Gorgeous (not so) Little Things

Since we began construction on our house, I’d been on the lookout for a unique desk for my study. In the Naples, the “official” study lies at the front of the house, just inside the front door. At first, I thought a slant-top or secretary desk would suit me best, because I don’t like clutter. My study, I figured, should also be able serve as a spare bedroom when we have multiple guests staying overnight, since I have a thoroughly modern Danish futon sofa for my study.

With those thoughts in mind, I did my research and found several examples that got me excited. However, after eliminating most of them as being too small or not versatile enough, I tentatively settled on the following secretary desk from Pottery Barn:

The Ludlow Trunk Secretary Desk

Early in my research, the Ludlow held a lot of appeal because it offered a way to hide a significant amount of office-related miscellany and was versatile (in that it would have paired well with my modern Danish sofa). I actually started planning my study around this desk and my sofa, but I started to waver in my choice after visiting the floor model at Annapolis Mall.

Just about every time I was at the mall, I visited this particular desk, trying to get a feel for it, and exploring its pros and cons. While it always seemed to me like it was a sturdy, well-built piece of furniture, I kept getting distracted by the rough canvas covering, which, even in the showroom, seemed like a dust magnet. The more I studied it, the more I questioned whether this would be a good fit. I just couldn’t get past the rough, dust-catching canvas covering. In addition, the paper lining on the inside seemed rather cheap, in that it seemed like it might easily peel off or get damaged too easily.

While I continued to consider the Ludlow, I kept my eyes open for alternatives. One promising alternative I found in Queenstown, Maryland, at one of the most amazing antique shops I have ever encountered.

JR’s Antiques and Collectibles has been a favorite destination of mine since we moved to Kent Island. If I ever found myself in need of shopping therapy, I would go there and drop a couple hundred on a bit of happy. (Cases in point: I once found a matching pair of Baccarat crystal decanters, in perfect condition, for $150! On another trip, I found a gorgeous pair of ceramic foo lions (a.k.a. foo dogs) possessing more charm than any I’d ever seen before — but don’t ask how much that cost, because I don’t remember.)

It was on a trip there in late 2015 that I found a pristine, 200-year-old slant-top desk made entirely out of curly maple. It was so warm, and so gorgeous — and, most importantly, attractively priced at less than $3,000. I had never been as excited about a desk before. It was breathtaking!

Curly Maple
This is an example of a secretary desk made of curly maple. Curly maple is also known as tiger maple because of the attractive stripe effect of the wood grain. The desk I found was much more elaborately designed and the grain was two or three times as brilliant as this example.

Because I had some thinking to do, I decided to wait, consult, and compare before making the plunge. This was also before we fully committed to building a house — it was about one month before we signed the papers. However, after we fully committed to building our Naples, and before the ink on the paperwork was fully dry, we made a beeline back to JR’s, fully intending to buy that gorgeous desk without further deliberation. Lamentably, though, and much to my horror and chagrin, that lovely old desk was nowhere to be found. Someone had already purchased it, leaving me feeling sad, dejected, and resigned to the Ludlow. I was awash in regret…

[Fast forward to May 2016]

Late last week, I was gearing up to buy the Ludlow since we only have a few more weeks before we move. In a fit of last-minute desk research, I encountered a desk that immediately turned my head and convinced me to leave the Ludlow in the lurch once and for all.

This new desk is also a 180-degree departure from what I thought I wanted. It is all metal. It is large. It is industrial. However, this desk is of a type that I feel could someday be a collectible. Moreover, it is well designed, important, and aesthetically versatile.

Iron Vault Desk
Restoration Hardware’s 20th Century Iron Vault Desk

This is a significant desk and one that I think I will love having in my study. Restoration Hardware started making this to great fanfare in 2014 and describes it thusly:

Modeled on the stalwart safes that were a fixture in turn-of-the-last-century jewelry shops and factory offices, our furnishings are crafted from steel sheet and fitted with latching doors and heavy-duty metal wheels.

The heavy-duty metal wheels are an important feature to note since this desk weighs in at nearly 400 lbs./180 kg.! And it’s also lucky that Restoration Hardware will deliver and set it up without me having to recruit a pack of muscle-bound marines to help me get it where it needs to go (Note: White Glove Service is always worth the extra cost).

I love everything about this desk. It is masculine, it is unique, and it is heirloom worthy. The storage capability exceeds my current needs and it will be easy to maintain and keep clean (i.e., dust free). More than any of this, though, is that it appeals to me on a deeper level. It actually makes me feel excited…about a desk…and that’s very rare indeed.

So, this desk will be among the first pieces of furniture to grace our new home and I couldn’t be more pleased.

Gorgeous (not so) Little Things

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