At 5:33 a.m., my ringing phone woke me from a deep sleep. It was my work associate, panicked because I was supposed to be at her house three minutes ago in order to make our flight to market. Every year we make this pilgrimage to Atlanta, one of the top-five retail markets in the United States, to check out the new trends and place orders for our home-furnishings stores. After three long and grueling days, we drag ourselves back to the plane, our feet throbbing, our backs aching and our bags stuffed to the brink with catalogs.
As usual, I was running late the night before, so I set my alarm for 4:30 a.m., intending to pack, shower and have a cup of coffee before we started the 72-hour marathon. The problem was, I set the alarm without the aid of my glasses and had gotten the time wrong.
I flew out of bed in a panic, threw on some jeans and a baseball cap, tossed the first clean clothes I could find into a bag and ran out the door. I’m proud to tell you, we made our flight — with four minutes to spare.
Despite the inauspicious beginning, market was a gold mine this year. Here are a few of my top picks.
BOLD GRAPHIC ART
I am a huge fan of all sorts of artwork, from traditional pastoral scenes done in oil to funky modern line drawings. So imagine how my heart jumped when I laid eyes on the amazing graphic artwork spotlighted this year. My favorite was a set of positive/negative floral silhouettes in one of today’s hottest colors, indigo blue. I was drawn to the grouping’s color combination and appeal to our masculine and feminine sides. The artwork is subtle enough to be sophisticated yet bold enough to add a dramatic pop to any room.
REPRODUCTION IRONSTONE PITCHERS
The traditionalist in me adores old ironstone pieces. But the skinflint in me hates the exorbitant prices these antiques command nowadays. So I was thrilled to find a fabulous selection of reproduction ironstone pitchers and creamers that featured fresh, new shapes and high-quality glaze. Food-safe, they can hold your morning orange juice or coffee creamer. But don’t confine these beauties to a life of servitude. Use them liberally in your decor throughout your home. Display a grouping of them above kitchen cabinets, use them to hold cooking spoons or fill them with flowers and perk up your kitchen table.
UPGRADED CANDLES THAT ARE BATTERY OPERATED
I began my love affair with battery-operated candles a few years ago, but at market this year, my devotion reached a whole new level when I saw the newest upgrade: battery-operated candles that turn off and on by remote control and battery-operated candles that turn off on a timer. Now I no longer have to risk my life climbing on the back of my sofa to turn on the battery-operated candles I display in wall-mounted sconces. No more freezing as I turn off all the battery-operated candles I put in lanterns lining my front walkway when I entertain during the winter.
I have a soft spot for old linens, especially those that sport dainty handwork. So I was delighted to see so many vendors showing today’s version of yesterday’s handmade table linens. The beautiful tablecloths and napkins I saw give a fresh spin to the works of art your grandmother lovingly crafted. They are understated and lovely, featuring simple floral motifs on natural linen fabrics. My favorite was a tablecloth with a subtle hydrangea pattern, perfect for placing on the diagonal at the center of any sized table, either right on the surface or layered over a cloth in a complementary color.