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Home accessorize or bust: What to buy and where in Cairo

Choosing the right house or apartment is just the start of a potentially long journey toward creating a truly pleasing home. An empty interior needs to be decorated, filled with furniture, and finally sprinkled with accessories that give the final touch to each room.

Light fixtures, rugs and vases add flavor to the comfort of your little nest, and their impact is sufficiently important that it is worthwhile waiting a little longer and saving a few more pennies to get the perfect items.

The range of goods available and the retail outlets offering them is quite dizzying, and seems to be growing by the day. Among them are a fair few who offer goods at a high price but without the quality of build and materials to match.

In which case, time spent identifying trustworthy brands and stores is time well spent. Below are a few of the top accessory shopping locations in Cairo and some idea of what's on offer.

Alessi is an Italian kitchenware and cutlery brand located in Zamalek. The brand guarantees good quality and affordable prices. The cooking pots start at around LE200, the ice cream bowl set goes for LE389, and the entire stainless steel cutlery set comes in at LE1231. You will also find a wide range of fruit bowls, bottle openers, and a magical lint shaver for LE364.

Ralph Lauren is another destination for chinaware and accessories, but the prices are in dollars and relatively high. The china cup-and-pate set for four persons, comprising of 12 plates, four cups and four saucers, retails for US$650. The entire set is made in the US, which partially explains the price tag.

Eklego is another destination for hip and colorful home accessories. The company has a reputation for both architecture and home concept design, but the accessories selection is also quite vast. The glassware collection is simple and artistic and each item costs LE140. The store's "khyamia" cushion would fit comfortably into just about any living room. The "bukhara" table, comprising a clear acrylic body and traditional fabric designs from the Orient, is one of Eklego's new creations, and sells for LE3500.

For linens, try the Malaika brand, which retails through a number of outlets, including the Mounaya Gallery in Zamalek (see below). All products are made of 100 percent Egyptian cotton, and the prices are actually not bad at all. Their bed sheets are crisp and colorful and come in all sizes. They also have fitted sheets and throws. The silk and embroidered throws range from LE600 to LE4000. The towels are perfect, and a set of five in a range of colours costs just LE466. You will also find a wide collection of pillow cases and night gowns.

A good set of wine glasses is a great investment for posh dinner parties, and friends will no doubt be impressed to find themselves refilling their drinks from an elegant decanter. Hulsta in 6th of October city is the place to go for such glassware, with one large glass setting you back LE175, a small one selling for LE130 and a decanter for LE830.

The Mounaya Gallery in Zamalek is a fun shop to visit, partly because it seems to offer a bit of everything. However, the most interesting section is the tableware. Their Lebanese tea sets are fun and creative, some boasting designs inspired by the operetta "Al-Laila al-Kebira", while others have the hand of Fatma on them. Prices start at LE1100. In case you're looking for serving plates, Mounaya has a fabulous selection on offer. But take care, because the merchandise is a bit on the expensive side.

Alessi: 111 26th of July Street, Zamalek (Tel: 27364295)

Mounaya Gallery: 14 Al-Montazah Street, Zamalek

Ralph Lauren: Designopolis, km 38 Cairo-Alexandria Road, Sheikh Zayed, 6th of October (Tel: 16220)

Hulsta: Designopolis, km 38 Cairo-Alexandria Road, Sheikh Zayed, 6th of October (Tel: 16220)

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