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The 11 home pieces designers can’t stop using

The Washington Post logo The Washington Post 5/19/2022 Sarah Lyon
Houston-based designer Hallie Henley Sims recommends using the Bunny Williams shopping bag waste bin from Ballard Designs. © Ballard Designs/Ballard Designs Houston-based designer Hallie Henley Sims recommends using the Bunny Williams shopping bag waste bin from Ballard Designs.

Who wouldn’t want to go shopping alongside an interior designer? Although it’s true that pros generally purchase most furniture and other decorative items from trade-specific vendors, many also rely on tried-and-true retailers accessible to the general public. We asked 11 designers to share their favorite pieces that anyone can buy, and why those items never let them down. Here are their picks.

Case goods

The Channing three-drawer console table. © Jonathan Adler/Jonathan Adler The Channing three-drawer console table.

Why not invest in a piece that can serve multiple purposes? Designer Peti Lau likes the Channing three-drawer console table from Jonathan Adler ($1,995, jonathanadler.com), because, with its drawers and narrow footprint, it can “function either as a desk or a console.” “I like the simple white lacquer and silver metal finishes, which give it a more timeless look,” says Lau, who does work in Los Angeles, New York, London and Thailand.

Lighting

The 18-inch brass picture light from Circa Lighting. © Circa Lighting/Circa Lighting The 18-inch brass picture light from Circa Lighting.

No room is complete without layers of lighting, including overhead fixtures and task pieces. Picture lighting is a simple way to bring a museum-like quality to any home. Tucson designer Priya McCulloch suggests the 18-inch brass picture light from Circa Lighting ($399, circalighting.com). “I love using these for built-in bookshelves or to highlight art,” she says. They also are available in bronze and antique or polished nickel and “add a classic touch to any space,” McCulloch says.

AllModern’s Whit three-light semi-flush mount fixture from Wayfair. © Courtesy of AllModern/Courtesy of AllModern AllModern’s Whit three-light semi-flush mount fixture from Wayfair.

A statement-making light fixture will shine in any room. McCall Dulkys, a designer in Memphis, has incorporated the expansive, 96.45-inch Whit three-light semi-flush mount fixture from Wayfair ($760, wayfair.com) in many spaces. “I love using it over dining room tables, as the massive width often spans along the entire length of the table,” she says. “It’s perfect for modern or mid-century modern spaces in black, and the white could even be used to add a touch of modern to a coastal home.”

Tired of gray everything? Here's how to get a more colorful home. The New Eclipse shade from Etsy shop LeKrazyHorse. © LeKrazyHorse/Etsy/LeKrazyHorse/Etsy The New Eclipse shade from Etsy shop LeKrazyHorse.

A lampshade is another less-expensive way to make a major style statement. Laura Hur, a designer in Kensington, Md., is partial to the linen shades, handmade in Denmark, from the Etsy shop LeKrazyHorse (etsy.com/shop/LeKrazyHorse). They can give an old lamp a chic update, she says. She also likes that they are pleated, because “they bring a sense of texture, movement and playfulness to any space,” she says. “Pair one with a sculptural ceramic base, and it is suddenly much more interesting. Pair one with a playful squiggle base, and it feels like a party.”

Seating

The Blu Dot Puff Puff lounge chair. © Blu Dot/Blu Dot The Blu Dot Puff Puff lounge chair.

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A go-to accent chair is a must for residential and commercial spaces. Montclair, N.J., designer Blanche Garcia says Blu Dot’s Puff Puff lounge chair ($1,195-$1,395, bludot.com), available in multiple fabrics and colors, is a recent favorite. “It’s sculptural with a stunning tomato-red velvet fabric, and for the price, it just can’t be beat,” she says. Whether paired with a neutral sofa or jazzed up with a vibrant throw pillow or two, the piece can be styled to appeal to minimalists and maximalists.

Rugs

West Elm’s jute boucle rug. © West Elm/West Elm West Elm’s jute boucle rug.

An area rug can cozy up wooden floors, be layered above wall-to-wall carpeting or be used to create a distinct zone within a larger space. Boston-based designer Desiree Burns keeps coming back to West Elm’s jute boucle rug ($30-$1,099, westelm.com). “It’s great quality for the price point and goes with just about anything,” she says. “I’ve used it for … coastal bedrooms [and] more contemporary living rooms, and it’s always a winner.”

A Chilewich basket-weave woven floor mat. © Victor Schrager for Chilewich/Victor Schrager for Chilewich A Chilewich basket-weave woven floor mat.

And if you find yourself dealing with messes fairly often, there’s something for you, too. Christine Turknett Ho, a designer in Austin, says she is “obsessed” with Chilewich’s woven floor mats (from $130 depending on the style, chilewich.com) for the dining room. “They are super durable [to combat] any food spills, and the designs are timeless,” she says. “My favorite is the basket-weave woven floor mat, which I have in my own home in oyster, a neutral gray that plays so well with other colors.”

Accessories

Functional pieces such as glassware, towels and wastebaskets don’t have to be boring. Designers know that artful details are essential for finishing any room.

RH’s ultrasoft Turkish towels. © RH/RH RH’s ultrasoft Turkish towels.

One way to add both style and comfort is by incorporating plush towels. Benjamin Johnston, a Houston-based designer, says RH’s ultrasoft Turkish towel collection (from $21, rh.com) is a go-to. “It’s that little touch of luxury that makes getting ready for your day all that much more enjoyable,” he says.

Plush doesn’t have to stop at towels; many designers enjoy incorporating plush materials throughout the home. For example, Seattle-based designer Pallavi Kale likes to include alpaca throws, such as the alpaca basket-weave throw from Jenni Kayne Home ($295, jennykayne.com), in any room she styles. “They are soft and warm for snuggling,” Kale says. “You can also use them to add a layer of texture to your couch, bench or the foot of your bed.”

The alpaca basket-weave throw from Jenni Kayne Home. © Jenni Kayne Home/Jenni Kayne Home The alpaca basket-weave throw from Jenni Kayne Home. The Bunny Williams shopping bag waste bin from Ballard Designs. © Ballard Designs/Ballard Designs The Bunny Williams shopping bag waste bin from Ballard Designs.

Hallie Henley Sims, another Houston-based designer, says she likes to “make sure no details are overlooked, even when it comes to wastebaskets.” One of her favorites is the whimsical Bunny Williams shopping bag waste bin from Ballard Designs ($179, ballarddesigns.com). It’s perfect for a powder room or home office.

The Lucia glasses from Crate & Barrel. © Crate & Barrel/Crate & Barrel The Lucia glasses from Crate & Barrel.

And the right glassware can make you want to throw a get-together as soon as possible. D.C.-area designer Shannon Claire Smith recommends the Lucia collection at Crate & Barrel ($14.95 each, crateandbarrel.com). “The pieces are a great price and are great everyday or elevated occasion glasses,” Smith says. “They can skew casual enough for a glass of wine on the patio or be set on a table for a formal dinner party.” They are available in four shapes: red wine, white wine, champagne flute and coupe.

Sarah Lyon is a freelance writer and stylist in New York. Find her on Instagram: @sarahlyon9.

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