Soft Spoken: Soft Surroundings Blog


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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WATCH Marta Wohrle, Founder of Truth Vitality, share her secrets for growing lusciously full, bouncy and shiny tresses with the True Volume hair care line. Designed specifically for women, this revolutionary system blends Copper Peptides and Emu Oil to stimulate dormant hair follicles for renewed growth and thicker, healthier strands. SEE how True Volume filled in Marta’s own hairline and eliminated her widow’s peak!


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Brocante is the French term for flea market, or the kind of pop-up street fair that sells antique treasures and old-world finds. Brocantes are part of the culture of France and you can walk these markets all over the small villages and picturesque towns of the countryside in the South of France.

These are also the very places Soft Surroundings shops to find the items that inspire our reproductions.

The Fantine Linen Cabinet is an exquisite example of the journey a brocante piece takes with Soft Surroundings before it’s deemed worthy of your home.

We bought the inspiration for our Fantine Linen Cabinet in April 2012 in a small, quaint antique shop in Marseilles, France. The shop owner saw us covet it and told us it once held jams and jellies.


But our designer’s expert eye immediately envisioned it as a stately and elegant linen cabinet. She imagined its shelves piled high with soft blankets, ruffled shams, luxurious throws, and downy pillows. So we arranged for it to take a two-month long trek by ship from the South of France to our headquarters in St. Louis.

When we uncrated the original in St. Louis in July of 2012, we loved it even more than we did when we first saw it. It was truly a French beauty!


We quickly set to work measuring every tiny curve, recording each design nuance, and rendering our Soft Surroundings piece to exacting detail—top, sides, front and back.

The renderings were ready to begin to build in October 2012.

With every one of our brocante pieces, we take great care to create a reproduction  that links us to the original in all aspects: quality, craftsmanship, design and aesthetic.

So after another six months of prototyping and building, in April 2013, a photo sample arrived from our master craftsmen and woodworkers. Of course we had some tweaks, but overall, the Fantine Linen Cabinet is as breathtaking as its muse, the jam cabinet we’d uncovered in France one year earlier!



photosample_arrivesThe Fantine is hand-painted a lovely verdigris color and distressed by hand to give it the character and romance of history. From the top of its hand-carved cornice to the bottom of its curvaceous apron, and along every raised panel, carved motif and brass pull, it’s an heirloom in the making.

It debuted in our AT HOME catalog in September 2013, and it continues to be one of our customers’ top favorites. Because of its petite footprint it fits into almost any space in the home including the bath, boudoirs, even the kitchen! We have no doubt some of our customers are using it creatively—maybe even in the pantry with jams and jellies inside?


The gorgeous Fantine Cabinet is just one of the brocante items that Soft Surroundings reproduces with tender care and attention to detail. Visit our Soft Surroundings website, click on HOME DECOR and explore many more. While you’re there, click on the Brocante – Antiques tab in the panel on the left, and browse more of our time-honored treasures reclaimed from the South of France.




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A dozen or more coffee table books have been published in the last few years explaining the way to achieve the look of French interior design. Some even focus on the treasures to be found at French flea markets.

Looking through it all we thought you might be interested in an easier way. The way we do it!

So here is our process—the journey Soft Surroundings takes to bring you fine French furniture—in reproduction form. We’ll demonstrate with four quintessentially French décor pieces and highlight the steps we take to create remarkable remakes for you.


The Louis XV Burlap Chair

We were shopping our way through an antique market in France (L’Isle Sur la Sorge to be exact!) when we spotted the strong, dark lines and soft channel padding of this original 18th century burlap chair. It had Louis XV written all over it—from the carved embellishments on the exposed wood, to the padded arm rests and sturdy cabriole legs.

We brought it back to the US to make our exclusive version, which had to be just as true to type. We began by building the frame by hand out of strong, solid birch. Then our master craftsmen hand-carved grooves, and flower-and-leaf motifs along the wood, just like the original.

Yes, our artisans are key to the fine, high quality results we want. They’ve been woodcarvers for generations, experts at the art.

Beyond the frame, another feature that makes this chair irresistible is the unique channel padding and textural burlap upholstery. We even made sure the seat had hand-sewn stitch work just like the chair we found in France.


Grain Sac Pet Cushion

Along with linen, burlap is truly a favorite textile of France. Anything dressed in burlap has a refined, but unostentatious air. For example, tie a few yards of buttery soft burlap around a folding chair and it’s instantly elegant.

Burlap grain sacks also have a long history in the countryside of France. Farmers’ wives would hand weave these sacks with their own signature color and pattern of stripes. The effect was to create a sort of monogram, so when the farmer went to the mill to pick up his sacks, he could identify the ones that belonged to him immediately!

We took inspiration from the iconic French grain sack to create these cool, comfortable pet cushions. They’re irresistibly soft and naturally resistant to dirt and pet hair. We’ve yet to find an adorably pampered pet that doesn’t snuggle in and make them home.


Zinc Top Tuileries Table

Ask anyone to picture France and the first thing that comes to mind is often an outdoor café or bistro with its distinctively French tables. These metal-topped tables are centerpieces in France, indoor and out.

We found a spectacular perfect one during one of our journeys abroad, and couldn’t wait to create a romantic reproduction for you.

Ours has a zinc top that’s aged to perfection with a hand-rubbed patina. It looks as French as a reproduction can get. Even the hourglass iron stand and scroll legs add to the heirloom look. And there’s no better place for a mid-morning read or a crisp glass of white in the afternoon.


Fantine Linen Cabinet

When we first saw the original of this lovely cabinet in a store in Marseilles, the shop owner told us it had been used as a jam and jelly cabinet.

But with its stately height, ample shelves, crown, and molding, we couldn’t help but envision it holding fresh laundered sheets, linens, fluffy towels, feather pillows and sumptuous throws.

We brought it home and set to making a beautifully crafted reproduction. From the hand-carved center motif on the door to the pleasing diagonal swath of the molding next to the antiqued brass pull handle, this piece has signature style with a French accent. And we’re happy to bring it to you.

Creating reproductions from authentic French originals is our great passion. AT HOME we revel in the romance of history, the patina of age, and the heirlooms of tomorrow.



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Jean“You know when I sit and when I rise;  you perceive my thoughts from afar” -Psalm 139

What is your favorite Soft Surroundings product?


How would you describe your style?


What item in your closet receives the most wear?


Do you have a signature accessory?

Brighton necklace

What colors or patterns do you gravitate toward?

Black and brights solid

When have you felt your most beautiful?

When my hair is clean freshly blown dry

Name one beauty product you can’t live without.

Eyeliner and mascara

What one woman do you most admire and why?

My friend, Barbara, because of her love of God and positive attitude about everything

What’s your passion project or hobby?

Dancing, being outside, my family

How do you relax?

Browse the computer or walk my dog

Quote to live by

Psalm 139.  ” You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar”



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