The Credenza Crisis:
When Sundeep asked me to participate in her “Oh No We Didn’t” series, I spent some time contemplating exactly which drama I might share. Given that we moved into a new build this past year, I seemed to have a vast wealth of material from which to draw. Building a house is a exponential progression from one catastrophe to an ever greater and more expensive version of the same. But much of the memory of those injuries have faded over the past year, and I’m left slightly less jaded about the building process. But now I have an entire new crop of trauma which I’m presently wading through, the decorating disasters.
I live in a locale that doesn’t offer much in the way of shopping, on neither the fashion nor interior fronts. The few interesting shops we do have are targeted and then pillaged by anyone with a semblance of style. If there is one defining trait of my decorating style it is that I long to own the original, objects that are completely unique. Thus, I’ve turned myself over to the perils of internet shopping. From this predilection, many disasters have emerged. There was the unfortunate purchase of the ugliest rug ever, which to add insult to injury did not even fit correctly in the designated space. A few weeks ago I spilled coffee on it, and only sopped it up half heartedly, hurrying along its eventual demise. Yesterday, I received drapes for my daughter’s bedroom. Upon unpackaging them, I think to myself, these look awfully brown, given that I had I previously ordered swatches and matched to her charcoal headboard. Apparently charcoal = brown and fog = grey in Restoration Hardware-ese.
To date, there has been one decorating disaster that has trumped all others in both scope and scale. It is the incident that I have dubbed the “Credenza Crisis”, which in is fact the exact subject line I used in the email I sent to my Interior Designers (Atmosphere ID in Saskatoon). I sent a missive, outlining my critical error and begged them to come and determine if the piece could indeed be salvaged. But first, let me share the background of this sordid tale. I searched far and wide for the credenza which would serve as the dramatic focal point of my front entrance. I was contending with a large empty wall and double height ceilings, so I needed a statement piece, at minimum five feet in length. I longed for something vintage, something glamourous, something located in Canada. Knee deep in my Milo Baughman obsession I tracked down the most stunning vintage 1970s Milo Baughman credenza with a chrome base and a matched veneer cabinet via 1st Dibs. Miracle of miracles, it was located in Toronto and soon it was whisking its way to Saskatoon.
My first indication that something was off, occurred as soon as the delivery truck arrived. Unbeknownst to me, the piece which required at least two people to move, was taken off the truck by a sole person via a dolly. And then there was bashing, extensive bashing, not of the pallet which somehow disappeared during the shipment but of the once immaculate chrome base. It appeared that this scenario has occurred repeatedly in the five day journey across the country, and the chrome and the wood beneath, was now mangled. The cabinet portion of the credenza remained wrapped, and the piece stood upended for a month in my front entrance.
We contacted a metal worker who created the base of the vanity in my powder room, who ordered a replacement chrome piece, which to date has still not arrived. Eventually we were forced to unwrap the rest of the credenza, as we were expecting installation of a painting we had purchased which was slated to be hung above the credenza. As I peeled the layers of wrapping off the piece, I gasped, the wood was so red, perhaps even orange or pink, particularly on the top. In the photographs on the internet, all I saw were lovely brown wood tones. Oh, and one corner of the wood veneer was damaged. Nearly in tears, I almost wrote the piece off as a very expensive error in judgement. My husband and I debated about moving it to the basement or attempting to sell it on Craigslist or Kijiji. Every time I looked at it I felt slightly nauseous, but little by little, it began to grow on me. I noticed the colour less and the stunning design more. And then the painting was installed. Suddenly the credenza worked, the glaring orange tones seemed to recede, or perhaps it was now that the credenza was no longer the focal point. The painting is an acrylic work by Saskatoon artist William Perehudoff, one of Canada’s preeminent Colour Field painters.
The credenza itself remains a sorry state. The piece still requires extensive repair, both by the metal worker and now a furniture restorer for the wood veneer. In the photographs below you can see evidence of the damage inflicted upon the chrome and the unfortunate colouration of the top. I’m awaiting delivery of a chair to sit next to it, and of course the surface will eventually be styled. But for now I kind of love it, despite the obvious flaws.
All images via Tina.