I feel positively ridiculous writing this post, but I’ve received enough emails about the coffee table that it warrants a quick mention. Here goes: Not new. Not special. Seriously, not that big a deal.
That said, I’m happy I was able to pull the wool over your eyes!
Our previous coffee table (also not new, special, or a big deal) was a leftover from my college days. I’m notoriously picky about coffee tables and accepted long ago that I will never find one I like and can afford. When it comes to coffee tables, I have a defeatist’s attitude.
The “new” white coffee table is the Imfors from IKEA, now discontinued. We bought it about five years ago because it was round and somewhat indestructible, the two sad, generic prerequisites I held on to despite knowing coffee tables are hopeless. I bought that table with the same jaded acceptance of a woman who, after too long on the scene, narrows down her requirements in a man to (i) penis and (ii) breathing.
We used it for a few years until we unearthed my college coffee table from storage. It sat under old blankets and a painting drop cloth in the garage ever since.
I knew the coffee table from college wouldn’t work with the Ektorp, so I decided to pull out the white one from the cemetery in the garage as a temporary measure. Originally, the legs were chrome, and something about the chrome and white made it look the cheap price point, especially when placed in front of the white sectional. I decided the solution would be to paint the legs a soft gold or aged brass. You know, put some lipstick on that pig.
It couldn’t have been easier. In fact, I did right before I had to pick up Nicholas from school while wearing heels and talking on the phone with a friend. It really was stupid easy. I was pressed for time, or I would have taken apart the table and spray painted the legs with surgical precision, as is my call in life. Instead, I taped everything off and used a ripped piece of cardboard to block the spray of paint.
Which reminds me, I used spray paint. I won’t describe the time I wasted in several craft stores reviewing my paint options and debating the pros and cons of each, except to say that time is gone forever, never to return. Ultimately, I relied heavily on this post by Kate. I chose the Gold Leaf spray by Krylon. It turned out nice, considering it was a beat up old coffee table.
As for how to spray paint, well, I think John and Sherry have that covered.
Here is a close look at all the dings and a water ring I forgot to wipe down. No idea why I feel compelled to share this image, but there you go. Overall, I really like the table. It’s open and airy and can old Skylanders, which is leaps and bounds ahead of round and indestructible. I feel like my relationship with coffee tables is moving in the right direction. Nicholas even calls it the “nice-ee table.” Of course I asked him why.
“Um, mama? Duuuuh! The legs are made of gold. And that is nice. Nice-ee table.
Oh, to be five.
Even though the Imfors line is no longer available at IKEA, you can achieve the same look with the Klubbo coffee table. In fact, I think that’s what Jordan did in these pictures of her old living room in San Francisco.
Aaaaand, that’s it! The story about my coffee table is officially told. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I haven’t gazed at my navel in at least twenty minutes. I need to get on that.
Late Sunday morning was so nice. I had to run an errand, and though it would take me nowhere near our downtown, I asked the Mister if he would mind if I left him with the (sick) boys while I walked around and looked at antiques. He just rolled his eyes and said, “Please. You don’t have to ask. Go and have fun. Just don’t do anything crazy, like shabby chic.”
I pointed out that I don’t like shabby chic interiors so it wasn’t a risk. He then claimed I once sent him an email with a picture of a thrifted dresser spray-painted and made to look “chippy.” Men remember the oddest things. “Don’t forget to buy blue cheese” goes in one ear and out the other, but an email from several years ago about a white dresser? That gets burned into the brain.
I walked around all my favorite shops–not one carrying Rachel Ashwell–and had such a wonderful time by myself. I’m normally with the boys, or on rare occasions, friends. It can be hard to shop with children, of course, but the same can be said of shopping with friends. It was nice to linger at my own pace, speaking to no one, and hover over displays I loved without worrying about dawdling or keeping someone else entertained.
When I went to Campy Mighty, Nicole and I later went shopping on the furniture strip in Palm Springs. We went into one store that had the most amazing candle burning. I would have bought one, but the store that carried them was closed on Sundays. I haven’t been able to find a candle I like as much since, though a part of me worries that the memory of this candle exceeds the reality. I was pretty excited about the Flora Exotica candle, above, with its alluring packaging of black and gold and floral, but no. It’s scent is primarily honeysuckle, a smell I loathe. And so the memory of the Palm Springs candle glows brightly. To my husband: the only way I could have been less subtle is if I had I printed out this post, wrapped it around an anvil, and dropped it on your head from a second story window. Mother’s Day is in May.
The takeaway from my window shopping, aside from honeysuckle and lilac remaining my least favorite scents, is that our home lacks vignetting. You walk into some of these stores, and you are pulled in by the most interesting displays. They unfold as if the store houses characters in a book. In this corner lives Ruth, who likes to read cookbooks in bed, prefers her hand soap to smell like rosemary, and collects crockery–always in cream. Magda is agnostic but adores religious folk art, Santos dolls, and lights a Saint Jude veladora before her weekend meditations because (1) it reminds her of her grandmother and (2) sometimes she feels her love life is a bit of a desperate case. Across the aisle stands Jane. She likes bright, pure colors (all of them), cooks semi-homemade, and throws the best parties because she never tries to make everything perfect.
It hit me, in that big store full of characters I would like to meet, that decorating is just another form of storytelling.
I don’t know what table I am saving to buy, but my Pinterest says it’s somewhat country with a 60% chance of Windsor chairs. Are they even comfortable?
We sold our dining room table while I was at Camp. My relationship with dining room tables is a topic of interest among family and friends. They swear we’ve had dozens, I swear we haven’t. Maybe three or four or five at the most, and a couple of those were because I rotated in-and-out dining room and kitchen tables from our first house. By looking at it this way, two of the four or five don’t count, although admitting I don’t know whether we’ve owned four or five tables is worth exploring. I will concede that point, but that point only.
The IKEA table and sideboard we had in place didn’t work well. The table was too small in scale and not one I ever adored. It was a placeholder I convinced myself to buy. I should have waited until I found what I loved instead of what I tolerated. Next time.
The sideboard was there to fill up space, and it became a giant treadmill, or bedroom chair, or catchall table by the door. It was a clutter collector with drawers and doors and shelves. A pine trifecta of things-without-places in antique stain.
Everything had to go, even though all we had to replace our folly was a miniscule antique gate table that belongs to my mother. This is the same rickety and uncomfortable table that prompted us to buy the table we sold. I know; that makes no sense.
You should know my mother has had the same kitchen table and dining room table for thirty years. She paid good money for both.
We had dinner last night at the new/old dining room table. It was as I remember: unstable, cramped, and, if you are cutting a steak, risky. Each slice tremors across the tabletop, and there is a feeling one false move will crumble whatever it is that is holds everything together.
I lit candles to draw attention away from the inherent danger and warped, scratched tabletop.
We ate roasted chicken and vegetables, barely noticing the way the table skittered across the floor. (Not really. I notice everything.) After dinner, Nicholas put together a puzzle on the floor while the Mister and I quizzed Mikey about his day. He’s normally not one to share too much, but with the room dark and moody, the words tumbled out. He told us about classmates he liked and those he didn’t. He rolled his eyes and laughed at funny stories. His eyes glistened with tears we all ignored when he admitted he worries the 5th graders don’t “admire” him as much as he would like.
I didn’t point out using words like “admire” in the second grade might be part of the problem. I also didn’t ask for the names of the 5th graders. It wouldn’t do for me to break the knee caps of a minor.
An hour went by in a blink of an eye. There it was, night, with plenty of homework left to do. Mikey and Nicholas took turns putting out the candles and I went to the library to return a book on the verge of overdue. When I came home, Mikey was on the floor doing his spelling words.
We didn’t get much money for the IKEA table, which means the dangerous table will be with us for some time. This is good. I need the waiting period a slim budget demands to find the perfect family table. I’m not sure what I am looking for, but I know I want it to be a large rectangle of solid wood that can seat at least 8 when extended. I won’t make cost an issue. I will wait until I find what I love. If I can’t afford it, I will save until I can because if I could find a table that would guarantee me another dinner chat like the one we had, I would pay a million dollars. Because, man, that was really something.