The Story of a Coffee Table & Working With What You Have

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Last night, I was cleaning my office.  There was a piece of glass that used to be on my coffee table that I had been using in the office.  I no longer needed it in the office, so I brought it back downstairs.

As I was carrying it, I realized how heavy it was and it brought me back to such a strong memory that I thought I would share with you today.

When Dana and I first moved to NY, the company he worked for put us up in an apartment for 3 months.  At the end of the three months, we still had not found a house, so we were on our own.  We found a very small, unfurnished apartment in a nice town nearby.

It was two rooms, a kitchen and a very small bathroom.  We didn’t think we would be there very long, so we were not too concerned.

All of our furniture was in storage, so we loaded our clothes in the one room and headed out to buy a new mattress.  Then we headed to Goodwill and bought two plates, two bowls, two sets of silverware and drinking cups.

My Dad loaned us a TV and my stepmother loaned us her mother’s coffee table.

We set up the TV on the coffee table and the bed became our couch, office and sleeping zone.

That apartment, with all of its issues is where we spent the first two trimesters of my pregnancy with Sunshine and where we made the decision to build instead of buy a house.

We ended up living there for 8 months.

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Now, I know I told you this was a story about our coffee table – and it is.

When we moved into the house, I thought of the coffee table as just an extra hand me down and put in storage in the basement.

Move ahead many months, Sunshine was a few months old and I was a stay-at-home Mom adjusting to not working anymore.  I wanted nothing more than to make our home beautiful and welcoming.

I sat in our living room, so frustrated.  And then, I had a light bulb moment.  That old coffee table was in the basement!  I could use that for the time being.

Please keep in mind, I was a new mother, so I didn’t dare go in the basement without my daughter for even two minutes.

So I did what I thought was the best idea.

I strapped the baby carrier on my back, put Sunshine on my back, trekked into the basement and carried the surprisingly heavy coffee table up the stairs to the living room while carrying Sunshine on my back.

I wish I had a picture of it in the living room at that stage, but I only seem to have one at the in between stage.  Actually, I really wish I had a picture of me carrying a coffee table and my daughter.

Not my best idea.

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(Notice the cut glass on the table that will be going back on this week.)

As I carried the glass down last night it made me think about how I thought this piece was just temporary, a fill in until I found what I really wanted.  After all the furniture replacements we have made and renovations – that coffee table is still there.

Maybe it is because I am more sentimentally attached to it than I realize.

But maybe it is because not every piece of furniture in your house, in my opinion, has to be perfect.  Sometimes it is okay if it just works.  You don’t love it, but it works if you don’t hate it.

Do you have items you are frustrated with either in your home or in storage?  Maybe look at them again.  Open your mind, considering updating them some.  Maybe just what you are looking for is already in your home.  Or maybe, it is what works, and that could be enough for now.

Someday, we may decide to replace our coffee table.  And I am always toying with idea of painting it.

But for now, it works.

And that is enough for me.

Wishing you a great day and thank so much for reading!

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18 thoughts on “The Story of a Coffee Table & Working With What You Have”

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  1. I have a coffee table that was purchased for a house we thought we were moving into. We ended up moving into a smaller place and this coffee table is just a little too long to be ‘perfect’. Thanks for the reminder that it is working for now as are many other things in my life. My intention is to find joy in each moment just as it shows up.

  2. love this story…and yes i do. i have two wingback chairs that are just so ugly! floral and not at all like the vibe i am creating in our home. i have been hunting on craigslist and missed out on two leather chairs at homegoods…so today i am trying to track down two ektorp chairs from ikea! wish me luck…lol!
    oh..have a beautiful wednesday xo

  3. When I was growing up…we had a round coffee table….that round coffee table has made it throughout the family…my son, nieces and nephews…and it is today with my niece..it is a sentimental piece….nothing extraordinary…Your table seems to speak to you…reminding you of many memories…I think it looks wonderful in your room…just the way it is…
    Love the story about moving the table with Sunshine on your back!…

  4. Laura,
    My wife and I have many pieces that have been with us for years. we have moved 7 times in our 25+ years and it is comforting to see some “old friends” still with us.
    One coffee table we let go had our daughter’s drawing on the underside from when she was 3 yrs old. She was on her back under the table ” making it pretty”. I hadn’t thought of that table in a while. 🙂
    rick

  5. I can SO relate to your story. I am debating about what to do with 26 year old knotty pine bedroom furniture that we bought when we first got married. It has turned very orange and doesn’t work in our new bedroom at all. I started to paint it with chalk paint, but in a light color it looked too “little girl.” I was able to wipe off the drawer I had painted since it was still wet, but that doesn’t solve my problem. I need to get new furniture, but I can’t seem to let go.

    1. @Eilis — It may be more work than you want, but you can strip that old varnish off the knotty pine (that’s probably what is making it ‘orange’). I had cabinets that I stripped and re-stained and they are beautiful.

  6. Yep, I have an ugly chair in my office that I love. It just sits there until I can find time to curl into it and read. I have slipcovers for it but it is currently going au naturel. It’s a hand-me-down that is more than 30 years old 🙂

  7. Laura,
    That coffee table looks like it just belongs in your living room. Its similar looking to a Ethan Allen coffee table my grandmother once had. We finally got around to repurposing some open round back side chairs that once belonged to my husbands grandmother. They had been sitting in our attic for some time. My husband painted them a soft French gray color and reupholstered them in a linen material. I absolutely love them and they have found a new home in our dining room. Like you said, sometimes the greatest treasures are right in your own home!

  8. Do you know what’s funny? Just last week I was looking at my pin of your living room (one of my very favorites, btw) and wondered where you got the coffee table. It seemed to be just the right size for the space and such a nice design. Not too modern or too “curvy”. I even went over to Pottery Barn to see if it was in the catalogue. True Story! So now I get to read this great story about it – too fun! My story of a temporary item: I was almost 9 months pregnant and ordered a lamp from the Sears catalogue. A friend went to pick up the box for me and carried it into the apartment. When I opened it my heart sank because I didn’t like the lamp at all. Hubby was out of town and I sure wasn’t going to ask the friend to take it back to Sears. So I kept it and used it for probably 10 years at least. Then I gave it to my mom who still has it in her house 🙂

  9. It’s obviously a very timeless piece and looks great right where it is. Thanks for sharing your sweet story with us Laura!
    Kim

  10. The coffee table , made me laugh.. Sounds like something I may have tried in my younger years . It made me chuckle to see again that there are many people when it comes to decorating nothing is going to stop us.. I love the story . Thank you for sharing..

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