First House


I have spent a lot of time thinking — and recently some time writing — about furnishing our old house. A few Saturdays ago, I had the privilege to hunt for furniture for someone else: my best friend’s daughter’s (BFD) first home.

BFD has found an adorable mid-century Florida lake house. Of course that means two window units instead of central air and limited closets, cabinets and other things most of us now take for granted. But it also opens up any number of possibilities especially for a young couple just starting their life together.

There is no better place to start looking for furniture than the local monthly estate auction. It was BFD’s first time bidding on her own at an auction and it only took a few tentative card raises before she was right in the mix. Her first purchase, a red tufted 19th century sofa in perfect condition, brought her a number of high-fives not only from her mother and I but from many of the long-time antique dealers in the crowd. By the time she bought a mahogany center pedestal dining table with amazing inlays she was a pro.

In total, BFD bought two glorious centerpieces she can use to build rooms around for under $200. And this Saturday she’s going back for dining room chairs.

Our first place was a two room moldy basement apartment with an over-worked dehumidifier on Capitol Hill back in the 80s. We borrowed a round oak dining room table from a friend and then after carrying it for blocks discovered it wouldn’t fit past the apartment’s entryway.

Our landlord, a long-time Congressman from Texas, took pity on us and appeared on our doorstep one morning with an assortment of furnishings: an odd green lamp from the 50s (which is probably now priceless wherever it is), a mattress he insisted was too large for his guest room and a beautiful set of china that his wife “just didn’t care for.”

We loved that china and used it for years as our primary set while the two wedding sets sat in the cabinet. It now is prominently on display in one of the glass front cabinets in the kitchen and reminds me daily of that perfect first apartment.

A place that 30 years later I can still only describe as full of possibilities.

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