pennywise design


Paint it gold

My fabulous friend Nicole is renovating her apartment, and she recently got a hold of a can of gold spray paint. I wasn't quite sure what to expect when she said she was developing a spray paint addiction. But Nic is known amongst all of our friends for having impeccable taste, so I shouldn't have doubted the results would be completely fantastic. This really is a great idea if you have some old knick-knacks or trinkets lying around that you're not sure what to do with. I think the key is to keep the size of the stuff you want to paint on the small side, otherwise it could be overkill. This is pure turning trash into treasure. Here is her handiwork.

Rachael Ray cookware

Stainless steel is nice, but '70's orange is better. This Rachael Ray enamel cookware from Linens 'n Things is simple yet stylish. The 10-piece set is $150 and will hopefully last you until orange goes out of style and comes back in fashion again, twice.

Global obsession

I've had a thing for globes since I was a little kid. We kept my mom's desk globe in the basement of our house growing up. It was from the '50's and terribly outdated, so I'd magic marker out the names of countries that didn't exist anymore and write in the new ones in tiny print. My dad would spin the globe around and wherever my finger stopped on it, was the country we talked about next. He quizzed me so often on the state capitals that I've never forgotten them.

I have a distinct memory of being awake at night in my bed, dreaming up how my house would look when I was grown up. The best room I could ever imagine would be completely wallpapered with a giant map. The ceiling would be painted like the sky. And in the room would sit an antique globe in an impressive mahogany stand. I could sit there in my egg chair and plot my next adventure, touching my fingers over the raised relief landforms and smooth blue oceans.

My dad gave me a beautiful standing globe for Christmas about 4 years ago. I've had nowhere to put it in my NYC apartments, unfortunately, but can't wait to finally display it when I move into a house this spring!

Lately, I've been wondering what modern globes were out there aside from the traditional oak knobbed and curlicued kind. I came across this company called
Artline, whose acrylic designs are pretty stunning. These are not cookie cutter globes. From what they describe, an incredible amount of work and skill goes into making each one. A few good places to buy their globes (and others) are via The Globe Store (great prices), The World Globe Superstore and All Modern Furniture.

I'm digging these globes by Italian designers Nova Rico. They've been pioneers in globemaking since 1955. Nice, clean lines, and reasonable prices.

Here's the striking silver and black Mikado, made for Chicago's Replogle Globes in Denmark. Also on Replogle, you can find out how old your globe is.

This Plant-It-Earth globe by Artline rocks. Create your own terrarium or fill them with candy.

Hmm...I think I could definitely start a globes-only blog. Here's one last one to sate me for now, the transparent Simplicity Globe by Danish designer Henrik Tengler. It's a bit steep for me at about $176, but it's a headturner for sure.


Porcelain shrooms

There may indeed be a mushroom trend popping up, as noted by Holly of the wonderful blog Decor8. Normally I'm not a big fan of knick-knack-type things, but these porcelain mushrooms from The Well Dressed Home are so delicate. I think they'd add a sophisticated, earthy touch to a dining or living space. They'd look beautiful against a wooden surface, atop a bit of colorful cloth, or as WDH suggests, in a potted plant.

Thomas Paul at Bluefly

I was a little surprised to find that Bluefly, known for its discounted designerwear, even had a house & home shop, let alone contain so many things I wanted to snatch right up. For instance, gorgeous satin twill pillows from Thomas Paul's current collection. At 40% off, you'd think this was T.J. Maxx. Paul says on his website: "The twill collection is about exploring different design styles throughout history -- art deco, art nouveau, 60's pop art, 70's minimalism, baroque, whatever. Anything is fair game. The key is reinterpreting these designs from disparate periods into a unique style and pulling them all together in a coordinated color palette that works with today's interiors."


New Ikea shades

How I wish I lived near Ikea. So much of their merchandise is not available online. Sometimes, all a dull room needs are some interesting lampshades to change your mind about it. And they're almost always a very cheap, painless approach to brightening up a room. Ikea has a smattering of new patterns, including the fetching retro Kålsta line.

A party in the rain

It's a Monday in late August, and it feels exactly like April. But I won't focus on the rain, instead I'll think about getting off work on a Friday night, with the whole weekend ahead of me. My family is coming to visit me in New York very soon, and I realized I'm way short on serving pieces. I've been hunting online, and have found so many that are appealing I have no idea where to start. Like this ceramic white daisy chip and dip server for $25, from UncommonGoods.

When I lived in Greenwich Village, I used to pass by this neat little kitschy shop with a crazy name
, Mxyplyzyk. If you're ever in that neighborhood, stop in -- everything is amazingly unique. I'm pretty sure Sarah Jessica Parker used to shop there on Sex and the City. The tampopo sectional plates (scroll over to the right) are retro-Japanese-pastel loveliness.

It's not hard to appreciate the look and character of good old vinyl LPs. Brooklynite Jeff Davis was clever enough to think of a way to save them from the landfill. Check out some awesome records-turned-housewares from his line, Vinylux, available at Elsewares.

Here's a supercute Monopoly serving tray from one of my favorite sites, Wrapables, and matching Utilities appetizer plates. So funny. My mom would love this popcorn-print snack bowl from a novelty site called Baron Bob. Totally worth it for $11.95. Wrapables also has this adorable condiment tray that fits around the umbrella of your picnic table.

If you're in the mood for something a little more sleek, CB2 has a beautiful stainless steel bowl for $19.95 that looks like sculpture.


Target's Mass Transit line

Was browsing Target's site, when some new items from their Mass Transit collection jumped out at me. I like this line -- sweet bus shower curtain! -- because it's vibrant, fun, and a step up from the generic NYC-themed stuff you see ev-ery-where. I can see similar items going for so much more at high-end stores.


The boomerang vase


Now this is a vase that warrants comment. I absolutely love the witty, modern shape. Not surprisingly, it's from Japan, and you can get it for $35 via Realm Dékor.


Domino bazaar

Ahhhhhhh! I just found out I will miss the first ever Domino Bazaar on Oct. 13-14 in New York. I'll be Disneying out in Orlando with my family -- we're taking our little stepbrother and sister. I will be having so much fun that I won't remember the Domino event, but I'll have to make it to the next one of these things. Looks like it'll be a huge hit.

Speaking of my lil' stepsiblings, I've been finding THE cutest fabrics for kids. If I had children, I'd be going crazy trying to decide which of these neat patterns to use in their rooms.

Retrodepot is one of my favorite spots in which to ogle adorable fabrics.

A CB2 rave

CB2 got it right with this new trio of vases: Olivia ($19.95), Jordan ($29.95) and Morgan ($14.95). Add any of their breezy botanicals, and you have the perfect modern centerpiece.

I have to give it to CB2. I ordered a faux botanical piece and this mercer frame last week. The fake leaf was larger than expected but, it makes me smile and I think it will totally work in a vase in my living room. However, the frame was a little troublesome. I couldn't seem to fit the backing into the right groove on the wood, and the pressure I applied caused the glass to break. This happened within five minutes of me taking the frame out of the box, so obviously I was not too happy. I carried the unwieldy package with broken glass and all back to work today, expecting to spend my lunch break in line at the post office returning it.

But I decided to call CB2 first, and wow, am I glad I did! I easily got a live person on the phone who simply asked for my order number and if I wanted a replacement for the damaged merchandise. "Sure!" I said. Then came this shocker. She politely informed me: "You don't have to return it to us, we'll just send you a new one." What?! Maybe this is standard practice for plenty of other retailers, god bless them, but I don't know of any. If you do, please let me know!

I learned that CB2 knows how to please their customers. Even if their goods aren't always the picture of perfection, what does it matter with that kind of golden service? So, I will be back, browsing their little marvel of a catalog and clicking "add to cart" many times to come.


Pop Ink plates

Hmm....I am tempted to go for fun, whimsical plates over the predictable grown-up variety. These melamine beauties are from Pop Ink, available on the excellent independent art & design site Elsewares. The Seattle-based store Velocity also has a great Pop Ink selection.

Wall art forever

Stencils have been all the rage for a while now, and I'm not still not tired of 'em. Urban Outfitters has a bunch of reusable "graffiti" stencils from Brooklyn-based Stencil1 for just 10 bucks. They can be used on any surface you can paint, so you can go nuts with them. Check out the other nifty designs available on Stencil1's site.

While I'm on the wall art tip, Urban has these
colorful jungle vinyl decals I'm in love with by French designers Ich & Kar (of the Paris company Domestic) for at least $25 cheaper than anywhere I've seen on the web.

I'm seriously contemplating getting this arborescence vynil set by François Azambourg. Adore the negative space.

If you're looking for more wall art, Blik and Wallter are where it's at. Wallter is known for its wall slats, and Blik for its decals. What's so great about slats, decals, vinyl, et al. is that besides being spectacularly appealing, they're child's play to put up. If I have a room painted in boring white, let's say, it takes only a few minutes to mount these self-adhesive wonders on the wall, and my space is instantly transformed.

And one less room to paint or, god forbid, wallpaper, is a very, very good thing. For a stark reminder of this, I read the MySpace blog of my good friend, Nicole, who is currently in the process of removing the drop ceiling of her living room and painting the entire room by herself. She says she is starting to feel "like death warmed over," and I feel for her. When all is said and done, I wonder if she'll ever be able to face a can of paint again.

Wall art, you are a lifesaver. Below, the "fly" decals from Blik's brilliant movable
"re-stik" series.


Late-night Pier 1 finds

Pier 1's fab Orbit Chair is on clearance! My mom got me the one in dream blue for my birthday and I'm oh so excited. It's got the retro shape thing going, but the rattan adds a rustic feel. Probably my favorite design combo.

Their Dante stemware and tumblers also caught my eye -- and an added bonus: they're on sale now for $4. I also noticed this Pageant green wool rug at half-off that I think would make a huge statement under a coffee table in the living room. Go Pier 1!

For those who believe "Design Within Reach" is a misnomer

So my boyfriend and I have been obsessively house-hunting for the past year (I love you, Suzanne Whang and HGTV!). We live in NYC, Queens to be exact, and plan to relocate to my fair hometown of Cleveland this spring. We're super pumped. Years of apartment dwelling in the big city has never particularly lent itself to making our living quarters our own, because a.) we rent, b.) we're typical 20-something nomadic New Yorkers -- moving every other year on a whim, sometimes more often, and c.) we were too busy partying. Now, I'm somehow already 29 and my desire to tear up the town is fading faster than K-Fed's rap career.

I want to make my first home awesome. Modern design and comfort are the ultimate combination. Yet, when I'm pouring over the heaps of wonderful design sites and catalogs out there, I usually find myself weeding through volumes of things that I (and probably most people) either can't justify buying, or outright can't afford. True, it's nice to look, and to drool. But with the pricetags being so far-removed from my reality, most of the time I don't even want to bother.

So, in this blog, I will try to showcase the best of the affordable modern design I find out there. I am doing this blog for myself, and for the people who adore and appreciate Eames, Dwell, DWR and so on... but really? Ikea is looking a hell of a lot more realistic. I'm also a faithful Etsy, DIY fanatic and fashion junkie, so this blog will not be ignoring that stripe of the design rainbow. Can't wait to get started.