Monday, 16 May 2011

the unmentionables

Everywhere you go you find people with passions about chairs, tables, lighting, desks, sofas. I am one of those people. But today I wanted to talk about the unmentionable pieces of furniture, the ones that everybody ignores because they don't know what to do about them - namely television cabinets and wardrobes. Have you ever met anyone who has a thing about wardrobes? Have you ever found a TV cabinet, or something that can be used as one, that you really like?

We are having a bit of a dilemma about these things at the moment. We are badly in need of a wardrobe or two, with our clothes currently being rammed haphazardly inside suitcases and boxes. But I find shopping for wardrobes really difficult - they are usually too ornate, too bulky, too shallow, too expensive, the wrong wood, too big to get round a couple of tight corners in the house, or any combination of the above. I've never bought a wardrobe before, having had built-in ones in all the places I've lived since I left university. Have I found any that I love? Well, there are the early 20th century gentlemen's wardrobes with sweet labels on the shelves for ties, underwear and hats, but they are often ugly on the outside or too shallow to have a sensible amount of hanging space in the other half of the wardrobe. I do like very simple linen presses, or old school cupboards - I would just have to adapt the interior with a hanging rail. But I also have a fear of too much wood or, if the piece is painted, I get nervous about veering too close to the 'shabby chic' look. Industrial style lockers are an attractive option to me, but I wonder if they are too hard, too dark, too loft-stylee for a farmhouse? I am bewildered, to say the least.

Get this one here on eBay for £420.

The photo below is of the locker we bought the other week in Manchester. It needs a little bit of love, but I was rather taken by the cheery turquoise and those little red triangles on the front. It's currently languishing in our garage until I grow enough muscle to help the husband bring it into the house (or until we can collar one of our masculine neighbours to help!).

The TV cabinet is a different kettle of fish. Firstly, I don't like large televisions and I hate having them in a position where they're the first object you see when you enter a room, I think they are ugly things that should be put somewhere obscure. Secondly, I pretty much hate anything that is purpose-made to put them and their accompanying, multifarious boxes on. It would be OK if any old cabinet would do, but the thing is, you need at least an open shelf or a glass-fronted door so that the magic moonbeams from the remote control can get to the boxes. So annoying! I suppose you could put the boxes to the side or something, but they are so ugly I would rather have them half-hidden at least. Oh, and then of course there's the cable issue - having to have a hole, or to drill a hole if you can bear it, in the back wall of the stupid thing so you can get your cables through. These kind of things should really not bother me so much, but they do. It's how I am.

This haberdasher's cabinet, from eBay, works for me. Shame it's £700!

So. Tell me your secrets. Anyone. Please. Tell me what to do. What have you got your clothes in? What do you stand your telly on? More importantly, does it look good?

Images from various sources: eBay UK, Pinterest, Maisons du Monde, oh Hello Friend, Design Sponge amongst others. Sorry I haven't credited them individually.


  1. Oh, my. I know this dilemma well. We kept all the crappy cupboards/wardrobes in the bedrooms here because we had no substitutes, and they're still here, and probably will be until I get inspired. In the downstairs hallway, for coats and paraphernalia, I think I'm going to go for the supercheapandsimple Ikea Konsmo, and fit it with a cuter hook and eye and maybe paint it the same colour as the walls, or maybe do something artistic to it if I get the urge. And the TV - I have this McIntosh credenza that I bought for the audio/video stuff, with the TV on top, but I am dithering now, thinking maybe the credenza in the dining room and something for the audio/video that actually has CD and DVD drawers and that kinda stuff. It takes me ages to decide things like this.

  2. I am a weirdo. The number 1 piece of furniture I would like to buy myself instead of having built-in or landlord crap is a wardrobe. I am pretty devastated that when my grandma passed away it was the wrong time for me to have her and grandpa's matching ward-drobes. I love the old ones made out of wood-they remind me of hiding in them as a child. My grandpa's even had a tie-rack and labels for things. They weren't particularly expensive but solid unlike the mdf rubbish I have now. I do love old wardrobes and would gladly outfit a house with them instead of nasty drawers that bite hands.

    TV cabinets. Hmmm dunno about them. They feel a bit 1980's. I think it looks more homely to have a modest TV and not stick it in too prominent a place. If you were feeling bohemian you could perhaps get an old screen and move that across the tv when appropriate. My laundry rack is quite an effective screen of the TV. I like to think my damp knickers are quite artistic. Hmmm well maybe not.

  3. Oh my secret is the "Skubb" or whatever they are called things from Ikea-lots of different sizes, some with drawers some not. I basically only hang posh dresses. Everything else goes in "shelves" of the skubb. And the spare room wardrobe was transformed for about £15 into a storage cabinet to keep all my bits and pieces of computer and hiking stuff. You can fit lots more stuff in a shallow wardrobe if you use all the vertical space.

    I even stuck labels on some of the drawers. Luckily I haven't stuck to what I wrote on the labels too much. That would be crazy.

  4. Ooh. Wow. Lots for me to read!

    Lynn - I kind of wish that somebody had left behind some crappy storage for us, just so that we've got something to put our stuff in! I can see how easy it is to not replace them, though, despite one's best intentions :-) I am possibly as indecisive as you are. A credenza is a possible solution to the TV problem, but like you say, it's useful to have something that is good for all the other bits that go with the TV. I'll keep looking!

    Kat - yes, I know you're pretty weird. At least I know someone who seems to have strong ideas about storage :-) I tend to use a lot of shelving as well, instead of hanging space, but I also seem to have quite a few posh frocks! I think we will end up with a mix of things - some huge old wooden wardrobes, some neater cupboards, and a locker or two. I will probably avoid labelling my drawers!

    The TV will go behind the door in the living room, so that it's only visible if you shut the door - not the most practical place for it to be, but certainly the most aesthetically pleasing. Maybe if I use laundry as well, I'll never even know it's there :-D