All I wanted — in the short term — was a nice coffee table.
I didn’t want bells or whistles or fancy carvings. I started with trying to refinish my current coffee table, which ended in disaster when I realized that I was spending my time (and my Friday night) trying to gently chisel off glued and nailed panels of wood from the sides of the table. You can’t gently chisel that mess. The sanding afterwards would have been painful.
So bright and early on a Saturday morning a couple of weeks ago, G and I set out to see what Charlotte has to offer in terms of unfinished furniture. Along the way, I went back and forth on whether I want light or dark colors. My parents — my father, really — always had dark furniture, like black oak or cherry wood. While I certainly like that look — or I’m accustomed to it, at least — I wasn’t sure if that was the look I wanted myself.
I currently have a fairly small apartment that looks (and is) cluttered and dark. All the light in my living room comes from a tall lamp, in which I have a fluorescent bulb. It’s not abysmal or anything, but it’s not a sunny room. Same for my bedroom.
G’s more design-oriented than me (thank goodness), and taught/reminded me of how lighter colors with glossy surfaces will bounce light around a room and make it look brighter. If lighter surfaces are left clean, the room looks more spacious. I liken it to using whitespace to highlight the content in page layout, personally.
I like bright homes. Not washed out, all-beige places, but sunny homes, with (careful) yellows to the furniture and white light.
So with that in mind, we visited an unfinished furniture store down in south Charlotte. They had a few decent coffee table options, plus the ability to order from a catalogue in-store.
Then G and I hit Furniture Row: a Grumpy Consignment Store, Rooms to Go, Ashley’s, Boyles Distinguished Furniture (just say that name: “boy-yles”), and Haverty’s.
The Grumpy Consignment Store had me walking out when their lengthy lists of “do not”s. Do not haggle. Do not ask questions. Do not talk to the staff. Do not ask how we’re still in business when we’re such assholes.
Yup, time to go. All the furniture in there looked dark anyway.
Rooms To Go and Ashley’s were unremarkable except for their uniform darkness. They each had a piece of furniture or two that were light wood, but they were often big and bulky or included painted white parts. They did have nice, light breakfast nook tables that I liked and might investigate if I have a usable breakfast nook in the future, but nothing for living rooms.
And then there was “Boy-yles”. I about laughed myself out of the store in the first ten seconds, but we stuck with it. Everything was easily twice, if not thrice the price of what we’d seen in other stores and was definitely four times as ugly. Red paisley everywhere. Surprisingly, it wasn’t until our loop through was done that one of the store employees sneered at us. Guess we weren’t worth the effort.
Haverty’s was also unremarkable except that, when asked about light furniture, an employee actually recommended that we travel to Hickory or Kannapolis to find a mom-and-pop store.
…So back to the unfinished furniture store we went.
I ended up ordering a gorgeous, simple, plain parawood table that I’ll apply my own glossy polyurethane to. It should arrive on or near the 31st.
I’m excited. It’s my second real piece of furniture, after my couch.