Tuesday, 11 January 2022

A year in review: Furniture and fittings, part eleven

This memorial contains almost a month’s worth of parts – though not all of ‘em are about my house! – and the post you’re reading is the eighteenth in the series. 

In the final two days of October I got some furniture for my garage for storage purposes. I also got pots for plants to put in the garden. Some cabinets I picked up with Omer’s help from a house in Newtown – the resident evidently moving house and shuttling between Pearl Street and a house in Balmain – were free of charge. They were evidently from a bathroom and one cabinet (the small one, see photo below) was a fitting. The other one, much heavier, has two drawers on the top and a cupboard at the bottom. Both of these items are white. I also got a bookcase for free from a woman moving out of a block of Art Deco apartments in Wooloomooloo, where I drove on the Eastern Distributor in the car. I carried the thing by myself downstairs in the lift and took it down steps to the street, then put it in the back of the RAV4 and drove home on a crowded Botany Road. 

The next day I drove to Sylvania Waters to pick up some planter pots that had been advertised on Facebook Marketplace. On the way back home I stopped in Wolli Creek with Omer, who was again kindly helping me carry things, and visited a building on Gertrude Street where a resident had pots in his storage bay in a basement garage. Altogether I got five for $179 and, considering that products of this size sell at Bunnings for over $100 each, it was good value (photo below), the pots big enough to hold small trees, at least some of them, and I spent my idle moments thinking about what to put in them. I imagined a pot full of jasmine for the front garden and a pot full of bougainvillea for the pool terrace. Both plants, if they grew outsize, could be trained along walls. 

Later I bought some small pots from a woman living in one of the modern apartment buildings in Mascot. There’s no parking on the street but I drove inside when the garage doors opened and met her there. The pots were very small and I was surprised but took them anyway. You can see them on top of the furniture in the above photo.

Also on 31 October Omer and I drove out to Randwick using satnav to pick up a chest of drawers that had been advertised on Facebook Marketplace. The woman giving away the furniture met us at the garage for her apartment in a building on Avoca Street, just down the road from the shopping centre. I found a parking spot in a convenient location and us two men carried the tallboy up the driveway and along the footpath to my waiting blue car. We drove home on Gardeners Road.

I bought more pots in early November, one from a woman living in Camperdown and one from a woman living in Longueville. For the second trip, because this pot was over 70cm long and made of concrete, I took Omer and Ming (when I messaged them they were shopping in Campsie) since to pick it up alone would’ve been impossible. When I dropped them at their place and as I was driving home on Innesdale Road in Wolli Creek I saw a bunch of someone’s belongings left at the kerbside for collection by the local council. Among the things I espied in this way was an office chair, so I stopped the car and loaded two chairs into the back of the car. 

An advantage of having an SUV. At home I put one chair in the studio – where I’d been planning on having an office chair to accompany a table Joe’d given me – and one in the rear bedroom on the first floor. The one in the studio was very worn (and smelly) so on 9 November I contacted my cleaner and asked him if he could get it steam cleaned. In the afternoon while he was organising a quote I saw an ad on Facebook for an upholsterer named Jon Chalmers and asked him if he could strip my broken office chair – which had been downstairs in the garage before I brought it back up to the second floor, not remembering that the mechanism was completely broken and that it shrank to a level that made it unusable with a normal table – in order to put the brown leather on the kerbside chair. He said it’d be possible but that, due to demand, I’d have to wait until February, and he quoted me $350 for the job, which sounded good to me especially since it’s in the interest of the environment to reuse materials that would otherwise be thrown away. It was also actually a good deal from a purely economic standpoint as my brand new office chair (the one I am now using) cost $1300, so in fact my previously-disgusting-but-newly-renovated chair’d be ready for use at a fraction of the cost required to buy a new leather office chair and would also allow me to recycle goods that’d otherwise just be discarded. 

The brown chair was itself reupholstered when I lived in southeast Queensland as sweat had stained the original orange fabric; it lasted from 2009 until 2020 and when I sought to buy its replacement in 2015 I looked up retailer BizFurn Express, the same company that sold it to me from their Maroochydore branch, because I’d been so happy with it, even though it broke at the arms and (during the move from Pyrmont to Botany) in the stem. 

The photo above shows my old office chair (left) and the smelly chair (right) sitting next to the table Joe gave me, upstairs in the studio. On Facebook you can get used leather office chairs for about $50 but they’re not very nice to look at nor do they use good leather. I thought mine would be special but would finally discard the blue chair because I found the mechanism’d broken. 

On 13 November I did the laundry in the morning and then sat down to read. The two sheets I’d washed have to go in the machine at separate times because they’re so heavy, so it was lunchtime by the time I’d hung the second one up on the line. At this point Omer messaged me asking me to come to the National Art School because of Open Day and I begged off as rain’d been predicted and I wanted to get the washing done. In the end I did go out, catching a bus on Botany Road and walking up the hill into Surry Hills until my heart prompted me to get a cab. I’d just reached a main street when I saw one and flagged it, then got out at Taylor Square. When we’d finished at the school at about 4pm the three of us caught a cab back to Botany and then with Omer I jumped in the car to pick up a chest of drawers I’d seen on my way to the bus stop earlier in the afternoon. I also got another office chair for my troubles. In the evening, as I walked down to the shops to buy milk, I saw a third one on the pavement, so from getting home I resumed driving and quickly got it in the garage. 

The next morning I picked up a storage unit that’d been left outside a house near where the second chair had sat. I put it on the floor of the garage and planned to put it in the cupboard under the stairs but had to wait until Omer visited again as it was too heavy for me to bring upstairs. When he was over at my place on 20 November we got it into the cupboard with some room to spare (see photo below). It allows me to organise bric-a-brac (bits of rope, old ashtrays, a clothes hanger, a brush and dustpan) and cleaning products in a tight space. 

On 24 November I drove to Kyeemagh to see about the office chairs. A week beforehand on Nextdoor a man named Clifford Hill, who lives in Arncliffe, recommended someone he knows who works at a men’s shed and I got the address on Google Maps before making my way there at about 10.30am though it took me a bit of trouble to find the place, which is behind a Covid testing station. When I told him why I’d come the elderly fellow I saw at the front door went off and found a man who looked remarkably strong for 90 years of age, and who looked me straight in the eye, asking me who I was. I told him I’d moved to Botany a year before and had been told about him “by someone named Clifford on Nextdoor, a social media site.” When I explained to him what I wanted done the man – who I later assumed to be Clifford himself – said he doesn’t do upholstery anymore, and took me out the front to show me a business card. 

With my phone I snapped a photo of the card and he asked me if I’d “got it”. I opened my photo app and showed him the image then got in the car and drove home. I called Mark Riley’s phone numbers once there and left a message on an answering service but never got a call back.

Beaumont did SMS me however on 25 November to tell me the supplier of rails was closed, that he’d have to cancel the appointment made two days before, and that he’d let me know on the Monday when Ollie could come out to do work I’d mentioned the previous week. He eventually came out on 2 December and promptly did the necessary work to enable me to hang pictures downstairs in the stairwell to the garage. On this occasion Beaumont changed the time from 10am to midday but on the morning Ollie was to come I forgot about it so rushed home from dropping Ming at art school, still with the earlier time in mind.

My chairs had been steam cleaned by this time. The guy came in a Hiace van on 30 November and I let him in downstairs because he needed to plug his machine into a tap for access to water. He carried the furniture downstairs to the basement and took about 90 minutes to clean everything, including (see picture below) three Ikea chairs I’d had for about 15 years on which the off-white cloth covers’d become stained. He also did three chairs I’d picked up off the street which had been thrown away (one in Botany and two in Wolli Creek) for the council to collect. By 2 December they were dry and so could be used. I was in fact very happy with how things had turned out as the guy’d charged $150 for six chairs, so $25 per chair – which seems cheap, though you can readily find dining chairs on Facebook at four for $30. 

Since I like to recycle belongings rejuvenating the chairs I owned cleaning the chairs seemed like a capital idea: more than that, it felt like doing good. I gave to of the off white chairs to Omer eventually so he could have a place to sit down in his new unit.

On 19 December I paid contents insurance as I’d originally taken it out a year before. The photo below shows the dining area on 18 December 2020, days after the move when I was living with friends in Wollongong and before the books had been put on bookshelves. Everything looks different now, back then the only things that had been put in place was the furniture – and even then some of it would move. I put up pictures a year ago with John Verhoeven and much has since changed.

Good things take time.

On Christmas Eve Omer contacted me asking if Ming’s desk – which had been in her study on my first floor – would fit in the car. I popped down with a tape measure. Eventually I found it’d fit if the top was lowered. The desk has a handle with a screw mechanism inside a fitting attached to the top, so I told Omer who was soon on the train and on the way he messaged me asking if I could make some coffee, so I did. When he arrived he drank it with some biscuits (he’d gone without breakfast) then we carried the table and Ming’s Mac down to the car. I also gave Omer two chairs that were in my entranceway as he didn’t have dining chairs in his apartment. Adding two bags full of kitchenware we drove to Wolli Creek and unloaded everything, carrying the desk upstairs to Ming’s floor and putting an armchair in Omer’s flat.

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