Monday, August 14, 2006

What's the Deal with "Antique White?"

I love to decorate with white. It is clean and crisp and airy and versatile to boot. We have no beds for our children currently, nor do we have a dresser or any other significant piece of furniture for them. But the crib is white. And I love white. So I hope to find a couple of white twin beds to put the kids' matress sets on. I also need some sort of dresser as well as a cabinet or what have you to store toys and such in. I know, it's a lot of stuff. We just haven't ever had furniture for them.

Amabel did have a little hand me down laminated head and foot board that had been water damaged. George had glued the wood sheets back together as best he could and painted it white, but it was never too cute. And because it had been bumped and banged so many times in our first three moves of her life, it started to get a little dinged up. Amabel, who hates taking naps, enjoyed peeling the paint off on and around these dings for about a year before I decided it was just junk, George was never going to repaint it, and it could be left on the curb when we moved into the POD (didn't have room for it anyway!).

I decided to go to some antique stores today after only a couple of possibilities turned up on Craig's List. I didn't find much in the way of storage, but I did see lots of inexpensive painted furniture that would have been great for stashing next to a chair or sofa or in an entry way to cozy up the place (we also have none of these sorts of pieces either). It was all really cute except for one thing. It was all "beige" or "ecru" or "off white" or "bisque" or whatever- basically all blah! I just don't get it. We went to two antique malls and found this was constantly the case. It was just me and Amabel and she was being a pretty good sport, especially because she really wanted a piggy bank that looked like an animal cracker box; and I just told her today I would get her a piggy bank when all her coins fell out of her backpack but in the end was not willing to pay $6 for it nor to have to look at it for years to come. I decided to compensate for her loss by taking her for icecream and could only think of the Ben and Jerry's in the mall.

The stairs down to Ben and Jerry's are right by Pottery Barn Kids which I have made fun in the past of both for being ridiculously overpriced (kinda like Ben and Jerry's) and wildly extravagant (like we all need a child sized cocktail bar on our patio). I am a big believer in sales though. And you never know when some basic piece is being clearanced out... Okay, it was a pipe dream, but I went in. Anyway, they certainly made it easy for me not to go Green Eyed Monster. The catalog is a beautifully done thing. I mean, the photographers should win serious awards. I went in the store and found literally nothing I would want, even if I could afford it. The catalog makes everything look so crisp and cheery and light. The store, absent of natural light and full of "antique white" finished furniture, is a drab, yellowy, not cute place. I think Birmingham shoppers may have difficulty conceding this point as the store at the Summit has a lot of natural light pouring in through the store front. But any mall-enclosed Pottery Barn Kids exposes the catalog for what it is, beautifully done photography of crummy merchandise. Sure, we know it's mass produced and overpriced, but isn't it cute? No, it really isn't. It's just the photos that are so good. Incidentally, this is George's feeling also about Martha Stewart Living, but that's a different post. Anyway, I think a true white finish would be a big improvement, but I'm sure they sell plenty of the yellowed variety (ugh, it just makes me think of stained teeth or unkept fingernails!!) and could care less what I think. Now that I'm thinking about it, they seem to often be just a little bit off on the color, which makes the lacking quality so much more noticeable. I remember ordering a pink rug years ago from the catalog for Amabel's nursery. When I got it, it looked nothing like the lovely pastel in the catalog but was actually a bubble gum pink, even a raspberry pink! The stark contrast between the pink and the "antique white" background made the flowers look really blotchy. A pastel pink would've softened the edges, and also just not have been heinous in my daughter's room. The sales associate seemed irritated when I returned it because evidently it happens a lot. She said "people always think it is pastel, no, it's bubble gum pink." And I ask you, what do I want with bubble gum pink? What do I want with "antique white?" Absolutely nothing. And therefore, I want nothing with Pottery Barn Kids.

So I guess that's a good realization. I'd hate to spend years pining away for Pottery Barn furniture we'd never be able to afford anyway. But there must be some solution to my furnishing dilemmas. I know you're thinking garage sale. And I'm thinking there is no way garage sales will be worth my time while I am schlepping two and 36/40ths children with me, not to mention all the time it takes to strip off old paint and sand everything down and repaint a couple of coats, etc. etc. etc.... I just have no patience for that. I want to find something that's already ready. It is worth the money when you're me (and when you're any of a lot of other people who don't enjoy laboring over furniture painting projects at the expense of some other more important task). So wish me luck. I have a couple more antique malls and a Craig's List lady to call about a white wrought iron bed for Amabel. Let's just hope she doesn't mean "antique white."


brooke said...

hey abby

i have this really random memory of a place in st louis with the same sunshine mission that has this big wearhouse full of pottery barn furniture, and they let seminary people buy stuff there...and it is super cheap. i know, it sounds like a really weird dream, but i had a friend who got their crib there. might be worth investigating or asking around?


Anonymous said...

i know what you mean about antique white. i had a hard time finding a curtain rod for the nursery that was just white. and the one i ended up with is not as pretty as the antique white one- but alas i have no patience or time to paint a brand new rod white white. my complaint about pottery barn kids is that they don't have enough sweet nursery decor. i mean we're talking about a baby not a 4 year old. i have plenty of time for maryn to have a hot pink and lime green room if i want but i want pastels in a nursery. have you checked out target for furniture. i know it sounds kind of wierd but joseph and sarah got a dresser there for their nursery for like $200 and said that it was all wood except for the bottom of the drawers. they had some cute stuff online. good luck. jennie

Fittsy said...

You might also want to check out Ikea. They carry some wood furniture, and you can shop online to see if you find anything that you might like.

You know I think beds are overrated - only Libby has one in our family!


Katherine said...

i completely agree with you on the antique white. it's a trendy thing right now, and it's everywhere (my mother-in-law has this ghastly dining room set - yes, dining room set - in antique white with cherry background - yikes!).
as for furniture, my friend did a headboard made of plywood with an egg crate pad & some CUTE fabric staple-gunned over it. i couldn't even tell it wasn't a store-bought fabric-covered headboard. the mattress & bedframe kept it up against the wall great. now, granted, i'm not that crafty, but we also don't have much furniture, so i may get desperate one of these days since we do have a headboard-less bed.

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