A Rhino for the Library: Nine Holiday Gifts for the Home

Deck the halls (and dens and nurseries) with these strategically curated holiday gifts, each matched to its domestic habitat. After all, the best presents exude a sense of place.


Photograph by Zachary Zavislak

1. For the Master Bath

Brooklyn-based artist and designer Doug Johnston crafts functional and sculptural objects by coiling and stitching sailing line. This oversize handled specimen transforms dirty laundry into a thing of beauty.

“Big” rope basket, $420, Lekker.

2. For the Library

Flemish court sculptor and architect Peter Anton von Verschaffelt designed this beast in 1770, reflecting Europe’s fascination with exotic animals. Now made by hand in Munich, this version is a museum-quality piece that ups the sophistication level of any bookshelf.

Nymphenburg porcelain rhinoceros, $4,430, E. R. Butler & Co.

3. For the Den

A natural hide blanket is practically essential for luxe New England living—especially when it’s a cozy earth-tone wrap made by a Buenos Aires artisan.

Shearling throw, $599, Diseño.

4. For the Nursery

The modernist’s answer to Mr. Potato Head, this set of 74 blocks—hewn from preservative-free rubberwood and finished with nontoxic paint—will inspire would-be designers and architects of all ages.

Miller Goodman “PlayShapes” rubberwood blocks, $150, the Wooden Wagon.

5. For the Billiard Room

It’s been 80 years since Finnish architect, designer, and one-time MIT professor Alvar Aalto created the iconic birch bentwood stacking stool, which functions perfectly as extra seating for nine-ball spectators.

Artek Alvar Aalto “Stool 60,” $310 each, M2L. 

6. For the Office

The design-oriented stickler will keep meticulous time with a crisply detailed clock. Dreamed up by Arne Jacobsen for the Danish National Bank in 1971, this timepiece features a precision-quartz movement and convex mineral-glass crystal.

Arne Jacobsen “Banker’s” aluminum clock, $370, Design Within Reach.

7. For the Kitchen

French crockery with midcentury flair goes from oven or stovetop to table and showcases bœuf bourguignon, butternut-squash soup, and apple tart in style. If there are leftovers, just pop it in the freezer, then reheat in the microwave. The cookware is dishwasher safe, too, naturellement.

Revol “Revolution Cocotte” ceramic pots, $250 each, Didriks.

8. For the Conservatory

Gift your favorite indoor gardener a pair of hand-forged Japanese shears and a pretty perforated bowl from Vermont-based potter Zoe Zilian for fresh-cut herbs and vegetables all winter long.

Tampopo “Buryo” metal shears, $95, and Farmhouse Pottery “Windrow” glazed stoneware bowl, $135, both Good.

9. For the Bedroom

Forgo unsightly digital displays in plastic casings in favor of a sleek, clean-lined clock radio with superior sound. The Model Three’s stellar radio reception, smooth-turning tuning dial, and iPod compatibility make it an enviable bedside companion.

Tivoli Audio “Model Three” clock radio, $300, ICA Store.