Sample Minded

Find the finer things in life for a fraction, and gain access to what are typically members’ only floors of the Merchandise Mart at this weekend’s sample sale of high-end furniture, artwork, accessories, fabrics, and a lot more (maybe even a few kitchen sinks). There will be dozens of showrooms participating on floors six, seven, and 15–18, including Baker, Henredon, Melvin Wolf, Betty M., and Holland & Sherry. This sturdy coffee table was designed by Chicago’s Scott Arthur Yerkey for Filsinger, and has been marked down to $1,563 from $5,208. Don’t be put off if that’s still a bit rich for your blood—there is usually a vast range of pricing at these sprawling, energetic sales. Last year I went with my über-discerning friend Robb, and we found stuff like curly Tibetan lamb pillows for $20 and full leather hides for $50 at Holly Hunt. There will be designers available for complimentary consultations (sign up to chat with Todd Haley, Jack Kreitinger, Nora Schneider, et al.). Sale hours are Saturday Nov. 14 from 10–5 and Sunday from 11–3, and if you show them a printout of Domestica, they will waive the $10 admission fee.

Architectural Digesting

I hadn’t been over to Ravenswood’s Architectural Artifacts in a week of Sundays, so when some out-of-town guests expressed an interest in antiquing I jumped at the chance to show off this Chicago wonder emporium. Stuart Grannen, store owner and procurer of these salvaged global goods, seems to be always expanding his empire—I am verily impressed by how he manages to fill so many levels of this vast warehouse space with such creatively displayed, interesting, inspirational objects (and I got a sense that prices have come down, as I found myself contemplating a lot more purchases than I usually do when I visit). These massive mid-century doors, crafted of thick, polished metal, for example, come from the Amway founder’s summer home, stand nearly nine feet high, and are priced at $4,800. There is a large selection of concrete Argentine planters, some sale priced at a couple hundred bucks (watch it, they’re hea—VY!), a field of interesting rugs spread out on the lower level, and oddities such as cabinetted skeletons, a full-scale astronaut suit, King Arthur–sized round tables, and hand-carved mannequin heads. It’s a true playground of design inspiration, and if you’re ever looking for a memorable event space, give them a call.

Mum Enchanted Evening

The Oak Park Conservatory is celebrating all things chrysanthemum this Friday night, 7–9 p.m., with MumFest 2009, its annual fundraiser for the community-based non-profit organization. There will be more than 500 varieties of blooms to admire, growers on hand to share their passions and tips, a raffle, food and a cash bar, live music, and candlelit paths through which to tiptoe under the Edwardian glass domes of the greenhouse. This isn’t the largest local conservatory, but with 8,000 square feet of exhibition space it’s nothing to sneeze at. They sponser a lot of community activities, are extremely family friendly, and typically operate on a pay-what-you-want basis, so the $30 admission ($25 in advance, RSVP to 708-725-2460 or for the evening event is well-justified.

Recycle of Life

Sunday is America Recycles Day, so remember to wear a jolly green outfit, eat leftovers, watch a few Sex and the City episodes, and save your empties (I’m told it only takes five two-liters to make enough fiber for a T-shirt or to fluff up an entire winter jacket). The always eco-minded FLOR company has a program going on this week where you can bring in any number of their carpet tiles for recycling and walk out with a new tote bag, whether you purchase replacement squares or not. Out of townies can play too; look on their website for info on how to return used merch.

Lill Shop of Homegoods

Start your seasonal spending at 1154 Lill Studio’s first holiday market this Saturday, Nov. 14, 9–5:00, at 1511 West 38th Street. Not to be confused with the Lill Street ceramic studios which are located on Ravenswood Avenue (I know, I know—it’s hella confusing, but stay with me). 1154 Lill Studio started in 1998 as a small custom purse company, which soon expanded to include fabrics, pillows, and bridal and design services, and has a retail store at 904 West Armitage as well as one on Boston’s lah-di-dah Newbury Street. They’ve crafted this one-day sale of the handmade works of 20 independent, like-minded vendors, such as this pillow from Earth Cadets. Expect lots of jewelry and clothing, but also dog furniture, ceramics, and stationery. Free parking and admission, but there won’t be any ATMs around so hit the bank first.