Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Review: Restoration Hardware St. James desk

I recently gave my office a makeover (more on the before/after in an upcoming post) and purchased the St. James 76-inch desk in antique white from Restoration Hardware.

After having it for more than a month, I can confidently report that I am thrilled with the purchase. The decision to go with the St. James desk over another desk (and I looked at many, including antique desks and makeshift desks, including a kitchen table turned desk) was a difficult one. It was tough because for the first time ever, I opted to go with a desk that would not butt up to the wall; instead, I would use it as a freestanding desk facing into my office.

Yes, I could have placed the St. James against a wall, but if I did, I'd lose the incredible detailed carving that is on the backside of the desk.

Loving all things vintage, the back of this desk reminded me of a counter in an old-time general store. As a result, when you come into the office, my desk doesn't actually look like a desk immediately. It looks like a repurposed retail counter turned project table.

In fact, the back of the desk, in my opinion, is more lovely than the so-called front where the drawers are accessed, and that is very beautiful. It would be a shame to hide the back against a wall. However, I see some challenges with having a free standing desk, such as how to plug in a lamp, computer, etc. because it doesn't have a cord management system but I'm willing to tackle them because the design of this desk is exquisite. Plus, I'm using this desk for as a craft table and it won't house my computer, so aside from the lamp issue, I don't have to worry about a lot of electrical cords.

I chose the antique white, which is a soft, off-white with slight distressing. The finish is beautiful and is definitely quality. 

The drawers are very roomy, so I have plenty of space. The center drawer is not deep, but is wide. The drawers do not include any dividers, so I used my own. I could fit three Bisley(R) 24-Compartment Deep Drawer black inserts that I had purchased from the Container Store years ago in the top drawer with a little room left over on the side for some small items.

My only complaint about the top drawer is this: It has a false keyhole with an actual key. Because the keyhole is not real, the key doesn't fit snugly into the opening and tends to fall out with the slightest movement. As a result, I keep the loose key in the top center drawer for safekeeping. Fortunately, you can still easily open the drawer without it.

The two top side drawers have working keys. I leave those in the keyholes and use to to open the drawers. They are the same depth as the center drawer and offer plenty of storage space, so I can easily fit another Bisley storage insert inside with space to spare.

Likewise, the center side drawer is a nice size and it, like the three top drawers, glides out easily.

The same cannot be said for the deep bottom drawers. These can be used to hold files and the hardware for hanging files is provided. I chose to use these drawers for larger items instead, and in my case, I easily stored a sewing box in the bottom drawers and still had plenty of room leftover. That said, my sewing box is pretty lightweight compared to how much a drawer packed with hanging files would weigh and even so, pulling out the drawer is a real job. Sometimes I have to use two hands to pull it out. It does not glide very easily, which is my only real disappointment with the desk's function.

Restoration Hardware recently changed their delivery company, according to my salesperson, and I was among the first to receive the new service. It is touted as being "white glove" service and I was skeptical because I've had problems with delivery companies before. The company being used now is Unlimited Furniture Delivery and I am happy to report that they were top-notch. The desk came wrapped in furniture quality and shrink-wrapped. The two delivery men were polite and professional. Both used booties to cover their feet and carefully moved and unwrapped the desk. They removed all the waste paper and installed felt pads on the feet of the desk. Within an hour of delivery, Restoration Hardware followed up to see if I was satisfied with the delivery and furniture and inquired if there was anything else they could do. I was blown away because as I'm sure you are aware, customer service isn't exactly what it used to be.

I'm totally happy with this purchase.

In fact, I was so happy it prompted me to make another, a hutch. More on that to come in an upcoming story.

What is your experience with Restoration Hardware? Do you prefer wall desks or freestanding desks?

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Why barn doors are a great option for your home

I used to have a love affair with pocket doors. They save so much space. I love them on bathrooms, basements and closets. They close off what you don't want to see and provide privacy, yet when open, the doors don't stick out into a room, hogging valuable floor space.

Well, pocket doors move over because I have a new love that is not only space saving, but incredibly beautiful, too. What has stolen the spotlight? The simple barn door.

Barn doors are more than a space-saving, utilitarian pocket door that doesn't project into your room when open. Barn doors are architectural elements that add style and character to your home.

Use them anywhere for everything. Use them as room dividers, closet doors, bathroom doors, bedroom doors. Replace French doors to offices and dining rooms with barn doors. Close off the kids' play area from the rest of the family room with a barn door. The list goes on and on because the possibilities are endless.

Do a search of Houzz for barn doors and you'll be amazed at the potential. The styles range from elegant glass doors to the rustic barn doors where their name originated. You can purchase them ready made; create them from scratch (as I did) or repurpose a vintage door found at an antique shop or on Ebay.

Here's a cool double door barn door that I found in a shop that sells antique and repurposed items.

Two full length doors with traditional vintage door knobs can be pulled together in this retail display.

Here's another view of the traditional recessed panel door.

I put a barn door in my home to close off my office from the front entry/foyer. When the office is messy or I need peace and quiet, I close the door. Otherwise, it stands open, proudly showing off its exposed hardware, which is the hallmark of a barn door.

Here's a view from the foyer with the door open. Not only does it provide the privacy I need to occasionally hide my office, but it is a beautiful architectural element in my foyer. As much as I would have liked to repurpose an old door, I couldn't find the exact size needed so this one was constructed from scratch by Westlawn Construction.

It is odd but the door is such a work of art that when it is closed, the wall behind it looks bare. I feel the need to find some artwork to hang in that blank space.

The wood is distressed and stained a dark mahogany to match the wood trim elsewhere in the house.

Choosing the exposed hardware is half the fun. You can go with industrial, contemporary or rustic in everything from a shiny stainless steel to a flat black. The choices are endless. Check out the options at Barndoors & Hardware.

 What about you? Could a barn door be a viable option for your home?