Launched last year, Maison is the mail order branch of Grand Illusions, three shops set up 10 years ago by Nick Ronald and David Roberts in Twickenham, which are well-known for attractive furniture in a rustic vein. Ronald describes their style as "Certainly European... vaguely French country. We are not wildly commercial, we only sell things we like. It would be easy to produce a catalogue of bestsellers but we are not interested in that." Maison features a wide range of furniture including dressers, cabriole- leg side tables, dining chairs and chests of drawers (all available in either a waxed or painted finish), as well as a first class selection of simple, inexpensively priced ceramics including a very attractive line of "La Cuenco" Spanish earthenware, described in the catalogue as "Divinely simple... hand-dipped in Vanilla and Heavenly Blue". Coffee mugs pounds 6.50, large fruit bowl pounds 28.50, small jug pounds 10.50.
Maisonbis brims over with ideas for Christmas presents: bone-china mug and bowl sets for children featuring either a bird, a boat or a mouse (pounds 19.95 for a boxed set), which are enchanting without being cloying; a jolly felt hot water bottle pounds 18.50; an Odeon espresso cup and saucer in delicious chocolate or chic grey.
Best item: La Cuenco large fruit bowl, pounds 28.50
Cheap item: Mini Versailles cast iron urn, pounds 8.95
Worst item: Wooden ship on wheels pounds 29.50
Maison and Maisonbis are at Grand Illusions, 2-4 Crown Road, St Margaret's, Twickenham, Middlesex (0181 744 1046). Last date for Christmas delivery (subject to availability) is 18 DecemberReuse content