This is not just a tale of re-purposed furniture. This is the story of how a husky, dysfunctional, 90’s vintage TV cabinet almost ruined, then subsequently saved a marriage. I’m not saying it’s mine, I’m just saying a marriage….My husband and I have lived through two house renovations, six moves, and countless DIYDS (do-it-your-damned-self) projects. Yet it was this single, ugly, unfathomably heavy piece of furniture that turned us on each other.
This beast of an armoire sat in my childhood bedroom and housed my very first TV (and sadly, I never got any ‘before’ photos of it), and despite it’s then honey-oak stain and cheesy-country vibe, it was state-of-the-art with a pivoting, telescoping lazy-susan, two (TWO!!) VHS tape-storage drawers, and niches for a VCR and a cable box. It was no joke. It moved out of that room with me and into my two college apartments, then back home, and into every.single.subsequent. living arrangement that followed. Why? Because I was broke and it was a useful piece of furniture that stored a lot of crap. When my husband and I moved into our first place together, even he admired the capacity it had for crap-storage. One could only marvel. It was at this time when we also acquired our first flat-screen TV, effectively rendering the armoire’s most basic utility completely useless. So it was that when we moved from there, the debate began: why in the world were we lugging that awful, heavy, awkward thing along with us? Why, indeed. I had no answer. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that it was meant for something bigger than being left on the curb to wallow.
So, yes, it continued to move everywhere with us, and with each hoist of it’s massive girth, the Texan grew more vocal in his threats that “This is the last time I’m moving this *$^@#&^ thing!”
It finally arrived in the farmhouse and was dumped into one of the downstairs bedrooms for safe-keeping. Out of sight, out of mind. The less the Texan saw it, the less likely he was to wax un-poetic about it. It went through several failed reincarnations: first as craft-storage, then a wardrobe, then finally a linen closet. But it always handled these occupations awkwardly, and every time I changed it’s job title, it inevitably needed a clothes bar hung in it, or a clothes bar removed from it, or a new coat of paint, or some tweak or another that required it to be moved outside to be worked on, then back inside yet again. There was a lot of arguing over that thing. Thankfully, there were always cocktails over that thing, too. Cocktails have a way of making a stalemate feel like a win for both sides. But finally, inevitably, we reached armoire-redo super-saturation. My normally patient husband was fit to be tied, and there was a moment when he crossed his arms and gave me a look and I knew–I knew–my sweet old TV cabinet only had one more move left….and that was going to be to the curb. And the Texan was going to be very jolly doing it.
Even I had to admit it was time. But I didn’t have to like it. There was some brooding that evening. I brooded into my cocktail over the imminent loss of my armoire, and the Texan brooded into his cocktail over the fact that it was difficult to make said brooding cocktails due to the fact that we had no bar storage. We had renovated the daylights out of our kitchen and great room and neglected the single most important element: the bar. We had no bar storage. That fateful evening, we locked eyes over the rims of our brooding cocktails and a mutual light bulb (albeit a very dim one) went off. The solution to all of our marital problems had been staring us in the face with every disorganized cocktail we had made in the entire history of our relationship. And there had been a lot of them.
My ungainly TV cabinet, with a few updates, would be, for ever more, The Barmoire. Most importantly, we added three storage shelves to the vast interior of the TV section. The lazy-susan remained, but actually became useful with the addition of a cutting board that can be pulled in and out for cocktail prep. The interior sides of the doors were converted to pin-boards covered with cute, inexpensive dishtowels. I gave the exterior it’s 98th, 99th, and 100th coats of paint, in the form of a weathered, chippy layered mint green. The updates were short and sweet, and soon, the only thing left was to stock the thing to its gills. Which we did, because we feel that it’s best to be prepared. You just never know when you are going to need a brooding cocktail.
The Texan and I have been through a lot together. Not the least of which was the complete renovation of this 100-year-old house. But when guests show up at our door, and they want to see what we’ve done with the place, the tour inevitably begins and ends at the Barmoire with my starry-eyed husband singing its praises. I have to laugh, but not too loud or I don’t get a cocktail made for me.