I’ve been rather lucky in that my first three New York City apartments were all modern and in pretty good shape when I arrived. The first was a luxury furnished apartment, beautiful until my company stopped paying for it; the second a lovely, freshly-renovated apartment in a relatively new building; and the third a beautiful, spacious converted set of factory offices.
My new home, however, is – par for the course in this older neighbourhood of Park Slope – a little older and rougher around the edges. When we arrived a week ago, one bedroom had horrific green paint on every conceivable surface, even the ceiling light mouldings, and paint was flaking off the walls around old nail marks. Doors were hanging listlessly in their frames and those that weren’t were off-kilter and dragging on something above and below. In this brief week, that’s been rectified, and I’ve found time to tidy up a few other pieces too.
We have a coat rack affixed to the wall, which took some effort, lacking a drill or an electric screwdriver. We have a new toilet seat, a job that surprisingly wasn’t as unpleasant as I imagined. The wonderfully bright orange bookcase (IKEA easy assembly) is a constant reminder of the time my mother offered my teenage self the opportunity to paint my own bedroom walls – I opted for roughly the same shade of orange on two walls, with a slightly tamer yellow on the other oppositional pair.
Whilst occasionally taxing or time consuming, none of this has been particularly challenging, but it has put me in a hands-on frame of mind, and to that end Alex and I eschewed the default of choosing a dining table from IKEA along with the bookcase, and instead headed out to a hardware store to find some lumber. We came across a beautiful piece of red oak, far too large for a table in our modest apartment, but with such a beautiful grain it couldn’t be passed up.
The remainder should serve well for shelving, providing a beautiful bit of consistency in the place, having all been cut from the same bough (as it were). I’m hoping that with some sanding, protection, veneering the edges and getting some legs together the whole effort shouldn’t take more than a weekend, and whilst it probably won’t look as beautiful as a professionally handmade effort, it’ll certainly have some charm, and every meal will be all the more satisfying from being served atop our own handiwork.
Plus, it turns out, this is a pretty cheap way to go. That entire hunk of red oak was a mere $50, and I doubt the whole thing will come to more than $130 or so in total.