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Big Design for the Small Space

Getting down to floor level is always a little more appealing if you've got a nice rug to do it on. For that, head back to the Village and investigate Galileo (37 Seventh Avenue, at 13th Street), where they have an attractive selection of hand-hooked wool area rugs in especially sophisticated colors and patterns that recall everything from Bloomsbury's homey avant-garde to American Arts and Crafts. One geometric design of accordion-folded cards is $337 for the four-by-six-foot size, and $725 for the six-by-nine. A fanciful wave pattern of stylized curlicues in blues, greens, and magentas, comes in a two-by-four-foot size for $125. Other designs and sizes are rolled up in one of the store's neat overhead shelving units, and many more can be special-ordered. Like Mxyplyzyk and Global Table, Galileo also has a savvy selection of housewares and some of the cleverest decorative pillows in town, embroidered and collaged with chickens, cats, roosters, frogs, and fish ($32 and $45) but far too artful to be merely cute.

John Derian, at 6 East 2nd Street, just off the Bowery, understands this fusion of art and craft. The store's trademark—vibrantly colored vintage botanical etchings printed on plates, cups, vases, note cards, and paperweights—is echoed in all the stock. Give that mattress on the floor a realm-of-the-senses makeover with one of Derian's quilted coverlets of silky soft cotton voile block-printed in India in highly original patterns. The palm tree design, the flip side of which is a riot of fronds and leaves, comes in tones of green, red, yellow, or (while they last) blue, and would make the starkest room feel luxurious. At $176 for a 57-inch-square throw and $264 for a single-size spread, these are serious indulgences, but now you can ditch that plaid blanket your brother gave you.

But no weekend shopping excursion is complete without a trip to the 26th Street flea market, the first stop for anyone, bohemian or bourgeois, looking for an unpredictable bargain. Given time and lots of patience, you could easily furnish any pad or palace from these scruffy lots, and there are plenty of regular dealers you can count on. One of the most reliable is Bert Ouellette (860-355-4396), who sets up in the main pay lot on Sixth Avenue, and always has enough Knoll office furniture to fill a conference room, including, sometimes, the table. Eero Saarinen's classic scoop chair, upholstered in various nubby fabrics, is here at $60 a pop ($80 with arms), along with the occasional tulip table ($600) and other MOMA-collection icons.

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