Give an Inch, Take a Mile.

The plane that flies back and forth between Regina, Saskatchewan and Minneapolis, Minnesota is roughly the size of a floating school bus, only with wings, more cylindrical, and more cramped. I found myself on this flight a few weeks ago, after having visited some friends in Canada for a few days. Planes always make me uncomfortable, mostly stemming from the social anxiety surrounding the other flyers. Not that I think any of them will, you know, try to stab the pilot with a smuggled knitting needle, but that I might have to speak to them.

On the way to Saskatchewan, I’d sat next to a 60-something year old woman. She was from Austin. Her daughter had moved to Regina to date and then marry a man she met on the internet, who owned a tanning salon. They had two kids and lived in the south end of town and she didn’t like the winters and sort of missed her life in the States but loved her husband and kids and this trip marked the second time she’d see her mother that year and ohwellshewasjustsoexcited.

And according to her, my name is Adam and I’m from Columbus, Ohio and I’m majoring in Biochemistry at Tuft’s University. I don’t like to give too many details, or any.

Talkers scare the shit out of me, but only because I’d never sat next to the gentleman who took the aisle seat to my window on this particular flight. Before he even sat down, I judged him for wearing shorts and flip flops. Because who wears shorts on a plane?

He didn’t speak, but ordered a coke when the flight attendant came around with drinks. I ordered a V8. When she came to collect the cups, I handed mine over, like the responsible citizen of the air that I try to be, but he wanted to keep his.

The flight attendant looked a bit confused for a second, as if something had glitched in her brain. Why did this man want to keep an empty cup on his tray table? What was he up to? But, seeing as he seemed to pose no threat and his demand was simple enough, she went with it.

And that’s when it happened—the concept of “taking advantage” drawn out to its most egregious limit. He pulled out a bag of chewing tobacco, stuffed some in his mouth, and began to chew, periodically shooting a small waterfall of frothy brown spit into his empty clear plastic cup. This went on for at least half an hour, during which time I talked myself down from a panic attack and focused on not crying, trapped as I was in my window seat. Later on, he handed the cup to the flight attendant, who recoiled in fear before recomposing herself and placing it in the open trash bag. This is the danger of a simple gesture of good faith with people you don’t know. You might give them an empty cup, and they might reappropriate it as a spittoon for a while and hand it back to you.

I feel as though I’ve become that man, a little bit. Recently, I got an email from a woman named Maya. You might remember Maya from when Morgan at The Brick House (which, if you’re not already reading, I really have to wonder about your priorities in life) posted about her house a while ago. Let me jog your memory:

Maya is the originator of the $100 rule of decorating and a masterful thrifter. She’s very cool, very artsy, and her style and eye for color is as terrific as her Bumling light is brassy.

You see, when people live on the West Coast and have amazing thrifting around every corner (this is how I imagine California to be now), they accumulate. And Maya had an extra Eames chair. An extra wire Eames chair, broken in several spots, and in need of repair. She had gathered from The Twitter that I had been taking a welding class on the weekends, so she wanted to offer me the broken chair. For free. For rizzle. For frizzle?

Why yes, I will take that original wire Eames chair off you hands, sure!

Maya and I got to talking over email and it turns out that wasn’t the only thing crowding her space. So one thing led to another and she’s become not only a swell pen pal, but also something like the fairy godmother I always dreamed of having. You know, one that has cool furniture that she wants to let me have at very reasonable prices. That’s right, I have a magical furniture fairy.

So first Maya gave me the Eames chair, which has been relegated to the corner of our very unpainted hallway, awaiting the day when I can hopefully repair it.

It’s pretty broken. I think I can save it. But the fun don’t stop there.

Maya was also looking to unload this vintage knock-off Eames lounge chair. Did I know anyone that would want it? For cheapsies?

Me me me!

It’s been a super comfy addition to the living room. It had been sitting in storage for a bit, so I took the whole thing apart and gave it some oily love, following The Brick House’s instructions. It’s not dramatically different, but the plywood shells cleaned up nicely.

What else do you have, Maya? Oh, just these two danish teak shelves that would make great nightstands if they were cleaned up a bit. Want those, too?

Yes, yes I do.

So I got those. A previous owner had put some precautionary L-brackets on them that Maya had intended to take off and restore the wood, but she hadn’t gotten around to it. The structure of the shelves was totally fine, so it’s a bit of a mystery why somebody would abuse two perfectly good, perfectly Scandinavian shelves like that. What’s wrong with people?

I took off the L-brackets and filled the holes with Minwax Wood Filler, then followed Morgan’s wood refreshing tutorial again.

The teak oil and wax totally brought the wood back to life, and the holes filled in nicely and are barely noticeable. I’m pretty smitten with these guys, honestly—having matching nightstands has been a long-held dream of mine and I love the narrow depth these have to offer.

And, of course, I think it’s cute how the two sides look totally different.

Mine.

Max’s. Isn’t that fan cute? I found it at a little antique store somewhere in Virginia for him during a trip home. The look on his face when he met me at Penn Station—you would have thought I handed him a puppy, or seven. The boy likes fans.

I’m so glad I met Maya. She’s super nice and a great person to bounce ideas off of for the apartment, and we already have a few more goodies from her place lined up to come my way. I really have no business being in her good graces, but I guess as long as she keeps offering without getting sick of me, I’ll keep taking. I’m so good at it. She just has to tell me when she feels like I’m spitting in the cup, as it were.


64 Comments

  1. Now you’re buds with the famously stylish Maya? I feel as jealous as a kid on the playground watching another with a new ball….beautiful finds.

  2. Hello! I’m new to your site – and already incredibly jealous of your furniture.

  3. The shelves! They’re my favorite!

    I think i would have puked on that guy chewing tobacco on the plane. Seriously, I’m about to puke just imagining it. OMG.

    One last thing… knitting needles to not have to be smuggled on a plane. They’re totally allowed (in most countries, definitely in the US and Canada). But we knitters live in fear of them being taken away (at the discretion of the oh-so-wise TSA, you know), so please don’t make jokes about stabbing people with them! People think they’re dangerous, but seriously, unless you’re going to take away everyone’s pencils and shoelaces too….

  4. Lucky lucky lucky, and lovely. Maya is nice.

    Incidental: Fraud! David Rakoff! LOVE.

  5. Aah, those chairs. The shelves! Especially the knock off Eames Chair. Be still my heart.

    I’m writhing in envy here. Well done!

  6. you are the luckiest guy in all of NYC.

  7. I love how you’ve restored those items; they look really amazing and the flaws from before are almost impossible to see. Plus those nightstands look fabulous around that bed! :D I totally love Max’s doggie figure.

  8. ack. The guy with the spit cup? I had a boss like that. He would purposely stand next to my desk while I was working and spit into his cup. PLUS he held it about a foot and a half below his mouth. He knew it made me ill; that’s why he did it. I lasted at that job for about 4 months and had to quit.

    • That’s HORRIBLE! 4 months?! I’m not sure I could have lasted 4 hours. That’s just…not right.

      • I wouldn’t have lasted 4 seconds. I have a spit phobia. This entry about did me in, Daniel (I mean, Adam).

        PS what’s the art in the white frame?

      • It’s just a little 70s pen on paper drawing I found in a thrift store a while ago and reframed in a RIBBA frame from IKEA. It’s a sort of abstract woman portrait, but she’s super sun-faded. I’ll try to take a better picture! (It’s already been moved to the bathroom!)

  9. So jealous. But if anyone deserves a funiture fairy godmother its you. Still jealous tough. I mean, you best pals with Anna D16, Daniel from project runway, have a cute boyfriend with kitchenaid and now Morgans pal Maya? Who is next?

  10. I have a thing for floating nightstands. Yours are fabulous :-)

    Jeez, I can’t believe you’ve actually met the famous (and secretive) Maya ! Have you seen her place for real ? When is she starting her own blog ?

    • I haven’t seen her place, we have to find time!

      I don’t think Maya’s too interested in the whole blog thing. It’s not for everyone, and that’s okay! But I’ll keep nudging :-)

  11. “Furniture fairy godmother”? I can’t decide if I’m more impressed by the serious case of serendipity you have going or your way with words. I keep showing your blog to people, but they must not be actually *reading* it because I *know* I’d be hearing back about how wonderful and funny it is, if they were! I’m going to have to resort to force-reading. I’m just delighted to have found your blog! And the Max post slayed me – to freaking cute for words, in the best sense.

  12. i’ve spent many a nauseated day trapped in the car with my younger brother who chews this insanely disgusting sour apple chew. it smells like a sour apple jolly rancher, which, incidentally, has always smelled like vomit to me.

  13. Oooohhhhhhhh. The minute you said he wanted to keep his empty cup I knew his intention EXACTLY!!! Because, you see, I’m Southern.

    • HA!

      I like to think I’m Southern, too, but clearly I am not nearly Southern enough.

    • I did too. My dad did this and whenever he polished off a bottle of coke I’d sit there thinking “please throw it away, please throw it away…”

  14. I completely sympathize with you when it comes to random talkative strangers who want to tell you their life story – I, too, make up random personal details if they ask about me. There’s a perverse joy into seeing just how far you can go when making up things.

    Anyway, it’s pretty amazing that you have a furniture fairy, especially one with such an amazing style. Love the shelves and their asymmetrical-ness.

  15. 1. You are amazing.

    2. There is NOT an amazing thrift store around every corner in California. That’s how I imagine the Midwest to be, though. Where I live in California, there are several artsy handmade/local/vintage shops that have employees for the sole purpose of raiding every thrift store in town the moment they open. Sad. I guess the only way around it is waking up early and beating them to it… or going to the flea market.

  16. Im so jealous! I want an Eames lounger, sadly I have never even seen one in real life! One day when I win the lotto it will be mine, haha.

  17. Ohh how I wish you could fit in my pocket and I could carry you around with me every day to keep me giggling and fuel my sarcastic witty fire.

  18. love this. love the blog. love the thoughts that make up the words that flow into the sentences that are too witty and authentic not to be shared.

    keep this up- it’s good stuff.

  19. I just wish to state for the record that as of now, I officially hate you. Had been flirting with the idea for a while, but this one has finally sealed the deal. Why oh why is it I never get lucky like that? Huh punk?! I need new friends.

  20. Every time Maya is mentioned, I have to say the following:
    MAYA! PLEASE START A BLOG. PLEEEEEASE.

    Okay, now that my obligation is fulfilled, um…Adam? From Columbus? Majoring in Biochemistry at Tuft’s?

    I really wish you’d gone with latex salesman at Vandelay Industries. Maybe when you’re older!

    • LOL Anna! I would have gone with something more Golden Girls like, Isaac P. Newton, a displaced citrus farmer moving from the greater Miami area to Saskatchewan!

      I’ll give anyone on this thread a meet and greet with Mamma Biscuit if they can figure out which episode I’m pulling that from!

      ;-)

    • Anna- Vandelay Industires LOL
      Daniel- So jealous of your presents! I wish I had a furniture fairy to make my dreams come true :) Although I almost had a heart attack when I saw the Eames lounge. Thank you for saying its a knock-off or I would have been in a fit of crazy for I don’t know how long. Still jealous though.
      -Whit

  21. i extra super love the brick house (and i believe it is you who brought me to there, so thank you very much), and i really really enjoyed her mini house crash of maya’s place. and i’m ridiculously jealous of that amazingly beautiful white knock off eames lounger (shut up! i don’t care that i have no place to put it!). And i like your nightstands. AND someone needs to tell my husband that i would be as happy as Max to receive an adorable vintage fan. maybe i will tell him… excuse me.

  22. Reginaaaaaa!!!!

  23. Love those bedroom shelves! Congrats on all your new additions, you totally deserve them so don’t beat yourself up about it. And to echo others sentiments, I hope Maya starts to blog too.

  24. stunning nightstands, i love max’s dog. i’m sure maya doesn’t feel you are spitting in the cup at all, as you are clearly cherishing her treasures. i keep hearing napoleon dynamite in my head saying, luckeeeeeeeeeee

  25. so incredibly unfair. you already live in new york with cool stuff around every corner. and now you’re getting things from california too? what the hell? not cool. not cool at all. i live in vancouver b.c. sure it’s beautiful but whatever. i want cool cheap mid-century furniture! geez.
    and also, i would’ve freaked out if some gross dude was spitting tobacco next to me. blech.

  26. What is this $100 rule of decorating that you referenced? I am not familiar. Does it state that you should just buy anything under a hundred bucks that tickles your fancy? Because I already had a date with Ikea this weekend, and that might make it extra hot and heavy…

    • I wish that was the rule! No, it’s just that you don’t spend over $100 on anything. Which makes Maya and Morgan basically gods, because they have so much incredible stuff. I bow down.

  27. Ah, I always feel like the gods have smiled down on us when there is a new entry! Love what you did with your gifts, you lucky, lucky man!

    (The spitting in the cup made me do a full body cringe – how awful for you to have to sit there.)

    Love the $100 rule! What a challenge!

  28. Ugh, I am so jealous of those floating bedside tables. If you trip over another pair (which, knowing your luck, you will), I will offer myself up for any hand-me downs.

  29. Ooooh, the black wire Eames chair is awesome. Hope you can use your newly acquired welding knowlege soon.

    The floating shelves are great too! I have already looked at the wood refinishing tutorial and might follow the instuctions over the weekend to pretty up my new street find. Do I have to determine what kind of finish the piece has now or do I just go ahead and start working my magic?

  30. hey guys.
    you guys are nice! isn’t Daniel the cutest? i just had to.
    i just like stuff :) Daniel blog is just so good, i just had to give him the Eames chair, i mean someone had to save it ,right? it was beyond me, sadly, but i want Daniel to make it his love child.. i hope he will.
    i just sometime tend to find stuff, that i know is sad to to get (i keep the 100 rule , still, so my husband wont kill me) and then i pass it on, it used to be Morgan that would take stuff, and LA peeps, but now i am here in NY, so, i need to actually find a home for that stuff.
    and yes, i am a bit crazy, i swear, we have 5 sofas + 1 danish daybed that needs a good home… (anyone?) and more tables and LAMPS.. (don’t worry Daniel..) seriously, i just have too much stuff.
    anyway, i wish i was as talented as you think and can actually write a blog, see, ..boo.
    maybe i should just post picture and wired CL finds, so someone gets it all, and not me? tricky business.
    i am proud to be a fairy godmother, i always wanted to be one, and now that Suki is one, ohhh, i am honored
    :)

  31. I am so glad the chewing tobacco imagery was offset by all that gifted & cheap design hotness. Thanks for linking to the tutorial. I have an Eames Ottoman (I think/hope it’s original) that needs some serious attention. Am a little afraid to totally take it apart though.

  32. Good job on the teak! That wire eames chair is totally fixable, looks like it just needs a few spot welds, welding class- you got this.

  33. I’m speechless….super jealous, and speechless.

  34. You’re the cutest and luckiest. Thanks for being so damn entertaining and sharing it with us all.

  35. New here.

    Just want to say that I completely understand your feeling about planes. Something about me makes strangers want to reveal their deepest secrets to me and I’m OK with that sometimes. But when I’m on a plane, I like to be left alone. I’ve discovered that when I’m travellling by myself the aisle seat is much much better. Mostly because it’s easy to escape, plus, you don’t have to talk to anyone to do it. Also, you can angle yourself slightly toward the aisle (effectively turning your back on people) and avoid conversations. A book, or Kindle helps, too.

    Try it next time and see if you agree.

  36. Also, the floors under your faux-Eames chair are awesome. Lucky you.

  37. After one of our former governors was elected, the press finally let the public know that the gov-elect travels and everything else with a spit cup in hand. I had voted against him anyway, but if I had known this beforehand — and I really think it was the public’s right to know in advance — I would have actively campaigned against him. There are few things more disgusting.

  38. I’m not going to lie, had you been sitting next to me on that plane I would have used that cup to collect the remains of my clipped nails (and yes, I’m not ashamed of admitting that) I’m sure Anna from Doorsixteen will never speak to me again after revealing such a horrible fact about myself (who am I kidding, she’s already humiliated me for my love of clipping my nails in public) LOL

    On another note, great way to reuse those shelves as nightstands and the fan is awesome. Isn’t it amazing how the safety of those fans are pretty nonexistent! If I owned one, I would probably be missing a few fingers!

    Oh and good going on your fictitious profile…..chatty Cathy doesn’t really need to know who you really are! ;-)

    • You disgust me.

      xoxoxoxox

    • Dan, maybe chatty Cathy is reading your blog? Maybe chatty Cathy is googeling that nice young man she met on the plane and is finding your blog? You never know. Not all of your blog readers can be awesome Project Runway finalists, there must be a few chatty Cathys among them too!

      • Only if she typed in “Adam biochemistry Ohio blog” or “Adam Ohio Biochemistry Tufts” (and made it to page 3 of the results) would she probably find this blog based on what he told her!

  39. Let’s see–you have a funky apartment–great luck thrifting already and a cute boyfriend. And now you’re getting fabulous finds given to you cross-country. Life is SO unfair.

    Always enjoy your site–looking forward to what you do with that HALLWAY.

  40. Dan, how did you fix the night tables to the wall?

    • They’re made to be wall-mounted, so there’s hanging hardware on the back. I just put some really big screws in the wall, which should be strong enough since these aren’t THAT heavy and aren’t holding too much weight.

  41. Maya is great! She bought a couple of upholstered Eames chairs from me when I was in LA (one of them now lives in The Brick House). Maya also has the most amazing painting of a lion, that I think she did, and I still think about it and wish that I had been able to buy it from her when she was leaving California…

    Jealz of the lounger.

    PS: I would have barfed or said something to that dude. I. cannot. handle. dip.
    PPS: I keep my cups too, but only because I’m a mega-dork and I recycle them whenever I get where I’m goin’.

  42. Love your new additions to the new pad, the teak nightstands are awesome!
    And poor guy on plain, I feel with you- I also seem to attract people to talk to me while I am traveling. I give them zero attention, only minimal response but they keep on talking to me. Last time I sat with a chatty Russian guy and a Scottish piano player in a train cap and the talked almost my ears off.

  43. Have you seen the Curb Your Enthusiasm about men wearing shorts on a plane?
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uBlRmAAp6J8

    Let me, uh… Let me give you a little tip, okay?
    - Mm-hmm – for traveling… A little traveling tip.
    Try not to wear shorts.
    It’s not all that attractive to look at for five hours.
    - Are you kidding? – Honestly. No, I’m not.
    - I wear these on every flight when I travel… – Really?
    - … ’cause it’s very comfortable. – Yes. Yeah.
    These planes, if you notice, get very hot.
    - Ah. Yes, they do. – I’m sorry, I didn’t see where I had to check with the person I’m sitting next to what I should wear.
    I’m comfortable in pajamas, but I don’t wear pajamas on a plane.
    I like to sing. I like to whistle.
    I like to play the bongos on my leg.
    - I like to imitate horses… – Okay.
    - … But I don’t do it, okay? – All right.
    - Because there’s somebody sitting next to me. – Yeah, okay. Okay.
    Wow, you’re very uptight, dude. Very uptight.
    - Uptight? I don’t think it’s “uptight.” – It’s just shorts, man.
    - You’ve never seen a man’s legs? – Yeah, they’re grotesque.

  44. Hey Daniel, I used to follow that blog that you recommended the 4C 5D one. the one where they were renovating a house in DC. I can’t remember the name or numbers and have tried all combinations. Any chance you can clue me in? Thanks, Ann

  45. Nice!

    How are those teak shelves constructed/joined? I don’t have a furniture godmother so I’m wondering if I can knock them off with the right wood.

    Andrew

    • Oh, gosh. I don’t know… by magical Danish wizards? The pieces where the wood joins are 90 degree angles on the outside and rounded concavely in the inside… I’d guess there’s some kind of advanced joinery technique happening there, but it’s not something I can see just by looking at it. Biscuits? Dowels? I have no idea how that stuff works.

  46. David Sedaris wrote an hysterical article about this very topic a while back in I think the New Yorker. I will link if I can find!

  47. Can you lend Maya to me? I’d love some free mid-century modern furniture too! <3

  48. I love your floating nightstands and the herringbone wood floor. Diggin your blog. Even though I live in Hawaii, I’m obsessed with NY small spaces (design, not the super high rent although Hawaii’s housing cost ain’t no walk in the park either). In the words of the terminator…I’ll be back….so keep bloggin. Btw, my mother’s side of my family is from Ohio but a different area, North Olmsted outside of Cleveland. I haven’t been back there in years.

  49. Oh wait a second, r u not really from Ohio? That’s just your flying alter ego…kind of like “my name is Candy” when in Vegas? Forgive my incessant rambling about Ohio then.

    But I digress…

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