An Ill-Advised Purchase

This probably won’t come as a huge surprise given my love of all things shelter-related, but, I like furniture. A lot. All kinds of furniture; little side tables, comfy overstuffed chairs, bookcases, charming cabinets and shelves, roomy hutches, buffets and sideboards. I like it all. I would amass large quantities of furniture if I could. But, I can’t, because we don’t live in a castle. However, square footage has never stopped me from finding an amazing piece of furniture (or a so-so piece of furniture at an amazing price) and dragging it home.

Bob tolerates this. Barely. Mostly because I promise him that I’m going to refinish or repaint or polish up whatever it is I’ve brought home even though he knows and I know that he knows that I have no idea how to refinish or repaint or polish up furniture. So, he endures my acquisitions with sort of an eye roll and a nod and I pretend to not notice his lack of confidence in my choices and proceed with enthusiasm anyway. I’m pretty sure this sort of dance is how marriages are supposed to work and it’s worked for us for awhile now.

Until, I purchased a rather large piece of furniture that we legitimately had no place to put: a corner cabinet with no corner.

This whole thing began when I visited a friend’s new house many, many months ago. Because I’m nosy and know no boundaries, I was wandering around her basement, scoping out the floor plan, while she was upstairs tending to her infant son. In the way, way back of their basement, I spotted an antique corner cupboard. Its honey-colored pine wood was out of place with the purple walls and disco ball the previous owners had installed for their teenage daughter. But, there it was. It was beautiful! And, the price tag from the Old Town Alexandria antique shop where it was purchased was still hanging from the knob. I assumed it was a new buy made by my friend for her new house and headed upstairs to demand the story of how she found it.

My friend quickly explained that it was left behind by the previous homeowners who no longer wanted the piece and were just waiting for an antiques dealer to pick it up and take it to auction. Which seemed to be taking forever. They had offered it for purchase to my friend but their dining room had no real corner in which to house the cabinet (foreshadowing!) so they had passed. Knowing I’m a furniture fan, my friend looked at me and exclaimed, “You should make them an offer!” I thought about it for twenty seconds before deciding that yes, indeed, I should totally make an offer. And, those twenty seconds had nothing to do with deciding on the cabinet; I was simply mulling over how fast Bob’s head was going to explode when he found out I had procured more furniture.

After a brief internal struggle, I decided I wasn’t about to let something like a little marriage come between me and an antique pine cupboard with a so-perfect light blue-painted interior. So, I did. I made an offer. Well, actually, my friend did. She drives a hard bargain. Her negotiating skills were super impressive. With a simple text exchange, I was the proud owner of a ca. 1880s corner cabinet, having paid approximately 30 percent of the retail price.

IMG_2799The previous homeowner was happy since they were rid of the responsibility for having to have it removed from the basement. My friend was pretty happy since she’d negotiated like a BOSS and regained some space in her house. I was happy because I loved that corner cabinet with my whole heart and had purchased it for a steal.

You know who wasn’t happy? Bob. He (rightly so) asked where in the world I was going to put it. Since this was just prior to our move away from Richmond, I casually waved my hand to dismiss his concerns and assured him we would figure it all out after we got to the new house and retrieved the cabinet. There had to be some place for it in our new space. After all, it was a cabinet built for a corner and houses are always full of corners. Right? It would all work out.

So, of course we moved in and there was absolutely no clear place to put that cabinet. Our dining room is one half of a “great room” and it HAS NO CORNERS. Literally. No corners. So, my dream of filling the cabinet with our fancy dishes was killed right away. There was no place in the kitchen nor the foyer and the cabinet would look odd in the kids’ bedrooms. Every other corner had something in the way like a light switch or a thermostat or an HVAC return. Our only options were to awkwardly place it in the corner of our family room, where one naturally stores their finest china, or the corner of our bedroom where it might work if you squinted and filled it with fancy towels meant for the bathroom on the other side of the wall. TWO options in the entire house. That was it. Both were less than ideal.

Bob was exasperated since we hadn’t even retrieved the cabinet yet and this was all proving to be such a pain. I felt bad about spending money on something that wasn’t proving useful. So, in deference to the fact that we really had no place to put it, I asked my friend to send me some pictures so I could shop it around to some of the antique dealers in our new town and gauge their interest. I figured I could probably sell it, make a little profit and then go buy more furniture! But, when the pictures arrived, I realized that I just really love the cabinet. It’s such a beautiful piece, probably one of the nicest that I own, and I had a change of heart. Bob heaved a deep sigh and reluctantly agreed.


The cabinet’s journey from North Arlington to Western Loudoun County was delayed when Bob had a stroke. I eventually hired movers to retrieve it and deliver it to us. This, of course, made Bob even more skeptical of the whole endeavor but once it was sitting in the corner of our family room, he admitted it was a beautiful piece of furniture.

Then, in an unexpected and dramatic turn of events, I decided it looks… awkward. It’s currently positioned next to a Crate & Barrel media cabinet made about 125 years later and the two just don’t mesh. The glass-paned door to the right of the cabinet doesn’t help either. I still LOVE it but out of context, it looks a bit odd.


I haven’t given up on the corner cabinet with no corner just yet. The story of its acquisition is too rich to simply throw in the towel and sell it on craigslist. I’m hoping that eventually it will fit into the space created when we finish out the upstairs.

Until then, it might just be relegated to the basement, again, where it can sit right next to the antique fireplace mantel I purchased a couple of years ago. The mantel I’ve made Bob haul from house to house. The mantel I have no place for but can’t bear to part with.

Hmm. I’m sensing a theme here.

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