Architectural Gifts for the Home

Designs for Living

Call me obsessed (which I am) but during the holidays when I start looking for gift ideas I am inevitably drawn to architecture and design items — and then I spend a lot of time trying to think of people who might, say, actually like to have

a dish towel printed with the floor plan of an elegant 192os New York apartment, as shown above (how cool is that! available from or a vividly

hued archival print of Condominium One at Sea Ranch by artist Keith Wilson (from the online gallery at So I can’t resist: here are more suggestions for the architect, designer, landscaper, or home builder on your list…or in your imagination.

Stirred, not shaken. Mugs turn out to be a major architectural canvas and Zazzle has a huge range of designs, from the Gothic ornamental details on the

Doges Palace in Venice to the soaring stone bulwark of Japan’s Osaka Castle

in an image from a vintage travel poster, to the spiral stair at the Vatican Museum — which lends itself rather well to a cup of coffee since the design

echoes the whirl when you stir in milk or sugar (or am I getting carried away…).

Tabula Rasa.  Renderings of houses and gardens are excellent subjects for coasters and place mats because, hey — they’re flat! These graphic coasters

showing British house designs from the late 18th century through the 1940s caught my eye. They’re from the Sir John Soane’s Museum Store in London (an extraordinary house built by architect Soane). Similar designs are available in

place mats. And speaking of place mats, check out the palace and gardens at Versailles, above, from The Louvre Store — to go under your salade nicoise.

For a somewhat simpler and more abstract approach, how about these subtle leaf place mats from Chilewich.

For Drawers and Cabinets. If  you are remodeling a kitchen or bathroom or building a new house and you’re thinking of giving the project something for Christmas, you quickly discover that choices in knobs and pulls are infinite. So you need to drill down. Start with a style category, like “organic,”

which might bring up stony ceramic knobs like these; or “traditional/vintage,”

to find these colorful pulls  — both sets are from, a very helpful and comprehensive source.

Landscape art. Maps are always fascinating to me because they combine graphic design with layer upon layer of useful information. And they’re often

very beautiful, as shown by this view of Oregon’s Crater Lake region, by Raven Maps. If maps aren’t your thing you can always go 3D — I just came across this

wild “lake effect” bathroom sink in the impressive showroom of The Bath & Beyond.

Toyland. If you have followed this blog you know I love blocks. Froebel blocks, for example, are the classic toy that Frank Lloyd Wright’s mother gave him when

he was a child — and look what they did for him! Friderich Froebel helped develop the kindergarten idea where, according to the Foebel website, he “used play as its engine and his Spielgabe (or ‘play gifts’) were the fuel.” You can never have enough toy blocks because some cities (in my living room at least) are always expanding.

Modern App. The Centraal Museum of the Netherlands boasts an extraordinary design collection and among its jewels is the Rietveld Schroeder house in Utrecht (and its archive) by the famous Dutch architect Gerrit Rietveld,

shown here. And now there’s a new Rietveld app for your smart phone, covering the famous Dutch architect’s building and furniture designs. Rietveld did a lot more than that one famous house and red, black, blue, and yellow chair — he designed a wide range of houses for small lots for example, and it’s a delight to page through them here.

Something for the virtual stocking…

From Our House To Yours. Of course you can always give a house design like contemporary Plan 496-18, by Leon Meyer, shown here. And we have more

than 30,000 to choose from, so dive in!

One response to “Architectural Gifts for the Home

  1. How about the Kaleidograph Design Toy as a stocking stuffer:

    Great for architects + designers.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s