Archive for the ‘Furniture’ Category

Yesterday I talked about our Thanksgiving menu. I made pie dough for the first time tonight and am worried that the whole thing is going to fall apart when I roll it out on Thursday. We’ll see! No photos because I’m too embarrassed to show you my pie dough. I might be sending Alec out to Trader Joe’s for emergency dessert on Thanksgiving.

No matter what happens with the food, it will be served and eaten in a pretty room! You already heard about our new dining room table. Here it is again to refresh your memory:

The chairs are from World Market and I was able to snag them during their 25% off furniture sale. I wasn’t planning on getting upholstered chairs, but when I saw these on the website (and then in the store), I loved how elegant they looked. And I’m pleased to report that I indeed feel about 10% fancier sitting on these chairs than on my old Ikea chairs. Success! Of course, I will probably regret it when I spill beet juice or red wine on these chairs, but for now they are fabulous. We bought six of them, but we’ll probably just keep four around the table for everyday use, as it will look a bit crowded otherwise.

Oh, I will add that the chairs were pretty obnoxious to put together and I thought Alec was going to throw them in the garbage out of frustration. We did, however, discover a secret compartment of sorts on the bottoms of the chairs. It’s where the legs were stored when the chairs were flat-packed. I made some inappropriate joke to Alec about storing bricks of cocaine in the secret compartments. (And if you’re keeping track, that’s the second reference to illegal drugs on this blog in two days. I watch too many movies.)

The dining room rug is from Home Decorators Collection, a catalog/website I learned about from the interior decorator who helped us, and I was able to get it on a super sale, which was great because come to find out, 8′ x 10′ rugs are expensive! Stupidly, I bought the rug, which is actually 8’9″ x 11’9″, without measuring the room. And it just fit. I mean, one more inch and it would not have fit in the room. Whew! The rug has all the colors I was looking for: a light sage green, which matches the green on the walls of the adjoining living room; a light blue, which is the color we’re planning to paint the dining room; and a pale gold/yellow, which matches the sand-colored fabric of the chairs.

The final piece of furniture fell into our laps (figuratively) yesterday, when we were browsing at the Brown Elephant thrift store in our neighborhood. I had been looking for a sideboard/buffet with enough storage space for our table linens and a nice set of china that my mom recently gave us. And there it was at the Brown Elephant! The sideboard had just been donated a day earlier, so it didn’t have a price tag yet. The manager came over, gave it a once over, and said: “Fifty-five dollars for this bad boy.” Sold! And here it is, with a vase of flowers that a neighbor brought over yesterday to welcome us to the block. (I should also mention we hired her seventh-grade son to mow our lawn, and he was a total pro.)

I heart this sideboard. Originally, I was going to paint it, but I would have chosen an antique yellow/gold color and this is close enough. Plus it matches the lighter, golden blonde wood of the window trim and kitchen cabinets (the kitchen flows into the dining room). Sarah Richardson, my home design goddess, says that if you’re going to have disparate wood tones in a single room, you should have at least two pieces in each tone so that your room doesn’t look like a yard sale. I think our new dining room is up to snuff…now let’s see how it holds up for Thanksgiving dinner!



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Like I mentioned in a previous post, I had my heart set on a rustic dining room table from a local carpenter. I loved the style of the tables – the simple slab tops and solid legs – and the idea of supporting a craftsman from the area.

Then I bought a table online.

From Walmart.

Yup, you read that right. And here’s the table:

This is what happened. Alec and I visited the carpenter’s showroom, where he explained his basic options for tables. He offered a 60″ size that could seat six; the next size up was a 72″ table that could seat eight.

We don’t have an eat-in kitchen, so the dining room table is where both formal and everyday meals will take place. I wanted the bigger table because when you add us + our future children + my parents + my brother and sister-in-law and their daughter and any other future kid(s), that’s a pretty big group. And we do see my family pretty often because everyone is local. However, on most days, it’s just Alec and me (and sometimes a laptop, but only at breakfast because dinner is a no-gadget zone). And Alec did not want us sitting at a huge table like the couple in Citizen Kane.

The obvious compromise was to get a table in the 60″ range that could expand to 72″ for larger gatherings. I’m sure the carpenter could have built us an extendable table and leaf, but the special request would have busted our budget on the table (and we still have other rooms in the house to furnish).

When we got home, I looked everywhere online for a dining room table in the same style with a leaf: Craigslist, Amazon, Ikea, Overstock, Pottery Barn, West Elm, Room & Board, Crate & Barrel, World Market, Pier One, Target, Macy’s, JCPenney. Some tables came close, but were too expensive or expanded to a maximum size that would be too big for our dining room, etc.

And that’s when I found just what we were looking for at Walmart.com. I felt a little weird about this – have you ever been shopping at, say, Macy’s, and you see a bag or a pair of shoes that are super cute, and then you realize they are from the Jessica Simpson Collection? Don’t lie, ladies, I know this has happened to you!

The funny thing is that through all the online furniture browsing and shopping I’ve been doing, I’ve realized that pretty much everything within a certain price range (i.e. my budget) is basically manufactured from wood composites by a non-U.S. factory. A Google Shopping search revealed that my Walmart dining room table was selling for twice the price at Buy.com. This week I saw a coffee table on Joss & Main that, when I Googled the model, was also available on Amazon and Target. (Joss & Main is a division of Wayfair, a huge home furnishings e-commerce company.)

Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is that we bought a dining room table at Walmart and I’ve made my peace with it. I think.

P.S. You might notice a new rug and chairs in the photo above; I’ll write about those in a future post.

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Things have been very busy lately, and not just because a certain company I cover at my day job just went public to the tune of $12.76 billion. The weekend was a whirlwind of planning, shopping, cleaning and organizing. Here are the highlights:

On Saturday morning, we met with an interior decorator. The consultation was a housewarming gift from our realtor, who works with this designer on getting homes ready for sale. I was SO EXCITED about discussing furniture and colors with a professional. In fact, when she asked me to drop her an e-mail about what kinds of styles I like etc., I may or may not have written her a 520-word manifesto declaring my love for mustard yellow.

In my fantasy world, Sarah Richardson and Tommy Smythe would have dropped by with hot cocoa and some fabric swatches. (Actually, in my fantasy world, my friend Victor and I have our own HGTV show where we go shopping, gossip and do craft projects. But that’s neither here nor there.) Anne, the interior designer who spent two hours with us on Saturday, does not have a show on cable. But she was extremely friendly, knowledgeable and encouraging. And she had some great tips.

For starters, she showed us how to improve the placement of our rugs. I don’t really have before photos, so this is kind of a stupid exercise, but here’s how our guest room rug looks after we rotated it 90 degrees per Anne’s advice. (Also note the new sleeper sofa, which almost did not fit up the stairs. That’s a story for a different day. And that’s the highly recommended Thanksgiving 2011 issue of Cooking Light on the sofa.)

For Alec’s office, Anne recommended a seagrass or other kind of thin rug that his chair could easily roll over. We went to Pier One that afternoon to look at dining room chairs and ended up buying this rug, which was the right thickness (or thinness, in this case) and in the right neutral tones. Plus we had a 20% off coupon!

Anne also helped us with rug placement in the master bedroom, where the furniture configuration is a little trickier. (This rug is from Overstock and seems to pill a little bit, but it’s in a low-traffic area so I think it will be OK.)

And finally, we moved the new living room rug to make a little space between it and the fireplace. (This photo does not illustrate this at all; just use your imagination!) This rug was our first-ever purchase from One King’s Lane, a flash sale site for designer home goods. It took almost a month to get here, and I’m convinced it only got shipped at all because I e-mailed the customer service department. We do love the rug, though, and Anne complimented it too.

Anne’s other big task was suggesting colors for the rooms we want to paint. We haven’t had a chance to pick up chips yet, so I’ll save that discussion for a different post.

After Anne left, we visited Pier One and some other stores for miscellaneous things, then drove down to Joliet to visit a carpenter who makes rustic dining room tables. I had found him on Craigslist and he gets rave reviews on Yelp, so I was convinced we’d be ordering a table from him. We ultimately decided against it, for reasons I’ll explain in a later post after we get our dining room table, but he had beautiful tables and was super nice.

On our way home, we stopped at a newish Oak Park restaurant for dinner. Service got off to an iffy start, but we liked the food and we’ll be back. Alec had a proscuitto and butternut squash flatbread, and I had a flatbread with olives, eggplant and Parmesan. The stand-outs, though, were the butternut squash soup and apple crostata. Look how pretty the soup was!

On Sunday, we did boring but necessary chores like raking the leaves and cleaning the house. We also saw one of Alec’s heroes, Nicholas Meyer, speak at the Chicago Humanities Festival and got sushi at a restaurant where we had a restaurant.com certificate.

I’d like to say life is going to slow down now, but I think it’s just going to get busier as the holidays approach. This week, we’re planning to hit up the paint store and World Market (to look at dining room chairs), see some out-of-town friends who are visiting and drop in on the Vintage Bazaar. More updates to come!

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Shop Til You Drop

I am hereby declaring that if the U.S. economy goes into a double-dip recession, it is not our fault. OK? Because we have done our part. We bought a house, we’re planning to buy a car and we completed an epic shopping trip over the weekend to get some much needed home furnishings. This will sound painfully obvious, but when one moves from a one-bedroom apartment to a four-bedroom house, there are a lot of rooms to fill up! It’s a little overwhelming, but we wanted to get the process started. Here’s a rundown of our little spree through the northwest suburbs of Chicago:

I mean, obviously we stopped at Ikea first. I feel like I should be graduating past MDF to nicer furniture when it comes to big pieces, but this Swedish wonder is still one of the best places to go for inexpensive, cute textiles and other home accessories. I also love their meatballs – and I’m not alone because Ikea’s U.S. stores sold 119.7 million of them in 2010. Sadly, I was too full from brunch to stop at the cafeteria this time, but I did get some lingonberry soda on my way out. It’s important to stay hydrated while shopping! Here’s our rented Nissan Versa after our Ikea trip. It doesn’t look like a lot, but there’s a plastic storage bin in there crammed full of stuff.

Then it was off to Target, where we ended up making our favorite purchase of the day: a doormat!

I almost missed this doormat because it was on the lowest shelf and I could only see some of the green leaves peeking out. When I took a closer look, I realized the design looks very similar to the motif we used in our wedding stationery:

Is that uncanny or what? It’s almost like we got a doormat custom-made to match our wedding logo. And now these adorable lovebirds will get trampled on and have dirt wiped on them for years and years. It’s so romantic.

Stop #3 was Lowe’s, where we bought a rake (I’ve never owned a rake before!) and encountered this scary, gaunt animatronic Santa Claus near the gardening department. As I was walking past, his hand touched my shoulder and I nearly flipped out. He was creepy.

The last stop of the day was Bed Bath & Beyond. As most savvy shoppers probably know, despite the fine print on those ubitquitous BB&B 20% off coupons, they have no expiration date and no limit to how many you can use on a single visit. Alec and I obsessively collected all of the extra coupons that were discarded on the lobby floor of our old apartment building. And it paid off because we were able to redeem eight of them and save $75. I’m not sure if that counts as extreme couponing, but it’s certainly moderate-to-heavy couponing. Is there a reality show for that?

Six hours after we set out, we were back home with our loot.

Ah, consumerism. As a parting tip, I would say that it helps to be organized. The day before, we went room to room and made a list of items we needed to get. Then we made a Google Docs spreadsheet that listed each item, the room where it belonged and the store we thought would be the best place to buy it. After that, we went store by store and prioritized the top three to five items we wanted to buy. This kept us from making impulse purchases or spending too much time wandering around looking for stuff.

I’ve also been doing some online shopping. A coffee table and two rugs should be arriving soon. Pics to come!

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