When we were building our first home in 1981, my mother-in-law, an accomplished New York designer, gave me a box filled with Styrofoam furniture pieces. Scaled 1/2-inch to the foot, these chunks of plastic foam and graph paper have guided my decorating choices for more than 30 years. I use them to see how a new piece of furniture might fit and even if Im just rearranging. Countless computer apps do the same things now, but this tattered 3-Dimensional Furniture Arranging Kit is still my go-to. It calls to mind the joy of creating our first home and deepens my gratitude for a sweet and practical gift that showed a young homemaker the way without interfering.
Features editor Carole Tanzer Miller