March 20, 2012

Trolling for Wood

I know it's Tuesday already, but how was your weekend?  It was rainy, cold and windy here, but instead of enjoying a lazy time on the couch with a book, I was plopped in front of the computer.  All weekend, I was trolling for wood on Craigslist.   Quality wood, wood with a patina of years and experience. Big wood, because size definitely matters. Wood that you just want to put your hands upon and stroke. But you'd be amazed at how folks on Craigslist describe their very boring, very standard wood as something of quality, when really it's just some nasty, grimy wood indeed. 

I'll get my mind out of its nasty little gutter and enlighten y'all.  For the last month or so, I've been cruising the 'net, shopping for a large credenza or dresser for our family room.  A mid-century piece, with classic, clean lines and peg legs and a smooth, not-too-scarred patina.  I've loved this style for a long, long time, way before it was hot and trendy and “Eames” was a throwaway adjective used on Craigslist and Ebay to describe just about any crappy piece of furniture.  The purpose of  the credenza/buffet/dresser is to hold our new mega-TV, purchased back in November.  It's 55", which is still smaller than the 60” beast my husband initially dreamed of (because size matters to guys too, especially when it comes to electronics). 

When the new TV was installed, it was shocking how big a 55” screen looked in the room. Watching the local news, I felt like “Who are these people and what are they doing in my house?”  But after a few weeks, we got all blasé and used to the size. But it's still big.  So big, that it does not fit into our existing media monolith. 
See how the left edge blocks the glass bookshelf, and the top edge blocks shelving.
Our family room has this rather deep nook. It's so deep, that it cancels out the popular thing to do, of installing your big flatscreen television up on the wall. Because the nook is so deep, it would make even our big screen too far away...and also make it difficult to see unless you're sitting straight-on in front of it.  The nook is 82” wide (what's that, about 7 feet?) and about three feet deep.   We'd bought this media unit from Ikea long before we moved into this house. It just happened to squeeze into the nook almost perfectly, after my husband removed the side baseboards.  It's tight, but it fits, and most people who visit for the first time and pay casual attention to the space assume that it's a built-in. 
Unit pulled out; see the depth of the nook. 
But the new TV didn't fit into the space allotted for televisions, unlike our old TV, which fit just perfectly.
Unit with previous TV...and old paint colors in the family room
Sooo. After long, boring talks about dimensions and solutions and Ikea this and Ikea that, and my husband seriously campaigning to build something difficult and custom, I came to the firm conclusion that only a nice, clean-lined credenza would do.  It didn't actually have to be a vintage piece, but after browsing online and seeing what I could buy new, from retailers like Design Within Reach for a mere, oh, $2,500, it was obvious that a non-pristine, vintage specimen was the solution. 
Currently "on sale" at DWR for about $2,500.
Thus ensued my constant trolling, checking online in the mornings and evenings, using a variety of search terms, and viewing some very, very ugly pieces of furniture.  And that would have been the end of this post, that I intended to put up on Monday: I spent my weekend looking for wood, so what's new with you?

But then. But then!  Monday morning, as I was writing this post, I received an e-mail response to my query about a credenza on Craigslist.  I'd been slow in my initial query, because a) it was located in Silverlake, which is roughly 100 miles away, near downtown L.A. and b) was this really the ONE, and was I ready to commit?  But a flurry of correspondence ensued, with more details and photos, and then the woman called and basically said... “if you want it, it's yours but you need to be here no later than 1 o'clock because I have a doctor's appointment.” 

Aside:  SilverLake is a very hipster area in L.A., with lots of modern homes and indie, creative types.  (Beck and Parker Posey have lived there.)  I saw a lot of cool furniture listed out of Silverlake, and it was all too expensive...'cuz all those young, hip trend-setters were pricing their “Mad Men” “Eames” “Mid-century” furniture at a premium.  But! My seller was an older woman, not a hipster.  Which was why the dresser was priced so fairly, and why she was patient and nice to deal with --- and also explains her urgent errand later in the day: because that's what older people do – they go to the doctor's. 

So. At the time of this conversation, it was about 10:50 am.  My husband works from home, and he was immersed in his work.  I hung up the phone with the seller and told him: YOU NEED TO GO. NOW. RIGHT NOW.  (I mentioned that we're close to 100 miles away, right?)  (And there is this phenomenon in Southern California called: traffic.)  My husband needed to be the one to fetch the piece, because we weren't 100% sure it would fit into my mid-size SUV...and if not, he was taking ropes to tie down the rear door. Something I cannot be trusted to do effectively.  Otherwise: broken, vintage wood all over the freeway. 

Luckily, we had enough cash in the house for once, so he didn't have to stop at the bank. Luckily, I had just enough gas in my tank to make it, so he didn't have to stop to fill up.   Luckily, there were no traffic incidents on any of the 5 freeways he traveled to reach my wood.  The seller called again, as he was leaving, to repeat: “I really need to leave my house no later than 1pm! Can your husband make it?” And I said, “uhh...sure!”   And I said again to my husband: GO. GO. GO.

As it got closer to 1pm, my heart started to race and I started pacing around the house.   My husband had left around 11:10...would he make it?  A few minutes after one, the phone rang.  Caller ID showed it was him.  I prayed he wasn't calling to say... “well, I'm stuck here on the freeway...”  But he said three magic words: I've got it!    
72 inches of quality wood, baby.
And so I got my wood.  It was a happy day.  (And thank God he made it in time, as the seller had another buyer on the phone when he arrived, hoping to swoop in and steal my wood.)  Today is not as happy, because the husband informs me it's going to be several weeks before we can set it all up.  The nook has to be painted.  Baseboards have to be ripped out and replaced, for the all-important audio wiring (woofers!).  All of the other audio/visual components (receiver, DVD player, cable box, etc.) are going to be placed in the dresser drawers, which means some serious destruction and re-construction of the interior of the piece.  (Don't worry – this isn't a branded, historic piece of Danish furniture. It's stamped “Made in Taiwan.”) 
Or as the husband sums up all the impending work on the credenza: "I have to massage the wood." 

Right. Bah-dump-pah! And that is why we're such a good pair.  Us with our minds in the gutter.  We got wood.  Heh Heh. 


  1. Gosh, I got so sidetracked with the absolutely beautiful credenza I forgot that your post started with a playroom purge. I have a 10 year old daughter, too, (on the 28th) and I feel for ya with the getting rid of stuff they've outgrown. Especially the play clothes. I just got rid of a play cheerleading uniform that all 3 of my girls played in and it's finally too small for all of them. Sniff, sniff.

    But back to the credenza ;) I can't wait to see how it looks in the space! Great find!

  2. Thanks Pam...I love my credenza, too! If you look on the other playroom post, there's a shot of the my daughter's red glitter shoes I'm donating...which she hasn't work since she was 5 or 6. So hard to let some of that stuff go.


Thanks for commenting! :)

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