For those who haven’t been, Tap Phong Trading Co. is a Spadina Avenue paradise for home-decor penny-pinchers. (Name another store that sells gargantuan spaghetti strainers, six-foot bamboo stakes, plastic pineapples, and ceramic Buddhas.) We gave three young Torontonians with new apartments 60 minutes and $30—$10 for kitchen supplies, $10 for bedrooms, and another $10 for whimsical decor—to spend on outfitting their pads. Here’s how they fared.
Rebecca, 20, student
Neighbourhood: Chinatown (Dundas and Beverley)
Roommates: two, friends from school
Interior design philosophy: I try to make my space look kind of artsy and homey. I want my bedroom to be a really cozy space—a place I want to come home to.
In the market for: Kitchen stuff.
“Multi-functional” teapot: $3.49
Two 12-oz. glasses: $4.98
Gold cat statue: $7.99
Stainless-steel wall hook: $2.49
Soho-brand cup: $2.99
Soho-brand soap dish: $2.99
GRAND TOTAL: $28.17/$30
Favourite item: The gold cat for my bedroom; I’ve always wanted one. Hopefully it’ll bring me some good luck this year.
Nick, 25, journalism intern
Neighbourhood The Annex (Bathurst and Harbord)
Roommates: one, older brother
Interior-design philosophy: I’d like my home to be a place where a Viking warlord would be comfortable settling down for the night—things like prominently displayed stuffed boar’s heads or a battle-axe over the fireplace would be great.
In the market for: I can see a gilded dragon’s head inside the store, so now I kind of want that. I also need knives, and could probably use a coat rack.
Pizza cutter: $4.69
Stainless-steel tongs: $2.69
Wine foil-cutter: $2.99
2-oz. drink measurer: $1.79
Call bell: $3.99
Glass ashtray: $1.99
Toothbrush holder: $2.99
Cable zip-ties: $1.99
GRAND TOTAL: $26.13/$30
Favourite item The bell. I always felt like people who had a bell on their desk had a lot of stuff to do, and I was envious of them and their busy lives.
Meredith, 22, journalism intern
Roommates: two, travel buddies
Interior design philosophy: I don’t really have one. I just sort of accumulate knick-knacks and put them together; it’s a lot of string and push-pins.
In the market for: I have a feeling that the challenge aspect will make me nervous and I’ll just pick up whatever I see. My roommates want me to get kitchen things like knives and plates. Oh, and we don’t have any bowls.
Frog pot-holder: $5.99
Loose-leaf tea ball: $2.49
Gold cat statue: $7.99
Dog-shaped chocolate mold: $7.99
GRAND TOTAL: $27.64/$30
Favourite item: Probably the cat that you see in all the restaurants on Spadina—it’s a little souvenir from the time I tried to spend $30 at Tap Phong. Also, my roommate told me to look for one.