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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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
I’ve seen about a dozen apartments in the past week, and none of them made my heart sing.
There have been a couple — two in the same building on Henry Street in Cobble Hill, a parlor floor and the one above, both available immediately at $2,500 — that made my heart hum a little tune, however.
The lyrics go like this:
Where oh where will I put my queen size bed
And what about my 8-foot-long bookcase
But look at those nice long windows
And how lovely it would be to have coffee on the terrace out back
The one upstairs has more space
But the one downstairs has a load of charm
The one upstairs has a better layout
But the one downstairs has moldings and a mantel
The one upstairs has more light
But the one downstairs has that terrace
Both of them cost more than I intended to spend
But the neighborhood is safe and convenient
Oh the other hand, it’s so bo-ring
I lived there 25 years ago
Do I want to run into people from the old days
Or do I want new adventures (and restaurants) a couple of neighborhoods over?
Basically, I enjoy the apartment hunt. It gets me in to see a lot of old houses (and, more often than not, mourn what’s been done to them).
It reminds me of the time my sister and I went to Just Shades on Prince Street looking for lampshades for a pair of fabulous figural bases she’d scored at an auction. I could have stayed there all day, trying different shapes and sizes. When we’d found the best option, I was disappointed. I wanted to keep going, because I was having so much fun.
Finding a place to live — whether a house or an apartment, to buy or to rent, is always a game — of comparison and compromise. With 500 new Craigslist postings for Brooklyn apartments this morning alone, I think I’ll keep playing.