Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Renovate Brooklyn: How We Ended Up With A $1,400.00 Coffee Table! (Sort of.)

The Tale of The Widdicomb Coffee Table...

So, you may have noticed the coffee table sitting in our living room. Thus far, it has gone without mention, but I think now is the time to reveal the story of our coffee table, pictured in its current state, at left. When John and I decided to expand the living room, one of the big incentives was that it would allow us to have a coffee table in front of the couch-- something we'd been living without for the last seven years. Take a moment to really look at your coffee table, and then think: "SEVEN YEARS without you!"  That's a long time to go without having a convenient place to put down your glass of wine, and it made TV-dinners pretty much impossible (or predictably messy.)

It probably goes without saying that I started shopping for a coffee table almost as soon as John finished saying "Yeeeessss...." to taking down the wall between the two rooms because I like to get ahead of myself as soon as possible. Surprisingly, it turns out that John is rather opinionated about the notion of The Coffee Table, so there was a fair deal of negotiation that went into this hunt.

According to John, it had to be: 
1. Sturdy enough to put your feet on.
2. Sturdy enough to sit on.
3. Not glass (mainly because on points # 1 and #2.)
4. Not too kitchy-looking.
5. Not overtly sharp-edged or tippy so we don't have to move it when we have kids and the dog won't impale himself on it in the meantime.

And then I weighed in with:
A. Small enough to fit reasonably into our living room. Almost all contemporary coffee tables are 42"-48" long, which looks like a freaking surfboard in the middle of our living room.
B. Not look like it was stolen from a suburban rec-room or a fraternity house.
C. Make sense with the other mid-century furniture in the room.
D. In case it isn't a given, it also had to be cheap.

Giant Cornice, without a purpose.

I had this awesome architectural salvage piece- an enormous plaster cornice that weighs about 40 pounds. I initially thought it would be inspired to use the cornice as a base and then buy a piece of glass that would sit upon it, creating a brilliant, on-the-cheap-use-what-we-have-justify-having-this-huge-flipping-cornice-coffee table. That was until John politely, but firmly, pointed out that my brilliant Cornice Coffee Table was basically in violation of almost every rule we'd made. (To be more precise, all of John's rules. It definitely adhered to my requirements of price and size.)

So I was on the hunt once again. This time, I was looking for a marble-topped table, but finding an affordable one of those had me running in circles. Also, people on Craig's List seem to have a surprisingly difficult time identifying the color of marble... We went to visit two separate people selling marble tables, both described as White-Grey, with streaks of dark Grey. One actually looked like Mother's Nature's impression of the Creamsicle, and was almost a luminous peachy-orange color with a little bit of white. Not a dash of grey in sight. Are you on glue??? The other one wasn't even marble-- but formica that looked like marble, and it looked as fake as it was. Bear in mind, these incidents were not due to a lack of research. With the creamsicle tables, I even called beforehand, spoke with a person, WHO WAS STANDING IN FRONT OF THEM, and she told me that they were grey and white. KKKKAAAA-Crazy.

It was around this time that I noticed a decaying coffee table in the basement of my building. It had been sitting in the same place, slowly becoming fused with the floor, since we had moved into the building seven years ago. "Hmmm....", I thought. I stuck a note up in the hall asking if it belonged to anyone and expressing my interest in it, and after a couple weeks of silence, decided to declare "Squatter's Rights" on the table, and bring it up to our apartment. This thing was DIRTY! I mean, I don't want to touch you dirty. No point in cleaning you dirty. John was thrilled when I asked him to help me carry it upstairs, as you might imagine.

But the size was perfect, the style was right, and obviously the price couldn't be beaten, so up it came. Considering its state, it came as a tremendous surprise when I discovered that it was numbered and labeled on the underside of the tabletop. "Hmmm...", I thought again, "I've heard of Widdicomb..."And being the over-achiever that I am, I promptly looked it up online. And what do you know?! A not-rotting, not-filthy version of this exact same table was selling on 1stDibs for $1,400.00! Hot dog!

So I continued cleaning it up, trying not to get too distracted by my preening and self-satisfaction, and that's how we ended up with the could-be-fancy coffee table in our living room. John has volunteered to refinish it for me, so then our table might also be worth more than $15.00 in Fantastic Heavy-Duty Cleaning Spray.

We'll keep you posted! 

1 comment:

  1. Uh-huh. Now that you've let the cat out of the bag, someone from your building is bound to come knocking on your door, asking for their cleaned-up table back. Let's hope they read blogs as often as they check on their belongings!