In terms of real estate, moving from Chicago to Boston was eye-opening for us. Chicago is an amazing, amazing city for 20 and 30-somethings looking for the city lifestyle but without the grime and sprawl of L.A. and more manageable and affordable than NY. Top-notch restaurants, great architecture, beautiful lakefront…. and a plethora of decent-sized, reasonably-priced apartments! Apartment shopping in Boston was a bit of a shock – we went north of New York for a reason! Alright, so it isn’t nearly as bad as New York prices, but it is considerably higher for what you are getting and we were adamant about having a 2 bedroom (for an office space) and living a short walkable-distance to city amenities (corner store, restaurants, T stop, etc).
sweet home chicago
We finally found a decent-sized* 2 bedroom in Cambridge but like our last place it is in an old building (we’re talking pre-PRE-war). Tackling the awkward-sized rooms (and a multitude of other quirks) has been a challenge. Before we moved we sold a lot of our old furniture (hand-me-downs, college remnants… it was time) hoping to start investing in new, grown-up pieces. Only problem is, we haven’t won that lottery yet and while I love the idea of decorating our house slowly by finding pieces we only truly love, in reality there are some things you need in your house on a daily basis to make yourself comfortable. Namely, a coffee table.**
Problem with coffee tables are that, in my mind, they should come last to complement the other parts of the room. Fine, except when pretty much every other component of your living room is marked “to be replaced.” With what? I have no idea. The great couch hunt of 2011 left me drained and confused. While I have colors in mind, the problem with reading so many blogs is that I think my style preferences change daily.
Until I work through this design-identity crisis (I’m sure with deep and probing psychoanalysis), we decided to make our own temporary coffee table after being inspired by Kate of “For Me, For You” and her DIY desk.
- Wood (we used two pieces of laminated pine to reach our desired size)
- Varnish, wood conditioner, brushes you will ultimately throw out (ugh)
- Pitcher of skip-and-go-nakeds (I’m a firm believer in home improvement cocktails)
- Willing and able boyfriend who mocks your Home Depot tantrum (and ultimately gets you in a better mood) and refuses to let you leave the store without buying the materials (even if they aren’t exactly what you wanted)
E fastening the connector plates. Ignore our AWFUL staining job (seriously, follow the directions, staining is no joke). It's just the bottom, right?!
We were pretty proud of the end result. The hairpin legs allowed us to make the table large enough to fill our space but minimal enough not to overpower it. I’m sure once I start decorating more seriously this winter and the new couches and media center are in place we will revisit the design, but for now it’s doing its job (mostly as mail collector, nail polish painting center, dinner table, and kitty obstacle).
*Dear old apartment, I miss, miss you. I miss your washer/dryer in-unit, your central air, your 3 bedrooms, your dining room, your dishwasher and comically abundant cabinetry and outlets. Hell, I’d even take you back with that sauna-esqe mini bathroom that allowed barely enough room to turn around. I hope you are at peace in apartment heaven (or cursing the condo that killed you).
**When we first moved, I made an impulse buy off one of those daily deals sites for home goods. I purchased (what looked like) a gorgeously glam coffee table that was more money than I had a right to be spending on a coffee table. But we were excited to be decorating and thought, “What the hell, it’s a good deal, more than half off!” When it showed up the shape was glamorous and I was still in love with the legs but the wood color was horrendously misrepresented and it was shipped dented and scratched. The corner dents revealed it wasn’t even solid wood, only pressed sheets that were veneered. The site was great about letting me return it but I was really annoyed. I’m totally leery about these sites now because even though it looks like a great deal, in reality they are just jacking up the original retail prices and selling sub par quality goods.
chicago photo found here.