Easy Decorating: 45 Great Websites for Ideas and Products
A room–by–room guide to eclectic sources for everything from coffee tables to cookware
REAL SIMPLE – September 2007
Online Finds for Your Living Room
Be an armchair shopper and buy a birdcage, a lamp, a mirror, or a vase (and the flowers to fill it). Hey, you might even find an armchair – or two.
1. Silhouette Coffee Table
This site, a bohemian offspring of the Restoration Hardware family, offers neobaroque furniture and home
2. Ripple Glasses and Cloudy Carafe
www.clio–home.com, glasses, $36 each; carafe, $73
Savvy New Yorkers hunt for eye–catching housewares at Clio's Soho store. Now everyone can peruse its website. Free gift wrapping.
3. Hong Kong Birdcage
Dying for a glass chandelier shaped like a lotus flower? A sleek galvanized–steel dining table? This St. Louis–area site features an impressive range of decorative accessories and furniture from such far–flung locales as Indonesia.
4. Bamboo Nickel Floor Lamp with Faux–Crocodile Shade
The owners of Fusion Home, a store in Ventura, California, stock their shop and website with unusual European and Asian furnishings, many made from recycled materials.
5. Ornate Beveled Mirror
A source for half a million home furnishings, including (count 'em) more than 1,000 different mirrors, this site is clearly organized, so you can search by finish and price range.
6. Spike Handmade Glazed–Ceramic Bowls
www.shoprelish.com, from $45 each
This Portland, Oregon, site specializes in decorative accessories made by local artists.
7. Blomus Stainless–Steel Fireplace Tools
Hundreds of stylish stainless–steel products are the draw at this North Carolina site.
8. Martha Sturdy Rectangle Resin Vase
The owner of this San Francisco site has an eye for everyday products made in unexpected materials, like rubber and resin.
9. Gerbera Daisies
www.organicbouquet.com, $40 for 20
This source delivers pesticide–free blooms from organic farms. The flowers are guaranteed to last a week. In most cases, vases must be ordered separately.
10. Clinton Armchairs
www.jaysonhomeandgarden.com, $1,195 each
This site is known for stylish vintage and modern furniture, some with details such as nailhead trim. Free swatches.
11. Stone Soup Striped Cotton Rug by Dash & Albert
Rugs, among the thousands of home furnishings available on this site, are organized by material and style, including braided, cotton loop, jute, and Aubusson. Note: The product photos are a little on the small side.
12. Lattice–Print Cotton Pillows
www.seacloth.com, $110 each
Pretty textiles make this Palm Beach-preppy site fun to browse, though you can search only by color, not by specific product.
13. Coffee–Table Books
www.wexarts.org, prices vary
Ohio State University's Wexner Center for the Arts has a surprisingly rich selection of art, design, and lifestyle books.
Online Finds for Your Kitchen
You're married to your cabinets and counters, but that doesn't mean you can't flirt with new cookware and accessories, from tea towels to knobs.
1. Brushed–Metal Professional Pepper Mill
The company that runs this site has been in the pepper–grinding business for more than 40 years. Of the hundreds of models available, most come with a patented mechanism (which has a lifetime warranty) that sets the grind to fine, medium, or coarse.
2. Marimekko Tea Towels
www.finnstyle.com, from $12 each
Started five years ago by an American who had studied in Helsinki, Finland, this site showcases Scandinavian housewares and ships furniture with no delivery charge.
3. Iittala Food Canisters
www.allmodern.com, sold in three sizes in sets of two, $44 to $52.50
A one–stop shop for kitchen utensils and contemporary home accessories, this easy–to–browse, cleanly designed site is also notable for its discounts.
4. Gayane Decorative Bowls by Kenzo
www.unicahome.com, $105 each
Browse here for future collectibles from such design powerhouses as WMF, Alessi, and Kartell.
5. Takeout–Menu Organizer
Two former New York City party planners have stocked this site with whimsical items, such as retro dish towels, rubber doorstops, and, yes, all kinds of spoons. They will even deliver to post–office boxes, but keep in mind that the shipping for small items can cost almost as much as the merchandise itself.
www.ecookbooks.com, prices vary
A.k.a. Jessica's Biscuit, this site features more than 13,000 cookbooks. Get free shipping on orders of $25 and up. Spend more than $40 and you can choose a free gift.
7. Hamilton Beach Toaster
A reliable resource for countertop appliances, some well–known and some designed by the site's owner, Ginny Bean, who is based in Monroe, Wisconsin.
8. Fresh Farm Produce
www.localharvest.org, prices vary
Go to this site for a directory of local farms that deliver produce to subscribers through the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) program. There's also an online store selling hams, honeys, cheeses, and the like. Note: With CSA, you pay up front for a season's worth of produce, and you get what the farmers grow.
9. Mario Batali Ceramic Utensil Pitcher and Utensils
www.hugthecook.com; pitcher, $15; utensils, prices vary
Inexpensive kitchen eye candy tempts users at this site, which claims to test every item that it has in stock.
10. Chasseur Enameled Cast–Iron Dutch Oven
Knockoffs of famous French cookware – some of it at significant discounts – drive cooks to this online bargain basement. Good deals move quickly.
11. Resin Cabinet Knob
Liz's Antique Hardware, a 25–year–old business, stocks its store and site with thousands of new and vintage knobs, switch plates, heat–register covers, and doorstops. You can search by style or material, and if you're looking for a knob that matches hardware you already own, the store will conduct a search for you for $10.
Online Finds for Your Bedroom
Shopping in your pajamas is never more appropriate than when you're buying all the makings of a luxurious, restful sanctuary. (See a larger photograph of this room.)
1. Richard Nixon Baby Alpaca Throw by Jonathan Adler
This site more than lives up to its name, with thousands of sleepy–time products, many in color–drenched geometric prints and florals.
2. White Sateen Sheet Set and Pillowcases and Toulouse Duvet and Shams
www.nancykoltes.com, white sateen queen fitted and flat sheets, $234, and pillowcases, $60 for two; Toulouse duvet, $298, and shams, from $45 each
Chances are you'll sleep more soundly in a well–dressed bed. Scoop up some of this site's high–quality Italian–made sheets, blankets, and luxurious throws by longtime bed–linen designer Nancy Koltes.
3. Camden Tufted Headboard
This sprawling site, a favorite resource of interior decorators for its reasonable prices and vast inventory, has everything from French–country furniture and wallpaper to a plaster triple–dolphin table base. Note: Small photos occasionally make it difficult to see details.
4. Happy in Blue Print by Soraya Chemaly
This online print gallery, featuring the work of more than 80 artists, allows searching by style (floral, abstract, etc.), size, and color. Your selection is digitally reproduced on canvas or paper with your requested dimensions. Care instructions and the artist's bio arrive with the print. Framing (optional) is done by outside vendors, who also handle returns.
5. Small Emily Table Lamp
Hundreds of fixtures, some by interior designers such as Thomas O'Brien and Alexa Hampton, make this Savannah–based site worth a visit. Added bonus: free shipping.
6. Historic Commander Alarm Clock
Old–fashioned alarm clocks, French scissors, and eggbeaters are part of the charming inven–tory of garden and hand tools at this unusual site.
7. Curvee Shelf
Click here for Chinese–made furniture and accessories, many of which come in a variety of colors, including lemon, robin's–egg blue, and pistachio.
8. Lacquered Box
A Chicago boutique gave birth to this site, which features pretty boudoir accessories. Free gift wrapping.
9. Tradescantia Houseplant
Logee's, a greenhouse complex in Connecticut that is over 100 years old, catalogs more than a thousand plant varieties. The site allows browsing by name, type, blooming season, and sun requirements.
www.jamaligarden.com, from $2
Great garden and entertaining objects lure professional stylists to this site. Bamboo tray? Check. Rot–resistant Russian–pine square planter? Check!
www.booksense.com, prices vary
If you love books but hate chain stores, just type in your ZIP code and this site will lead you to a nearby independent bookstore. The classics shown here came from the website of Lemuria, a bookshop in Jackson, Mississippi.
Online Finds for Your Bathroom
It's the little things – like lemon verbena-scented bath salts and decorative seashells – that make your day. And look what else the Web brought in. (See a larger photograph of this room.)
1. Cotton–Duck Shower Curtain
A good source for hard–to–find shower curtains (like this block–printed one by designer John Robshaw), as well as bath, bed, and table linens by such companies as Sferra and Anichini. The site also offers free swatches and free advice on how to choose linens to complement a room.
2. Beechwood–Fiber Bath Towels
www.branchhome.com, $48 each
This well–designed site sells ultrasoft color–saturated bath towels, linens, and home accessories, many made in eco– and labor–friendly ways.
3. Madison Bathroom Storage Unit with Adjustable Shelves
Dive into this site's giant selection of furniture and accessories and come up with well–priced, traditional–looking pieces, like the painted linen cabinet shown here. Watch for frequent sales.
4. Bath Salts
www.inthebathroom.com, from $5 for a two–ounce packet
Shop here for small indulgences, like bitter–orange and lemon–verbena bath salts, exotic room fragrances, seductive candles, and other items (mainly beauty products) you won't find at the mall.
5. Immortal Chinese Elm–and–Cypress Stool
New, antique, and artfully weathered imports from around the world, including this mid– 20th–century Chinese stool, make up the website of Wisteria, a Dallas–area shop. Navigating the site is especially easy.
6. Cotton Bath Rug
Thick towels and plush bath mats come to this site for "linen snobs" by way of a storied 72–year–old San Francisco shop of the same name. The owners lean toward labels like Yves Delorme, Matouk, and Cuddledown and try out each product before offering it for sale online. Shipping is free.
7. Laminated Tray
Who knew you could make so much from laminated fabric (butler's trays, wastebaskets, and even dustpans)? At this cheery site, each product is shown with its own menu of patterns to choose from, such as houndstooth, stripes, and florals. Lamination not your thing? Check out the inexpensive paper napkins and guest towels.
www.seashellcity.com, from 30 cents each
This site offers seashells from shores far and wide. Informative captions make browsing border–line educational. (So that's a Melongena pugilina!) Orders are accompanied by a free gift, like a shell necklace or a glass sand dollar.
9. Scented Candle
For an instant infusion of contemporary Chinese wit and style, try one of the seductive accessories sold on this site, an offshoot of the Shanghai Tang chain of department stores, heralded for eclectic Asian imports.
10. Seashell Soaps
www.uncommongoods.com, $28 (including apothecary jar)
This source, best known for items made of recycled materials, raises the bar on bar soaps. Their unexpected shapes (fortune cookies, frogs) make them fun conversation pieces and ideal hostess gifts.
Do you have secret Web sources for home furnishings? Share them here—and see what sites others have shared.
Originally published online in the September 2007 issue of REAL SIMPLE.