By the time I left New York, I had sold everything except my dogs, my computer, my clothes and my books. During my first year in the Cleveland area, I lived in a guest room at my mother’s fully furnished house. When I finally secured an apartment, all my possessions fit comfortably into the van I hired to move to my new home in Downtown Cleveland. I had no furniture.
Until my new bed arrived, I spent my first few nights sleeping on my air mattress. Since then, furnishing my apartment has been an extremely slow and careful process. Once the rent, utilities and health insurance premium are paid, there’s not much left in the checking account until the next month’s retainer checks arrive. So I have to be very frugal.
The seemingly obvious solution would be to find a cheaper place to live, but I needed to move somewhere that didn’t require a car, which I don’t want. Downtown is the only place in Cleveland where one can get by without a car, and all the decent apartments in Downtown Cleveland start at a certain price point. I also needed something friendly to dogs over 25 pounds, which is a rarity in this county. My building was designed with dogs in mind. Another factor is that I have no interest in suburbia and have no desire to manage a yard, shovel a driveway or take out trash. I love apartment living, and I love my apartment, which is a great deal by New York standards (especially without a car).
Five months in, I have a bed, a dresser, a pair of stools for my kitchen counter and a rug for the living room – all acquired on the cheap. I also have a gorgeous old leather settee that belonged to my grandmother, who gave it to my mother when my parents were married, who then gave it to me when I moved into the apartment. Rich with history, it was in our library all through my childhood and it’s fabulous.
Other than that, there are just empty spaces where a sofa and a credenza (and a television) will one day go. Another space that was empty until recently was the dining area. Until now, I never had a proper dining table because I never lived in a place large enough to accommodate one. Now that I do, it was time to find one.
I searched high and low, looking for something that balanced style, quality and budget. As many people know, I’m a big fan of mid-century modern design. At the same time, I don’t want my apartment to look like a set on Mad Men (though Don and Megan’s Upper East Side apartment was pretty sick). An eclectic mix of things is best.
After weeks of looking for a good dining table for the space, I stumbled on the Atticus Dining Table from a company called Edloe Finch. Its handsome mid-century design immediately caught my eye with its distinctly Danish flavor.
The first thing I looked at was size. Though I have a pretty imaginative eye that enables me to picture things when I look at a room, I took careful steps here. Before I started shopping, I measured and “rehearsed” the area, placing chairs around and getting a sense of what dimensions would best suit the space. The table I chose had to maximize the space and also enable people to sit down, get up and move around comfortably. After going through all of this, I concluded that the table needed to be approximately 60” long and 36” wide. The measurements of the Atticus Dining Table were 59″W x 35″D x 30”H. Perfect.
Color and material were my next concerns. I wanted to counter-balance all the metal, quartz and other cold, hard surfaces in the adjacent kitchen with something warm. For a dining table, I wanted something made of wood with a darker walnut finish. No particle board or MDF. The Atticus Dining Table is made of solid wood with a walnut veneer on the tabletop.
Then, of course, there was cost. The MSRP of the table is around $625. I found it on Amazon for $271. Disco!
When I ordered the table in early January, it was out of stock but expected back at the end of February – a longer wait than I preferred, but it was my absolute favorite table in its price range by far. I was so excited to get the table that when it finally did arrive a the end of February damaged, I was crestfallen. Fortunately, the customer service directly from Edloe Finch was so good that they should publish a manual on how to take care of customers. They were friendly, efficient and determined to make sure I was satisfied with my purchase. Within another week, a pristine new table arrived.
After a simple assembly with the legs – something I actually enjoy doing – I had my first Chemex carafe of coffee on my very first dining table. It was a good moment.
The dining chairs were a different situation. I found them on Wayfair. The chairs are called “Chastain” Side Chairs, originally priced at $250/pair. I got them on sale for $160/pair. They’re a solid wood construction available in a light or dark walnut stain. The available seat options were a light fabric or black faux leather. I went with the dark walnut stain with the black faux leather seat, since I don’t buy any new leather.
Now, for the first time in my life, I have a proper dining table and chairs. When I’m not drinking coffee or having a meal, it also serves as my work area. As of this writing, I’ve only had it for a couple of weeks and I’ve already spent several working hours and written four magazine articles on it. It gets good use, it’s handsome and it makes me smile every time I look at it.
I’m extremely sensitive to my surroundings, and it’s important for me to create a home in which I love to spend time, especially since I work from home. After going though my first Cleveland winter on my own, the importance of designing a great apartment that I love became doubly clear, since I spent a lot of time inside it during brutal cold and snow. A dining set I’ll really enjoy is an important part of that.
Now, when I want to sit down, enjoy something to eat, do some work, invite some friends over or just contemplate the questionable wisdom of my life choices, I have a chic little place to do it.