what’s old is new

I was tasked with re-designing our living room and master bedroom so we could have a larger dining table and a secondary computer desk. Not that we have more people for dinner or a home office, just a Destructo that won’t let anything happen without his input. As our old dining table was actually an Ikea bedside table (it seemed really big to be a bedside table to me but apparently Ikea liked the idea), it was becoming increasingly difficult to get anything done since he could reach up and grab everything within 9 inches of the edge. I think the table was about 24 inches in diameter. So I had nearly 6 inches in the middle of the table I could claim as my own. Why am I complaining? Oh yeah, I like my own space. I also like not having to restrain/reprimand/discipline my child continuously. And as he is a modern boy and cannot keep away from anything electronic that meant setting up a computer desk in our bedroom for a big computer that needed to be set up all the time. Unfortunately this is in addition to my husband’s and my laptops which now reside on half of the dining room table. Boy am I glad we had a really nice, big dining room table sitting in storage. How silly of me to think we should maximize living space and use a small two-seater for eating when we moved into this quaint (read small) apartment pre-child.

With some great support (lifting, dragging, carrying) by my husband, I was able to meet all of our current design needs. And I can’t complain about the overall effect either. It has really helped that I kept all the furniture to neutrals for this place but that’s another story. This story is about how this re-design made me really look at what furniture we do have. As I sit at the dining room table that I truly love I see a mix of old and new. Surprisingly more new right now. Surprising because that really isn’t my general style. I did fall hard for Ikea when we moved from our 1920’s Hollywood bungalow into a 1980’s limited edition apartment. You know the type – white walls, taupe carpet, no aesthetic minus the popcorn ceiling. What can I say, I wanted a clean, minimalist look as I was so bummed to be leaving my built-in shelves, glass-knobbed, paneled doors and original casement windows. But I digress. (I told you I would.) When I look around my re-designed space I see my favorite pieces and they are all second hand. An iron sewing table base my husband and I picked up in an antique store. At least that’s what they called it, it can be a fine line between antique and thrift sometimes. An old army trunk with mis-matched feet and a bad yellow paint job that has become the toy chest. I couldn’t live without this piece of storage. And of course my dining table. It was in the bungalow when my husband started sub-letting it. The then-owner gave it back to the friend she was borrowing it from. We cried. He agreed to sell it to us and now I’m happy as a clam. And my folding dining chairs. Don’t worry, they’re not plastic or metal with drab fabric seats. They’re wood with a beautiful Asian inspired cutout on the back and currently in a wonderful apple green color. That will change but the chairs will stay as long as they hold me. I have an addiction to chairs. It’s why I happen to have one sitting in the bedroom that worked great with the new desk. (No silly, not really new, what do you take me for?) It’s not new either. I got it at an estate sale many years ago. Plus the three chairs currently in storage. If I could I’d have a chair only store and the sign would have a guy with a horn and the words “Chair This”.

I would have to say, other than the picture frames holding my husband’s photography, there isn’t anything we’ve purchased in the last year that I am in the least bit tied to. Don’t get me wrong, I like it all but I don’t see it passing down through the family lines. I think of my mother’s house and my grand-mother’s house. Most of the truly wonderful pieces there are as old if not older than I am. I know not everyone’s design sensibilities will agree with mine but I’m glad for the ones I’ve got. And I’m glad I can find such treasured pieces without looking in today’s “furniture stores”. Although I will admit an intense weakness for all things kitchen at Crate and Barrel. And if I actually went into a restaurant supply store I would probably cry. So I don’t. And instead I search my local freecycle for great finds like today’s “3 cast iron pots”. I’ll be getting those later this week I hope.

What are your favorite things and where do you find them?


3 Comments to “what’s old is new”

  1. Leigh,
    I’m an interesting case study in home decor. I like to lead a very clutter free life, but I also really like the kind of things that create clutter. You know how I feel about books, clutter. I love photographs, clutter. Furniture is really the same. I have a small place, but I love statement pieces. Large, colorful furniture that takes up a lot of space. Not gonna happen. So until I move into my Bel Aire mansion next year, I’ve decided I might try to paint what I’ve got. Stay tuned!

  2. Thanks SG!

    Jamie, I think re-painting is one of the most fun and frugal ways of re-inventing your space. You can paint everything from the walls to the furniture to the “clutter” and it’s all new again!

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