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Alright, I know what you're thinking: "JC Penney? Really?" I mean, I admit it, that's kind of what I was thinking too. I haven't been in a JC Penney since 1996, when a boy I met in an Internet chatroom told me he used to be a JC Penney catalog model, and I made my mother drive me to the JC Penney in the Stamford mall in Stamford, Connecticut so I could flip through all the back catalogs in the hopes of spying his picture. (True story! Call me, TJ Piciullo from Islip, Long Island! I still have the prom picture you sent me!)

So when BlogHer offered me a $500 giftcard to spend on JC Penney's new home furnishings line, Linden Street, I wasn't entirely convinced. Wouldn't there be a lot of....plaid, I asked myself? A little too much wrought iron? Dried flowers? Polyester? Would everything look kind of like your Great Aunt Kathy had designed it---you know, the one who lives alone in the studio in Poughkeepsie and throws totally unironic birthday parties for each of her five cats?

Well, it turns out the JC Penney home furnishings department is all grown up. (Alright, so there's still some plaid. But it's easily avoided.)

A little backstory, if you will: I'm fiercely proud of my apartment in San Francisco, teeny-tiny shoebox though it may be. Everything in it is a result of some careful, serious thought and planning, and look! It's still the number four most popular House Tour on Apartment Therapy. Bottom line: this isn't a home into which I'll stuff a random assortment of crap just because it was free.

So when it came time to choose the Linden Street merchandise from JC Penney, I studied that online catalog---no sight of TJ Piciullo, sadly---like I was studying for the MCAT, the Bar Exam, and the London Knowledge, all at the same time. I wanted things that were me. (Well, us, I guess; my boyfriend lives here too.) I wanted things that fit in well with our mishmash of Asia-meets-IKEA decor and didn't scream I BOUGHT THIS BECAUSE I HAD TO. I wanted things that weren't plaid or wrought iron or featured dried flowers and polyester. I wanted things---if I am quite honest---that people wouldn't see and immediately go "hey, is that from JC Penney?"

And so this is what I chose:

Honestly, I'm incredibly pleased---and very pleasantly surprised---by all of it. Ordering was a snap (I liked that I could save my shopping cart and have it emailed to me; I forwarded the message to Sean so he could see what I'd picked out so far), and the shipping, while a little pricey at $34 (for $425 worth of stuff) was incredibly speedy. It was so speedy, in fact, that I wasn't even home when the stuff was delivered; I figured it would be another few days at least, so hadn't even bothered leaving a note for the FedEx guy. Top marks there, for reals.

Everything was packed very well, there were no breakages, and---again, surprisingly, because I've certainly had negative experiences with this in the past---everything turned out to look pretty much identical in real life to how it did on the website. Do you know how much of a relief that is? It's a huge relief. 

So! Let's take a closer look, shall we?

The Bath Towels in "Soft Cream"

All bath towels are not created equal, and I have four criteria for mine: they have to be A) big, B) soft, C) thick, and D) white. The JC Penney towels are certainly A, B, and C---although they could have been just a little more C, if I'm honest---but they're not D because JC Penney didn't offer white as an option, and Soft Cream was the next best thing. So apart from not quite matching my shower curtain, I have no beef with these towels at all. They look pretty, they dry well, and they feel pretty luxurious, like maybe you stole them from the W Hotel or something. Or at least a Westin.

The Chenille Couch Pillows in "Rustic Red"

Alright, I know I have a lot of pillows on my couch, but I collect pillows like other people collect shoes (um, I also collect shoes like other people collect shoes) and I could not resist adding two more to the big happy pillow family in my living room. In case you can't tell, the JC Penney pillows are the two plain red ones in the middle there, and I actually really, really like them. In fact, I'm leaning against one right now, and wow, is it ever comfortable.

These pillows, you see, are big and soft and---how do I put this?---expensive-looking. I've ordered pillows from the Internet before and they've shown up and been all thin and synthetic and cheap and shiny. These pillows are not like that at all. These pillows totally look like they escaped from Pottery Barn and made a run for it. I actually may go back and buy some more of these pillows (with my own money!), although I might be forced into some sort of pillow-quitting 12-step program if I do that---a pillow intervention! "Holly, we only want to help you be able to sit down on your own couch!"---so maybe I'll leave it a month or two just in case.

Suffice to say, though, if I was scoring these pillows, I would give them an unequivocal A+. Two thumbs up! Go, pillows! Go with your big, squishy, expensive-looking selves!

The Square Bronze Vintage-Style Table Clock

This is the kind of thing that I'm totally going to pretend I got at a flea market, and you know, I think I'm absolutely going to be able to get away with it. The website says it's "1940s-inspired" so maybe I'll just say it was a relic from World War Two that my grandmother presented me with on my 21st birthday after carrying it in her pocket from the bomb shelter. Either way, I sort of think people are going to be jealous of it. And isn't that what we strive for in all of our possessions?

Apart from telling the time and looking pretty---I was surprised, actually, by how big it was---it also has a very decent alarm feature (well, I haven't missed any important morning meetings yet). I also like the way the face glows just everso slightly in the dark at night; it's not an obnoxious luminous green glow or anything, just a very pale "hey, I'm here if you need me" sort of tinge. As a bonus, it came with some very detailed instructions printed in a nice font on what looked like recycled paper. Five stars for presentation!

Framed and Matted Print of 1940s Boys at the Movies


(Uh, yes, we totally know it's not hung at the right height yet. The hardware store closed at 7pm and we forgot to get the stuff we needed to rehang it.)

This is not only my favorite JC Penney purchase, it might actually have climbed the rungs to become one of my favorite possessions ever. I initially chose this print because the little boy right in the middle looked a lot like my brother Tom when he was younger, but it also reminds me of the three little boys in The Up Series (start watching at 1:22 for the best! part! ever!)

The thing about this print is that it's huge; it's huge and it's heavy and it's beautifully framed and matted, and every time I walk past my kitchen, I see it and smile. Hello, random movie-watching boys from the 1940s! Thank you for making my day a little brighter today!

Basic White 32-Piece Dinnerware Set (Plus Enormous White Platter, Which is Right Underneath)

Let's be clear: I needed more white plates and bowls like I needed a hole in the head (or, say, like I needed more couch pillows.) But these are pretty spectacular white plates and bowls, because for a start, they're square! I don't know about you, but I think square white plates and bowls look pretty classy, and I'm betting I could probably serve up something horribly unphotogenic and you'd still want to eat it because of what it was served in.

Like, uh, the pasta and pesto I made this evening:

Once I figure out where I'm going to put all these new plates and bowls and mugs---not to mention the ENORMOUS platter, like seriously, I'm going to have to place a WHOLE ROAST CHICKEN on it or something, or FIVE THOUSAND MINI QUICHE LORRAINES---I'm going to have to throw a dinner party and have everyone over to eat off my fancy new plates. They're totally going to think they're in a restaurant or something.

****************

All in all, I was very pleasantly surprised by my JC Penney shopping experience---at least the online portion. Since I initially wanted to get this lamp, which turned out to be back-ordered until August, I had a little extra cash left over, and so I decided to venture to the actual bricks-and-mortar JC Penney at Tanforan to see if there was anything in the store that I couldn't find on the website.

And, yeah, that just wasn't as fun as shopping online. For a start, most of the Linden Street stuff was spread out throughout the entire home furnishings department, which meant peering at bath mats I maybe kind of sort of liked and then going "oh wait, no, they're not Linden Street. Can't get those."

On the upside, I did find a few things in the store that I hadn't seen online---like the enormous platter, for instance---which made it sort of like an exciting treasure hunt, and also I had, like, fourteen very nice and friendly store employees come up to me and ask me if I was doing okay and could they help me find something. (Plus, it was totally an excuse to go to Target afterwards, and I always need one of those.)

Verdict? Definitely very pleased. You've come a long way since 1996, JC Penney! And thanks, BlogHer, for letting me go shopping with money that wasn't mine. That's always the best kind of shopping. 

43 Comments

1
Camels & Chocolate
Jul 23, 2008

You were in my neighborhood! You should have stopped by and said hello to my cat for me, since you're a cat lover and all.

JC Penney has gotten fancy! (And Scott buys his jeans there, so I'll have to stop making fun of him now that you shop there, as well.)

2
Stephanie
Jul 23, 2008

Well while I do like the b&w print, my favorite purchase is the alarm clock. In fact, I covet it.

Well done JC Penney!

3
houseofJules
Jul 23, 2008

How fun! Love those plates!

If JC Penney is reading this, I'd love a chance to spend $500... or if you want to REALLY challenge me, make it $5000, I dare you! ;)
Jules
House of Jules

4
Elizabeth
Jul 23, 2008

Fun!
The most important question is - does that clock make a loudish ticking noise, the sort that would keep you awake and possibly drive you insane if it sat on your bedside table next to your bed? I clearly have issues but I have been looking for a battery powered alarm clock for ages and they are all so loud that they drive me crazeeee.

5
Gretchen
Jul 23, 2008

Awesome choices, and I'm awed at how JC Penney has progressed. I have refused to step into one for the past 10 years or so, but may have to rethink that.

I love, love, love the plates. And the towels sound great too; I am usually displeased by my towel purchases after I get them home and see them in action. (Too bad they don't let you take a shower in the store and try before you buy.) May have to get some of these, because my favorite towels are usually hotel relics.

6
Anne & May
Jul 24, 2008

Hey, cool! Now you don't even need to get married. You already got the loot. Just elope and laugh like a banshee.

What's that you say? The wedding planning stress is showing?

IT IS NOT!

7
Catheroo
Jul 24, 2008

Wow. I would have never guessed those purchases were from JC Penney. I must go investigate.

Hey, I know it isn't your job or anything, but I could sure use your decorating savvy in my new house. It has a lot of (empty) space and you could store your new dishes and platter here, in trade and no charge!

8
Marcheline
Jul 24, 2008

From your (most excellent) decor, I predict that you would absolutely LOVE the TV series "Mad Men"... it's very chic, very sexy, and set in the early 60's when people used to dress up to go to the grocery store. Season Two is starting this Sunday, so if you haven't seen the first season yet, you still have time to get it on DVD!

Cheers,
M

9
superblondgirl
Jul 24, 2008

I actually love J.C. Penney because my very very stylish grandmother -- seriously, you know when you go to a museum and see the docents with the adorable shift dresses and great big statement jewelry that you could never get away with but they "make it work"? That's like my grandmother, only less stylish -- used to work there before she retired, and she would always find the really classy stuff and get it for us with her discount. I haven't been in years, but I always imagine it as a sort of oasis of cool stuff because that's all I've seen from Penney's in forever. And I need that clock, it's gorgeous!!

10
Raven
Jul 24, 2008

Hey! I know where Tanforan is now, being the dork that I am, this makes me very pleased with myself.

Thanks for sharing your purchases. I always love seeing your place; It's so stylish and well put together.

11
ali
Jul 24, 2008

great...now i have something else to whine about that we don't have in Canada...

;)

12
Janssen
Jul 24, 2008

Someday my house will be as cool as yours. Right now? Not so much.

13
angela
Jul 24, 2008

you need to start a home decorating business or something. you have talent.

14
sizzle
Jul 24, 2008

I have a coworker who gets some really cute clothes at JC Penny's and I was always like, "REALLY!?" because I thought she was pulling my leg but yeah, they really do have good stuff. Great buys- I love that clock so much.

15
whoorl
Jul 24, 2008

I'm pretty sure I would not step foot into a JC Penney before this post. Now, I am CONSIDERING it. ;) Great picks, Holly!

16
Teej
Jul 24, 2008

I love that print so much that I could steal it. Next time I'm in SF. Lock your windows.

I want to hug every one of those darling boys. They're only a little older than my dad, which makes me feel like they ARE my dad, which is crazy and makes no sense. But there you go.

17
Jen
Jul 24, 2008

This is the second post I've seen about JC Penney, a $500 gift card and the Linden Street Collection. Guess JC Penney marketers are making the rounds 'round the blogosphere. How do I get on THAT list?

Nice stuff! I'd buy it.

18
Moose
Jul 24, 2008

This reminds me: my wee apartment still needs your expertise! I will cook you anything you want in return. And buy you a Covergirl Lipslicks or two. :)

Also: I searchd my email and I ACTUALLY GOT THIS EMAIL from BlogHer. Am kicking myself for not doing anything about it. Moose: Dropping the Ball Since 1978.

19
Phil
Jul 24, 2008

I remember JC Penny with a shudder. It was always our destination for school-clothes shopping in August in the 50s, where once again I'd have to face the humiliating prospect of surrendering to the "HUSKY" label on the only pants that fit. Yeah, it said "HUSKY". Not "Plus Sized" or "full-figured". Just plain "fat".

I was a chubby little kid, didn't really get lean until I lost my first real girlfriend in high school.

20
Nothing But Bonfires
Jul 24, 2008

HUSKY! Oh my god, that's terrible.

And thanks for the kind words on the picks, guys.

21
deb
Jul 24, 2008

That stuff is adorable. That said, I have always been of the view that with a good eye, one can shop anywhere and pull it together. Even JCP, pre-Linden line. Though admittedly, it was a lot harder!

But what I really wanted to say was has anyone seen those Breakfast Club-ish JCP ads before a movie recently? I. loved. them.

22
xenos mesa
Jul 24, 2008

honestly, i think that the employees at the tanforan were so helpful only because NO ONE goes in there anymore. EVER. maybe your post will convince other people to go there now.

kudos to you and your finds though. but i would embellish/fib the clock story some more. like your grandmother smuggled war secrets in it across the border or something. just saying.

cheers!

xenos
www.xenosmesa.com

23
Leah
Jul 24, 2008

Please invite me over to eat off those plates. I totally would have bought them too had I the foresight not to have gotten into a relationship with a man who already came with table settings for fifty.

24
PAPA
Jul 24, 2008

"Carly" from Andsosheblogs gushed at Blogher that you were the cutest couple ever and now to learn that you have the cutest home, too! Totally unfair!
Great finds and pics! And I'm totally with you on the free stuff - not all free stuff is worth keeping.
Very excited to find your website and to have met you. LOVE the writing and dry humor!
-- The tall guy who laughed at all your jokes on the panel.

25
She Likes Purple
Jul 24, 2008

There is a Sephora inside a JC Penney near me. If you pair up with Sephora, you can't be all bad. This post reinforced that.

26
Ryan
Jul 24, 2008

I just started looking at the JCP website again because I was in the market for some roller shades and where everyone else can make you think you must pay $50+ for one shade, I got my JCP roller shades for about $10 a piece (and cut to the right width). I also needed those roller shades without the stupid chain pull - you know, the old fashioned type for my old house and they were almost the only people that carried them. So definitely look to JCP for window treatments. I also have my eye on a rug there (which was actually recommended by This Young House) but I'm hesitating because how do I find out if the tan in the rug will match the tan of my sofa? What if it's too yellow or too pink? And it won't help to go to the store, unless I can figure out how to bring my sofa (or go downtown, steal the sofa swatch from Macy's then drive to the mall and compare it to the rug in the store - if it's even there...)

27
Nothing But Bonfires
Jul 24, 2008

Maybe take a few photos of your sofa (in different light) and then bring them to the store and hold them up against the rug? It won't be perfect but it'll be a start.

28
katelin
Jul 24, 2008

wow your place looks amazing, i love it. and especially love the black and white framed photos.

29
Dianna
Jul 24, 2008

I love your apartment, at least the living room protion anyway, it's beautiful! We have square plates aswell and like them quite a bit. Excellent purchases!

30
Kristabella
Jul 24, 2008

OK, I have to admit, I have a dress from JC Penney. It is so cute! It has totally changed.

31
jill
Jul 24, 2008

lovely stuff! i have a special fondness for penneys. grandma worked there for years, and after retirement she got a lifetime employee discount. every time we see her she wants to take us "kids" shopping there. she is way too cute. (and turning 94 tomorrow! yay grandma!)

32
Izzy
Jul 25, 2008

Damn...Blogher should have give ME a freaking JC Penney gift card. I actually shop there all the time. No, really. I'm not kidding.

33
Drea
Jul 25, 2008

Oh i love the pillows and plates. very nice! I spent all mine on bedding and curtains.

34
GORILLABUNS
Jul 28, 2008

I have to admit, I have purchased a few maternity clothes from there as of late.

35
Nicole Simon
Jul 28, 2008

Awesome photos and great description! :)

Thanks for the Tanforan link. I do like shopping at the JC Penny at Tanforan, the items I picked up there the last two times where 1/8 of the price I pay here. ;)

36
GraceD
Aug 02, 2008

You have a gorgeous home. Congratulations for the Apartment Therapy exposure and ranking.

A couple of years ago, my mom sent my kiddo and me gift certificates to JCP. As an aging hipster, I held the gift card in the air between my thumb and index finger, as it the plastic card was infused with cooties. My kid, always up for clothes, told me to chill and asked to be driven to the mall. I complied because she's that bossy.

We ended up getting cool earrings and cotton tops that we still wear to this day. Screw being a hipster, you can find great stuff with a pleasing aesthetic if you can silence your inner snob and shop at the unexpected - like JCP.

Cheers,
GraceD

37
laura
Aug 03, 2008

It's really true! JC Penney has GREAT home decor (I'm still on the fence about their clothes, though...hmmm...). I've been furnishing my apartment with some great finds from JCP, and when people come over, they're like, "Ooooh, I LOVE that! Where'd you get it?" And when I answer, "JC Penney, my darling," they FREAK OUT. It's awesome. It's like I've got some secret decorating power that nobody else will ever have.

Um. Until you.

But, you know, that's cool. Cool people with cool ideas and cool decorating sense should stick together. And be cool.

Thanks for sharing!

with love from Pittsburgh...

38
MomHOP
Aug 08, 2008

I was just surfing around the blogosphere (jumped off my daughter's blog) and found this post. Re the cream towels: very good choice and the cream makes your white bathroom richer I think. I designed my "all white" bathroom with purposefully different shades of white.

39
Jenny, Bloggess
Aug 17, 2008

I want to come live at your house.

40
John Williams
Aug 19, 2008

Pretty nice site, wants to see much more on it! :)

41
John Williams
Aug 20, 2008

Pretty nice site, wants to see much more on it! :)

42
Barb dehn
Aug 20, 2008

Wow, who knew? I rarely go in, unless my 12 year old son needs clothes and I can't fid them anywhere else.
I love the plates and will be stopping by today. Just remembered, another JC Penny secret, is that they sell Jones New York in the women's department for less than Macy's.

43
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Sep 18, 2008

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