With Love: Gifts for Your Valentine

tsg-Vday_GiftGuide Even those who embrace a good gift-giving challenge can find shopping for Valentine’s Day to be a bit tricky. When confronted with finding just the right way to say “I love you,” one can feel a bit paralyzed. Therefore, to keep February 14-induced anxiety at bay, we sought out a variety of presents that we feel are sure to please. Here are our picks (clockwise from top left):

One can never go wrong with jewelry. A necklace of African coral beads with a silver Ethiopian cross, available from Charleston’s ibu, is stunning and soulful. // A rose gold Monica Rich Kosann Poesy ring bearing the inscription “Forever” is a sentimental (yet not overly sweet) selection. Available from Atlanta’s Laura Pearce Ltd. // Sometimes whimsical is the way to go, and in such moments, “frilloons” like the ones shown from Minneapolis-based event stylist White Peacock, fit the bill. // If you’d like to show you care with a little sparkle, consider these gold and pave diamond earrings from Charleston’s Croghan’s Jewel Box. // A comfy-chic sweater is like giving someone a stylish hug for their wardrobe. Available from You Are Here in Fort Worth, Texas. // No one can resist a show-stopping shoe. Oscar de la Renta’s Colu Sandal, available from Naples’s Marissa Collections, is an utter work of art. // Songs have been written about red dresses, and for good reason. This silk number from Palm Beach’s Tomas Maier proves why. // Antique books are a beautiful and timeless gift that the literature lover in your life will treasure. 22-volume Waverly novels by Sir Walter Scott available from Denver’s Black Tulip Antiques. // A work of art like New Orleans-based artist Alexis Walter’s awe-inspiring painting is a thoughtful and lasting present sure to be appreciated every day.

Feb
7
2015

Words We Love / 44

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Feb
4
2015

February Loves

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“Of course, I love you,” the flower said to him. “If you were not aware of it, it was my fault.”
—Antoine de Saint-Exupery, The Little Prince

Regardless of how one feels about Valentine’s Day, we can all appreciate the mid-February reminder to tell our loved ones how much we care. After all, throughout this month we can use all the warmth and joy we can get as we wait out winter. Plus, taking a break from our usual cold-weather-induced introspection to concentrate on how we can outwardly express our affection always feels like a much-needed breath of fresh air.

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1. Mindful morning routines. With Mercury in retrograde for the first half of the month, this is more important than ever. Luckily, Rambler Yoga in Knoxville offers morning power yoga classes that will help us start the day in the right mindset.
2. French opaline glassware. Beautiful blue goblets are a sure way to dress up a table, and for a more casual yet equally lovely look we adore these handmade aqua “eau minerale” glasses from FOUND in Houston.
3. Blue handbags. Indigo accessories are perfect for a wintry pop of color, and this Louis Vuitton number available from The Little Bird in Aspen is perfect for February.
4. Fresh facades. Now is an excellent time to deck out your doorway with sculptural elements or a fresh coat of paint. We like to turn to Palette Paint and Home in Richmond and Charlottesville, Virginia, for help in picking out just the right color.
5. Celebrating 100 volumes. With the publication of The Scout Guide Charleston, Vol. 4 this month, TSG will have published 100 volumes of city guides since our 2010 debut, and we will be celebrating this milestone all throughout spring.
6. Men’s watches. As far as Valentine’s Day gifts go, we can’t resist a great men’s watch. Barton-Clay Fine Jewelers in Birmingham, Alabama, has gorgeous options that are sure to please.
7. Vacation planning. From much-needed winter getaways to where we’ll be spending our summer vacations, we are travel-focused in February, and we appreciate that MAD Travel Inc. in Naples, Florida, is available to help arrange all of our travel needs.

Lead image of a design by Erika Jack taken by Christy Ford.

Feb
3
2015

TSG Equestrian: An Introduction

Founder’s Note

tsg_eq_founders1.0 Our love for all things equestrian is well documented. From Founder’s Notes on the beauty of equestrian style to scenes from classic fox hunts to a celebration of the arrival of the Year of the Horse to gift guides peppered with products that horse lovers will appreciate, our equine affection clearly runs deep. This should come as no surprise, given our commitment to celebrating artisans and craftsmanship (the equestrian world has both in spades) and our co-founder Susie Matheson’s lifelong love of riding. And now it is taking TSG in an exciting new direction: our first national guide, The Scout Guide Equestrian.

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Equestrian life is filled with beauty in every way, from an exhilarating early-morning ride to the exquisite details evident in the attire and equipment (exhibit A: the Dubarry Birch Women’s Hacking Style Tweed Jacket; Tri-County Feeds, Fashions, Finds in Hunt Country, Virginia carries the line). Every stitch, every buckle, every element is incorporated with care and purpose. It is, quite simply, craftsmanship at its best.

“IN ESSENCE, THE WHOLE EQUINE CULTURE REVOLVES AROUND A RESPECT FOR THE MAGNIFICENCE OF THE HORSE.”
– SUSIE MATHESON

tsg_equestrian_collage4 Top: An image from Beverly Equestrian in The Plains, VA; above, left: Matheson’s daughter with her pony; above, right: a quote from The Scout Guide Equestrian blog.

The Scout Guide Equestrian has been a long time coming. Matheson grew up riding in her hometown of Omaha, was on the equestrian team in college, and has passed along her love of horses to the next generation, as evidenced by the above photograph of her daughter. Like the first volume of The Scout Guide Charlottesville, The Scout Guide Equestrian will be a labor of love and keepsake with one of Susie’s passions at its core. It will capture the spirit of the equestrian lifestyle and serve as both a place of discovery and a celebration of individuals and artisans whose work and wares are rooted in the equestrian tradition, just as our city guides do for our local treasures.

“Show me your horse and I will tell you who you are.”
—English Proverb

tsg_eq_mollypic_collage The Scout Guide Equestrian will be helmed by Molly Knott (shown above), founder and editor of the beloved equestrian-focused blog Dappled Grey. Knott, an avid equestrienne and tireless scout of all things horse-related, has written for Equestrian Quarterly and Horse & Style magazines. You can learn more about her here. “I am thrilled to welcome Molly, who shares my love for horses and passion for small businesses and artisans, to the TSG family,” Susie says.

tsg_gormley_final Pen and ink drawing by Dennis J. Gormley

While we may be bidding farewell to the Year of the Horse in a couple of weeks, we look forward to celebrating the equestrian life for many years to come.

Feb
2
2015

Investing in Rest

Up Close & Personal with Mary Pat Wallace of Chicago Luxury Beds

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Who: Mary Pat Wallace
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Occupation: Owner, Chicago Luxury Beds

Since resolving to have a healthier and happier 2015, we’ve explored and invested in new exercise routines; a variety of wellness programs, procedures and products; and recipes for good health—all the usual avenues for looking and feeling our best. And while they are undoubtedly having a positive impact, we realized there is one aspect to achieving our goals that we’ve been ignoring: our beds.

Despite the many ways sleep (or lack thereof) affects our health and happiness, for some reason, it isn’t immediately obvious to all of us that a high-quality mattress is worthy of serious investment. In fact, it turns out that even Mary Pat Wallace, owner of Chicago Luxury Beds—which, as the name suggests, carries the most luxurious mattresses available—had to convince her husband that spending upwards of $10,000 on one was a sound decision.

“People’s concepts of what’s important in our culture just aren’t focused on sleep.”

“He said, ‘No. Nobody I know would spend that on a mattress, and if my friends found out they would laugh at me,” Wallace says. But when she pointed out all the other things in their home that they never use, versus the bed, where they spend eight hours a night, his mind started to change. “People’s concepts of what’s important in our culture just aren’t focused on sleep,” Wallace notes. “But if you don’t get a good night’s sleep, you’re not happy or productive the next day.

tsg-with-close-with-chicaog-luxury-beds-Bed-with-Sferra-linens In addition to factoring in how and where one spends one’s time, if you add up all health and fitness-related expenses—think gym memberships, personal trainers, juicers, massage therapists, etc.—researching and purchasing the perfect mattress that will last for decades makes sense—even if the price tag is tens of thousands of dollars.

Wallace’s husband, for one, has no buyer’s remorse. After sleeping on their new mattress for just a few months he was wowed (and free of the back pain that had been plaguing him). Credit, of course, goes to his wife, who spent years honing her eye and understanding of what is a worthwhile investment while working in Chicago with Holly Hunt. As Hunt sought out the best of the best for her showroom, Wallace learned to “find the jewels,” and in the bedding world that means Hästens, a company based in Sweden that has been handcrafting bespoke beds since 1852, and Vispring, a London-based custom bed company founded more than 100 years ago.

“You feel like you are buying a piece of history.”

A visit to the Hästens factory in Sweden convinced Wallace to focus her career on luxury beds. The quality, natural materials, and construction of their products, she says, make them the gems of the mattress-making world, and spending time there seeing the mattresses crafted in a tradition that has been passed down and perfected for generations further proved that the beds are heirloom-quality pieces. “I love to travel and I love taking staff on trips, because you get to see the heart and the soul of the company,” Wallace says. “You get such an appreciation for the family that is doing it, and you feel like you are buying a piece of history. I don’t think you see that by reading the catalog.”

tsg-up-close-chicago-luxury-beds-materials-bright Image via Hastens‘s Instagram

Wallace’s employees understand this as well: members of the Chicago Luxury Bed staff travel to the factories to see the mattresses crafted firsthand. “Not only does the team go there to learn how they are made, but they get put on the assembly line, they see how difficult it is,” Wallace says. “It takes years to train to learn how to make a Hästens bed and a Vispring bed. And they see all these materials—the cotton or the wool, the cashmere, the silk, the angora, the levels of quality in the raw materials. It’s such an education. And these families are so passionate that they walk you through every element.…You can give somebody a book to read, but when you are actually there and you are interacting with these people, the staff gets so excited because they just want to share it with everybody.”

“When people come in to try the beds, we say, ‘If you can, check your cell phone at the door. You need to listen to your body.’”

Those who wish to experience a bespoke mattress firsthand should pay a visit to the Chicago Luxury Bed showroom—and be ready to stay awhile. “When people call to make an appointment, we tell them to dress comfortably, because most people are in the store anywhere from one to four hours,” Wallace says. She compares the experience to that of a runner trying on shoes for the perfect fit or a skier seeking the perfect boot. “It’s so much about the fit and that fit is going to be different for everybody, because your foot is different and your ankle is different, your calf is different,” she says. “And if you are going to be out there for 8 hours of the day skiing, then it’s all about the boot.”

tsg-up-close-chicago-luxury-beds-spread Image of Mary Pat Wallace and Chicago Luxury Bed team by Katrina Wittkamp for The Scout Guide Chicago

To help people find the perfect fit, staff members move customers around to the different brands and the different tensions within the brand, and it becomes evident to most people fairly quickly that their body is either suited to a Vispring or a Hästens. The next step is trying a different model or a different tension within the line. The process can go on for multiple visits, which is fine with Wallace. “It is an expensive purchase and we want to make sure that they are doing it right,” she says. For Visprings fans, an additional trial opportunity is available, and it comes with a perk: Six guest rooms at the Waldorf Astoria hotel in Chicago have a different Visprings mattress in each, so a customer can spend the night on a Vispring. If they decide they like it, they can go back to Chicago Luxury Beds and buy the mattress and the cost of the hotel room will be covered.

tsg-up-close-chicago-luxury-beds-beach So as we work toward living healthier, happier lives, we’re going to keep in mind that one-third of said lives will be spent on one piece of furniture—so we may as well enjoy it.

Chicago Luxury Beds // Chicago, IL // 312.527.5337

Jan
30
2015

Scouted: Amboyna Burl Knife Block

Burl Knife Block We admit we usually find it difficult to get excited about a knife block, but when we discovered this incredible custom version by Denver-based Where Wood Meets Steel it immediately piqued our interest. Here, the company—which uses recycled and reclaimed wood, steel, and other sustainable products in their furniture, fixture, and product designs—combines bamboo, steel, and a beautiful piece of Amboyna wood sent to them by a client to create a block that more than makes the cut. While this one is claimed for, those interested in owning their own one-of-a-kind piece for the kitchen should not hesitate to call.

Where Wood Meets Steel  //  Denver, CO  //  720.318.6521

Photo credit: Miller Photographics

Jan
29
2015