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The $3,968 Living Room

The best places to get big style on a not-so-big budget.

Illustration by Kagan McLoed  

  • Rico

    372 and 384 Atlantic Ave., Boerum Hill, Brooklyn; 718-797-2077

    Crate & Barrel, Room & Board—they’ve got more models. But if you can lounge on it at Rico, rest assured it’s been vetted for design, comfort, and quality; a sofa doesn’t win a spot here unless it’s well built and envy-inspiring. Proprietor Rico Espinet’s accessible—if not exactly entry-level—sofa collection includes upholstery bests from Dellarobbia, American Leather, Thayer Coggin, and Mitchell Gold and Bob Williams, whose Clifton lounge (pictured) is $1,990.


  • The Shade Store

    33-02 Skillman Ave., Long Island City; 212-645-2424

    This year-old local company has lowered itself into the gap between custom and ready-made, offering well-priced shades, blinds, and draperies to those who are sun-poisoned by morning, paranoia-stricken by night, and depressed by the dismal selection at Home Depot. An offshoot of Soho’s high-end Home Works, the firm has an Internet-based, self-serve approach; it offers made-to-order product that is fast (four-to-seven-day shipping), reasonable (the solar shade pictured is $108), and sweetened by DIY satisfaction. “You’re working with a custom company,” says Wayne Nathan, a principal at Nathan Egan Interiors, “but the price point and turnaround times are really, really good.”

  • RUGS

  • Pottery Barn

    600 Broadway; 212-219-2420

    It’s not exactly a hidden gem, but the chain’s selection of well-made, inexpensive rugs is ideal for those in the market for a quick fix rather than an investment. The store has more than 50 different styles, the vast majority under $800 (the zebra rug pictured is $549 for the eight-by-ten-foot version). At the Soho branch, we were able to peruse 40 rugs in-shop while the remainder were a catalogue order away. Don’t forget Pottery Barn Kids, which has an additional 30-some styles—several that look passably grown-up.


  • Wonk

    68 Jay St., Brooklyn; 718-596-8026; 160-A N. 4th St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-218-7750

    This Brooklyn-based manufacturer’s customizable consoles, tables, and desks are well suited to NYC’s not-so-wide-open spaces. Finds include the Mod Quad, a compact coffee table with flip-open compartments for hiding remotes, magazines, and sundry junk ($1,050 with four lift-ups); the Lazy Susan–topped Spinster side table ($425); and the slim-line, Parsons-style Aberdeen desk ($595). The Horizontal Rubix (pictured) is $825.


  • The Old Print Shop

    150 Lexington Ave.; 212-683-3950

    Talk is cheap. Art, not so much— except at the Old Print Shop, a New York institution since 1898, where you can get a lesson in the history of printmaking just by scanning the stuff for sale. Score smaller nineteenth-century scenes of the U.S. for under $200, or pay somewhat more for works by John James Audubon, Thomas Hart Benton, or Grant Wood. Currier and Ives of bygone lithography fame are also in the house. Name aside, the gallery has added a contemporary selection (pictured prints are $150 apiece).


  • Anthropologie

    50 Rockefeller Center; 212-246-0386

    The trouble with inexpensive table lamps is that they tend to look like inexpensive table lamps—it’s hard to make much of a style statement with a polished stainless-steel pole and a plastic shade. A surprising solution to the boring lighting problem is Anthropologie’s tightly edited collection of airily modern bases in glass, brass, and wood, paired with tailored shades in a range of materials from ginger bark to linen, several clocking in at under $250. (A combination similar to that pictured is $196.)

From the 2007 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine