In this post, which I estimate will interest approximately four of our regular readers, one of whom will be my mom, I wanted to take a moment to show off how the living room is shaping up, now that we are loading it up with furniture.
The fact is, shopping for furniture here is TOUGH. We have been to all the regular stores, Azcue, Marbol, Liverpool, Pier One, Sears, etc., and keep running into the same problem over and over again: if you don’t want that big, chunky rustico furniture, which is solidly built but, honestly, not much on the eyes, you just don’t have a lot of options. You can have something custom made, and pay a fortune, you can contract the folks at Gringo Furniture and have your stuff shipped, or you can pay through the nose for something that is just barely “meh.” The reasons for this total dearth of quality, inexpensive furniture are twofold:
1. It’s a matter of taste, I guess.
Up until very, very recently, Mexicans just didn’t seem too interested in the idea of “antiques.” The thinking seems to have been that old things are for poor people. If you have money, why would you have old things in your house? To show off your wealth, why wouldn’t you buy, say, a white melamine princess dresser, or a giant, overstuffed banana-colored leather sofa? Thankfully, this attitude is changing. There seems to be a slight shift away from the latest “made in China” monstrosities, and a new appreciation for fine, old craftsmanship seems to be emerging.
2. Americans have become utterly, totally spoiled by the widespread availability of quality, inexpensive design.
Americans have become very accustomed to being able to easily acquire very affordable, very well-made things. Ikea introduced spare Scandinavian design to the world, and made it accessible to even the brokest of college students. Target offers a Phillippe Starck-designed spatula. Yes, you can get a spatula designed by one of the world’s foremost industrial designers, you can get it anywhere in the nation, and you can get it for about four bucks. In contrast, Mexico does not yet have this kind of widespread, affordable, quality design. Here, if something is cheap, it’s poorly made. If it’s expensive, it’s still probably not comfortable. And if it’s inexpensive AND comfortable, well, no one will be able to deliver it for six months.
These two problems have made it difficult to furnish our house, and we have ended up with a lot of half-finished spaces. By the time we did our living room, however, we had learned a lot. Orders were placed months in advance. A bit of creativity was used. And here’s what we put in our living room:
The two wicker sofas were purchased from Azcue. They took one month to be delivered from a warehouse somewhere else in Mexico, and the delivery to our house, while free, was a week late. We were fine with that. Oh, we also had to go into town, find the delivery truck, and coax it back to our house, since they couldn’t find us. But they did deliver it, and that in itself is a small victory. The metallic-salmon throw pillows included with the set were a bit of a surprise; we never saw them when we were ordering the furniture. Though they are clearly insane, and never something I would buy in a million years on purpose, now that they’re here, I kind of love them. The coffee table is actually two wicker ottomans, with lids that open. These were found by accident at Commercial Mexicana, who only had the broken floor model to sell. We spent the afternoon visiting four other Commercial Mexicanas in Merida, each of whom had either none, or only one to sell…and in the end, we STILL ended up going back for the broken one.
After taking a tour of Office Max, Office Depot, Manuel Delgado, some other place, and some other even worse place, I was getting truly disappointed in my options for a desk for work. My only options seemed to be these giant, sprawling pressboard affairs, all covered in dark laminate, most of which was already peeling off in the showroom. Or, I could get these giant “EXECUTIVE” desks, which would really be only suitable if the company I was an “EXECUTIVE” of sold either stolen car parts or prostitutes. The friends we were shopping with were equally frustrated. They ended up laying a hollow-core door on some Home Depot-purchased sawhorses, which came out very SoHo loft-y and cool.
I bought an old, weathered beach door from the Progreso “Articulos Usados” store. It is perfectly grey on one side, but still has some cool, super-stripped red paint showing on the other side. I then had a massive piece od 10mm thick clear class cut for the top, and then laid the whole thing on two giant, 150 pound pieces of solid, hand-carved limestone from Dzitya, the stone cutting village just outside of Merida. When I try and decide who will be affected by my money more, Office Depot, or a family of stonecutters in Dzitya, it’s a decision I can feel good about. I am pretty pleased with the results. I have a 500 pound desk that is stylish, and at around 4000MXP, cost about the same as the junk the office supply stores were selling.
We’re not done with the living room yet, but we are getting close, and we couldn’t be happier with how it’s shaping up. The lesson is, don’t settle. Search, sniff around, be creative, don’t get frustrated, and you will end up with a room you are really proud of.
Do YOU have a favorite source for furniture or home decor here in Yucatan? Let us know about it in the comments!