Stuff we like, designers we love, ideas from our think tank

Throw these pillows out(side)

Elaine Smith has no patience for the pedestrian, so since 2003, the one-time interior designer has been revolutionizing the options for exterior decorating – one square (and lumbar) at a time.

Elaine Smith

Smith created the first collection of luxury outdoor pillows, working with textiles that are ruggedly weather-resistant but so gorgeous you may be tempted to sneak them indoors. Her dual inspirations – exotic locales and natural wonders – are evident in prints from zebra and snakeskin to stripes and Suzani, and her sophisticated colors range from on-trend brights to classic neutrals. Top designers specify Elaine Smith pillows not only for top-flight residential projects but also the decks and terraces of five-star hotels.

New Sorbet

Fresh colors


Elaine Smith pillows are made entirely in the USA. Fabrics are woven from the finest solution-dyed yarns, so they are touchably soft, not scratchy or stiff. They repel water easily and dry quickly, even after a downpour, and are also uniquely resistant to mildew, stains, and sun-fading.

Chic prints

Elaine Smith pillows are in Outdoor Decor

Bucket list

Chill out this summer with an eye-catching bucket: one for ice cubes at the bar, a larger tub for bottles on the buffet, even a covered version for ice cream (get several for that build-your-own-sundae party).

Jonathan Adler’s Mykonos in acrylic over a ’60s Italian pattern

Mud Pie’s galvanized tin party tub with burlap handles

GG Collection’s ice cream bucket with lid & scoop

Michael Aram’s witty “footed” bucket & “cold hands” tongs

Leo hand-blown glass bucket, artisan-made in the USABaroque by GG

Elysian by Waterford

RabLabs rocks your world

As long as Anna Rabinowicz can remember, she has been in love with stones.

Inspired by childhood trips to mineral shows, the designer behind RabLabs created a collection from unique stones she found with her father. She continued to explore art and nature by drawing plants and designing unique vases for them. While in college, she traveled to Spain to learn about international art and architecture. “I lost my heart to design, and never turned back,” says Rabinowicz.

A Stanford grad, Rabinowicz designed cell phones and medical devices, which taught her how to incorporate biology and design, before launching RabLabs in 2002. The decorative accessories made with semiprecious gems and stones give customers a new way to enjoy natural elements in their homes.

Rabinowicz creates her designs in the same way she chooses clothing. “I look for this contrast – clean, modern pieces paired with organic elements, like an ornate piece of jewelry.  In my designs for RabLabs, I contrast ancient, organic materials with cutting-edge forms and design,” she says.

Each piece in her line can take up to three years to create. Rabinowicz starts by studying the stones’ background and chemical composition. She then arranges them in groups, imagining what they can become. After sketching her concepts, she turns her ideas into functional objects like frames and bookends.

“I love geodes because their beauty is not obvious.  The outside of the stone is so unassuming, but when you peer inside, its gorgeous colors and patterns and crystals are revealed,” says Rabinowicz.  

Shop Decor for RabLabs

Vanity press: New accessories from Pigeon & Poodle

This California-based company shares our belief that “the details of a home are just as important as the furniture.” Scooping up inspiration from global travel, they fuse imaginative design with expert craftsmanship; the result is distinctive vanity accessories made by hand.

We love the Manchester faux-shagreen, crafted to highlight the signature “eye” pattern and hand-finished with a wood veneer trim, and the Datong chinoiserie, with hand-painted toile motifs on linen-textured tin.

A collectible Christmas: The Fontanini nativity

Christmas is a time for togetherness and tradition. No one knows that better than the Fontanini family, who have been hand-crafting Christmas figurines and nativities for 105 years.

Founder Emanuele Fontanini’s artistic career began at age 13 when he apprenticed with a Tuscan artist. After gaining inspiration and experience traveling through Europe, he returned home to the village of Bagni di Lucca to open the House of Fontanini in 1908. Initially he created papier-mâché figurines, which quickly grew in popularity due to their exquisitely intricate workmanship.

In the 1960s, the company transitioned to molded resin figures. Today, the founder’s four great-grandsons run the family business, and to them, tradition is key. “A family-owned business is not just a place where you go to work,” says the founder’s namesake, Emanuele Fontanini. “It’s part of your life. People in the village and surrounding area have worked at our factory for generations.”

  Each figurine takes about two hours to create. Designers sculpt each mold, using Biblical references for accuracy and detail. Workers pour polymer resin into the molds; the material makes the figures scratch- and stain-resistant. Once dry, each figurine is hand polished. Skilled painters are then tasked with adding every detail to ensure that each piece is unique.

To the brothers, details are crucial. They say the hardest part is representing every aspect of Bethlehem.

  “What has been rewarding but also challenging is recreating not just the main characters but also the different shepherds, the innkeeper, and others who were present” on that first Christmas, says Emanuele Fontanini. The brothers are proud that their 105-year-old company has become a part of so many families’ holiday traditions. – Blair Bernier

Background check: capiz shells

What’s in a name: In this case, provenance. Capiz is a coastal province in the Philippines. The shells are harvested from the shallow waters of the Sibuyan Sea; they also can be found along the coasts of India, Malaysia, and Borneo. Above: Octagonal capiz mirror

Leslie buffet with capiz windows

DNA details: Capiz is the outer layer of Placuna placenta, or windowpane, oyster shells. Virtually flat and almost transparent, capiz rose to popularity as an alternative to glass for windows. The shells can grow to 6 inches or more in diameter.

Capiz vanity accessories

Why we love it: With a lustrous iridescent surface similar to mother-of-pearl, capiz adds texture and shimmer to a variety of items, from placemats to lamps to vanity accessories. Naturally white, the shells accept dyes readily; we often see them in shades of gold but you’ll also find red, green, blue, and smoky gray capiz. Their translucence makes them especially impressive in chandeliers or pendants, where they are back-lighted to dramatic effect.Exclusive capiz flower pendant

We’re thrilled to welcome MacKenzie-Childs to Horchow! Holiday treasures, tabletop essentials, decor, furniture, and rugs — it’s all here

Zine scene: Our new ad in ELLE DECOR

We’re so proud of our 8-page special advertising section in the October issue of ELLE DECOR. Our creative team drew inspiration from an autumn afternoon, cool and overcast, and all the ways we warm our homes with soft fabrics, glowing light, and gatherings of people we love.

Fall, after all, is the time for a little house-warming. So create a popup bar on a chest or console. Use wreaths and other holiday décor throughout the house. Encourage lingering at the table with cushioned dining chairs. Mix formal and rustic for a relaxed yet elegant setting.

Make a scene. Everything on one level is just what it sounds like – flat – so take your buffet to new heights with stylemakers like GG Collection, Janice Minor, and Park Hill. After all, you want to show off the menu and your imagination.

Use the good dishes, often: pewter-trimmed serving pieces from Italy, dinnerware and canisters from Portugal, all-American milk glass pedestals. White is the tabletop equivalent of a little black dress – it can go formal or casual, and it plays well with others in your china cabinet.

Texture message: charcoal velvet seating, can’t-believe-it’s-faux fur, embroidered pique and percale, even a leather rug. You can live with shorter days and longer nights when your cocoon is this lush and cozy.

Shop our autumn inspirations from ELLE DECOR

Putting on a show(case)!

With the exception of two outlet stores in the Dallas area, Horchow has always been one of the very few U.S. retailers with a website and catalogs but no physical presence.

In October, that changes – temporarily, to benefit the charity Dwell with Dignity — when we open The Horchow Annex, a popup shop inside DwD’s Thrift Studio. You’ll find classic seating in go-with-anything neutrals, statement lighting, artwork and artful pillows, a dining table stacked with dishware, and unique decorative items (don’t miss the mercury glass!).

All proceeds from sales of Annex and Studio merchandise go to Dwell with Dignity, a Dallas-based 501(c)(3) organization helping families escape poverty and homelessness through good design. DwD staff and volunteers use funds raised, along with donated furnishings and fabrics, to decorate the homes of those less fortunate, creating comfortable, inviting interiors that make the owners proud and inspire them to continue improving their lives.

Following a Preview Party Oct. 10 – attendees pay $125-$175 each to get first dibs on the merchandise – the Thrift Studio and Annex will be open to the public (at no charge) Oct. 11-Nov. 9. As items are sold, more are brought in, so even if you miss the first or second wave, you’ll still have a chance to buy furniture, décor, tabletop, and art at great prices for a really great cause!

The Thrift Studio and Horchow Annex are in Suite 280 of the Dallas Design Center, 1250 Slocum St.

Black & white and red all over

Our design team’s answer to “What’s black and white and red all over.” We love scarlet walls in a dining room for their drama and warmth, and the reflected glow makes everyone look FABulous! Haute House does a typically glam makeover of the classic Tuscan farmhouse table, adding cabriole legs and ball-and-claw feet to the simple slab surface.

For contrast, we chose a side chair with natural oak frame and black cotton/linen upholstery, and Kayla zebra-print linen host chairs with modified wing styling. The pale silver Charlie rug is made by hand of New Zealand wool with viscose adding shimmer to the alternating chevron pattern.

The abstract giclee “Come Fly With Me” gives the neutral palette a contemporary edge. For the finishing touch, we like the traditional Astrid chandelier, dripping with hand-cut crystals, but you could also go modern with a simple shaded pendant.

See more dining room ideas