Thursday, July 2, 2009

Grandma Chic Meets Sixties Sleek

My ex-husband never wanted to get any vintage furniture because he was terrified of wood worms. "Once you get them in the (wooden) floors, you can never, ever get them out," he told me. But I love all the old furniture you can get here- great pieces from the 30s on up- for next to nothing. "You're being ridiculous," I said (note: this was a sentence I said a LOT...) You can buy a wax to kill those pesky worms and besides, not all old furniture is infested with them, I told him. But he didn't want any vintage furniture, so we weren't getting any. Hmm...Do you think may have been a few reasons why I eventually left him?

When I did finally leave him, I left with not a stick of furniture which was alright by me. Whatever furniture we had, had been cheap or what he had gotten free from his mother (Yikes!) so I didn't really want any of it. I bought my first pair of chairs at the flea market on Boxhagener Platz in Friedrichshain where I was staying with a friend the summer I left. They were vintage 1960s and painted a gorgeous, Peptol Bismol pink. "Look," I told the lady who was selling them. "I just left my husband and I want these chairs but I only have 30 Euros to spend." She had mercy on me and let me take them home (or, rather, to my friend's place where they sat in the hallway for the next six weeks). Who knows? Maybe that was all the money she had even wanted for them.


A few months later I bought a gorgeous, beat-up, Oma's Küchenschrank (buffet in English?) that had so much storage space I could have stored a couple of bodies in there. I got it for 30 Euros on Ebay; when they told me I was the highest bidder I'm pretty sure I had an orgasm right there in the internet cafe.


Lots of pieces followed: a 50s highboard and desk for 100 Euros from a nearby village where someone's grandma had just passed away (they gave me a lot of other great stuff for free, including a globe that still has the Soviet Union on it); a pedal-operated singer sewing machine in mint condition with a receipt from 1910 still in the drawer; and so on and so forth. My new boyfriend also loved old furniture and we often scoured the flea markets together. The only problem: he loved old furniture SO much that our apartment was beginning to look like we were in our 80s.

Old and vintage, yes. Kitsch sometimes. But you also have to mix it in with some Ikea to keep it ironic.

Luckily, my husband and I basically have the same taste. The only difference is he doesn't much care for kitsch, but he tolerates it. Most of the stuff we have now looks more like this:


Danish design inspired, though the pieces themselves are only design classic knock-offs, though they probably would be real if we had that kind of pocket book....

Anyway, since my husband only really tolerates my more kitschy, grandma chic pieces I've been wondering where we could find a m
iddle ground. And then I found it: SchubLaden in Kreuzberg's Gräfe Kiez. SchubLaden takes these:


...in other words, old drawers from granny furniture (indeed, Schubladen means drawer in German, though Laden also means shop, hence a clever play on words!) With these vintage drawers they make these:


These gorgeous pieces are a true case of grandma chic meet sixties sleek, not to mention a wonderful example of eco design. On the website it says "prices by request" so I'm not sure how expensive the pieces are but hey, they have to be less expensive than design classics and they are, after all, a lesson in compromise. Isn't that what marriage is all about?

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