Well, I got what I asked for. Early this morning, my beloved KHP elephant chair performed a disappearing act and vacated the premises, leaving a blank space in its wake.
Matt's cousin Caroline arrived bright and early -- much earlier than I would normally be up and about on a Saturday -- and Matt and I hauled the oversized piece down the elevator and loaded it into Caroline's Wrangler.
The timing was perhaps for the better, because it allowed me to say goodbye before I'd really come to terms with the event and also allowed me to play around with the suddenly blank space and capture a photo in the early morning light, when the light is the prettiest.
When I realized yesterday that this moment would occur so soon, I spent a final evening with my elephant last night, curled up in its loving arms, appreciating the last decade of my life and how much I had loved lounging in that ridiculous chair in the various spaces it has occupied over the past nine years.
Because that's the thing: I love to splay out in oversized chairs. (Is there anyone who doesn't?) As I lounged there in the dim light of night, I felt a sense of calm and acceptance and gratitude for what the chair had given me. And I felt ready to let go.
And now, today, when the chair had performed its disappearing act, I enjoyed the opportunity to fill the void that was suddenly there: The blank space I had been given; the clean slate, empty canvas, call it what you will. We kept the little side table (a cheapy TV tray that has stood in as a side table for as long as I can remember) with its CB2 pig bookends and West Elm task lamp and cool engraved silver tray that we received as an unexpectedly wonderful wedding gift, and moved one of our twin lambskin-covered Eames-y chairs over to the space and went full Domino Mag with the look. The twins are now separated, which gives them a sense of independence and adds a nice harmony to the room overall.
Why did this all happen before I'd managed to suck down my first Keurig coffee? Because blank space excites me. Because if you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to ask for a glass of milk. And because the answer to the question of what to do with a blank space is always, always, to fill it.
Even if you don't want to. Even if you want to keep the space blank. Because that is nature's way.
In design, we talk of negative space. And in science, we talk of entropy. In life, I think we just talk of living. And where one lives, one needs a chair. And one also has a tendency -- an entirely natural and impossible to fight tendency -- to fill up space with.... stuff. Because blank space is an invitation to make your mark.
And who can refuse an invitation like that?
Happy Space Filling!
Today is a very good day. And not just because it's Friday.
Today is a very good day because Bloomingdale's is having a one-day Home Sale.
Why is this so good? Because Bloomingdale's doesn't have just any home goods - Bloomingdale's has FEATHER AND DOWN PILLOWS SENT FROM HEAVEN that make life on earth worth living. And don't we all deserve to sleep on the stuff of the gods?
Normally, these heavenly pillows are a cost-prohibitive acquisition -- I mean, seriously, eye-gouging -- but today... today... they are 50% off.
Even at 50% off, they're still pretty pricey. But here's the deal: They're life-changing. Literally life-changing. Up until a year ago, I was both against down-filled pillows (they seemed too soft and expensive?) and also pillows that cost more than $30 (because why should pillows cost so much?). I didn't realize down pillows came in different forms and levels of firmness. I also didn't seem to realize that you have the power to set your bed up so that it feels like you're staying in a luxury hotel on a nightly basis. So when Matt and I got married five years ago, we bought a bunch of synthetic pillow inserts from Pottery Barn, thinking Pottery Barn would have generally good pillows, but Pottery Barn does not have generally good pillows. It turns out that Pottery Barn has terrible, lumpy, rock-hard pillows that get worse with time. Pottery Barn wants you to suffer in your sleep, not rest on a cloud sent from heaven. Now those pillows are in our guest room, and I'm embarrassed when guests stay over.
About a year ago, when I was sitting at physical therapy having my post-surgery foot cranked about in exquisite angles of pain, my physical therapist Frank (the best, by the way) looked up at me and noticed that, while I was certainly wincing from the pain he was inflicting, I was also holding my neck in a separate form of agony.
"What's going on there?" he asked.
"Oh nothing. My neck just hurts. I think I slept on it weird or something."
"You need to get a new pillow."
"Huh?" Crank. Yelping. Efforts to breath. "Oh, well, yeah. Probably." Crank. Yelping. PG curse words. "They just seem so expensive and I have no idea --- AH! -- what kind to get."
"I'm serious. Go over to Bloomingdale's after this and get yourself a real pillow."
And because I did everything Frank told me to do, because Frank is wise and also funny and endlessly cheerful and always right, I went across the street to Bloomingdale's and headed to the pillow section.
It's a strange experience to pick out a pillow. Everything is wrapped in plastic. You're aware that you're not the only person who has gone to select a pillow and so you think about the germiness factor of your situation. Have they pressed their faces on the plastic? Is there a protocol? Is what I'm about to do wrong? And also everything is horrendously expensive, so you're stuck sort of eliminating based on cost alone and then trying to find the best option within the price range you can somewhat stomach. I wandered aimlessly for a while and then, once I'd convinced myself that no one was looking (since no saleswoman wanted to help the limping girl with the cane), I decided to see if I could test the pillows out. What do you do? Hold it up to your face and squeeze? Bend over and lay your head on it? How do you know if it's good? I tried a few different things ever so covertly, and finally a saleswoman came over and tried to upsell me.
"You like that one? What kind of sleeper are you? You should try this one. Everyone gets this one in the medium."
So many invasive questions and opinions, and I had just been caught pressing my face against the plastic covering a pillow - I felt dirty.
"Oh. Well, I don't know. Um, I'm a side sleeper? Do side sleepers get medium or firm? But that's like $300. I don't think I can spend that on a pillow."
"You're choice. But everyone gets medium."
here are several levels of pillow quality sold at Bloomingdale's, and I ended up buying the cheaper version available and getting the medium even though I knew I should get the firm. The medium after all, because it's less dense, was cheaper. There was a $25 off deal being run, so I felt some level of victory and sheepishly brought the purchase home with me, ashamed of how much I'd just spent on a pillow. I gave it a shot. Too soft. It needed to go back.
But instead of taking it back, I kept the medium and went back after my next PT session and bought the firm version. Another $25 off victory. The firm, as it turns out, was just right.
I feigned to Matt that we would keep both temporarily to "decide what we like better." Matt was completely appalled at my expensive taste at first, claiming he did not need a fancy pillow and I should return one of them immediately, but then he slept on the pillow for a while and realized that his life had begun to improve and he had Frank and my overspending ways to thank. Over time, as sales have run, I've managed to buy one more medium density version and one more firm density version, so that both Matt and I now have one of each. Because as it turns out, the perfect pillow combination is one firm on the bottom, one medium on the top. It gives you both support and softness. It makes going to bed feel like the most magical experience on earth.
Soft density = for stomach sleepers
Medium density = for back sleepers
Firm density = for side sleepers
I now have the single desire to acquire two king firm density versions for our room (to sub as body pillows and because they're useful) and a combination of medium and firm density standard pillows for the guest bedroom, so that we can do away with our lumpy rocks from Pottery Barn for good. I had actually just broken down last week and purchased $40 mediocre down pillows from Macy's to fill the need in the second bedroom, and just this morning, after I received the email from Bloomingdale's alerting me to today's glorious sale, I tore through our trash and fished out the Macy's bag and receipt so that I can return the sub-par pillows and get the ones of the gods that are sold at Bloomingdale's at 50% off.
So, yes. Today is a good day indeed. My mediocre Macy's pillows will be returned. My Pottery Barn rocks will be discarded once and for all. And my home will be one step closer to being a luxury hotel. All at 50% off retail. I mean, it's still beyond expensive. But sleep is an investment isn't it? An investment in ourselves? And investment in making sure we wake up excited every day (for breakfast or otherwise)?
I sure think so. And I'm sure Frank would agree.
Where to Buy:
Bloomingdale's My Flair Medium Density Down Pillow Collection, $119.99 for standard (normally $240)
Bloomingdale's My Flair Firm Density Down Pillow Collection, $147.99 for standard (normally $295)
Happy Friday and Happy Home Shopping!
Full disclosure: I wrote the majority of this post almost a year ago and then panicked and couldn't share it. I wasn't ready. But today I must accept my fate. It is time.
I talk a big game about buying on Craigslist, but I very infrequently discuss selling on Craigslist. Why? Because I have trouble parting with things. Maybe it's some form of Only Child Syndrome, but once an item finds its way into my home, it becomes a sort of member of the family, an always-there friend, a part of the home. And it's very hard to say goodbye to friends.
When I first moved to New York and got my first apartment, my mom took me to Macy's so we could furnish the apartment with some adult-quality items upon which to sit. At the time that we went, I had already acquired an off-white Ethan Allen sofa via Craigslist (that I thought looked like the one from Monica and Rachel's apartment on Friends) and a painted armoire (featured in this post here) also via Craigslist, so I was in need of a chair and an ottoman/coffee table to accompany these two pieces. While at Macy's, we happened upon an oversized chair -- a chair-and-a-half, if you will -- and my mother pounced.
"This is it," she said. "It's a must-have item. Everyone will want to sit in it. And it's Kate Hufft Pink."
At the time, I thought, "Good god, Mother, that's the size of an elephant. Have you seen my tiny, single lady, New York living room (of which one wall is the kitchen)? We are not in Texas, and this is not Nebraska Furniture Mart. It will never fit." What I said was something like, "Oh, well, that's nice... Where do you think we could put it?"
The thing is, the chair did sort of speak to me. "Kate.... pick me.... please, Kate. I will love you forever..." And it was sort of KHP. And it did sort of look like the club chair in Monica and Rachel's apartment on Friends. (When one grows up in the Midwest and dreams of moving to the Big Apple, one also dreams of having Monica and Rachel's apartment -- one just does not know that no affordable apartment could ever be the size of Monica and Rachel's apartment on Friends.) It was sort of like trying to choose a puppy out of a litter and eventually knowing that you need to get the one that looks like no one else will want it, because that's the one that needs the most love and that will love you the most.
And so it came to be that the elephant-sized KHP-colored chair-and-a-half came home to live with me.
Over the course of nine years, four apartments, a move-in with my manfriend, an exchange of vows with my manfriend and many, many gatherings with friends and family, the KHP chair has truly been the elephant in the room. And strangely (or not?) at the center of everything. It is a very welcoming elephant, and as elephants in rooms tend to be, it is hard to ignore. It has always been too big, lurking there wherever we have decided to place it in a given space. It knows this and has accepted its fate. But it also knows that it's comfortable. It is the coveted seat at a cocktail party or as a dinner party starts to wind down; the seat you take when you need some comfort after a rough day or when you just want to be lazy on a Sunday. The KPH elephant has a gravitational pull. If someone walks into the room and wants to sit down, they are drawn to the KHP elephant. They may joke about it, they pretend like it's ridiculous and huge and why do you have this ginormous chair in New York of all places, but, secretly, they love it.
In fact, it will fit two slender friends or a slender couple:
But to answer that question -- the elephant in the room question -- that why do you have this ginormous chair in New York of all places question: Love, of course. Isn't it always love? When I get home after a long day, I immediately plop down in the elephant's welcoming belly and curl up in its comforting arms. It loves me. And I love it back.
The chair and I have been together for my entire adult living-in-the-real-world life. It has been a love-hate relationship -- I gripe about how large it is, how it doesn't fit, how it's wearing thin in places, how it's stuffing is starting to burst through, how I can't seem to get the wrinkle out of the skirt (not that I've actually tried)... but really, despite all that -- no, because of all that -- I love it. And when others criticize it, I get defensive and a little bit sad. The chair is my KHP elephant, after all. And it has been a very loyal friend.
And so, now that it has come time to part with it (after the purchase of my Cordova chairs last year and my realization that it's just time to grow up (just as Monica and Rachel do at the end of Friends) - though Taylor Swift, who will always be younger than I, advises against it), I feel a sense of sadness that we must say goodbye. I've always loved the chair. But now I love it even more. It's the end of my twenties! The end of an era! The end of a love affair with a really, really big, KHP-colored chair! That brought me comfort during my first few really confusing years in the city! That my mom bought for me! That we shopped for together!
And while I am ready for the new grown-up look that we will eventually have in our living room, I am sad to say goodbye to this piece of my past and this chapter of my life.
And so I find myself being that type of Craigslist seller who wants the owner to understand the chair I am selling and to promise to love it. A difficult task indeed. I posted a listing last year and have received only one email, and I have deemed the potential-purchaser completely un-elephant-worthy (and possibly a killer).
Body: When can pick up be set up??let me know.
Seriously? No. You may not have my elephant. Nor may you have my address.
As you might expect, I didn't respond, I removed the link and I decided to keep my elephant chair for one more year. But, alas, a year has passed. And it's time to say goodbye. Here is my new posting http://newyork.craigslist.org/mnh/fuo/4857090388.html
I tried to keep it, you know, light and not like, This is killing me to do, but those of you who read this blog and know me know... This is killing me to do. Over the past year, the chair moved over next to Buddy the Buffet and has become my favorite reading nook. I love it. It's actually my favorite space in our apartment now. It's the first place I go when I get home at night from work, and I sit there, just soaking in the comfort and letting the day melt off.
But it is time. The weight of this apartment must be shed -- Buddy needs some freedom -- and we are ready to renovate soon and bring new life to the space.
So: here's the question.... Do you want my elephant chair? I can promise you it will love you more than you will ever know.
And here's the other question: what furniture do you love like I love my elephant? I'd love to know!
Hope you're staying warm in the blizzard!!
Happy chair loving :)
When I was a child - maybe 10 or 11 - my parents, for a fleeting moment, decided to look at houses. They quickly came to the conclusion that the one we already lived in was perfectly wonderful - and to this day, they still live there. I am so glad they made that choice, because I love our house and can't imagine having grown up any place else.
But I remember the glorious feeling of looking through a house that wasn't already and might never be but could maybe be yours, of imagining actually living there, of moving throughout the space, a maze of exciting twists and turns and places to discover, thinking about, this is where I'd put my bed, this is where I'd put my desk, my glorious collection of stuffed animals, my art supplies, etc. etc. (again, I was 10 and my world revolved around my room). In all of the houses we toured, I for the most part remember only the bedrooms (one was pale pink with built-ins that seemed very sophisticated, and I wanted to live there; and another had wall-to-wall shag carpeting that was the color of Astroturf -- a boy's room -- and I sort of wanted to live there too).
But there was one house in particular, the house that I begged and pleaded my parents to get (because I didn't understand any of those adult things like finances and mortgages and practicality and the pros and cons of living in Kansas versus Missouri). It was the house with the pale pink bedroom, which was of course a selling point (so many sophisticated shelves upon which to put my Troll dolls!). But the real reason I begged and pleaded was because, on the outside, in the backyard, it had this truly wonderful feel of a secret garden, with a gated wrought-iron fence, and huge, shadow-casting trees and meandering stone paths and an aged brick patio and lush all-encompassing greenery everywhere. I could imagine being out there with my black FAO Schwartz art box (oh, how I loved that thing - do they still make those?), drawing what I saw and digging about in the dirt. I was an only child and loved finding little beautiful hiding spots, particularly out in the yard, that I could sort of be in and make my own.
And on the inside of this gorgeous house, there was something that I had never seen before and that, to this day, I still dream about: hand painted wallpaper in the dining room. I didn't know what de Gournay was at the time, but this must have been de Gournay. It was truly the most glorious thing I had ever seen. It had that touch of Chinoiserie, with pastels and ropes of flowery stems creeping up the walls, like the wall itself was a trellis, and gorgeous, blooming flowers and butterflies and hummingbirds fluttering about and cranes meandering amongst the scenery. In many ways, it was like having an indoor version of that secret outdoor garden. Less nooks and crannies to hide in, but you could still walk about the room, running your fingers across the papery beauty, surrounded by art and the best possible interpretation of the outdoors.
Fast forward to now. I went to a movie solo last night -- one of my favorite indulgences. All in, it cost me, like, $40 dollars, but was so worth it. Matt was out of town, I'd been suffering from a migraine (still am) and so I thought maybe a little escapism would be good for me and decided to see Wild. I'd just devoured the book a few weeks ago -- seriously, so wonderful; read it now -- and thought it fitting to see the movie alone since it was about a woman's solo trek up the Pacific Crest Trail.
I bought a popcorn and a massive soda water and ate my popcorn indulgently kernel by kernel and laughed and cried a little bit self-consciously in the nearly empty theater until I looked around and saw that the only people in the theater were also solo movie goers like me, and then I laughed and cried with confidence and it was cathartic.
In the movie, there was a sort of recurring theme, something that Reese Witherspoon (Cheryl) said, which was something Laura Dern (Cheryl's mom) used to say to her, and I cannot for the life of me remember if it was in the book (and because of this pesky migraine, I'm not about to do the research to find out), but it was a really wonderful philosophy on life:
"There’s a sunset and a sunrise every day. You can choose to be there for it. You can choose to put yourself in the way of beauty.”
Let's be honest. I'm not going to be putting myself in front of a sunrise or a sunset anytime soon in the middle of winter in New York. But I can look at beautiful imagery. I can still put myself in the way of beauty.
When I get migraines -- and those of you who get them may agree -- I find most things to be intolerable. Light. Sound. Smells. For the most part, people. Certainly reading. But as I lie there under an icepack in the dark, thinking about how much my head hurts, thinking about what I must have done to cause it (because there is a guilt; even though migraines are in the end quite random, there is this feeling that you must have done something to bring this pain about, that you're letting other people and yourself down, that maybe you're imagining it, that somehow it's your fault, that maybe it's trying to teach you something about yourself), and it's in those moments that this burst of creativity happens for me. It's hard, because you're lying there in the dark, unable to sleep because a tiny army of evil has set up shop and is stabbing you in the eye and the side of the head and the nape of your neck and you think, Will this ever f-ing end?, and it's then, during the no sleep and the stabbing pain and the pleading for mercy, that something wonderful happens: images of beautiful things sort of swirl about and you have this ah-ha moment and think THAT is what I want to do with the kitchen, THAT is the story that I need to write down right now, THAT is what I need to do to get myself out of his hell.
And so here I am. A little bummed that a migraine has taken over much of my MLK weekend, but grateful that I don't have to deal with missing work. Lights off, sound off, isolated from people. Allowing the throbbing to teach me what lessons it may: That beauty is everywhere, even in pain. That pain can be cathartic. That I can put myself in the way of beauty. Because I choose to. And because life is beautiful.
Happy surrounding yourself with beauty!
I am an artist/designer and former financial professional with a background in comparative literature, business and design. I live in New York with my overworked lawyer husband and my two boys Michael and Theo and spend much of my free time dreaming about how to enhance the aesthetics of our little world. I am endlessly inspired and always in search of something new. This is a blog about my search, my inspiration and things I just really, really like or want.