Sunday, June 10, 2012

All Is Well That Ends Well

photo by Zabie Johnston

Remember that old saying about being careful for what you wish for because you just may get it? That old saying was haunting me this past weekend as I waited for my antique armoire to arrive at our apartment.
You may remember a previous post on going to the grand brocante at Chambord. It was there that I found a magnificent armoire of burrelled cherry wood that stands 226 centimeters in height. I can’t remember ever not wanting an armoire. It was always something that I was going to buy in the future. The problem was that they were either very pricey or during my life there was simple no place to put one. I can’t say that I currently have a lot of space in Paris but I definitely lack closets; not an uncommon situation in these turn of the century buildings. So there I was living in a great apartment but needing to hang clothes on the doorknobs. Seemed like it was time to find an armoire that would fit the apartment, my tastes and my needs. And, there it was at Chambord!

photo by Zabie Johnston
I took the measurements of the piece at the brocante along with the contact information of the antique dealer and of the delivery man and I headed back to Paris. I measured the hallway and the apartment, remeasured, asked the neighbor, asked my husband and the consensus was that moving the armoire up one flight of stairs to the apartment should not be problematic. 
After several phone calls, it was decided that the armoire would be delivered in Paris on this past Saturday. So, after a couple of hours of preparation in moving furniture and putting things away it was time to wait. Fortunately, my friend, Zabie, offered to come over and witness the arrival. So there we were and here came the truck with the armoire up the street. However, there was only the antique dealer, who had to be at least 60 years old and looked like he might cozy up to the wine bottle, and the driver. The driver was at least 

photo by Zabie Johnston
younger and looked to be fairly strong. However, they were just two guys and this thing is big! Getting it off of the truck and into the entranceway of the apartment building went smoothly. Then they tried to pick it up and climb the stairs. Oops! These guys not only did not look strong enough they were NOT strong enough nor were they professional movers. As soon as they needed to lift the armoire over the bannister, they could not control it and this massive piece of furniture came smashing into the walls of the stairway. (Yes, that is not a typo, multiple walls.) Oh my, so then they started again and Zabie was fortunately there at the base of the stairs. On this second try if she were not positioned to balance and hold one section, we may have had the antique dealer as a fatality.
photo by Zabie Johnston
So, somehow they got the armoire back to the entrance and the antique dealer began to yell at me. Well, my french just is not that good, so not understanding him helped me to focus on my speaking french and suggesting that I pay them for their trouble and to take the armoire back with them. The calmer man suggested finding a menuisier, which is a wood working specialist. Faced with this suggestion, I went to find my favorite neighbor who is always helpful in times of crisis. Thankfully, he was available to come to our rescue. You will most likely not be surprised that the high voices quieted promptly with the arrival of Monsieur G. He calmly assessed the situation and promptly advised the men of their responsibility to repair the damaged walls. He assured me that he could get a friend who was an excellent carpenter and together we would get my armoire up to the apartment.
After the departure of the two ill humored men, the next phase of the adventure began. Carlos and his wife, Rosa, arrived along with Monsieur G’s son. After much reflection and measuring, Carlos says, with total assurance, that he will get it up the stairs. He is able to pick the entire armoire up himself and with the added help of his wife and Mr. G’s son they start up the stairs without touching the walls. Zabie and I were very impressed. 
photo by Zabie Johnston
There was a little problem and it was about 10 cm. combined with the decorative extensions of the railing. So, what to do. Carlos began to painstakingly disassemble the armoire piece by piece by piece. Each piece was carefully marked and carried up to the bedroom. Several hours later we are all assembled in the bedroom for the reconstruction of the armoire piece by piece by piece. The armoire was put together by tongue and groove and so this process was without any nails. Fascinating but one heck of a lot of work. 
The doors had been removed and had been in the bedroom through this whole ordeal. When Carlos finally put them on he could really see the beauty of the piece and was impressed. Zabie and I were well aware of its beauty and it was a small reward to have the menuisier find it as beautiful as we did. 
So, after a full day of stress and hard work the armoire came to rest in our bedroom. It will most likely remain there even if the apartment is sold since I can not imagine taking it apart again and reassembling it in another apartment! I have no doubt that Carlos will not answer my calls if I approach him on this topic.
So, as they say both in the US and in France, “all is well that ends well”. I now have a place for my clothes in a stunning piece of furniture. There is only one downside. The bed and dresser pale in its presence. However, there will be another brocante next year at Chambord. I bet that I can find a new dresser and headboard there, don’t you think?

photo by Zabie Johnston
Il est beau !

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