With only a few days left before the big holiday, Santa’s elves have been busy working overtime to finish up our gift lists. Sure, the more prepared amongyou already have purchased everything- but we’re certain you’ve missed someone, even if it’s just that guy at work, who happens to be in charge of HR and could really use something small. Last minute purchases don’t have to be rushed, and thanks to the miracles of Amazon, Fedex, and UPS, you can order this week and still have a very merry Christmas. As in years past, we’ve tested out hundreds of items this year, and narrowed our favorites down in a few categories, trying to find something for most every budget. We began our task with Gadgets, followed up by a jaunt to the outdoors, and now bring you everything for your home or apartment, bedroom, and bathroom.
Let’s start with the rest of the house before turning to the kitchen! After all, the foundation of a home is the ability to handle some basic repairs- and the best way to be handy is the get some tools in your hand. The Porter Cable 20v Max Hammer Drill is one of the new generation of battery-powered, rechargeable, cordless drivers- powerful enough to handle just about anything without being so heavy that you’ll get a workout just by lifting it. We’ve been using it for quite a while now, rarely needing to charge, and it’s been durable and easy to store, handle, and carry. $150 or so for the kit.
Speaking of battery-powered cordless tools, few motors impressed us more this year than the one on Dyson’s DC59 Motorhead, a super-strong and surprisingly light vacuum that can reach just about anywhere and offers a solid half-hour of runtime. The motorized head gets just about anything clean from carpets, an exciting feat that others this size cannot boast. Pricey at nearly $550, it’s one great-looking machine that has proving it’s value at handling hair that other cordless vacs cannot.
A cleaner home also requires cleaner air- and the best air purifier that we saw this year was the Rabbit Air SPA-550A. Moving away from their previous wall-mountable design, the new one has a more organic form, takes up more space, and is a bit louder than some others on higher speeds- but can handle a far larger area than many models in this class. At $350, it’s a great way to make your world a little healthier.
Every woman who uses makeup will appreciate a good mirror- like those found in expensive hotels, with that natural lighted ring and magnified view. Now you can own- or gift one- too, albeit one with some cool tech touches like automatic sensors to illuminate when you approach. And, even more unusually, it can be operated cordlessly, ideal for travel. The simplehuman Stainless Steel Sensor Mirror has stayed shiny- and precious- to us. Around $200.
Finally, we have three kitchen implements to spruce up your cooking tasks- items that not only look good but are incredibly functional as well. Amongst the many knives we’ve tested, some of our favorites are these gorgeous blades from Chroma- they make something for everyone, but our favorite was the museum-worthy Porsche Type 301 8-inch Chef’s knife. It’s not the most comfortable, but is quite well-balanced, precision-machined, and is always the first knife anyone grabs when looking at our collection. At only $120, it also is an incredible value.
You’ll need something to cut on though- like the John Boos Maple Cutting Board. Again, this is a category where you may think you’ve seen everything- and then along comes this gorgeous end-grain construction that adds a unique character to each board. Two inches thick and with plenty of heft, it’s held up well to our fairly tough use over the past nine months. $170.
And finally, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention one of our favorite cookware brands, and this year’s special piece, the Mauviel M’heritage Curved Splayed Saute Pan, which looks like something you’d find in Julia Child’s kitchen. Sure, it’s French, with attractive and tough rivets along with 90% copper for optimal heat distribution- but it’s also an unusual and versatile style, good for just about anything. $230.