Even when nothing seems more daunting than venturing out onto the icy streets, New Yorkers won't settle for less than the best. So congratulate yourself for living in the most extravagant city on earth, where all of life's little necessities -- from beauty to health to Helmut Lang hipster handbags -- can be had without leaving the comfort of your co-op. Here's a guide to some surprising luxe home services that are just a phone call away.
Flood's Closet, Personal Shopper; 348-7257
Staying at home doesn't have to mean slumping around in your baggy sweats. Barbara Flood, personal shopper and wardrobe consultant, will come to your apartment, critique your closet, and set out to find the essentials for your desired look (she consults for both men and women). Flood doesn't favor following the season's cookie-cutter looks (i.e., gray, gray, and more gray); instead, she helps clients focus their individual styles. She'll hunt around town, from Bergdorf's to Loehmann's; buy (returnable) clothes, jewelry, even household items and accessories -- vintage or new -- and bring them right to your apartment. Oh, and if you must have that Prada purse in that particular shade, she can snag that for you, too (she does special requests and orders). An average initial consultation costs $125, and while shopping-trip costs vary according to duration, the majority range from $125 to $250, excluding the cost of the merchandise. (Another wardrobe consultant to try -- she takes woman clients only -- is Emily Cho, 289-7807.)
THE INTERIOR GOURMET
This service delivers lunch and dinner from three- and four-star restaurants around the city, including Oceana, Patria, La Côte Basque, and the Palm. A tuxedoed gentleman shows up toting still-warm food within an hour after your call, unloading and explaining it all like the most fawning of waiters. Owner David Blum operates similar services in seven cities nationwide and has a cult following of celebrity clients -- Claudia Schiffer and David Copperfield rely on the service when the magician's conjuring powers don't cut it. So forget haughty maître d's and chilly reservation bookers: Nothing beats the luxury of spooning Beluga while you're outfitted in your favorite T-shirt and stained blue jeans. The service delivers for a 20 percent surcharge (plus gratuity) on top of a restaurant's usual prices.
Frédéric Fekkai, 753-9500
No reason to sit lonely -- and frizzy-haired -- in your living room. Just call up the folks at Frédéric Fekkai. If you wish, a whole Fekkai team will show up to pamper you. A manicurist will slough your woefully winterized hands with sea salt while a hair-conditioning specialist soothes your split ends with an essential-oil treatment. And for what amounts to twice the usual in-salon fee, a stylist will come and coif between flirty remarks. (On my test drive of the salon's stay-at-home service, senior designer Julien Farel gave me a superb haircut with minimal carpet fallout, reshaping my slight waves into a shiny, straight sheath. The verdict: "Veh-rey sex-ay.") The salon charges $100 an hour for a home manicure; $175 for an hourlong conditioning treatment; and, depending on the seniority of the stylist, between $175 and $400 an hour for a cut and blow-dry. (John Sahag Salon, 750-7772, also offers out-of-salon services; cuts start at $300 per hour.)
YOUR PERSONAL SPA
Paul Labrecque Spa & Salon; 595-0099
Paul Goes Out, the at-home branch of Paul Labrecque's upscale salon (located in the Reebok Sports/NY gym), is a half-day at-home spa package that includes a deep-cleaning facial (sans steam), a skin-sloughing body scrub of mineral salts and marine essences, and a muscle-pummeling massage. The spa package costs $500. (Dorit Baxter Skin Care will also make house calls; a basic facial is $120 an hour; most other services are double that of in-salon prices.)
Home Care Physician Services; 718-238-2100 (8 a.m. to midnight)
Next time a winter flu sets in too far, just send for a doctor from this office-management service for home-based doctors, run by Jerry Steinberg. Appointments are often available on the day you call, although Steinberg stresses that the service is not suited to emergencies. (For the most part, patients will have to pay the physician's fee and bill their insurance companies for reimbursement.) Still, it beats a crosstown trek to sit in a waiting room full of coughing and sniffling New Yorkers. Prices vary depending upon treatment; there is no extra charge for house-call service.
Suzanne Chamlin, drawing and painting instructor, 925-9729; Jivamukti Yoga Center, 353-0214; Tannen's Magic Shop, 929-4500. Cooking classes: Amanda Cushman, 749-2110; Melanie Underwood, 358-7793.
Suzanne Chamlin, a lecturer at the New School, says she can teach even skeptics to draw and paint. A teacher for almost fifteen years, she works with oils, watercolors, ink, wash, charcoal, and pencil. Advanced students can ask for just feedback and criticism, but Chamlin suggests that students plan to put aside three to four hours a session, "because it takes so long to set up and get involved." Cost per session: $90 to $120 an hour (depending on travel time).
For the body -- and spirit -- conscious, Jivamukti Yoga Center gives at-home private lessons in breathing techniques, meditation, and its particular yoga style -- "a vigorous, integrated form." A yogi of your choice will bring everything required: yoga mat, relaxing music, towels, and massage oil (to be rubbed on the temples during the "corpse" pose). Workout clothes, books, and jewelry can be bought and delivered from the studio's boutique as well -- don't forget to order the incense. At-home lessons start at $100 an hour.
Tannen's Magic Shop can transform stir-crazy kids (and their parents) into masters of illusion. The store will send a professional magician to teach coin and card tricks and sleight of hand, as well as more complicated fare. And while you might not want to start with sawing your significant other in half -- no matter how many times you've told him or her not to drink out of the orange-juice carton -- the store owner, Tony Spina, insists, "Magicians are not born, they're made." Within the New York area, individual at-home teaching costs $150 to $250 for an hour-and-a-half lesson, not including props.
Transform yourself into a culinary genius in your own kitchen by having a professional chef demonstrate how to make a perfect omelette or osso bucco. Amanda Cushman, an instructor at Peter Kump's New York Cooking School, specializes in quick low-fat cuisine made with a minimum of ingredients -- she never even uses butter, cream, or other dairy products. But as long as you're treating yourself, why not have Melanie Underwood, another instructor at the school, show you a killer desert, from peanut-butter pie to profiteroles? Private lessons with both begin at $100 an hour. (Get a grocery store to deliver ingredients in selected Manhattan neighborhoods by shopping the Web at www.netgrocer.com, or stock up on essentials by using the shop-by-phone service (free in SoHo; above SoHo to 59th Street, $10; to 86th, $20) offered by Dean & DeLuca (Monday through Friday only; you must order by 3 p.m. for same-day delivery; 226-6800, extension 269).
PEx Personalized Exercise; 254-1915
The personal-training specialists at PEx Fitness will send instructors to pump you up in the privacy of your apartment. Trainers can lead clients through a variety of workouts even without equipment; PEx trainers will help you to work up a sweat with "manual resistance" (hands-on) sessions or even a kickboxing-cardio session (they'll bring the pads and gloves). PEx's at-home training costs $65 to $85 a session, depending upon the time of day and the seniority of the trainer, with other services extra. (Casa Specialized Private Fitness also offers in-house training at $150 an hour. During the summer months they'll even travel to the Hamptons; call 212-717-1998.)