Deep thoughts on end tables and task lighting : LUSENET : ASTRUC : One Thread

Okay, a couple of different questions.

What are you liking in furniture right now? Got any shopping tips? If you could only have a few pieces, what couldn't you live without?

How long do you think I'll last sleeping on a lawn chair in the living room?

-- Sara Astruc (, July 23, 2000


I require, a comfortable bed, a table and chairs, a TV table (whatever shape - a place to hold the TV), bookshelves, bookshelves, and a desk for my webbing which would hold printer and all.

Second question. I dunno, guess it depends on how comfortable the lawn chair is and any disabilities your body carries that would make a lawn chair uncomfortable.

-- Denver doug (, July 23, 2000.

I have moved more than twenty times in my life, sometimes in ways that required leaving behind all furniture. I am constantly reminded of the words of my father in such situations: "Above all, have a good bed first. A bed can be a chair, a table, a sofa, a desk and a haven. From there, all of the other pieces can fill themselves in."

Beyond a good bed my only other big requirement now is a place to set up at least one computer and use it comfortably. Everything else tends to fill itself in.

Can you tell that I'm not the decorator in the family?

-- Dreama (, July 23, 2000.

I have to throw in for the bed as well. More to the point, a quality bed frame. You'll only ever get one if you're happy with it.

We've been shopping at Ethan Allen recently. Solid bolted frames. Antiques are nice, but too high maintenance.

For everything else, cycling through a piece at a time will do. Antique auctions (particularly obscure country ones) are a must.

Should I mention carpets? The Turkmeni's do an excellent job, but getting anything out of Turkmenistan is a pain in the ass. Uzbekistan does wonderful handwoven wool and silk at well below the domestic price (almost worth the price of a trip). Just make sure you have diplomatic immunity before you try to take them out of the country. ;)

-- Alex (, July 24, 2000.

I guess you would call my apartment...East Village Bohemian? I can't remember what it looked like when you were here Sara, but I know it has changed since then. I have some cool things from the 50's and 60's, and then I have some more contemporary stuff and also a few antiques. everything was given to me by friends or purchased at a flea market.

I wouldn't want to part with anything, but if I had to, I could get along fine with a bed, a dresser and a chair. If I HAD to.

As far as shopping for new furniture - I recommend the 26th street flea market or a trip to Hudson, NY. I just think the quality of the older stuff is far superior to anything made today - unless you're planning on spending a small fortune.

-- Sarah (, July 24, 2000.

We have an eclectic collection of beautiful vintage stuff (french country style pieces, art deco antiques), mixed with inherited stuff we just can't get ourselves to throw out, and plain junk. Lots of ethnic antique pieces, mainly from China. But a bed is very, very important. Don't go cheap when bying a bed! Then, it is important to me to hide the tv somewhere where it's not the most visible piece. I'd get rid of it, but I love watching videos. I'm considering putting it in the closet. Do not arrange your furniture around the tv... Big work space, of course. As a desk I use this enormous heavy and thick kitchen butcher block top table. I love it. No drawers but lots of counter top space. Need more bookcases. Need a larger apartment. Maybe I should move out of the city and buy a house upstate. Is this still relevant? My most "prized" piece is an antique schooldesk, refinished, decorating the hall. It's gorgeous. Where can one buy good lamps in New York City?

-- Bob van Pelt (, July 24, 2000.

I am liking cherry finished wood right now, and I am also loving alder wood furniture. I think you can't decorate a room without an antique oriental rug and an oversized couch.

I know practical people say you should get a really good bed first, but I was never practical, and for me, the essentials were a good couch and chair, a great desk, good lighting, and a big table....a place to work, and more importantly, a place to entertain. You can always sleep on the couch, right?

I always shop the estate sales and tag sales. I don't like modern furniture much, and I love the idea of pieces having a history to them. Nothing is creepier than walking into someone's house and it looks like the Pottery Barn show room, right down to the accessories. I love rooms that look like Collette's house - an ashtray stolen from a hotel sitting on a 300 year old etagier - antique silver photograph frames that hold pictures taken at a tailgate party- that sort of look.

-- Kristin Thomas (, July 24, 2000.

Hey -

I work for the Bombay Company, and we sell decent furniture at a not- too-awful price. When I say decent I mean you have to put it together yourself and I wouldn't recommend anything larger than a chest of drawers, but our coffee tables/hall tables are really elegant for the price. I know we have them all over the East coast so if you're really looking for stuff, you might check it out.

I get to experience bohemian life pretty soon when I move to my first apartment. I'll be sleeping on two foam mattresses, a low white dresser my younger sister rejected, and a rickety oak card table. That's it. As silly as it may sound, I'm looking forward to it. It's like a rite of passage, to be broke and sleeping close to the floor. I'm sure it's something that gets old fast, but for now I'm putting my shining, naively youthful face to the sun.

-- Lauren (, July 25, 2000.

My first piece of furniture in New York was a platform bed with drawers under it and a futon on top of it. The futon was bigger than the bed, so it was usually bent for use as a couch/bed, but could be pulled onto the floor if more sleeping space was needed. I covered the futon with sheets and a duvet cover in a very nice sort of crimson Persian autumn-leaf pattern from that Australian sheet company whose name I forget, and piles of pillows. I have a thing for the Victorian Explorer look and will one day furnish a room in Turkish rugs and game trophies.

Also essential was a halogen Ubiquilamp, since I am too short to replace ceiling lightbulbs once they burn out. The thing I needed and never had was a desk. For years I did all my work in diners and coffee shops, or sitting on my bed.

-- Diana (, July 25, 2000.

Ok, I will try to control myself here. I'm in love with so many styles of furniture that it's hard to narrow it down. I'm saving up for the #19059 sofa on (since the style I want is nowhere near my immediate area, at least in my price range) which is a muted olive green number with big rolled arms and an inverted camelback. It's been calling my name for almost 3 months now and I want 2 of them. The other sofa I adore is a buttery tan (not camel colored) raw silk french provencial with lots of pillows in different shades of olive, russet, and bittersweet, also all in raw silk. And it costs $5000. *someone fetch the smelling salts*

I'm liking the British classics collection from Ethan Allen, and I like their "return to glamour" collection, the name of which completely escapes me and I'm feeling too lazy to hunt it down.

I couldn't live without most of my furniture, but if I HAD to choose I would say A. my bed, or at least its upholstery weight duvet (sage green and muted gold, Gianna from Bed, Bath and Beyond). My silk brocade pillows in gold and cream. Also my buffet. Yes, my buffet. It's an antique from the Arts and Crafts era, with a carved shell medallion on the back. And my walnut spoon carved formerly-a-sewing- cabinet entertainment center (carved with lyres and leaves). And definitely my old stained glass lamp, pedigree and era uncertain. But that sucker's heavy; it's bronze, I think.

I also like Art Deco pieces, Morrocan lanterns, star lanterns, Waterfall style bedroom suites, ooo....Sorry about that. If you had to pin me down, I'd say my apartment looks turbo eccletic.

As for shopping tips, always query how the sofa is put together. And sleeping on a lawn chair is bad for your back...If you want something that's comfortable and portable, see if any of your friends has an Aerobed they can loan you. It's what I sleep on when I work an overnight shift and in this case, the infomercial hype is true. Just put a comforter underneath you as well, since that way you won't sweat.

-- Blanche Blank (, July 25, 2000.

I can tell you what NOT to do: do not order from They do have nice things (at not particularly great prices), but they take forever to deliver and they are horribly unreliable. We ordered two bookshelves from them back in January. We got one of them two months ago; we're still waiting for the other one. It's July now, in case you (like, apparently) are calendar-challenged. If we didn't really, really need one to match the one we've already got, we would have cancelled this order ages ago.

-- Beth (, July 25, 2000.

Don't go for a look. Pick up everything individually, when you see something you like. I went without a sofa for over a year. It's true that your stuff might not all match, but it'll match something more important - your tastes. And, either create all of your wall art and pictures, or get it from the artists themselves. It's better to buy something original from a starving artist than to buy a numbered print from an established artist.

It's especially good when you can tell the story behind that piece. I have one piece that everyone is always drawn to, and when I tell them that it's a self-portrait of a night when the artist was contemplating suicide, I always get the same "Oh my god! I can see it!" response. By the way, she's feeling much better now. The artist, I mean.

-- tony zag (, July 31, 2000.

This year's cable-spool coffee tables from Pacific Gas & Electric are a very nice pale knotty pine with woodburned sans-serif lettering, and I'm particularly fond of my Elvis On Velvet #437 and Dogs Playing Poker (artists unknown)

Also, this season's Milk-Crate TV Stands from Berkeley Farms are a nice rich grey, and they match "Silver Mist" Duct Tape from 3M (which I have found nicely offsets the texture in the #12 Brown Naugahyde(TM) with which my vintage recliner is upholstered.)

-- matt (, August 01, 2000.

We have recently ordered some new stuff from Ethan Allen, it completely chaps my ass that it takes 12 freakin' weeks but I'm sure we'll love the stuff when it gets here. We ordered a very big couch, a chair and a half with a matching ottoman and 6 new empire style dining room chairs. I figure those are the basics and from there I can build a couple of nice rooms. I also want some new end tables, I have no idea where the money will come from for those.

As for good deals, I furnished my entire apartment after college from the Aaron Rents outlet. It was all stuff that had been rented out by this company. I found some great deals, used stuff of course, but nice. In fact I still have the matress and boxspring from there in our guest room. I also really like Ikea, there stuff is funky and I love the colors.

-- Kerri (, August 03, 2000.

I've found that it's easiest to find one piece you adore and cannot live without, and design around that. I have a large silk Turkish kilim that folds up tidily and makes wherever I currently find myself home in an instant. Around this piece, I've aquired an antique table from India, a Victorian-era Urdu (Pakistani) tapestry, a genuine fake oriental wool carpet from Belgium, some ancient French luggage, and mixed in my pottery and glassware from 1920's Mexico. And believe it or not, that all manages to work alongside my Navajo rug design loveseat and my modern art prints. Just find the heart and soul of your home, and the rest falls into place.

-- shonen (, August 03, 2000.

Forgot to add that I got all this stuff on little to no money, as I am perpetually strapped - barter/trade is a WONDERFUL thing.

-- shonen (, August 03, 2000.

Here is another vote for starting with a good bed. And pure cotton sheets - the poly blend ones pill and become scratchy very quickly. A good bed with fine linens can truly nourish your soul. If you are not sleeping well, little else matters. IKEA can be a great source for many reasonably priced yet charming items, but take note: their beds are European sizes and will not fit standard American linens. Also beware of IKEA, or any type of composition-board furniture for anything that must bear weight. My 12-year-old bookcases have begun to sag under their loads to the point where some shelves are so bowed that they are detaching themselves from the sides. I'm saving up for some solid wood bookcases now. They are horribly expensive, but I know I am going to have books for the rest of my life. A big drawback of living in New York is that few appartments offer enough space to refinish furniture. Most of my good, solid pieces are older than I am, acquired from family, garage sales and some right off the street. Finding stuff on the street is one of the truly great things about living in New York. But you usually do need to do some work on them to make them livable. I think the two most difficult items to find at reasonable quality for any price are lamps and dining chairs. Good luck with those.

-- Amelia (, August 04, 2000.

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-- Sara Astruc (, September 10, 2000.

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