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Affordable objects of desire

Posted in Home & Decor

Alessi's new pencil sharpener
Alessi’s new pencil sharpener

The house I live in was originally built by a man and his uninterested girlfriend (I was told she never wanted to move here). And it shows in many of the details. If he was thoughtful enough to create plenty of storage space and to lavish a lot of money on the custom-built kitchen, he then scrimped on the appliances. In the 10 years I have lived in the house, I have gotten around to changing some of the things that bugged me the most, like the golden faucets, but some of this gentleman’s decorating choices still endure. Take the bathrooms. I am all for shopping local but this man found a tile manufacturer close to home and commissioned some ocean themed tableau that probably cost a pretty penny and that, every time I step into the shower, makes me feel like an extra in “Finding Nemo”. Other more pressing financial concerns have always taken the precedence but, on my wish list, demolishing the “aquarium” and starting over is a dream I am hoping to fulfill.

And who doesn’t have such decorating dreams? Most of America and the rest of the Western World, judging from the proliferation of remodelling shows on networks everywhere. Pretending to look for ideas, we fall prey to  a new kind of voyeurism and we watch, enthralled as houses and rooms receive radical make-overs.

Sometimes, brightening up a space requires just a few objects that renew our interest. And sometimes they can be had for modest budgets at such price conscious places like  Ikea, Zara Home or JC Penney.

I have come to the conclusion that wrestling with Ikea’s assembling instructions is a waste of my time so I will only buy items already assembled or else stand alone objects. And it’s impossible not to circle the Swedish maze and walk out empty-handed (click on photos for info and prices).

As to JCPenney, I am not sure I have ever been in one – it’s one of those places that just don’t come to (my) mind. I understand they have a new CEO who has been trying to reposition the discount chain and, so far, has failed miserably. What he has done, though, is partner up with some well-known designers to deliver stylish pieces at affordable prices. I was particularly intrigued by the Conran name. Conran is a British institution, not exactly affordable in the UK, whose line of modern, comfortable and design driven furniture revolutionized the English market a couple of decades back. The Conran pieces on sale through JCPenney are many steps above their usual fare, if not exactly cheap but, if you are on the market for a new couch or bookcase, it might pay to consider them – they are still a much better deal than comparable items from Design within Reach.

Zara has a home good website that is just as cheap as its clothing line. You have to look rather hard to find quirky and stylish pieces but there are a few items here and there that do the trick.

And then there is always Alessi. The Italian manufacturer has been teaming up for decades with innovative designers and architects to deliver quirky everyday objects. I still draw immense pleasure in boiling water every morning in my bird kettle and, every time I hand the iconic corkscrew lady to a friend to open a bottle of wine, I smile as he or she tries to figure out how to use the pretty dame. Some of the items are not sold at discount prices but, 10 years in, my kettle is still in pristine condition. Now, do I really need the beaver pencil sharpener? It just depends on how bad of a day I am having at my desk.


(All of these images were sourced at the relevant websites. None of this post is sponsored or paid for in any way- all of these items are things we love.)

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  1. I like your “Finding Nemo” bathroom! But I get it. You have lovely, eclectic taste and the bathroom is not you. Thanks for JC Penny tip. I will soon need to buy a refrigerator and would love one of those 50s-looking ones (for a reasonable price). Fun post as I am getting ready to decorate a new home…on a limited (dare I say “non-existent”!) budget 🙂

    April 8, 2013
    • Come check my garage. I might have some bits and bobs you might like

      April 8, 2013
  2. silvia

    It’s soooo cute the beaver! I love it, I swear I must have it. It will cheer you up no matter what’s coming next.
    And you look like the prittiest of mermaids among the Nemo tiles…

    April 8, 2013
    • Between the fish, the real dogs, the bunnies and the fauna outside, it’s starting to feel like a zoo!

      April 8, 2013
  3. I want all of these! Especially the Ikea stuff and the beaver sharpener. I wish we had access to all this and at those prices! And if you ever get rid of those Nemo tiles – I want them.

    April 8, 2013

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