Gracious Home Marks 50th Year

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A housewares and hardware store like few others

Goodness, Gracious Home! Were you really born in 1963? Indeed, you were, as a humble housewares and hardware store, but look at you now. Modest no longer, you're a treasure trove of luxe and high-end, well, everything ? from candy bars to candles, sheets to shampoos, pillows to plates and so much more.

While the stalwart store at the corner of Broadway and 67th Street has three levels of madly crave-worthy merch, the Chelsea Design Center outpost at 45 W. 25th St. is limited to elegantly decorative hardware and plumbing.

But back to our three levels of goodies. Where to start? How about with this question: Hot enough for you? (Ducking tossed tomatoes.) Here you can pick up a Coleman Cool Zephyr Mini Fan, a 4-inch high plastic hand-held personal cooler "perfect for camping, hiking, hunting, the beach and sporting events." ("Hunting"? May I counter-suggest waiting on subway platforms?) Anyway, this handy-dandy little item, with AA-battery-op propeller blades, is just $4.99, representative of the tiny treasures salted among the higher ticket goods.

In need of a hands-free personal fan? Consider then the $10 Flexi Clip, which has a flexible neck and clips onto your desk's edge (for example) ? hence, its name. Also running on AA batteries, the Flexi has the softest foam blades, perhaps in acknowledgement that inevitably someone's going to back a body part into them. Choose from raspberry, royal, lime and swimming-pool blue models.

Hey, Brooklyn in the house! Here you will also find ? among the small serendipitous finds ? Meyer lemon and green apple sucking candies by BrooklynHardCandy, which handcrafts its sweets in that borough. A slim cylindrical silvery-lidded glass jar of the treats is $8. You know what I like about domestic companies? They give you the size in ounces first (3.5 oz. in this case) ? and grams second, if they give them at all (100).

Ooh-la-la , Paris-made Mazet Noir or Lait Prasline chocolates. These come in a 100-gram bar, which we already know, class, is ? all together now: 3.5 ounces! I can't promise you will love the caramelized sugar-coated toasted almond confectionary (though it seems a safe bet); but you will want to buy as many as you can to, if nothing else, wallpaper your home with the stunningly ? but discreetly ? ornate French baroque wrapper. At $7.99 per bar, you might want to start with one of your smaller rooms.

There are more such little luxuries, but let's descend to the next level ? the middle one ? were the meat-and-potatoes of the store is (the lowest level has aesthetic hardware and plumbing, elegant lamps and shades plus some housewares ? oh, and you can also get knives sharpened and keys made there). On this mid-level, there is all manner of luxurious living staples and accessories, including beautiful candles, skinny and squat, by such names as Rigaud, Tocca, Abahna and Seda France.

The selection of throw pillows is standout, even among all the other riveting options vying for attention. For your delectation: a hand-decorated 18-by-12- inch pillow doubled-bordered all around with faceted diamond-shaped "mirrors," which themselves are elaborately framed by rows of the tiniest bugle beads.

"How much?" I asked. "374," I was told. "Dollars?" I gulped.

I was about $364 short, but if you can swing it, check it out: It's ? this column's newest favorite description ? swimming-pool blue.

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