When Faye Welk, the owner of The Special Touch Gift Shop, opened her retail store in 1990, she wanted to use her passion for interior decorating to create a space where those seeking timeless, quality home décor could find unique home accessories that would enhance their living spaces and express their personal style.
“Putting things together to make a home feel warm and inviting was something that came naturally,” Welk says. “I don’t buy anything for the store that I wouldn’t have in my own home.”
Choosing items that add personality, rather than clutter, can be a daunting task, especially when you’re buying for someone else. However, home accents can make particularly thoughtful gifts, as a one-of-a-kind find is likely to be cherished long after this year’s trends are over.
“These are things you don’t find at big-box stores,” says Monika Albeck, Welk's daughter, who routinely accompanies her mother on buying trips for the store. “Timeless pieces are things that people will enjoy for more than a couple of months.”
One of Welk and Albeck's favorite gift suggestions is the store’s eclectic selection of decorative plaques. Most are in the under-$30 range, and they come in wood, glass or canvas prints with fun, inspirational sayings or simple sports-related designs, so they make a great gift for everyone from your niece who just bought a new house and needs something for the foyer to your football-obsessed coworker. Whether hung on the wall or placed on a mantel amongst other meaningful objects, these statement-making pieces are both attractive and meaningful.
For the holiday-lover on your list, Welk recommends a light-up picture featuring beautiful winter scenes—a tasteful and unique addition to any holiday-decorated home. The pictures come in a variety of sizes and range in price from $8–$60. The appeal of these pieces crosses generations, which is a big part of the design philosophy at Special Touch Gift Shop.
“When Monika and I go to market together, it’s two different generations going to a big showroom; one of us will go one direction and the other goes another, but half the time we end up picking the same items,” Welk says. “No matter what color scheme you go with, quality and longevity matter.”
This emphasis on craftsmanship and tradition doesn’t mean you shouldn’t embrace new products, of course. One of the store’s most popular items, especially this time of year, is a flameless, battery-operated candle. They mimic the warmth and flicker of traditional candles, but are longer-lasting and worry-free. Since they don’t actually burn, they can be placed on mantels, dinner tables and other places where burning candles might be a hazard, imparting a lovely ambience without any runny wax or overpowering fragrance to monitor.
In fact, the store offers a variety of smaller home accents that could easily be placed in a decorative basket and wrapped in cellophane to create a customized gift for a friend or family member’s home, with dozens of room sprays, candles, soaps and accessories to fit their taste and needs.
The key to finding the right piece, Welk explains, is to browse frequently and visit places that give you a sense of how items can be accessorized or grouped together to create a unified look, something she and Albeck are adept at, even offering home decorating services through the gift store.
“We can help put together five or six pieces that work together; it can be hard to get that level of cohesiveness, but don’t give up,” Welk says. “It’s not one of those things where you just get up in the morning and go buy a picture for the dining room,” she says. “It never happens when you’re looking too hard, but when you’re not, that’s when you find something that attracts your attention and works for you.”