Five Ways to Give a Gift Card (Thoughtfully)

How to Give a Giftcard (Thoughtfully) | Thou Swell

Anyone else rushing to think of last-minute gifts for friends, co-workers, or hard-to-buy-for family members? Give them a gift card! I’ve teamed up with Target to share five fun and thoughtful ways to give a gift card as part of their #GiftCardCheer campaign. Though there’s a gifting taboo against gift cards, they can be some of the most helpful gifts, as you give the receiver the freedom to find exactly what they need. No awkward strained enthusiasm. No awkward re-gifting. The best part? Give them a gift card from Target and they’ll be able to use it to buy anything from produce to décor to clothes (personally, I would hit up that Nate Berkus collection). Skip the envelope and pair your gift card with a more thoughtful accompaniment.

How to Give a Giftcard (Thoughtfully) | Thou Swell
Give it with a bottle of wine, and you can even pop the Target GiftCard® into a luggage tag for a fun bonus. Pop on a bow and you’re ready to bring peace and joy to any household.

How to Give a Giftcard (Thoughtfully) | Thou Swell the Target GiftCard® in a chef-friendly package to compliment the cook, and let it serve as a precedent for more good cooking through the following year…

How to Give a Giftcard (Thoughtfully) | Thou Swell a budding fashionista? A food-lover who hasn’t discovered Saveur? Give them the gift of the press to inspire future purchases with their Target GiftCard®.

How to Give a Giftcard (Thoughtfully) | Thou Swell classic silver frame – perfect for a budding photographer or family reunion enthusiast. Slip in a personal note and the Target GiftCard®, and you’ve got yourself a solid (sterling) gift.

How to Give a Giftcard (Thoughtfully) | Thou Swell is a great time for flowers – in the Northern hemisphere we don’t see much of them this time of the year, so a colorful bouquet is sure to brighten anyone’s day (especially if there’s a Target GiftCard® tucked inside)!

TARGET_LOGO Disclosure: Compensation was provided by Target via Mode Media. The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and are not indicative of the opinions or positions of Target. Thanks for supporting the brands that keep Thou Swell running! 



The Impact of Interior Design: Oxbow Final Show Installation

As many of you know, I have spent the last three months in Napa, CA at The Oxbow School, a semester school for Juniors and Seniors in high school who want to focus on the visual arts for one semester of their school year. Many of my projects at Oxbow have focused on interior design, as my love for interior spaces has manifested in a passion and (hopefully) future career. I’ve been able to focus on my artistic process and investigate topics more deeply, and all of my work over the semester cumulated in Final Project. In Final Project we’re able to do a project on any topic we’d like. The project starts with lots of research, followed by a paper summarizing our findings and proposing a thesis on the topic (you can read my introduction here). We then started thinking about how to develop our research into an art piece, which turned into a two-sided installation around a wall for me, representing the impact of interior design. You can read my artist’s statement below:

Does interior design matter, beyond aesthetic pleasure? I used this question to start my research, engaging the core ideas of interior design — the manipulation of color, light, and architectural spaces – to find out why interior design matters to me. I used final project to discover and declare my beliefs in an art form that can be mistaken as purely materialistic.

Through a synergy of my own experiences with design and my research, I found that intentional interior design establishes a sense of place. This sense of place is strongly tied to the environment and human’s relationship with their immediate landscape; nature. On the front of my installation is an abstracted landscape of part of Atlanta’s skyline. The curtains afford glimpses of the landscape, illustrating this permeability with nature and sense of place in interior spaces.

On the other side of the wall is an interior vignette. In this room, the focus was not on my personal style but rather the symbology of interior design to tell the story of someone’s life. I channeled the personal clutter of my own home to frame the space of someone whose living room includes both family heirlooms and contemporary pieces. I wanted to create an imperfect space that felt real, as if the room’s occupant could walk in and sit down any second. I hope as you approach the room, your idea of the occupant is illustrated in every detail of the room.

Through this project my own manifesto for design became evident, and I am able to articulate more clearly why I am so passionate about interior design. I hope that through my project, you are able to understand the impact of light and space on your emotions, and the ability for good design to tell a story.

I was lucky enough to get the support of a local antiques store, who kindly loaned me furniture to use in the room-side of my installation. See the other side of the wall (and a video of the whole piece) below…

DSC_2314DSC_2318DSC_2319The Impact of Interior Design: Oxbow Final Show Installation | Thou SwellDSC_2312DSC_2310DSC_2329DSC_2311



The 20 Best Recipes of 2014

I’ve always been envious of food bloggers – besides having serious recipe-creating skills, many of them are talented food stylists and photographers as well. I’ve been pinning away my favorite recipes this year and there are so many recipes I want to try out in the New Year. To celebrate a year of food (and talented food bloggers), I’ve compiled a list of the 20 best recipes of 2014 from my Savory and Sweet Pinterest boards to try in the New Year. Here’s to a year of beautiful and delicious food, good company, and good conversation! Cheers!

20 Best Recipes of 2014 | Coconut Noodle Salad via Thou Swell

Fresh + tangy asian-inspired noodle salad.

20 Best Recipes of 2014 | Lemony Poppy Seed Layer Cake via Thou Swell
Lemony Poppy Seed Layer Cake (via Sweet Paul)

The classic lemon and poppy-seed pairing takes a cake form.

20 Best Recipes of 2014 | Lime Chicken Burgers via Thou Swell
Lime Chicken Burger (via Sweet Paul)

Spicy + tangy chicken burger recipe.

20 Best Recipes of 2014 | Mont Blanc Cassis via Thou Swell
Mont Blanc Cassis (via Natalie E)

A decadent dessert pastry for the adventurous baker.

20 Best Recipes of 2014 | Seared Tuna with Chimichurri via Thou Swell
Seared Tuna with Chimichurri (via Kitchen Confidante)

Delicious herby seared tuna.

20 Best Recipes of 2014 | Raw Artichoke Salad via Thou Swell
Raw Artichoke Salad (via Princess Tofu)

Fresh seasonal vegetarian salad.

20 Best Recipes of 2014 | Pesto Pasta with Capers via Thou Swell
Pesto Pasta with Capers (via Whole Yum)

Delicious green pesto pasta.

20 Best Recipes of 2014 | White Bean Soup via Thou Swell
White Bean Soup (via Yummy Beet)

A warm hearty white bean soup.

20 Best Recipes of 2014 | Chorizo Eggs Benedict via Thou Swell
Chorizo Eggs Benedict (via Half Baked Harvest)

A tangy + spicy breakfast triple threat.

20 Best Recipes of 2014 | Mandarin & Lemon Cake via Thou Swell
Mandarin & Lemon Cake (via Twigg Studios)

Delicious and decadent citrus cake.

20 Best Recipes of 2014 | Cantaloupe Mint Sorbet via Thou Swell
Cantaloupe Mint Sorbet (via Tasty Yummies)

Cantaloupe sorbet with an unexpected hint of mint.

20 Best Recipes of 2014 | Fig and Feta Salad via Thou Swell
Fig & Feta Salad (via Two Loves Studio)

Delicious fruity + savory salad.

20 Best Recipes of 2014 | Lobster Grilled Cheese via Thou Swell
Lobster Grilled Cheese (via Foodie Crush)

Gooey cheesy lobster sandwich. What’s not to like?

20 Best Recipes of 2014 | Spring Pasta via Thou Swell
Spring Pasta (via How Sweet Eats)

Perfect pasta recipe to celebrate spring produce.

20 Best Recipes of 2014 | Grilled Salmon via Thou Swell
Grilled Salmon (via Heather Christo)

A fresh summery take on grilled salmon.

20 Best Recipes of 2014 | Rhubarb Rose Cake via Thou Swell
Rhubarb Rose Cake (via Cannelle et Vanille)

Besides delicious, this cake is absolutely beautiful.

20 Best Recipes of 2014 | Ultimate BLT Sandwich via Thou Swell
Ultimate BLT Sandwich (via Blogging over Thyme)

The recipe title says it all – ULTIMATE!

20 Best Recipes of 2014 | Ramps & Ricotta Gnocchi via Thou Swell
Ramps & Ricotta Gnocchi (via The Tart Tart)

Green, cheesy gnocchi recipe.

20 Best Recipes of 2014 | Peas and Favas via Thou Swell
Peas and Favas (via Cannelle et Vanille)

A fresh salad that can easily be made vegetarian.

20 Best Recipes of 2014 | Blueberry Thyme Scones via Thou Swell
Blueberry Scones (via WSIEFBT)

Blueberry scones with a hint of thyme.

Check out Best of 2014

by Kevin | Thou Swell at

This post is sponsored by Foodie, a recipe collecting website. Thanks for supporting the brands that keep Thou Swell running!


One Year Subscription to Kinfolk Giveaway

Holly Marie Designs Anniversary: Win a Subscription to Kinfolk Magazine on Thou Swell
With the New Year right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to renew magazine subscriptions. In celebration of Holly Marie’s blog turning two, we have teamed up with a few other creative folks to giveaway a one year subscription to one of our favorite magazines, Kinfolk! So, here are the details – the giveaway begins today and will run until Sunday, December 22nd at midnight CST. The contest is open internationally and one winner will be chosen at the end of the two weeks. Please be sure to check out all of the fabulous bloggers who made this giveaway happen via their links below. Good luck!

Holly Marie Designs / Tara Victoria / Honee Bee blog / Clear the WayThou Swell / Irene Victoria / Safaris & Sunsets / Fashiony Fab / Kercia Jane

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Home & Kitchen Gift Guide with

Some of the most thoughtful gifts are for the kitchen, with a hope and wish for more meals to be cooked and enjoyed together. I am definitely a big believer in the “kitchen is the heart of the house” notion and I love the energy of a kitchen where food, chatter, and music mingle with cooking smells in the air. Holidays are about being together with family and friends, and for me this includes many fond culinary traditions. I teamed up with to bring you a home and kitchen gift guide, with some tools for the kitchen, a frame to commemorate memories, and a luggage tag to inspire travel. Check out all of Hayneedle’s gifts here, and shop this gift guide below (or by hovering on the image above). Home & Kitchen gift guide & Incredible Gift Giveaway

Shop the Guide



Bohemian Bachelor Pad in New York City

Bohemian Bachelor Pad in New York City via Thou Swell
Sometimes, clutter feel really comfortable… Sometimes it’s the clutter that’s most important, that tells your story best. It can often just look like a mess, but when careful clutter can be pulled off, it can create a really inviting space. I love the living room in this NYC pad – the deep sofa piled with pillows and a super serene shade of blue-grey for the walls. The recessed windows are gorgeous, and the architectural detailing creates even more visual interest in the room. Also, as a book fan, this room just goes to show how fabulous a book collection can make a room!

Bohemian Bachelor Pad in New York City via Thou Swell Bachelor Pad in New York City via Thou Swell Bachelor Pad in New York City via Thou Swell bedroom inspiration right here. I love the desk at the end of the bed, the high contrast curtains, a bright bedspread, and clean white sheets. Plus, check out that fireplace below… and the black edging around the walls (DIY post waiting to happen?).

Bohemian Bachelor Pad in New York City via Thou Swell

(via Architectural Digest España)


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Swell Downloads: Crescent Moon Desktop Wallpaper

Swell Downloads: Crescent Moon Desktop Wallpaper Swell Downloads: Crescent Moon Desktop Wallpaper
Naomi Dudas is back again, with a new design to renew your desktop wallpaper. This month’s download is an ombré crescent moon design. Once the leaves have fallen from the trees in the Winter, the moon’s light seems even stronger, and I love the watercolor-esque gradient on each moon in this design.






100 of the Best Home Decor Gifts under $50

From the hostess to the decorator, this comprehensive list of home decor gifts includes the fun and funky, the tried and true, classic and eccentric gifts all mixed into one huge guide. But hurry, these items are going fast (and a lot of them are on sale for the holidays)! Click the black + boxes beside the items to shop. You can find even more of my favorite home decor items in my Shop page. Happy gifting!



The Week in Snapshots 12.5


This week has really flown by! I’ve been preparing for my final project at Oxbow, an installation around a wall that includes an interior vignette. I’m working with an antique store downtown to fill the space and I’m excited to share the result. If any of my California-based followers are interested in attending the Open House, shoot me an email and I would love to share the details. Besides work on my project, I’ve been really excited about all of the festive holiday posts flying around. Fun present wrapping ideas and this tree decorating party have definitely gotten me into the Christmas spirit! Enjoy these fun links from the blogosphere this week:

1 / Emily Henderson shares some pretty festive and fantastic styling tricks with Target. She even mixes silver and gold, just like Burl Ive’s song from Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Head to her blog to watch the video and check out the black, white and metallic holiday decor and tabletop styling.

2 / Kelly Wearstler’s bold lifestyle and decor brand definitely has a playful sense of glamor, and I’m head over heels for her styling for Domaine’s Holiday Entertaining 2014 guide. White and gold are made fresh again with high-contrast vignettes and lots of pattern-mixing.

3 / This modern hanging holiday decor from Paper & Stitch is simple but quite the conversation starter. It’s a fresh and funky way to use paper ornaments, and I love the pop of color the neon string adds! Definitely a fun piece to hang above the table or even add to the tablescape itself.

4 / DesignLoveFest never fails to host some of the best decor giveaways of the season, and I’m especially excited for this $250 credit giveaway to Clever Spaces! If you like those circular hanging shelves in her bedroom you’ll definitely want to enter…

5 / Pop onto Twitter or Pinterest and you’ll find more than enough gift guides for any gift-receiever on your list, but I especially love this guide for designers from Eavan Elizabeth. It’s fun and specific and features some of my favorite small brands.

6 / Almost every store has a holiday sale going on right now, but Barney’s Designer Sale is especially exciting! 40% off top designers like Christian Louboutin and Isabel Marant.

7 / If you haven’t already checked out the 24 Days of Merry giveaways, you should head over to Apartment 34 right now to enter to win two Loeffler Randall bags! You don’t want to miss the amazing giveaways that are going on everyday from now until Christmas, so also head to 24 Merry Days to catch up.



Playful & Sophisticated Paris Apartment

Playful & Sophisticated in Paris | Thou Swell
The tufted chesterfield sofas are elegant and inviting, the midcentury pop of yellow in the armchair is friendly, and the contemporary bubble chandelier is fun. The balance of formality and mix of styles in this Paris apartment of Sandra Benhamou creates a unique environment that truly reflects its owner. I love how every room has moments of rest, with a solid neutral rug or curtains, and of course the bright-white walls. It doesn’t hurt to have beautiful crown moldings either!

Playful & Sophisticated in Paris | Thou Swell & Sophisticated in Paris | Thou Swell
The ultra-cool and super simple mod armchair and ottoman create a great pair with the comic-style poster on the wall. They also match the sunny pendant over the dining table below!

Playful & Sophisticated in Paris | Thou Swell & Sophisticated in Paris | Thou Swell
Playful & Sophisticated in Paris | Thou Swell
I really love the combination of finishes in the kitchen – the subway tiles set a subtly contemporary backdrop for rich wood cabinetry combined with stainless steel appliances. The floor brings in a busier pattern and finishes the bistro-esque feel in the dining area. In the bedroom below, warm wood and magentas warm up the room with a midcentury-bohemian vibe, complete with softly crumpled bed linens.

Playful & Sophisticated in Paris | Thou Swell
(via Elle Decor España, photography by Montse Garriga)