is all about beiges and creams, this might not be ideal – it'd work well in a house which embraces splashes of bold colour.
Who for Someone with a nice desk; anyone who likes Orla Kiely-ish/Scando/mid-century modern stylings; retro kitchen owners
Where from North Rock Gallery
How much £13.20 (for the smaller size)
What Designed by Lotta Odelius for Sagaform, this Swedish tinged ceramic container is probably intended for the kitchen but would look great on a design-y desk – perfect for paperclips, odd coins, Post-it notes of import etc. A row of three would look great.

Who for The Proud-to-be-British; ex-pats missing home; a chap who needs some wall filling but needs to keep it masculine; font nerds
Where from Bold & Noble
How much £38 unframed (it's a standard size, so no need for framers' shops: try Eframes or Ikea's Ribba range for affordability and niceness)
What They do maps in the same range of Australia, New Zealand, the USA and London too, so good gifts for anyone moving or travelling to any of those places soon or, indeed, living there. They measure 50cm x 70cm and also come in a duck-egg blue.

Who for Doggie types
Where from Quietly Eccentric at Not on the High Street
How much £40
What These cute cushions come in lots of different breeds – including non-breeds. The designs are printed onto new wool, fully machine washable covers and feature illustrations by the artist Lindsey Gardiner. They're kinda cute.

Who for Wildlife-loving children with bare bedroom chairs; the nephew you've also sponsored a panda for
Where from Lettie Belle
How much £25
What This cute-faced panda hand-stitched cushion measures 23cm x 28cm and is made from organic cotton, felt and leather

Who for The Hipster tween/teen in your life; fashion-forward photography fan
Where from The V & A Shop
How much £12.99
What The Street Style Memory Game features 25 pictures taken by the Flemish photographer, Barbara Iweins of hip young things on the streets of Amsterdam. The game requires players to match their faces with their outfits – or it can be played as a traditional memory game.

Who for Design-conscious in-laws; arty Grandpa or Grandma; husband; wife; colour-loving lover; glasses-wearing pals
Where from Supernice
How much £30
What A rather special glasses case designed by Jonathan Adler, who also makes rather glorious ceramics in the shape of birds and lions and angular faces  (and rugs and exciting books and all sorts) that are currently flying out of the gifts section of Heal's...

Who for Him indoors; the family; anyone with a silly sense of humour who likes a nice big mug of tea; fancy dress fans; the guy who loved Movember more than anyone expected
Where from Pedlars
How much £16.95 each
What Handsome half-pint sized mugs , designed by Peter Ibruegger, with your choice of moustache on the front. They're kind of silly but beautifully made (and so a pleasure to drink from) and would cheer up any kitchen. One or two would make nice stocking fillers, or splash out on a whole set for someone really silly who you really love.

Terence Conran:
The House Book

The House Book. By Terence Conran. First published in 1974. Absolute genius. 

I properly discovered this book (pictured above, in its 1982 incarnation) thanks to my deeply stylish (but she'd rather kill you than hear anyone saying that) neighbour, Emma.

I recently borrowed it from her and plan to treat myself to a secondhand Amazon version some time very soon. Why is it so brilliant? Well, quite apart from how fabulous it looks in all its glorious Seventies-ness - which you can see, here - it's full of the most marvellously practical advice about making one's home look lovely.

I only wish I'd had a copy to hand when I started the daunting process of re-doing my own home - so many decisions, such indecision...

[Conran's caption for the picture in the middle]: "If the floor is polished boards in the sitting room, you won't want to cover them except, perhaps with a long-pile white Greek rug, so 'project' the olive green from the landing on to walls or curtains." See? Utterly sensible advice (apart, perhaps, from the long-pile rug, but then again...)

[Conran on flooring]: "The ideal floor usually turns out to be more expensive than your budget allowed for. However, since your floor is expected to last for years and will get he hardest wear of any surface in the house, it is worth making sacrifices elsewhere and adding to your floor budget rather than making do with second-best. It helps to take a scale drawing of the floors before you decide on something, and work out the comparative costs."

[Conran on living rooms]: "The essence of a multi-purpose living-room is that it should be able to accommodate any number of activities, and each piece of furniture should make a positive contribution to this...The more potential uses you assign to any one piece of furniture the better; to over-furnish is the death to flexibility, quite apart from the claustrophobia it induces...bear in mind that the old three-piece-suite routine is the least flexible of the lot."

[Conran on kitchen lighting]: "Although the kitchen is primarily a work space it is also in many ways a living area, and the lighting, whether natural or artificial, should be efficient and stimulating. This means that although the work areas must be well lit... there should still be some variety in the light intensity."

[Conran on eating rooms - incidentally, as with the other sections, this has a luxurious 16 pages, packed with tips and luscious Seventies pictures]: "As in decorating every other room, what's best is what's most comfortable."

[Conran on colour]: "Working out a colour scheme for a whole house or flat is a daunting task...try tackling one room first to give yourself confidence...Consider the stuff for the important areas first - walls, curtains and sofa coverings will set the tone by virtue of their acreage."

[Conran in the 'Things' chapter - which, incidentally, has a spanking eight sections, including 'things on shelves', indoor plants' and 'tabletops and ledges' - amazing]: "Agreeable arrangements don't necessarily come up if you let the accumulation of objects take its natural course...When you no longer feel some positive pleasure while looking at your things, it's time to rearrange them."

Taxidermy chic from
the Peanut Vendor

I really am having a squirrel moment right now. And, as such, I find myself strangely drawn to this stuffed squirrel in a box, which measures W32 x D12 x H38.5 cm and costs £160, from the Peanut Vendor.

But back to the Peanut Vendor - they also have a fantastic range of Christmas gift ideas - from £12 upwards. I'll post up my favourite   stocking filler in a mo, along with some other goodies from elsewhere. When I was growing up, my mum had a Victorian taxidermic pike in a box that I sort of hated, but found transfixing. Having just spotted one going for £850 on eBay, I'm wondering what she did with it...

Kate Moross and co. at Outline Editions (yep, more affordable art)

...just some of the exciting fresh names in illustration currently gracing the walls of the new Outline Editions pop-up gallery/online shop for graphic artists.

I went to the wildlife-themed launch of the new pop-up in Soho last week - where I fell in love with this insane-could-be-menacing print (top) by the artist, Claire Scully (£85 for an A4, limited edition print).

She explained her inspiration for the work came from the urban surrounds of the house in London that she grew up in. Like me, she loves the city she grew up in and sees nature amid the concrete, brutalist architecture - and loves the contrast. Her sister, she said, is a furniture designer, and made her a series of bird feeders in the shape of the local tower blocks to hang in the garden and by the windows - they were seized upon by the squirrels. She used the scenes she observed from her bedroom window to inspire this - among other - works.

As some readers may know, I'm having a few squirrel issues. Love them scampering through the garden, with its tower block backdrop; don't love them living in my roof and galloping and gnawing into my dreams. Somehow this image captures my ambivalent relationship with them.

Check out some of the other interesting, fresh talent in the online shop, or at the gallery (or below) – open until 31 Jan.

Secret sample sales!

... and because you're very special people, I'll let you into a secret or two. There are some spectacular interiors-y sample sales going on in London in the next few weeks. Where do you hear about them? Stick with me, Kid. (In the meantime, click on the link above if you haven't already.)

Affordable designer gifts

I do a lot of online window shopping at some of my favourite stores - Aram, SCP and Donna Wilson... but the prices (especially for compulsive shoppers like me, who can't leave with just one thing) can make your eyes hurt a bit.

So hurrah for Christmas - when accessories suddenly come to the fore. Check out some of these affordable goodies from swish shops.
Regular readers may have clocked my mild owl obsession... so I couldn't resist including this tea towel from the delightful Donna Wilson. Just £11 - and one of a whole wedge of lovelies for under £20 on her webstore.

I love a good map. And have seen a few of them by the stylish Future Mapping Company about, usually framed and in shop windows and more money than I can justify spending on something I probably don't need. SCP is selling unframed versions of this Dayglow World Map for just £20. Yes, yes, it's the framing that costs... enter my next new discovery: Eframe. This online frame ordering store may not provide bespoke designer action (and my brother and sister-in-law, who run a very swanky framing store in Sydney would be horrified) but the selection is pretty damn good (I recently bought a couple of simple, solid black Nielsons), very affordable - and the customer service is spectacular.

I'm also totally smitten with this early 1950s Bitossi ceramic sausage dog, £29.99. He measures 24cm high, and is also from SCP
Finally - these beautiful Bauhaus miniatures, designed by Jonathan Hopp, come from Aram Store*. They're pretty diddy - just 5-10cm high, but perfectly formed and, at just £29.50 each, the perfect gift for the architecture nerd in your life. 
*nb, Aram Store's online shop has yet to open for business, until then it's all about some old-fashioned face-to-face service, at the shop, which has been just behind the Strand in London since the 1970s - but it's worth the outing as it is a truly a place of wonder and also has a gallery on the top floor.