Standard Furniture traces its origins back to 1912, when a local family began traveling through Birmingham, peddling fine household furniture out of a wagon. Four generations later, the business has blossomed into 13 retail stores throughout Alabama and Tennessee, and its century-long commitment to quality furniture and customer service won it the Alabama Retail Association’s Silver Award as one of the Retailers of the Year in 2011.
Each gallery abounds with bedroom, living-room, and dining-room furniture from top designers such as Lane, along with mattresses in a range of shapes and styles from brands such as Tempur-Pedic, Serta, and Jamison. At each location, a knowledgeable staff awaits to offer design counsel, suggesting pieces that best suit a household’s style or will hold up against a disobedient pet woodchuck.
Outfitting homes with fetching furnishings for almost 10 years, Harmony Home offers a head-spinning array of home décor items, gifts, accessories, and more. Though linear time is only an illusion, avoid running late with a Manfredi hanging clock ($28.95), or spruce up a murky cave with a bevy of embroidered gift towels ($6.50–$12.95). Cover up wall holes from piñata parties gone wrong with an oink wall décor piece ($19.95) and mask musky scents with an Anjou pear Root veriglass candle ($16.95). A helpful staff of skilled furnishing experts assists shoppers in picking out thoughtful gifts or the perfect item to accent an existing space.
An affordable and monumental selection of sofas, beds, desks, and sarcophagi mingle good-naturedly in Ashley Furniture’s wondrous warehouse.
A Matrix Accent Chair ($219.99) commands shoppers’ attention with its sleek, contemporary design, and Kira furnishings provide stylish sites for storage, studying, or snoozing. A Sydney Accent Chair ($199.99) or Cubit ottoman set ($99.99) anticipate increasing the comfort of various human inactivities, while the Romy Accent Table Group consists of one cocktail and two end tables, creating a table cartel ruling over a home's Speed Quarters surface needs.
"Never, never, never give up," is the driving mantra for David Oreck, who flew combat missions with the US Army Air Forces
in World War II and returned home to build a business empire from scratch. He set out to design a machine to lighten hotel employees' load, making a lightweight vacuum cleaner as opposed to the traditional bulky, burdensome commercial cleaners. Naturally, the domestic market began clamoring for his high-powered yet easy-to-handle devices, and soon Oreck vacuums could be found in homes throughout the country.
Today, the company continues its tradition of innovation, simplifying household tasks with Steam-Glide mops for hard floors, HEPA-filter upright vacuums, and stain-killing cleaning products. Oreck's commitment to clean sends it headlong into the future, with high-tech air filters that react to their environment with automatic sensory controls, filtering odors, allergens, and curse words.
Firefly Essentials delivers moisturizing products straight to your home; these products battle the itchy, red, and uncomfortable skin brought on by dry air and wintry weather. More than 25 varieties of handmade soaps are available—including bar blends ($4.50 per bar) such as coconut breeze, lemongrass, and cucumbery melon—that transform the body into a tasty treat for nocturnal, closet-dwelling trolls. Goat-milk-based body lotion will ensure sleek skin by wicking away spilled nacho cheese, while beeswax lip balms formulated with cocoa butter, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil, and tea-tree oil will soothe the mouth pillows after a season of chappage. Otherwise, opt for one of Firefly's quick gift sets, like a four-pack of natural soaps tied in raffia ribbon ($16).
Behind Bear Creek Gardens, a stone path leads to the bright-red door of a cabin with quaint white shutters. Inside, owner Frannie Daughrity stocks the shelves of her boutique with unique gifts and French-inspired home décor infused with country charm. She spends hours curating her collection, filling the cozy shop with items that are handcrafted, locally made, or too unique to pass up. If you ask, Frannie can tell you the story behind many of her items—such as the beeswax candles handcrafted by a former pro-skateboarder and her husband, who dropped out of their fast-paced lives to start making candles in a 1970s Winnebago.