Ritzy Redo

Like many high-end hotels, every few years the Ritz-Carlton likes to shake things up and renovate its lobbies and promenade, changing out the furniture and accessories. Chicago’s own Ritz is in the process of doing just that, and it has shipped a shipload of elegant, quality goods over to Fort Pitt Furniture Liquidators to sell next weekend at its cavernous Bridgeport location, 1400 W. 37th Street. There are sure to be some great deals on tables, rugs, mirrors, sofas, chairs and armoires, making this a golden opportunity for putting on the Ritz in your own digs. The sale is open to the public from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Friday through Sunday, January 8-10 but if you go to Fort Pitt’s website and sign up for the company’s newsletter, they’ll send you an invitation to two sneak preview shopping nights on January 6 and 7, 5–9 p.m.).

Verde Bargains Are

Michele Fitzpatrick’s environmentally aware, super-stylish Verde Design Studio is all about local sourcing and saving natural resources‑now she’s having a prototype and sample sale so you can save some green as well. All one-of-a-kind models, as well as samples from luxe showrooms, are reduced in price; some upward of 50 percent. This Stump side table was handmade in Chicago from solid hardwood, measures 24 inches in diameter, and is sale priced at $600 (down from $1,200). Browse some of the offerings here, and visit the studio at 2444 West 16th Street to see them in person.

The Science of Decorating

On the return leg of a holiday O’Hare run, my sister Sara and I swung over to the American Science and Surplus store in Niles. I like to poke around this quirky place for gifts and inspiration, but this time I was struck by how many home design possibilities the long-standing wonder emporium offers for creative interior accents. I’m talking about the sort of lighthearted design approach that our friend (and frequent contributor) Tate Gunnerson refers to as Decoratus Absurdum on his entertaining blog, Strange Closets. For your next dinner party, why not set the table with beakers, flasks, and test tubes as glassware, and use some petri dishes for condiments? They had colorful prisms and voice-activated desk lamps, large medical and biological charts, projection and wall clocks, and oodles of models of animals, insects, organs, and skeletons. This bony fellow is life-sized, designed for classroom use, and priced at $299 (no worries, it’s plastic). I wouldn’t be surprised to see him hanging out at Scout, or the showrooms of Kara Mann, or Michael Del Piero.

Virtu’s Reality

Nine ain’t just a hot-blooded holiday musical, it’s also the number of years that Bucktown boutique Virtu has been collecting and retailing fine crafts. To celebrate, owner Julie Horowitz is offering at least 10 percent off everything in the store, including rarely discounted jewelry lines. Seasonal merch is up to 40 percent, and most candles are 20 percent off (I have one of the Paddywax thyme and olive leaf soy candles they carry, and trust me, it knows no season). Virtu also carries Wisconsin woodworker Ed Wohl’s line of breadboards—think how many hunks of cheese you could display on this 20-inch diameter bird’s-eye maple beauty ($210 less the discount). The sale runs through January.

Starck Reality

I’ve been a fan of French designer Philippe Starck for, oh, about ever, and I also like design TV shows, so it was thrilling to hear that the BBC was planning Design For Life, a reality competition with the gifted Gallican as host and judge, picking off 12 hopeful designers one by one until the last wo(man) standing wins an opportunity to work with him at his Parisian design agency. What’s not so thrilling? The fact that it wasn’t going to be aired on this side of the pond, and wasn’t even available for online viewing. I discovered that that’s recently changed, and episodes are up and free in their entirety on Vimeo. Starck’s a larger-than-life (although a lot thinner than he used to be) designer whose slick modern furniture is available locally at Euro Furniture, Orange Skin, and Luminaire. I’ve only seen the first episode, and it’s filled with crazy characters and smart ideas. One contestant got her spot by designing a screw-in vertical coffin to save space in cemeteries; another thought up a bungee cord kitchen storage system that caught Monsieur Starck’s eye. Catch the heady French fun here.