Thursday, September 17, 2009

Coffee Table: A Love Story

Allow me to introduce the Bailey Coffee Table. I have never loved a coffee table like I love this coffee table. But until quite recently, I've expressed my love from afar. At first glance—as seen in a Pottery Barn catalog two years ago? a year and a half?—I was drawn to its warm color and those pretty curves. I could see immediately that it was the perfect size and shape to replace the table I'd tired of—a relic from my husband's oak-dominated past. A perfectly serviceable table to be sure, but not nearly as special as Bailey. I've gazed longingly at Bailey both online and in many subsequent catalogs. Sadly, the original price prevented me from acting on that love. So I avoided looking for Bailey during outings to the PB store. I tried to pretend I'd never noticed it in the first place. That strategy almost worked.


If you've read my blog for more than five minutes, it's pretty easy to tell that I. Love. Color. Lots of color. Pattern too. One of my favorite rooms ever is this one, above, by L.A.-based designer Lynn von Kersting. Here, she mixes my favorite primary colors with vintage finds, Asian, European and otherwise exotic accessories and textiles, warm woods and worn painted finishes, all in a way that makes this room irresistible to me. Just look at all the patterns on those toss pillows on top of a patterned sofa! A green shade on a blue and white porcelain lamp? Yes please. Books and artifacts strewn about. Paintings hung like they've been collected over time. I could live here quite happily without changing one single thing. (Ok, I'd have to change out those white lilies for something else. Roses maybe. Lilies make me sneeze.)


Another designer whose colorful works I admire is Linda Applewhite who currently divides her time working for clients in both the Bay Area of Northern California and Santa Fe, New Mexico. These two living areas, above and below, make me so happy. Again, look at all that color! I love the way she combines contemporary fabrics and patterns with antique furnishings and found objects with lots of authentic patina. Her rooms are often whimsical and a little over the top—even for me!—but I really appreciate her process. While they might appear to be mixed and matched with abandon, her interiors are very well-planned, well-balanced and super functional.


In my attempts to achieve a similar look for my own home, I've borrowed ideas from both von Kersting and Applewhite, while striving to stay true to the objects and shapes and colors and patterns I am naturally drawn to. Trying to do what's best for this particular house. And without tossing everything I've had and enjoyed for many years. I'll admit the idea of trashing it all and starting over from scratch has crossed my mind. But my practical side would never allow it. I also try not to have anything in my home just because I think it "should" be there according to the latest trends or design standards. And I want the things in my home to have value beyond their worth in dollars. Whether there's a sentimental attachment or just because it makes me smile, every object should have function or beauty—or both—in a way that appeals to the people who live here. (Lucky for me, my husband likes lots of color too, though he has occasionally expressed a fear of living in what he calls a "clown house"—too much of all the aforementioned pattern and color and exuberance. I tell him not to worry, but I can see that he sometimes still does. Not that I blame him... but I digress.)


A handful of detail photos, above and below, give you a peek into my living room. Above: lots of mixed up pillows on an off-white sectional that more or less matches the cottage white walls; the patterned shade of the floor lamp that sits next to my red arm chair; golden checked curtains that give the room a beautiful glow at certain times of the day; a wool area rug that pulls together all the colors of the room. Below: my freshly painted green chair sits next to an antique oak secretary; vintage art and imported plates hang over the sofa; an antique oak table with pretty turned legs and carvings holds a few pieces of blue and white porcelain; the view over my current coffee table ends with the entertainment armoire across the room.


Easy to imagine—isn't it?—that a green coffee table would fit right in. And still, I couldn't justify the purchase. Several months ago, Bailey appeared in the back of the catalog with the clearance items. At exactly a time when I should not be considering new furniture (bad economy=fewer discretionary dollars, especially when you already have a coffee table). So I forgot about it. It obviously wasn't meant to be. And then. . . last weekend. . . I walked into the nearby Pottery Barn Outlet store. Right there, smack in the middle of the store. Bailey.


Priced to sell at $249. And I can tell you, one would have sold right that instant and driven home with me if it weren't for this: all outlet furniture sales are final. OH. NO. What do I do now? I thought Bailey was out of my life. I was prepared to live with old oak for the indeterminable future. So I did all that I could do. I looked. And touched. I may have even hugged it. I whipped my fabric swatches out of my purse to see if they liked Bailey too. They did. I snapped a couple of pics with my phone. Measured. Paced. And left the store. At home, I paced some more. Uploaded the photos. Looked at my room from every angle. Talked myself out of it. Then back in.

Here's a sketch of my living room. All of the case goods, with the exception of that green chair that might end up in the kitchen, are brown. Oak, walnut, other woods I can't identify. Do I want to bring a green-painted coffee table into the middle? Will it stand out too much? Or will it blend nicely into the mix? It would sit on top of the red area rug, so the contrast there is low with regard to shade, but high with regard to hue—red and green being complimentary as they are.


To make it even more confusing, check out this photo, below. See the beautiful finish and how it's distressed and chippy? See the brown that shows through? Does that help it to coordinate? Or make it stand out in a way that's not good? What would Lynn and Linda do? Why is this so hard??!! Because I want it so much? Or because it's all wrong?


When I called this post "a love story", I didn't say there would be a happy ending. I can't tell you yet where it's going to go. But I may not have much time. There were only three (or four?) on the floor so I need to decide soon. $249 is not a lot of money for a great piece of furniture, but it's too much money to waste on a coffee table that doesn't love me (I mean, my house) as much as I love it. And I need to get my life back and quit obsessing over this table! I do have other things to think about. Really. So I'm asking all of you. Bailey or no Bailey? Be honest. But not brutal. Remember, I'm in love. If it's not going to work, please let me down easy. Here. Have one last good look and let me know what you think. Thanks.



EDITED TO ADD: Check out my next post to read how this story ends. . .

28 comments:

Linda Merrill said...

BUY!

Welcome... said...

Buy. I say this because I came across a gorgeous coffee table once and didn't buy it. Of course AFTER it sold, I realized I had made a huge mistake and spent the next year looking for another coffee table just like it. You love it and the price is very right. ; )

Jennifer, Inside Out Colour and Design said...

It's funny isn't it, how we often return to our first love (probably in every aspect except partners!)You will obsess over this until the day you die, so don't torture yourself any longer. It works, it fits, it looks fantastic and..... if you want one more reason, IT'S ON SALE!!! Life's too short for regrets, just do it.

Kathy @ Creative Home Expressions said...

Hmmm, I don't know what I'd do. This is a great table for $250.00. I've been in this spot myself. When I don't get the item, I usually wind up saying later, "I should have gotten it". Here's a thought, have you asked them if you can take it home "on approval"? Bring in one of your business cards and have a credit card available for security deposit, but I think you should ask if you could do that and actually see it in the room.

Annie@A View On Design said...

if you can't live without it, buy it! If it doesn't work out, you can always sell on ebay!

Room Service ~ Decorating 101 said...

I love it and so will you!!! I love that room of applewhite's, I have had it for years in my files. Finally got a client that said she wanted a room with lots of pattern ect. I showed her the l.a. room and she said , that is it , that is what I want. I was so excited! But when I brought her the fabric samples...she said they don't match!@

bmaas1170 said...

If you love it, you will always regret not buying it at that price.

mimi said...

Go for it!

Melanie said...

I say go for it. I love the table and since YOU love it you should get it. I think you could introduce some pillow with that color in them to put on the couch and that would make for a nice combination to tie it all in.

Vickie H. said...

Please! BUY THE TABLE!!! Of course, the "take it home on consignment" is a GREAT idea and I feel certain they will allow that!
GOOD LUCK!

pk said...

This doesn't seem like an impulse purchase to me. You've obviously loved it for a long time and thought long and hard about it. You're good at design, you know your room, and you already have a "gut" feel that it will work. The price is good and I think you should get it. Worst case scenario, if you get it in the room and feel that it stands out more than you would like, you can just pull more of the green in, in a variety of ways (which you already know). I love pieces like this that are such a good price, have a great shape, and are already painted so in the coming years I wouldn't feel bad about repainting it if I wanted to go with something different. Very versatile. you go, girl! :-)

Ann said...

Buy it before it is gone!!!

Struggler said...

In reading your post I don't think I've ever seen a clearer sign of someone in love with something.

Buy it. Today.

I'm so sure you'll love it, I'll chip in $10 if that helps.

the gardeners cottage said...

Hi Tracy,

It's so nice to know that even professionals are as conflicted as I get. I love all the rooms you posted. Adore LVK's work, walking through her store, Indigo Seas is like nothing I've ever experienced before. The colors are just amazing. I wish you would have included a full picture of your living room. Would it be possible to paint your existing table the same shade of green? If not then I agree with everyone above. Get it. I think I've talked w/you before about PB. I like lots of what they do. I love everything I've ever bought from them. In fact they are having a decorating class at the Victoria Gardens store that I'm thinking of attending. Encouraged by the post you did on the one you took, it's free and I know I'll learn something. Great post.

Janet

Carol said...

I say definitely buy it. If you don't, you will spend way too much time thinking about the one that got away! Go get it now.

Dianne said...

Oh I have been in your position before and bought only to find it was a mistake. Therefor I am reluctant to say buy. Is there no way you can take it back if you do it the same day? Otherwise move on and find a store that allows you to try in your own room.

laney said...

...goodness gracious buy it...if it does not work out ...sell it on craig's list...

Cyndia said...

BUY IT. Run, do not walk. Every room needs a painted piece of furniture and this would be fantastic in your home. If you don't you will always regret it!

Anonymous said...

It would be great looking ESPECIALLY because all other wood is brown (and what a lovely neutral green it is). And trust me, you will LOVE having a round coffee table. Traffic flows so nicely around it.
-Jennie

Cote de Texas said...

what are you WAITING FOR??????????? go bring that baby home!!!!!

My Domicile Style said...

I think you have your consensus.

Seriously, if you dream about it, love it and then continually find yourself drawn to it, then you are meant to get it. "Be faithful to your own taste because nothing you really like is ever out of style." - Billy Baldwin.

P.S. Thanks for dropping by my site!

Cristin said...

If you love it, buy it.

Thanks too for droping by my blog. Your's is darling!!! I'll be back when I have more times.

xo,
cristin

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

Oh, I'd get it. Most definitely. The chips with the brown showing through only add to it for me! And the price is perfect!

Renae said...

What a great table...buy it NOW! Love it!

Thanks for popping by...always love seeing you!

The Pleasures of Homemaking said...

It's a lovely table! I guess I always look at how can I make something myself. To me it looks like a cut down dining table which you could get at a thriftstore and paint yourself. I know not everyone is into that sort of thing so I would say buy, as long as it doesn't harm you financially to spend the money and then enjoy!

Manuela

Struggler said...

OK, so it's now Saturday...
Is there a new family member whose name starts with "B"???
:)

jet said...

BUY IT, or it will haunt you! You can always sell it. It isn't a lot of money, and you will regret it if you don't. I like painted furniture mixed with other finishes.

Lauren said...

i love it!!!! go for it!!!