I’ve mentioned before that I “suffer” from intermittent furniture anxiety
(IFA). It strikes without warning, and it struck today--hard.
As often happens in January, work is slow, and I was looking forward to taking most of today off and all of tomorrow off. Yahoo! One thing I planned to do was trawl some of the antique/thrift/vintage shops on Hawthorne looking for that piece (or pieces) of furniture that would cure me of IFA forever! Maybe I’d even walk from 13th Ave. all the way to 50th and thereby get some exercise, too. It sounded like an excellent plan.
My first stop was a place called the Lounge Lizard that had one whole wall devoted to Sacred Heart Jesus pictures, a lot of those cotton-candy light fixtures, and some terribly sad-looking and overpriced furniture. In other words, nothing for me. I wasn’t more than a few yards out of the shop, when I noticed a 1930s chair that was very much
to my liking sitting in the middle of the sidewalk. It was being sold by a dingy, signless shop of uncertain category. Was it a pawn shop? The place was binky small and crammed full of stuff. At least a dozen guitars hung from the ceiling and an old Moog synthesizer blocked me from doing any real exploring. But I didn’t need to. There, just inside the door, was a sofa that matched the 1930s chair. Wow, actual
furniture that I actually really liked
and that was comfortable
and that was, presumably, for sale.
I wasn’t sure how to proceed. There was only about three square feet of clear floor space, and it was occupied by me and a cluster of three or four men of varying degrees of shadiness. I was clearly the only customer. I asked who was in charge and a beefy guy in a child’s cowboy hat said he was. He started talking up the sofa and the chair, which he’d obtained only “20 minutes ago.” The sofa turned out to be a sleeper sofa, and was possibly “one of the earliest ever made.” And guess what? It had never been used! Yeah, right. The velvety upholstery is shot all to hell, with the nap completely worn away in some places from people’s butts and forearms, but no one ever used the mattress part of it. I believe you. Thousands wouldn’t.
But I didn’t care about that, really. I was already busy thinking about how fantastic the pieces would look in our living room, once they were fumigated and reupholstered. The guy wanted $600 for both (wouldn’t sell them separately), but when he knocked the price down to $550 and told me he’d deliver them to the upholsterer of my choice--Deal!
So much for my plan to take a walk. I hopped in the car and stopped off at two upholsterers in my neighborhood only to find that they don’t have space to store stuff and that they have other pieces they are currently working on--that is, they weren't just waiting for me to walk through the door so they'd have something to do. Fancy that! They wouldn’t be able to even start on my stuff for three weeks or so. Gosh. I guess, I didn’t think this through. Now I'd either have to store the pieces (and all the vermin they probably contain) in our basement or rent a storage unit. And, oh yes. It would cost between $1,000 and $1,200 to get the sofa redone and another $500 for the chair. But I really
liked them, so it would be worth--gasp--$2,250. I was in denial.
I got home and burst into B’s office to tell him. He was not thrilled. He asked me just how we would be able to fit those pieces into our modestly sized living room. B was extremely doubtful but offered to interrupt his work (the luxury of being self-employed) and go look at the pieces with me and measure them.
We arrived to find the man in the small cowboy hat and a henchman carrying the sofa out to a delivery truck. Oh dear. The thing suddenly seemed massive. We measured it. There was no
way. The chair was already in the truck. It was upsidedown, which did not show it to best advantage. The fabric near the bottom was a complete tatter, and there was a spring sproinging out through a full-length diagonal rip in the underside of the chair. At that moment, it looked worse than the stuff people leave outside with FREE signs pinned to them. I unbought the pieces.
I now know this: There is room for only one more piece of sit-down furniture in our living room and that piece will have to be a chair. How could I think we had enough space for two sofas and another chair? Wishful thinking, I guess.
I already knew this, but I ignored it: If you’re going to buy a piece of furniture and have it reupholstered, you should pay $75 for it--tops. Ideally, it should be a piece of free furniture you have salvaged from your grandfather’s retirement home or scavenged from an alley or tree bank.
And here’s the worst of it. When we went back to the shop, I totally felt like the stereotypical impulsive, ding-a-ling woman whose husband has to act as the voice of reason and un-do her silliness. That is so
not the impression I want to give out--not even to a man who wears a cowboy hat much too small for him.