Follow the Pattern is a brand new column from furniture maker and upholstery expert (and Food52's Resident Design Wiz), Nicole Crowder. Nicole is here to show us how to breathe new life into old furniture, reuse and repurpose materials, take chances with color and pattern—and develop a signature aesthetic.
A keyword when considering my apartment this past year has definitely been "comfort": how to enhance it, how to create more of it in different corners, and how to be really intentional with purchases that contribute toward that. I wanted to hit that sweet spot of design where things were functional (meaning I would engage with them daily), beautiful, and multi-purpose, but also purchases that were mindful of more delicate budgets this year.
So for this holiday season, I wanted to share some home décor elements that have been making my space a brighter, more comfortable sanctuary, in hopes that they will provide the same for you.
Creating a mood throughout my apartment through scent has been a big focus for me this past year. And one of my absolute favorite daily rituals is to burn an incense stick from this brand first thing in the morning in my bedroom, before I settle in for a bath, and when I’m winding down from the day. Some incense can burn very heavy and smoky, but this one is so light and gentle, with its notes of soothing chamomile and relaxing lavender. It's the perfect mood setter.
I am a tea lover to my heart. Memories of drinking tea with my great aunt and uncle at their dining table with a wedge of lemon is likely when I made how I drink it more of a ritual. I love pouring a hot cup in the morning as a slow and easeful way to start the day. And the design of the beautiful Dansk Kobenstyle porcelain teapot makes the experience that much more enjoyable. I believe that beautifully designed products make you more motivated to want to engage with them. And it’s a cute décor piece to adorn your dining or coffee table all its own.
Give someone the gift of brightening their interior space that they’ve been looking at for the past nine months. Kate Zaremba’s custom-designed removable wallpapers are just as stunning and varied in their designs, and are among my favorites for transforming a space. You don’t need a huge space to add pop to your home or apartment. Give an accent wall or your laundry room or that small guest bathroom a little extra love.
(And as an extra little gift for this friend or family member, offer to pay for a Tasker from TaskRabbit so that when they’re ready to install they have a helping hand.)
I covet just about everything owner Natalie Warren post from her home vintage furniture shop Sojourn Vintage—from the hand-carved vases from Costa Rica to the bowls made in Nigeria. But it is the Italian travertine tables made with immaculate marble that I find myself drooling over, with their sharp edges and beautiful brushstrokes on the surface. These would make a great gift if your budget is slightly higher and you’re shopping for someone with discerning design taste who wants a table that can go between a workspace and functional art piece. Natalie sells exclusively through her Instagram page, and is incredibly responsive; all items are updated quickly once sold.
Justina Blakeney‘s brand is synonymous with bold patterns and prints across her beautiful array of household products. I have been shopping around for rugs lately because I’m moving into a new apartment soon, and rugs make a wonderful gift that can really set the mood and a room’s foundation. But because I love designs and products that are multitaskers, a rug can double as a great functional art piece when hung, which is how I love to use rugs in my apartments. This Santa Fe spice rug is a focal piece all its own.
In 2019 I hosted a pop-up furniture and home accessory shop, and came across the gorgeous handmade pottery of Bethany Slater; my heart hasn’t stop pattering since. Bethany’s beautiful geometric designs feature rich indigo, robin's egg blue and green with sandstone, and white. They make perfect complements to any color palette for the homes of your friends or family. Send a pot to your coworker, to your best girlfriend, to your mom, or your plant-loving friend who can always find one more reason to pot another plant.
The table setting at your home is its own invitation to dine, but also a calling card that speaks to the personality of whose home it is. These dinner napkins are small details that can I use for many functions.
Of course artwork cannot be understated as a force in giving a home a sense of atmosphere. One artist whose works I have been in love with is oil painter and activist Lindsay Adams. There is an extended invitation to be both easeful and unbothered offered in Lindsay’s paintings. The subjects—predominately Black women—are depicted in poses showing them at rest or leisure, draped in a white slip dress while languishing at home, enjoying cups of coffee, stretching in yoga pants among their plants. Her print titled “Serene"—with a neutral color palette of gold, creams, white, and brown—will hang in my bedroom.
Give me a soft, plush, and colorful textile anytime. I keep throw blankets at the ready throughout my apartment and stored on shelves for practical reasons (despite being from Minnesota, I don’t enjoy the cold). But they also add extra layers of warmth and texture to your living room, office, or bedroom when you drape them across the arm of a chair or keep them folded at the edge of your bed. Abstract designs are among my absolute favorite textile patterns, and I highly recommend these merino wool throw blankets if you want a little luxury to go with your comfort. Because winter is indeed coming.