Inside Belle Fleur
Gallic Gals’ Night Out

There’s a charming little Highland Park home boutique called Belle Fleur (487 Roger Williams Avenue) that’s a bit under the radar, but has un peu de tout, as they say, when it comes to beautiful and special offerings. Owner Cheryl Richter’s daughter lives in Paris, so mom brings back a lot of Franco finds on her frequent trips, including chandeliers, mantelpieces, tableware, candles, and textiles. Pop in tonight from 5–9 p.m. for a Girls’ Night Out shopping event, with champagne and hors d’oeuvres from Abigail’s American Bistro, located right next door and directly across from the Ravinia Metro stop. For every $40 you spend, you’ll get a $10 gift certificate for a future purchase. C’est si bon!

Nutcrackers on display at Christkindlmarket

Seasonal Affective Restorer

If your mood ring tends to trend blue during the hectic holiday season, do yourself a favor and jingle your sleigh bells over to the Daley Plaza for a heady dose of Christmas spirit at the Christkindlmarket (now there’s a marathon of a word I’d like to buy a vowel and take for a couple of drinks at the Space Bar). Yule be glad you did: It’s hard to Scrooge it up looking at legions of nutcrackers, lederhosenned lads, and twinkling lights, with a belly full of potato pancakes and gluehwein. The online travel advisor Cheapflights just chose it as one of the top ten Christmas markets in the world, along with insanely picturesque places such as Brussels, Vienna, Strasbourg, and Quebec City. Chicago’s version started in 1996, inspired by Germany’s ancient Nuremberg market of 1545, and consists of 50-some vendors selling foodstuffs, home goods, and clothing. There’s also live music, dance, and theatre, and while many exhibitors hail from Germany, you can also support Illinois businesses such as Kalos Colors (Baltic amber pieces and glass ornaments and vases), Dom Itp (imported Polish pottery and wooden items), and Designs by Gina (recycled glass wine-bottle holders and kitchen accessories). Admission is free and hours are 11 a.m.­–8 p.m Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Friday and Saturday; through December 24.

A red Jojo chair from Design Inc.

Grand Gestures

If you need to wrap your head around the burgeoning West Grand Avenue design district, click over to its new website, where you’ll find a nice directory of shops such as Modern Times, Post 27, The Painted Lady, SG, and Salvage One. The site also includes a map, recommended restaurants, and events, and was put together by Bill Bruss, the designer and proprietor of Design Inc. Check out the insider-hip area in person, and Bruss’s store (1847 West Grand Avenue) in particular this Sunday from noon–4 p.m. at his Simply Red open house; he’s serving red velvet cupcakes, red caviar, and red wine, and slicing 20% off the price of all red items, such as this shimmering metallic Jojo chair.

A 'Tangerine Tango' color swatch from Pantone

Pantone’s Pronouncement

No, one of the new swing choirs on Glee isn’t announcing its new sweater-vest uniforms. Pantone is a renowned institution that influences worldwide color trends in home, graphic, beauty, and fashion design, and it just picked 2012’s Color of the Year. Can I get a sexy, syncopated drumroll, por favor? The winner is PANTONE 17-1463 Tangerine Tango, a deep reddish orange that’s a little bit Hèrmes, a little bit Veuve Clicquot. Press materials call it sophisticated, dramatic, seductive, magnetic, fun, and friendly. A lot to ask from a simple color, but I like it a lot, and I’ll take it over last year’s treacly Honeysuckle Pink any day. Orange you happy they picked it? Show off your cutting-edge color consciousness around the watercooler (if anyone still gathers around watercoolers) with the latest in Pantone’s series of $25 COTY coffee mugs.

Narcissus flowers from June Blaker

Paper What?

Divas and their blooms: Billie Holiday had a signature gardenia tucked behind her soul-wrenching ear, Julie Wilson always has a magnolia accompanying that snappy chignon, Snooki probably has a broke-down carnation and a cigarette butt up there in her please-don’t-Bump-It ‘do, but this is my pal June Blaker’s annual time to shine. The River North retailer is in high bulb-bunching mode as she oversees the packaging of her trademark paperwhite narcissus gift boxes, chicly packaged in simple silver circular tins that require you to only pop the top and water the bulbs to enjoy four to six weeks of fragrant blossoms. Order the $40 bloomers at 312-751-9220 or email

Carpet spraypaint from Vecco Studio

Lincoln Perk

Get your last-minute shop on next Wednesday night, December 21, around Armitage, Halsted, and Webster, as 24 stores stay open an extra hour and serve up some drinks and deals at a Holiday After-Hours Block Party from 7–8. (Only an hour, shopkeepers? Got a school pageant to rush off to?) Home-focused players include Francesca’s Collections, The Green Goddess, Barker and Meowsky, and Vecco Studio, whose spray-painted carpet is pictured.