They say you don’t really know someone until you’ve taken a trip together. I say the true test of the patience and kindness in a relationship occurs while holding up a heavy shelving unit and trying to affix it to a seemingly stud-less wall. I know, because it's happened to me. That day, I needed both an actual and an emotional anchor.
The day began stressfully. Rental cars, apparently a hot commodity on this particular Saturday morning, were unavailable on the island of Manhattan so it was off to the Long Island Railroad for the next-closest Hertz with a hatchback in stock. As long as we were driving, a quick hop up to Mamaroneck for a pizza lunch at Sal’s was worth the trip (Sal’s. Go there. No joke.). Several tolls later, we crossed state lines into New Jersey and, through either a divine wink or just coincidence, “You Give Love a Bad Name” by New Jersey’s own Bon Jovi promptly came on the radio.
In an out-of-the-way industrial park (similar to how I picture the location of the fictional company Dunder Mifflin from the Office) lies the Mecca of off-price designer modern furniture known as the Design Within Reach Annex. From the outside, it's a non-descript store front tucked away in a back corner of the complex. Step inside, however, and you're overwhelmed with the giddy feeling of a child in an ice cream shop— if Charles and Ray Eames owned an ice cream shop. And this ice cream is all 20%-50% off.
I’d called ahead to procure three ever-so-slightly-marred Tolix counter stools at nearly half-price. Since the annex operates with extra or damaged DWR stock, they're not guaranteed to have exactly what you want, but they're extremely helpful on the phone. Our sales representative even emailed me photos of the (small amount of) damage on the stools before I committed.
After inspecting endless Eameses and numerous Nelsons, we stumbled upon the handsomest Argentinian I’d ever seen — the Sticotti Shevling unit plus desk. Some of the honey-colored Carejeira wood veneer shelves were chipped or warped (such is life at the annex), but luckily the very accommodating staff broke out several boxes so I could mix and match units until I'd cobbled together a near-perfect set.
Loading up our Yaris (otherwise known as the smallest hatchback in existence) was a feat that only two children of the Tetris generation could accomplish. Who knew I was actually preparing for bargain hunting with those hours of computer games?
As we neared our building, storm clouds loomed heavy so, with the Yaris idling, we raced the storm to unload our careful packing. We barely beat the sheeting rain, and the only thing that got soaked was my hair (a sacrifice I was happy to make to save the wood).
(Images: Jennifer Hunter)