Now that we have acquired a house, Fred and I face the prospect of unpacking all those boxes we've paid to store. Since we got rid of most of our furniture when we moved, the search is on: time to shop.
I find new-furniture stores mostly depressing - shoddy stuff sure to fall apart in a short time, in styles that are minor variations on a dull theme. Want a couch that doesn't fill your whole room, but is still long enough to sleep on? Forget it. How about one that a mid-sized person can sit on without having feet dangle above the floor while your back rests against the cushions? Nope.
There seem to be two schools of furniture design these days: oversized squishy pieces that dwarf fat people, and therapeutic units without a handsome line in them anywhere. A back-saver couch we saw was nothing but three back-saver chairs mounted side by side - not a piece you'd want to nap on! Suitable for a chiropractor's office, but in our living room? Please!
So we ordered Amish furniture. Not cheap, but well-made in this country (imagine!). In February we'll have our dining room table and chairs, and the sofa and armchair we finally bought after rejecting hundreds across the city as ugly or uncomfortable or both.
Building bookshelves is one thing, but I'm not trained or equipped for cabinetry. Fortunately, there's Craigslist. Some pieces are pretty sad - the hutch with the bullet-hole decals, the chipped pressed-sawdust entertainment center - and some are funny - the Grateful Dead bear end table (really!), Bean Bag that turns into a Bed! and Little Tykes Race Car Bed. Then there are spelling attempts - an Automan, an Armiour and an Armwar. I found oxymorons: Danish Modern Vintage Furniture, Lifetime Plastic Table, modern contemporary art deco chair; and redundancies: one-of-a-kind unique wing-back chair, awesome vintage tall retro blue lamps...
Some things are mysteries: Large Wood Slabs (which is just what they are). Rustic Vintage 7 foot Door is considerably the worse for wear - for the $35 this seller is asking, you could buy an oak credenza or "three almost new chairs" or a handmade Kiva Ladder.
Sellers enthuse about their things: beautiful, gorgeous, very nice, very fine, wow, cool, excellent, beatifull, and Guaranteed Bed Bug Free!
Some people think their stuff is really valuable, and others just want it gone.
I could've bought a huge buffet/hutch for $100 - it would cost more than that to transport it to my house, but no amount of money would remove the soaked-in cigarette stench of decades. Had to pass. And the buffet/hutch in OK shape I could've fit in my car? No drawers. Another pass.
This is what makes the corner china cabinet I bought tonight so special: it was hand-made by the seller's father - beautiful solid oak piece with glass-fronted top half, in excellent condition, with adjustable shelves and locking doors. At any furniture store you would pay 3 or 4 times what this couple was asking, but you wouldn't get a piece as well made. I've never been happier to part with $125.