Soft Spoken: Soft Surroundings Blog

Secrets to Great gift giving

 

giftgiverThe Gifted Giver
We’ve often heard the phrase, “it’s the thought that counts”. Well, it truly is. It’s the personal care you’ve taken to choose a gift for just that person, with the anticipation of knowing they’re going to just love it. But how do we find that perfect present? The most thoughtful gifts are the ones where you really consider the other person’s wishes.

stoplisten

Stop, Look & Listen
Really listen to what your friends and loved ones are saying, watching and wearing. You’ll get great gift tips. When you hear their “I wish” and “I want” comments, make a note, a physical note, so come gift giving season, you’ll have the perfect present in mind. And smartphones make it so easy to keep a handy running list that’s always ready for fresh, thoughtful ideas.

Social media cues

Social Media Cues
In this day and age, it’s easier than ever to find out what your family and friends “like”. Check your loved ones’ social media profiles to see what photos and posts they’ve written, liked and shared. Scan Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest to see what restaurants they have enjoyed or stores they love to frequent. It’s like taking a public peek inside their diary to find out a few of their favorite things, including your perfect gift.

Let's get personal

Let’s Get Personal Sometimes adding a personal touch to your present makes the gift all the more special. Why not consider a personalized item with a monogram? If chilly days leave your bestie feeling extra cold, maybe a perfect cuddle-up blanket with a beautiful monogram would be a wonderful treat. Or how about a set of monogrammed towels for your newlywed niece? There are so many gorgeous, embroidered monogram options from bedding and pillows to makeup bags and shirt cuffs. Even monogram jewelry or cufflinks can be a striking present. Or how about a sweet initialed mug filled with gourmet hot cocoa or coffee?

Me Time

Me Time
OK, so this is a bit harder to package, but you can give your spouse or friend the tools to make “me time” happen, even if it’s just little moments they can steal away. Maybe a soothing spa package of luxe bath items, complete with candles and a bottle of wine. Or that bestselling book that she’s been dying to read.

Time Dates

Time & Dates
Speaking of time, time together is actually the greatest give you can give. Instead of exchanging gifts with all of your girlfriends, make a plan to go out to a nice dinner together. To keep it stress-free, make your plans for after the holidays. Plan a lunch date with your sister, your treat. You can even make up a little gift certificate to give her on the holiday. Or how about a romantic weekend away with your honey? It could be your gift to each other.

Gift Cards
We often shy away from gift cards or money for presents because we fear they’re too impersonal. But actually, gift cards are the ideal way to get your loved one the exact gift he or she wants. In fact, many people prefer to receive gift cards so they can spend it as they choose. And gift cards are so super easy to get and can even be beautiful to give. Some stores offer lovely gift boxes for their gift cards so you still have the joy of watching your friend excitedly unwrap an actual gift.

Gift Cards image

 

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HolidayRemakeTitle

 

Onesingularsensation

One Singular Sensation
‘Tis the season to be jolly, but sometimes it feels more overwhelming than merry. Drop the multi-tasking mayhem and focus. On. One. Thing. At. A. Time. Allow yourself to fully embrace each experience without worrying about your lengthy list of to-dos. Trust us, they will still be there. In the meantime, you’ll better enjoy each moment and recharge a bit to boot. Engage your senses, taking in the sights, sounds and smells as you bake holiday cookies or take a snowy walk. Slow down and truly revel in the holiday spirit.

makingalist

Making a List
It’s not as fun as Santa’s Naughty or Nice list, but a daily to-do list is just as important. The key is to prioritize and keep it realistic with tasks you can actually achieve. A realistic to-do list will not only help you get organized, but let you feel successful as you cross off your accomplishments. Prioritize your favorite holiday traditions and don’t feel guilty about letting other time-consuming, lofty plans go.

metime

“Me” Time
While you’re making your to-dos, don’t forget to put yourself on the top of your list. Yes, physically schedule some “me” time. Spending a little downtime will actually make you more effective at accomplishing all the rest of your to-dos. Light a fire, grab a good book and relax. A quick mani/pedi with your girlfriend can also help you recharge. Or plan a night to drive around and look at the lights. And don’t feel guilty about saying “no” occasionally.

healthyholiday

A Healthy Holiday
In addition to downtime, it’s also important to focus on your health with healthy meals and exercise. Heart-healthy fish and antioxidant fruits and vegetables, especially dark leafy greens, can not only give you vital energy, but also help detoxify the holiday overindulgences. Exercise is a great way to neutralize the stress hormone cortisol. Free your mind and your body tension with yoga. Or take a walk and enjoy the winter scenery. The frosty air will exhilarate. And don’t forget, a good night’s sleep is crucial for a healthy state of mind.

wraparty

Wrap Party
Gather your gifts and have a wrap party with your besties. This isn’t another worry-inducing party to plan. This is low-key casual, where everyone brings their favorite drink and a simple snack to nosh. You can make your presents perfect while enjoying perfectly pleasant conversation with your friends. Put on your favorite mood-lifting holiday movie or jingle some holiday cheer with your best-loved seasonal music.

alittlehelp

A Little Help from Your Friends
Just because you’re hosting the family holiday gathering, that doesn’t mean you have to do it all. Let everyone chip in and help. Create an easy sign-up. There are even free online tools like SignUpGenius.com that make it super simple. And while you’re planning to deck the halls for your holiday bash, keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be magazine-ready. Remember, those splashy pages are planned months in advance by a team of professional designers.

donate

Donate old Decorations
As you’re decorating, also consider whether you really need eight tubs of decorations. Do you have any holiday décor you could donate to a charity or a family member just starting out? You’ll not only get the satisfaction of having an organized space and room for new pieces, but you’ll also experience a feel-good moment when you donate knowing you’ve just created a great gift for someone else’s holiday.

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ProventialChristmas5

The magic of the holidays often starts with decorating your home. You deck the halls with fresh-cut holly or evergreen boughs and garland. You dig through storage bins and boxes to bring out your precious, timeworn treasures. You might even add a couple of fresh new décor ideas here and there.

But after the celebrations are over, there’s always so much packing up and putting away to do—and that’s never a joy!

What if sprucing up the house was more effortless, more organic, more like the French do it in Provence? You’d have much less to pack up in January. And we promise, the décor will still be just as breathtaking as ever.

Here are a few ways to style your home for the holidays with gorgeous pieces that you’ll love to leave out all year round.

La Vielle Votive Holder

Glitz

The colors red and green time-out after the season winds down, but things that shimmer with a little glitz can definitely find a place in everyday décor. We love dressing a buffet or mantel with silvery mercury glass. Our sparkly La Vielle Votive Holder sets a wonder-filled tone for the season, but kept out through the winter it gives a room that special occasion feeling, any day of the week.

Antique Mercury Glass Boxes

Add a few of our Antique Mercury Glass Boxes on a side table; top them with bay leaves, whole cloves, or small pinecones and they’ll scent and sparkle. Then, when you’re ready, move them to the boudoir or vanity and fill them with rose petals, lavender, or pearls. So beautiful and so versatile.

Mediterranean Artichokes

Another one of our favorites is our hand-gilt Mediterranean Artichokes. Pile them up in a gorgeous bowl on table or sideboard, or put one at each plate with a place card tucked between its golden leaves. They symbolized health and abundance to the ancient Greeks, and they’re a longtime favorite of the stylish French. And come January, scatter them around the hearth, in the basket of firewood, or on a windowsill in the kitchen to remind you of nature’s riches.

Metallic Flameless Candles

One more simple, Provencal way to make a room gleam with magic this season is with our phenomenal Metallic Flameless Candles. Group several of them together, or create an arrangement by placing them under our vintage Glass Domes. The look is awe-inspiring and later, both candles and domes are endlessly useful.

Potted Boxwood Collection

Greenery

Trade out the traditional poinsettia and spruce garland with our stately and graphic preserved Potted Boxwood Collection. These vibrant green cones and spheres in limestone pots are miniatures of the ones you see in French Renaissance gardens. String them with tiny white lights or tie a French Blue Plaid ribbon around the pot and they’re ready for the festivities. And, because they are preserved, the green will never fade—just right for use all four seasons dressing up a countertop or forgotten corner.

Wreath Candle Holder

Another brilliant example of a twist on the traditional is to forgo the classic pine wreath and go with our wrought iron Wreath Candle Holder instead. At the center of the table, or taking center stage on the mantel, this dramatic décor item brings impeccable style and illumination. And its classic look is appropriate all year long.

White Owls

Much of the décor that’s prevalent at the holiday season in European countries takes its cue from woodsy wonderlands. Think Hans Christian Andersen. Our Birch Reindeer, and Great White Owls are perfectly adorable examples. Of course they cast a storybook spell when placed in and around the Christmas tree or on a decorated mantel. But also imagine them as part of a winter display next to a frosty February windowpane.

Vintage Tin ornaments

Glamour

The French have long known that a little glamour is seasonless—especially when it’s the vintage kind. Our Tin Ornaments are a great example. They’re handmade of pressed tin, hand-finished for an antique feel, and strung with a gold ribbon. Like architectural fragments off centuries-old cathedrals, they add something extra to your tree or tied onto gifts, but they’ll also shine, yearlong, hanging from the linen closet doorknob or strung between the panels on a drapery rod.

Bastia Apothecary Jar

And as soon as we saw our Bastia Apothecary Jars we knew they were just right for our Christmas in Provence. Made of glimmering mercury glass, they are etched and gilded in India, They give height, glow and glamour to a dining or serving table while entertaining, and elegance throughout the year.

Mother Nature

Draw inspiration from Mother Nature to set the stage for the holiday celebrations and you’ll never go wrong. That’s exactly how the people in the little towns and villages of the French provincial countryside do it. They are thankful for nature’s gifts and borrow them to bring an effortless, organic look to their homes for the holidays.

Birch Tree Candleholders

Consider our whimsical Birch Tree Candleholders. The birch bark is beautifully textural and signals the snowy river and thick woods of your favorite holiday songs. Propped with some of our sweet woodland creatures like the Eagle Owl Ornament or the Birch Reindeer and the ensemble is picturesque all winter long. Just like our Bird’s Nest Collection and Robin’s Egg Ornaments, these pieces are imaginative embellishments for the tree that can be re-imagined well into 2015. For example, tuck some of our Robin’s Egg Ornaments inside our Basse Box and welcome spring!

Robin’s Egg Ornaments

 

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GuestRetreat2

Creating a relaxing and inviting guest room, like the ones in the best hotels, is as simple as counting to five. It all starts with the bed and bedding. Once you get that right, scattering necessities and nice-ities here and there—all over the house— will pull it all together into a perfect retreat. Follow these easy steps to houseguest success.

ToileDeJuoy

Step 1: The Bed

There’s no reason why the bed and bedding in the guest room should be an afterthought. It’s a room on a mission: welcoming comfort, rest and relaxation. And the best way to accomplish that mission is with layered bedding and plenty of pillows.

Our Soft Surroundings Toile de Jouy quilted bedding is a traditional but luxurious foundation for your visitor’s bed. It features a tranquil print of the French provincial countryside in a peaceful shade of grey. Layer it with velvet, linen, and silk shams like our Alexa and Pont d’Arc collections and your room is well on its way. Don’t forget to throw in a throw blanket so your friends can curl up in comfort and nap away. Take a look at our Snow Lynx and Paris Faux Fur Throws. Every bed and sofa could use one!

NormandyNestingBasket

Step 2: Accoutrements in the Bedroom

It’s the little things that make the difference. When you fill some baskets like our Normandy Nesting Baskets with the odds and ends your guests will need or may have forgotten to bring, you make traveling no-fuss. And who doesn’t appreciate that?

Include magazines, toothpaste, hand or body lotion, even a tasting of our Tequila, Bourbon or Wine Brittle or our adorably festive Acorn Box with Almonds placed next to the bed.

Don’t forget to think about lighting too. Our flameless candles—with remote control—are safe, soothing and romantic, if that’s what you’re going for!

AdanaTowels

Step 3: Guest Bath

Almost as important as bedding are the towels you lay out for your guests. The softest, freshest, fluffed-up stack is always appreciated. Consider our plush Adana Towels. They have a vintage look and 5-star feel—a luxurious way to wrap your guests in comfort.

The bath is the first place to put fresh, fragrant flowers. The beauty of the vase is sometimes overlooked, however. We love the grace and ease of our Filigree Four Vase Tote. With recycled bottles, removable from the pressed tin container, it is gorgeous decked out in single stems of orchid or freesia.

Another great addition is to place a long-lasting reed diffuser in the bath or bedroom. It’s fun to switch out the scents depending on the tastes of your holiday guests.

ByronSofta

Step 4: Cozy Little Nooks

Visitors are drawn to conversation in cozy nooks and comfortable sofas. After all, visiting with you is what they’re there for. Make sure there are plenty of spots to spur everything from chitchat to heart-to-hearts. You’d be surprised what might come to light in the arms of our Byron Sofa and Lounge Chair.

On the other hand, a wingback chair—like our irresistible Fontaine—pulled up to the fire with a throw blanket and a book will inevitable be the most coveted spot in the house for those solo types.

And it’s never a bad idea to make sure the pets of your guests are pampered too! Our Grain Sac Pet Cushion is a super-considerate way to make the furry friends feel at home.

RivieraNestingTables

Step 5: Extras and Must-Haves

When the house is filled with guests for the holidays, a hostess is always in need of the little extras that make entertaining easier.

For example, our popular Riviera Nesting Tables are indispensible when the e-reader and coffee come out. And our elegant Martini Tables with burnished bronze finish are perfect for the holidays—and handy all year round. They are so quintessentially French.

Last but never least, accommodate your guests to simple gestures that comfort them as much as the bedding, throws, slippers and flowers. One way is with unique and memorable moments, like tea for two with our Expressions Tea Cups. Each one comes with a pewter spoon inscribed with a message. Choose “Always in hot water” or “Dressed to the tea” depending on who you’re serving. They’re charming and sweet to give as parting gifts too.

Treat your visitors to the retreat they deserve, and make their visit even easier on you this holiday season. Follow our easy steps and then tell us a few of your own. We love hearing from you.

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Creating the kind of holiday table that is both beautiful and comfortable enough for your guests to linger, raise a glass and indulge in a second helping is easier than you think. Follow a few rules of thumb, add your own creativity and don’t forget to have a little fun!

Keep in mind that layers and variety is key. By that we mean, include pieces in a range of heights, textures, patterns and variegated shapes in your tablescape. Mix it up. White glazed plates and serving dishes look even finer next to silver or gold. Circles and cylindrical shapes work well with the naturally irregular shapes in nature. Something delicate next to something solid and substantial creates a pleasing yin-yang relationship.

artichokes

Let Nature Inspire You

As the holidays begin, the theme is all about abundance. The harvest is in, and your table décor can draw from the bounty of nature.

Our silver and gold Mediterranean artichokes are a rich and attractive example. In Europe, the artichoke is the symbol of good health and abundance. What better way to represent Thanksgiving? Arrange them plentifully in a rustic wooden basket. Or mound them high in a hammered gold or silver bowl and use it as a simple and special centerpiece.

Best of all, you don’t have to pack them away later. These artichokes look wonderful scattered near a fireplace, in and around baskets of firewood and kindling all winter long. They also add eye-appeal to bowls of real artichokes on the kitchen counter.

Another understatedly opulent way to nod to nature and enhance your holiday tables is with our hand-gilt Feasting Pheasant. It instantly becomes an attention-getter wherever you place it.

Consider using two pheasants, and bookend a serving buffet or console with the pair. Then arrange a glorious spread of food, beverages or desserts in between. After all, pheasants are the symbol of good fellowship and nearly as much a favorite to the French as the beloved rooster.

feastingpheasant

Sparkle and Shine

Our Feasting Pheasant is a perfect way to also bring height to your table décor. Including pieces that are low, medium and tall heights is an important ingredient to add depth, perspective and dimension. Another way to do this is to include tall tapers or a delicate, glowing candelabra like our Tre.

trecandelabraThe Tre Candelabra is named for its three slender spires. We love its Queen Anne claw feet and gold detailing. It is sophisticated but simple, and a beautiful compliment to other items around it that lend sparkle and shine.

No table would be complete these days without flameless candles, and our metallic ones are perfection. In gold or silver, they come in four sizes to give height and depth—not to mention romance!

The combination of the real flickering flames of the Tre Candelabra and the glint of our flameless metallic candles will bring an easy ambiance and a cozy glow that will last as long as the sterling conversation.

flamelesscandles

The Essentials

Some designers create a look for a table by first selecting a color scheme. Others start with the essentials—serving platters and utensils. These pieces are the foundation of table décor and a great place to focus your energy.

marcellaplatters

Hand crafted for us in Italy, our Marcella Platters are exceptional, each one a unique masterpiece. On your table or buffet, they conjure feelings of holidays in Provence or Tuscany with old-world grace and style. We love serving with the full medley of shapes and sizes—rectangular, oblong and circular—because they’re so useful, of course, but also because they add hints of classic architecture to the setting.

bonehandle

And then there’s our very favorite addition to our holiday collection and to your holiday parties: our bone-handled serving utensils. From corkscrews to cake servers, these handmade bone and ebony pieces are vintage inspired, with brushed steel and turned ends.

Pair the cake knife with cake server and cheese knife and they’ll dress up your dessert table. Or wrap up the bone corkscrew with the handsome bottle opener and nutcracker as a stunning gift. But absolutely don’t forget to treat yourself to the bone candlesnuffer. It’s such a perfect companion on the table with the Tre Candelabra.

It’s true having beautiful things on your holiday table is paramount. But what about the table itself? Isn’t it just as vital? Certainly!

oliviatable

That’s why we love our Olivia Dining Table with its hand-carved apron and pedestal base. It’s so exquisite you’ll never want to hide it under a tablecloth. And its whitewashed, hand-finished patina is a splendid canvas for layering the affects of flickering candles, glittering metallics, white-glazed serving dishes, and bone-handled utensils. Surround the Olivia Table with our shabby chic linen upholstered Citeaux Abbey Side Chairs and the party decorating is delightfully done.

citeauxabbey

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From your friends at jane iredale

To celebrate our 20th Anniversary with something special, something that brings out the beauty in every woman, Jane created the Gilded Collection: a collection of 24-Karat Gold Dust shades, a product so versatile it complements all moods, enhances any outfit and suits every event. This multipurpose product can be used on cheeks, eyes and lips to create a delicate highlight. Here are just 20 of the possible ways you can enjoy this product. Be creative!

GoldDustEyes

EYES
1. Tap any shade into the middle of the eye lid with your finger to create a luminous blink.
2. For a gilded smoky effect, apply eyeliner then use a dampened Smudge Brush to overlay Gold 24-Karat Gold Dust.
3. Tap any shade into its cap and spritz with your favorite Hydration Spray, then press into the eyelid with your eye shadow brush for a foiled effect.
4. For retro-chic eyes, apply Champagne Silk or Brown Silk Eye Gloss on the eye lid and layer Bronze 24-K on top. Draw a winged line along the upper lash line with the Black Jelly Jar Gel Eyeliner and apply Longest Lash Mascara.
5. For a dramatic gold eye, start with Lemon Lid Primer, and then press Gold 24-K on top. Finish with lots of Black Onyx PureLash Mascara on top and bottom lashes.
6. For a golden brow straight from the runways, apply PureBrow® Fix & Mascara to the brows. While wet, apply Gold 24-K using the Detail Brush.

GoldDustBody

BODY
7. Mix Bronze 24-Karat Gold Dust with Tantasia® and apply all over your body for a glowing, shimmering bronze.
8. Mix Gold or Bronze into the Golden Powder-Me SPF for a golden goddess look at the beach.
9. Mix a little of any shade into body lotion and apply on the body for a candlelit glow.
10. A special night out calls for more shimmer: apply with your favorite powder brush over your shoulders and décolleté.
11. Apply to earlobes for an unexpected dazzle that complements your favorite braid, pony or updo.

GoldDustFace

FACE
12. Dust the Gold or Silver 24-Karat Gold Dust onto the top of the cheekbone with the Fan Brush to create a highlight.
13. Mix a small amount of any shade with Smooth Affair Facial Primer & Brightener and apply with the Blending Brush to give an all over glow.
14. For a rich, glowy look mix your favorite shade of 24-K with any shade of In Touch® Cream Blush on the back of your hand, using the Foundation Brush, then apply to cheeks.

GoldDustLips

LIPS
15. Apply your favorite lip gloss and press any shade of 24-Karat Gold Dust into it to give extra shimmer and dimension.
16. Tap Gold or Silver into the center of the lower lip with the finger tip and cover with gloss to make the lip appear fuller and shinier.
17. Apply a small amount of Forever Pink Just Kissed® Lip and Cheek Stain to the lips and cheeks then blend in a small amount of Gold or Silver 24-K for the look of rich hydration and saturated color.

GoldDustHair&Nails

HAIR & NAILS
18. Mix into your favorite hair product for an exciting take on highlights.
19. Paint nails with your favorite color. While the polish is still wet, sprinkle a small amount on the half moon area of your nail. Shake your hand once in a downward motion to spread down the nail, creating an ombre effect. Finish with a top coat.
20. Rub 24-Karat Gold Dust into your natural nail bed and apply a clear nail polish to seal.

 

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Discover the aromatherapeutic solution that deeply hydrates and renews dry skin in mere minutes. Simply warm the gel-lined mitts and booties in the microwave and indulge in the soothing, toasty-moist heat of 7 botanical oils and Ceramides. No cleanup required!

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Hydrate Aromatherapy Mitts are available here: http://bit.ly/1yRX88C

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RiskyBusiness

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

BeautySleep

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.

SlowReflexes

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.

MoodSwings

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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