Form + Field 2018 Holiday Gift Guide

For our second annual gift guide, we’re taking a slightly different tack to the usual gift guide. As we’ve gotten older, gift-giving has mostly given way to spending meaningful time with our loved ones, whether that be through food, travel, or new experiences. This year we’re sharing some of our favorite ideas for creating memories with your friends and family - experiences that we’ve either done ourselves, given as gifts, or have on our bucket list!

FOR THE FOODIE

 Outstanding in the Field     image source

Outstanding in the Field image source

Outstanding in the Field

Forget farm to table, Outstanding in the Field takes the table to the farm! Set in stunning landscapes, this dinner party at a single long table is an unforgettable experience.

 Kaori’s Kitchen     image source

Kaori’s Kitchen image source

Kaori’s Kitchen

Mochi class, anyone? If you don’t share our love of mochi, you can learn how to make ramen, sushi, or any of the other Asian dishes offered by daughter and mother team Kaori and Yuki.

FOR THE MAKER

 Meryl Pataky  Neon Art: Joseph Kosuth

Meryl Pataky Neon Art: Joseph Kosuth

Meryl Pataky - Neon Workshops

Make your own neon masterpiece! Meryl is a local Bay Area artist focusing on neon and mixed media, and she happens to also hold neon workshops where you can create your own abstract designs or a pair of neon boobs from a selection of pre-designed patterns.

 sfclayworks     image source

sfclayworks image source

sfclayworks

Ceramic art has made a huge comeback in recent years, so why not make your own? sfclayworks is located in the Bayview neighborhood of San Francisco and offers all-levels ceramics classes for wheel throwing and handbuilding in the evening. The best part? There’s plenty of parking.

FOR THE TRAVELER

 Esalen     image source

Esalen

Even for the non-hippies, Esalen is a must-do at least once in your life! Built on the side of a cliff in Big Sur, Esalen offers hot springs, intimate workshops, and the most delicious vegetarian meals that will win over even the most ardent of carnivores. One of our most memorable experiences period.

 Sea Ranch     image source

Sea Ranch image source

Sea Ranch

For the architecture enthusiast, Sea Ranch is the perfect weekend getaway just 2-1/2 hours north of San Francisco. The upcoming SFMOMA exhibition sums it up perfectly, “Designed by a small group of Bay Area architects and designers in the early 1960s, the development was envisioned as a progressive, inclusive community, guided by the idealistic principles of good design, economy of space, and harmony with the natural environment.” Rent an iconic house designed by Charles Moore, William Turnbull, or perhaps, Joseph Esherick.

What are some of your favorite experiences to give or receive? Share with us in the comments!

Pro Tip: Our Favorite L.A. Design Shops

Last month, we took a trip to Los Angeles for a glorious week of art and design inspiration. In addition to checking off the Broad, and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House (perhaps his most stunning living room) from our bucket list, we made the rounds at Los Angeles’ design shops. Here’s a handful of our favorites for your next trip to L.A.:

 The dining room at Casa Perfect

The dining room at Casa Perfect

Casa Perfect is the Los Angeles outpost of The Future Perfect, one of the nation’s foremost contemporary design galleries with locations in San Francisco and New York City. It’s housed in a former residence of Elvis Presley, and has stunning views inside and out.

 Galerie Half’s Belgian-esque aesthetic

Galerie Half’s Belgian-esque aesthetic

Galerie Half is a beautifully curated showroom of 20th century design, primitive furniture, and European antiques, and features stand-out pieces such as a complete George Nakashima dining set. The spare, minimalist set-up puts all the emphasis on the furnishings.

 Unique wood pieces at Reform Gallery

Unique wood pieces at Reform Gallery

Reform Gallery is full of unique wood furniture and sculpture, and beautiful ceramics with an emphasis on California Modernism. Go here for pieces that showcase the handiwork of lesser known designer craftsmen such as J.B. Blunk and Sam Maloof.

 Vintage lighting at Gallery L7

Vintage lighting at Gallery L7

While Gallery L7 carries furniture and objects, what we loved most was their stunning selection of vintage 20th century European lighting from diverse French, Italian, Scandinavian, etc. designers.

 Object’s beautiful display of cutting board

Object’s beautiful display of cutting board

Object is retail at its finest, showcasing a beautiful collection of mid-century European and American objects for the home. Wood pieces, ceramics, and glassware are all on display.

Any shops we missed that are at the top of your list? Share with us in the comments below!

Pro Tip: When You Should Hire an Interior Designer

Interior designers create beautiful spaces, but hiring one isn’t right for every project. Here are the top 5 reasons for when you’ll want a full-service designer on your team...
 

1 / YOU WANT A UNIQUE SPACE

Interior designers help make any space uniquely yours due to their vast network of local, domestic, and international sources. They’ll find the exact right pieces for your home that you likely won’t see anywhere else, or they’ll create the perfect custom piece for you in collaboration with expert craftsmen.

Rest assured — your home will not look like your neighbor’s!

2 / YOU WANT FUNCTIONALITY AND DURABILITY FOR SPECIFIC NEEDS

Interior designers take the time to understand how you’ll be living in your space. Do you need to accommodate high-use areas for kids or pets? Do you have light-sensitive sleepers in an east-facing bedroom?

Interior designers apply their extensive knowledge of materials and vendors to help design your ideal space. You’ll get more than just a beautiful and inspiring home — you’ll get one that fits your daily life and is built to last.
 

3 / YOU WANT A COST-EFFICIENT PROJECT

Yes, hiring an interior designer is a considerable investment into your home, but there are several cost benefits too.

  • Interior designers’ relationships with vendors often result in prices lower than if you’d purchased the same items on your own.
  • Form + Field excels at project management and has overseen many projects before yours. We’ll help you avoid costly mistakes so you can have a beautiful space where money is spent on the things you care about most.

4 / YOU WANT A LOW TIME COMMITMENT

With an interior designer you’ll benefit from:

  • A hands-off project that is completed in the most time-efficient manner possible
  • An experienced person on-site to help you avoid time-sucking mistakes that could set back project schedule

With an interior designer on your team, you won’t squander your precious time resolving issues or sifting through countless options. You don’t need to be on-site with contractors or overseeing installations… and your project will be completed more quickly if you aren’t!
 

5 / YOU WANT CONFIDENCE AND PEACE OF MIND

Your interior designer understands building codes, communication requirements between parties, and every other nuance of a design project. They’ve managed the process many times before!

This means…

  • You can trust that your project is in qualified and talented hands.
  • You can live your life as normally as possible during the process.
  • Above all, you can experience stress-free the excitement of knowing your future home will be nothing short of stunning!

Wondering if an interior designer is right for your project? Ask us your questions in the comments below!

Pro Tip: Our Favorite Countertop Materials

Selecting kitchen countertops is one area where we see clients wanting some guidance. There isn’t just one obvious choice! Every type of countertop material, from marble to granite to concrete, comes with its own set of pros and cons.

To help you minimize hours of research, uncertainty, and decision paralysis, here’s a simple guide to 4 of our favorite countertop materials: quartzite, granite, soapstone, and concrete.

Have a question about these materials or others? Ask us in the comments below!
 

1 / QUARTZITE

Quartzite (not to be confused with man-made Quartz) is the hardest and most durable natural stone. It is one of our favorite countertop options for the simple reason that it excels in just about every category.

Pros: Quartzite is extremely heat resistant, so you can go ahead and set those scalding pans down. It also resists acid, stains, and scratches, and cleans easily with baking soda and water. Quartzite’s array of veining and color options (including some that mimic the look of marble) make it easy to get the look you want.

Cons: For any scratch or chip repair, we recommend hiring a professional. You’ll also want a professional to apply sealer every 1-3 years, depending on the porosity of your quartzite slab.

Price Range: $$-$$$
 

2 / GRANITE

Contrary to popular belief, granite is not just the stone of the 90s. Granite slabs come in a wide range of veining, splatter, and color options, so it’s more than possible to incorporate a style that will keep your space looking current. Plus, the stone’s long-term durability is well worth the investment.

Pros: Granite is extremely resistant to damage from heat, acid, common foods, and household cleaning products. Granite is also scratch resistant, so if you’re known for using your counters as chopping blocks, your granite will survive… though the sharpness of your knives may not!

Cons: In the unlikely event that your granite chips or scratches, you’ll want to hire a professional to repair it. You’ll also need to schedule a professional sealing application every 2-4 years.

Price Range: $$-$$$
 

3 / SOAPSTONE

We love materials that patina and get better with age, and soapstone is at the top of that list. If you want a countertop that has beauty and longevity, you should give soapstone your serious consideration.

Pros: Like quartzite and granite, soapstone is extremely heat resistant. Though it’s the softest natural stone, its lack of porosity resists damage from acid, bacteria, and stains. Scratches can happen, but they’re easy to buff out with 60-80 grit sandpaper. Removing any residue or blemishes is also easy to do without calling in a professional.

Cons: Your color options are limited to a range of veining in white and gray, and body colors in gray and green. Perhaps the biggest con is that soapstone requires regular maintenance. Mineral oil applications are necessary 1x / week for the first few months, as well as every few months afterward, though you don’t need a professional to do it. Also, keep in mind that mineral oil turns your stone dark, as in this before and after photo. (Though we see this as a plus!)

Price Range: $$

4 / CONCRETE

Concrete countertops look beautiful, especially in modern spaces, and will develop a lot of character over the years. If you don’t mind the high maintenance, their beauty is worth your extra loving care.

Pros: Concrete countertops are extremely heat resistant and have a versatile selection of color, pigment, and finish options.

Cons: As a porous material, concrete is prone to scratches and stains and is susceptible to etching from acids. While a yearly sealing is the minimum requirement, sealing won’t protect the surface from all stains or etching. You’ll also want to call a professional for any chip and scratch repairs.

Price Range: $-$$$

Have questions? Did we leave out your favorite? Tell us in the comments below!

One Room Challenge: Week 4, or How to Select Indoor Plants

I’ve always loved having plants inside the home. Growing up, my mom kept spider plants, palms, jasmine, cacti, and various other species in our best lit rooms. When I moved into my own apartments in my twenties, I quickly realized I didn’t have my mom’s talent for keeping plants alive, or so I thought…. In this fourth week of the One Room Challenge, we’ll be discussing indoor plant life, and how to turn your black thumb into a semi-green thumb.

 No space is complete without plants (  image source  )

No space is complete without plants (image source)

The first step in learning how to keep plants alive is to select the right plants for the lighting in your space. I’ve found this to be the most critical factor in whether a plant lives or dies. Too much or too little light can easily stress a plant, and stress leads to disease, pests, or premature death! The difficult part is determining what kind of light exists in your space as the differences can be subtle. Here's a quick primer on how to determine the lighting for your plant's location:

LIGHTING PRIMER FOR PLANTS

DIRECT LIGHT
South or west facing windows with direct light all day long. It has a minimum of 5-6 hours of direct sunlight each day.

PARTIAL SUN/SHADE
East or west facing windows that have a couple hours of sun a day, avoiding the heat of the midday sun.

INDIRECT BRIGHT LIGHT
South or west facing windows but located far away enough from the window to avoid direct sun. The plant doesn’t receive direct sunlight, but does get indirect light 5-6 hours a day.

LOW LIGHT
North facing windows or rooms partially shaded by trees, or the deep interior of a room far from windows. If it’s a spot where you can’t easily read a book, then it’s probably low light.

 Illustration of different lighting levels (  image source  )

Illustration of different lighting levels (image source)

While we’re only talking about light in this post, there are other factors to consider such as watering, temperature, humidity, and seasonal changes. The most important thing is to try different locations until your plant seems happy and healthy. Also, ask your local garden store expert for their recommendations of plants based on where you plan to place your plant.

 Flora Grubb, one of our favorite garden stores in San Francisco (  image source  )

Flora Grubb, one of our favorite garden stores in San Francisco (image source)

Our living room space for the One Room Challenge has strong light from south/west facing windows, but we’re placing the plants in more shaded areas of the rooms that receive indirect light. We went to Flora Grubb, one of our favorite garden stores in the San Francisco Bay Area, to get advice on which plants will work best for our situation. We learned that many, if not most, indoor plants work well in indirect light, so we decided on the Peperomia Thailand and the Philodendron Cordatum. We love the shape of their leaves!

 Our selections: Peperomia Thailand and Philodendron Cordatum

Our selections: Peperomia Thailand and Philodendron Cordatum

Now we just have to source some great pots. Let us know in the comments below if you have more tips for keeping plants alive!

Check in next week for a discussion on layering accessories for the living room. Missed the previous weeks' posts? You can catch up here: 
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3

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