Photo-Illustration: Lined; Pictures: Retailers
Some people spend years searching for the exact side table that will bring a living room together, knowing that once they find it, that’s it – the space is done. Other people decide at 4 p.m. on a Wednesday that it’s time to replace a light fixture, rearrange a few frames on the wall, and while they’re at it, rip out the kitchen backsplash and go buy some floor tile.
This gift list has the second type of person in mind. We spoke with perennial architects, contractors, tradespeople, real estate agents, and renovators to find out: what should you give this year to the project-obsessed person in your life?
“A really good level and a laser tape measure definitely come in handy when doing almost any type of home project,” says real estate agent Megan Brenn-White. This tool is accurate to 1/16th of an inch and the app lets you sync measurements with photos and floor plans.
Kate Reggev, architect at Beyer Blinder Belle (who helped renovate the New York Public Library), says, “If I didn’t already have a crazy hodgepodge of tools he inherited from my dad and random ones purchased ad hoc from Home Depot, I would absolutely love someone to gift me this tool set in Sunshine or Character colorways. I can guarantee that each item in this set is something a new homeowner, remodeler, or DIYer would use regularly, and I know I’d like to use them even more frequently because of their fun colors.
“As a new owner, host and shop owner, no tool has been more useful than the hammer drill – especially in a town with historic brick or plaster walls,” says Kate Lauter, founder of the Feng Sway housewares store in Williamsburg. “The power is unmatched and the ergonomics are comfortable.” She used it constantly, she says, during a recent renovation at the Sway Stays Artists Retreat in Palm Beach.
Bronwyn Breitner, architect and principal of Breitner Ciaccia, a Brooklyn-based firm behind this Montauk Microcabinsays, “I’m obsessed with these affordable, beautifully staged pigeon photos of all varieties. The prints, made by two Brooklyn residents — a photographer and a set designer — could on their own complete a gallery wall or brighten up a quiet corner.
A small improvement that makes a huge difference? Anything that makes a house a little less noisy. that’s why Bill Rohlfing, the owner of Downtown Townhouse, a design and project management firm that primarily renovates townhouses in Harlem, suggests a soft-close toilet seat: “It’s the gift of silence,” he says. (This will be especially appealing to one-bathroom households.)
A truly good-looking firewood hauler is both stylish and practical, says Doug Maxwell, managing partner of Upstate Modernist, a Rhinebeck-based construction company. “Look for oilcloth with leather handles,” he says — it’ll come in handy for collecting and storing wood at weekend homes upstate or carrying Duraflames around your Brooklyn apartment. after a trip to Home Depot.
You can never have too many houseplants, but they can also come with unwanted guests. “Some insects are way too small to see with the naked eye,” says Peter Morris, horticulturist at Plant Specialists, a landscaper who offers home visits for diseased plants. “All you see in the damage are the symptoms.” That’s why he recommends a handheld magnifier for both experienced and novice plant owners.
“These kitchen scissors are incredibly sharp, well-made and indestructible,” says Stefanie Brechbuehler, partner at Workstead, the Brooklyn-based design studio. “As soon as I had them in my hands I knew they were special and I bought them on my phone at that exact moment. They are made in Spain by a company that has been making knives since 1917, and you can use them in the kitchen, of course, for breaking down chicken, slicing chives or herbs straight onto a salad (one of my favorite uses), or just breaking up tough wrappers. that you can use, love and pass on one day.
Leah Solk, founder of Solk Architecture, loves this little table lamp from Marset. “I really enjoy the Dipping Light collection, as it comes in a range of colors and has a lovely handcrafted feel to the dimming,” says the architect, whose projects include renovating a a historic school transformed into a loft. This versatile light would work just as well in a living room that doubles as a home office or on a nightstand.
“Good lighting instantly improves and uplifts mood — at least for me,” says Lisa Przystub, author of Upstate: Living Spaces with Space to Live, who occasionally shares moments from her own upstate home renovation on Instagram. “I’ve been searching for the perfect bulb for years – these give a warm pink glow to any room they’re in, which is a big check in the plus column.”
“A beautifully functional, carefully crafted object adds texture to a home, regardless of its current make-up or future transformations,” says Madeleine Parsons, artistic director of Colony, a design cooperative of independent textile designers, lighting and furniture. “Baba Tree’s hand-woven Pakurigo basket offers creative storage without sacrificing form” – an ideal gift for anyone who constantly misplaces items, which is especially easy to do in the midst of a decorating frenzy.
After moving out of her 27-year-old apartment, editor Wendy Goodman is just starting to renovate her new apartment. She recently received this pink soup plate from a friend and thought it would be the perfect gift for someone else in the same situation. “There’s so much chaos in a renovation, and if you can have a beautiful thing that you can look at, it brings peace of mind and serenity,” she said. “You think, One day my apartment will be settled, and here is something beautiful to look at while waiting.” Although she recommends one of Flat or dessert plates John Derian x Astier de Villatte, she particularly likes the size and structure of the soup bowl. “I use it for literally everything – I use it on my desk to hold special things, I’ll use it to put some nuts in while I think of something special to serve one day.”