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My Favorite Things – The Official “Emily” Gift Guide Just Landed: PART 1 Home Decor

OH GIFT GUIDE SEASON IS HERE and we are taking a different approach this year. Our goal is to recommend good stuff, like the pair of pajamas that you dig around to find in the middle of the night because they are simply the best. So instead of scouring every website on the internet, trying to find the newest proverbial pair of pajamas that likely will be shoved in the back of your drawer, I literally just walked around my own house, looked at photos of our old house (because everything is in storage), and listed what I own and still love SO MUCH. And THEN I went to my favorite brands and small businesses and found new stuff that I legit need, want, or love very much that I haven’t talked about yet. That’s it.

Listen, we love beautiful, functional, practical, and long-lasting things over here – things that bring us joy, express our style and creativity, and make our lives easier and better. The older I get the less stuff I want just for the sake of having it which makes creating these guides harder and harder because sifting through it all becomes impossible. And listen, ideally gifts should be personal to the people involved, so we aren’t doing just generic guides in hopes you’ll click and buy another vase you don’t need for your uncle. What you can get from us this season is recommendations of things that make our hearts sing, tools that make our lives easier, toys our kids actually play with, gifts our boomer parents really want from us – researched, tested, and hopefully long-lasting. And you’ll see many many things here that I have recommended over the years or in linkups. That is purposeful and hopes to show you how great they are – that I have loved them for years and years and years and I hope you and your loved ones will, too.

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: mountain house primary bedroom

Classic Pillows And Throws I’ve Loved For So Many Projects

1. Faux Leather Lumbar: She is just good, and if faux leather isn’t your thing I also have this linen one that I LOVE.
2. Denim Pillow: It’s affordable, has lasted a long time, and is generally like a trusted LEVI pair of jeans.
3. Velvet Pillow: I just bought these for the basement project and they are SO SOFT and SO LUSH. They come in many sizes and many colors. So pretty.
4. Embroidered Pillow: For those of you who want something a bit more special – this lady is so pretty and makes me happy (the whole Bole Road line is awesome).

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: a quick update: the changes i’ve made to my la living room

1. Double Striped Pillow: Another Target classic that goes with almost any style.
2. Extra Long Striped Body Pillow: Skip having a combination of pillows on your bed and just have this. It’s so good.
3. Floor Pillow: Where I sat every morning next to the fire while I drank coffee and talked to you all. It’s huge, so comfortable, so high quality. I don’t like dinky little floor cushions – this is like a piece of furniture.
4. Single Striped Pillow: Another great one that is so easy to mix in and yet isn’t boring.

I also just got THIS pillow for the basement project and it’s excellent.

1. Dovetail Throw: I don’t have this but REALLY WANT IT. It’s a splurge, but so beautiful and high quality.
2. Wool Patterned Throw: I have this on the back of our sofa at the mountain house and it’s so soft/thick and great for warmth.
3. Faux Fur Blanket: Our kids each have these as their “cozy blankees” and they take them everywhere in the house.
4. Seasonal Coverlet: A classic blanket that can be on your bed as well as dress up a sofa instantly.

1. Dark Indigo Lumbar: Because we love all things indigo (and the contrasting stripe is lovely)
2. Graphic Patterned Pillow: Will add instant energy to a room – like a broken stripe but softer.
3. Tassel Pillow: I have this in pink (out of stock) and the reason it’s good is because of its smaller scale – it’s a mini pillow which makes it really easy to style with bigger square pillows.
4. Blue Striped Pillow: A classic that goes with everything.
5. Leather Woven Lumbar: For those who want real leather and more texture – plus I LOVE this pinky color.
6. Embroidered Pillow: Lovely details and nice pattern without being too busy.
7. Dark Large Stripe Indigo Pillow: See #1 🙂
8. Tassel Center Band Stripes Pillow: Playful pom-poms, two big stripes, lovely color palette. Will never not be in style.

1. Mixed Striped Blanket: I’ve been a fan of these Happy Habitat blankets for YEARS. I want this one badly.
2. Block Printed Rug: I thought this was a throw! What a cool rug that looks quilted and patchworky in a really good way.
3. Pink Throw: This is so soft and fluffy – I have an older version of this brushed wool and it’s the coziest throw that is also very pretty (versus the faux fur that is so cozy but aren’t as refined). Comes in lots of colors, too. I literally think everyone likes a new cozy throw in the winter.
4. Blue Tassel Throw: Two pretty colors, lots of texture, and yes on the fringe. Great for year-round snuggles.
5. Blue Stripe Blanket: This reminds me of one of my favorites that got ruined in the move (just found it covered in mold in storage). I’m going to snag this for myself.
6. Patchwork Throw: I’ve always been drawn to all things quilt and patchworky – this would also look great upholstered on a bench or headboard.

The Decor That I Will Always Use And Some That Are Guaranteed New Classics

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: emily’s updated living room

1. Footed Striped Vase: One of my favorites from Justina (and fun fact, it’s three separate pieces so it could be three gifts – a small tray, a cup, and a bowl).
2. Black Wood Tray: I also have this in light wood – just so pretty and simple.
3. Sphere Bud Vase: I’ve used this multiple times for a bedside table bud vase and it’s so easy to style/use.
4. Pink Terra Cotta Vase: Still on the nightstand of our guest room at the mountain house, and the color and texture are just ridiculously good.
5. Footed Planter: It’s hard to see but this one has two different textures – the top is matte and the bottom is glossy. I’ve had this for YEARS and have used it in a million different rooms.
6. Striped Box: Sometimes you want a tiny bit of pattern in a bold neutral and this one is IT (or just get the striped footed vase:))

1. Black and White Terra Cotta Vase: Justina’s vase for Target and the whole collection is REALLY GOOD.
2. Footed Wood Tray: That little foot under the tray makes a huge difference, visually.
3. Blue Glass Bud Vase: The amount of bathrooms I’ve styled this in is stupid – it’s just so good and perfect for one sprig (I have the pink one).
4. Wrapped Rock: My leather and raffia rock collection is one of those things that confuses most non-design guests, but they are just so cool and perfect for on top of a stack of books.
5. Tadelakt Bowl: The most simple farmhouse fruit bowl ever. Bloomist has a ton of great gifts, BTW.
6. Blue Vase: I bought this Target vase twice – one for mountain house, one for our rental. I LOVE IT – i’s that perfect denim color that I want to color-match.
7. Footed Bowl: I love this terra cotta version that would absolutely warm up a kitchen in a modern/rustic way.
8. Sculptural Side Table: I love this little hand-carved cocktail table (it was in my living room).

1. Mercado Floor Storage Basket: I have the one without the black on the bottom but this one is SO GOOD. I have one for magazines/newspapers and one for blankets because it’s that perfect low and wide shape that is easy to toss into.
2. Large Landscape Art: I bought this for above the fireplace at the mountain house because I wanted to take my original art, but it honestly looks BETTER than what I had! It’s from the Studio McGee collection at Target.
3. Serving Basket: I simply can’t get enough wood-woven baskets and storage bins.

Lighting I’ve Always Loved And Some New Ones

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: the coziest upstairs guest “bunk” bedroom

1. Black Wood Base Lamp: Quite possibly my favorite lamp, we’ve had two of these on our nightstands for years.
2. Handmade Earthenware Lamp: I wanted this last year and didn’t get it, so I’m still putting it on my list.
3. Curved Arm Table Lamp: I think these are so lovely – they have a sculptural shape, but in a restrained and unexpected way (and I love the fabric shade).
4. Concrete Table Lamp: Still one of my favorites ever – and it dims very low so it’s a great nightlight, too.
5. Light Wood Base Lamp: I ordered one of these for the basement project after I saw it in person at Rejuvenation. The ribbing is just so pretty.
6. Milk Glass Dome Task Lamp: Y’all this is so good and affordable.

Classic Candles/Scents/Matches

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: our living room, dressed up for the holidays
photo by tessa neustadt | from: our master bedroom reveal

1. Ceramic Match Striker: A staple on my gift list every single year. I want one for every bathroom.
2. Scented Candle: The wood wick is my favorite and adds a lot to the smell.
3. Candle Holders: There isn’t a home these wouldn’t look good in, and they come in natural wood, too.
4. Totem Candles (Set of 3): The candle that started the sculptural candle trend – this trio is a new classic.
5. Smoke Match Cloche: Such a beautiful piece to style with that’s actually functional.
6. Pot Pourri: I bought this years ago for my bedroom reveal for its awesome shape and I had no idea how much joy I would get out of the scent. Brian has even rubbed it on his neck before because it smells that good. If you want to spoil someone, this potpourri + sculptural container would do it.

Favorite Design Books I Pick Up And Flip Through Often

photo by sara ligorria-tramp | from: the 10 design books that have inspired the mountain house

1. Upstate: Every single page of this book is incredible and inspiring. The creativity of these houses is unbeatable.
2. Monochrome Home: When I started playing more with neutrals I found this book as inspiration – still so much style and creativity, in a quieter way.
3. Styled: Listen. I had to reference this book a lot this year as we wrapped up its follow-up (on renovation) and was reminded of how useful and helpful it still is (and I was so relieved to see it isn’t dated).
4. Surf Shack: I LOVE THIS BOOK. Doesn’t matter if you’ll ever live near water, there are a lot of really cozy and casual (and inspiring) ideas in here.
5. Scandinavia Dreaming: I have bookmarked the heck out of it while designing the mountain house.
6. Domino: The Book of Decorating: This is still such a GREAT classic that is fun to reference over and over.
7. The New Bohemians: Justina Blakeney, my friend, really created a movement and I’m so proud of her. This book is excellent for anyone wanting approachable inspiration for a more bohemian style.
8. Get It Together!: Orlando is laugh-out-loud funny, seriously, and this book will make anyone smile.

1. Jungalow: Justina did it again, so many beautiful images in this book.
2. Modern Americana: Max Humphrey has such a distinct style and a fresh design perspective. I’ve LOVED working with him on the river house – he’s a great guy with little ego and a lot of style.
3. Made For Living: Amber Lewis – another movement maker who I love and has really made her stamp hard on the design world.
4. House Story: Jasmines’ book is on renovation is so helpful and informative – if you are considering a renovation project or know someone who is, pick this up!

That’s all my favorite decor stuff, friends (without furniture/rugs, obviously – should I do that???). While we’ve linked everything up I do implore you to shop small and local when possible and just know that 10% of all our affiliate sales (the commission we get through these links with many of the companies) will be donated to Pen + Napkin for future makeovers of families transitioning out of homelessness. So if/when you are buying through our links know that it is supporting families and community. While gift guide season is a large revenue driver that supports our team and design projects for the whole year, we are committed to paying it forward. 🙂

Opening Image Credits: Photo by Sara Ligorria-Tramp | From: Our Scandinavian (And Easy, Mess-Free) Holiday Living Room Reveal + How I Finally Figured Out My Biggest Styling Problem… And Solved It

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2 years ago

Match cloche isn’t linked under your candle section! (The thing I want most so I noticed, haha!)

2 years ago
Reply to  A

I see that one but not the candle holders which is what I wanted. Ha!

2 years ago
Reply to  A

sorry all fixed!!

2 years ago

LOVE the Goodee rug! That indigo is great and Ilove thats its sustainable! The price seemed OK when at first glance I thought it was vintage patchwork but now i see it’s just printed into cotton I wonder how it would hold up to wear? I wonder if it would fade like some cheaper mass market printed cotton rugs… Seems like there could even be DIY option…

2 years ago

I have that #8 under the new pillow section and I love it!

2 years ago

Thanks Emily! I would love to see the furniture/rug version of this gift list too! (Fingers crossed!!) Happy Holidays everyone!

2 years ago

My favorite design book is “The Perfectly Imperfect Home.” It was one of the first ones I bought when I started becoming more interested in the way my home looks and feels and it really gave me a lot of confidence. I have a few of the ones on your list, including yours, of course.

2 years ago

All these are very beautiful things I would happily buy for myself. However, I could never buy a pillow or a lamp as a gift for someone else. I would feel so awkward, even if it would be a great thing to receive! Am I alone?

2 years ago
Reply to  Sara

Yeah, I wouldn’t buy a pillow or lamp for someone else and would be very hesitant to buy just about any decorative item for anyone but my twin sister (and even then I’d be a little nervous). I wouldn’t want someone to feel obligated to use/display whatever I bought them.

2 years ago
Reply to  Sara

Agreed! This seemed like such an odd post to me. I’d buy someone a candle, a small sculpture/decoration, maybe some stylish kitchen items (like a cutting board or knife block), maybe a throw blanket if I knew that they needed a blanket and I could find something that fit their decor… but a lamp? That seems so odd to me!

2 years ago
Reply to  Sara

On the other hand, this is fantastic to send to a significant other or someone with whom you want to share some gift ideas for yourself! I will say though that I have both bought and received pillows, throws, and vases from my best friends that know my style and it’s great.

2 years ago

Gosh thats alot of pillow recommendations. I like pillows dont get me wrong, but the intro had me anticipating other things too, like kitchen tools or more art or functional day to day life items. A bit disappointed but still love your style.

Lauren Leonard
2 years ago

That large scale Target Studio McGee landscape art is such a hot tip and so much better in person. Following your initial insta story post I bought THREE for all the big empty walls and get compliments! I also was an early adopter on the Lumbar pillow and will never go back. Love this list and the reference photos of the items staged. Thanks Emily!

2 years ago

I look forward to your gift guides each year. I’d selfishly love to skip ahead to the kids’ guide… our family no longer exchanges gifts for adults!

2 years ago

Ah yes, a $78 rock wrapped in string. Let me get my pocketbook.

2 years ago

I want to schoolhouse throw so much too! but cannot justify $449 for a throw, not even full size blanket. 🙁

2 years ago

Yes please to rug and furniture recommendations! ESP for those of us with messy children and dogs but still love beautiful homes.

Louise P-G
2 years ago

Hey Emily!

I actually love this approach! I get so fed up of seeing endless gift guides of stuff which influencers haven’t tried. It just fuels mindless consumption which we & the planet don’t need more of. That said I would love to see a part 2 that maybe has kitchen / gadgets / some kids stuff / small sustainable fashion brands. Love the blog & your voice as usual.

2 years ago

This is a fantastic round up! I just bought House Story from your link for myself. I would love to know what Mad et Len scent you have! I need that potpourri in my life and would love to receive it as a gift.