As Our Lives Change, So Do Our Furniture Needs

By Bill Primavera

When I first moved to New York City, fresh out of college in the South and ready to start my intended climb to a sophisticated urban life, I brought with me just one piece of furniture: a record player to which I had attached screw-on legs.

My only possessions other than that were a cardboard box of accompanying 33 1/3 rpm long-playing records and a suitcase of clothes. I arrived with two other fellows, friends I had made as cast members from a summer stock show I appeared in. (Yes, I started out in show business, but with no intention of staying in it.)

One of my roommates had a kind grandmother who gave us a fold-out bed, meant for one, which I shared with one of my roommates. It was terribly uncomfortable, but the other option would have been the floor. My other roommate was lucky enough to have a nice single bed that his parents, who lived in New York, had purchased for him.

Sharing a fold-out bed with another big guy was not my idea of fun and, in fact, I found that apartment sharing overall was no fun. All through college I had happily lived alone and perhaps lacked the social grace or patience to accommodate space with the habits of roommates.

I moved out on my own, and my first purchase was a Danish Modern sofa. In retrospect, it was probably the ugliest thing I had ever seen, but it accommodated sitting around and sleeping. The odd thing is that I had graduated from the College of William & Mary in that bastion of Americana, Colonial Williamsburg, and was thus drawn more to traditional and antique furniture, but my sofa bed was purchased in a close-out sale, which I could afford.

Once I got a decent job as an editor, I was able to start acquiring furniture that was more to my taste. The first was a Chippendale sofa I purchased at that great but long-gone 5th Avenue store, W. & J. Sloane. It was big and beautiful, so big in fact that when I moved to a fifth-floor walk-up when I could afford living on my own, it was unable to accommodate the turns in the stairway and had to be returned to the store. Thank goodness, I had a friend with an “in” at Sloane’s who negotiated their taking it back.

In its place, I chose to buy a smaller Chippendale settee in the old Williamsburg shop that B. Altman featured. As a bittersweet memory, I recall that I invited a young lady from work to accompany me when making that purchase. A year later, that lady became my wife and enjoyed the benefit of the purchase she had helped me make.

Our first apartment together was a small studio, so as a practical matter, we bought a sofa bed from a Castro competitor, whose name I forget. Talk about being a dumb consumer; that sofa bed folded out in such a way that one side of the bed was soft and comfortable, while the other side was rock hard and a killer on the back. I recall sleeping on the uncomfortable side.

After a year, when we moved to a one-bedroom apartment, we were able to purchase a comfortable double bed, which we kept for many years. 

When I was offered a job at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, we started looking for a home in “the country” and wound up purchasing a colonial home that afforded us much added space. Besides the living room, there was a formal dining room, an office, a library and five bedrooms! Suddenly we were on the hunt for a heap of additional furniture to fill the rooms, and I must say it was fun scouting the countryside for it. 

But the reckoning came when, six years ago, we decided to sell that big old house, which was no longer practical for us and downsize from five to two bedrooms. 

We held two house sales of all the extra furniture that we could not take with us and, fortunately, we had buyers who implored us to just leave whatever we did not want to take with us. We took them up on that and left everything from rugs to dining and living room furniture and bedroom sets as well.

Today we live with a mix of modern and antique furniture that was culled from our favorite pieces that we had collected over the years. I must say that at this phase of our lives, it’s enjoyable to live in a more pared-down way, with only our most favored furnishings.

Bill Primavera, while a publicist and journalist, is also a realtor associated with William Raveis Real Estate and founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc. (www.PrimaveraPR.com). To engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.

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