Monday, February 27, 2017

Waiting for the Perfect Match


We live in an instant-gratification culture.  We want what we see, and we want it now.  It's that attitude that has fueled the Rent-A-Center market of furniture acquisition ... and so many other consumer-centric aspects of our culture.

In fact, it's exactly that attitude that has fueled this Walmart mentality we all have, because Walt's initial mission was to ensure that everyone could afford the same stuff.  It's the attitude that has cultivated our entitlement culture, our belief that we, not only, need to be able to get what we want when we want it, but that we deserve it.

I had a conversation with my sister a couple of weeks ago.  We were discussing our household furnishings.  Many years ago, she and her husband were a young, newly married, military couple with no household goods.  Apparently, there's a whole industry in military towns for just the purpose of helping these families furnish their new apartments.  Back in those days (the late 80s), for $1200 (with credit available, of course), one can get an entire household of *new* furniture.  Sounds like a good deal, until one sees the quality of the furniture.  Still.

When Deus Ex Machina and I got our first apartment, we had a few things - some bookshelves and electronics, and a couch my parents gave us.  We bought an air mattress, which we used for our bed for six months, or so, and then, we bought a bed from a second-hand furniture store (also very prevalent in those military towns). 

When we bought our house, we discovered that we didn't have enough furniture to fill the space, and so we started finding odds and ends pieces.  We bought a table from Goodwill.  It was ugly, and I never liked it.  The chairs were crappy, pasted together pieces that fell apart (with one even breaking when a friend sat in it!).  We needed a bed for the kids, and we ended up purchasing a second-hand bunkbed - a double bed on bottom and a twin bed on top - when our neighbors offered it to us in advance of their move.  It sounded like a good idea, but it didn't fit in our space.  A friend gave us her beat-up sectional couch when she was moving out West.  Everyone's old dressers ended up in our house. 

In the early days, as we furnished our new home, too much money went to the purchase of things we needed right then that were poor quality and not very attractive (money, ultimately, wasted), and we also ended up with way too many pieces of other people's cast-offs that didn't match anything else we had. 

My sister and I had a good laugh about the many ways we have furnished our homes over the years.  I told her that my design scheme was shabby-shabby in a play on the popular Shabby Chic style, but my style isn't really style at all.  It's an eclectic combining of pieces that were not found or purchased with an eye for what would work in our space, but rather selected on the fly, because we needed something right then to fill an empty space.

For the past several years, we've had to live in the mess we created.  It was at that time that we started fixing the roof, and we had to figure out how to fit a whole room's worth of furniture (and a whole closet-full of stuff we were "storing") into the other rooms of our house - rooms that were already completely furnished.   

At first, there was barely even room to move, and we still have stuff piled into corners and stacked to the ceilings in some places.

But the overall result has actually been rather positive, because we are learning how to pare things down to what we need, to what is useful to us, and to what works in the space we have.

And I'm starting to envision what will actually work better and make the best use of our space.

The ideal would be if I could afford to commission someone to come into my house and design and craft furniture tailored to our space.  See, our house is non-conforming.  What that means is that nothing is standard.  The rooms are long and narrow or there are unusual archways or the doors are placed in strange configurations.  I know a little about the history of my house, and, yeah, it actually was a thrown-together as it looks on close inspection. 

But it's fun, and it's eclectic.  We actually had a friend, who knows us to be quirky and non-conforming individuals, who asked us if we built our house ourselves.  It was meant as a compliment. 

Because our house is so unique, the art of finding furniture for it, has actually become an art, and it requires a vast amount of patience and fore-thought.

After we moved our living room/dining room around and tiled what had been a carpeted floor, I started looking for more seating options for our living room.  The problem is that it is a very narrow room.  In fact, our couch is a bit too wide for the space, but at the moment, it's what we have, and we'll keep it.

Because the room is so narrow, there isn't a lot of room for additional chairs, and I knew that it would require something specific.   I knew that it needed to have clean lines, and that it should probably have legs rather than a solid base.  After looking for months at different chair designs, I finally settled on the winged-back chair design.

And, then, I started looking.  A new, leather one (my preference) would have cost in the neighborhood of $3000.  I couldn't imagine spending that much money on a piece of furniture.  Who does that? 

I waited and watched.

Finally, someone had one for sale on a FB yard sale site.  She wanted $30 for it. 


This chair fits perfectly in my space. 

And there was an added bonus to getting this chair - in order to make it really fit, I had to move a bookshelf that was across from the couch.  I've been planning to do it for a while, but just hadn't gotten around to doing it.  Bringing the chair into the house required me to take action on my plan. 

Moving the bookshelf into the office/bedroom helped to organize and clean up the office, AND it made the living room appear less cluttered. 

I really like the new chair, but what I like even more is that I took my time finding exactly (almost exactly) what I wanted, rather than feeling like I needed to get it NOW.  There's something to be said for patience.  Apparently, it's a virtue, but it also feels good to know I waited for something I wanted, rather than impulsively purchasing the first thing that came available. 

1 comment:

  1. I know that Shabby-Shabby life too! This has been our approach too - things have come and gone, mostly thrifted or free, the odd Ikea purchase (they make really good small-space furniture, I'll give them that) and lots of patience waiting for good finds. I just bought two tub chairs from eBay for £20. I need to make slip covers for them to spruce them up, but I am so glad I waited and didn't buy new ones.

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