I've mentioned before that I'm the daughter of two life-long apartment dwellers; Dad grew up in NYC before moving to DC, and Mom grew up in Dublin before making the move across the pond and marrying Dad. I myself was born and raised in an apartment in DC, an apartment full of vintage pieces my parents assembled over the years in order to make their small apartments more functional.
Mom's favorite piece by far is her Castro convertible coffee table because it allows her to seat 8 for dinner on holidays and special occasions. When I was little, I didn't understand why everyone's dinner table didn't magically collapse into a coffee table when the meal was finished! Mom and Dad bought this piece for their first apartment in NY back in 1969 and it's been with them ever since.
These clever end tables are another purchase that dates back to that first apartment in NY; Dad got a discount because he was working in Gimbels at the time. These tables allow for a surprising amount of storage behind the paneled doors, and the fun hexagonal shape makes them easy to nestle in between two pieces of seating. As long as I can remember, one of these tables has been the home of the family liquor collection.
The teak bookcases and the TV cart all came from Scan once my parents moved down to DC in the 1970s. The bookcases came first and highlighted the importance books held for my folks; I also learned early on that in a small space, it doesn't do for all of your storage to be open shelves. Trust me- you would be surprised how much stuff you can hide behind those sliding doors!
The TV cart (which is actually a microwave cart) came along in the 1980s, and was actually the first piece of furniture I ever assembled by myself. My mom got it home only to discover that the instructions inside were for a completely different piece of furniture. She went to bed grumbling, and I stayed up late watching The Wrath of Khan and puzzling out the assembly; when she woke up Sunday morning, the cart was together and I didn't even have any leftover hardware! Though the cart is rather high for TV viewing, the drawer and shelves behind the doors hold Mom's entire media collection (minus the LPs which live on the bookcase).
Finally, the toy box/bench that lives in the hall actually belongs to me. When I got it for my fifth birthday, it became my second officially owned piece of furniture (the first was a bicentennial rocking chair that I still have). Mom bought it at an unfinished wood place, and painstakingly sanded, stained, waxed and buffed it to perfection. I loved it as a kid because it gave me a great place to store all my bit and pieces, and gave me my own personal reading space when I stretched out on the seat (I was a short kid). Though this piece belongs to me, Mom loves it too much to wrest it away, so for the forseeable future it lives in her hallway, storing extra linens, wrapping paper, and bubble wrap as well as giving Mom a place to sit to take off her shoes when she gets home.
Images: Colleen Quinn