When we first moved into our grand but unfurnished Brownstone apartment we had to break down what to buy when.
First was the bed (although we are still waiting to order because of the delay in getting the H1B’s social security number – god bless whoever invented the Aerobed, which is currently a bargainous $58 on Amazon).
Next urgent priority was a table and chairs for the kitchen.
Other than our Aerobed, the only other seating we had in the house was a step ladder, which had been “borrowed” from the communal storage area and still hasn’t found its way back.
We had to take turns; and using it alongside the breakfast bar it was surprisingly ergonomic:
… but not a long-term solution, especially if we wanted to have people around for dinner, or actually speak to each other ever again.
There are many exquisite furniture stores in New York, not least the massive ABC Home on Broadway north of Union Square (opposite Fish Eddys, which is a brilliant bargain hunt of a store for crockery, cutlery and glassware).
Unlike the bed, which I knew I wanted to be traditional, made of iron and high, I was open to different ideas about the kitchen table. Modern, glass or industrial metal, my only specification was that it had to be extendable as I’d like it to sit in the corner next to the fireplace and big windows and then extend it out when we have people around.
Ideally, I was looking for something that would fit four people (around 45″ square) but extend to fit six or eight.
Here were some choices that made the shortlist:
None were quite right – either they seemed not that well made (West Elm’s more economic options were veneer or a bit wobbly and the shop stock was very chipped and battered, which didn’t give me much confidence as to its longevity), or too big (I loved CB2’s fashionably distressed wood and industrial metal Dylan table, but it’s a 80″ long and $899).
Next I tried Film Biz Recycling, which is a not-for-profit set-up that hires or sell props and furniture from film sets. If I’d wanted a 1960s television, a fake Louis IV armchair or a stuffed gazelle’s head I’d have been in business but unfortunately there were no suitable tables or chairs.
So onto the antique shops and I headed over to the strip of shops on Atlantic Avenue between Smith and Bond in Boerum Hill. This area has long been known for its furniture shops but in the last five years or so it’s become a haven of vintage cool too.
(Award-winning vintage fashion boutique Mafalda is worth checking out – if I hadn’t been furniture shopping, an Arran sweater and black leather mini skirt would have been mine – as well as the kooky Dry Goods, which I blogged about previously, but hadn’t visited – it sells quaintly kitsch homewares and pet supplies. Rothschild is a good rest stop too – had very good sticky ribs and glass of super smooth Rioja.)
Horseman’s Antiques was my first furniture stop – four floors of tables, beds, chairs, wardrobes and sofas stacked together in a dusty commune. It’s well worth rummaging around (and you do need to rummage) but I found it crazy expensive and the shop assistants not that helpful by New York standards (there are no prices on the items but a code, which you have to take downstairs to the main desk so they can – reluctantly – look up the price). They also have an eBay site, which might be easier to browse.
Town & Country 352 on the opposite side of the road is smaller and has a more navigable layout and again specialises in mid-century designs.
I’d walked past Sterling Place a few times. It’s beautifully curated gifts, coffee table books and homewares made it look beyond our budget, but this is where I found our table and chairs. The owner Rob sources his furniture from estate auctions like most other antique shops but doesn’t put unrealistic mark-ups on his products, preferring a higher turn-over of goods I guess.
We bought a pretty and solid 1940s round Chestnut table, with two leaves, that fits the space perfectly for around $500 including tax and delivery. And a set of beautiful high-backed wood and wicker dining chairs from the 7th Avenue Park Slope store for a brilliant $408 including tax – and Rob had taken £100 off the chairs because he wanted to clear them out for the Holiday stock and delivered them for free because we’d paid for delivery of the table already.
This Saturday we are going to check out the famous Hell’s Kitchen antique and flea market on West 25th street. Can’t wait.