02 March 2012

March 2012 Top 10 | Umbrella Stands

Mother Nature has spent a considerable amount of her valuable time toying with our emotions lately, wouldn't you agree? Speaking just for my little corner of the world, in the past 72 hours alone we've had snow, sleet, high winds, sunshine, mild temperatures, freezing temperatures and rain ~ RAIN RAIN RAIN ~ and lots of it.

Which of course got me thinking about that most ubiquitous but often overlooked home accessory: the umbrella stand. We don't have one in our house but I've lusted after one for years: to me it represents a very adult and established state of mind, to have a dedicated and fashionable container to store your "brollies". Every foyer I've ever seen now and growing up that had its own umbrella holder appeared somehow more decorated, more sophisticated and that much more welcoming. It's amazing how such a simple piece ~ a container to store your gear ~ can add a whole new dimension to space. Smart and stylish is the name of the umbrella-stand game!

So in celebration of foyer fashion everywhere, welcome to this month's TOP 10!

#10 -
"Goccia" by Magis through Unica Home ~ US$155
Sleek, simple, minimalist and contemporary, this utilitarian workhorse is just as stylish as it is functional.

#9 -
"Gabriella" by Ballard Designs (via here) ~ discontinued
Classic and distinguished, these beautiful stand would add a touch of class ~ not to mention Asian inspiration ~ to any foyer. I'm especially partial to the crisp white, but the gold would be perfect for and really elevate a formal interior. It's so disappointing that they're discontinued! :(

#8 -
"Blow up" by Alessi, via Lumens ~ US$280
Anyone who is a fan of the Italian juggernaut Alessi in general and in particular of their "Blow up" series will love this iconic umbrella stand. Created of sleek stainless steel, this stand is an instant classic and will set a fun and funky tone to welcome guests to your home.

#7 -
"Black Forest Bear" antique, through Linda Horn ~ US$12,000 (seriously)
OK, so this umbrella stand and its price is beyond ridiculous. Even as an antique ~ even as a ONE OF A KIND antique ~ I can't imagine there's anything about this piece that would justify the price. It's not solid gold, nor was it whittled (as far as I know) by Thomas Jefferson or Queen Elizabeth, so I'm not totally sure what recommends the price tag. But in general? Just on an aesthetic basis? ADORABLE and AWESOME. And very unique. I imagine it would be quite the conversation piece for guests :)

#6 -
"Natural Cork" through Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. ~ US$170
Perfectly at home in a modern environment as well as a rustic one, this umbrella stand is perfect for the eco-conscious home owner. Made entirely of cork, a renewable resource, this stand is a stylish statement piece that says, "Not only am I functional and gorgeous, but I'm an Earth lover as well. Kiss me." (well, maybe not kiss me, but you know ... something like that) Each stand is hand-crafted in Portugal so no two stands will be exactly alike: perfection!

#5 -
"iDog" created by Elda Bellone ~ pricing available upon request
I'm not even sure I want to know how much this little beauty costs, I just like to look at him all day long. Whimsical, sleek and lively, the iDog umbrella stand is the one-of-a-kind creation of artist Elda Bellone. Super sweet and very stylish.

#4 -
"The Stranger" via OMC Design ~ pricing available upon request
So this is a bit of a diversion from my usual lists in that this design is not available for mass market sale. Why? Because the design itself is for sale. How much, I don't know, but effectively the prototype was developed in 2010 and now the production rights are for sale to the perfect bidder. Interested in making a million on umbrella stands? This design is a total winner in my books: contemporary, stylish and a little avante garde, this stand is all function when full and a sleek sculpture when empty. 'The Stranger' would be money well spent ... and well earned!

#3 -
"Boot" at Z Gallerie ~ US$79.95
These boots were made for walking, and that's just what they'll do ... Well, not really. But they WILL look fabulous in your foyer, with or without umbrellas in them! Cast in hard-baked white terracotta, this stand is kitschy and fun in all the right ways. I picture them adding just the right touch of mod to a rustic mudroom, standing beside worn-in riding boots on a limestone floor, but it would be equally at home in a row house or a bungalow. They bring more than enough style to the table to hold their own in any entrance-way.

#2 -
Porcelain Stand at Neiman Marcus ~ US$159
Exclusive to Neiman Marcus (its their own design), this stunning porcelain stand is stylishly reminiscent of Moorish design. At the same time, it tips the balance more to the traditional than the modern, and though its a statement piece, it can comfortable integrate into an overall decor scheme without competing for attention with the rest of the design elements. A supporting actress that's ultimately the star of the show, but not obnoxiously so. Let's call her Jennifer Hudson. Of all the TOP 10 selections, Jennifer is the most feminine and the most understated, yet she's not at all boring. She's also the stand with the most warmth: this design says "Welcome home" to me in a way that no other does. She's welcome to stay at my house any time.

#1 -
"Owl" designed by Twos Company, through Burke Decor ~ US$135
Are you surprised, even a little bit? You shouldn't be: my obsession with owls is well documented, and this little man was not likely to escape my notice. He's perfect in every way: sturdy, classic white and downright hilarious. Just peeking at that face every time I walked in the door would make me smile, and isn't that what coming home is all about? The inherent whimsy of the Owl (I obviously would call him Hootie, and might be inclined to pair him with a ceramic fish friend just so I could have ~ yes, you've got it ~ Hootie and the Blowfish in my foyer) alerts people right away to what kind of home they're walking in to: fun, light-hearted and a little bit funky. But the fact that he's an umbrella stand means we're also a house who's organized and collected and somewhat orderly (yes, it says all that ... with a funky storage container, those messages are just implied). Hootie is something I would want to look at over and over again; he's the perfect sentinel to welcome everyone to my house, including me. *LOVE*