Tag Archives: furniture

bench thoughts

The bench in our bedroom at the foot of our bed is at least fifteen years old. It’s dark (fake) leather, tufted, with a deep storage well. It currently holds all the dress up clothes, castoffs from twenty halloween costumes, party favor hats and funny glasses, several versions of Harry Potter wands, and discarded recital-wear from dancing cousins. Most days it never gets opened, but its presence there is really important as a surface. It holds the extra pillows at night, plus the blanket and the discarded comforter. At some point each evening, one of us stacks the pillows there and folds the blue blanket up in a neat stack, and pulls the comforter onto the bench – clear signals that we’re both headed there soon, if not quite yet.

A few months ago the upholstery started to flake off, and now it’s in full fledged shedding mode. I find these dark brown flecks everywhere, and they annoy me. M thinks we could reupholster it, but I know that will likely be as costly – or even more costly – as a new bench, and I’m really not that keen on the design of this one so much that I want to sink a few hundred dollars into it. It sits really low to the ground, so it’s impossible to vacuum underneath it, but just high enough to host a lot of cobwebs. So I’ve been thinking about an eventual replacement bench, and here are a few I’ve considered:

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The Nelson Bench is a classic that I’d love to own one day. Alas, the price tag is pretty steep, and I can’t see myself finding the time to track down a vintage piece. (Although a quick search locates one in Chicago, so maybe I could call on some blog friends…) We’d lose the storage capacity, but honestly, we have a full height wall of built-in wardrobes right across from here, so storage isn’t really that big of a deal, we’d just need to shift things around a bit.

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I like the walnut finish, but the natural could be nice too. The room is mostly white and very simple. The walnut would nod a bit more to the chifferobe in the bathroom, but the natural finish is really simple and – at least to me – looks more like the classic piece I’ve loved for decades. One benefit of going with the walnut is that it would look great with the Eames Turned Stools that I keep hoping will magically appear on either side of our bed one morning. (I like the shape on the left the best.)

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These are also very pricey, although they would increase in value over time, as would the bench, because they are classic pieces.

I ran over to the mall last Saturday to pick up a necktie that M had ordered, and I decided to pop into West Elm just a few stores down. They are currently running a 30% sale on some of their furniture, and I noticed this bench at the foot one of their beds in the showroom. It very closely matches the piece in the bathroom, which got me thinking more about tying the two rooms together.

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I like the idea of a lower shelf that could hold a few items like books, or an extra blanket, and it was helpful seeing the bench against a bed / bedding just like ours. I’m just not sure I want something too fussy there, so I’m not completely sold on this one.

We could also go really simple here, which could be a nice idea. My worry is going too rustic, although the lines of this Blu Dot bench below are nice. (It’s called the Amicable Split, which might not be the best name for a bench at the foot of our bed.)

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And there’s always the option of doing an updated version of what we have now – something upholstered in a neutral fabric, with storage space and a comfortable, tufted top.

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There are lots of options with or without storage with this kind of look. It looks comfortable and practical, and would certainly be a safe choice.

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But in my predictable fashion, I need to mull things over a bit more. I feel like the last bench was a practical, safe choice for over fifteen years. As we’re moving through the house with an eye to finishing out, purging, buttoning up, and finessing our design choices, the classics are the most appealing to me – even if I have to wait them out a bit more or hunt them down.

I’ll post some photos of the room soon – we’re hoping to install historic replacement windows in there soon, and then will repaint and freshen things up.

admiring: cross extension table

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I’ve long been eyeing this Cross Extension Table for the new dining room. I really love the legs on the table – how they are inset, and splay outwards. It makes for comfortable seating on the ends as well. I’ve drawn this table in our floor plan – you know, just for planning purposes.

I’m not positive we’ll land on this piece. I still want to visit and talk to the owners of Narrative Furniture just down the street from us. They custom build dining room tables to your specifications, and I attended a meeting once on one of their tables and it was gorgeous. I like the idea of working with them on a table, but I’m not sure if they do extendable pieces.

I have a few must-haves for the table. I’d love for it to be walnut and I want it to extend for larger dinner parties and seat 12 people. This Cross Extension Table holds two leaves in a felt lined tray below the table. I think we’d probably always have one leaf in – I really want a large table in the room, even if there are only four of us – but the second leaf could go in and accommodate our family and friends.

We’re also planning for built-in seating along the west wall of the addition. It will incorporate storage for cookbooks and drawer storage beneath it. It will provide us a comfortable place to sit or lounge in the space when we don’t necessarily want to sit at the table, and with the addition of a folding table and a few stools, it will double the seating capacity for the room – making it possible to have dinner for our entire family if they visit for special occasions, or a place for the kids to eat while the adults are dining at the main table. I see it as a really flexible component of the room, and something that brings a library / den feeling into a dining room. I think this room will become the heart of our home, and I’m excited for the connection to the garden outside. It’s currently gorgeous outside – the kind of weekend where we’d have the folding glass wall open all weekend, transforming the space into a breeze filled garden room for all sorts of tasks and relaxing.

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My favorite dining chair of all time is the Wishbone Chair by Hans Wegner. It’s such a classic piece, which is great, because I’d have to collect one at a time, over many years! It’s so comfortable to sit in, and the footprint is compact enough to not look overcrowded around a table.

Okay, back to the drawings. (Sometimes it’s nice to take a break and jump to finished products!)

january room refresh

Flor Rug 1

I had very ambitious plans for last Friday night. I drank an extra cup of late afternoon coffee, made a good dinner, and dove into those plans as soon as the kitchen was cleaned up. I thought we’d get all the Christmas decorations down and stored away, and then we would clean the entire house, top to bottom. I planned on working late into the night, and then maybe catching a nap sometime over the weekend – in my spotlessly clean house.

I’m not sure what exactly I was smoking when I devised that plan, but I never made it out of the first room I tackled – E’s room. One thing led to another, and the entire room ended up taking most of the weekend. I really wanted to give her room a good cleaning and dusting from top to bottom, but there was just so much stuff in there. She worked really hard with me – cleaning out closets and drawers, organizing her teetering towers of art supplies, sorting through her toys and games and stacks and stacks of papers.

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It was pretty frustrating at times. I really planned on getting a fresh start in the house on our first full weekend home in ages. But just surface cleaning her room wasn’t going to cut it either – it needed an intervention – particularly when I discovered how many things were just shoved into the back of her wardrobes or into drawers that hardly shut anymore they were so full. I might have even found a half-eaten lunch in her closet, plus two of our kitchen spoons. And a pudding cup, date unknown. Gross.

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She and I worked together, filling six trash bags to the top – items to donate, items to hand down to her sister, items that belong elsewhere in the house, trash, recycling – it was a lot of piling, sorting, and reshelving. But the end result is pretty awesome. The bonus at the end of the work was getting to install the new Flor rug she got for Christmas and the bedside “table” that M made for her. The colors in her new rug are perfect – it’s like it was custom made to match the quilt my grandmother made. She’s been asking for a warm, fluffy duvet for awhile, so we purchased an insert and cover over the weekend, and the quilt is folded at the end of the bed. I think it’s a good balance of color and simplicity now, which works well with such a bold rug.

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E’s been asking for a bedside table for ages, but as you can see in this photograph, there’s not a lot of room between her bed and her door. She has a small ledge under the bulletin board on the other side of the bed – there’s a reading light there too, and it worked great when she had a twin bed, but now she really hangs out on the half of the bed nearest the door. We’ve looked for just the right (small) table for a year or two, but I really didn’t like the idea of a piece of furniture right there when you walk in. Then I saw this house shaped ledge from Ferm Living, and thought maybe a wall-hung solution was the best.

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The problem was, I couldn’t find a dealer carrying this product in the U.S., and none of the European shops that shipped to the states carried this shelf. I showed the image to M and he really liked it, and he thought he could run with that idea and make something that fit that wallspace just right.

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E was super excited to get it up on the wall. It holds her new alarm clock (another request – and, if I can say it here, an amazing addition to our morning routine), plus a few books she’s reading. My favorite feature is the “roof” that holds her place when she’s done for the night.

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The shelf could be easily modified in the future if she wants to run power up through the bottom from the outlet below. I’m also going to check at IKEA next time we’re there to see if they still carry that red light on the other side – I think it would look cute to have a second one mounted on the other side for some additional reading light. E cleaned and dusted and rehung more recent treasures on her bulletin board, and we organized her books on the front ledge, moving a lot of them back down to the library shelves in the living room.

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Her desk area is really the first thing you see when you reach the top of the stairs, and it was always overrun with backpack, gym bag, binders, textbooks, etc. Even when it was organized, it looked like the inside of a messy locker.

But since she cleaned out her wardrobe as well, now she’s got room to organize all those books and folders for her ‘A’ days and ‘B’ days at school, and the shelves are deep enough that her backpack fits in front of those bins. She was so jazzed about this that she came home Monday and told me she had been inspired at school to organize her individual binders at the end of each class. Progress! (F keeps a rotating display of her artwork on the inside of E’s doors – lots of Elsa and Anna work.)

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So now the view at the top of the stairs is more like this…

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…which is a welcome break from the state of the rest of the house. Oh well, there’s another weekend ahead.