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IMG_1429 HIGH ON MY LIST of things to accomplish this winter, somewhere between “Buy house” and “Update password list” (now 8 typewritten pages long), was “New clothing storage for bedroom.” I had already winnowed as much as I dared, but my four-drawer dresser and single not-so-big closet were not cutting it. If I bought so much as one new sweater, I’d be in wardrobe overflow.

The bedroom in my ground-floor brownstone apartment has a big ol’ hunk of orange wall 75″ across, where once a fireplace stood. Quite a few inches on either side of my midsize dresser were going to waste. There was also the possibility of going up the wall, with some kind of highboy or armoire.

I began my shopping online, considering mid-century ‘bachelor’s chests’ of the type included in bedroom suites of the 1950s and ’60s. They run $600-800, which is about what I planned to spend, but they were dark, stolid, and masculine-looking. I wanted something lighter. With my limited budget, I was looking for a piece of secondhand furniture, so I had no idea what, exactly, I was going to find (that’s the whole fun of it, actually).

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My Internet explorations led me to a company I hadn’t heard of, Furnish Green, whose website shows a wide-ranging mix of styles from rustic and cottage-y to industrial and Danish modern. Its site is well-organized and easy to search, but even better was visiting their midtown Manhattan showroom to view their offerings in three dimensions, which I did today. Furnish Green is a find, yet another of those hidden treasures New York offers up when you least expect it.

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And where you least expect it. Its showrooms are a few unconnected office spaces on the fifth floor of a garment-center building near Herald Square. One is shared with a ballroom dance studio; another is used for furniture refinishing and for the photography crucial to their online sales (Furnish Green has a big Craigslist presence). That’s Jeffrey, below, one of three employees, in the workroom. The owner, Nathan, is also the owner of the ballroom dance studio.

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The main showroom is a bright corner space tightly packed with moderately-priced pieces that are neither precious nor pedigreed, yet most have something quirky or interesting about them.

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Furnish Green gets 10-12 new pieces every day. “We do something to almost every one of them,” I was told — not necessarily full-on refinishing or re-upholstering, but steam-cleaning, oiling and polishing, and often, painting, to turn a dull brown piece of American borax (an old term for furnishings mass-manufactured in Grand Rapids, Mich.) into something more closely resembling Shabby Chic.

I came, I saw, I bought (see below). And yes, they deliver.

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MY SISTER ASKED ME A COGENT QUESTION THIS EVENING: “So how did you solve your feng shui problem in the bedroom?” Oh, that! I guess I owe her, and y’all, an explanation.

Taking to heart the sage advice of MazeDancer, Katy Allgeyer, and others on this blog, I moved the bed yet again, so it’s back in the niche, below, and out from under the oppressive ceiling beam. Truth to tell, the night before I moved the bed, I slept on the living room couch. I actually felt the pressure of the beam bearing down on my body and simply couldn’t spend another night there. Maybe it was suggestion, maybe imagination, maybe fear of forces unknown….at any rate, since I moved the bed, I’ve slept like an effing log.

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I’ve added a white wool shag rug from IKEA and window blinds from Pearl River. With the new credenza for my office supplies, and the velvet-upholstered chair, top, I won a couple of years ago as a door prize at a Metropolitan Home magazine party, the room is getting quite comfortable. Especially when compared to the stark “before” of two scant months ago, below.

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THE BEDROOM IN MY PROSPECT HEIGHTS PIED-A-TERRE is finally coming together. Last week I committed myself to a 1960s platform credenza, above, for storing my family’s photo archive, a more attractive repository than the half-dozen plastic bins in which our photos and personal memorabilia had been sitting (see below – yikes).

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After much shopping around, I bought the credenza at Re-Pop near the Brooklyn Navy Yard. My penultimate stop was Baxter & Liebchen in DUMBO, a warehouse specializing in designer-name Scandinavian modern, mostly teak. Gorgeous stuff, but I didn’t want to spend four figures. So I ended up back at Re-Pop, where I chose a 78″ long piece by the American furniture company Kroehler, with a geometric raised pattern on the front, paying just under $500. It was delivered last Friday (in a snowstorm, naturally).

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But then came the placement question. My bedroom — the back room of the garden floor of a brownstone — is huge, about 300 square feet, but oddly shaped, with several nooks and niches. I had originally intended the credenza to go in the niche next to the closet, where it would fit snugly. But the queen size bed had been tucked in there, above, and in order to put the [extremely heavy] credenza in that  niche, where I knew it would look good, I would have to move the bed to the only possible other wall, since the others are either not long enough or have doors on them (one to the living room, one to the garden).

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In the meantime, I had the movers put the credenza temporarily along that other wall, above, where it looked lost in space.

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The main problem — and I’m not kidding about this — is that there’s a massive ceiling beam running across the room — a wide, heavy I-beam, above — that would bisect the bed, lengthwise, along that only possible other wall. Ceiling beams above the bed, according to my internet research, are nothing less than a feng shui nightmare. “Beams carry a tremendous load,” says one much-reproduced tract, “and this pressure is focused into the beams generating chi which continues downwards, placing direct pressure on you while you sleep.” This can be debilitating and cause physical problems, says Denise Lynn in Sacred Space: Clearing and Enhancing the Energy of Your Home, one of the feng shui reference books I plucked off my shelf. Terrifying, isn’t it?

What to do, what to do? Fortunately, there are some recommended ‘cures':

  • paint the beams (the beam is already painted, whew)
  • drape fabric over the beams (I’m not going for a harem look, really)
  • hang bamboo flutes 2-3 inches below the beam at a 45-degree angle,with the mouthpiece downwards, to “soften the load”
I went on to read more feng shui advice for the bedroom:
  • place your bed in “the king’s position”where you can see the doorway (I can see one of the two)
  • don’t place your headboard on the same wall as the incoming door to your bedroom (same wall, different plane, because the wall jogs – don’t know if that’s a mitigating factor)
  • make sure when you lay in bed that you can see the incoming flow of energy when someone enters your bedroom (no one is entering my bedroom unless I know about it) — otherwise, you will miss new opportunities in your career or that great partner that you wanted to meet, because you don’t “see” the energy at night coming to you (guess I’ll have to take my chances) and you won’t be in control of your life (who is?)
  • if you can’t change your bed to another wall, place a small mirror opposite the door so that when you open your eyes you can see the doorway in the mirror (that I can and will do, pronto)

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A Brooklyn brownstone doesn’t lend itself naturally to feng shui principles, I’ve decided. Yesterday I took it upon myself, with the help of plastic coasters as sliders, a couple of bathmats, and sheer determination, to move the credenza into the desired niche, and the bed to the wall under the ceiling beam, above, where I slept very well last night, thank you.

Still, anyone know where I can get some bamboo flutes?

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FOR THOSE WHO THOUGHT I might never make a decision about what color to paint the bedroom in my Prospect Heights garden floor-through (and I admit I was among those who thought it), I’m relieved to report that the day after Christmas, I made a supreme effort and slathered two — in some spots, three — coats of Pratt & Lambert’s Pale Carnelian on two walls of the room.

Turns out to be a true orange, clear and bright, though it’s hardly pale anything — if I had to name it, it might be Sunkist with a Vengeance. Thanks to everyone who made thoughtful and well-considered paint-color suggestions. I tried a few of them, but after sampling 10 colors, I really had to stop.

Here’s what that wall looked like before:

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Since that back wall has two different-sized windows plus a door leading to the garden, the orange was intended to a) tie the wall together visually, b) provide a glimpse of color through the door from the living room, and c) generally cheer things up. Then I painted the ‘fireplace wall,’ below at left, or what was once the kitchen hearth wall in Brooklyn row houses of the 19th century. Now it’s just a jog in the wall, and I went with color there as well because it seemed to be a good place for it.

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The rest of the walls will remain white. The orange is intense, and I want the wall opposite the north-facing, under-deck windows to reflect every possible ray of light.

Now I’m on to the remaining pieces for the bedroom. The main item on my list is an armoire or credenza to house family pictures, children’s art work, and other precious heirlooms that cannot all be displayed but must be saved for posterity. I’ve been shopping online and in person. There’s an alcove 78″ wide, so something long and low would be good — it could double as a TV stand.

I would enjoy something like this sculptural ’60s number (the pictures below are from Apartment Therapy’s ‘New York Scavenger’ classifieds section). I’ve heard tell of these appearing three times recently, so they must be around, but they get snapped up quickly for about $800.

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More banal mid-century credenzas are a dime a dozen, in the $300-500 range. I could live with something like this if I had to:

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That, plus a white shag rug from IKEA and bamboo blinds from Pearl River, and my bedroom will be good to go.

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THE SITUATION IS DIRE: 11 cartons and 8 plastic bins, holding a lifetime’s worth of family photos, children’s artwork, published and unpublished writing, already pared down to what I consider essentials. Sitting out on the floor of my bedroom in piles, they do not attractive decor make.

And on the other side of the room…

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Unless I get some kind of giant credenza, armoire, cabinet, or other closed storage piece -- and I have a 6-1/2-foot wide alcove just waiting to receive one — there’s no point even painting the walls (just as well, since I haven’t decided what color to paint them).

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Here’s where I’ve looked:

  • IKEA, where I tried to get my head around the ultra-sleek cabinet, above, ultimately deciding to honor my vow not to buy anything made of particle board
  • Find, a Gowanus warehouse documented in a previous post, where I considered and decided against several rustic pieces imported from India, mainly because nothing was quite the right size for the space
  • Hip and Humble on Atlantic Avenue, which had an armoire approximately the right size and shape, but with cutesy floral carving I couldn’t abide
  • A just-opened and potentially fabulous resource, Film Biz Recycling on President Street near 4th Avenue, a repository for film-set leftovers that just re-located this week from Queens — but I wasn’t parked legally so I just ran in long enough to ascertain there weren’t any armoires in stock

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Today, nearing my wit’s end, I checked out a place I’d read about somewhere: Trailer Park, on Sterling Place near 6th Avenue in Park Slope, above, which sells vintage furniture as well as custom pieces made of reclaimed barn wood. The place is so full of the very stuff I used to collect — ’50s lamps, vintage tablecloths, American art pottery — I couldn’t believe I’d never known about it. I brightly asked the fellow in the shop, “How long have you been here?” thinking surely he’d reply, “We just opened last month.” He said, “Oh, about thirteen years.” And I thought I knew Brooklyn!

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I admired the 1970s German science posters ($150) and checked out the other offerings closely, but the pieces made of recycled barn lumber by Amish woodworkers, above, were too plain and stolid for me, and the large armoires more than I wanted to spend (about $1,600) — and they didn’t happen to have any vintage ones on hand.
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So on I went to Re-Pop on Washington Avenue near the Brooklyn Navy Yard, first perusing their website and zeroing in on a couple of mid-20th century credenzas — not a style I was tending toward, I’m pretty done with that — although in my present circumstances, the main thing is to get something that fits, dammit, so I can start unpacking these boxes before my lease is up.

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It was also my first-ever visit to Re-Pop, above, which has been in business about four years, and my first time in that area — Clinton Hill East? — in ages. So it was a revelation to see that the proximity of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway is no longer a deal-breaker when it comes to luxury apartments. 275 Park Avenue, right under the BQE, is a converted 19th century chocolate factory, a distinguished brick building that now houses an organic market, Fresh Fanatic, below, and a Mexican restaurant, Mojito, on the ground floor. I can’t tell you how incongruous I find the gentrification of these blocks in the shadow of the BQE. I once considered them irredeemable — but I was wrong about that, too, apparently.

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Re-Pop is stuffed with vintage modern furniture at good prices, chosen with a keen eye for mostly non-pedigreed but stylish designs. They have a load of kitschy ’50s lamps, all with original shades. I seriously considered two pieces, each under $600: a long, low credenza of good shape and size, but I didn’t love it as a piece of furniture, and an unusual blonde wood 9-drawer dresser, but I don’t need a 9-drawer dresser.

So I came away without that vital storage piece, but not empty-handed. See my new lamp, below. It works beautifully in the living room, and actually provides enough illumination for reading.

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