They pretty much all carry your Laliques and your Nambés; some boast exclusive limited-edition collections. But what really sets the department stores’ home sections apart? And what’s the payoff for navigating all those escalators, elevators, and thousands of square feet of stuff? We decided to save you some legwork and find out.


Martha Stewart’s Whiteware collection at Macy’s

Iittala’s glass birds by Oiva Toikka at Macy’s

Horchow Home; Hotel Collection towels at Macy’s

Macy’s on State

111 N. State St., 312-781-4884

Our two cents: Many say it doesn’t have the cachet of Marshall Field’s, and maybe they’re right. But Macy’s is still a great place to get good deals and your luxury fix under one roof. The only place in town you’ll find: The Martha Stewart Collection: bed, bath, entertaining, and cooking products that allow you to feel all Martha at home. Simple and elegant bedding and bath accessories from the Hotel Collection. Designer Benjamin Noriega Ortiz’s Metropolitan Home collection of modern furniture. Well-priced shagadelic rugs by interior designer Jennifer Post. Don’t get too excited about: The "Simply Living Lincoln Park" area on the 8th floor. The prices are lower here than on the rest of the floor, but so is the style factor (maybe some accessories in there would spice things up?). Come here for: The 4,000-square-foot Baker showroom on the 8th floor and the Trend House, Macy’s annual display of current styles. Caught our eye: A charming, well-displayed collection of glass birds by Iittala. Bonus: Macy’s offers free design services to customers who make a furniture purchase.


A one-of-a-kind design by Michele Oka Doner for Steuben at Neiman Marcus.

A zebra-striped chair from Neiman Marcus’s catalog.

Neiman Marcus
737 N. Michigan Ave., 312-642-5900

Good for: Old-money status symbols (rabbit-fur throws, high-thread-count silk sheets, boudoir-ready heart-shaped pillows). Not so good for: Basics. Everything here is either super-expensive or super-decorative. Who knew? There’s a hefty selection of African and Asian bowls, masks, and vases. Only place in town you’ll find: Steuben glass. The furniture situation: A rotating sampling of offerings from Horchow, Neiman’s swanky home furnishings catalog, purchasable through the catalog or online, though not off the floor. You’ll see why a certain clientele swears by Horchow-the pieces, from zebra-striped side chairs to glittering chandeliers, drip with luxury. Caught our eye: A gorgeous silver coffee and tea service by mid-century designer Georg Jensen. Don’t leave without: Getting your Ralph Lauren and Matouk towels and sheets monogrammed-for free (they will be delivered by mail).


Monique Lhuillier’s Atelier vase for Royal Doulton at Bloomingdale’s

Thomas O’Brien for Hickory Chair Company at Bloomingdale’s  

Bloomingdale’s Home & Furniture Store

600 N. Wabash Ave., 312-324-7500

Good for: High-end basics, from furniture to bed and bath accessories. The only place in town you’ll find: Ralph Lauren Spa organic bedding and bath; select pieces from Thomas O’Brien’s furniture and tabletop lines; and fashion designer Monique Lhuillier’s collection of tableware, stemware, and giftware for Royal Doulton, inspired by her bridal and evening gowns. Attention brides and grooms: Not only is the bridal registry area easy to find (the sign is huge!), but this self-contained, devoted-to-home store is a breeze to navigate. Don’t miss: The well-edited rug department. We were particularly impressed with the selection of prominently labeled Thomas O’Brien and Calvin Klein rugs. There is also a separate Persian Gallery and a Tufenkian Gallery devoted to that company’s contemporary handmade Tibetan and Armenian rugs. Who knew? Bloomie’s has an excellent selection of Chilewich placemats.


 Jonathan Adler lamp at Saks Fifth Avenue

Saks Fifth Avenue

700 N. Michigan Ave., 312-944-6500

The skinny: Saks’s home department will not knock you off your feet for its depth of selection (at least out on display; they do have extensive catalogs for each of their vendors). But if you get frazzled by endless choices or simply need a classy gift fast, this is the place. Come here for: The beautiful selection of tabletop pieces by John Derian. And (if you don’t have time to run to his Wabash Avenue boutique), there’s a definite commitment to tastemaker Jonathan Adler here. Caught our eye: A fabulous Art Deco-inspired stainless steel bar cart by Ralph Lauren. Who knew? At press time, there was a pretty big, somewhat messy sale area at the top of the escalator that leads to the home section (the Saks reps say this doesn’t happen often). Bargains at Saks? Gasp. We saw them!