A quirky, spot-on sense of style is what makes these three tabletop sources so outstanding.
Produced by Lauren Fister
Finding a decanter that doesn't look like it belongs on a 19th-century sideboard hasn't always been easy. That's changing as more people become interested in wine, including the opinionated owners of the fabulous housewares stores and Web sites featured on these pages. All of them sell an eclectic mix of covetable items like plates, vases, linens and now barware and crystal too. What's so appealing about these merchants is that they're willing to take risks. "I had a lot of people tell me I would never sell a tablecloth," says Walter Lowry of TableArt in Los Angeles. "But we've proved them wrong."
Lekker, the Dutch word for alluring, encapsulates everything Curt and Natalie Carpenter loved about the home accessories they saw in Europe. Now these items are available at the Carpenters' two-year-old Boston shop, Lekker Unique Home Furnishings. A carafe from the Dutch company Keltum holds a stack of six short glasses ($25). And wool felt pillows from Hable Construction are decorated with patterns that look like they were cut out by a precocious child ($175 each; 1317 Washington St.; 617-542-6464 or lekkerhome.com).
TableArt LOS ANGELES
Walter Lowry opened TableArt because he was tired of going all the way to Belgium for good table linens. The year-old shop is a showplace for exquisite tableware, including the dramatically stark branches of Bodo Sperlein's "Black Forest" bone china ($174 for a five-piece place setting) and curvaceous jewel-toned Murano-glass vases from Nason & Moretti (from $45 each). When Lowry couldn't find beautiful horn spoons, he decided to produce a custom line (from $8). "Custom doesn't mean expensive," he says. "It means getting what you want." (7977 Melrose Ave.; 323-653-8278 or tartonontheweb.com.)
Henry & Lulu WEB SITE
Henry and Lulu are fictional characters from the imagination of Dorothy Porter, who launched the quirky online boutique henryandlulu.com in May 2004, selling everything from barware to handbags. Henry cares about the practical aspect, while Lulu looks for a bit of fun. So Henry appreciates the way the long narrow neck of L'esprit & le vin's glass carafe controls how much air reaches the wine; Lulu loves the futuristic style of the pewter base ($115). The Web site also sells fantastic hostess gifts, like Jessie Steele's retro-chic floral aprons (from $34) and preppy plaid crushed-silk-taffeta napkins from Ann Gish ($54).