The 15 Best Home and Design Gifts for Apartment Dwellers

National Park candles, Keith Shore prints and "floor baskets" included

December 3, 2019 10:15 am
holiday gift ideas guide home goods

There’s a ton you can’t control with an apartment.

The rent, for starters. The couple above you who just bought Dance Dance Revolution.

But you can control the feeling you get when you walk into your place at the end of a long day, or the prospect of compliments (or started conversations, at least) when others walk in for a dinner party. It helps to add touches to your space — artistic, functional or otherwise — that have robust backstories. You might pay a little more for a bespoke 360-degree ambient light from a British industrial designer than a lamp found in Aisle 19 at IKEA, but “discovering” something that adds any level of character to your apartment is always worth it in the long run.

It works the other way, too. Gift an item with chutzpah to a friend or loved one, and you’re now a part of their home. If they don’t like it, don’t worry. It’s probably headed straight for the closet anyway. If they do, prepare to see it and get that fuzzy feeling (like playing a song the whole car vibes to) every time you’re over.

To make the whole process easier for you, we’ve rounded up 15 surefire “wins” in the design gifting realm. These products would make fine additions to any home, and most do indeed come with worthy origin stories. From an iconic chair that enjoys permanent residence at the MoMA, to National Park candles that’ll have the whole joint smelling like sandalwood and citrus, find our picks below.

Oxford Pennant Banners

This Buffalo brand hand-stitches wool-felt pennants, flags and championship banners with punchy designs and cheeky slogans. I got their “Raise Hell, Kid” banner for Christmas last year, and hung it over my bed. It makes me immeasurably happy.

Seletti Starman Vase

Part of Seletti’s “Cosmic Diner” collection, here’s a golden astronaut with a hole in his backpack for a few flowers. It’s random, it’s oddly pleasing to the eyes, and if you plant it in the middle of your coffee table, it’s bound to start a conversation.

Herman Miller Eames Lounger Chair and Ottoman

If we had a blank check and an empty living room in need of furnishing, we’d start with the Charles and Ray Eames’ Lounge Chair and Ottoman for Herman Miller. The mid-’50s club chair is a permanent fixture in the MoMA, one of the most important designs of the 20th century, and somehow as cool today as when it was first released. You and the Sunday paper deserve a standing date with this set-up.

Weight Table Light

Gantri provides one of the best platforms out for talented young product designers to sell their wares. This 360-degree ambient light was designed by Sam Gwilt, a British industrial designer who specializes in bespoke lighting installations. We love it for the nightstand, or an end table beside the couch.

Faherty Sherpa Blanket Sierra Paradise

Predictably, the label that routinely wins “Softest” and “Comfiest” superlatives from us when we power-rank jackets and Henleys also makes one hell of a blanket. Faherty meshed long-staple cotton yarns with a Sherpa lining, and topped it off with indigenous-inspired weaves. To honor those who originally conceptualized the patterns, a portion of sales are donated to Spirit Horse Nation and Lakota Way Healing Center.

Bloomscape Plants

Bloomscape will deliver “living room-ready plants” straight to your door, in an innovative packaging system (comprised of 100% recycled materials) that holds the plant firmly in place. All that’s left for you to do is put the fern, palm or ficus in a lonely corner and do your best to keep it alive. If you’re worried about that last note, make sure to bookmark Bloomscape “Plant Care” section and consult it frequently.

Sonos Move

Sonos had everything going for it — superior sound quality, pairing capabilities indiscernible from Clarke’s Third Law, and a dope-ass name. That wasn’t enough, apparently, because it’s now portable, too. The Move is weatherproof, drop-resistant, and fuels up on battery by simply sitting atop a charging base.

Yamazaki Plain Coat Hanger

Designed by a “clutter-slaying” Japanese brand that’s been around for over 100 years, this coat hanger stands roughly 70 inches off the ground and offers six different wooden hooks off its steel frame. It gives the pleasant appearance of a wintry tree, and is a fantastic foyer piece for when guests are over.

Good + Well Supply Co. National Park Candles

So your home can smell a little more like s fir needle, cedar wood and smokey tobacco, and a little less like … you. These soy candles are vegan, hand-poured in Seattle, burn for 80 hours, and evoke scents found in America’s most beautiful environs.

The Citizenry Mercado Floor Baskets

You’re probably familiar with the “catchall,” that little plate for tossing keys, lip balm and loose change upon entering your home. But the living room needs its own version, too — for blankets, board games, toys, and magazines. If you can inject a little character into the piece, all the better. We like these floor baskets, which were handwoven by The Artisans of Sierra Madre, a crack squad of craftsmen and craftswomen based in Guerrero, Mexico.

Lemnos Soso Clock

Yes, we know everything from the oven to your electric razor can tell time these days. That’s not the point. Built by AWATSUJI, an all-female design house operating out of Tokyo, the Soso clock features a playful, fresh design and employs light plywood behind a glass case.

Mikkeller X Huckberry Schussboom Print

The artist behind Danish brewery Mikkeller’s beer can illustrations is named Keith Shore, and he’s collabed with Huckberry a few times on custom prints. They’re hyper-limited-edition, with only 100 copies, and come with his signature in the bottom right. This one celebrates Schussboom, a “6% Multigrain IPA inspired by the epic mountains of the Pacific Northwest.”

Revival Rugs Cushion Covers

As it turns out, Revival Rugs doesn’t just make rugs. The label cuts pillowcases from its vintage, Turkish, hand-knotted kilims. There are hundreds to choose from, and it’s well worth the deep-dive, if only to add a little life to your living room couch. Heads up, you’ll have to buy a pillow separately; look for an 18″ insert.

A24 Screenplay Books

A fun take on the coffee table spread. A24 has taken to packaging some of its most iconic screenplays in hardcover form. The books include the full script, plus essays on their cultural significance alongside intermittent flashes of concept art.

Dyson V11

We recommend refurbished, outdated Dyson vacuums all the time. I have one, and it’s still the best vacuum I’ve ever owned. It’s the holidays, though, and you/your loved ones deserve the best and latest. The V11 is a cordless cleaner that adapts to different types of flooring in “auto mode.” It provides up to 60 minutes of cleaning, has 40% more suction power than earlier generations (like the V8) and will keep your space spruced up as all get-out.

The InsideHook Newsletter.

News, advice and insights for the most interesting person in the room.