JCPenney Gives Me Furniture And It's Really Very Nice Except For The Part Where I Have To Lick My Boyfriend's Head

{ Wednesday, July 30, 2008 }
View my everyday blog: She Just Walks Around With It
The Preamble

A few months ago, my boyfriend and I moved ourselves into a fancy urban loft because we are really hip because we needed a place in the city big enough for our four ENORMOUS cats who are the joys of our lives the bane of our existence as renters.

I think most people move to lofts to be painters or to sculpt with metal or to practice dance (What a Feelin!), or to have a chic pied-a-terre, or to launch their internet start-up named after something fun and whimsical like...uh...WackaBean! Dotcom!

We are not those people.

Oh, sure, sometimes we decide to try to impress our apartment and buy things like $8 gourmet salt, but then we never use it because it's too nice and wouldn't regular salt be just fine?

So right. Once we had signed all the papers and realized we were, in fact, going to move into The Loft, I decided to snag photos of it from the realtor's website for two reasons:
  1. I knew I would never be able to take pictures as good as those on the realtor's promotional website. Because I do not take good pictures, ever.

  2. I knew that once we'd moved in all our stuff, the loft would look less "minimal" and more "combined home of two divorced people who were bad negotiators and therefore have a lot of mismatched crap plus two cats each."


Dear JCPenney,

Thank you for giving me the opportunity to purchase and review your lovely Linden Street furniture. I am getting to that point in the story in like, 5 minutes. I swear. I am sorry my photos are no good and likewise apologize in advance about the licking thing.


You can see what the loft is supposed to look like here. Do you notice how it's all artsy and fancy and not covered in cat hair or filled with a Baskin-Robbins-like assortment of "wood" furniture?

The Preamble Gets Even Longer

When I got divorced and moved 3000 miles across the country, I did not take furniture with me. Over time, as though to suggest I'm a grown-up, I bought furniture. Some old, some new. Some just because it was affordable.

When Pete got divorced and moved 3000 miles across the country, he did not take furniture with him except a set of three tables he got while he was living in China. Over time, as though to suggest he is a grad student, he bought furniture. From Ikea.

When our apartments combined, we discovered just how uncoordinated our furniture was, especially the wood pieces. His tv stand and bookshelves were one kind of wood; my coffee table was another; my round table another; his Chinese tables another. We couldn't afford to replace everything, of course. Instead, we did the only reasonable thing we could think of to do.

We went out and bought the two things we really needed -- a set of storage shelves and a dining table -- in A TOTALLY DIFFERENT WOOD. Which goes well with the apartment and not at all with anything else we own. Perfect!

Enter JCPenney.

We Get Close To The Point

Thanks to and, because they gave me a $500 gift card to buy furniture from their new collection, Linden Street.

Now, when I first heard I was going to get to be part of this promotion, I was all YAY! and might have run around a little bit in my cube. But then I was like, "Um? Really? Furniture from JC Penney?"

To be honest, I was a little concerned that Penney's furniture would be a little too suburban-soccer-mom-potluck-centric and not exactly urban-loft-friendly. But then I did a little reality-checking and was reminded of the fact that anything would go with our current, "Loft Eclectic" look and who was I kidding. Worst case, I figured I could find something to display our too-expensive-to-use salt.

And then I was pleasantly surprised.

The Review! The Furniture! The Point!

So here's how it went down.

First, I went to the site and did what I was instructed to do: I searched for "Linden Street."

Except actually I'm already lying to you because I did not search for Linden Street. I put the words "Linden Street" into the box where you're supposed to enter catalog item numbers and got very confused. Then I realized I was an idiot and fixed my mistake and got to the right place.

The pages were easy to navigate, and I was pretty surprised by the selection. Right off the bat, there were a few decorative things I considered purchasing (I like their lamps and clocks). But after perusing and discussing and clicking and weighing, Pete and I decided we should take this opportunity to rid our living space of my light pine coffee table (that goes with nothing) and his clunky old Chinese tables that we were using as side tables (that go with nothing).

We opted to replace two side tables with one Ebony Lane "X" End Table,

and replace the coffee table with two of the Ebony Lane "X" Bunching Cubes:

Note: I have never heard of anything called a "bunching cube" before, and if I had, I certainly wouldn't have thought it was something I'd put in the middle of my living room. Ahem.

So anyway. I ordered them.

The awesome part was that they arrived in less than a week, without even requesting rush shipping.

The not-so-awesome part was that they arrived in three separate boxes. Small boxes. As in, the tables were not assembled even a little bit.

This came as a bit of a shock to me. For the record, "some assembly required" means I might attempt to put the thing together before whining to my boyfriend to fix it. But "entire piece of furniture in a box"? I just don't even touch. It is better for all of us that way.

So when the time came to put together the pieces, I sat down with a glass of wine and my laptop and camera, and Pete got to work.

Here are the results!

1. A photo of our apartment "before." JCPenney will be helping us achieve a more uniform, dark-wood look, which is more appropriate for the industrial space we live in. You may note that the cats find the current mix of woods unfazing. I don't know why there's a fire-breather on the television.

2. A closer-up photo of the different woods. And the drum set from our Rock Band for Wii. And Monster. And Comfort (she's about to get kicked off).

3. Here are the three, small, totally manageable-looking boxes that got stacked neatly next to the piano until such time as I was ready to write about Peter putting them together. (Because blogging about furniture construction takes a lot out of a gal! Whew!)

4. The table in the left of the photo is yet another type of wood. The piano is, too, but at least it falls into the "dark" category. Sherlock thinks the boxes are fine as-is and would be perfectly happy for the contents to remain packaged. This is why we don't let our pets decorate our apartment.

5. Sherlock perches. "Why would anyone need to unpack these?" I pretend he wonders. Mostly I think he's thinking, "Will you give me a treat if I sit here? No? How 'bout here?"

6. Now that I'm paying attention to the boxes, they become the most interesting piece of "furniture" in the apartment. Eddie decides he, too, must sit on them.

7. Oh hai. We can haz buncheen cubz?

8. Pete gets down to business, opening the first box. Eddie helps. (I love that they are in the same stance.)

9. Iz not buncheen cubz! Iz fort.

10. I think at this point, Pete made some stupid joke about a bowtie. But it was stupid and so I'm not repeating it. Clearly, he needs to be taking his work more seriously.

11. For some reason, the tools and screws and stuff come in a bright orange bag thing. This is good on the one hand, because you're certain not to miss it. But on the other hand, it kind of looks like police tape. (Also, Eddie is in the background with glowing eyes.)

12. Pete starts constructing the end table. He puts it together in the box so as not to scratch it on the floor.

13. Looks like he's really getting into it!

14. Blogging is so hard, good thing I have help! I'm practically working up a sweat trying to keep up with photographing the progress and watching tv and drinking wine!

15. Ta-Da! The first table is completed. To make it look lived-in, we immediately place a stack of magazines on top of it. Notice how the wood looks to be the same color as the wood on the foot of the sofa! We are one step closer to hip-ness!

16. End table from the angle of the (light pine goes with nothing) coffee table.

17. Pete goes to work on the other boxes. It's amazing how much packing material comes out of such a compact thing, huh?

18. Sherlock decides that a stack of cardboard in the middle of the room in the middle of construction makes an excellent bed.

19. Leon (cat #4) decides to notice that there's some sort of furniture-y mayhem going on, and so abruptly decides to shift his position in the chair from here to here-and-a-quarter. I have captured the extent of his movement pretty well. Pete continues to tackle the task at hand with aplomb, deconstructing boxes and constructing tables like a champ.

The Part About The Head Licking

These tables are great but they are really freakin' heavy! Pete says, sweat dripping from his forehead.

Awww! You're doing a great job! I say, trying to encourage him because I do not, at any point, want him to ask for my help.

But do you see this? I'm like, totally sweating!

That's because you're working so quickly! See how encouraging I am?

Unfortunately, I am also stupid. And I push my luck. As follows:

Me: Hey, can I take a picture of your sweaty head?

Pete: What, for the BLOG? NO.

Me: Oh, come on! It'll show how hard you worked!

Pete: No. Absolutely not.

Me: But it's...cute.

Pete: Don't lie to me.

Me: I'm not lying to you! It's cute that you're sweating to make the furniture. I should totally blog about your head sweat.

Pete: It's not cute.

Me: Please can I take a picture of it?

Pete: Only if you lick it.

I was momentarily shocked. I never had brothers, I was never a college boy, I don't really "get" fart jokes. I was not prepared for this kind of boyish dare. Lick it?

Me: Lick it?

Pete: Yeah, like a real, honest-to-goodness lick. Like this.

Pete stuck out his tongue, dropped his chin and then scooped his head upward, very dramatically. I didn't want to show fear, so I hastened to reply.

Me: Okay!

I was kind of lying, but Pete didn't skip a beat and came right up to me and stuck his sweaty head right in my face. And I stared at it and could smell the salty moisture and wrinkled up my nose and...

...and I couldn't do it.

Me: I can't do it.

Pete: HAHA!

He walked back toward the boxes.

But then I thought of the greater good.

You know? I have a job to do. I have an obligation. JCPenney wants the truth about the furniture buying / assembling / living-with process, and BY GUM, THEY WILL GET IT!


Pete rushed back over to me.

I drew my breath.

And I licked his sweaty, sweaty head.

So that I could photograph it for you.

I believe this makes our furniture acquisition blogging experience complete.


It glistens.

Oh, blogging.


After that, it was all downhill.

I should point out that one of the two Bunching Cube boxes did not come with any tools (the bright orange bag was missing completely). Luckily, there were enough leftover pieces and screws and things Pete could use from the other two tables, so we were still able to construct them. (Though I will have to refrain from tap dancing on top of them, just in case one is a little less stable than is optimal.)

The Finished Product

20. Here are the two super cute, dark and chic Bunching Cubes, i.e., our new coffee table.

21. We moved the side table to go between the sofa and chair, to balance out the set-up. Notice how I've artistically added two books to one of the cubes.

22. It all looks so coordinated! (Except for the Rock Band drums, and the random green chairs in the back of the room. Whatever.)

23. The lovely side table and cubes from the perspective of the Rock Band drums. In case you're wondering, Pete is checking his email. I decided he could have a short break before getting rid of all the packing materials.

24. Here is a close up. And my knee. (See? Wasn't kidding about the photographic skills, was I?)

25. Even closer.

26. It's like they're already part of the family.

The Summary

Shopping for furniture online is something I have done a lot of, but I will admit that before this awesome promotion came along (Thanks again, BlogHer! Thanks again, JCPenney!), I never would have thought to check out the Penney collection.

I was definitely surprised by their more modern offerings, and impressed with the price and quality of the pieces I bought.

I was a little surprised about the furniture assembly, though that's probably an oversight on my part. The tables we got are very, very sturdy, but they are also very, very heavy (so this is a good and bad thing, depending). Obviously, we weren't too happy that the screws/tools were missing from one of the shipments, but we've been able to compensate. I will also call customer support and see if I can get extras sent (I'll update this post when that happens).

Bottom line: there are a handful of websites I always go to when I'm looking for a specific piece of furniture, and I am earnest in saying I'll be adding to that list. And, given the affordability and quality of the pieces we got, JCPenney will be one of my first click-to's from now on.

The End.