Soft Spoken: Soft Surroundings Blog


From A to ZZZZZ, why skimping on sleep can have serious consequences for your health & beauty.


Beauty Sleep
A sleep deficit can do more than just make you yawn all day, it can take a toll on your mind, body and beauty. And we’re not just talking puffy eyes and dark circles. While you were sleeping, your body was hard at work repairing and restoring on a cellular level. A lack of sleep can make skin age faster with a drop in growth hormone and an increase in the stress hormone cortisol, leading to slack, lackluster skin.

Brain Drain
Too little sleep can also create a mental haze and foggy focus. Sleep-starved brains function more slowly and have difficulty with comprehension and retention. During sleep, your brain catalogs your memories into short term and long term events. Without sufficient sleep, your memory becomes a blur. Logical reasoning, judgment and problem solving become difficult to manage after a sleepless night. Even routine tasks can seem too complex.


Slower Reflexes
Create a sleep debt and you can bank on impaired reaction time. Many tasks require a sharp, alert mind but none are as important as driving. When you pPair slower reflexes with a hazy lack of focus and it becomes clear that getting behind the wheel when you’re sleepy can be just as dangerous as driving drunk. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that sleep-related crashes are often serious because there is no attempt to slow down. Feeling super drowsy? Be safe and let someone else chauffeur you home.

Health Woes
Beyond the cognitive effects of insomnia, there are also a host of other health issues that can arise from skipping your ZZZZs. Heart health is negatively impacted by sleep loss with a greater risk of heart disease and heart attacks. Poor sleep can lead to sluggish digestion and obesity as the body’s internal “full tummy” switch begins to work erratically. Lack of sleep has also been implicated in migraines, diabetes and even stroke risk. Climb in bed at a reasonable hour and let your body do its head-to-toe recharge.


Mood Swings
Depression and anxiety can become looped in a vicious cycle with lack of sleep, where one condition exacerbates the other. Melatonin and serotonin, the neurotransmitters responsible for our best restorative sleep, are also crucial for a healthy, relaxed state of mind. Eliminating stress and focusing on mindful expression like yoga or meditating can often help restore balance.

Good Night, Sleep Right
If you feel excessively drowsy during the day or fall asleep the instant your head hits the pillow, you’re not getting enough sleep at night. To find your own bedded bliss, it’s important to start with a good bedtime routine with consistent sleep/wake times. Keep your bedroom a cool 60-67˚ for the most restorative, deepest sleep. Banish brain-stimulating electronics (smartphones, tablets, computers and tvs) from your bedroom. Clear your mind well ahead of bedtime so your body can fully unwind. Jot down your to-dos so they don’t trouble you overnight. Steer clear of sleep-disrupting caffeine and alcohol. If these tips don’t help and you’re still struggling, be sure to see a doctor to rule out a sleep disorder.


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From Cindy:
I want to create the table my guest will never forget this upcoming holiday season. Any tips?

From Soft Surroundings:
Yes! Yes! And yes! Think along the same lines as layering your bed—you want to intrigue the eye with various textures, materials and also heights. Start with a simple linen tablecloth; add napkins to contribute pattern or color, and then add etched glass hurricanes and groupings of candlesticks, crystal, and silver. Don’t forget to splash in a few antiqued brass, whitewashed or iron touches like our pretty partying Francesca Bust. The play of textures and layers of height and depth are surprisingly easy to create and they leave a lasting impression on guests. Hope this has helped, Cindy, and enjoy your holidays!

From Janice:
My rooms have high, vaulted ceilings. Are there any techniques to keeping a room with this much height cozy and intimate?

From Soft Surroundings:
It’s not that difficult to make a large room feel intimate, (or a small room feel spacious—but that’s another question!). Much of it has to do with tone and texture. And layering, of course. Big rooms with high vaulted ceilings become intimate when dressed in a warm neutral color palette and comfortable textures. Think about furnishing the room with subtle cream or French grey linen covered couches, furry or fuzzy throws and ruffled or fringed pillows. Choose lamps with linen shades, plenty of plants and wall décor like vintage oil or watercolor paintings, or French blue plates and platters. And don’t be afraid to decorate the walls all the way to the ceilings—you’ll show off your architecture and keep it looking like a real home all at the same time. Thanks for the question Janice!

From Denise:
I’m so tired of the trite and traditional red-and-green holiday decorations. What can I do to change things up a bit?

From Soft Surroundings:
Think Hans Christian Anderson: snowy landscapes, nature, the twinkle of starlight, the authentic magic of the season. And we have plenty of ideas to achieve that! Look through our website or latest catalog for silver, antiqued brass, ivory or gilt items like our Antique Mercury Glass Boxes or our Bella Box Collection. Place them on the mantel, in the powder room, in and amongst crystal candlesticks, preserved boxwood spheres or wreaths. Drape a velvet swag in a rich French grey, deep blue or woodsy taupe. Your décor will thrill, and it will look perfect from Thanksgiving through the New Year. Enjoy your holidays too, Denise!


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The key to a cozy winter bed is layering. That’s what makes a bed inviting and comfortable as the nights grow longer and the temperature dips.

Layering is a process and it involves some of the things you’d expect, like bed skirts, fitted and flat sheets, quilting, throws and shams. But it also includes some techniques and ideas that might be new to you—and spark inspiration.

First, it’s best to start with a traditional foundation on your bed. Our Toile de Jouy quilted bedding is a classic French example. Toile is a pastoral-printed textile, originating in France in the mid-18th century but it’s still used to elegantly cue that provincial country look today. We translated the chinoiserie motif into a soothing shade of grey, setting just the right stage for your bedding sanctuary.

Toile de Jouy quilting will look crisp and tempting on your bed all year long because it truly is a seasonless design. Could that be the reason the French have loved it for centuries? Absolutement!

Next, layer on some textural variation. Mix and match the cotton toile quilting with other fabrics like velvet and silk.

Our Alexa Velvet Shams are a perfect choice, not just because they’re the most sophisticated and luxurious cotton velvet we’ve every touched, but because of the richness of the color and the quality of the details. The shams have linen covered buttons on the back.

Add the lustrous look and polished feeling of silk next, and you’ve begun to layer your bed with depth and dimension.

Our opulent Pont d’Arc quilt and shams will bring a subtle sheen and the fancy finish of a French double-lattice motif into play. This rich silk compliments and counterbalances the toile and velvet so well, your bed feels as magnificent as it looks.

Next, throw! Toss! Have fun! Some of our favorite ways to do just that are adding fur pillows, and nubby knit throws. They are delicious to curl up in on that first ultra-chilly night—and every crisp morning after that!

Now, don’t forget that all of the things around your bed are part of the stage—and part of the layering process too.

Would a romantic headboard with hand-carved grooves, leaves and flowers bring it all together? Of course! So be sure to check out our Cote de Beaune Panel. Its workmanship is unequaled and it coordinates effortlessly with the romance of the Toile de Jouy ensemble.

Don’t forget to include rustic wicker baskets next to your bed to hold throws, pillows and essential odds and ends. They will be functional and add textural dimension for the eye to enjoy.

Lastly, velvet or linen drapes, reflective mirrors and ornate bedside lamps with linen lampshades all add to the layered milieu and make a winter bed and bedroom so hard to step away from!

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As the brisk cold breezes arrive, your skin may be feeling extra sensitive and dry. But is it truly dry skin or is your skin just dehydrated?


Dry vs. Dehydrated
Well-hydrated, balanced skin has a certain radiant glow and dewy youthfulness. Skin appears brighter, more firm and less lined. But what if your skin is feeling more parched than perfect lately? Dry skin is common when the weather cools, the humidity drops and the moisture-sapping heater kicks on, but how do you know if you have classically dry skin or just a short-lived bout of dehydration? The answer lies in what’s causing the dryness.


Dry Skin
True dry skin is a skin type often caused by genetic influences, not just a temporary issue. Dry skin usually feels taut and flaky, no matter the season. Dry skin has a different structure with smaller oil-producing sebaceous glands and fewer moisture-binding, protective lipids. As we age, once-balanced skin (and hair) can become dry due to a drop in sebum production, your body’s own natural hydrating oil. Hormonal fluctuations and thyroid imbalances can also cause a dry skin change.


Dehydrated Skin
All skin types can suffer from dehydration. Yes, even oily skin can grapple with periods of dehydration. Usually more fleeting, dehydrated skin is an easily treatable condition influenced by environmental factors like sun and wind exposure, indoor heating and cooling, smoking, certain medications and insufficient water intake.


Treating Dry Skin
Because dry skin doesn’t produce enough moisturizing oils, it’s important to find highly-emollient products to fortify your skin’s oil reserves and plump up the volume on your natural moisture barrier. Look for heavier creams with an oil base like Jojoba, Coconut or Sesame or even Shea Butter for rich hydration. Humectants like lipids, ceramides and Hyaluronic Acid are also great to bolster the protective shield on skin and seal in the moisture.


Restoring Dehydrated Skin
For dehydrated skin, the focus is less on oils and more on restoring hydration, preferably with water-based lotions. Humectants are also good for dehydrated skin because they attract moisture from the atmosphere without breakout-causing oil. Look for non-comedogenic lotions with Glycerin, Hyaluronic Acid or Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs). AHAs are great because they not only lock in moisture, but they also slough away skin-dulling debris that can clog pores.


Beneficial for Both
Some lifestyle changes can ease the dry times and help transform your skin into beautiful and glowing, whether it’s dry or dehydrated. Sleeping with a humidifier is a wonderfully easy way to boost your moisture and wake looking more refreshed. Keep your shower short and sweet and dial down the heat so you don’t impede your moisture mission. Immediately moisturize while your skin is still damp.


Internal Hydration
Drinking your 8 a day, eight 8 oz. glasses of water, is more crucial than ever. That glass of H2O hydrates every cell in your body, including your skin, improving the tone and elasticity. Slip a sunny slice of lemon in your water for better digestion and detox. Add water-rich fruits and vegetables like cucumbers, tomatoes, apples, oranges, melons and berries. The bonus is that many of these are antioxidants that help neutralize free radical damage. Omega-3 rich fish and nuts like salmon, mackerel, tuna, flaxseed and walnuts help support your body’s natural oil production, boosting elasticity and clarity.


What to Avoid
Not all liquids are created equal. Caffeine-laden drinks and alcoholic cocktails are fine in moderation, but can sap your skin’s moisture. And when washing your skin, be sure to use gentle, non-foaming cleansers so you don’t strip away your natural hydration. Protecting your skin from Mother Nature is also important. Sunscreen is vital, no matter what the season is. As the chill sets in, why not go undercover with a chic hat, scarf and gloves? Your skin will thank you for it.


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Global References: As the fashion world, literally, becomes closer knit, global influences in fashion become stronger every season. From the gorgeous florals and fabric1geometric patterns of Japanese kimonos, to dazzling beadwork and embroidery from Morocco, accents of global style will give your fall wardrobe an intriguing, worldly feel.

Plaid: We’re more mad for plaid than ever! While plaid has always been a go-to for fall, this season it has opened up into palida delightful array of new and sophisticated designs with colors ranging from the classic tartan palette to vivid jewel tones.

Oversized: Cozy, oversized knits are being celebrated this season — and why not? Infinitely comfortable simpleand flattering — and very chic when layered with the right pieces — the oversized look is incredibly versatile and feels wonderfully delicious in cashmere and soft cotton.

Antique Rug & Blanket Patterns: With folkloric and global trends strong this season, it’s only natural that inspiration in the form of antique textiles would emerge. paisleyThis trend takes cues from the intricate designs of Native American and Persian textiles and Victorian paisleys, creating striking pattern-work, as well as incredible depth of texture.

Fringe: No longer relegated to mere trim on handbags, fringe has come into thefinge3 spotlight this season. A playful and flirty accent that adds free-flowing movement to whatever it adorns, it looks fantastic on accessories and boots or full out in a Gatsby-inspired skirt or dress.

folk2Folkloric: Fall’s trend towards wandering florals, relaxed silhouettes and eclectic accents also finds its footing in folkloric patterns.The folkloric look adds an artistic,whimsical feel to the season, giving simple tops a uniquely feminine feel or becoming the centerpiece of an outfit in intricate embroidery.

Shades of Grey: Grey is anything but ho-hum this season. In tones ranging from luminous silver to mysterious charcoal, grey can be found everywhere, serving as greythe foundation on which to play textures and tones and pops of color. There’s never been a better time to ‘go grey’!

Renaissance & Baroque: This classic trend continues to be strong — and for good reason, as it epitomizes the romantic feel of the fall and winter months. Swirling designs, ornate goldjacketflourishes and gold edging along lush fabrics like velvets and brocades create a sense of delicious drama.

Fur: We’ve made fur decidedly — and fabulously — faux. The ultimate luxury fabric, nothing staves off the cold like this deliciously soft experience. This season you’ll see it trimmed on coats and sweaters, fashioned into scarves and throws, and lining boots andfur gloves — as well as offered in a wild array of colors.


*Click here to Browse all of Soft Surroundings’ Trending Looks! 


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Fall is here again, and that means it’s time to bring out the leggings and boots! As supremely comfortable as jeans and a t-shirt, leggings and boots have become a wardrobe staple. With the right layers and accessories, this look can go from casual to effortlessly chic.

The beauty of this season is that really, anything goes when it comes to pairing leggings and boots. Styles are delightfully mixed to create eclectic, romantic and edgy accents. You’ll find a multitude of figure-flattering options if you stick to a few basic rules:

Leggings are more body conscious and are meant to create a sleek, slim look in a layered outfit. Make sure they are neither too tight nor too loose. Pair them with a tunic-style top, sweater, or soft jacket with a long, lean, flowing silhouette that falls to the upper- to mid-thigh.

And of course, your leggings will look best with a great pair of boots. Tall boots in shades similar to your leggings will give you a polished look that elongates the leg. A great pair of booties will look fantastic with leggings as well, as long as you make sure your leggings are in proportion to the booties.

From there, your options are limitless!


Beautifully Eclectic: Rich color meets dark denim, and a military jacket-inspired silhouette is softened with feminine lace trim. Accents of gold in long, statement earrings and edgy-yet-sophisticated chain-trimmed boots make this look a perfect play of fall styles.

full2Elegantly Equestrian: Conjuring up the infinitely romantic English countryside, we’ve updated the look with a long and lean riding jacket silhouette detailed in contrast trim. Paired with tonal riding boots in sumptuous leather, you will be ready to stride in style.


 Fabulously Folkloric: Another delight of the season: the wrap. Sumptuous embroidery in paisley motifs makes this wrap eye-catching and texturally tantalizing. Paired with of-the-moment fringe booties, you’ll be swept away by this look.


The Color Story: Fall is all about color. After a season of brights and pastels, we crave spice and pumpkin tones that celebrate the season of harvest. Pair with dark denim and boots that give the outfit an unexpected, playful feel.


 Minimalist ChicUnderstated yet decidedly chic, the tunic and tall boot pairing is a wardrobe must-have. Simply styled with subtle accents or layered with statement pieces, this look is infinitely versatile for fall.

full22Go for Baroque: Play up the romance of the season with flowing silhouettes, luxurious fabrics and swirling florals. Add a sexy touch with over-the-knee black boots and statement earrings for a decidedly dashing look.


Victorian Vogue: Florals are lovely any time of the year, and we love the surge in floral embroidery this fall season. Elegant against a dark backdrop, fall florals and rich colors in cozy fabrics will bring delight to the chilly landscape.


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by Francine Porter, Founder & CEO, Osmotics Cosmeceuticals


It seems everyone from dermatologists to medical researchers, industry experts and famous anti-aging spas are all talking about Copper Peptide and its role keeping skin healthy, young and ageless. I couldn’t be happier that the main stream has finally caught up with research we’ve known for years! Allow me to explain.

Osmotics, a pioneering cosmeceutial leader, was the first to develop a Copper Peptide based anti-aging skin care product. We discovered this Copper Peptide technology in the wound care field and immediately realized its clinically proven benefits in healing skin, make it extremely effective for topical anti-aging treatments. We had uncovered an extraordinary new ingredient for skin repair, supported by clinical studies and sound science and so began development of our Blue Copper 5 line of anti-aging cosmeceuticals.

osmoticsCopper, an essential nutrient for optimal skin health combined with our proprietary 5 chain peptide, (Blue Copper 5) helps fortify skin against the visible signs of aging. Once you start using Copper Peptide products you’ll quickly notice an amazing difference in the look, feel and texture of your skin. This scientifically proven technology works on all skin types (especially sensitive!) and provides the following benefits:

• Enhances dermal collagen; increases firmness, elasticity and tone.
• Combats harmful free radicals to prevent future damage.
• Increases natural moisture keeping skin soft, supple and smooth.
• Restores biochemical energy for healthier more radiant skintone.
• Calms redness, irritation and inflammation associated with rosacea, peels and dermal procedures

Over the past several years our award winning Blue Copper 5 products have become cult classics and beauty editor favorites because quite simply, they work. This year copper was finally given the recognition it deserves as it was heralded “The Anti-Aging Ingredient of the Decade”. I whole heartedly agree!



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