Daff Design alters four decades of ugly stereos

One simple aversion has radically transformed Jeff Jenkins’ home and set him on a course to alter nearly four decades of ugly stereo equipment:

“My wife hates plastic.” Not surprising, given that his “design junkie” wife, Kim Johnson, is known for her aesthetics. Indeed, as co-writer of the popular “Desire to Inspire” homes design blog, she’s continually on the hunt for the perfect room.

Retrofitted stereos by Daff Design. Photo: Becca Wallace

Johnson and her “no (cheap) plastic” rule (newer plastics often tend to be of lower quality and design wise, says Jenkins, “they’re just ugly”) have led to Jenkins’ burgeoning hobby: Daff Design.

Under that company name, Jenkins refurbishes old radios, replacing their archaic guts with custom Bluetooth speakers whose wireless connectivity allows for podcasts, YouTube, playlists, even online radio channels to be streamed through the stylish antiques and remotely controlled with a phone. “These radios have character and design — something we’ve sacrificed for size and cost over the last few decades,” says Jenkins.

Distinct from the metal-plated, sharply angular plastic boom boxes of the past few decades, Daff Design radios are functional art whose range of styles encompasses everything from the large wooden radios of the 1920s to the compact Northern Electric Baby Champ 5000 “Rainbow” and 5200 Models shown here. And unlike their original incarnations, each is now outfitted with quality audio equipment. Prices range from $300 to $500.