Monday, December 17, 2012

Someday, when Sadie thinks of rugs...

It feels like I spent a good part of my childhood in Persian rug stores.  I know that the actual amount of time I spent waiting while my mother looked at Persian rugs is not even a small fraction of what my memory built it into -- and most likely it was all during a discreet six month period of my childhood.  But whenever I smell the blend of dust and lanolin typical of rug stores, I clearly recall afternoons spent jumping from one huge pile of Persians to another or, at least on one occasion, sliding down a steep carpeted staircase, face down, feet first, buppita buppita buppita the whole way down - over and over.  One suspects that men with last names ending in 'ian' or 'yan" would just as happily have rolled me up in one of their rugs and tossed me in the dumpster out back.

Probably as a result of that period, rugs, and especially oriental rugs, hold a certain mystery - I feel like I cannot buy one unless it is exactly the right one, and the right one is elusive.  I have stood in ABC Carpet (and countless other rug stores) looking for just that right rug.  No two rugs are alike, the rugs I like most are never the right size and no two similar rugs I like are ever in the same stack.  The experience becomes progressively more uncomfortable standing there feeling like I'm the indecisive one while small men who look like they just stepped out of the Ganges and badly need a sandwich flip rug after heavy rug propelling that wooly dust into the air.  

The choice of a rug is more paralyzing than the choice of almost any other home furnishing.  Consequently, with a single exception, I have elected to avoid the choice altogether.  I own 8 rugs.  The two rugs I own and walk on every day are both Tufenkian Tibetan rugs: one was given to me by a friend who was re-decorating and the other I bought cheap off Craigslist.  They are lovely and they do their job well enough, but they aren't exciting or inspiring.  I also have six oriental rugs, all well worn: I picked up 5 at various tag sales or thrift shops and I overpaid for the sixth and then had an awful argument with my mother because she let me know she didn't like it and I very much wanted her to ratify my choice.  Point being, I have never successfully bought a rug in a store. 

The time has come to get over it though.  Now that we have taken over the upstairs, we need to cover the floors.  I rolled out all the older rugs and we put the biggest one under the bed (which hides the big holes in it).  I rolled out three more in the sitting room - overlapping one another.  The stacked ones in the sitting room are nice to walk on and the aesthetic effect is something, but it isn't what we want.  We need a big rug for the sitting room - something that covers most of the floor, dampens noise and goes a little bit under the front legs of the sofa.  

The prospect of going out shopping for rugs did not appeal.  I began by searching Craigslist and found one I liked - something called an Oushak.  But something about that seemed very haphazard - what are the odds that the one rug I find on CL is good enough for me.  I would always wonder, did I get this because I like it or did I get it because it was easier than the other thing?  So I did what I always do; I turned to eBay.  And lo and behold, eBay is just about the most amazing rug market ever.   A few big vendors have posted tens of thousands of rugs with plenty of photos and no dust or little men waiting while I consider.  

I spent a couple hours surfing hundreds of rugs and showing them to V.  We found one we agreed onIn order to make sure I didn't overbid I looked at a lot of the same seller's completed listings for rugs in the 8x10-9x12 range (he had hundreds of sales in the past two weeks).  Strangely, rugs similar to the ones I liked most had sold for anywhere from $400 to $2000 with no evident difference in the descriptions to explain the price variationI bid at the low end and figured I would lose.  Then, at 10:00pm and 34 seconds, my droid went 'DING!' And just like that, we bought a rug!  I didn't know how to feel since I hadn't expected to win - but V was very excited and then I remembered that we had looked at it and agreed on it and now we were getting it for less than expected -- nothing but good things.  So it is pretty exciting.

Another thing: the experience of buying a rug in an online auction is the absolute opposite of buying one in the store pricing-wise.  Every time I go into a rug shop I am amazed that they still put price tags on the rugs that say something like "Original Price: $19,784 -- Sale Price: $2200" -- or some version of that.  And then they actually tell you what a bargain you're getting as if someone out there would have paid the $19K.  On eBay, most of the rugs start at 99 cents and go up only if someone else is willing to pay more so there is some sense that the price is related to value (as dictated by demand)Such a happy surprise.

So, please welcome our new: OUSHAK HERIZ 9'x12' CUACASIAN TURKISH RUG -- This thing is going to make our sitting room POP!!  (when it arrives in a couple weeks from Maryland).  I hope everyone likes it.

Don't go yet! There is a little denouement to this story.  
The title of the auction for the rug called it a 9'x12', but in the description in the listing it says "approximately 9'x12'" so I began to worry, "what if it is six inches wider?" Because we could do smaller than 9' wide but not bigger.  Anyway, the seller's shop number was included in the listing so I called him and said, "Hi, I bought a rug from you on ebay over the weekend." And he said (in the heavy accent befitting a man named Azad), "Which one? I sold 180 rugs on ebay this weekend."  I told him which rug I bought and I asked him to confirm the size and his response was, "It is a true 9x12.  But it's okay if you don't want it.  If you don't want it, just tell me and I'll give you a refund plus $50."  I said, we wanted it but asked him why the $50 and he told me that he basically starts all his auctions at 99 cents and then lets them sell for whatever they sell for.  Apparently a lot of his auctions sell for less than he paid for the item, but he says that in this economy, it all works out at the end of the month and he is always ahead for the month.  Still, he is happy to buy back a rug that sold too cheap.

So anyway, that made sense given the wide range of prices his rugs go for. He said it is anybody's guess why some go for more and some for less, but there is no difference in the rugs.

We're looking forward to seeing our rug in a couple weeks and, if it is as nice as it looks to be, I am positively thrilled to have found a way to buy rugs for the other rooms without the horror show of rug store shopping!!    

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Brownstone Parlor Layouts

So, it seems we're not the first people to think that the parlor floor of a brownstone is not easy to configure for the types of uses we make of them these days or for the styles of furniture we buy these days.  The general consensus is that the placement of the doors and fireplace in the middle of the walls opposite one another are the biggest obstacle.  Our situation is made even more difficult by the fact that, because we only occupy part of the house, we have to keep the parlor door closed most of the time and we only ever open one half of the double door into the parlor.  So, anyway, in a search for ideas, I prowled the web for every picture of a remotely nice parlor floor layout I could find -- here they are.



3 - This is probably the closes to what I imagine (although obviously this is the mirror image of our parlor layout).




















I don't care what anyone says, I absolutely LOVE this upholstery!!! I want a chair this fun in my house.



Every so often a chair, and the occasional table...

 An occasional table I suppose.

I really like these two wing chairs on CL today - but pricey at $5K.  Here is what the listing says about them:
Stunning & Elegant Barbara Barry Wing Chairs - Pair - $5000 (West Village)
Barbara Barry Winslow Wing Chairs, by Henredon.  Retail on these chairs are close to $10,000 for the pair. Located in a private townhouse in the West Village, NYC. 10014 - 
Model: BB 047-03
Fabric: BB 2116-00
These two chairs have the optional genuine leather welting on pillows.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Hangers and Shoe Shelves

We just finished installing these things - the IKEA Stolmen system - one for V and one for me. We still need to put up curtains in front of them, buy don't be surprised if that never happens. Still, we're pretty pleased with how simple and efficient they are.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Enough ideas already! New dressers all around!!

After much thinking and talking and window shopping the internet and real live shopping in stores, we made a sharp right turn yesterday and pulled the trigger.  We picked up this pair of traditional his and hers dressers off Craigslist from a nice couple in Little Neck, Queens. 
Here they are in our new bedroom.

This one is mine.

This one is V's
They are 60 year old solid cherry dressers made by Stickley and in near perfect condition. They have only had a single owner - the fellow I got them from told me his mother bought them when he was a little boy.

I'm kind of freaking out about the construction. Look at the pictures. These things could last forever. I sometimes forget that almost nothing in furniture is as exciting to me as great craftsmanship.

The drawers are all dovetailed together.
The drawer slides are mortised into the side pieces.
This pull-out shelf is build tight and solid and moves like it is on rails without wobble even though it just fits neatly into a slot.
The backs are made of real wood nailed into place.  No particle board and no staples anywhere.
There are thin pieces of wood between the drawers so that too many socks in the one drawer don't fall into the drawer below or impede the movement of the drawer above (not pictured). There is no sway or racking when you push from any angle. (Oh, how I dislike Ikea.)
But enough about that. On to another musing. It struck me as I carefully loaded the drawers that it has been 25 years since I used a dresser as my primary clothing storage solution. It is a pretty great invention, the dresser. V had the exact same response since, like me, she has been dressing off shelves and bins on shelves for the past decade as well.  I am really enjoying arranging all of my clothing in my many drawers completely out of sight but so easy to find.

It never occurred to me how happy this simple piece of furniture would make me.