Furnishing a house completely from scratch while youâ€™re living in it is no day at the beach. Problems arise and snags occur. For instance, how do you prioritize which is more important . . . beds for kids or kitchen knives? This is a harder question than it looks. Kids are perfectly happy in their little bower of cushions, and yet attempting to cook virtually anything at all with only one very dull steak knife is a near impossibility and can almost (note I said almost) reduce a person to tears of exasperation. And yet somehow it seems frivolous and self-centered to go out on a shopping expedition for kitchen knives when the kids have no beds to their names . . . you see what Iâ€™m saying?
And things get more and more complicated because, say youâ€™ve decided that the most important thing to be working on is the beds. So you do that. You work on the beds. You check every website, visit stores, look on ebay . . . and while on ebay you find a stunning deal on a piano, right here in town only 2 miles away! Steal of the century, and the kids are going to need lessons anyway. What to do? Well of course you buy the piano (and then commence with the headache of how to move it across town).
But meanwhile you still havenâ€™t gotten kitchen knives OR beds . . . and then a friend takes you to a â€œswap shopâ€ where you can take what you want for free. And thereâ€™s an almost unlimited supply of absolute junk, but tucked away under a pile of old dead Tupperware and ugly curtains there is a completely gorgeous antique side table. So you snag it, take it home, and now you have a side table, a piano in name only, and still no beds or knives. Then two days later you find a perfectly terrific floor lamp â€“ carved mahogany with a barley twist post â€“ for less than 2 pounds. So in it comes, and there you have it. More items that were WAY down the list . . . but then again, there they are – so you grab them while you have the chance. See what Iâ€™m saying? Itâ€™s a tricky business.
So far almost everything Iâ€™ve acquired for the house has come to me either free or dirt cheap. So far so good. But thereâ€™s a reason that these things are free or dirt cheap . . . and that is that they have reached that point of their existence where no one thinks they have even a spark of redeeming value left. (i.e., theyâ€™re old and cruddy, need a good scrub, a sanding, and a coat of paint.) This is fine with me. I really love being buried in projects, so the more the merrier. But I donâ€™t want the house filled up with wretched old objects that I found somewhere . . . so Iâ€™m trying to paint them, lacquer them, upholster them, or what have you as they come in the door. That way I may have an extremely randomly furnished home (a living room with a side table and a piano) but at least theyâ€™ll be really great pieces.
However, this battle plan led me astray this last week. Our landlord let me look through his garage for old derelict furniture, and one of the things that I rummaged out was a small upholstered ottoman. Over here itâ€™s also called a pouffe (as in, poof-ay), and Iâ€™m so excessively cracked up by it, that Iâ€™ve been saying â€œpouffeâ€ every chance I get. But anyhow, this looked like it could be a really festive little item in the living room if I reupholstered it.
So into the house it came, and I stripped it down to its horsehair underpinnings. Then came the big question â€“ what to do with it now? Whatever I did, it had to be with fabric that I already possessed because so far I havenâ€™t found out where to buy fabric here. I finally settled on a really splashy little piece of oilcloth that was white with red polka dots. I figured that in a house with five kids, a poufee really needs to be outfitted in a sturdy PVC if it wants a fighting chance. And the dots would be nice and sporty. This piece of oilcloth, I might add, came from Lizâ€™s shop and has been on the table for many a Sabbath Dinner at Momâ€™s. She had gotten a little tired of the red polka dots and sent the piece along with me. And I think I’ll take this opportunity to say that you can never really go wrong with a snazzy little bit of oilcloth â€“ or so I thought.
I upholstered that poufee and did a remarkably good job too if I do say so myself. But this should have been a warning sign . . . whenever I do a really darned good job on something I should know by now that bad news is just around the corner. I finished the thing and took it into the living room. As I stood back to admire my work I suddenly realized that I now have my very own, 3D, oilcloth, living room version of Strawberry Shortcakeâ€™s hat. It really is a complete pain. I cannot look at that thing without thinking of Strawberry Shortcake. But Iâ€™m so put out with the thought of yanking out all of those staples, that Iâ€™m leaving it for the time being, and when Iâ€™m feeling godlier, I will redo it in something more, well, mature.
Since Iâ€™m sure youâ€™re all following this little saga on the edge of your seats, Iâ€™ll make sure that when my poor pouffe gets yet another makeover, I will keep you posted. Further bulletins as events warrant.