Bath interior designer, Clair Strong, has curated a Christmas gift guide of design inspired presents for everyone in your life.
Christmas is all about showing the people we love how much they mean to us. Finding a thoughtful present that reflects their interests is the perfect way to show someone you care.
As an interior designer I am interested in all types of good design! At Christmas time there are two things I love – finding imaginative gifts for my friends and family that nod to my love of interiors and a spot of good old-fashioned shopping. Bath is beautiful at Christmas; magical decorations light up our Georgian buildings, our streets are full of crowds soaking up the festive atmosphere and we have an incredible selection of independent shops to browse in to find the perfect gift.
In this gift guide, you’ll find creative ideas for presents for everyone in your family. I hope you enjoy shopping for them as much as I’ve enjoyed sourcing them!
The Book Lover
We are spoiled for choice when it comes to interesting book shops in Bath. Both Topping & Company and Mr Bs Emporium are fantastic independent stores and the staff in both shops are incredibly knowledgeable. In the run up to Christmas there are always a plethora of interior design books to choose from, but I would probably choose A Modern Way to Live from the team who launched the magazine and lifestyle brand, The Modern House. Beautifully designed and featuring breath-taking photography, this is the ultimate Christmas gift for interiors lovers!
Persephone Books in Edgar Buildings reprints neglected fiction and non-fiction by mid-twentieth century (mostly) women writers. All the books are beautifully designed with an elegant grey jacket and a ‘fabric’ endpaper with matching bookmark, so they look beautiful displayed in the home. They also do a book a month subscription which is a lovely idea.
The Magazine Lover
I love books but I used to work for a magazine publisher in Bath, so I still have a soft spot for magazines. The thud on the doormat as the latest issue of Elle Decoration or Livingetc. arrives still brings me joy. If you have a magazine loving friend, then have a browse in Magalleria which has recently moved to 5 Upper Borough Walls. Specialising in independent magazines, this wonderful goldmine of a shop stocks all those hard-to-find titles from all round the world. A couple of my favourite interior’s magazines are Wallpaper and Design Anthology.
The Art Lover
We have some lovely galleries in Bath. A particular favourite of mine is Gallery Nine in Margaret Buildings. The exhibitions change regularly. A beautiful painting by Cornwall artist, Philip Lyons, or a unique hand-made ceramic piece from Paul Philp would make a wonderful present.
I love buying cookware. From traditional enamelware to beautiful breadboards and copper saucepans, it brings so much pleasure – and get so much use. I actually travel a bit further afield for my cookware presents – to Domestic Science in Tetbury. They stock lots of wonderful homewares, but I love their kitchenware department in particular. For the cook I would buy a set of traditional Falcon Enamel dishes. They work perfectly in both modern and traditional homes.
The Design Lover
Avenida Home has moved from Walcot Street to a studio in River Street. Isabel, the owner, curates a beautiful selection of home accessories, including ceramics, coasters, cutting boards, home linens, placemats and trays. Look out for the quirky pieces from her collaboration with acclaimed French artist Nathalie Lété, featuring nostalgic paintings.
I also love a browse in Home Front Interiors in Margaret's Buildings. One of their Coconut Wood Reusable Cutlery Sets would make a great gift for almost anyone!
The Stay-at-home Lover
For the friend who loves nesting, I look for gorgeous cushions, a statement rug or a snuggly throw. My search often takes me to Graham & Green on Walcot Street. The company began in 1974 when the mother of the current owner, Jamie Graham, opened her first shop in Notting Hill. Inspired by her travels around the world, the eclectic vibes of the area and growing up in a home filled with Persian rugs and exotic textiles, Antonia Graham’s shop soon became a go to for interior designers. I love their collection of sheepskin cushions, rugs, beanbags and seat pads in a variety of styles and colours which make perfect gifts.
Moss of Bath are a Bath institution. An independent television and hi-fi retailer, they specialise in providing bespoke home entertainment systems. A great present for the tech geek in your life is a Sonos One (Gen 2) – a smart speaker which blends good looks, great sound and connects with Amazon Alexa to play songs all over the house.
Graham & Green
We haven’t been able to travel as much as we’d have liked this year but a truly unique antique map from The Antique Map Shop on Pulteney Bridge will scratch the itch. Established over 32 years ago, this lovely traditional shop specialises in genuine antique maps, town plans, sea-charts, and other engravings from the sixteenth to the early twentieth century so you are bound to find the perfect gift.
The Pamper Lover
Who doesn’t love scented toiletries and candles? For gorgeous smelling bath and hair products I head straight to Beckford Bottle Shop or Rossiter’s of Bath to buy gift sets from the Bramley range. First created for The Beckford Arms in Wiltshire, these beautifully packaged products capture the essence of the countryside. Bramley only use the most natural ingredients available and won’t use anything that mother nature wouldn’t approve of.
The Drinks Lover
My friend Ifor manages Amathus in Green Street, so I am a bit biased in recommending this independent drinks shop. He gives amazing advice on wines and spirits and will always suggest the perfect bottle for your budget.
For some lovely glassware and carafes, have a look at Always Sunday in Broad Street. Their 1924 style champagne couple is a classic take on a timeless silhouette.
Set in Marlborough Lane at the edge of Victoria Park, The Urban Garden call themselves the smallest garden centre with the biggest heart. A social enterprise, their selection of plants includes some unusual annuals, striking perennials, edibles and herbs. They also specialise in container grown plants for window boxes and small courtyard gardens. They also run a range of workshops in their beautiful glasshouse which would make a great present.
The Eco Lover
Consciously You on the corner of Chelsea Rd sells sustainable, eco-friendly and cruelty-free products. I think a natural make-up removing cloth, some refillable bottles or a selection of their range of Savon De Marseille natural French soaps would make lovely environmentally friendly presents.
The Music Lover
Records and plants aren't usually something you'd expect to find sold side by side - but Chapter 22 Roots and Records on Broad Street does just that! As well as a wide variety of rare and exotic plants, Dean and Nicola sell music from the 80’s, especially the post punk, alternative scene.
The Stationery Lover
Athena Cauley-Yu runs Meticulous Ink on Walcot Street with the energy of ten people. If you are looking for a great original gift for someone who loves stationery this is the place to go. They sell letterpress stationery and paper goods, personalised pencils and leather notebooks and calligraphy kits – all beautifully packaged. They also run brilliant workshops that would make a wonderful gift.
I hope this has given you some creative ideas inspired by interior design and encouraged you to explore some of the incredible independent shops we are lucky to have in our wonderful city.
If you are looking to revamp your space, working with an interior designer will really help you use your budget wisely and create a look that feels cohesive, pulled together and will stand the test of time.
As a small, friendly, creative business based in Bath we pride ourselves on offering client-led interior design solutions for all the rooms in your house, from styling for sale and redecoration to complete redesign and refurbishments. We also offer a virtual interior design service to help clients design or update their homes without the need for a face-to-face meeting. We can also design off-plan for those of you with moves ahead.
You can see many of the projects I have worked on since 2006 on my website at www.clairstrong.co.uk or click the buttons below.