By Linda Lee
Abby Kellett sells modern floral Scandinavian with a difference. Gretel Home offers goods that may be Danish or Swedish but can also be tribal, abstract, botanical, often pastel, and sometimes humorous. Many are from the UK, where she was born. Her online shop reflects Abby’s watchwords: functional, cozy, decorative and pretty.
“Nothing makes me happier than a nice shop,” she says. “Maybe my children.” She is joking. Her daughters, Beatrice, 15, and Josephine, 10, are trilingual treasures. Abby, 47, and her husband, Bert Hernandez, an executive with Caribbean Cruise Lines, spent the last five years in Shanghai for his work. Thus their daughters speak and read Chinese. Because Bert has Cuban roots, they know Spanish. They live in Miami, FL.
Gretel Home expresses Abby’s ideal environment: modern but not minimal. Pastels are in her paintbox, along with gray, green, black, and white. Her online store has a whimsical bent, gorgeous design at an affordable price. Her offerings are sometimes handmade and often responsibly sourced. Those include cutlery, trays, puzzles, blankets, bowls, kitchen implements, glassware, pillows, children’s toys, clocks and wall ornaments from places like Barcelona, England, Brooklyn, Vancouver, Sweden, Scotland, Russia, Denmark. A recent addition is the “Notes of Blue” 500-piece puzzle, above, from Pieceworks Puzzles of Indianapolis, which measures a whopping 19 by 26 inches when completed. $32
The Small World willow wood trinket tray ($26) by Danica Studio has abstract images of flora and fauna inspired by designs from the native people of coastal British Columbia. The pink background color is a punk take by the designer/illustrator Elisa Cachero, based in Vancouver. You could picture Billie Eilish using it to stash the publicity handouts (snack food, custom-printed cash, screen-printed t shirt, key chain, plastic bee) from the premier of the “Swarm” TV series, in which she appears. It’s that cool.
Another tray, more traditionally flowery: the Peggy Round Tray by Bluebellgray, from Glasgow, Scotland. Fi Douglas did the contemporary watercolor showing delphiniums, carnations and chartreuse ferns in a modern watercolor style. The hand-painted design was then applied to a melamine coated birchwood tray in Sweden, limited supply, $38.
The cuddly Mushroom Pillow by Donna Wilson is knitted in Scotland of soft 100 percent lambswool, then stuffed with polyester and handfinished in London; $110.
There’s a lovely cotton woven blanket, perfect for summer picnics, or country cottage guest bedrooms, by Lucy Tiffney, that shows a pavilion surrounded by abstract flowers and trees. It’s $240, reasonable when you consider it is almost 6 feet tall and 4 feet wide.
These Serving Friends sapele wood salad tossing forks, $55, are from Areaware’s Selena Liu, who designs in Brooklyn. They are so charming you might as well hang them on the wall.
Are these toys or something for a centerpiece? Perhaps they can be handed down as family heirlooms. Gretel Home offers the hand-carved Summer Forest Set in either bright green or muted green (why not both?) for $60 each. The pieces can be reassembled in various configurations.
The Ruth Bader Ginsberg six-inch Kokeshi doll made for a Danish company, is also available at Gretel Home, $60. It could be added to the forest as a centerpiece, although she will be taller than the trees. Rightly so. (Other available Kokeshis include Amy Winehouse and Anna Wintour.)
Gretel Home has been in business for 14 years. Abby plans to travel to the UK, Norway and France this year on buying trips and is excited about Shoppe Object, a new design show in New York she attended two years ago. She is inspired by Elle Decor, Australian “Vogue Living.” She also follows the Design Files blog from Australia. “I see more and more beautiful design coming from there,” she says. The chair above is from Anthropologie. And the wallpaper below is by Marthe Armitage.
Abby offers interior design services in Miami and styles photo shoots for magazines and architects. Her specialty is creating rooms with just enough, but not too much. Her interior designs, as seen above, can be seen on the Gretel Home website.
Not everything on Gretel Home is floral or botanical or politely restrained and pastel. One set of trays shows a pair of leopard-spotted elephants meeting in a tropical blue-and-red fantasmagoria.
But overall Gretel Home is a peaceful kingdom, often populated by Abby’s favorite bunnies, children’s toys and so many trays you might be convinced that cocktail culture has a future.
Linda Lee is a former editor and writer at The New York Times. She is the author of seven books.