After I bought a new buffet/console/cabinet/whatever for my living room, I was ready to tackle the piece that was just for fun. And, bonus, it's for the only room that wasn't largely decided for me based on what furniture was passed on to me.
I have a 4 x 8 enclosed porch (with jalacy* windows). It faces north, but I'm on the second floor and its painted white, so its pretty bright and pleasant and sunny. It got the leftovers when I moved in: my ultra-versatile kitchen table with both leaves flipped down, and then from my sister: a Target floor lamp, 2 non-matching chairs and a small bookcase. That was actually a little more furniture than it really needed but I had it all so why not. The table just had random stuff on it, but it was helpful to use as an extension table when we wanted to host our couples group of 10 for dinner. The bookcase had one shelf of books and then some puzzles and a couple throws. It was a little crowded (the bookcase was on one side of the door, which put a chair kind of in the doorway), but it worked. We would sit out there and chat sometimes.
Flash forward to this summer, and my sister needed the table for her new place. And wanted her small bookshelf back. So I was left with the lamp and two chairs. Both chairs are cheap, so while they work fine for now, its totally reasonable to want to replace them someday. That makes this the only room I actually get to choose, all by myself.
The first order of business was replacing that table. But I didn't just want a table--I wanted CLOSED STORAGE (my holy grail). When I moved in, Mark tentatively asked if someday, if he moved in, we could get something besides bookshelves. I owned nothing with doors (and my place has: built in bookshelves on both sides of the fireplace, two more bookshelves in the dining room, two tables + former console table with shelves underneath and more)...and my new place isn't exactly closet-heavy. (But hey, you take what gets passed on!). Anyhow, if I was buying something, I better be able to put things in it and not have to make them look pretty. I know, I obsessed over this with the living room thingy too, but can you really have too much closed storage?
More on the look of the room as it, you know, actually comes together, but I determined I wanted to keep it light and airy--I wanted white. A cabinet, so it would always look clean. No specific kind of cabinet. One with a roughly similar footprint to my table (around three feet long, normal depth and height, with doors). That was it.
So I checked out Pottery Barn. Maybe Pottery Barn Kids. West Elm? Crate and Barrel? CB2? World Market? (Seriously people?!? I have no standards--why is nothing even passably close?!) All I wanted was something: a) white b) with doors. I could get a bookshelf and put baskets on it, but that isn't what I wanted. I wanted doors. My sister saved the day when she suggested I try places like Lowes and Home Depot. My Home Depot (the one on Halsted) has a Home Decorators Collection in it. Apparently, its actually a totally separate store and they get all offended if you think they're the same. Um, you're in the Home Depot. Whatever.
And lo and behold, two kinds of white cabinet! (Actually several, like a one-door or a three-door, but I needed a two-door). The one with a drawer across the top looked perfect and it was 20% off. I'd budgeted up to $200 and figured I might have to go higher, but it rang in at just $120. Sweet! And if they ship to store and you pick it up there, shipping is waived. Win again! A week later, and that flat-packed cardboard box was chilling in the corner of my living room.
So I opened 'er up, laid out all the pieces, picked up my allen wrench and got to it. Everything went fine. It was mildly frustrating to get the cabinet doors to line up, but I'm pretty sure thats always the case. We proudly put it at the end of the front porch, and the fit was great. Just what I was going for!
Side note: The next day I opened the door to the porch to admire my handiwork and UGH! I was bowled over by the stench. My new piece of furniture REEKED of chemicals. Eeeeew.
Calls to my mother, Google searchs, and various attempts to fix it ensued. Advice was actually pretty hard to come by, mostly embedded in posts about other things (so I couldn't find much with google). I ended up putting baking soda all over the thing. I had the time and space for it to hang out without stinking up my house, so I wasn't terribly urgent about it. It ended up taking SIX WEEKS to fully fade.
If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, it sounds like wiping it down vinegar or putting charcoal briquettes in it would also work. And don't buy furniture from China. It does NOT seem to be a low end problem though. Another really helpful post was from a lady in a bird users group in NY whose new Pottery Barn furniture was off-gassing so badly she was concerned for the health of her bird. I don't like birds so much, but if I had a small animal I probably would have worried too. Unfortunately I have no advice on how to prevent this, but try those tips if you ever find yourself with really smelly furnishings.
*Jay came to my second walk-through of my condo solely so he could say this word. This is probably not even how you spell it. I would describe them as "flap-y windows" which means they have horizontal glass panes that move together, much like shutters. You can see them in the picture above.